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I wish I had known... Saturday August 13, 2016

One of the great benefits of Moodscope is the collective wisdom of many years of people with lived experience with mood disorders. In the blogs and comments there are so many ideas, different types of advice, plans thoughts and practical tips that may be helpful.

I have wondered how may life may have been different if Moodscope had been around 40 years ago when I was first diagnosed.

Is there some advice some bit of wisdom some quotation that you rely on now that you wished you had known back in the early days of your experience with mood disorders?

Of course we don't know how we would have reacted then to the advice we now find so useful. I sometimes think if only someone had told me that my much loved highs were as destructive as my lows. I think I would have seen the person as interfering and ignorant and just continued having fun until the next crash.

If you could give just one piece of advice to someone who was struggling with living with depression or another mood disorder, what would it be?

Why did you choose that advice? How has it helped you?

Leah
A Moodscope member

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


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Comments

Andrew Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 6:27am

Good question Leah!
In my case it would have been that seeking help and talking to others is so very important. The most frightening thing about the black dog is not understanding what the hell is going on and thinking you are completely alone... By talking and seeking help, one can at least understand that it is an illness not a mood, and that there are many many ways to find support...
Although to be honest I'm not entirely sure how helpful society, health professionals and family would have been 35 years ago when I first hit the wall...

Leah Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 6:44am

Thanks Andrew for your reply. I know over 40 years ago when I first was given a label, even if I had been given advice there was not much support to back it up. I have friends who became ill in the 1980s and 1990s and felt there was little community support and knowledge then either. I suppose I am hoping if someone was to receive one of these words of wisdom now, it would be backed up by a helpful community in a supportive context.

Belinda Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 6:54am

Hi Leah, I don't know what advice I have to offer, except to eat well and get my sleep.

Sorry, just thought of another if I may add it? I am attempting to challenge each negative thought and change it into a positive one. A tough challenge but with the help that has come from knowing Jesus, the amplitude of my graph has become smaller over time, and I am coping a little better with the challenges that life throws up.

What I found interesting is that both you, Andrew & I have been diagnosed for over 3 decades. I suspect some of the other followers of Moodscope also have the benefit too, of multiple decades of years.

Bless you for writing.

Belinda Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 8:03am

Hi Leah, may I add a correction? Above I said I change my negative thoughts for positive. That is not entirely correct. There is a subtle difference which I wanted to express, and that is that I have worked to exchange the negative thoughts for the truths that are expressed in the Bible. Over the years I have been enabled to have far fewer negative thoughts. This is now being shown in my life itself. God bless you

Leah Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 10:55am

Belinda, Thanks for your reply.I think eating well and sleeping well, I am glad you are coping well with challenges.

Leah Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 10:56am

Belinda, I am glad your religious beliefs have helped you and given you comfort.

Adam Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 7:20am

Hi Leah,

I really feel for you. I've only been struggling for 9 years really. That said it is most of my children's life so I really feel I have missed out on there childhood. I've no idea what the mental health society was like 40 years ago as I am only 48 now but I can imagine there wasn't a great deal of knowledge or support about. Even now there is a lot of ignorance and prejudice. But I do feel things are moving in the right direction.

My top tips would be to talk. You never know who might be able to help you unless you are open and honest. The others are routine and sleep. I have a daily maintenance routine of tasks that I must try and complete and I force myself to go to bed earlier than I used to and try my hardest to stay in bed when my mind is racing.

Beware though as I also find that too much sleep can be damaging.

The final one would be to try and leave the house every day and get some fresh air and appreciate the natural beauty of the world that we live in.

I hope this helps.

Kind regards
Adam

Leah Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 10:58am

Thanks Adam for your reply. I like your tip about talking to people, routine and sleep.

Jul Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 7:48am

Hello Leah.I think if I had known how widespread depression and extremes of moods are, I might have had some consolation. Telling others about how I feel hasn't been easy for me and I have kept and still do keep quiet about it. Except here of course. My depression is probably deep rooted in my personality and issues that arose during my childhood, none of which I can change. I suffer from insomnia which is anxiety related and so far have had no real help for it. So for me, the fact that I am not alone in feeling like I do most days, is a comfort and I wish I had known this years ago. However when I was younger, I didn't know I was depressed and I sometimes think I know too much about it these days and over analyse and over think about the condition. As I write this reply, on reflection,I think the best bit of advice I would have liked to hear is..be true to oneself. Thanks for an interesting blog Leah. I shall continue to think about this. Julxxx

Leah Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 11:01am

Thanks Jul for such an insightful comment. I think knowing you are not alone is important.Being true to oneself is very important the trick is knowing wht one's true self is.

Orangeblossom Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 8:05am

Thanks Leah for your blog. I would recommend practising Mindfulness Meditatitation. The aware nenes can lead to clarity & calmness which can be beneficial for developing contentment. It is a goal to work towards & the the training is given in bite-sized pieces. I use Headspace where the first ten days are free. It is on-line. www.headspace.com
Friends have said I seem to be calmer in the midst of the turbulence around me. However I have only come to in the past two years.

Moonlight Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 10:23am

I love your name, Orangeblossom

Leah Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 11:03am

Orangeblossom, Thanks for your comment,I am pleased mindulness works for you.

Laura Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 9:24am

A quote that helps me is "this too shall pass". If only I could remember it when I am down!!

Leah Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 11:03am

Laura, That is a great quote. Thanks for reminding me about it.

Moonlight Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 10:22am

Hello Leah, I think being true to yourself is a good one.
I believe we hold what is best for us deep down in our soul.
xx

Leah Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 11:04am

Moonlight, thanks for your advice- I think it is helpful

Moonlight Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 10:22am

Hello Leah, I think being true to yourself is a good one.
I believe we hold what is best for us deep down in our soul.
xx

Leah Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 11:05am

I like your name.

Moonlight Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 1:36pm

Thanks Leah, its gentle isn't it.

Laura RB Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 10:50am

I would say, "Keep it simple" and never give up. It will get better! :)

Leah Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 11:06am

Laura RB, Yes thanks for that advice. Keeping it simple is important. It will get better,is useful to remember.

Olaf Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 11:27am

A lot of the issues in depression and anxiety comes from not living or being present in this moment - NOW. Living in the past, thinking back on things I can't change may result in a depressive life. Worrying about the future may create anxiety. Having too much focus on the past or the future makes it hard to be present where we actually are - here and now...

Many things could be done to stay more in this moment, like breathing slow and deep (all the time), notice what it feels like to walk barefoot, taste the food in your mouth, listen to the sounds around you, noticing the water from the shower hitting your body etc. Good luck!

Leah Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 10:47pm

Olaf, thanks for your reply. Living in the Now helps many but what about those whose Now is very stressful and painful. Maybe that is why they look to the past and the future to escape the now.

Skyblue Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 11:41am

Hi Leah, I wish I had known early on that I was enough--that everything positive would have flowed from that. Hope you are doing well. Does your shop stay open on weekends? Just curious. xx

Leah Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 10:50pm

Skyblue, Thanks Skyblue. It takes a long time to realise we are enough especially if many tell us were not good enough. My shop is open 7 days a week, weekends hopefully are busiest but not always.

Sheena Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 3:22pm

A very thought provoking blog Leah! Belinda makes an excellent point: eveyone needs to eat, sleep and move (to suit themselves and to be well). Forty five years ago I was told I was 'lucky' not to be locked away or worse. I stuck with life (very isolated) and of course this is not helpful. About ten years ago I met more intelligent and thoughtful victims of this ridiculous system. Now, I believe in truly holistic care (and respect) and in being oneself. Respecting individuals includes oneself. Sheena

Leah Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 10:53pm

Sheena, Thanks for sharing your experiences so honestly. I agree that respect is importnat for oneself and others. I even wrote a blog last year called Respect is two ways. I think holistic approach is worth aimig for alas many can not access such care.

The Gardener Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 6:20pm

The saying 'this too shall pass' does not work in our case - Mr G came out of respite yesterday - we had a 'night market' really lively, lots of people - Mr G did not even complain of being cold. I though 'oh, a week hospital has improved him'. Today he's worse than ever - and the weather's lovely, and my gardens are lovely, and he won't sit in them. Huge struggle to remain positive - believe I am sinking into real depression, not just despair. Although I did have a super week 'off' so, if I can enjoy myself then I cannot actually be depressed. When I was, the 40 years ago Leah speaks of, it was drugs drugs and more drugs. There were psychiatrists, sure - no counselling, as such, I don't think. Looking back, during my 5 years as a Samaritan I think they must have done some of the work Moodscope does now - though I don't know how many people knew of CBT - was it called that? Going out to dinner - my brainwave of a wheelchair is not going to plan - Mr G says it is uncomfortable, the pavements are pure hell, shops have little sills which you have to back over - and people confidentially promise I will wreck my back. Where has the Moodscoper who talked about 'peeps' gone? Was it bear? Hope the media silence is for a good reason Sheena is so right - eat, sleep, and move - the latter two are virtually denied me and I therefore do too much of the first. Will try and make a positive 'plan of campaign' when out at dinner and away from awful atmosphere of house. I had one in place, gone phut (was that ever a real word?). UK due good weather I gather - go well, store it up.

Leah Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 10:59pm

Gardener, Not sure that my words will be of any comfort but I am thinking of you. Is the respite going to be a regular thing? I hope so. Glad at least you and Mr G enjoyed the markets. I hope writing on Moodscope helps you as I always learn something from your words. Tell me about how your garden is going? Re the wheelchair I imagine old villages are not made for wheelchairs. Sending hus Leah xx

Eva Sun, Aug 14th 2016 @ 8:41am

Hi Gardner, I think you might mean me, I use peeps a fair bit. If it was me, thanks for thinking of me. I have my MIL staying so have been occupied. I'm glad you had a good respite week. Is your other house on the market yet? I wish we had solutions to make life easier for you. Does MrG like games? Is there any thing that he enjoys doing?

DAVE Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 9:27pm

After years of ups and downs, it came to an abrupt halt after a bad bout of depression, and in sheer desperation had made a series of fifteen trips to our bedroom in one day, and prayed to God for help.
Nothing miraculous but a definite feeling which came constantly into my mind.

It was that I should keep busy.

I started to paint the inside of our home, completing all the rooms.
It was during this period that I learned that there is someone a God and His Angels above and around, who was there to help and encourage.

After a few weeks I gradually returned to 'normal' in my mentality.

But in the last 8 years other things came into my mind after prayer. It started to affect my attitude, in health, finances, relationships, especially my attitude to others and my immediate family,. I started driving for the Multiple Slerosis society, driving these poor suffering souls in wheelchairs terminally ill, voluntary work helped me to forget about myself and my own problems, which by comparison are negligible.

It started to affect my whole way of life.

I am a Mormon of 39 years, but up until this bad period, I had made right and good decisions in all things.

Since then I have worked out a diet which has reduced my weight from 13 stone after three stents in my heart and Crohn's disease, to a consistent stable 10 stone 12 pounds (2 years now).

I've come off 11 tablets (two of which were Bipolar) the rest for physical disabilities.

I have not felt so well in 52 years, I've just had a letter, yesterday from my psychiatrist whose quite astounded at my mental health, and said so in her letter, a copy of which was sent to my GP,
.
So, for me it has been and is an amazing journey.

But because I have been on the roller coaster all my life, as we only know, I have yet to be convinced that I am free of Bipolar, and therefore although my psychiatrist wishes to discharge me, I have asked her for a six monthly appointments, until I AM comfortable at 'going alone', and in my mind that won't happen for at least 3 years.

I must emphasise that this time there is a definite change from within....I do not get ANY 'downs' 'highs' or 'Blues' days whatsoever ( 2 1/4 years now).

If this feeling of 'inner peace, happiness and spirituality continues then maybe years ago when my GP said that Bipolar can go away, I hope so, but I will not leave my group of sufferers who meet every Friday, alone.
We have suffered so much together an we're friends for a lifetime, we each have seen each in the highs and lows and I shall remain with the MS Society for as long as I can.

I shall NEVER forget those REAL feelings of a caring Heavenly Father who loves each and everyone of us, His Children, who one day if we're worthy enough we may sit with Deity in the Highest echelons of a Heavenly Spiritual World, waiting for the day of our resurrectionto regain our bodies together with our spirits once again in the Eternities.

This is my real belief NOT an opinion.

God Bless you Leah.

Dave.


Leah Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 11:05pm

Dave, Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I am glad you have found a way that works for you. It is interesting to learn about what works for other people.We are all different and need different paths to follow.

Mj Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 9:34pm

Great thought provoking question. I'd say it is something I have learned specifically from my moodscope friends: self-acceptance. I'm the states we have this awful nonsense about being able to overcome ANYTHING with hard work and determination. I'd have to blame some of that on my scotch Presbterian and English immigrant grandparents. It's definitely an immigrant phenomenon. Any immigrant anywhere in my opinion are the strongest most hopeful people everywhere.

I don't get to work hard enough to not be susceptible to severe depressive episodes. It is not possible for me to overpower the effects trauma has had on my brain.
What I have learned finally is too accept that I am this way. It's me. Okay, I'm too sensitive by some artificial standard. I can stop judging myself as lazy ( you know, "no good lazy bum"). I know that severe depression,fibromyalgia and arthritis all carry fatigue as a symptom. With that self acceptance I can tell myself what a chemo nurse once told me, "Margaret, when you're feelin tired and out of energy that's your body's way of telling you to rest".

With self-acceptance comes self-compassion. Now I can be proud of what I can do with what little energy I have through so much physical and psychological pain. I'm just me. Always and everyday.

Leah Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 11:14pm

MJ Thanks so much for your honesty. It is hard to achieve self acceptance when there are many conflicting messages in the media, community, and from friends and famiy. I am glad you have finally learnt to accept your self and be proud of your achievements. I am proud of what you have done and shared with us. Thanks again. All the best.

Duma Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 10:42pm

Avoid pollen. It's a small sacrifice, there is such a range available now... ...I no longer partake. I am a law abider, by nature. I get on well with the police, especially the K9 units.

The stuff is high octane fuel for my mountaineering, so it took me a while to stop the habit. besides, it leaves you open to blackmail.

Cheers, Duma.

Leah Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 11:41pm

Duma, thanks for your advice but something was lost in the translation. Do you mean pollen from plants or is there another meaning? Confused.

Leah Sun, Aug 14th 2016 @ 12:06am

Duma, its ok I understand now, just different countries use different words! Glad yo no longer partake and all is well!

Duma Sun, Aug 14th 2016 @ 10:47am

Thank you for that Leah.

Eva Sun, Aug 14th 2016 @ 8:46am

Hi Leah, I wish I'd known that it's possible to wear yourself out from too much hard work, that you need to care for and cherish your body. I am recently discovering that my normal level of operating may well have been a lot more than average, so even now when I am resting I still do more than I possibly should and possibly more than other regular folks in an average day. Its hard to bring it down. Keeping busy (which has been my mantra) isn't always the right thing.

Leah Sun, Aug 14th 2016 @ 10:07am

Eva, Thanks for your reply. It is a matter of balance isn't it knowing how much you can do and still be healthy. I am always trying to juggle it.

S Sun, Aug 14th 2016 @ 8:53am

Hey Leah, I read your blog in a fairly usual morning state of fear and negativity. I thought ' I can't give advice as I have not solved anything' but after a good day at the beach, these are the things that come to mind. It's been said but sleeping and eating regularly are important - for me there is subtlety in this- making a gentle routine is good and if I choose to change it up for a day - e.g stay up late with friebds, I will know it may have a bad effect but also that it will pass and that there is an explanation for how I might feel. This too shall pass is especially important for mornings for me. Pushing myself out of the comfort zone in small steps is also helpful. As I said though, I feel I still have a lot of working out to do! Sx

Leah Sun, Aug 14th 2016 @ 10:09am

S, thanks for replying. I am glad you had a good day and came up with some ideas. Eating and sleeping are so important and everyone has different needs to make syre they remain healthy. Thanks again for contributing.

Wyvern Mon, Aug 15th 2016 @ 11:57am

Late contribution:
I have this little note stuck to my computer:
"Never compare your weaknesses to other people's strengths."
This helps to stop me berating myself for being pathetic compared with other people...

Leah Wed, Aug 17th 2016 @ 2:14am

wyvern I like that quotation. I also compare my strengths with others strengths and feel they are more talented than me!! That's another story. Thanks for replying.

John Tue, Aug 16th 2016 @ 7:19am

Hi Leah et al,

I wish I had known ... that's been my mantra the past 3 years as I've come to face the terrible wreckage my special form of mania has wrought in my life. The research term you will find it under is success-triggered mania, but my careful self-observation since learning about it makes mine "succeeding-triggering mania."
¶ My advice to myself as a 12 year old when this first popped into my behavior would have been: look, you appear outwardly optimistic and enthusiastic. But you know that's hard work. When this connects with actually succeeding at a personally important difficult task and you feel euphoric, locate a safe landing place, stop, and step back. Step away. Breathe. Don't brag or tell anyone. If others were witness ignore their praise. Whatever you do, do little on that exciting task until you've sufficiently calmed down. Avoid adding more inward praise and never begin to extrapolate how wildly successful you will be if your succeeding streak is permanent. Life folds back on itself and the next patch is likely going to be rough, so lower you incremental goals, not raise them.
¶ In fact, step down a level. Go back to practicing your scales whatever that means in what you are succeeding at.
¶ Grieve that times when you're feeling the best are really the most dangerous times, so you will never know the highest peaks of happiness for very long. Never hope to push them higher or expect they can be sustained with more and greater success. Why? Because how your mind works makes that a trap & the greatest threat to you sustained happiness and true long term success.
¶ Current tag line is from MacArthur Park ... "MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark/
All the sweet, green icing flowing down/
Someone left the cake out in the rain/
I don't think that I can take it/
'Cause it took so long to bake it/
And I'll never have that recipe again/
Oh Nooo!"
John

Leah Wed, Aug 17th 2016 @ 2:16am

John thanks for your insight into your behaviour. Do you think your 12 year old self would have taken notice or listen to or understood your advice? Thanks again for replying.

Nicco Tue, Aug 16th 2016 @ 3:19pm

Thanks, Leah. I wish I'd known I was wheat/gluten/dairy intolerant years ago - mad, I know, but it really does make a difference to my mood - must be something in these things that affects my brain, I guess. But would I & the medical profession have believed it back then? I doubt it! I also wish I'd known I should've stopped to take time out when ill. Because of circumstances where I lived, I just always worked even harder through everything until I collapsed, telling myself hard work never killed anyone and making myself believe there was nothing wrong with me. Would I have slowed up if I'd been told to back then? Probably not! I also wish I'd known that speaking up for myself would've been better instead of letting people stomp all over me, and that the sky wouldn't have fallen in if I did. Would I have done what I was told and believed it was the best back then? No - because I was a different person back then. That's a lot of wishes in the past tense but the fact remains that here I am at this present time, knowing all those things now, which means I can do something about them now - beats never knowing at all I guess!

Leah Wed, Aug 17th 2016 @ 2:18am

Nicco, I am glad you worked out finally that a gluten free diary free diet works for you. As You said you may not have believed the effects of diet back then but you do now. Thanks for sharing this information and your experience.

Nicco Tue, Aug 16th 2016 @ 3:19pm

Thanks, Leah. I wish I'd known I was wheat/gluten/dairy intolerant years ago - mad, I know, but it really does make a difference to my mood - must be something in these things that affects my brain, I guess. But would I & the medical profession have believed it back then? I doubt it! I also wish I'd known I should've stopped to take time out when ill. Because of circumstances where I lived, I just always worked even harder through everything until I collapsed, telling myself hard work never killed anyone and making myself believe there was nothing wrong with me. Would I have slowed up if I'd been told to back then? Probably not! I also wish I'd known that speaking up for myself would've been better instead of letting people stomp all over me, and that the sky wouldn't have fallen in if I did. Would I have done what I was told and believed it was the best back then? No - because I was a different person back then. That's a lot of wishes in the past tense but the fact remains that here I am at this present time, knowing all those things now, which means I can do something about them now - beats never knowing at all I guess!

Nicco Tue, Aug 16th 2016 @ 3:20pm

Sorry, not sure why it posted twice!

Leah Wed, Aug 17th 2016 @ 2:20am

Happens all the time to me. I either delete it or post twice. I think the record maybe 6 repeats of same post!!

Kristen Wed, Aug 17th 2016 @ 6:02pm

Another outstanding blog, Leah, with helpful questions I need to ponder. It helps me whenever I can become courageous enough to be vulnerable and talk about my illness and not just with a therapist, but with new friends I'd like to trust. It helps reduce the shame (and hopefully the stigma a bit) and I'm always so pleased to hear "Me too!" There is healing in those two words. Also, the two words, "Be here" and "Be still." Sometimes, I remind myself that in this moment I am okay. I am loved. I am safe.

John Sat, Sep 3rd 2016 @ 9:34am

Hi again. Leah you asked if I'd listen when I was 12. Sometimes people confuse listen (and taking in) with obeying. No I would not have obeyed a command as I never in my life ceded anyone the right to direct my inner experience.
Given the freedom to make up my own mind, I may think I would have. When I was 12, I was having fainting spells and took a trip to the doc. He listened—my spells were all in the morning as soon as I got up. He said, "get out of bed slower." Still get up slow till this day, 50 years later. Never fainted again.
I also meet young people and do what I can to help them out. If I feel that I myself at a young age would not have listened and learned (if if was presented with love and not as command or order) then why is there language? Or Literature? Or parenting? Or coaching?
Just this summer I was hanging out with a bona fide 12 year old. I asked her a simple math question and she said, "I don't do math now I'm on vacation." I Said, "Then how do you know they give you the correct change?" And she just looked at me like I'd strung a line across a bridge. We kept talking and later in the day she asked if I was some type of teacher. My own inner 12 year old just smiled.

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