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Is It Time For An Emotional Tune-Up? Tuesday January 19, 2016

To all my friends on Moodscope, this is my first blog so bear with me.

As we all know, dealing with bi-polar is always difficult. Sometimes a little easier and other times so very challenging. It is particularly difficult when we are trying to rationalize or explain our own emotions and feelings to someone who asks how we are doing. This is especially true if the helping person has never dealt with the ups and downs of a mental illness.

Being a common sense person, I developed a technique which has helped me answer this difficult question not only to myself but also to others deeply concerned about my well being.

I look at my emotional state like one views an automobile. When it is tuned up with new plugs, fresh oil, good gas and correct tire pressure, the auto hits on all eight cylinders, cruising down the highway with ease.

As time goes on and mileage adds up however, one or two plugs will eventually start to foul and fail. At that point, instead of running smoothly on eight cylinders, the car is only running on six. It still runs smoothly for a while, but if not corrected, the six cylinders drop to four, and then two, barely even starting. Eventually, when those two cylinders give out, the car will not even start and it is time for another major tune up.

I look at my emotional state in much the same way. When I feel good I am confident and secure and know I can accomplish anything. As a result I often take on much more than I should. It looks good and actually feels good with my mind fueling my engine with positive thoughts of affirmation. It also deceives me and tells me to keep going and take on more and more. You are so worthwhile. Look at your accomplishments. More. More. More.

Over time, however, the pace and grind of the fast lane takes its toll. My energy level drops a little, but I keep trying to perform at an almost super human level. Slowly, I drop to six, four, and then two cylinders. Eventually, if I don't take care of myself, I won't even start, let alone cruise down the roadway of life. Then I realize I did it again and know it is time for a tune up to recharge my batteries.

In this regard I think many or us are our own worst enemies. We know what feeling good is like. But we also know the illness from which we cannot escape. So we fight hard to feel good, only leading us to find that we need that all important tune-up.

So I am asking you, how many cylinders are you hitting on today? Do you need that all important maintenance and tune-up in order to cruise down this highway of life?

A Moodscope member.

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

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Cathi Tue, Jan 19th 2016 @ 6:03am

Hi Dave, I definetly needed an emotional tune-up. No Moodscope for 68 days. Your blog inspired me to change something to feel better. So first step: Moodscope. Thanks for this wonderful blog, looking forward for more!!!!!!! Wishing you all the best! Cathi

Anonymous Tue, Jan 19th 2016 @ 6:12am

Hi Dave! I very much like your writing. Congratulations on your first blog.

I absolutely agree with you about tuning-up. Although I think that it is better not to overload yourself with different tasks. Recently, for almost week and a half I experienced so much excitement due to changing my life: in regard to be happy and be a professional in what I am doing. All of that made me ecstatic. Along with that I listened to Earl Nightingale- the strangest secret. In connection to that I am trying to be conscious of the things I think about. I also signed up for the course on As a result I am so happy. I also thought of signing up to the language school which I truly love- I had a break from it for a year and a half. I also considered signing up for a swimming pool and additionally exercises for my back. However I know that it is too much burdening. So for now I stay with cousera- which gives me so much energy and my work which I truly love.

Thanks for writing.

Take care!


Paul Tue, Jan 19th 2016 @ 7:00am

Great blog Dave, a very good way of looking and describing the situation, I presume your not in England from highway and gas. But it still paints a good picture, I've been running on 2 cylinders, 4 flat tyres, the windscreen is dirty can't see where I'm going, the wipers are broke the radio is out of tune, the gears seem to be working but keep going in to reverse to often. The garages round here are not the best so with the help of moodscope I try to do my own servicing. I know when the days get longer and the sun shines my vehicle will run smoother and may occasionally be able to open the imaginary sun roof.

I hope the other vehicles on here have a smooth journey today I'm off to put some air in the tyres.

danielle Tue, Jan 19th 2016 @ 8:23am

Paul I hope you get the tune up you need soon, and the journey becomes good againxx

Anonymous Tue, Jan 19th 2016 @ 11:38am

I also hope your car is well tuned soon - can't beat doing your own servicing. Sorry, but your comment did make me laugh! Caroline

Paul Tue, Jan 19th 2016 @ 7:52pm

Thank you so do I

Paul Tue, Jan 19th 2016 @ 7:53pm

Glad I made someone laugh too

Hopeful One Tue, Jan 19th 2016 @ 7:10am

Hi Dave- Congratulations on your first blog. Being non bipolar myself your blog had given me insight into your malfunction . Your auto analogy would work well for us too as we can go down to 2 cylinders or none if the right circumstances come along!

Suzy Tue, Jan 19th 2016 @ 7:24am

Fantastic post Dave. This resonates with me more than I can say. Thank you! Overdoing it when is the complete undoing of me. :o/

Suzy Tue, Jan 19th 2016 @ 7:25am

*when well*

Soulmansblue Tue, Jan 19th 2016 @ 8:09am

Hi Dave,

A great blog for your first, congratulations on that. I like your analogy comparing our inner workings with that of a cars.

I need constant tuning otherwise I don't want to start, let alone start. It's a constant struggle for me not to drive and park up forever at the wreckers yard.

My mechanic/creator just won't allow that last spark plug to wear out. So until He does I just have to keep my wheels rolling on up the highway of life.

Yes, like all of us I keep trying to race against the other bigger and faster cars and expect to win when running on only one cylinder. In the heat of the moment like many we either don't realise we are or have yet to accept that we are in need of a tuneup!

Down the well Tue, Jan 19th 2016 @ 8:25am

Hi Dave, thank you for this, fantastic first blog. I like your analogy a lot. I realised lately how prone I am to putting my for on the accelerator and refusing to accept that I may have blown a gasket and HR closer to running on empty. Having just taken my foot off the pedal and accepted its time for a tune-up I'm amazed to find I'm running more smoothly already. Look forward to reading more.

Down the well Tue, Jan 19th 2016 @ 8:26am

Foot not for and am not HR!! Predictive text!!!

danielle Tue, Jan 19th 2016 @ 8:28am

Hi Dave what a great blog. I love using analogies to explain things! This is a great one, it is so hard to explain how it feels to someone who has never had a mental health problem. I wrote a blog in july 2015 called surfing the waves of life, to use an analogy to describe my anxiety and depression. For me when I tried surfing for the first time it was exactly like the lows of anxiety - when you cant get the hang of it and keep falling off the board (in a v low low) you feel like you will NEVER be able to surf (never be free of anxiety). but when you do get the hang of it (get control of the anxiety) you feel incredible and ask yourself how could i not do this before, you feel like youll never fall from the board again (or that youll never experience a low again). for me one of the major problems is i have selective memory loss so when i feel bad i cannot remember feeling good and its like i will never feel good again, and same when i feel good - i will never feel bad again. This belief of 'i am cured!!' happens every single time and results in greater disappointment and deeper lows. I try and remember the first time I surfed and yes it took 2 days, but i eventually stood on the board and stopped getting dragged under by the monstrous waves xxx

Marie Tue, Jan 19th 2016 @ 8:48am

Great first blog Dave! I think the way you described it was perfect!!! Just wished I knew how to service myself!!! I've been down for so long I don't know what true happiness is anymore.. I only know a fake smile and laugh!

Norman Tue, Jan 19th 2016 @ 8:49am

Failte Dave a chara,

great blog and lovely analogy. I often think of my down days as revving the engine but having a defective clutch, so I can't engage a gear and all the energy just goes round aimlessly and I don't move (literally!)

I also think of my board at work as like passengers who, instead of asking where they want to go, pull the steering wheel, yank on the handbrake and stamp on the brake and the accelerator alternately. Needless to say we get nowhere!

Amanda Tue, Jan 19th 2016 @ 8:56am

Hi Dave. Thank you for a great blog. Car analogy, great too. My (life) car? Hmm, needs judicious use of starter handle in coldest weather to function. Heater a bit dodgy so best keep a blanket handy for the knees. Constant tinkering under the bonnet is required otherwise it can conk out at a moment's notice. No synchromesh in first. Engaging lowest gear means stopping and preparing. Runs well downhill and with a following wind but has been known to have to stop and go up steep hills in reverse. Just like an old Morris 1000 I used to drive. Best car I ever had.

LillyPet Tue, Jan 19th 2016 @ 9:18am

Ahhh Amanda! How lovely that with all it's quirky faults you loved that car more than any other! LP :)

Amanda Wed, Jan 20th 2016 @ 8:58am

Late further comment... like the Japanese kintsugi (broken pots mended with gold) - imperfect or 'broken' things can be the very things to treasure. I feel myself 'broken' but I am mending myself with gold.

patricia Tue, Jan 19th 2016 @ 9:07am

Dave I like how you described Bi Polar. Like Danielle I have selective memory.Also when I'm down I cannot understand that person (me you can be up) or that person (me who can be down) I was told I have to try and meet myself in the middle, needless to say they didn't suffer from Bi Polar. Don't think I've ever met myself in the middle.
I've got loads of books all very good BUT when I go down all the knowledge goes "out the window"
They say one should go out, I can go out have a lovely day, come home and for some unknown reason bang the shutters come down again, "why", I try and think, perhaps I was wired up wrong today.
I think my car needs to go in for a quick service at the moment, to make sure there is nothing major getting ready to break down. Thanks again for making me check my car.

Anonymous Tue, Jan 19th 2016 @ 9:07am

Hi Dave. An exciting blog! I felt your energy reading it. When I have a good day (rare and following a really deep sleep the previous night) I try to make up for all the lost days which went before. For example when I edited a magazine once, I would work all hours on my occasional good day, being creative, writing witticisms and generally bringing the mag up to my standards. On the inbetween days, I would concentrate on filing and mundane jobs, desperate to leave the office as early as I could. These days I still use my good days to put right silly things I have done previously and make amends so to speak so I am afraid I can't limit what I do on the occasional good day. I am not bi polar but lack of good sleep makes one act like someone who has it.
I do agree with you that maintenance is the answer. A regular check up to stop my engine failing completely. Jul

Sheena Tue, Jan 19th 2016 @ 9:30am

It's so true that we all need sleep. It seems to be so under rated! In fact people often expect me to admire the fact they 'haven't slept in years'. It just explains their relative lack of capacity ... Sheena

Sheena Tue, Jan 19th 2016 @ 9:23am

Hi Dave, I found your first blog to be really insightful and I liked your analogy to a big engine, that cannot run full strength all the time. I agree that over doing things is the cause of many highs and maybe even lows. Learning what motivates this 'over drive' is what I have found is one of the ways of respecting when an 'oil change' might be due. When running well it is all too simple for others to expect this to be ongoing and 'normal'. To my cost I have found that exceptional performance cannot be maintained all the time. However, it's good to be able to 'put ones foot down now and again' - but only when the brakes are in good working order. Sheena

LillyPet Tue, Jan 19th 2016 @ 9:34am

Hi Dave, a fantastic blog. So good to relate how we look after ourselves to something we understand and are not emotional about. It gives us hope and a feeling that we can have some control.
I too didnt sleep well and feel a bit lousy, but it's nothing major. Maybe it's a good time for a tune up to keep things ticking over. The winter isn't good for us older models!
Thanks for the reminder about how important regular maintenance checks are and to keep well within the speed limits! The sun is out, nice day for cruising :) LP

Frankie Tue, Jan 19th 2016 @ 10:44am

This is brilliant Dave; thank-you and congratulations! SO helpful; speaking as one who used to drive at full speed without stopping, this image is a real help to me ... Morning everyone! Frankie

Dave Tue, Jan 19th 2016 @ 10:48am

Thanks for the nice comments....I already have an idea or two for future blogs. Have always enjoyed writing..but need to pace myself so all cylinders keep working. Again thank you all you inspired me on. Dave B

the room above the garage Tue, Jan 19th 2016 @ 10:52am

Hello Dave, not only have I personally benefitted hugely from your words today but I also love to read how you've helped others. Really enjoyed it and I look forward to more. Thank you, love ratg X.

The Gardener Tue, Jan 19th 2016 @ 10:57am

Dave has really hit the bull's eye with this first blog - such an excellent analogy. My physical and mental engines have been set at 'full speed' for most of my life. I think so fast that in both talking and writing I miss out whole phrases and can emit nonsense. I edit my writing, but listeners usually laugh - used to me, and suggest a noun, verb or a full-stop would be helpful. (I do it in French too) I had some nasty patches when my pulse would run between 100 and 140 for days - not life threatening, apparently, but scary. Much monitored, I eventually had small doses of beta-blockers. Our cardiologist, who sussed me very quickly, said 'you can gallop through your life if you wish, but your heart should not gallop with it'. Turned out each 'attack' could be tied to acute emotional stress - after my mother's death or serious 'run-in's' with Mr G which always upset me. On the car tack, I've loved sports cars and fast driving - then, first grand-child. It's father 'now we are a grand-mother no more fast cars'. Huh? Had estate cars ever since - turned out son was thinking of the space needed to cart grand-children, wine, beer and goodies back from France. Looking at the last two days posts I really indulged in open-heart surgery - rather disloyal to Mr G, lovely replies - my emotional motor was being over-loaded. Trying to analyse/learn from what was written. Today up, tea, shutters, prepare for nurse, breakfast, Mr G into taxi, check on painter in new house, work out future programme, pay him, check delivery carpet tiles, go to dump, supermarket, harrass electrician, all by 11.30. I try to still treat Mr G as a human being with a few problems, and tell him the programme for the day - which he promptly forgets. But, if he knows he's going anywhere his anxiety sets up an urgent desire to pee - this is a complicated business with his zimmer and all the doors - next is his shoes, must change them straightaway. All seems petty, but the slightest outing is a major undertaking - and he always tries to stuff more and more coats on, whatever the weather. So, to someone who has always lived in the fast lane the brakes are now firmly on - it's a case of good management, learning more patience and keep my foot off the accelerator pedal except on respite days. And to make sure my relaxation 'hour' is kept to, the mid-day re-charging of batteries is vital.

Mary Tue, Jan 19th 2016 @ 1:00pm

Dear TG - I am exhausted just reading your do to list for today. I admire you so much. Not disloyal to Mr G at all - with every word you write we feel your abiding love for him. It is only those we love who can drive us to distraction. YEs - make sure you take that hour.

Julie Tue, Jan 19th 2016 @ 11:24am

Hi Dave,
Thank you for a great blog. Reading it inspired me to check my Moodscope score which I hadn't bothered to do for 40 days. I too suffer bipolar and knew for myself that I am at that 'lucky to get it to two cylinders' stage in my mood cycle.
I also know that this time of year, post Christmas, cold and short on daylight hours, is a challenging time for many of us, bipolar or otherwise so I'm not at all surprised by the downward turn but nonetheless very frustrated. I can hear myself constantly putting things off and turning people down. My biggest fear that those I love will stop asking, give up and walk away, maybe 'trade me up for something more reliable' and who would blame them?
Well the score is in. It's down at 14, my lowest number ever. I've got to rev this motor up a bit and get back on the road.

Mary Tue, Jan 19th 2016 @ 1:02pm

Well, that went well, didn't it Dave? Excellent first blog. The first, I hope, of many. Being a very girly girl your powerful car analogy was rather lost of me - but as you can see from the comments - you certainly spoke deeply to many people this morning.

Brum Mum Tue, Jan 19th 2016 @ 2:03pm

Thanks for your was a clever analogy and really resonated with me. Please blog again sometime soon.....

susan Tue, Jan 19th 2016 @ 3:28pm

This is such a fun post, Dave. And helpful. Thank you! xx

Les Tue, Jan 19th 2016 @ 3:56pm

Hi Dave - You showed yourself as vulnerable and wrote about it in such a fab way - and look at the response - GREAT. A fabulous first blog......are you running on enough cylinders to write more - as you have helped quite a few into the 'tune up' bay?

The Gardener Tue, Jan 19th 2016 @ 5:51pm

Really for Julie - there is life after Christmas! Lots of us were getting depressed at the 'run up'. Others suffered stress while they produced the expected 'feast'. Yet others were stressed out with uncongenial rellies. Some of us, through whatever circumstances, had no fun at all and were virtually 'confined to barracks'. Now there is regret and depression with the darkest days and nothing to look forward to. What can we do about this basically lovely festival which takes charge of our lives? Our family is not very big, but we had a pact 'no presents for grown ups'. We've got nearly a year - let's draw up our own 'balance sheet' of what was good or bad this Christmas - limit expenditure, eat less, get guests to bring the pudding - if you live on a housing estate do what my b-in-law does - a course at each house. (There's a chance that the more difficult rellies may find kindred souls at the neighbours and go down the pub!) Ration TV (or pull the plug out) and get out all the old favourite games. They have just taken the Crimby lights down in our street - it's SO gloomy - but I've got a string of things to do - and poor Mr TG is being turned on from all angles - he does things with me (he is more mobile, and can see more, than he lets on) or sits on his own. The worm has turned - but have I got the bottle to make it stick? Mr TG has just objected to every light in the room, so teeth are already gritted.

Victoria Tue, Jan 19th 2016 @ 6:23pm

Well done Dave, that was a great first blog. I've managed to book a holiday. Just this country for a week but we'll be away from things in a cabin where I can recharge (get a service!)

sheila Tue, Jan 19th 2016 @ 7:33pm

Loved your illustration re the car. This is my first post too but I often say I'm not firing on all cylinders.Depression is difficult enough to deal with without trying to explain to others when often we don't understand ourselves. Did anything trigger it asks a well meaning friend NO!!!! for whatever reason not firing on all cylinders.Enjoy everyone's comments and helps to know many of us are doing our best dealing with mental issues

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