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Live and smile. Friday September 26, 2014

And so it's September. A beautiful month of colour and varying light. For those of us struggling through, I sometimes think this can be a kind month. If we look. It holds warmth in the colours that surround us...trees and bushes begin to take on amber glows or fire-like blazes and although temperatures begin to drop, there is comfort in that. No longer do we need to feel guilty that we are not feeling magazine-happy in the glowing days of summer (they are so overt they make me shy away) but we can layer on scarves and socks and wrap-in our mood to tell it that it is ok.

Now would be a good time to prepare ourselves. If you are like me, the entire year brings lows at various times, but the days of January and February are my lowest and so it's now that I must prepare for them. Harvest the energy I have and prepare some coping strategies in advance. For me, I am going to try having a survival kit this year...for the days when night-time seems impossible to reach. A real physical box of tricks that I can call upon. Just by planning this has already shown me that I have had a shift in my attitude and therefore I am claiming a Willy Wonka gold medal for it. Amongst other things in my kit I will lay inside the following:

1. A copy of Charlie & the Chocolate Factory (my favourite book of all time, so many layers within it, and something which will lift me on a dark day and also require little concentration.
2. Chocolate – Green & Blacks organic 80% (high quality dark chocolate helps serotonin, it's also so rich it's not something you can gorge on.
3. Pistachios and a note saying 'Eat Me'
4. Raisins and a note saying 'Eat Me'
5. A note of music I need...Ray Lamontagne maybe, Springsteen definitely.
6. A list of a meal I can shop for and make simply (when ill, we need instruction).
7. A list of instructions: get up on time, shower, make kids breakfast, eat what I make them eat, get them to school, have cuppa with fruit, prepare dinner and put on laundry, sit down for a bit, nap or read, maybe write, do not stare vacantly at hoover willing it to move, it will only move if you move it.
8. A written reminder that it is ok to have days with minimal output.
9. Some photographs of happy times to show me that I can, I have and I will.

September is also the month I lost a friend. I will think of him and remember his massive, infectious and silly smile and I will remember that I have the chance to live. Let's do it. What will be in your survival kit?

Love from

The room above the garage.
A Moodscope member.

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Anonymous Fri, Sep 26th 2014 @ 6:37am

That is a great list, very inspiring. I also recommend getting a sad light, I started to use one a couple of years ago and it really gives me a boost. My husband is the cheeriest of souls and finds the light makes him agitated so I am careful not to point it at him during breakfast. Great planning and well done for getting prepared.

Anonymous Fri, Sep 26th 2014 @ 6:57am

Thanks RATG, and also Anon above. January and February is my worst time too. Each month seems to last ten weeks.

Hopeful One Fri, Sep 26th 2014 @ 7:19am

Here is my list:

1 Do early morning sitting meditation-in depression one can replace our negative thoughts with positive ones (CBT), in my case but this does not always work.Meditation lets one accept that we cannot control our thought stream.If we could we would block out our negative thoughts and leave with pleasant thoughts for ever after.
2 .Do a simple stretchy exercise routine.My anaerobic component is 40 press ups. Exercise boots serotonin and endorphin- feel good neurotransmitters.
3 Create something to look forward to.This can be anything -the smaller the better.A walk,( Gives Vitamin N ,N for nature)weather permitting, a quiz show?
4 Set up three tasks. Keep them simple and doable..Keep solution small.Do them,Congratulate oneself on completion.We like being praised our brain does not distinguish the source.Reward oneself with a treat ( preferably non alcoholic)no matter how small.Make a note in journal that tasks successfully completed.
5.Put day to 'to bed ' in the evening by writing down in my journal possible solutions to the problems/worries of the day with possible solutions to pursue tomorrow.
5 Do 15 minute body scan meditation in bed .This undoubtedly improves sleep efficiency,( hours slept divided by time spent in bed.. e g slept 6 hours/spent 6 hours in bed= 100% efficiency.slept 6 hours , spent 8 hours in bed = 75% efficiency. Aim for 90% efficiency. use sleepbot app on iPhone for this.) .Good quality sleep keeps depression at bay.

Good luck

Anonymous Fri, Sep 26th 2014 @ 7:27am

Anonymous 6.57 am.What is RATG for those of us who are ignorant?

Toasted Tea Cake Fri, Sep 26th 2014 @ 7:38am

Hi RATG (Room above the Garage)

Knowing yourself is half the answer. Best to be prepared for the ascent on the summit so you don't tumble into the abyss. I am definitely with you on the Green and Blacks and even an occasional Springsteen. Should help with the Hoovering.

I now have a picture of Bruce coming round to Hoover for you whilst you munch on luxury chocolate.



Penny Fri, Sep 26th 2014 @ 8:26am

I was advised to build an "emergency/crisis" box by a psychologist but have been dragging my feet over it till earlier this year when I inherited an old very battered large jewellery box, so I have been slowly covering it with my drawings and pictures of things that lift me. Just making the box is helping at times. I think that the contents very much depend on the person. Mine includes plasticine (I am a sculptor but when I am down I can't work so the plasticine allows me to "doodle" knowing I can squash it up) a good book that I have not read but want to, enough cash to treat myself to a trip to a coffee shop (with the good book) so that I make myself get out of the house. A pair of slipper socks to put on if I feel like running away as well as writings and photos to remind me of good times.

Anonymous Fri, Sep 26th 2014 @ 8:35am

Sweet way to describe September. inspiring and comforting piece to read!

Anonymous Fri, Sep 26th 2014 @ 9:53am

sounds good, I have a craft bag that I turn to on exhausted days, sometimes I do loads and sometimes I just organise it.

Julia Fri, Sep 26th 2014 @ 10:25am

I love September. The mornings are so beautiful. I have no particular bad or good months/ times of the year but it does make sense to prepare for the bad periods if you know when they are. Nice heartening blog, room above the garage, especially the first paragraph

Charlie Bransden Fri, Sep 26th 2014 @ 10:31am

Awesome. Most erudite and inspiring, that loft! Quick list in same vein: Avoid temptations and comfort of alcohol and junk food. Make time for others. Keep swimming regularly. Work with Shire horses Annie & Winston often, unconditional love from them. See and capture calm and beauty from frost patterns, open fire, dewy mornings, leaf colour. Enjoy and savour simple tastes, herbal teas. Sit by candlelight with rousing classical music. Relish the darkness, rather than mourn the lack of light.

Anonymous Fri, Sep 26th 2014 @ 11:14am

Thank you RATG, this is a great idea! I would add to my box:
1. A couple of feel-good DVDs (ideally they would screen Bake Off in those dark months, but hey ho).
2. Some jigsaw puzzles, for those days when I want to do something but this is about the most taxing thing my brain can cope with.
3. Favourite music.
4. Cat treats, so I can lure my furry friend onto my lap.
5. A pair of those lovely soft fluffy socks. Having toasty toes can make the difference between sitting on the sofa all day feeling miserable and sitting on the sofa all day feeling sad but cosy.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Fri, Sep 26th 2014 @ 4:11pm

What a lovely list. I can particularly relate to Charlie's comment above, as I always used to go and sit with the cows when I felt down as a child. Animals are very comforting and the gentleness of the farm giants is balm to the soul. Thank you for this, and for your beautiful depiction of September.

Lex McKee Fri, Sep 26th 2014 @ 4:14pm

"Room Above The Garage" - our lovely one's way of describing themselves.

Lex McKee Fri, Sep 26th 2014 @ 4:17pm

I saw a magnificent Treasure Chest in Poole Museum yesterday. Not huge, but big enough for 'Treasure'. It was filled with semi-precisious stones - and I longed to dig my hand in... so I did.
My thought was to get one for myself and fill it with buttons.
I love their texture.
Then I could 'hide' other pick-me-up treasure in there - 'neath the buttons so that I could rediscover those things that are connections to my joy.

Anonymous Fri, Sep 26th 2014 @ 5:37pm

Great list, great idea! That Room Above The Garage is a hot-bed of positivity.
Regards, Rich.

Anonymous Mon, Sep 29th 2014 @ 10:07am

What a wonderful idea to have a survival kit, as well as a treasure box. Thank you for sharing. I find that doing a list of the things you are grateful for each day, as well as things you find beautiful really helps. It does not matter how small or insignificant they might be.

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