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Living in the Now – the Mental Health Challenge? Thursday January 21, 2016

Here are my thoughts which have emerged after some excellent Moodscope blogs this week, where people have shown their weakness and hopefully gained strength; through personally opening up and receiving through their 'giving' (as Lex would say) without any need to receive.

I love the phrase, 'You can only ever live happily ever after, on a day to day basis'.

When I am down, I can only feel the past (successes) now gone, or fear the future (failures) as I see it and have a real challenge in living in the 'now'.

What I find is that I have to work very hard to find a distraction to keep me in the moment. The common behaviours leading to some progress that were over weeks or months, can be as follows:

1) Getting up usually has to be pre-arranged through a prior promise or a phone call, (my God mother would say, 'I can't hear the shower yet'), because I live on my own.

2) I need to ensure that I don't rush into the kitchen, boil the kettle, grab my muesli and spill milk while running into the living room.

3) Next, is to find is a good storyline on TV to keep my mind steady. Even then I have to record it, to be able to fast forward any adverts, or my mind can drop straight into negative thoughts and I may run back to bed.

4) Once my mood improves a bit (weeks/months), I can possibly read some fiction which keeps me turning the page. The danger is that I get depressed as I near the end and panic what next!

5) As my upward movement continues, I'd probably be able to look at emails that I may have been avoiding, as I struggle to communicate with anyone outside my living room.

6) I then may be able to read professional documents and make appointments that would force me to not only go out of the house but also meet with people.

7) I'd now be forcing myself to move, pushing myself to go back into that outside world.

8) The desired destination? To get up without any thought of not getting up.

Watching my Moodscope scores and talking to trusted friends about decisions I am making also helps, which would also be good for those with bi-polar or bi-polar 2, so that they don't go 'high'. Because if it does, they'll likely crash again, as Dave highlighted in his first excellent blog this week.

Also I find that my mindfulness practice would also move from escape and chaos, to become deeply intuitive during this journey. All of which takes me back to 'living in the now', living minute by minute and day by day.

In writing this, I was in the now, and I continue to seek those happy feelings.

What keeps you in the now?

A Moodscope member.

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

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g Thu, Jan 21st 2016 @ 1:05am

having to walk the dog no matter what
the clock
what cannot be delayed - i am a deliberate last minute person
i have just realized that i am replying to tomorrows new excellent blog because again i have not gone to bed today
now i am living tomorrow
will try again tomorrow - today - to stay in the present..

LillyPet Thu, Jan 21st 2016 @ 4:43am

Hi Les, what Whatever helps me get into the now ( once I've realised that I've drifted out of it) is using my senses. Looking and listening. The now is a comforting place to be and we can be in it at any time! Thanks for your blog Les, it has made me feel optimistic. Morning All :) LP

danielle Thu, Jan 21st 2016 @ 11:35am

Hi LP good to see you! Looking and listening is something my psychiatrist told me to try. I find (as a huge tea lover) that touch can help - make a cup of tea and consume it using all the senses, smell, touch, taste etc. Hope you have a good day xxx

Les Fri, Jan 22nd 2016 @ 12:51am

Hi g - It was yesterday's blog now and you were in the moment.....whether its yesterday, today or tomorrow - if you are in the moment - you are in then now! :-)

Susie Fri, Jan 22nd 2016 @ 10:27am

Bearofliddlebrain Thu, Jan 21st 2016 @ 8:21am

Ditto 'g' above....have to walk doggit come hail, rain or shine....or freezio weather like this morning!! We will slip and slide through the the ice today, maybe the rain and mud tomorrow!

Keeping me hear and now though, during the walks, I look for the birds and hear them even when I can't see them and haven't a clue what they are!!

Meal times...have to make sure a top priority is having a meal ready for when the 'real' workers get home, so that even on a really bad day when dirty sinks, the loos, the floors all need to be washed, all keep needing attention, but they perhaps don't get done as much or very least a meal is ready.
(...and I know I have to justify to some members of the family, what I have done with my day!)

Bear hugs, Les....a good blog x

danielle Thu, Jan 21st 2016 @ 11:33am

Bear so good to see you! I had porridge this morning and thought of you and the goldilocks story :) How are you? Animals are such wonderful therapy aren't they? Just their joy at simple things like a ball and being outside can bring us into the present.xxxx

Mary Thu, Jan 21st 2016 @ 1:33pm

We miss you bear, when you're not here. Hugs to you.

Les Fri, Jan 22nd 2016 @ 12:52am

Hi Bear - whatever your weather stay in it now. Take care

Debs Thu, Jan 21st 2016 @ 9:01am

Wow Les, this is such a vulnerable, open, generous and raw blog. I feel very touched that you have let us in to your life and given us a taste of what it feels like for you. Thank you for sharing - the little details of having to have a TV programme recorded are so poignant.

What keeps me in the now is hard to recall right now because I am in a low place. But maybe that's exactly what I need to do - just be in the present. Like LP says the now is a great comfort. I'm going to do some reading I think, that always keeps me present... the feel of the pages, the concentration on the characters and their stories. I can be lost for a while.

Thank you Les, this has helped this morning... Much love to you all xxx

Bearofliddlebrain Thu, Jan 21st 2016 @ 10:33am

....ah Debs, the smell of a book too...don't forget the smell, be it a new book or a borrowed one! Hoping you get lost - in the nicest possible way this morning! Warm Bear hugs x x

danielle Thu, Jan 21st 2016 @ 11:32am

Reading helps me too Debs, what kind of books do you like? stay strong, this will pass xxxx

Lesley Thu, Jan 21st 2016 @ 4:07pm

Hang in there, Debs. reading helps me too. "The world" doesn't - the news and most TV just assault me. And the bouncy cheerful presenters are too cheesy most of the time. x

Les Fri, Jan 22nd 2016 @ 12:56am

Hi Debs - I believe to have any real impact we must 'reveal' ourselves and 'show weakness to gain strength'....the blogs that seem to 'touch' people are where the writer opens their heart and is truly authentic. Thanks for your kind comments

Debs Fri, Jan 22nd 2016 @ 9:27am

Just logged on and noticed these comments - thank you all, you are angels in my life. Like todays blog says 'this too will pass', although it never feels like that at the time. Am keeping on going, one day at a time.... xxx

Angela Thu, Jan 21st 2016 @ 9:22am

Thank you all so much for your comments, and especially big thank you to Les. This is the only place I feel safe; and realise that I am NOT alone
Hugs to all xx

Frankie Thu, Jan 21st 2016 @ 1:19pm

Thank-you Angela - returning the hugs! Needed this today ... Frankie x

Les Fri, Jan 22nd 2016 @ 12:56am

Hi Angela - great that you feel safe......and for sure you are not alone.

Rats Thu, Jan 21st 2016 @ 10:25am

Thanks Les, living on your own and staying in the present with your thoughts is hard and its reassuring to know that whilst I live on my own, I'm not on my own. I can get up in the mornings, it's staying up that I struggle with on bad days. My bed is so inviting and a safe haven from my spiralling thoughts. I go back there and restart my day, sometimes several times when things are hard. Thinking of my next thing when I am completely overwhelmed helps to calm me. Sometimes the steps are tiny - pull the duvet back, move feet, put feet on floor, stand up...Tiny, tiny steps which ground me and keep me in the present when my racing brain really doesn't want to be. Completing my moodscope test and reading the daily blog is my anchor for the day. My path would be different if I had no discovered it. Thank you everyone. Xx

Lesley Thu, Jan 21st 2016 @ 3:51pm

Rats, on my bad days I get some nice tea and go back to bed and just commit to getting up and breathing and doing one small task. I usually find that one small task leads to another small task and then the feeling of accomplishment fills me with feeling successful. Success is doing what you say you will do. It doesn't matter if it only starts with " I will get up and boil the kettle" I do it and know I am successful.

Les Fri, Jan 22nd 2016 @ 12:57am

Hi Rats - keep going........

Rats Fri, Jan 22nd 2016 @ 10:15am

Thanks Les. I kept your blog in mind yesterday and had my most positive day for a long time. I struggle to keep my thoughts away from past mistakes or hurtling into future calamities. Yesterday I used the mantra 'staying in the present is my present to myself' if I felt my thoughts wandering. It worked!

Les Fri, Jan 22nd 2016 @ 6:20pm

Hi Rats - well done. Can you now make it a habit?

Rats Sat, Jan 23rd 2016 @ 9:44am

Since keeping this in mind I have scored my highest ever on the mood test, so it is certainly going to be a habit from now on.

susan Thu, Jan 21st 2016 @ 10:47am

What I love best about your blog, Les, is your total commitment to the 'now'. While I know that the present moment is the only refuge we really have, it isn't always easy getting there. In me, the spiral causes extreme physical discomfort as well which clears up only when a very deep level of nowness is reached. Seeking the now when the physical feels so yucky really demands commitment. You have inspired me. Thank you as always. xx

Les Fri, Jan 22nd 2016 @ 1:00am

Hi Susan - Thank you

danielle Thu, Jan 21st 2016 @ 11:31am

Morning Les, how brilliant that you have identified what helps, I think this is a positive first step - you now have the toolkit you need during those bad times. For me reading also helps but I can very much identify with the anxiety of coming to the end of a good book! I often feel so sad! I try to avoid this by having a few books waiting in the background, buying good ones when I see them. For those who havent read it- a great book by Matt Haig called Reasons to Stay Alive - I read recently. I also love being with animals as Bear and G mention - my cat and my horse. This ALWAYS helps masses. I am so very lucky to have them. and finally, laughing. which is very hard at times - but if someone or a tv show can muster a laugh from me (particularly the long from your belly laughs that make your face hurt) then i feel ten times better. keep strong Les You have the tools to get through the rough patches xxx

Les Fri, Jan 22nd 2016 @ 1:01am

Hi Danielle - thanks for you input...

Hopeful One Thu, Jan 21st 2016 @ 11:33am

Hi Les - Thanks for such an insightful blog. The key to being and staying in the moment is awareness. This awareness is always available to us and it can be applied to everything we do - without exception. It means paying undistracted attention to what ever we are doing in the moment. The pressure of ones's hand on the toothbrush or the shaving brush ,the taste of the coffee ,the shape of the cup. Andy Puddicome in his book 'Getsomeheadspace' calls it the 'dot to dot day' In other words he asks us to think of our day as a series of closely spaced dots. All one needs to do is go from one dot to the next never beyond joining them to each other as the day progresses ,each dot being a moment. If successfully done the end result is a straight line which represents our mood neither going to far up or to far down..

susan Thu, Jan 21st 2016 @ 12:36pm

What a superb suggestion to dot...and aware of each dot. Makes good sense. Thank you. xx

Frankie Thu, Jan 21st 2016 @ 1:20pm

Love this HO - thank-you; dot to dot day ... (!) brilliant. Frankie P.S. wot, no joke?

Lesley Thu, Jan 21st 2016 @ 3:48pm

Hopeful One - I agree. When I feel emotions about to besiege me, I decide to focus quietly on one thing at a time and the sensual aspect. I am also starting The Presence Process.

Frankie Thu, Jan 21st 2016 @ 1:22pm

Hello Les; thank-you for your generosity.
What keeps me in the now? Looking at the sky, counting the birds, oh, and tea - lots of tea! Frankie x

Les Fri, Jan 22nd 2016 @ 1:02am

Hi Frankie - keep looking at those big skies....

Mary Thu, Jan 21st 2016 @ 1:37pm

Actually - Moodscope - and writing. And as Bear says, cooking for the family. It has to be done. The friends who live in my computer and phone help enormously too. I can't bear to actually see them and be with them (unless they are very special friends who understand) but via the screen they are very lovely!

Les Fri, Jan 22nd 2016 @ 1:04am

Hi Mary - aye that cooking.....

Peter Thu, Jan 21st 2016 @ 3:33pm

Thank you so much for thisLes - and for all the other suggestions by commenters. Sometimes I get so frightened by thoughts and feelings, and it lasts minutes or weeks. I use some of the techniques described here - but some are new and I'll try them. Thanks again.

Les Fri, Jan 22nd 2016 @ 1:03am

Hi Peter - keep trying new things on your journey

Lesley Thu, Jan 21st 2016 @ 3:45pm

Thank you, Les. Staying in the moment is tough. I feel blessed beyond measure at present. I am so fortunate to have started a part-time permanent job with a good employer this month. It helps immensely to get up and know I have to be somewhere, am needed and valued - and that I help others. My new routine currently means rising at 5.45 to have 30 minutes meditation time before on the move. I relinquish sleep to do this - either just me or listening to some of the wonderful tracks by Michael Sealey or Jason Stephenson (free on YouTube).

The best bit next is the fact that I get to WALK to the station and to work. WALKING listening to birds sing and trees blow invites my mindful appreciation of each step. Alas this will change as I am obliged to have a car at the ready as a registrar (births, deaths and marriages) and I don't have a car any more. (Working on that one to see if I can take a taxi instead in call out situations)

Like Frankie and others a lovely cup of tea - usually herbal - starts the day and the succulence of large porridge oats helps too.

The Moodscope community is the breath of fresh air where we can be ourselves and rejoice in the company of so many lovely people who are shining lights of gentleness, humour, compassion and depth. I thank you all.

AS I am on the bipolar spectrum I am more aware of my highs and have chosen to eschew too much social activity. Like Mary I find cooking is such a creative and wholesome thing to enjoy. And more tea in fine porcelain cups and tea pots - loose tea and organic. I think of the miracle of the chain of life to get me this wonderful drink - sorry coffee lovers but tea soothes and uplifts, coffee jerks me into hysteria.

Singing and praying really help too. I have decided to stop thinking so much and Just Start something. I am studying as a naturopathic nutritionist at present and have learned so much and how our food works with our mood and personality. The course is hellishly hard for a non-scientist. I can see a blog about perseverance coming on ....

So on that note I will go back to revising the heart and circulation. Movement is King, Queen and Emperor to your health. Hence dog walking is a great health card - love and exercise all in one.
Les, a very frank request here - if you ever feel you are not in the moment, please take a breath and say "Lesley, please follow through on your journey. Don't succumb to TV and don't procrastinate. Don't give up" I will know when you do!

Hugs and smiles from Berkshire. x

Les Fri, Jan 22nd 2016 @ 1:06am

Hi Lesley - Lovely input.....have you felt it yet - don't give up.

Lesley Fri, Jan 22nd 2016 @ 9:43am

Yes. I have. And when I am not in the moment and wandering, I will think of you, Les.

g Thu, Jan 21st 2016 @ 5:05pm

so I had a nearly whole day to continue to think about staying in the moment and I have decided that I oftentimes stay in the moment for too long .. certain activities that I enjoy can go on forever as there is never an end to a box set (impossible in one day to watch all Girls ) a poker game ( unless it is a tournament but computer table games go forever ) , a tidy of any sort be it books , emails ...
there are certain activities that I like to do as a routine and of course it helps when they are pleasurable but stopping and starting something else like sort of a mental kick in the butt saying move on on on helps a lot .... it is a part of my bipolar ,I guess , to obsess , perfect, polish, go to the bottom , once started... as starting anything is another obstacle .. but you all probably know what I want to say so all this rumbling is not necessary...

I have been touched that what I wrote as a first comment of a day has been read agreed commented on - thank you all - and thank you Les for inspiring me to think about something for longer than a minute

is it just me or is it the age of a shortest attention span ever ?

Les Fri, Jan 22nd 2016 @ 1:07am

Hi g - you can do it....

g Thu, Jan 21st 2016 @ 5:38pm

oh , and reading the comments was such a pleasure as I identified with the detail of it all and all the qualifiers as as Lesley's my tea has to be loose and organic ...etc. however I do drink coffee - espresso from stainless steel Italian cafeteria freshly ground by me ...drunk only in the morning and never after 12.00 o'clock .I drink tea in the afternoon - strong and milky ( milk - only non homogenized full fat ...force myself to drink green tea which is apparently sooo healthy and good but does not agree with me .. and all kinds of herbal ( not fruit ) teas in the evening...

The Gardener Thu, Jan 21st 2016 @ 6:26pm

I am taking a risk talking about something I've spent my adult life biting my tongue about. All depressed people ought to get a dog. Many of my acquaintances have not taken the care I thought they ought to have taken with their children - notably not giving them breakfast or amusing them - but the dog is fed to the minute and walked regularly. Cynical, highly critical - but a dog seems to be a huge motivation to get up - and, of course, it does give that absolute unconditional devotion which probably keeps the deeply depressed alive. A different tack arising from yesterday - implied criticism that 'posters' might have been trying to steal the 'limelight. Then Mary talked of a 'safe' environment. I wondered if there was any form of 'censorship' and now I know. American 'Mary' tried to 'infiltrate' Moodscope for her own ends, and was promptly stopped. Mary, 'our' Mary above, having to cook for the family. Are depressed women 'luckier' than men? My own experience with depression was that no matter how low I was the instinct to care for your children overcame the instinct to hide in a corner. I can't help feeling a rather bitter envy of those above who CAN go back to bed - I dare not think, or remember, the days when I could lie in bed with a couple of cups of tea, listen to the radio - then, sunny summer mornings, have a leisurely breakfast in the garden. But I HAVE had those times.

Mary Fri, Jan 22nd 2016 @ 9:48am

Hello TG. re censorship - our lovely Caroline keeps an eagle administrative eye on our blog and comments and if anything inappropriate (like the American Mary) is posted, then it will be removed. But this is a place where we can be vulnerable and say what is on our hearts. And - I notice, that, for all we're mostly depressives, this is a very warm and positive place, and the quality of comments is much more affirming and wholesome that you get in so many places. I think we're just a nice crowd here (pats herself on the back while simultaneously polishing fingernails on her lapel and ends up in an "interesting" yoga pose!)

Rebecca Thu, Jan 21st 2016 @ 8:40pm

Riding and owning horses is really positive for my depression. I have to get up and do them regardless of how I feel and I always feel better being around them. Lately I have been taught that to school a horse well you have to be in the moment and practice mindfulness to help feel what is going on underneath you. I thought this is yet another positive aspect to riding.

The Gardener Thu, Jan 21st 2016 @ 8:59pm

Rebecca, as a total addict of dressage (I did a tiny bit) I think it is the most perfect example of understanding between man and animal - absolutely no cruelty involved - or subjection of the animal, as in lion-taming.I stuck a perfect picture of a top-hatted woman on a beautiful grey horse carrying out one of the most graceful movements - what was written in the diary was pretty grim - but before I opened it I had this picture of beauty, poise and perfectly discipline

the room above the garage Thu, Jan 21st 2016 @ 11:14pm

It's always good to see you Les. Thank you for a thoughtful blog today, peace be yours, love ratg X.

Les Fri, Jan 22nd 2016 @ 1:08am

Hi RATG - Good to see you around.

Soulmansblue Fri, Jan 22nd 2016 @ 12:51am

Hi Les,

Sorry I'm rather late on today, hmm tomorrow rather. Great blog, I fully sympathise with you. Lifting your mood is quite a strain on the system and to keep pushing yourself is difficult. especially when you are feeling so way on down and distraction is so hard to obtain and to hold onto.

Try something other than the TV!
Get a camera and go for a walk or a drive some where and take pictures. It doesn't matter what they are of!

It gets you out and you get exercise without realising it and you can then achieve further distraction by getting and printing your own pictures, that is if you have a computer. It can also help you to relax a little.

The pictures don't have to be great. You just wonder around and take whatever takes your fancy. If you're not sure about taking a particular picture - take it anyway. A digital camera never wastes film, so take it you never know it might actually be the shot your looking for. 'IF IN DOUBT - TAKE IT!' far better to have done than to feel later on that you should have.

Any way - just a thought that I may have taken a little to far. What about doing a course on the internet?

There are so many these days and some are free if you do them while they are being screened live. You only need purchase the course if you want a lifetime access and then it's cheaper to buy while it is on live than after.

Plus around Christmas there are some great course bargains to be had. I have just purchased serval courses that normally would have cost several hundred for less than £10.00 each!

Just a thought for additional distractions. the best distraction is doing something that you [STILL] enjoy!

Yes, very hard, hence 'STILL' in brackets.

Les Fri, Jan 22nd 2016 @ 1:13am

Hi SMB - Cheers......

Ruth Mon, Feb 8th 2016 @ 9:39pm

Have any of you read CSLewis "Surprised by Joy"?

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