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"My Brain - It's my second favorite organ" Friday July 21, 2017

The title is a Woody Allen quote.

So, Brains - Here's what I know about Brains:

1) Brains love patterns. "Oooh, that's familiar," thinks Brain. "I know how to make things easier for myself - I will learn this pattern and repeat it at every opportunity." Very useful when you are learning to drive. Not so useful if you want to NOT be depressed. I, for example, have a habit of feeling sorry for myself, seeing myself as a victim. This validates my depression ("Oh poor me, my life is so hard, no wonder I feel depressed") thereby giving myself permission to keep on being depressed... Pretty dumb, eh? Brain doesn't think so - Brain thinks it's the smart, helpful thing to do...

2) It's not just patterns and habits that Brain is good at. It's good at SPOTTING things too. Good if you are a hunter-gatherer and want to see all the small red berries on the bush; less helpful if you wake up and think, "Hmmm, how do I feel today? I ache; I'm dizzy; nauseous; exhausted; feel really low..." Brain is good at spotting all those things. Try this: Ask Brain to look out for all the people wearing blue tops and suddenly, my goodness, nearly everybody seems to be wearing a blue top. What you focus on, you will see lots of - that is the power of Brain!

3) Telling Brain NOT to think about something, means that Brain will be constantly thinking about it. We all know that feeling. The more we say "I will NOT think about...", the more we think about it. Which, of course, also feeds into the patterns mentioned in point 1 and the 'spotting all the bad things' in point 2.

So are we all doomed to repetitive, negative thoughts? NO!

Firstly, I have come to accept that the state of the inside of my head is MY responsibility. I can rant and rail and blame the Fates, the Government, my ex, the weather... but ultimately the only person choosing what I am thinking about is me.

If I want to experience periods of contentment, I have to prepare the ground for that. I have to recognise the patterns Brain tries to make me follow and shout "STOP!" I have to think about GOOD stuff, because then Brain gets good at spotting it and does it as a pattern.

Unlike Woody Allen, my Brain is actually my FAVOURITE organ. I know three things about the Brain. Remember those things. Apply them to your life - reject the patterns that are not helpful; look for the Good (it's everywhere once you start looking); don't say "Don't...." (ha ha) just notice all the good things, fill your Brain with them. And then keep at it...

At first my depression was a black, cold prison made of rough, grey breeze blocks; no windows, no doors; totally dark in there. "Looking for the good" created a tiny chink of light. With persistence that chink grew to be a crack, and recently several bricks actually fell out and I have a glimpse of freedom! (It's very colourful and light out there!)

I am not belittling the seriousness or severity of our various states of mental health, nor am I denying the impact that they have on our lives, I am just offering something to the Moodscope community that has helped me. Please try it and see. Look around you now - what can you see, taste, smell, hear, feel or even just remember that is GOOD?

Marmalade Girl
A Moodscope member.

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

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Molly Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 5:23am

What a great blog MG, I really enjoyed it. Sometimes we don't have the ability to talk to the brain, as you rightly say, but I kind of like the fact I can (maybe) be in charge of my brain. Your second point is so true. For instance my husband is growing a beard (well he cannot be bothered to shave) but I tidied it up, now all I am looking for is beards and everyone seems to have one! How did I not notice this before! However, I dread to think what Woody Allen's first favourite organ was. Probably somewhere that his brain should have been :-) xx

Marmaladegirl Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 5:58am

Hi Molly - Our fabulous early bird! So glad you liked the blog (it must be longer than the preferred 500 words but I couldn't find bits to cut out). I too am up early today - I have started a new job and know I have a lot to get on with. Have a good day yourself Molly - and your beardy husband ;-) Keep looking out for the good things! MG xx

David Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 10:35am

Not a good idea to look at moods cope whilst at work!

Marmaladegirl Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 11:21am

I'm sure you are right David! MG

Sal Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 2:11pm

How so David? Laughing out loud? (I hope) Or at least smiling :)

David Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 11:03pm

Good luck. Me 68 and still working for the Intelligenre Services of the M.O.D. and very satisfied.

Fiona Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 7:21am

Thank you for your very positive blog , I too over the years realised I am in charge of what goes on inside my brain . It's taken along time and you have to want to see the good more than the negative .Somedays are harder than others that wiring is pretty strong , loves the familiar !!!! Well done x

Marmaladegirl Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 10:19am

Hi Fiona - Thank you for your reply. I'm glad you mention the 'wiring'. Yes, that pesky wiring can be so strong - but being aware of it helps us to find ways round it. All the best, MG x

Orangeblossom Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 7:28am

Hi MG thanks for your great blog which I throughly enjoyed reading. I find going on "my headspace journey" by practising Mindfulness helpful in setting fresh patterns. Hope that you have a positive day.

Marmaladegirl Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 10:22am

Hi Orangeblossom - You have reminded me to log on to Headspace. I have ten meditations for ten days loaded down for free somewhere and it's always really helpful when I listen to them. Always good to hear from you. I hope all well with you. MG x

Jane SG Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 7:35am

Negative thinking and over thinking. The two most debilitating things in my life. So I'm going to try your suggestion MG. first sight today - my beautiful daughter coming to Kay next to me for a few minutes before she gets ready for school. First taste - my morning cup of tea. What can I hear? Peace and quiet. Xxx

Jane SG Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 7:36am

Lay next to me! Not Kay!

Marmaladegirl Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 10:24am

Hi Jane - Great to hear from you. Sounds like a lovely start to the day and no matter how hectic it gets later, you can remind yourself of how it felt with your daughter, your cup of tea and the peace and quiet! :-) MG x

David Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 8:22am

I have learned to listen to my spiritual and interlectual thoughts and act on them.

Marmaladegirl Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 11:23am

Interesting. I have learned to question the truth of my thoughts - sometimes my mind is telling me lies. Does yours do that to you? MG

Valerie Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 8:44am

When you look at various therapies,like CBT for example,they all boil down to the advice you have given.You are so right,every kind of mental illness from mild phobias to full-blown psychosis begins with a thought conjured up by ourselves.We tell ourselves lies and scary stories and believe them.We need to be vigilant,pounce on these unwanted visitors in our heads.
Your blog is a keeper,says it all for someone with my type of mindset.

A new job-wonderful,hope it goes really well for you. xx

Marmaladegirl Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 9:50am

Hi Valerie - How's it going? Good to hear from you. Thanks for noticing my mention of the new job. Look how naughty I am - at work now and checking the comments on Moodscope! The job is nothing to shout about - I have had a lot of time off with depression and ME/CFS and it is very difficult to get any work at all. I managed to get 16 hours a week in a newsagent's on minimum wage, and now I have gone 'up market' - 16 hours, still on minimum wage but with the luxury of sitting on my bottom in an office instead of standing behind the counter! MG

Larry Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 9:55am

Valerie (& MG)- you have said it in one for me, ditto ditto - thank you! Larry

Jul Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 8:49am

Hi Marmalade Girl. You say you are not a writer,I suppose most of us do not consider ourselves writers but you certainly can write! There must be so many out there, like you, who are so good with words and express themselves in a meaningful way about a subject dear to all our hearts at Moodscope. My brain works exactly like you describe. I once tried to immediately change every negative thought that came into my mind into a positive one. It sort of worked for a while but I couldn't keep it up, it was exhausting. I sometimes wonder if I should just let my brain do whatever it wants to without trying to take control and hopefully it might work its way through all the negative thinking and tire of it all eventually. But you seem to have come a long way MG and all credit to you for the little ways you have found to tame your brain.So glad you are happier these days and large bricks have fallen away from your prison walls. Wonderful analogy and great writing. Julxx

Marmaladegirl Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 9:57am

Gosh, thanks Jul for your compliments! I don't see myself as A Writer but if we are literate, we should all be able to put a few words down. I am actually a Secondary School English Teacher by trade, but unfortunately the way things have turned out I am unable to do that (and at 53 I'm not sure that I will ever go back into it - a bit too rigorous for me!) So, as I said to Valerie in response to her comment above, I am currently doing office work at £7.50 an hour. I do kinda feel over-qualified and underpaid but I am not complaining because I have been unemployed and unable to work due to ill health, and that is a whole lot worse! "Onwards and upwards" as my Grandma used to say. I hope all is well with you. I bet if you look back you will see how far you have come too... MG xx

David Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 10:39am

From small acorns large Oak trees grow at in work.

Marmaladegirl Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 11:31am

I hope so David! Have I got time to grow another Oak tree? I feel like a grew one but it got chopped down. I don't think this particular job is going to lead to anything (especially if I keep using work time to go on Moodscope!) but it enables me to survive financially and maybe, given that freedom, I will find other ways to grow a mighty Oak tree... All the best D, whatever you may be doing today, MG

Molly Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 7:53pm

I agree Jul, great writing here by MG. MG I hope your job is going well. I will be in a similar position as you of 'stepping down' when I get back to work. Not that I was an English teacher ! Hey no wonder you write so well ! A very stressful job I would imagine but you achieved it and now it's time to wind down. :-) M xx

Marmaladegirl Sat, Jul 22nd 2017 @ 7:53am

Hi Molly - You probably won't see this as it is now Saturday. I just wanted to say Good Luck with your 'stepping down'. I hope it brings improvements to your life - more time, less stress maybe? My 'stepping down' was forced upon me by ill health and there are things that grate, like only earning £120 a week when I used to get more than that a day! By the way, many teachers cannot do what they teach - do you remember PE or dance teachers from school (mine were very unfit!). All teachers know the theory but can't necessarily put it into practice - so I am very delighted to find that people think I CAN write! :-) Have a good weekend Molly - I hope there's something both you and your hubby can find pleasure in. MG xx

Molly Sat, Jul 22nd 2017 @ 7:11pm

Hi MG, I always have a check for a couple of days and get notifications as well, so I have seen this! Thank you! I have been unemployed for two years due to ill health and that of my husband who can hardly walk right now (waiting for an operation) so our only pleasures are rubbish TV and a glass of wine! I am SO hoping to get back to work, as he is! I can understand about your earnings. I was on a good salary as well and gosh don't I miss it! But it is good that you got back to work, it gives me incentive, as it is not easy to get a job these days, especially as we get older and with the challenges of mental health! Thank you for responding and for your kind words xx

Salt Water Mum Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 9:22am

I really like this blog, thank you Marmalade girl.

I am on the lookout for the 'good' today !

'The only person who is choosing what I am thinking is me...' I really needed to hear that. The stories I tell myself in my head can be very dark, very sad and I get caught up in them and it's hard to untangle my thoughts then...

Molly, there are a lot of beards around aren't there? You know I think it's so sweet you 'tidied up' your husband's beard - there's something so innocently intimate about that. Enjoy!

Jane SG, that's lovey - that special moment with your daughter. I have lots of cuddles with my son. Not so many with my daughter now that she is a teen! But the odd cuddle I get is precious.


Marmaladegirl Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 11:36am

Hi SWM - If I can do the smallest thing that makes the slightest difference to anyone out there in Moodscopeland, then I am happy. I think I may have said before how incredibly rewarding I find it, having something that I have written sent out on Moodscope, and then getting positive comments from fantastic people like yourself... Bestest wishes, MG x

Larry Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 9:57am

MG - thanks for the reminder! I've been suffering all night long when awake and asleep (dreams)with negative painful stuff 'in my head' when it's probably not even real. I must try try try harder to follow your advice and get in to a better mindset. Thank you again ..

Marmaladegirl Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 10:16am

Dear Larry - I DO feel for you; I've been there. And lack of sleep is then so debilitating too... The main thing to remember is that a thought is not a fact. Repeat. A thought is NOT a fact. It's not even real - just an electrical impulse from one neurone to another (or something like that). Relax. Life is a roller-coaster and your are down at the moment, but it will take an upswing again. Just allow this bad time to pass. Don't beat yourself up trying harder - but maybe keep an eye out for anything that is good today. I think it is really good that you have replied to today's blog. That was a positive step and it is great to hear from you. All the best, MG

David Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 10:47am

Always take your medication in consultation with your mental health professional Consultant and sleep is the restoration of the Brain.

Dolphin Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 10:59am

Dear MG, thanks for a great blog, which I will keep to remind me of the traps I set myself. The one I especially dislike is the victim one...

In case it is useful, a friend and I go through a weekly type of meditation process which consists of free talking for 3-5 minutes, then asking your various bits what they are feeling, then an image. The bits we ask are head, heart, body, emotional body, soul. We let them come up in the order they choose - sometimes head rushes to go first, other times another part will want to have its say first. It's a very useful process to get different views from yourself. Sometimes, for example, your heart will be saying something different from your head. Sometimes your head will say harsh judgmental things, other times it will be analytical and provide direction. Sometimes all the bits say the same sort of thing, but other times you find a neglected part of yourself that you need to pay attention to.

Good luck with the job! xx

Marmaladegirl Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 11:42am

Dear Dolphin - How are you today? Great to hear from you. What a brilliant process you have described. I will definitely try it, although I don't know if I am brave enough to try it with a friend. The job is just part-time office work, but it's a job, so I am glad. MG x

Dolphin Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 12:49pm

We've been doing this for years and there is huge trust. The rule is not to offer advice for example, just listen (and possibly reflect back at the end) because the process is not the usual type of talk with a friend about problems. We know each other intimately because of this, despite the fact that we haven't seen each other in person for a year or two (we do this by skype). If you don't have someone who can act in this way, or someone you want to build this type of relationship with, it is fine to do it by yourself. Just go through a relaxation process and speak the first thing that comes to mind. I'm fine thanks. A bit weepy so I need to go outside to find some peace (a walk in the fresh air). xx

Wyvern Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 1:55pm

Marmaladegirl and Dolphin - you have both given me great ideas for (a) listening to and evaluating my thoughts, and (b) finding out what all the aspects of myself are feeling. Will definitely try these. I'm going to print out today's blog and comments and paste it into my journal to remind me what to do.

Marmaladegirl Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 5:10pm

Hi Dolphin - I hope you have had the chance to get some fresh air and that it has made you feel better. I will try the process you describe on my own to start with. I love that sort of thing - often amazingly revealing. MG xx

Sal Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 2:37pm

Thanks MG, great blog, and great headline - I could not resist! So true about patterns, and about finding in our world the things we look out for. A great reminder of the power of the positive.

I do want to stick up a bit for the part of us that took on board the patterns in the first place (not that you were putting it down :) ) I agree, as adults we have a choice about our thoughts, and about where we put our attention. But I don't think we are to blame for taking on board the patterns. When we learned them we were often small and /or defenceless (like, "if I stay quiet, nothing bad will happen"). It's quite a challenge to learn to put our trust in our adult / stronger selves whilst still valuing our younger / weaker selves, who learned those unhelpful patterns. I really like Dolphin's approach of listening to all the parts in us, and letting them all have their voice.

What a great source of wisdom this Moodscope community is. I am so so glad to have access to it. Thanks again for your wise and supportive blog. (And I agree with Jul, you really have a way with words.)

Marmaladegirl Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 5:30pm

I completely agree with you Sal - we take on patterns from the moment we are born onwards and mostly I would think people aren't even aware that they are doing it. I only discovered this fact when I was trying to find out WHY I was depressed and how to control it. As I was replying to Dolphin's comments above, saying I would have to do the process described alone, it made me realise a pattern that I have which I learnt in childhood about not revealing any 'bad' sides to myself, so I can't share the whole of me with anyone (which can be stressful!)... Oh yes, there's always plenty of old patterns to work on - I wasn't even really thinking about that when I wrote the blog - I was just thinking about not building up MORE new unhelpful patterns! I have never written anything like this before, although, as an English teacher, I have constantly asked students to write for me and guided them through the process of how to write well. Maybe some of it has rubbed off on me! :-) It is very encouraging when people say that they have enjoyed reading my blog as, like many people on this site I am sure, I have no confidence in my abilities - but I am now starting to build my self-belief that I can write, so thank you very much to Sal and Jul and everyone! MG xx

Lexi Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 2:56pm

Wonderful post today Marmalade girl. Thank you for the reminder. I can whip up a disaster in my head out of nowhere within seconds and it can feel so real until I's not reality. It's just thoughts. I can change my reality by changing my thoughts. A life long practice but so necessary to avoid falling into the well again (for me). xo Lexi

Marmaladegirl Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 5:35pm

Hi Lexi - It IS a life long practice isn't it?! Down a well is darker, damper and generally more dreadful than my own breeze-block prison - you should definitely take every precaution not to fall down there! But if you do, never fear - let the people on Moodscope know and we will lower a rope ladder for you. Someone might even come down in the bucket to help you out, while the others are winding the handle to lift you up! :-) MG xx

Eva Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 6:54pm

Awesome MG :)

Marmaladegirl Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 10:12pm

Thanks Eva! Night night everyone. MG xx

David Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 11:08pm

Myself 68 and still workino for the Intelligenceremony SEricsson of the M.O.D.

Leah Fri, Jul 21st 2017 @ 11:08pm

Marmalade Girl,
Thanks for yout thoughtful blog. Sometimes my brain seems like a playful puppy that needs guidance but is more intent on doing what it wants than following my commands!!

Marmaladegirl Sat, Jul 22nd 2017 @ 7:42am

Hi Leah - Thank you for commenting. I hope you are well. That's a good analogy cos try as we might, our brains still don't always do what we want them to! Although I do think that, like a puppy, if we keep trying to train them things do improve. All the best, MG x

Anonymous Sat, Jul 22nd 2017 @ 7:01am

Thank you MG. Facing a return in October to the situation that well and truly tipped me over the edge earlier this year, I have been focusing on the patterns that resulted in my breakdown. I will try to focus on the good and realise these patterns do not have to be repeated. I could easily enjoy what I am currently dreading but going in with a negative mindset will only lead to further struggles and failure.

Marmaladegirl Sat, Jul 22nd 2017 @ 7:38am

Good luck! Things tend to build up with me over time. My collapses are predictable but I still find it impossible to avoid the things that are building up (they are 'Life'; I can't avoid them). I pretend everything is fine but I am actually on a slippery slope... That most be very daunting to know that a particular situation is going to occur again. "Forewarned is forearmed". You can do it. It will be different this time, but as I said, "Good luck!" MG x

Anonymous Sun, Jul 23rd 2017 @ 10:23am

Thank you. I also allowed things to build up until I reached breaking point and fell apart in my GP surgery. I am planning to return to the course but will be facing the elements that caused my struggle. My counselor will still see me in order to help me through it. I am in a better place now but I am still very anxious about it.

Mary Wednesday Sat, Jul 22nd 2017 @ 7:54am

Coming late as yesterday was just go go go! Loved this blog. If I day more than that now I'll be here til lunchtime and I must get on... But this was great!

Marmaladegirl Sat, Jul 22nd 2017 @ 6:57pm

Hi Mary - Hope your day has been going well. I enjoyed your comments on Leah's blog today (especially the joke about the person you don't like being a mile away!) and your Herding Cats blog :-)

Melanie Sat, Jul 22nd 2017 @ 6:36pm

Fabulous blog Marmelade Girl - thank you. i have noticed in my ordinary life (I am away at the moment) as soon as life is not challenging my brain starts looking for problems..... I have noticed this now and now programme my brain to look for nice things. A friend of mine texted me once at the end of the day "Have you done anything nice today?" i found a few things and instantly felt better. LOL

Marmaladegirl Sat, Jul 22nd 2017 @ 7:00pm

Hi Melanie - Good to hear from you. How are things? I hope you are having a good time away. :-) MG x

Molly Sat, Jul 22nd 2017 @ 7:18pm

Hi Melanie, I can relate to this. I need something to keep my brain going or I start over thinking and will find a problem. I think if I had a text asking if I had done anything nice today, I would probably act like a sulky child and say "no I bloomin' didn't" :-) although I do try and appreciate what I have. Must read MG's blog again - and again !! Molly xx

Melanie Sat, Jul 22nd 2017 @ 9:50pm

Thank you both MG and Molly. I am enjoying my time away - staying with a friend for 3 days and then going on to review 9repeat as advanced student) my coaching course over a week. I swam in the ocean off Long Island today - big waves - was pleased with myself. LOL xox

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