The Moodscope Blog



It. Just. Is. Thursday March 8, 2018

It's back again. Oh I've been so well; and just as my life couldn't be more perfect on the outside (travel, a wonderful partner, a worry-free existence for months), still it arrives - and my insides feel like rocks.

This time I feel it has a message. It's almost laughing at me. "Ha! You thought it was a lack of money, relationship, worry?"

As I journey through life and work, as all my little achievements stack up, I can no longer blame those obvious things that it hooks onto. So this time it's different. I literally cannot blame a thing.

It. Just. Is.

There is no escaping the horror that this will follow me through my life no matter what my 'life's situation' looks like. Whether good, bad, or ugly. It doesn't care.

It. Just. Is.

It can accompany me in times of hardship, and it can follow me to a place of beauty where all is well with my life.

So, being the practical lass I am I turn to my 'list'. Things that may have helped in the past. (Anything!). Mine start with antidepressants, exercise, and food. I realise that with travel I have no constraints, and not scaffold, so this is more difficult that it seems. There's no one to have to pretend to if that makes sense. This morning I lay in bed thinking "I must get up!". (Answer, I cannot!). This went on and on until 11am. With no work to attend, no one will notice, so I can easily just disappear... Yet I know even getting up and having a shower will help. So why can't I?

One thing that has helped me though is my new favourite podcast, The Hilarious World of Depression. I listen to the Placebo episode where listeners dial in their favourite coping mechanisms. There are some lovely mantras, understandable anger ("My brain is an ass*ole!!" cries one listener in despair) and then my personal favourite: a quote from Freddy Mercury who, when unable to sing, simply stood up, and shouted "Let's fu*king do this darling!!" before striding into his recording studio, feeling anything like singing. For this listener it had been getting him out of bed for months - and appealed to my sense of humour. It seems this illness makes a lot of people swear a lot!

I love this Moodscope community. Somewhere out there I know a number of my tribe are also struggling with the same issues. Some as basic as "How the heck do I frickin' get out of bed" as this illness drains every last milligram of energy from my body.

Please! Share your 'how to get out of bed' tips with me; as I could really do with some help here!

Love from

The Travelling Girl
A Moodscope member.

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

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Gifts with Strings Attached. Wednesday March 7, 2018

I've probably mentioned that my mother is moving –

Oh, four and a half times? Are you sure? Right.

So, she has now moved out of her large house into a small one-bedroom apartment. She moved last Wednesday, in thick snow; the removal men slipping and sliding as they brought in boxes and furniture.

There's not much room in my mother's new home. Certainly not enough room for all the things she wants to keep.

She was going through one of her drawers to find more space. "I can't give that away," she said. "Muriel gave it to me. You remember Muriel, don't you? We went to see her when you were a little girl. She kept wire-haired fox terriers and had a son a little younger than you."

No, I don't remember Muriel, but I stay quiet.

"And Juliet gave me this and Pamela gave me that."

She keeps these things as reminders of her friendships in the past and as an anchorage to her now.

I went back to my own home determined never to do this to my children; determined to rid myself of all emotional clutter; those physical things which have no meaning to anyone but me, but which, one day, they will be forced to go through.

But I too keep gifts. I keep gifts because I am afraid the giver will come back to me and say, "Have you read that book I gave you?", "Where did you put that little glass dish?"; "Have you done that craft project yet?" I couldn't possibly cause hurt by saying, "I didn't want your gift, so I threw it away."

I fear they will feel rejected along with that gift.

A friend of mine is wise. When she gives something, it is without strings. Once it has left her possession it ceases to have anything to do with her; it is the property of the recipient to do with exactly as they choose. She said, "If I care what becomes of it then I should keep it, or at least ensure that it goes to someone who will honestly treasure it. The gift is in the exchange. After that, the item stands on its own merits."

In her family, they only give consumables. Flowers, edibles, toiletries.

But some people see it differently. They wish to retain a sense of ownership over the gifts they a have given; they surround the gift with expectations and those expectations can metamorphose into guilt. Gifts can be a way of controlling the recipient.

When a romantic relationship ends, there is a good reason why you should return all the gifts you were given. It cuts you free. Those gifts contain hooks and traps to draw you back. They hold memories like cobwebs to snare you, catch you and hold you fast, so you cannot escape and move on.

Gifts can be a terrible thing.

So, let's give without strings, and rid ourselves of any gifts containing guilt.

A Moodscope member.

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

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What I have, not what I am. Tuesday March 6, 2018

In trying to do my part to reduce stigma, I am openly talking to others about the fact that I have bipolar 1 disorder. Typically, I will get to know someone a little before disclosing my condition but sometimes it happens spontaneously.

Don't get me wrong... I'm not running around saying "Hi, I'm Maria and I'm bipolar". I think people would look at me strangely and perhaps run away. However, more importantly, I AM NOT bipolar. I am a person who happens to have a bipolar disorder. I have never heard anyone say I am cancer, so why should I promote my illness as my identity. I am so much more than that. In fact, I will make the distinction very clear to someone to whom I'm speaking to for the first time. I will straightforwardly ask them if they noticed that I said I have bipolar 1 disorder not that I am bipolar. I want them to be clear on the difference.

A lot of times I get the remark that I don't look like someone who has bipolar disorder... Clearly, they haven't seen me when the black dog is sitting so heavily on me that I'm suffocating. Or when my spending almost catches up with my rushing thoughts, but it presents me an opportunity to educate others, just by talking. I think that it is especially important here in America where the news is populated by mass killings.

Unfortunately, people with pre-existing mental health conditions here have access to firearms but not health care. That's a tragedy but I digress... I really want to stress that having a mental health condition does not define us. I have bipolar 1 disorder but I AM:
• Loving
• Smart
• Caring
• Loyal
• Trustworthy

I know it's easier for me to reveal my condition being that I don't work outside my home. I also select where and when I talk to others about my condition. However, I was recently asked if I would mind being interviewed by our local paper about having bipolar 1 disorder. I responded yes but was very anxious that all who read the paper would know what I have... even some people I would rather they not know. This prompted some soul searching and I have come to grips with a public disclosure, and I'm now comfortable with anybody/everybody knowing about this one aspect of my life.

I'm curious, do you talk to others about your mental health condition(s)? How would you describe yourself when saying I AM...?

Wishing All love and peace,

A Moodscope member.

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

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The Moodscope Men - Dr Interested. Monday March 5, 2018

Dr Interested (part 1 of 20 in a series called, "The Moodscope Men.")

I answered the loud knock at the door to find a beaming Dr Interested on my doorstep!

"You rang?" she said, her eyes twinkling with good humour.

My relief was tangible – I'd had a tough time getting interested in anything these last few weeks, and my Moodscope scores had fallen accordingly.

"Yes, Dr," I said, "I need a cure for my lack of interest."

"I have just the prescription that'll fix that," she said, opening her Gladstone Bag.

She took out six cards, handed them to me, and said, "Meet the Kipling Boys!"

I said, "'Kipling' as in 'cake'?" (a cake manufacturer in England).

"No!" the good Dr laughed, "'Kipling' as in 'Rudyard'!"

She continued, "Whenever I need to strengthen my interest, I remember this favourite poem of mine..."

[Let me share the full poem here from Kipling's work, "The Elephant's Child."]

I KEEP six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.

I let them rest from nine till five,
For I am busy then,
As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea,
For they are hungry men.
But different folk have different views;
I know a person small—
She keeps ten million serving-men,
Who get no rest at all!

She sends 'em abroad on her own affairs,
From the second she opens her eyes—
One million Hows, two million Wheres,
And seven million Whys!

The Dr and I laughed out loud together – both understanding a child's use of seven million Whys to dig deeper into any subject – usually to get something they want. This is how children stay interested and engaged.

On the cards, the Dr handed me, were six words.

"This is the cure that works for me," said Dr Interested. "Whenever I need to become more interested I ask questions beginning with what? why? when? how? where? and who?

Thanking the good Dr as she departed, I welcomed Kipling's Boys into my day, and I have to say that we had a very interesting day indeed!

A Moodscope member.

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

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Four little words. Sunday March 4, 2018

"Just you ignore them"

"We see it all"

"It's how it is"

These phrases have been given to me over the years by my granny, my mum and my dad. It dawned on me lately that far from being 'just' words, they are in fact so much more. They are laden with resilience, strength, humour, acceptance and allowance. Such power in just four words each!

I could talk on about what and why and how but I think I'm going to leave these words with you and let you decide whether they have a place with you and what tone you place with each one. And in a good old fashioned trade, if you have a short phrase, given to you by someone great, I'd love to hear it. I'll keep you a chair on the blogspot.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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

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Is it complicated to keep it simple? Saturday March 3, 2018

If I had a dollar for every time someone told me I should stop over complicating everything and keep things simple, I would be a rich woman.

I tend to make everything complex and build mountains out of nothing. Lets face it I am a drama queen.

I do try to keep things simple but I am so sensitive, I can overthink everything.

I try to keep things uncomplicated, to keep things so simple to not be distracted by my thoughts but somehow I can turn something simple like meeting for a coffee into a complicated army manoeuvre.

I have so many questions - Where will we meet, what time, what if no one turns up? What if they don't like the cafe I have chosen? What if the cafe is closed, what if the coffee is awful and the cakes stale? What if it is too expensive or too busy?

Why can't I just relax and know everything will be fine and if it is not, it is only coffee not the end of the world.

I have a friend who can make organising a party for a 100 people look simple and I can make a lunch date seem harder than a spy mission!

I like doing simple things, like blowing bubbles and waking in the rain, but when I plan anything I overthink and feel guilty that I can't keep things simple.

I wonder if being uncomplicated can be learnt or is it in my nature not to be and I can't change.

What about you, do you tend to over complicate things or have you worked out how to keep things simple?

When you are low do you over complicate things more or less than when you are well?

Any tips for keeping things simple?

A Moodscope member.

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

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A little kindness goes a long way. Friday March 2, 2018

I recently changed jobs after eight and a half years. I didn't particularly want to leave, I loved my job and my work 'family.' Unfortunately an unfavourable work restructure resulted in me feeling that my best option was to move.

I found it traumatic. I went from being very knowledgable in my field to starting from scratch. I didn't know the London borough I had moved to and I had to meet a whole new set of people, not easy for a shy person at heart.

Three weeks in I felt the panic rising. Sitting at my desk one day I wondered how best to escape. Just as I was about to run out of the door a new colleague came and spoke to me with kindness and interest. It turned out that I used to work with her husband years ago and she had made the link. She saved me from a big panic attack that day. A few weeks later I plucked up the courage to tell her how her kindness had helped me and she cried!

Remember a kind word can make all the difference to someone's day. I hope that you can give or receive a kind word today.

Jane SG
A Moodscope member.

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Anger Management. Thursday March 1, 2018

Some of you will have read the books by John E.Sarno. They are based on his work over many years, helping people with chronic muscular-skeletal pain and disability. Back pain is at epidemic levels in the USA.

In a nutshell, his belief was that our brains are capable of producing very real pain in order to divert our attention away from what is really hurting.

The first step he advises is to open our minds to the possibility that we are not suffering from some serious disorder - regardless of what may show up on an MRI scan - and that we can challenge our brains to stop playing nasty tricks. He is not talking about malingering, many of his patients have been very high-achievers, perfectionists. On the face of it, their back pains have been nothing but a huge hindrance, serving no useful purpose.

According to his theory, it all boils down to anger, narcissistic injury, usually going back into childhood. The demands of society to show "goodism" as he calls it. Not surprisingly, the teachings of Sigmund Freud are a cornerstone of his prescription for recovery. Happily for those of us who do not have the money or time to enter into longterm psychoanalysis, there is a lot we can do to help ourselves. You can also watch some of Sarno's lectures and interviews on You Tube.

Several things happened to cause me much anxiety over Christmas and new Year, and I think they are the cause of recent agonising muscular spasms in my low back and legs on both sides. In all cases, the behaviour of certain people left me feeling impotent and victimised. I have had sciatica for years, and mild arthritis. Thinking back, I can link bad acute episodes to times of depression and insomnia in my life. These latest pains are a new departure, and I was starting to fear some real injury. Then I reread Sarno's books, and the pains literally eased as I sat there.

Some people are deeply offended to be told something is all in the mind. Not me! I would far rather think this is my crazy brain causing me hell, than be told I have a condition that requires doctors or surgery.

It is so easy to start acting and thinking like an invalid. You become lazy, scared to make it flare up. A twinge and you are in panic mode, catastrophizing, you fear another bout of agony. Now I am telling myself it is just a twinge, get on with it.

I can't do much about the many things that have caused me to repress anger over the years and in the present day. My Northern Irish/Scottish background often makes the thought of fisticuffs seem very attractive. Only my age, small stature and the threat of being locked up stops me.

Spa pampering sessions have never appealed to me. I don't want hot stones or foot massages. I want to detox the part of my brain that has had to repress the fury, enabling me to live as a responsible law-abiding citizen.

I would seriously love a soundproof padded room (it may yet come to that of course) wherein I could let rip, punching, kicking, effing and blinding until I am hoarse. Some personalised effigies would be nice too, preferably attached to a punchbag. I am seeing a potential business here, any Dragons reading this?

Has your mind caused your body to suffer, and can you pinpoint what might have caused it? Are you in pain as you read this? If there is no obvious cause, could it be coming from inside your head?

A Moodscope member.

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

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I promise. Wednesday February 28, 2018

I promise to do my best,
To do my duty to God,
To serve my Queen,
To help other people
And to keep the Brownie Guide Law.

It is nearly fifty years since I made that promise, and that promise today is different. Line two says, "To be true to myself and develop my beliefs," which is more inclusive, even if it doesn't scan. Line three includes serving the community as well as the Queen. But I can still remember making that promise.

There are other promises I have made.

I promised Caroline I would faithfully turn in a blog every Wednesday (or, if it was not explicitly promised, it is a tacit understanding at least).

On 7th May 1999, I promised my husband I would love and care for him always and be faithful to him.

I hope I have kept all these promises.

But the promises I make to myself, they are an entirely different matter.

I promise myself I will stop drinking. I promise myself I will eat healthily. I promise myself I will swim at least three times a week. And I promise myself I will have finished my third novel by Easter.

And – what happens? The bottle of Cabernet calls my name. My daughter has three friends around and I feed them all pizza. It is too much bother to cook myself salmon and vegetables, so I eat pizza (and cheesecake too). Today I need to write this blog and to pack up china for my mother in preparation for her move; so swimming falls by the wayside. "Tin Soldier"? It stands at 36,667 words, and the finished length will be 75,000 words. Easter? Cue sound of hollow laughter!

If we keep the promises we make to others, yet not the promises we make to ourselves, what does that mean? What does it tell us about the way we view ourselves in comparison to others? What are the implications of valuing others more highly than ourselves?

I find it interesting that, in Matthew 22:39, Jesus says, "Love your neighbour as yourself." He does not say, "Value others more highly that yourself." We and our neighbours are of the same worth – and worthy of the same love.

This blog is not meant to put more pressure on you – I am all for being compassionate with ourselves and to recognise that sometimes promises cannot be kept, for very good reasons. But I do think we should learn to value ourselves and our time and our promises to ourselves.

Last week I promised you that I would schedule more and do less. I have heard it phrased as, doing less to accomplish more.

This week I have not managed to keep that promise: things have been chaotic – mostly owing to my mother's move – she is downsizing and it's a big job: lots of packing.

So, I have let you and myself down. But this coming week, I will do better!

I promise.


A Moodscope member.

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

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Decisions! Decisions! Part 2: The Barrage of Little Ones. Tuesday February 27, 2018

The search for the perfect outcome from every decision often leaves me paralysed. Paralysis turns to agitation, then anger, then sadness. All over what type of ham to buy or whether to wash my hair today. Looking logically I know it doesn't really matter but when I'm feeling the full force of the barrage of little decisions, I panic, I freeze and I get stuck.

I was recently describing this difficulty to a friend. She kindly offered to make the decisions for me. Simply text her the options and she'd decide. Easy. "What should I have for dinner?" I asked. Her friendly reply came immediately. But of course I didn't like the answer. Had she given it enough thought? What about the leftovers? Or nutritional balance? Turns out, decision making is not something I can outsource.

So I set to trying to identify what was causing my difficulty.

As with many sufferers of depression, I'm a perfectionist. I feel as though my happiness is dependent upon making the perfect decision. Anything less and my world will fall apart. Or at least that's how it feels. These days we have so many information sources available to us to "help" us to live more positively. But I'm a sucker for documentaries, have a strong moral compass and have a big heart to fill with worries. Every new piece of information I receive goes into my melting pot ready to be drawn from the next time a range of options come my way. The problem is that my pot is overflowing with conflicting over-information: unrealistic aspirations from "perfect" messages I've received clashing with the reality of my own situation. My paralysis comes from trying to balance so many considerations.

So I've decided to empty my melting pot, give it a good wash and only put back in the most valuable pieces of information. The rest are of no benefit to me however much they claim to "help". I'm proactively avoiding many sources of new information and prioritising only the most genuinely positive. Already I feel a little calmer, my head feels a little clearer, and everything seems a little brighter. Of course it's a work in progress, but it has helped me and I hope it will do you too.

I'd love to hear other experiences and strategies for smooth decision making.

With definite love

A Moodscope member.

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

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The Shadow of the Demon. Monday February 26, 2018

My first proper job was with the Library Service of Surrey County Council. It was also one of the happiest times of my life. As part of the role, I was exposed to books I may never have otherwise seen. One of my favourites was one aimed at first-time parents. It was called, "Baby Taming."

Even after 40 years, I can still see the inside cover illustration. It was of a monstrous shadow cast tall - up and across the wall - filling the scene... and filling the heart with dread. Yet, follow the shadow to its source and you would have seen a harmless cartoon baby crawling into the room. The baby was simply seen in a light that exaggerated its shadow out of all proportion.

Thus the key point of the book was made with one simple illustration: parenthood may seem terrifying, but with the right advice the fear of parenthood could be conquered through taming baby! Why? Because baby wasn't so terrifying after all.

I am not suggesting 'baby' and the 'demon' of my title are one and the same! My suggestion is that the phenomenon of the shadow of a prospect is often far worse than the reality it represents.

For months, I've been haunted by the prospect of disaster. Its shadow has loomed large. Yesterday, I met with someone who knew what they were talking about and we traced the shadow back to the reality that was casting it. The reality, whilst serious, is nowhere near as terrible as the shadow portrayed. The result is that I slept, last night, without torment.

There are often fears in your life, conjured up by the shadow of issues you've been afraid to face. May I suggest you find someone external to your situation - a friend, a professional, even a trusted stranger - who can see the source of the shadow for what it is, and help you find peace. The shadow of the demon may be far more terrifying than the fear you have demonised.

I remember Jerry Savelle talking about his frustration over an unanswered prayer. He just couldn't break through and the circumstances said that his faith was not working. Kenneth Copeland said one line to Jerry that burned into my consciousness and has stayed with me ever since:

The shadow of a dog never bit anyone!

Don't let your peace be robbed by the shadow of anything - dog, demon, or even the fear of parenthood! Find the source and see it in its true light, then tame the beast!

A Moodscope member.

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

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It's all about you. Sunday February 25, 2018

I Have been busy at work in the mine since we last met; but my lamp is well lit and keeps guiding me to the surface.

Today's blog is all about YOU!

Do you think your super intelligent/clever?
Are you a perfectionist?
Do you think you're not suffering from a brain illness?
Have you got any medical symptoms?
IBS, cold sores, headaches, fatigue, sore throats, paranoia?

Do you think you can read peoples minds?
Are you kind to people or horrible?
Do you cry; lose your temper at the flip of a coin? Do you have OCD a little like me?
Have you been to the doctor?
No ....I thought not!
Do you think you don't need medication?

There are many forms of brain illness - maybe you, yes you might have one?
Look in the Mirror
DO you love the person staring back at you?
Or is it all about you?

Many people who suffer in the darkness are very selfish.
Give something back today and I guarantee you will glow from your kindness and life will be brighter, take a tip from a wise old Miner!

The Miner
A Moodscope member.

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Feeling stupid, feeling small. Saturday February 24, 2018

I feel thick. Looking at it rationally I'm not. I have the degree that proves it to pretty much everyone except me.

So why do I feel stupid? Because the people I know are even more academic than I am. My best friend is better at both maths (our degree subject) and music (favourite hobby) than I am. My husband got the top first in our year (different subject to me thankfully) then became an academic and changed direction in his 40's to have a high flying career. The best man at our wedding got a double first. Lots of my friends are academics - at impressive places like Harvard Business School.

I work with lots of bright people. I don't think I've got as far as might be expected in my job – although perhaps it's not bad by the standards of bipolar part-time working mothers. There are times when I come home to hear my husband enthusing about all the splendid things he has done in his day and I compare them with the very average things I have struggled to achieve in my day. It makes me feel pretty inadequate, daunted and depressed. It wouldn't be fair of me to expect him to change and stop enthusing because he has always been exuberant and I love that. And I want his work to go well - but it's still hard sometimes.

People say 'Don't compare your inside with other people's outsides' but I don't think that's what is going on here. My husband certainly isn't putting on a front. So if I'm not misunderstanding the people I compare myself to, why do I end up feeling stupid when I'm not? I think my issue is that I have chosen a very small pool of very academic people to compare myself to. Not everyone who started out in my line of work passed the professional exams so why am I only comparing myself to those who did? Not all my friends went to university with me. They certainly didn't all stay on and do postgraduate degrees with my husband or become academics. If I include the friends I've made through my daughter's school, through church, or through stays in hospital there's a much wider variety of people and I can see myself a bit more realistically.

I've read and I believe that the best thing for my mental health would be just to accept myself for who I am and stop measuring myself against others. But I haven't got there yet. Surely starting with a wider group of people to compare against so that I get a more realistic picture of myself is progress of a sort.

Do you find yourself comparing yourself to others? Is it helpful or unhelpful?

Do you only compare yourself to certain people?

Can you give me any tips to stop comparing myself?

Love from

Tutti Frutti
A moodscope member.

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

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What is confidence? Friday February 23, 2018

I feel that everyone else seems more confidence than I am.

There are people who seem to effortlessly exude confidence like sunscreen oozing out of a tube. They seem to go through life knowing what to do and knowing that all their choices are correct. I call them the confident tribe.

I am not one of them. I am in the tribe of worriers from long ago. I come from a long line of worriers. We all worry about everything, we have no confidence we second guess all of our decisions.

In life people like confident people. People want to be around, to be friends with and to love confident people. Nobody says I wish I had a partner who is nervous and worries. People want someone who knows what they are doing, who knows their value and worth. Nobody wants to be around a nervous person who is so unsure of what they want.

I want to join, I want to be one of those people - The confident tribe - join those men and women who take big steps in life who don't seem to have ever worried once about anything. I wonder, can anyone join the confident tribe? I do not think so. To me it is a very elitist and unattainable tribe. These confident people seem like they come from a far away planet.

They are not like many people I know but they have something that everyone wants. Ask anyone what they would like to change and they'd say, be more confident. It seems everyone wants to be more confident.

I have no idea what that feels like. Even writing this I feel like this is a silly topic. Why did I pick this topic? Can other people relate to this topic?

I don't think anyone has ever called me confident in my life. I think of a list of adjectives to describe me and confident is not on the list.

My school reports described me as nervous and unusual.

I know this person who I would think was a chief in the confident tribe but she tells me that she has just been pretending for years and she often has little confidence.

Honestly, I am not sure if I believe her because I would not have the confidence to pretend to be confident.

So what do you think. Is there a confident tribe or is it just full of people pretending to be confident?

When do you feel confident or have other people called you confident?

A Moodscope member.

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

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When I was a little girl. Thursday February 22, 2018

When I was a little girl I was creative, fun, mischievous and happy. I had strong attachment to my mother and would be terrified of letting her out of my sight. My first day at school is a memory shared not for the smiles and pride but for me kicking and screaming and being man handled over the threshold then coming home and hiding behind the sofa feeling totally betrayed.

Of course I did settle in to school eventually and I made some friends there too. But one Friday afternoon, when I was 6, my Mum didn't pick me up from school, it was the Nurse who usually came to visit my Granny who lived with us. She took me home, took me into the kitchen and gave me some paints and told me to stay there. Later that evening, I sneaked out and up the stairs, I could see my Mummy lying in bed, lots of grown ups around her. I scurried back into the kitchen and waited, quietly.

It turned out my Mum had had a massive stroke that left her completely paralysed. She went into hospital and the next time I saw her it was Christmas Day and I didn't recognise her.
She was left severely disabled but my Father brought her home for us to care for her. My Granny went into an nursing home and promptly had a heart attack. I didn't know at the time but my Father knew then that he would never have old bones. I was what we now call a 'young carer'. Everyone told me to be good, to be good for my Mummy and Daddy. So I was. I was dutiful. I didn't have a tantrum, I didn't cry if I had to go to someone else. I didn't ask questions that might upset people.

Three and a half years later my Father went into hospital and he didn't come home. His funeral was on my Mother's birthday so I spent that day in the hospital with her to keep her company. A week later our house was put on the market and I was at boarding school. Be good, do your best, don't upset anyone.

By the time I was a teenager I was acutely aware that I was different. Now I know it was depression. Now I know what I should have been told, how I should have been allowed to behave, what I should have said. I eventually spoke to a teacher about how I felt, my teenage journals are full of advice to anyone reading to talk to someone. I'm so grateful to that wonderful teacher, she absolutely saved me.

Talk to someone.

A Moodscope member.

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Building in Some Slack. Wednesday February 21, 2018

Our flight was scheduled for 18.05. Last call for boarding was 17.40. My husband said that he had arranged to get the hire car back at 16.00 and we should therefore leave at 15.00.

I turned on my sunbed to look at him. It was ten past two and I had just reached page 177 in my Jack Reacher book. It was an exciting bit and I didn't want to move.

"It only takes fifteen minutes to get to the airport from here," I pointed out.

"But we've got to shower off the sun cream and sand and then change into going home clothes. And I have to put more petrol in the car."

I reluctantly closed my book and started to drag my sun-drugged body off the lounger; started to gather up our children and belongings. I was grumpy; I had wanted to eke out every last drop of warmth before we returned to the great grey beast of the British February.

But, he was right of course. It always takes longer than you think. It was half past four when we got the car back and gone five by the time we dropped off the baggage. Negotiating Security and the Duty Free took some time, and in the end, we were pretty much the last people to board the plane.

But – there was no panic, because he'd built in enough slack.

My eldest takes after her father. She has already drawn up her revision timetable for her GCSEs and, with sly humour, has labelled some periods, "Procrastination and messing about."

I have yet to learn to do this. My mother says that I have always tried to fit a quart into a pint pot. For years, this phrase meant nothing to me, as I didn't realise a quart is two pints!

So, I over commit. I try to fit too much in and I never leave enough time to do it all.

The result, of course, is stress. It means I am late to appointments or have to cancel at the last minute. It means that sometimes I am so stressed I forget things entirely, and I'm always in a rush.

As you know, I don't do New Year's Resolutions; but – if I did – then my resolution for 2018 would be to do less and to schedule more.

It's not lazy, it's self-preservation.

It's for the good of those who love me. Because they need to be less stressed about me being too stressed.

And if they don't have to worry about picking up the pieces of my disasters they will be less stressed and they won't get angry.

I will schedule in more time to do less.

I Promise.

A Moodscope member.

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There must be instructions somewhere. Tuesday February 20, 2018

Hello my friend. What do we have today? Let's see. Are you begging for the end of the day already, to be comforted by darkness and quiet, or are you able to see the day as yours?

Even if you are working and have an employer watching over you, it is still your day and how you handle your challenges is your choice. I try to look ahead at what things are going to rough me up (loud people, busy situations, bad manners, my senses being attacked) and arm myself for them.

Yesterday I was volunteering. I knew I would meet an extremely loud woman unaware of anyone else's existence but herself. As a bit of a wall flower, I bristle around her. I had to plan. It worked! She made a loud entrance and we all became aware of her holiday plans for the following week, and we now have the additional detailed and intimate knowledge of her foot blister, but I was also able to divorce myself from it because I'd planned.

She blasted us with her 'everything' and I had fun because I'd decided I would picture her as a hoover. It worked! The moment she launched, I heard 'hoover' and I just carried on reading my duties for the afternoon. Peace became me. In my head I was running through a silent, sunny, flower-filled meadow whilst she had hoover noises coming out her mouth.

It was a great film!

Dare you to try it.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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Life is like a camera. Monday February 19, 2018

I saw an inspirational plaque in a photo shop in Weymouth. I thought its contents profound and insightful – mixed with just the right amount of wit.

It said, "Life is like a camera: just focus on what is important & capture the good times; develop from the negatives & if things don't work out, just take another shot."

Writers often long to discover their own 'Signature Quote' – that pithy aphorism that they will be remembered for. Forrest Gump had his, "Life is like a box of chocolates..." I hope that whoever had come up with, "Life is like a camera..." was rather pleased with the result. I know I would have been.

'Focus' is a core concept for me nowadays. But what to focus on? The received wisdom here is on what is important and the good times. When we are low, it seems naturally easy to obsess over the bad times and frankly on what is less important. What is important to you? That's a question that only you can answer – but it's a core question that needs a heartfelt response.

As beauty is in the eye of the beholder, your definition of 'good times' is also unique to you. The call to action, though, is a great one for all of us: capture the good times. This is why I always have a camera or camera-phone with me. Good times are everywhere.

'Develop from the negatives' was a great way of putting the need to move on from the negatives – to make them serve our own purpose, and then move on from them.

But the final passing shot was the best shot for me: "If things don't work out, just take another shot." It's never too late to press the shutter to capture the good times of a new scene.

If you'd be happy to share, there are several cues here to respond to. What's important to you? What are 'good times' to you? What negatives have you learned from and then moved on from? When and where in your life have you taken another shot?

I'm not asking you to answer all those questions below, but I'm sure it would help if you thought about them all.

Here's to the good times and what is truly important.

A Moodscope member.

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Every silver lining has a cloud. Sunday February 18, 2018

Caroline has rightly banned a recent offering – on the witch hunt where any man, alive or dead, who touched a woman 'against her will' is to be pilloried. She said it might be provocative!

For the first three months after Mr G went into a care home my 'freedom' was not that easy to assume. The sight of him was harrowing – at night I read stuff I knew – Dick Francis, Wilbur Smith, Jilly Cooper – don't know if I even noticed, just dull the pain until the sleeping pills kicked in.

Now I've gone 'serious' reading in French, new books to me. The morality issues are worse than current ones. First book was the life of the Mountbattens in India – she would seem a total nymphomaniac – yet admired by Ghandi, life-long friend (lover?) of Pandit Nehru, and a tower of strength in the partition struggles. I Re-watched the film 'Portrait of a Marriage' (triangle Vita Sackville-West, Harold Nicholson, Violet Trefussis). Vita was born to luxury, absolutely wild, yet she and Harold produced the Sissinghurst garden. He was a diplomat, and homosexual, what a risk to take. Poor Violet seemed totally amoral, even called 'evil', yet, born to Alice Keppel, mistress of Edward VII, what moral basis could she get?

I am struggling with a fantastic book by a French writer, Dominic Lapierre, about the race between high-level medical researchers to find the cause of AIDS – which came from the sexual explosion of the 1970's.

Thinks came to a head this morning with the news that workers for Oxfam have been taking advantage of their position and abusing girls, in Haiti in particular. New outrage. They are living in an area of corruption and misery – temptation is there all the time – 'abuse' could sometimes be mutual comfort. What nobody will admit that there is an important side to even the horror of sexual tourism. In very poor countries (we have some experience of this) a pretty girl who works as a prostitute in Bangkok can buy her starving parents a cow and send her brothers to school. The 'business' (un-documented) is a vital part of some third-world country economies.

My 'silver lining' allusion comes from struggling with my great mass of pictures and not seeing the underlying problems. The worst is my favourite breakfast location, the garden of friends in Adelaide. Now, their son-in-law has early onset dementia – they have adopted Indian brothers, now teen-agers, that poor family. I now have to train myself to see my pictures as 'snapshots' taken at the flash of a second of time. Otherwise, every lovely memory will carry its own cloud, even to the rice-fields of Ubud, in Bali, now being a virtual housing estate – like prostitution, the families could not live on the production of a tiny field of rice, but they can on the burgeoning tourism.

Lesson learned, do not live in the past.

And you?

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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Could today be the start of a new life for you? Saturday February 17, 2018

Thought for Moodscopers...

When things go well we are happy and contented. But it doesn't last does it?

I believe most adversities are what I call Self-Inflicted and arrive through contention of one sort or another. Opposition seems to attack us when least expected, always when we are unprepared! We hear something detrimental about ourselves, we respond, we contend, then ignore each other.

It's vital we don't carry upon our shoulders, subconscious ill feelings toward another.

Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Ghandi, Mother Teresa even some popstars portray a philanthropic loving persona. These men and women lived their lives 'giving' to all in need.

We all have an inbuilt capacity to love one other, loving ourselves sufficiently to see the love in others. We came to Earth with no preordained contentious ideas, no past, and no foreseeable future.

Arriving with a love for all things - need confirmation, just look into the eyes of a baby.

We may unconsciously hurt anothers' feelings, if so, we urgently need an emergency repair kit to secure and rescue (anagram) the relationship we once had. Not as a doormat, but in humility, compassion for the love of them and their feelings. Even if we had no part in this disagreement.

Cast off the ego, the self, and express that loving inner compassion lying dormant, waiting for that person who has hurt us. If it fails, we cannot be responsible. We can walk away...leaving their burden behind, upon their shoulders.

Laws govern Armed Forces, Roads, Courts etc to keep the peace. The Sun rises and goes down, without hesitation. The Moon comes out in obedience to the laws of nature to govern the coming and going of the tides.

Order governs our minds, if we will let it, at peace. We become The Peacemakers. Orderly minds widen the gap between joy and sadness. Nothing left festering, as procrastination 'is the thief of Time'. Never 'shackled' to the burdens of others, sub-conscious clear, free to enjoy this beautiful world.

It's like clearing out our cupboards... It feels wonderful!

Self-confidence comes as we 'listen' with our hearts to loved ones, less confrontation, less agro, more love, more intimacy, they will love you for you.

'Contention' out of the way 'Our House in Order', relationships, debt, health, finances, work/career under control, there's 'nothing' to worry about.

Order is a state of mind, when real adversity strikes, broken arms, kidney stones etc that's all we have to 'worry' about.

I make daily 'to do' lists everything crossed off, anything left, is dealt with tomorrow. My life is orderly... Not perfectionism.

Order lessens and deminishes Bipolar Depression. Yes in that 'Miner in the Pit', 'Nagatha Critchly', 'cocooned', life becomes bearable without depressive thoughts of the things we failed to do when well.

'Return to Love' a book by Marianne Williamson, is a must, for those searching for 'Inner Peace'. It will guide you to Love and understand yourself, and the benefits of Loving others - particularly Pages 72 through to end of 73.

Your views will certainly be of great interest to me.

Thank you for 'Listening'.

Dave x
A Moodscope member.

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