The Moodscope Blog




Saturday November 27, 2021

Please sing along:

Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through for you

That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile.

(Nat King Cole accompanied by Nelson Riddle)

The theme of today’s post sung by my mother’s favourite male singer, way back in 1954.

It would not top the pop charts today but the theme is still relevant.

Is it good to smile?
Is it good to receive a smile?
How does it feel to smile?
What makes us smile?

Four smiley questions; let’s see if we can find some smiley answers.

I think my recent social experience might help.
For several years my wife and I served on the committee of our village social club. Because of my mental health we resigned our positions and due also to Covid did not attend any meetings for nearly 2 years.

When we attended a general meeting a few weeks ago I felt quite emotional entering the meeting hall. There were around 60 people present most of whom I recognised and some I knew quite well. I started to circulate a little and each person I spoke to gave me a gift. That gift was their smile. I felt a warm feeling inside, it made my day! It was like walking round a large room and switching on electric lights one by one.

I hope they enjoyed my smile I gave in return.

Making a good connection with someone is not the only time we smile. We can look at an inanimate object and smile if we feel pleasure. We can feel satisfaction from a job well done and smile at completion. We can smile in amusement.

I was interested to find that smiling muscles connect directly with the nervous system and the brain. So smiling can definitely improve your mood.

The saying goes “Smile and the whole world smiles with you”. Smiling is certainly contagious. If someone smiles at you there is a good chance you will smile back at them.

As well as being good for our health, smiling makes us look more attractive. Just look in the mirror!

The American physician and philosopher Debasish Mridha said “ The most beautiful make up is the reflection of kindness from a smiling face”.

What makes you smile?

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.



When I was a young mother doing unpaid work looking after my children, I was doing a worthwhile job bringing up my children but the message I got from the wider society and even my husband was different. I was made to feel  that as my work was unpaid it was not important, and I would see people’s eyes glaze over when I said I was a mum.

When I had my bookshop, I measured my value by the fact I owned and managed my shop. It was my whole life. When I no longer had the shop I felt the loss dearly, not just for all the beautiful books that were destroyed but because I felt I no longer had a purpose, a value, a worth. I invested so much emotion into being a bookseller I forgot who I was as a person. I still say when people ask me what do I do, I say I used to own a bookshop.

A friend of mine has a successful career but when she goes home at Christmas, she feels her self-worth is devalued by her family as she has no children or a husband. This makes family functions awkward.

Do you think when we measure our self-worth by another’s expectation it can have an impact on our life?

Does it change over the years?

How does one get self worth from oneself without depending on others approval?

I would like to hear your stories positive and not so positive about what determines your self-worth.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.



Planet Thanksgiving

Thursday November 25, 2021

If you read Moodscope from, “across the pond,” you’ll want to join me in emphasising the positive feelings generated, Nationwide, by an event we Americans celebrate this week.

Our round Planet, our Globe, is well lit when viewed from space. Any visitors would see where the industrial development is strongest with a mere glimpse of their alien eyes. But what if these visitors were empathetic? Let’s imagine they were an empathetic race called the Emotians. Exploring the Galaxy, searching for intelligent Life, they would be able to ‘read’ the vibe of each populated planet.

If they visited this Thursday, they’d notice a whole continent (almost) lit up by “Thanksgiving” and “Gratitude”. What if this very American holiday were to be celebrated all over the Globe? (After all, the commercial aspect of the day after Thanksgiving seems to be catching on!) Let’s light up the Planet with the vibe of gratitude; let’s make it Planet Thanksgiving when seen from Space.

Thus, I suggest that all our members consider the positive impact of hosting their own Thanksgiving Dinner this Thursday. You will each have your own traditions but we can all unite in one activity, to press ‘pause’ and consider what we are grateful in spite of two lean years. Raise a glass to Moodscope too – to all our Members who make the Scope, The Buddy System, and the Blog Community such an important Lifeline for so many.

Oh, and to assert the pre-USA celebration of Thanksgiving, similar celebration days were held on what is now US soil by the Spanish, and by the French in the 16th Century. Thus, its Internationality predates what some would see as a purely American Feast Day.

We have some wonderful traditions including charitable giving, with organisations such as The Salvation Army having a reputation for dishing up delights across the States.

Whatever you choose to do, I shall be lifting a glass to you all as we, as a family, take turns to give thanks for specific blessings around the table.

Cheers! (Isn’t that what the British like to say?)

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.



Good Enough

Wednesday November 24, 2021

Hands up all the perfectionists!

No, no; far too many of you to count; put your hands down again. Right: hands up those of you who are not perfectionists. Oh, that’s easier. Let me see, nine, ten, eleven – and one right at the back, that’s the round dozen. This blog is not aimed at you, although you may read it and preen yourself a little.

So, hello everyone. My name’s Mary and I’m a perfectionist.

When I was younger, I used to think this trait was a strength. I can bring what one of my Moodscope Buddies calls “Ferocious Focus” to tasks; I pay attention to minute details; I don’t just want to get things right; I want them perfect. One of the reasons I love cardmaking and papercraft is the precision required to create the perfect card. The human eye can detect a split millimetre of misalignment. Each card is small in itself – a discrete piece of craftsmanship – and so I can bring my desire for perfection to each one. And, yes, I have learned now to accept the occasional mistake and, more importantly, how to hide that mistake so it becomes a “happy accident.”

In the rest of life, perfectionism is a hinderance. You may have heard the phrase, “Perfect is the enemy of good,” and this is very true. Perfectionism often means tasks are not even started. Perfectionism leads to procrastination, despair and just giving up.

In my last bout of depression, I wailed to my buddies about how dirty my house was, as I had no energy for cleaning. One of them promptly popped round on his motorbike to lend me the robotic vacuum cleaner he and his wife had but rarely used. My husband was horrified: it didn’t do a proper job! He could do a far more thorough clean in half the time! The point was, however, he did not have the time to do that proper job, and I did not have the energy. The sweet little robotic vacuum cleaner just trundled around, bumping gently into things and humming to itself and, at the end of an hour or so, the floors were noticeably cleaner. No – they were not perfectly clean, but they were a lot better than they had been.

Most of you will also have heard of the Pareto Principle, otherwise known as the 80/20 Rule. This holds that you get 80% of your output for 20% of your input. I find this is true with my blogs here. I write them in twenty minutes or so. Then, if I am not disciplined, I will take another hour at least, proof-reading, changing the odd word or phrase, changing it back to the original and finally taking it out altogether. While it’s a matter of pride that Caroline rarely needs to edit my blogs (she does sometimes), I’ve learned to just let the words be, rather than agonising over every little comma and semicolon.

Good enough really is good enough.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.



Controlling what goes in

Tuesday November 23, 2021

One of the things that has kept my Depression going over the years, I believe, is negative things entering my body, mind and life; whether that be negative messages or stimuli, negative energy from others, harmful vices, junk food. So I have tried to be more conscious of what I let into my life, and I have noticed a positive change in myself.

I try to value my health, time, and attention. I try to remember that humans are sensitive to what is going on around them, even on a subconscious level – we are not robots who can just power through any situation, or experience unpleasant things indefinitely without feeling some aftereffects.

A boat doesn’t sink because of the water around it, it sinks because of the water it lets in. And in the past, I was drowning under the weight of poor habits and harmful influences. I was letting too much bad stuff in.

Now, I avoid excessive screen time, especially at night, which helps my sleep. I deleted my social media and stopped checking the news, which has made me feel calmer, more empathetic towards others, and a little more hopeful about the world. I have stopped watching Youtube as much, or mindless gaming for hours at a time, and instead I read positive books, spend more time outside, write letters. And I made the choice to put more healthy, natural ingredients into my body where possible. Eating healthier has improved my mood somewhat. It’s a massive change to my old pizza, white bread, chocolate and cookie diet.

Of course, I can’t avoid all negatives. We have to accept the ups and downs of life. But I have found that being selective, putting up healthy boundaries, and making positive choices to do things that nourish me has all been one part of my recovery process.

What positive influences do you want to introduce into your life?

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.



More blog posts please!

Monday November 22, 2021

As our resident Monday writer is absent today, we thought we’d use it to try and encourage others to write a post.

All our daily blog posts are written by our members because we believe you are the best people to give advice and help by sharing your experiences with other members. All those who have submitted blog posts previously have said how lovely it is getting feedback from other members on the site.

If you have a story to tell, some advice to give or an experience to share, let us know. Please send your blog post to"> We don't have many rules, but we do ask that your blog is 500 words or less and we prefer to steer clear of politics and religion!

If you have an idea and are not sure whether it's suitable, just ask us to take a look and we'll let you know. All contributions will be reviewed and may be edited if necessary before publishing.

We'll let you know when we're sending your blog out so that you can reply to member's comments if you wish.

Posts on the Moodscope blog are visible to non-members but all comments are only seen by Moodscope members so please feel confident to join in knowing that your thoughts will stay within the Moodscope community.

Also please be aware of our Terms and Conditions: 'except to the extent necessary to access and use the Website in accordance with these Terms and Conditions, no part of the Website is copied, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means to any third party without the written permission of Moodscope.'

Kind regards.

Caroline Ashcroft
The Moodscope Team

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.



Tiny Dancer 

Sunday November 21, 2021

As I write, a small tree in my back garden is weeping her leaves to the ground. I’m not sure how I know she is a she (and how I know my favourite ‘half a tree’ is a he) but it seems to be clear so I’ll run with that.  

She is, with no exaggeration, neon orange. Luminous. Radiant. Glowing. On fire. She reminds me of everything I am not feeling. And yet, I can take comfort there because I know her cyclical life is my accompanist and that I can follow her lead and emulate her steps in time.  

And when she goes quiet to take her rest, I’ll know that it’s ok to be quiet. I’ll know that, despite life demanding more than I sometimes have, it is ok to feel bare and to not feel like dancing. Then I’ll wait for her. And I’ll learn to dance all over again.  

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.



Past, Present and Future

Saturday November 20, 2021

We don’t know much about each other but I am sure we have three things in common. These are:

A Past
A Present
A Future

Obviously mine will be different to yours but all will be a mixture of good and bad things. Let’s consider each one in turn.

The Past

Our mind can produce thoughts from the past because the memory part of the brain is so good. I see it as a good thing to have the ability to dwell on enjoyable events from your past. Relaxing with a bit of nostalgia can be a very pleasant experience. This can be alone or socially with others.

On the other hand dwelling too much on bad things from the past can have a negative effect on our mood.

So thinking about our past can either improve or worsen our moods.

The Present

It is important to make time to enjoy the here and now. In modern terms this is called Mindfulness. To think only of what is happening now and thus eliminate thoughts relating to the past and future. If we use our senses it is not difficult to stay in the present. Examples:

Tasting good food with friends/family
Listening to music
Watching or playing games.

All these involve being ‘in the moment’. We can totally focus on what is happening to the exclusion of any other thoughts.

The practice of meditation uses this technique and it enhances harmony. It is based on the belief that when you are calm and relaxed it always leads to harmony.

However we cannot live in the moment all the time. We do need to think about the past and the future sometimes.

The Future

If we look forward we can anticipate good things happening. All Moodscopers can look forward to reading the daily post and making a comment if they so wish. Anticipation can lead to excitement sometimes. For example, planning family social events or special holidays. It helps if we have both short and long term events to look forward to.

The opposite of this positivity is anxiety. It is easy to become anxious about a future event. Continuous worry is not good for body or mind. Expressing the concern in writing or discussing it with someone can help.


For lifting our mood I suggest we need to have a mixture of future, present and future thoughts in our minds at different times. Getting the right balance between the three is an individual matter and worth some consideration.

We need not spend too much time thinking of the bad aspects. Although even this is beneficial if we can arrive at a state of acceptance relating to a past or possibly future event.

In simple terms Thomas S Monson said:

The past is behind - learn from it
The present is here - live it
The future is ahead - prepare for it.

What do you think?

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.



For many years I pitied myself so much I did not need any more pity from others.

When I was first diagnosed with manic depression, as bipolar was called in the 1970s, there was extraordinarily little information or understanding till the late 1990s. Mostly people would say I was too young or too fat to be depressed.

When people used to say to me, “You poor thing.” when I had three children and was trying to cope with my mood swings, I agreed with them as I felt so sorry for myself. The thing is I did not need to be reminded how difficult I found life.

A friend made me a casserole and told me she did not understand depression but delivered once a week for a month a lovely home cooked casserole. This helped me much more than her saying I am sorry you feel so down.

The definitions of pity and compassion are similar, but the words are different. Pity means labelling someone and defining them by events in their life, while compassion recognises those events while respecting the person is more than their loss, illness, or life changing event.

After the fires I received pity, compassion and gave myself much self-pity. A friend whose adult child had died suddenly in her thirties told me that releasing her self-pity took a long time, but it helped her. It took me a while to understand what she meant, and I still have days full of self-pity but not as many as I used to have. I realised that for me self-pity meant anger and bitterness and my physical and mental health was suffering.

I was always comparing my mental health problems with people who had more severe health issues. I knew there were people still living in tents and caravans two years after the fires and families who had lost loved ones. Comparing suffering does not help as we only end up feeling guilty.

Do you find people offer you pity or compassion or both? Have you pitied yourself at times and does this help? Do you offer others, pity, compassion, or practical help?

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.



Minding my own business

Thursday November 18, 2021

I have a friend who I will call Roy. He is a Covid victim, without actually having had the virus. He is blind, a retired academic who lost his wife to dementia some years ago. Before the pandemic he had regular visitors, attended events, went on holidays and to concerts with sighted friends, generally enjoying a better quality of life than many without his disability.
Then in March 2020 all that changed. His daughter came to stay, like most of us thinking this would be for a short time. She is a high powered professional, but adjusted her work to carry on from home. Roy was not one of the people told to fully shield, but he did so anyway. At first, he would have a good daily walk in a very quiet area, accompanied by his daughter. After a few months even that stopped, and apart from medical visits neither he or his daughter have left the house or had any visitors, even on the doorstep, for over a year. Everything is delivered and left outside. A friend made a shepherds pie and left it outside. It was thrown away in case it carried the virus.
I have visited him for years to read and do bits of admin. The reading was changed to phone calls until this month when we have resumed home visits. Everyone else is delighted, except Roy who wants to keep only telephone contact. He has become obsessed with his health. I have lost count of the tests, scans and surgical procedures he has had in the last 18 months, all finding nothing of concern. This week alone he has 3 appointments at different hospitals. I can only imagine that his daughter has considerable clout through her work, when we hear of the huge NHS backlog.
All the inactivity is taking a toll on his balance and energy. He fell over and knocked himself out, leading to even more tests. He has an exercise bike, but won’t use it in case he sprains something.
My dilemma involves keeping my mouth shut. I know the pandemic has been horrendous, I have taken all reasonable precautions and followed the rules. My friend, like me, had all his jabs, and we spoke about the hope it gave for all of us. For him though, nothing has changed. I can’t understand why he is like this. I feel he has allowed the virus to take his life away from him anyway.

He knows I have struggled with depression and anxiety, although I have not gone into much detail. I suppose I could have a gentle word, hinting that maybe getting help for underlying anxiety would be wise. Again though I question my own motives. 
I know that it is none of my business. If he has chosen to spend the remainder of his life as a prisoner in his own home, how can that bother me so much?  It has brought me face to face with an aspect of myself that I don’t like. I have friends whose lifestyles are unorthodox, unhealthy, immoral and I have no desire to comment. This is probably because they reflect aspects of myself, past or present. What then gives me the right to feel offended by my friend’s behaviour? Inside I want to give him a “good talking to” but I know he would have every right to tell me to **** off. Actually, he would never do that. He loves that I happily read stuff to him that contains rudeness and swearing, but he once apologised for saying “bugger” in my presence.
Now I am welling up. He is a lovely lovely man, someone who has coped with problems that would destroy me. If he wants to admit defeat, give up, I should be saying he has earned that right.
Please Moodscopers, tell me to shut up, zip it, keep my nose out, stop being a nosy busybody, whatever comes to you. I could do with a good talking to. 

A Moodscope member. 

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.



It’s Private

Wednesday November 17, 2021

We’re an old-fashioned family, in that we still have all our meals sitting around a table. Eating dinner like this means we can all talk about our day; the things that went right and the things that went wrong. My daughter is passionately engaged in her A level subjects but it isn’t all plain sailing. She holds strong opinions, and often disagrees with the way a subject is taught. We get reports of the arguments she has with her teachers; who are, of course, completely and utterly wrong! Her father will talk about the office banter and how the convoluted systems he works with were obviously designed by sadists.

This meal-time forum gives rise to lively discussions too, and one such happened just yesterday about privacy, especially the privacy of health.

Now, I agree that there are some things in life that should be kept private (ahem - glances at Himself and smiles) but is our health one of those things?

Our medical records are private. Before my GP referred me back the psychiatrist, she asked me if I was happy for my medical records to be passed over to him. Well, of course I was happy! How could he treat me if he didn’t know all the facts?

While I don’t think it’s appropriate for those records to be in the public domain, there are some health issues that affect the way we live our lives. When these issues also impact on others, should we really keep them private?

My parents in law kept their health issues to themselves; even to the extent of discouraging family to visit. They did not want us to know how ill they were and how their lives were so curtailed. This had the result of making us feel unwanted and meant we could not help. Their response was that they did not want help and would prefer to suffer on their own.

For many of us, admitting we have health issues – especially mental health issues – is admitting to weakness. We don’t want to seem vulnerable; we want to be seen as strong.

We are presenting a lie. Furthermore, it is a poisonous lie.

When we pretend to be strong, others, aware of their own vulnerabilities and weaknesses, can feel inadequate. You may have heard the saying, “Never compare your inside to someone else’s outside.” It’s like looking at the Facebook pages of your friends. They will post family celebrations and holiday photos: they won’t post their troubles. Happiness is public, misery is a private affair. Health is the norm; sickness (except possibly for a broken limb) is still something to be hushed up. It is private because it is “shameful.”

I believe it takes true strength to admit our vulnerabilities. Owning weakness, however, can bring freedom and, in my experience, more respect from others.

Health and happiness is not the norm. Hopefully it is a part of our lives, but it can never be the whole.

It wouldn’t be healthy if it were.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.




Tuesday November 16, 2021

I am doing a course on Future Learn on ‘The Secret power of Brands’. Power it is – thousands of people, millions of pounds, to discover how to part us from our money to buy product ‘x’ or ‘y’. The word ‘brand’ comes from old Norse, to burn’ Traditionally to mark your property, be it cow, handle of pick axe, or burn the name of your house on a piece of wood with a hot poker. I quote the course “It fills psychological needs; love, belonging, affiliation, achievement”. It could also be used to label, to stigmatise. War victims in concentration camps were marked for life by numbers on their fore-arms.

I was ‘branded’ the other day – and am questioning if I am getting ‘touchy’. I was in a hotel in Windsor, spoke to a few people. Then a couple just leaving came up to me – the lady “I said to my husband, we must speak to the old lady before we leave”. I was shocked, stupid, I know I am old. But never think age (other than being able to remember the war, austerity etc.) I have friends and acquaintances of all colours, creeds, nationalities, ages – they are just ‘people’. I felt I had been put into a category, and did not like it. The same week, another lady of ripe years (9 more than me), our Queen, had politely but firmly refused to be chosen as ‘The Oldie of the Year’ by that magazine.

On the course, we have an ‘assignment’, what ‘Brands’ mean to us. I thought of adverts or slogans which were etched on my memory (doubt if I ever bought the products) and why they were noticeable. ‘If you want to get ahead, get a hat’ (in the tube yonks ago). Then ‘superiority’, Burberry or Barbours, associated with the upper classes. The tutor showed four ties, all silk, two from markets £10 each, two from Libertys, £100 each. It was claimed that although the Liberty tie wearer did not show the label he ‘felt good’ because he could spend £100 on a tie. ‘Persil washes whiter’ (line of white nappies, ergo you were a better Mum). ‘What your right arm’s for’ (beer, did not notice brand). ‘Something happens after a Badedas bath’ (dashing man on white horse coming up drive). One could go on, it’s a fun game.

But I am feeling serious concern about the ‘power’ of advertising. Not just in the paper or commercial channels of our TV’s. It is insidious, manipulative, leads to jealousy, this wretched ‘street cred’, spending more than you can afford so your kids won’t feel deprived in the playground. Some companies, notably Coca Cola and Monsanto are always being sued. Many of the accusations are that they actually harm health. Some parts of India have banned Coca Cola. Monsanto gets rid of dodgy chemicals on poor countries. But they continue, getting richer – because they throw so much money in their ‘defence’ that nobody is powerful enough to make anything ‘stick’. Do you get cross/ignore ads? We’re impotent, I know.

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.



People’s behaviour is rarely what it seems but, instead, is enormously complex.

In fact, people are wonderfully complex.

As Oprah Winfrey and Maya Angelou say in this video (here - ) “When people show you who they are – believe them!”

Alain de Botton says the same thing in different words, “When you meet someone (romantically) for the first time, ask, ‘In what ways are you mad?’” (I paraphrase.)

Thus, if I say, “I am messy,” when demonstrate how messy I am, believe me… don’t be surprised!

In which ways are you ‘mad’? I’m mad about manners, I’m mad about plants, I’m mad about going barefoot as soon as possible in the Spring, I’m mad about saving the Planet, and, to my cost, I’m mad about justice, fairness, and speaking my mind.

Behind the veil, beneath the surface, lies the truth. But what if we had the confidence to pull back the veil with people? I don’t need to be proud about being messy – I simply need to recognise it as a potential weakness. But I do feel free to acknowledge it up front. Hording (being messy) is a trait I have met in many people. It’s usually a sign.

Next time something doesn’t seem quite right with someone, I hope you will find it in your heart to say, “What’s behind the veil? What’s beneath the surface?” And, if you’ve built enough rapport with them, gently ask if they are OK and how specifically you could support them.


Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to leave a comment below?



In rememberance…

Sunday November 14, 2021

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.



A friend or foe?

Saturday November 13, 2021

When I was 17 after a boyfriend broke my heart, I was prescribed Prozac by my Doctor.  It was 1998 and SSRI Antidepressants were being heralded as the wonder drug for mental illness.

My heart mended quickly. I suspect flowers and dinner date invitations were the distraction and soothing balm to my short lived heart-break blues.

However I was told I needed to stay on Prozac for six months to one year. I came off them at the one year mark and subsequently found myself navigating relationships, career angst and the challenges of being a young 20 year old. Feeling melancholy once again, back to the Doctor I went.

This became a pattern. I began to connect feeling blue with needing meds. Did they really help or was it the well known placebo effect doing the work?

Through the hormonal rollercoaster of four pregnancies and the busy years with four children under six I held onto these little white tables as a lifeline. ‘I just had a chemical imbalance’ I was told by the Health Professionals. 

It wasn’t until my late 20s, discovering an interest in natural medicines, and my growing distrust of ‘Big Pharma’ that I tried in earnest to stop taking my AntiDepressants. I waited until life was agreeable, no major life events, I was healthy, exercising, journalling, seeing a counsellor.

But no matter how hard I tried I could not stay off them. Six weeks of physical withdrawal symptoms would pass, I could ride that part out. But 2-3 months of being medication free and the brain fog, apathy for life, fear of dying, constant worry would come crashing down. 

I am now 40 and I have tried in earnest four times over the past decade to be medication free. My counsellor tells me that some people can’t produce serotonin on their own. She uses the analogy ‘If you were a diabetic would you feel guilty taking insulin?’ There is a part of me that just doesn’t buy it. What if at age 17 I had never been given Prozac and told I must keep taking it for up to a year, regardless of whether I felt better sooner. 

I am now on 20mg of Paroxitine per day. I have just struggled through what will be my last attempt to come off them. During which time I fantasised with death, contemplated the futility of life continually and faced each morning with the dread of another day. I am a single mum with four beautiful children who are relying on my encouragement and strength in this crazy world, I couldn’t afford to stay in that place any longer.

I am now on Day 8 of being back on Paroxitine, my brain feels like an untuned radio slowly being tuned to the correct frequency. The beginnings of a recognisable song is gaining volume and clarity. 

But what if it has been all these years taking pharmaceuticals that has caused my brain to stop producing its own serotonin? Will I always feel at the mercy of a little white pill? What could my brain have been capable of without the introduction of Prozac in 1998? I will always wonder…

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.



In the last decade there has been a big emphasis on being positive all the time.

I wrote a blog years ago, ‘Do we always have to accentuate the positive?’

I have had a problem with this and now I am reading articles that agree with me, that in some instances being over positive is not appropriate or even helpful.

How can positivity be extreme you may ask? Positivity has a time and place, and if ill-timed or relied on in an inappropriate situation, positivity has the potential to be dangerous.

However, it can be harmful to relationships, particularly when a person is struggling, and their partner pushes them to “Look on the bright side” without listening to what they are feeling.
A friend has serious problems with her eyes, yet people often tell to think of others and to be happy, so she feels her problem is minimised. Sometimes my friend just wants people to accept something is bad and sit with her.
After the fires people said to me a week later, you are so lucky to be alive and you should be grateful you only lost things. I was alive and grateful but just to have someone acknowledge the loss I felt would be better than being told move on and be happy. I know when someone is sick or grieving people don’t know what to say but just saying to someone you don’t know what to say is honest.

I see myself as a realist not negative. I don’t want to be dismissed when I tell people how I feel. I feel positivity has a role but now they call it toxic positivity when people are not listening or acknowledging someone’s pain but just saying being positive will make things better.

What do you think? 

Are ok when someone tells you to look at what you have and not to complain? Or do you find, when you are telling people how you are feeling that they don’t listen and tell you to be grateful, that you get annoyed.

Have you any examples of excessive positivity or inappropriate positivity that people have said to you?

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.



The Lone Birch Tree

Thursday November 11, 2021

There is a birch tree on the heather moor not far from the escarpment edge and by the side of one of my regular walks. It is shaped a bit like a lollipop, a round crown above a slender trunk. A single tree on the moor and a familiar waymark. Earlier this year, walking in the January blizzards when the path was covered in drifting snow. I knew where I was when I saw the lone birch tree.

A couple of years ago, for a few short months, I was close to a Russian poet. They came to visit me, and we walked together. When they saw the lone birch tree, they said: “That tree, that is me, standing alone in all weathers”. This was a very Russian sort of thing to say as there are a lot of birch trees in Russia. Imagine the Russian accent if you can.

They told me about their childhood and how they had suffered and fled from Russia. How they returned in the chaos of perestroika, married, and then came back to England when it all became too much. Stories told in the brilliance of a Russian storyteller, far into the night, fuelled by wine.

Then, as we got to know each other over time, it became clear that alcohol meant more to them than a way of lubricating our evenings. I went to visit their home and found my poet friend at the end of a session of drinking vodka that had lasted for days. Bottles were everywhere. Under the bed, in the laundry basket, in the kitchen cupboards. They were in the realm of hungry ghosts, consumed by intergenerational trauma.

I have my own ghosts, my own traumas, I could not help. I know that if I drink alcohol, even if it is the finest wine, I can become anxious and depressed the next day. But there are days when this happens even when I am careful with what I eat and drink. The hungry ghosts are always there.

Perhaps I should just ‘snap out of it’ and ‘think positive thoughts’. There are things I know can do, a walk on the moor, see friends, chat to family on WhatsApp. These all help – if I can do them. But sometimes it’s just easier to isolate, wait until my mood changes, and then take steps.

Perhaps some people can take life how it comes, whereas others are predisposed to alcohol, anxiety and depression. How much of this is in our own hands, our responsibility? Am I just not being a normal person by taking the ghosts by the scruff on the neck and saying – out with you, I can be here in all weathers, standing lonely and proud!

Rowan on the Moor
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.



The Hardest Thing

Wednesday November 10, 2021

Hello everyone: it’s good to be back.

A huge, HUGE thank you to Hilary, Alex and Ian for stepping in and writing the Wednesday blog for the past three weeks. I am incredibly grateful. I’m also grateful to you readers who welcomed them and commented on their blogs.

It was hard to accept those offers of help.

This depressive period lasted exactly 31 days. I went down on Thursday 7th October and came up again on Saturday 6th November.

With every episode, I think I manage it better. Those of us who live with bipolar disorder know the cycle of ups and downs will repeat. Medication can work to a greater or lesser extent, but the underlying pattern is still there. Management of this pattern is essential.

I’ve written before about my wonderful buddies. This time round, I created a WhatsApp group for them and gave them a daily update; usually a copy of my Moodscope score annotation. I shared with them my feelings and frustrations and tried to take on board their excellent advice.

This advice included:

- Cancel or postpone all business and social appointments.
- Don’t clean (and don’t feel guilty about it).
- Don’t iron (and don’t feel guilty about it).
- Get the groceries delivered and order in ready meals so you don’t have to cook. No guilt.
- Sit on the sofa and watch TV.
- When you need to sleep, sleep.
- Let me write your Moodscope blog.

Hey – what?

I wrote back, “I’ve not missed a Wednesday in seven years. I’ve written through thick and thin, mania and depression, grief and joy. I can do this!”

Then I sat back and thought, rather than just reacting. My words had come out of pride and need for control. My buddies were urging me to a place of acceptance rather than resistance, and they are wise in this. If I gave up that pride, relinquished control, and accepted the help offered, how would I feel?

So, I took a deep breath and said, “Yes.” The relief was tremendous.

Another offer of help came from my GP. My GP practice runs training for medical students, and I talk to those students about mental health. Even though I was unwell, I decided to honour that commitment. I thought it would be useful for the students to see how depression can really look, instead of just reading a list of symptoms. The organiser took one look at me and said, “I’m going to get your GP to see you after her morning appointments.” I hadn’t thought of going to see her – just enduring this episode the best I could.

When she asked, however, in gentle tones, “Shall we send you back to the psychiatrist?” I nodded mutely. I had to accept I do need more help.

Accepting help means giving up pride. We hold onto pride as if it is precious but when we let it go, that loss brings freedom in its wake.

If help is offered, say yes.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.



Fear Versus Anxiety

Tuesday November 9, 2021

I have heard fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. Another acronym is F@$!# Everything And Run, or a better alternative; Face Everything And Recover.

Fear and anxiety are not always the same thing to me, which might sound strange to some. I have anxiety about the what ifs and possible boogeymen lurking in the shadows sometimes, anxiety over anything unknown or unseen. Yet as soon as an object appears in front of me I barge ahead and face it head on. People have praised me: “You don't seem to be afraid of anything." Yet there are times when absolute terror would save me, like my phobia of poisonous reptiles. I would flee before I was fatally bitten. 

Anxiety is the circular what ifs that rotate endlessly in my head. Nothing negative has ever happened because my anxious thoughts predicted or concocted the event, so what benefit is there to ruminating and worrying? It feels productive in some ways, but that reward is like the false evidence that fear represents. 

I have learned irritability is my ill coping mechanism for anxiety, and take it as a signal that it is time to take the prescribed medication. The other thing is feeling rushed without there actually being any need for it; that is my other big cue that I am getting anxious. 

Our Moodscope cards have both afraid and scared as emotions, which at one time I thought were one and the same, and I usually score them the same. 

Sometimes I think of emotions as paint colors, like the character Blanche Devereux on the Golden Girls once described her mood; "I'm feeling Magenta today." Two paint shades sitting side by side may almost look alike but be slightly different. 

It helps to pinpoint them as closely as possible to make them manageable. After all, to quote Dr. Phil:"You cannot change what you do not acknowledge." And maybe it is easier to change what you recognize once you recognize it specifically. 

Someone once told me:"Courage is not the absence of fear but feeling the fear and doing it anyway." Only I think they said it more poetically, but in other words "face your fears and they will flee."

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.



One Hundred Percent

Monday November 8, 2021

Have you ever had a problem achieving something you’ve promised to yourself? Chances are, you were 90% committed to getting or doing what you wanted. As soon as there is anything less than 100% commitment, there’s room for negotiation.

If you want to exercise and you are 98% committed to daily exercise, there will be a limit beyond which you won’t go. It may be it’s too cold. It may be you feel lacking in energy. It may be that it’s raining outside.

Making a 100% commitment may even be wrong in some circumstances. It is totally inflexible and that’s usually unwise. But I believe you are wise – wise enough to make the right choice.

Bankruptcy has been fascinating for me. I’ve (remarkably) been made bankrupt twice. It’s not something I’m proud about. It still smarts. However, it has helped with my level of commitment. Now, I am 100% to not borrowing. That makes life surprising easy because it is not negotiable. There’s no wriggle room! Decision-making where it comes to credit is blissfully straightforward – I don’t borrow.

May you carve out some time out this week to reflect on your own non-negotiables. These values can define our characters. I’ve tried compromise on a massive scale – and I really think the ‘freedom’ it offers is over-rated.

Former generations made much of ‘duty’. This was, in part, a form of collective madness… a madness that cost us hundreds of thousands of lives in conflicts. But ‘duty’ within the right frame is magnificent and noble. I believe far too much weight is given to personal freedom and even ‘happiness’. My neighbours, in their quest for personal freedom, disturb my peace. Does their right to do what they want to do exclude my right to live life as I would choose? I would argue freedom that leads to a detrimental effect upon others is not true freedom.

As John Donne says in his famous poem, “No man is an island.” I’m sure he was meaning to be gender neutral!

'No Man is an Island'
No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

Today, I’d invite us to become consciously noble – to commit to some non-negotiable values and principles and to proactively live by them. They will define us and the future of this planet for our children.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

What is Moodscope?

Moodscope members seek to support each other by sharing their experiences through this blog. If you’d like to receive these daily posts by email, just sign up to Moodscope now, completely free of charge.

Moodscope is an innovative way for people to treat their own low mood problems using an engaging online tool. Anyone in the world can accurately assess and track daily mood scores over a period of time. We have proved that the very act of measuring, tracking and sharing mood can actually lift it. Join now.

Blog Archive


Posts and comments on the Moodscope blog are the personal views of Moodscope members, they are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice. Moodscope makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this blog or found by following any of the links.

Moodscope will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.