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In and out of sync. Saturday January 7, 2017

Moodscope attracts some magnificent writers, whose insight and wisdom is peppered with colour and humour.

Yet sometimes I feel out of sync with this staunch community, especially when each Moodscoper wholeheartedly adopts an assigned label, whether it be depression, bipolar 1 or 2, or maybe anxiety disorder.

Coping strategies are discussed, but always as though the condition is inevitable, and is their cross to bare.

I find the lives often alluded to between the lines, are the most revealing and helpful. It's true these vary greatly, and a blog each for overstretched carers, terminally ill, unemployed, and lonely might be more difficult to muster.

I struggle to accept my label, which was foisted on me in a retrospective sort of way. A therapist once explained it as mainly helpful for research funding, pharmaceutical industries, and of course therapists.

I believe it is a simple way for those around us to seperate sometimes discomforting behaviour when in stressful moments we do not act within the expected codes. We might leave a partner for example.

A mental illness label is a way of being categorised and distanced from even tempered relatives and colleagues who need life around them to remain predictable and calm.

I find the depression and bipolar labels destructive, in that those who rarely see me, are looking to fit me to my label, and draw all sorts of false conclusions about the way I live my life.

I feel a duty to perform my way out of my prove my sanity. I am hyper sensitive about interactions in a way I never would have been before.

I have a huge backlog of unfair responses to draw on and feel self pity about...these define my sorrows, and my anger and defiance.

Ironically as wife for 25 years to a secretly anxious and medicated husband, I was forever strong. "The rock".

But when it all came tumbling down I switched roles. My husband gathered supporters, smartened up his act and acquired a new partner. He appears strong and stable.

I on the other hand, have become a lurcher. I am either stimulated and living life to the full, grateful for the freedom of my own smaller home, and independence, or sad, lonely and simply withdrawn, depending on the weather and the circumstances.

A relationship plays a huge role in defining our strengths and weaknesses. Without it one lives the gamete. It is no easy road.

I know my bipolar so called, is not a chemical imbalance, but a product of my life circumstances. For major periods life simply got in the way, and it did not exist.

My challenge is to get life back on the ascendency.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Molly Sat, Jan 7th 2017 @ 6:21am

Good post. I know what you mean about the label. For me, it seems that any actions we take or feelings we have are because we are unwell so nothing is taken seriously. We might well be justified if we are angry for instance. Although personally, many people around me don't understand mental illness at all and see it as an excuse. So it's a no win situation really. I do agree that circumstances play a big part. I guess all of the time you are helping someone else, you have little time to think about yourself, and feeling useful can also give you a boost which may help prevent some of the effects. Although I think they are still there, just maybe not so apparent. I doubt in your case Deborah that your husband is transformed. New things will refresh us all for a while, but they never stay new for long x

Adam G Sat, Jan 7th 2017 @ 7:18am

Thanks Deborah, that is a very thought-provoking post and interesting perspective.

Deborah Sat, Jan 7th 2017 @ 7:19am

Thanks Molly. So true in all respects.
I'd like a word that conjours up the impermanence of mental "illness" and somehow acknowledges stressful situations.
As bouts of anxiety, depression and even so called mania are virtually the norm these has to question the idea that they are an illness.
I like the name moodscope, for that reason.

Orangeblossom Sat, Jan 7th 2017 @ 8:08am

Hi Deborah and Molly. I have a friend, a great mentor & influence for good in my life who always said resist labels. The benefit of labels is to obtains chess to the support. However, I loved what a colleague said to me," I help my students' to cope with their lives no matter what it throws at them & irrespective of their diagnoses/labels. it all depends on building on a good working relationship of confidence & trust which enables us to be approachable & effective Mental Health Supporters.

Adrian Sat, Jan 7th 2017 @ 8:10am

Wow. Great thoughts Deborah. Labels are 2 way swords I think. Helpful and dangerous. I think the ability to describe mood in a straightforward way can help and is one of the goals of Moodscope. Interesting observation on the name - we thought long and hard about that and had a long list. We went nap on Moodscope for the reason you explained and it's neutral non judgemental stance( if that is possible!!??)
A x

Jane Sat, Jan 7th 2017 @ 8:11am

Thank you for you post Deborah. I find that people can be less understanding when I'm angry because I spend so much time bring a 'people pleaser.' I have a lot of anger at the moment and I upset two family members yesterday which is very unlike me. I have not ever been given a label, but have always been a 'yo yo' person. Either up or down with extreme anxiety and overthinking of absolutely everything. And men in my past life have left when the going gets tough. Thank you for writing so authenticity x

Hopeful One Sat, Jan 7th 2017 @ 8:27am

Hi Deborah- thank you for a stimulating blog. It's a shame that you find yourself defined by a label when in reality it's signs and symptoms one displays ,as assessed by a mental health professional , that define the label. Giving a a set of signs and symptoms a label solves half the problem as it now helps everyone involved to recognise the situation , establish its incidence and plan its treatment and research . You are quite right in saying that it is really of any use to professionals. They can then think of it's appropriate treatment , prognosis etc. In the mental health field one of these 'bibles' is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental DisorderS ( DSM) . It's not without its critics mainly because mental dysfunction varies so enormously and many claim that it is too simplistic and can affect the client in the way you describe but it has its supporters too . In the USA for example insurance companies may not pay out in a case of mental illness unless accompanied by a DSM diagnosis.

I am afraid there is no one answer that will satisfy both camps.

Today's laugh. Warning- this joke has adult content which some may find offensive.

A man is sitting at a bar enjoying a drink when an exceptionally attractive woman enters the bar. He can't take his eyes of her. She notices this and walks towards him. Before he can apologise for being rude the young woman says to him. She says to him' I will do anything you want me to do however kinky for £ 100 with one condition. The man is flabbergasted and asks "What is the condition?" She says "You have to tell me what you want me to do in three words" The man thinks for a moment , takes out his wallet and hands her five £20 notes and says " Paint the house"

LP Sat, Jan 7th 2017 @ 9:03am

Ha ha! Nice one! LPxx

LP Sat, Jan 7th 2017 @ 9:02am

Hi Deborah,
I connected with what you wrote about your moods being affected by circumstances, relationships and the weather.
It seems that lots of things play a part in our well being and awareness of what affects it helps us to manage our moods a little better rather than feel overwhelmed or taken over by them.
For me, having an awarenes of the anxiety label, reassures me that what I might perceive as the cause may not be as threatening as it seems.
Thank you for your thought provoking blog Deborah. Well wishes to you and all LPxx

Leah Sat, Jan 7th 2017 @ 9:08am

What a honest and thoughtful post.
I am interested that you think thatyou feel out of sync "...especially when each Moodscoper wholeheartedly adopts an assigned label...,". I have found that there are many different approaches to this concept among moodscopers. I know moodscopers who have no label and people like me who have been struggling with a label for many years.I know some who adopt a label, but maybe not wholeheartedly.

That is just my opinion and I am sorry you feel out of sync with the moodscope community when I know many people feel like you do. I can relate to a lot of what you said.

Thanks again for your honesty.


Deborah Mon, Jan 9th 2017 @ 5:25am

True.i should not have said "each". "Some" is more accurate.

Sally Sat, Jan 7th 2017 @ 9:36am

Wow. Deborah, this is both inspiring and heartbreaking. I can practically feel your pain in your honest words about what you have been through, which sounds so tough, and the loneliness at times when someone's presence would be a support. You don't mention children and friends and whether they have been supportive, but your words really touched me, and I wonder how your sensitivity about interactions manifests itself.
I also find the word Moodscope to be just right, Adrian.

Deborah Mon, Jan 9th 2017 @ 5:46am

Hi Adrian, I do have hugely intelligent understanding children, who also must deal with these labels. and I have a growing number of strong and reliable friends. I now live in a small but artistic and powerful community where I feel right at home. As to how my sensitivity manifests itself. Well I have been known to be sentences might jerk weirdly under extreme pressure, I can be over honest, blurting out things that a more laid-back me would simply leave unsaid. And I am quite fearless and ruthlessly self determining in a way that a younger less experienced me, was not...for starters! Thanks for your questions.

Eva Sat, Jan 7th 2017 @ 9:37am

Hi Deborah I don't have a label. I have had some low times, I think hormone induced, some grief stricken times due to bereavement, some swingy times due to working really hard and playing hard too and some balanced well times. I think a lot of what has happened to me is circumstantial.

I kind of get what you mean about feeling out of synch, in the past when there was a lot of bipolar discussion at one time I wondered if Moodscope was still for me, and I know that the Gardener also wondered if this was the right forum for her. But at the end of the day if you are having mood issues no matter the cause this seems to be a place where you can ask for help or just tell it like it is. I carried on and I am pleased that I did.

Sorry about your husband leaving you after you supported him all these years, you sound like a strong person though, I have been a supporter of family and friends to the detriment of my own health, maybe you did that too? I am learning to look after me now for a stronger more flexible and resilient future for myself. I hope you are building strength too, good luck.

I've left comments for Leah and Juls, catching up with blogs...

Leah Sat, Jan 7th 2017 @ 8:41pm

Eva Thanks for your comments, appreciated. It is funny how people can view Moodscope in different ways. I thought it was mainly for depression and anxiety because I never saw anything on bipolar! I also thought it was mainly for people who were recently diagnosed.So it is interesting we all have viewed it in different ways. I am always interested how other people cope and strategies they use. I too like Moodscope because of the variety of experiences and all the stories moodscopers have and share. I think Carolyn does a great job in providing us with so many different points of view. Take care Leah

Jul Sun, Jan 8th 2017 @ 9:55am

Hi Eva. I have seen your reply. Thank you. I wrote something today at the end of all the comments on my blog. Julxx

Eva Sat, Jan 7th 2017 @ 9:40am

I meant to say that one of the things that kept me here was moodscopers kindnesses to me during my bleak times, Frankie in particular has helped me so much, Frankie I know you are dealing with a lot right now. Sending you hugs.

The Gardener Sat, Jan 7th 2017 @ 11:49am

Deborah, what an intelligent post - this 'labelling' and everything in black or white. None of us conform to norms, being 'normal' or 'bi-polar'. We've all got the capacity for every mood - some the moods just go too far either way. But people do not give enough credibility to the affect of circumstances - cold weather and lack of light will render me 'depressed' but not 'clinically' depressed. The post had an extraordinary rider this morning. A daughter is here, and we were talking about a cousin, started on hard drugs in the states when he was 13 - excellent brain, always been in some sort of care - nobody has actually 'labelled' him, thought schizophrenic due to weird tendencies - having furious arguments with himself and a tendency to violence. But daughter also talking about the huge range of casual workers on our farm. A 19 year old girl worked last year, she was given some complicated label by social workers when she was 14 - it stuck - and ruined her confidence - a 'non-achiever'. Our daughter says all that was wrong was she was shy. At first she did manual work - then they decided she could try and drive a tractor - she did it, and was over the moon. Then she was given the challenge of a fork-lift truck (with due training) within 10 minutes she mastered it. She had her lunch in the mess room or at the outside tables with all the others - young students, polish, Bulgarians - and she is a different person. Without this 'leg-up' would she have been labelled for life? I've mentioned before, here, the harm done by my being labelled 'manic depressive' for years. Although all over, Mr G, deliberately or not, will NOT discuss things (before and after Alzheimer) because whatever has upset me he can hide, really hide, behind 'she's depressed again'. I reckon all the 'labelling' gives an unscrupulous, uncaring or lazy partner a 'whipping boy' or 'cop out' for not dealing with real issues. Your blog, Deborah, is a virtual 'thesis' of the harmful effects of 'labelling' You would appear to have given your husband a 'life' and left as a bit of jetsam (or is it flotsam). Good luck with picking up the pieces. Eva, also, has encapsulated the problem.

Mary Wednesday Sat, Jan 7th 2017 @ 2:31pm

I do agree that labels are not always helpful. In my case, having a diagnosis (as opposed to a label) was an enormous benefit. At last I knew what I was dealing with. Now I had a direction and a path. It meant that, in my inevitable times of illness, I stopped beating myself up and asking "why is this happening to me?" I find that, so long as I am extremely self-aware, I can manage those around me, saying "I'm not ill, I'm just a bit blue/tired/full of cold..." in those times when my score goes down for a couple of days or I get a bit snappy. Similarly when I'm just a bit bouncy and excited but not actually manic. In my case I embrace my label. It helps me.

DAVE Sat, Jan 7th 2017 @ 3:59pm

Hi Debroah..
I also agree wholeheartedly, with your diagnosis...The way in which we live our lives, our lifestyle, will undoubtedly change if we are prepared to make the changes necessary to overcome these varying moods that are associated with the various types of mental illness, but also plague 'Normal' folk whoever they are !

We need to change our ways and NOT remain in the 'Groove', but....As I have always blogged, get our 'House' in 'ORDER', from relationships, health, finance (living within our means), family, work, retirement and so forth.

Do NOT procrastinate any worrying issues...Deal with them immediately, and leave procrastination to the idle !
In so doing we will have less on our minds in which to 'WORRY' about, giving it the rest it needs to 'Come Off' this groove, this 'Merrigoround' and deal with the REALITY of everyday events...To 'STOP' and smell the fragrance and colour of this beautiful world upon which we have been placed, without being anxious about any 'UNADDRESSED' issues.

Clear the subconscious of any 'GUILT'', go sort out any issues which have 'SEPARATED' us from our friends, maybe for years, no matter who was to blame, 'SORRY' is a word very rarely used these days, but it is the most positive word to allow us to NEVErR to become offended, (as it hands the 'POWER' to the perpetrator), don't become a 'DOORMAT' in so doing it will expand our self confidence and self reliance...See my blogs this last week and before Christmas..

Good Luck, and God bless you Debroah for your positive attitude and approach to your life...We are as good as anyone , no better, and no one is better than we !
serve others and 'lose' yourself in so doing.

Dave X

DAVE Sat, Jan 7th 2017 @ 4:12pm

I have been called many things in my life, and LABELS are just someone's opinion, these labels can only affect us.....IF WE LET THEM, if we laugh it off 'WITHOUT' Offence we become self assured and in control of the mind and NOT the reverse.

Balance in our lives, moderation in all aspects of our daily routine, will attract more mental 'ENERGY' to other issues relevant to our self esteem.


Melanie Sat, Jan 7th 2017 @ 10:15pm

Dear Deborah,

I really resonated with your post - for me you said what I have not dared say - "come on Moodscopers do not let yourselves be defined by these conditions you are named as having - that we are not a set "thing" (label) - we can all work our way to "health" - what is that anyway? A freedom I think to be able to be "ourselves" to say no as well as yes, to ask for what we need, to not be ashamed of our needs, to be able to express ourselves freely. Would learning to move from codependence to interdepence give me "health"? I am listening to a module in a course by Katherine Woodward Thomas on this right now. I have very seldom labelled myself nor ever been labelled by another as depressed or anything else yet I identify with a lot of what is said by Moodscopers, and I am often low, sad and very tearful - much more than I would like to be - emotions overwhlem me - I have to do a lot of processes to let them go - I do feel that we are all evolving and can begin again in any moment - see poem by Rainer Maria Rilke. And I agree our environment has so much to do with it - see Bruce Lipton - Biology of Belief etc. I also keep wondering how much I am creating my environment - how much is it a reflection of me... Just some quick thoughts. Lots of love to you

PS the grief of being alone after a relationship is a real grief and the other can appear sorted and fine - however we do not know and it is always best to be us (ie however it looks we are in the best place we can be right now) and we can find our own inner strength, love and meaning - I switch between the sadness of loss and the still faint but emerging feelings of lightness and freedom which are coming as I realise I was limited and not me in that relationship - and in looking after the other I was weakening him

-- Rainer Maria Rilke:
"I love all beginnings, despite their anxiousness and their uncertainty, which belong to every
commencement. If I have earned a pleasure or a reward, or if I wish that something had not
happened; if I doubt the worth of an experience and remain in my past--then I choose to begin
at this very second.
Begin what? I begin. I have already thus begun a thousand lives."

Melanie Sun, Jan 8th 2017 @ 7:41am

Re-reading your post - I would want to kick off that label. I think sometimes a label or diagnosis can be helpful - an explanation of why I am such and such a way and a road map to how I can help myself (like a 70 year old I heard recently on radio diagnosed recently with Asperges) - however not helpful the way you describe it - foisted on you for others' (research/pharmacies etc) reasons. That you describe relatives as needing predictability and calm to me is information about them - they have their own "disorder" which creates this need - nothing to do with you and who you are. You can allow you to be who you are and love yourself and find others who do too. (Pema Chodron - When things fall apart) Best wishes to you! (As I write much of this I see it is like I am writing to myself - for you to take or leave - or possibly not even see!)

Deborah Sun, Jan 8th 2017 @ 8:24am

Thanks for all these great responses. What a superbly supportive network this is.
I appreciate that labels have their place for some, even if not for me. It is just my point of view, and it is heartening to find a strong amount of support and empathy.
Luckily as an antipodean now in the midst of a busy summer, I am less introspective and maudlin then when I wrote this post.
However I have come to terms with the inevitability of sadness along the way.
This I accept as part and parcel of a rich and textured life.

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