The Moodscope Blog

16

September

Acceptance, Blame and Reaching Out

Wednesday September 16, 2020


“I know I should get out and exercise.”

“I can’t just sit here. I ought to do something productive.”

“Look at the place: it’s a mess – and I just can’t seem to care…”

So often, people suffering with depression sit on the sofa and beat themselves up for having depression.

Oh, we know we are depressed, but we think, if only we could motivate ourselves to exercise, to achieve something, to tidy and clean our surroundings, then we would feel much better.

The temptation of this thinking is strong. We know that, when we go on a brisk walk in the fresh air, we feel invigorated. When we achieve something productive, we feel a glow of satisfaction. We feel more at peace when our surroundings are clean and ordered.

Even the “Experts” say, “Exercise has been proven to be as effective as medication in many cases of mild to moderate depression.”

Feeling unable to do these things makes us feel even worse.

Some of the symptoms of depression, however, are that very lack of motivation; a lack of focus; an inability to feel any sense of vigour, satisfaction; peace; or anything much. People with depression often feel dead and grey inside.

It is not only futile, but self-defeating to blame ourselves for exhibiting the symptoms of depression.

This lock down period has been hard on many who live with mental health issues. I think it has been particularly hard on those who normally manage their depression through organised activities with others. Exercise classes have been suspended; clubs have stopped meeting. Even if your group meets online, it is not easy to eat a meal, craft together, or to play scrabble without the physical presence of others.

It may be that your symptoms of depression have worsened over the past six months.

Don’t blame yourself for it; view it instead as one more side effect of the Covid pandemic. Accept it for what it is – a worsening of your symptoms through no fault of your own.

Acceptance does not mean wallowing in self-pity; it just means removing that weight of guilt from your shoulders. Beating yourself up will only prolong your illness.

But you can do something positive – you can reach out.

Text a friend.

A friend might not completely understand, but they might be willing to call round, to encourage you to leave the sofa and go for a (socially distanced) walk together. While we can still meet in groups of six, a small group of friends might keep you company, if only to watch a little TV together.

The first step is reaching out. Even if you feel you have no one to reach out to, you will be surprised at how kind and accepting even casual acquaintances can be.

You are not to blame; it’s not your fault, but you can take the first, teeny tiny step. If you’re reading this, that’s a first step in itself.

Reach out.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to leave a comment below.


15

September


On the top shelf of my mental wardrobe, there are a line of shoe boxes. Each labelled in black marker pen – Bipolar, bankruptcy homelessness, hospitalization etc. All of which I can open and talk about.

It is easy to talk about Bipolar. It is a disease and can be understood. But talking about homelessness is not. You pass through an invisible door which changes how people see you or too many don’t see you. The response to a man sitting on 3 layers of corrugated cardboard varies from an avoiding glance to kicking by a drunk on Saturday night – Saturday’s are good for takings. Money flows easily from the drunk.

The last box has the name Witchy Pooh on it. A woman who hurt me when I was in depression. It is taped up so that it does not come open; It contains a nest of vipers who would cause pain when they bit. Especially on the face. The venom would cause little surface damage but wreak havoc in my emotions.

It has taken me 2 years to come to the decision I should take action about the box and not let the box rule me. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy with a coating of mindfulness is planned to kill the vipers forever. But I doubt I will ever be able to talk about the contents of box.

There may be other boxes on the shelf I have not found. But one thing at a time.

Mark
A Moodscope member.


Thoughts on the above, please feel free to leave a comment below.


14

September

Rescue, Revelation, Revolution

Monday September 14, 2020


[To watch a video version of this blog post, please click here: https://youtu.be/fSbpZKA91OU]

Enter the Almost Hero to our story: Neil as a child. All I wanted was ‘peace’ and pond life. Of course, there’s no peace in a pond if you’re the size of a Stickleback – only if you are a Giant with a net! I was a Giant with a net!
 
My broad windowsills were filled with fish tanks, brimming with pond life. I wanted to be a botanist, like David Bellamy, or a naturalist, like Gerald Durrell. Newts, Sticklebacks, and Great Diving Beetles filled my days. Happy pursuits!
 
All emerging heroes (and I wanted to save the World, so surely that’s heroic?) must have a villain to fight in order to become the best that they can be. Some of the many villains in my story included a group of older boys who spat on me and kicked me in the plums-of-potential every day on the way back from school. My life was hell. I needed an Obi-Wan Kenobi to guide me.
 
Instead, I got Mother. And rather than being the Guide with a Plan to help me overcome my oppressors, she rescued me. She ‘nobly’ took them on herself, dealt with the bullies AND their parents, and I was left in peace… but not strengthened nor was I transformed.
 
[This is one reason why I changed to my middle name ‘Lex’ (Alexander) to try and leave my impotent past behind.]
 
To become the hero we can be, we must overcome the enemy, slay the dragon, beat the odds. Instead, I’ve lived a life of fear and in fear. Mr Miyagi didn’t jump over the fence and teach me Karate. That would have been so cool.
 
The good news is that I wasn’t without a map. I learned Mind Mapping, and it has become my ever-changing dashboard to my desired destinations ever since. Out of the chaos of my creativity comes the order of organisation… occasionally!
 
Revelation. I’ve found my voice – here on Moodscope as well as elsewhere – and am well on track to becoming Bellamy! OK, that was an exaggeration. I’m on course for becoming what I call a Thecologist. A Thecologist is a theologically-inspired ecologist. Once again, I want to save the World, though not on my own. The United Nations have a magnificent set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Whatever you think of the UN, these goals are well thought out and make a great frame for change. I am committed.
 
Even more important to me is “Buy-one;Give-One” – a wonderful organisation that makes ‘impacts’ around the Globe in alignment with the UN’s goals. This means I have a channel to do what they call, “Business for Good.” I can have a heroic impact – every day… a peaceful revolution.
 
However, there is a long way to go. Somewhere, along the timeline, I believe I have to stand up to the ‘spirit of the bully’ – that manifests itself in so many ways in so many people and organisations. Only then will I become the hero I can be and overcome the fear. The fear will pass; only I, the hero, will remain.
 
[Hope this helps as a model of how you could share one of your stories on Moodscope – the audience awaits!]

Lex
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to leave a comment below.


13

September

With and without her

Sunday September 13, 2020


I was a twin the first twenty years of my life, Then I lost her.
I couldn’t throw her a life line, and she fell in the bottomless pit of despair.

Now I have been without my twin for forty years, Twice the time that I had been with her.

I am a fish in the vast ocean, staying above water. When I drown, I will be with her once again.

Now I float from the bottom to the top,
With the starfish and the sea turtles,
Swimming to the surface for a breath of air.

Christine
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to leave a comment below.


12

September


What the World needs now is love sweet love,
It’s the only thing there’s too little of,
What the World needs now is love sweet love,
Not just for some but for everyone.

I’m designing a Utopian world, somebody has to! I’ve been ‘inspired’ by recent blogs, wherein happenings seem outside our control, but could have been less disastrous if more effort was put into ‘good management’ at a local level.

BrumMum had the devastating experience of her house being flooded. Global warming is the catalyst, long, exceptionally dry, hot periods shattering into freak storms.But there is ‘First Aid’. Plenty of data exist on the effects of mass building and extensive concrete. Ditches and storm drains are filled in, the water has nowhere to go. In the ‘good old days’ farmers and local councils in the UK would clear their ditches of matted grass and other rubbish (household quite often) well before winter rains arrived. The plethora of water authorities never agree about basic management.

Leah’s appalling tragedy in the Australian fires, when she lost everything, made huge headlines, but little seemed to transpire except acrimonious blaming of ‘authorities’. Rumour says that ecologists would not have the brush destroyed because of the habitat for small animals. But brush is often the catalyst, and when the fires came the animals could not escape the speed of it. Often fires are deliberately started – difficult to get into the mind of arsonists. Sick? Attention seeking (bit useless, they can’t broadcast the conflagration they have caused)? Often, like mass shootings, the perpetrator is sick in mind, and is seeking vengeance against a society he (usually he) which has mis-used them. People are always ‘wise after the event’. ‘He was such a nice young man’ or ‘Always thought there was something wrong about him’.

Trying to be sanguine on how Covid19 has changed my mind, I have been doing a Future Learn course ‘Demystifying Mindfulness’. It is a very good course, claims not to be orientated to any religion, but distinct Buddhist leaning ‘Mindfulness is a therapeutic practice rooted in the meditative traditions of Buddhism’. Doing a course on the latter at the same time, totally lost. The course advocates, naturally, how much better a mindful world could be. But it is very elitist, presumes you are well read – the millions who might benefit are not going to have access to, or competence to follow, the teachings.

In my degree studies much impressed with Rousseau, the ‘General Will’, a ‘collectively held will that aims at the common good or common interest’. In my town, I have, and still am, giving pleasure to residents and tourists alike of my mass flowering of the house exterior. I have tried, desperately, to generate what the French call ‘esprit du clocher’ pride in your own little corner. I have produced plans, a window-sill will cost 20 euros, why can’t the town encourage this pleasure to all? No way. The virus has disturbed us all, what have YOU found positive? A new interest, not just time-filler?

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to leave a comment below.


11

September

The games we play

Friday September 11, 2020


In the 1960’s there was a book called ‘The Games People Play’ by Eric Berne and I think it was published until the mid-1980s.

It was about transactional analysis but I want look at the games we play, mind games, emotional games, psychological games that we play in relationships and families and with other people in general.

People say: he or she play games all the time and they were never real. My parents played mind games and it affected my life. My brother or sister played mind games that affected our relationship. Some people that admit they may have played the victim game as a way of coping and getting attention. There is a long list of games people play but I want to mention a few and would like you to think of games that are played in your family or work or among you friends.

Blame game - This is a game the whole family can play. Every player blames the other for making s mess of their life. No rules, no boundaries. Often played at Christmas or birthdays and funerals.

Guilt-Tripping - The aim of this game is to make someone feel guilty unless they do what you want them to do. There is an on old light bulb joke - “how many parents does it take to change a light bulb?” None, don’t worry I will sit here in the dark while you go out and have fun”

Only joking - This is where a person says something that upsets or hurts another and then says “I was only joking; you are so sensitive, or you are so gullible.”
Then the person says you were not really hurt were you and the other person is now both angry and confused.
 
It is not my fault, if we believe that we are honest we might play games to make the other person acknowledge that we were never at fault. I am sure some us may have played this game or know people that have. Even if we are not accused, we may claim It was not our fault!!

Playing the victim - I know have played this game and maybe some other Moodscopers can relate too. It can be played in different ways. Some players take no responsibility, some are controlling, some have grudges, some are critical, some have trouble being assertive, some feel powerless, and some may not have limits. Of course, there are many more reasons to Play the victim.
 
What games do you or others you know play or have played the past?

I will own up to Play the Victim, blame game - it was not my fault and have been accuse of guilt tripping.

Feel free to add any games that you know about, as I left the list small so people can add their own.

Leah
A Moodscope member.

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


10

September

the merry-go-round

Thursday September 10, 2020


Hi all, I was hoping that one day I could write a blog that would inspire you all and show that I’ve finally beaten this emotional and mental anguish! No I’m not dramatising things, although some people might think that… (not until you experience it yourself, will you understand.)

However it’s not the case, I’m still on the merry go round. Lockdown has made things worse yet I continue to get up in the morning, work, sleep… the same pattern every day. I go for a walk but if I’m truly honest, I’m not well!

I’ve just started therapy after more than a year waiting, I’m also in the process of trying to buy my own home… this is proving all to be too much when this should have been a more pleasurable moment/time! I feel weak, my perception is skewed, I’m struggling at work, emotional when I shouldn’t be! I’m not myself… can I carry on for long! Who knows…

Is there light…

Hugo
A Moodscope member.

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


9

September

The Borrowers

Wednesday September 9, 2020


If this book should dare to roam, box its ears, and send it home.

How many of us have loaned out a book and never received it back? More than a few of us, I think.

I have had to replace favourite books so many times, that now, if a friend wishes to read one of my books, I buy them a copy. Or, I take a deep breath and say, “No.” My books are old friends: I love them and will not willingly be parted from them.

Other things are lent out too, on the understanding they will be given back. I have lent my car on occasion, items of fancy dress (costume) and frequently lend out business tools to members of my team. In turn, I borrow from them. It all works out very well. They always give things back in good condition.

We may have in our possession things which do not belong to us - items on loan. If we are still using them, we are probably happy with the situation, but when they are no longer needed, if we do not return them, they become clutter. We cannot dispose of them, but sometimes there is no easy way to give them back. They sit there and make us feel guilty.

Last week I was able to return something.

2016 saw my last serious bout of mania and depression; it was that one that sent me back to the mental health team and resulted in my current (effective) medication. During that manic period, I joined a choir. When the inevitable depression followed, I just – left. I sat, shaking, on the sofa for three months, unable to engage with anyone. When I recovered I was too ashamed to go back. I still had three items of sheet music: expensive sheet music, that had been handed out (lent) to the choir members. Every time I moved them from one place to another, I felt guilty; but I never did anything about them.

Then, out of the blue, I received an email from the choir master. It wasn’t about the choir at all, but an unrelated matter. It gave me a springboard for action.

I replied, explaining and apologising for that sudden disappearance, and asking for his address so I could return the sheet music to him.

It felt so good parcelling it up and putting it in the post-box. The feeling of lightness was out of all proportion to the physical weight of that paper.

It has made me have a look around to see if I have other things in my house that belong to someone else.

There is that book on curtain-making I borrowed from a friend some years ago. I made those curtains and vowed, “Never again!”

I haven’t seen my friend in a while; we should have coffee together, now that we can. And I’ll hand her back the book.

I think she’ll be surprised!

I hope she’ll be pleased.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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


8

September

Who are you looking at?

Tuesday September 8, 2020


Walking back from the shops, I thought what a field day Desmond Morris would have if he was alive. Older Moodscopers will recall the excitement and controversy that surrounded the publication of “The Naked Ape”.  
  
The significance of facial and body movements in ape and man gave us all a chance to play at amateur psychology. I recall chatting to a young man, when some girls laughingly pointed out the hidden message in his stance  (legs apart, thumbs tucked into belt, like Paul Hollywood). He blushed, as did I.  
  
Who are you looking at?

Now, our body movements are becoming less fluid and easy, as we try to keep  distance. In shops and other places half our faces are covered. Is this affecting feedback to the brain, and our mood towards each other? The bit of chat one would previously have had with the shop staff or customers in the queue has stopped. For some, this would have been the only conversation of the day. I can’t get out fast enough, to remove the mask and wipe the sweat from my face.  
  
A lady I was talking to has been welcoming the return to school for her two children. Now she may refuse, and it has nothing to do with fear of Covid. Her kids are aged 8 and 11, open friendly youngsters who confidently chat with  peers and adults alike. A letter from the school suggests that the wearing of masks for the pupils is being considered,  she fears this will have a bad effect on their emotional well-being. I very much agree.  
  
I have noticed that people make far less eye contact when muzzled. Eye contact is often the cue for other interactions, a smile, a scowl, a greeting. I thought texting and phoning had affected how we react to each other, but masks take it to a new level altogether. It  gives me a taste of what my Aspergers partner must experience. He has difficulty recognising some people as it is, and as for reading emotions from their facial expression, forget it. A common conversation between us might go “How did he seem?” “Er, ok I suppose, why?” “Well, was he cheerful and friendly?” “How should I know, ask him yourself!” 
  
I made some small mistake following the  supermarket arrows , nearly bumped into a couple. It was impossible to tell from their faces if they were cross, were the eyebrows raised in annoyance or shared fellow-feeling? All the tiny facial movements that diffuse irritation are hidden. Given the level of belligerence that seems to be around at present, I can imagine trouble arising. I gather the car park at the local supermarket is now the scene of regular shouting matches and rude gestures.  
  
I have been looking at Covid masks that have silly animal faces. I think I will get one. It may raise a smile, you never know. Maybe if I transgress people will think, ”Oh bless, look, she’s a harmless eejit with a piglet mask”. Then again, there is one with a fierce snarling Gorilla, would that keep me safe from the angry brigade?  
  
Oh Brave New World!    

Val
A Moodscope member.

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


7

September

Sharing Your Story

Monday September 7, 2020


[To listen to an audio version of this blog post please click here: https://soundcloud.com/lex-mckee/share-your-story-podcast ]

My first Physics’ lesson at Sondes Place Secondary was simply unforgettable. Mr Stubbs powered up his Van de Graaff Generator and sent an electric shock through all us First-Form boys. I’ve tried to bury the memory, but I do believe all we boys had to hold hands too - yuk! The result was instant! In shock, I immediately and irrevocably decided Physics was NOT for me!

Mr Stubbs added insult to injury by giving us our first homework, “Write an essay about ‘Electricity’.” It was the first and only time I remember having so-called ‘Writer’s Block’. Why? Because the subject area was too large and the focus too weak… I didn’t know where to start. My grades reflected this inauspicious beginning.

Writing a blog can be like that, can’t it?

You’ve got a great story in you but you, too, can be intimidated by the tyranny of the empty page. Where do we begin? “At the beginning!” is the kind of response that should provoke a punch in the kisser!

No, we benefit from structure.

May I offer one, and then an invitation?

All powerful stories lead us through a journey. I say ‘powerful’ and not necessarily ‘happy’. Many of you reading this or listening to the podcast don’t have happy stories with happy endings. You, nevertheless, have a powerful story to share.

Stories that capture our imagination have a hero that we like (that’s YOU!)

The Hero has a problem – sometimes many problems. This is a vital part of the story. This is not Facebook where the profile projects life is wonderful and sanitised. This could be Hell.

The Hero is an emerging Hero… not quite there yet – they need to be transformed as they travel, “The Hero’s Journey.” Their problems may be internal, like self-doubt, or external, like an illness or other threat. They may be facing a moral or philosophical dilemma. And of course, there’s always the baddie.

Behind the most memorable problems there is always a Villain! You must tell us about the Villain! This may be the Black Dog of Depression, the Monster-in-Law, or a certain unmentionable Voldemort-virus.

Great stories need a Cast to make the plot compelling. In our story, we are going to have one or more Guides – the Wise Soul that brings us the insight we need to overcome our problem… just in the nick of time. The Guide has some kind of Authority – and whilst they may not be Gandalf or Obi-Wan Kenobi with special powers, they will be an expert in their field. Their Kung Fu is strong!

Our Guide also ‘gets’ us in some unique way. They understand us and our plight, and we trust them. Perhaps they were once like us.

The best Guides have a secret map, or a strategy, or a plan that they urge us to follow. This is the treasure most essential to our future success and the metamorphosis of our character.

Finally, there’s a fork in the road. If you, the Becoming Hero, turn one way, disaster will strike. But if you make the courageous choice, there is a better ending, and maybe even a happy one. We need to understand both of these.

You, your problems, your Guides, the plan, the action you choose, the result – there’s your plot outline. Now, will you share your story?

The audience is listening… and so is Caroline!

[btw, honour where honour is due – this is adapted from, “Building A Storybrand,” by Don Miller.]

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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


6

September

Gliding Towards Retirement

Sunday September 6, 2020


Currently it feels like
I am slipping and sliding
all over the place.
I have lost my foothold.

I wonder why this is the case?
Is it because of several abortive
attempts at connecting
to the staff portal
to check that my details
are in order.

Seems to me like
a pointless exercise
as shortly I will
no longer be part
of the institution.

It reminds me of a
census or audits
where institutions
use the results
as the way to curtail or curb
its staff.

We are not pawns
but sometimes I feel
as though I am.
This institution appears
to care about its corporate image
rather than individual members of staff.

Many are helpful and patient
with each other
this I experienced with
a member of Human Resources.
I am now on the staff portal
can log onto my details
better understanding how it works
have checked all my details are
accurate and updated.

There is life beyond
paid employment.
I have fulfilled my role.
retirement is not
the same as unemployment.

Life goes on
there will be other challenges
other hoops to jump through
like a circus acrobat.

Focusing on living
a day at a time
will ensure a smoother sailing
towards retirement.

Orangeblossom
A Moodscope member,

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


5

September

Left

Saturday September 5, 2020


So, fellow Moodscopers, I was wondering if any of you have ever been left by a friend. Have you been suddenly cut off and left wondering why or what you’ve done?

This happened to me a couple of years ago. It hadn’t been a very long friendship but I suppose it had got quite intense quite quickly. It was totally symbiotic, we both needed each other for advice and we just got each other from early on. We used to meet to go for walks, we’d pick up a take away drink on our way round and sit and chat on a bench or on the grass. I’d always have a list of things lined up in my head ahead of our meetups, things I couldn’t wait to get off my chest and run by her.

She was starting a Masters in Psychology and given my history of past traumas we used to joke that together we’d write a book called ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ (I know it’s been done!) and each chapter would be an extract from my rocky life story followed by her psychologists views on it all.

But then I got really mentally ill. I went through a summer of self harm to a September of suicide and in the last week of the run up to me almost taking my life she was one of those who happened to be around for me. Another friend intervened and took me to the hospital on the Friday and I’m still here and have been generally following an upward trajectory ever since but my friend has left me. I had a couple of texts in the weeks after that and then nothing. Two years on, still nothing.

I miss her, I have lots of friends but they’re not her. I put all my usual self blame and negative slants as to what I did wrong, I can’t reconcile myself as I have no answers, always so good at explaining things but she didn’t explain this. How do I move on when I haven’t got the answers?

Lizzie
A Moodscope member.

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


4

September


I like finding out more about Moodscopers and am interested in what people reveal about themselves in comments. I have done a few thoughtful blogs, so I thought it was time for a more light-hearted. One that will still bring out different parts of our diverse personalities. I also think a topic like this helps those who  have not replied before but maybe have been thinking about it.

I sometimes am doing something, and I think why they do not invent this or adapt that. I do not have the skill to follow these ideas, but I often wonder why.

Sticky tape/Sellotape/ adhesive tape (I hope to have covered the word in different countries) has troubled me. It is so hard to find the end of the roll unless it is on a dispenser. I wonder why they don’t  invent something to indicate when the roll starts. Maybe it could be something that turns it a dark colour when cut off. Not an amazing thought but would make life easier.
 
So put on your thinking caps, or maybe you have a few ideas of things that you wish were invented. I was thinking of everyday objects but really could be anything.

When my children were small, I wished their clothes could be stain resistant to every stain in the world. If there was a stain my children would find it!!

It can be a concept. I wished that there was a bell I would hear before I took on too much and became exhausted and often sick. If I had a warning bell letting me know not to take on anymore it would help me.

So, what would you like to invent, have someone invent, adapt, or have an idea that would make life easier?

Leah
A Moodscope member

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


3

September

My new job

Thursday September 3, 2020


Every morning when I wake up and I still feel pinned down by the weight of it all, it immediately feels like another day of failure. If I were a better person, I wouldn’t find it so hard to get out of bed, to face the day, to see the point in making it through to another night.
 
But what if that feeling doesn't automatically signal failure? What if it isn’t the end? What if it’s not even back to the beginning, but instead it just… is.

After two and a half hard long years of therapy, what if I can get on board with the idea that compassion is my new job?

In this new job, I will have to wake up every morning and make a new commitment on that new day that I will be compassionate to myself. It might look or feel a bit different to the day before, but the fact remains the same. Every day I will wake up feeling like it’s not worth it, like I’m not worth it, and I will make the concerted, proactive decision to be compassionate to that part of me and to commit to caring for it. 

I will have to prepare myself for the reality that it will be repetitive, mundane, tedious at times. But perhaps that’s part of what care is. What love is. 

And when I wake up every day and I feel crushed because here I am, starting the process again completely from scratch, I will have to dig deep and try to remember that those days before – although passed – haven’t disappeared. This day will build on the previous day, and will be the foundation for the next day. And so on, and so on. Maybe one day I’ll look around and realise I have built a whole compassion house. Or even just a wall, a house is probably quite ambitious for now. 

Compassion is the acknowledgement of suffering and – perhaps most crucially – the commitment to take action to alleviate it. So as part of my induction, I’ve set a reminder on my phone every morning that says “Be compassionate today”.  

I don’t know where this leaves me. I know how easy it feels to say these words and to read them, but I know how hard this will be to do.
Perhaps I’m not anywhere different at all. But perhaps if I can be here, without feeling devastated, disappointed, hopeless, helpless, worthless, pointless - that is the important thing for now.  

Compassion is my new job, and I’m going to try to commit to it every day. 

Thanks,

Lucy 
A Moodscope member.

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


2

September

All Change

Wednesday September 2, 2020


“All change. All Change here. Please remember to take all your belongings with you.”

This September sees a big change for us as a family: our elder daughter leaves for university.

I hadn’t realised quite how much I’ve been in denial. Even while we were buying her bedding and the cooking utensils she will need, I was still treating it as a theoretical adventure. Last night she got her accommodation offer and it all suddenly came home: in less than two weeks, she will be living 335 miles away – a six-hour journey – and she won’t be coming home until Christmas. The gap she will leave in our lives will be immense.

After six months at home, my younger daughter will start school again. The house will feel lonely.

My husband goes back to work and, as it’s his year end, he will almost live in the office; I will hardly see him for the whole month.

After a relaxed spring and summer, I must start serious work on my business: it won’t regenerate by itself.

In many ways, September is more of a new year for many of us than January. For those involved in Education, this really is a new year: new classes, new schools, new teachers/colleagues. Although we might yet be blessed with an Indian summer, this cold and wet August bank holiday has already given us a taste of autumn. My family lit a fire on Saturday afternoon, and we all huddled around it, trying to get warm.

It’s a change in attitude to everything. We have lived through lockdown and, although we are now being encouraged to “Return to normal”, how can this be normal when we all wear masks and are nervous of entering crowded spaces? We glance at strangers with an unease we did not experience last September. We are reluctant to make travel plans because, at any moment, the city or country we want to visit may go into lockdown or be put on the quarantine list. There is uncertainty for many about what will happen at the end of the furlough scheme; there is more uncertainty and worry for people now unemployed.

The normality train stopped in March. We all had to get off. We had to sit in the waiting room for months and now a new train has pulled in to take us on. It is an unfamiliar train; an uncomfortable train and we fear it will not take all of us. It may not be going to the destination we had planned; it may be a stopping train instead of the express for which we had a ticket. There might be an unreliable replacement bus service.

But, like it or not, we cannot stay in the waiting room for ever; we need to move on.

They say that change is the only constant in life. Few of us like change, but it happens to us anyway.

I wish you well with your journey, wherever it takes you.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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


1

September


I rarely do the Test. I do not think I have done the Test even once in 2020. But without fail, I read the Blog. And sometimes, I am so moved by what I have read, I save it and keep it as a Word Doc to re-read – and I do, often.

The blogs which appeal to me are all very different; but the ones I save have something in common, they spark a response from me.

Even the ones which I find irritating – some make me swear in fury with the “happy clappy smiley” attitude struck by the writer – even they, if, having sparked a response in me, get saved.

I continue, in my own life, to be totally furious with absolutely EVERYTHING!

The Pandemic! Well if that isn’t cause for fury – what is? The responses to the Pandemic by our Leaders. Fury. The wrecking of our environment, of our planet for “profit” – indescribable fury. The killing of black people - in the USA, and in the UK and anywhere else – incandescent fury. Well. It is a good thing that I live in isolation, still in lockdown, with my civil partner for company. Because if I was let out into the wilds of streets and in company of others… my goodness; I could not be held responsible for my actions. And I speak as a disabled woman, felled by surgery to remove a “benign brain tumour” over a decade ago… leaving me depressed and bitter.

The lockdown has given rise to more “upbeat” reports and bits of writing than almost anything else I can remember. I am so tired of seeing happy smiley people dancing in their homes; of families laughing and smiling together as they make “rainbows for carers”.

What is so wrong in just saying I feel bad tempered. I feel angry. I feel DEPRESSED. I feel scared and I feel like everything is just getting worse?

There feels to me to be a huge burden on us to respond in a positive way – all the time.

In the “good old days” pre-covid-19, we who are depressed also felt a huge and mighty pressure on us to respond positively, to “cheer-up” and get over it… it could be worse they would say. But now it has got worse – almost 9 million people infected world-wide and almost 500,000 dead at the time of writing – and the pressure builds on us all to respond positively. Smile! Show how care-free you are!

Well. I am not. And I give you permission to follow suit, should you feel so inclined. In a few days, often the anger, the blackness, lifts and yes, there may be a feeling of some calm on some future day… but being relentlessly pleasant, and upbeat is adding an extra and unwanted burden to our lives.

And if anyone else dares to call me “lucky” or fortunate” or any other positive thing, I may just spit in their eye.

Christine
A Moodscope member.

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


31

August

With Your Permission

Monday August 31, 2020


[To watch a video of this blog please click here: https://youtu.be/nfkeZzXBlOc and for an audio version please click here: https://soundcloud.com/lex-mckee/with-your-permission-the-monday-mindset-podcast]
 
Yesterday, would have been my 38th wedding anniversary. The day passed without drama… or regret. We were married for 11 years, with many happy moments. Nevertheless, I could never escape from a creeping sense of disapproval. I was never good enough.
 
Whilst my former spouse rarely made this explicit, her father showed no such self-control! Between them, they made me feel unworthy, living life under a cloud of criticism. Except they didn’t make me feel unworthy. They couldn’t. They didn’t have it in them.
 
The issue was in me.
 
In technical support circles, we use the initialism: PICNIC. It stands for, “Problem In Chair, Not In Computer.” For today’s blog, I’d like to adapt that to: “Problem In Consciousness, Not In Circumstances.” (Or, for this specific scenario, “Problem In Consciousness, Not In Criticism.”)
 
This is a life-changing switch of thinking.
 
This paradigm shift is summarised eloquently in a saying attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
 
The neurological truth is far more likely to be that no one can ‘make’ you feel anything. Like a conversation, or a dance, it takes more than one party! But if you give your consent, there are plenty of people who can feed an ever-increasing sense of inferiority. After all, the brain looks and listens for evidence to confirm the current belief system your mental software is running.
 
The fact was I had a very poor opinion of myself that my former father-in-law was in complete agreement with, and which my former-wife grew to agree with! PICNIC!
 
Here’s the really scary (or exciting) part – if I don’t change my opinion of myself, I am destined to play out the same sad game in other relationships. It does not end well!
 
Let’s play a new game.
 
In the new game, you and I will have a much more positive opinion of ourselves. Let’s drop mental concepts like ‘superior’ and ‘inferior’ – and even ‘good’ and ‘bad’. I know from seemingly endless examination of my heart that my intentions, 99% of the time, are kind. That’s my preferred state of being: kind, compassionate, generous. Whilst there is a stack of evidence to suggest I have capabilities to be unkind, uncaring, and stingy, these never feel natural. I am reminded of the (probably apocryphal) claim that Edison tried and failed to create the lightbulb 1000 times. My research suggests Edison and his team explored over 3000 different theories of how to create incandescent light, and we know that Edison tried over 6000 tests of various materials to act as the filament!
 
Kindness, compassion, and generosity are my electric lightbulb. On the journey to the light, I have failed thousands of times, sometimes in a single day! But the goal, the intention remains. I now no longer give anyone permission to ‘make’ me feel inferior. I know that they can’t ‘make’ me do anything. I am grateful for all those who clearly intend to ‘make’ me feel loved or appreciated, but I know that the final signing of the permissive agreement lies within me… 
 
…the monsters under your bed, are far more likely to be in your head. Change what’s in your head, and the monsters will vanish!
 
What permissions have you given to others that you’d like to revoke this week? What permissions would you like to grant to others – asking for what you really want?

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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


30

August

Being

Sunday August 30, 2020

I am hoping to move house soon and have been sorting through stuff to try and whittle down all the gubbins I have accumulated over the years.

I found a poem that I wrote some years ago, but it still rings true at times.

Being

Sitting in dappled shade
A strong breeze moves the trees
Casting a million patterns of light
on the grass before me.

I would like to read
I would like to write
and yet you bring me to sleep.

Is this why I am seldom still?
For when I am, you bring me to sleep.

My mind is filled with words and
yet I find it so hard to speak or write.

The sky above me is blue as blue.
Of what am I afraid?
How can I rest in who I am?
Help me to find the happy child in me.

I’m still inclined to fall asleep if I sit still for too long, but I allow myself that rest, in the knowledge that what I have achieved that day will suffice.

However, it means that I get behind with following all the wonderful comments that come with the daily blog.  I just run out of time.

The sky above me is still blue as blue today and it is becoming easier to find the happy child in me.

I hope all the dear Moodscopers will be able to spend time with their ‘happy child within’

Waves and smiles to all.  Love,

Another Sally xx
A Moodscope member.

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


29

August

Staying silent or speaking out?

Saturday August 29, 2020


I wonder is anyone like me who dislikes speaking out in case it starts a conflict that I would rather stay quiet and make myself upset and frustrated.

Why do we put up with being uncomfortable - for me it is having peace at all costs.  It works but at a personal price.

A teacher I knew admitted to never once disagreeing with her husband in 20 years until his controlling behaviour was too much. She reflects now on what may have been if she had had the courage to speak up.

A friend had trouble saying anything to his mother in law and was always worried if he did his wife would be angry with him. He kept quiet for a few years, but one day  told his wife how he felt. His main concern was how his mother in law treated his wife.

Rather than  being a shouting match as sometimes happens when people finally speak up, they all sat down over lunch. Her behaviours did not change much but mother in law admired his courage and honesty.

I read once “You can say anything when you say it with love in your heart.”
Sometimes it is easier to just nod and agree than causing a disturbance.
 
 “If you avoid conflict to keep the peace, you start a war with yourself.” Is a quote that I can understand.
 
I still find it hard to speak up and mainly want to avoid conflict. I am interested what others think?

People say when you stumble, it is worth it to express your needs. I am not sure about that as I usually feel guilty.

How many times have you abruptly changed the subject because the person was getting too close to a vulnerable topic? If we try to avoid conflict, do we suffer needlessly? Some people feel conflict can be constructive, what do you think?

Leah
A Moodscope member.

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


28

August

Flooded with emotion

Friday August 28, 2020


My world was rudely interrupted on Sunday morning at 5.55am when a phone call from my neighbour woke me. Looking out of my window I found myself literally surrounded in water and within ten minutes my downstairs was flooded. ‘Turn off your electrics’, instructed the local Fire Brigade...

Since then I have been in shock, denial and anger as I realise my lovely little house I moved in six years ago has been quite literally ripped apart. By Monday lunchtime contractors had ripped out my flooring and skirting. By Tuesday lunchtime my beautiful oak furniture I had selected carefully and with thought had been thrown out. By Wednesday my fridge freezer and washing machine had gone to the tip too.

I am lucky. My Mum is local and has accepted me with open arms despite my messy ways and mad dog!! My kids were at their Dad’s for a week and so weren’t with me when submerged with water.

In shock I posted on Facebook and got so many messages of support. My boss who I was a bit scared of was so kind I almost cried. I have found a house for six months while repairs are carried out.

How is my mental health? I am very stressed. I have so much to do and I have a demanding job to hold down... It’s been so hot I have sweated buckets and each day I return to my house full of heaters and dehumidifiers and sweat some more.

Each morning I get up and drive to the estate. I take the dog and I then walk to the park. I have grown to love and see the dog walking friends who listen to me. Yesterday it was cooler and the dog loved the freshness and freedom off the lead, as I tried to take some deep breaths. My Mum lives in a beautiful part of Brum. When eating dinner I see the green parakeets who inhabit the local park. It’s a novelty for me... an everyday occurrence for others.

Leah blogged about losing her home and business to the bush fires. I only have to worry about my home.

I am writing this in the middle of the night. I hear my Mum creeping about. We have both woken up at the same time. I consider whom from all the offers of help actually means it. This sounds harsh but some have come good. The jogger whom I vaguely knew who stopped to ask how she could help and came back 20 mins later with three flasks of tea and croissants for me and my neighbours. The friend who told me the boxes I asked her to get to help move were full of her husband’s stuff and couldn’t be used.

My two amigos who cycled on Wednesday evening through a tremendous thunderstorm to see me, arriving sodden to the skin, and were welcomed with towels and a beer.

I apologise if this is self-indulgent. How have you coped with major trauma? How has it impacted your mental health?

I end with these roses. Planted last year behind a bin store I turned up yesterday to them. They told me that I would return to my lovely little house. I had loved them and they loved me back.

BrumMum
A Moodscope member.

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


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