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Vacant or engaged? Tuesday September 9, 2014

I've always been quite attracted to the old fashioned sign on the locks of toilet doors. Vacant. Engaged. Straightforward. It seems nowadays they are few and far between. (Nowadays? Did I just say Nowadays? When did I grow up? Jeez, I've just insulted myself!)

Lately, it seems toilet door locks are plastic or metal and have a colour strip to show whether someone is in or not. Or, all too often, nothing at all. I like the old ones. Even better if accompanied by a reassuring, turning handle and the smell of Jeyes fluid. I digress...toilets are not the purpose of my nattering today you will be relieved to know.

I am generally vacant...I have hidden my low from almost everyone in my life. Mainly, that is what holds me together. Perhaps some suspect but they do not ask. The task of becoming engaged seems all too demanding, too big, too humiliating to voluntarily throw myself into the arena. To have to explain and then feel attitudes change, or feel bad refusing offers of help that are not helpful, or politely accept offers of help that are not helpful, feels like a wall I have no ladder for.

I trusted a friend a few years ago and she knows, she understands, but we talk little of it. She too has lows but hers can be defined, and improve with treatment and then she moves on. She was the first person to make me feel normal. She engaged with me, I engaged back. We share a similar sense of humour (the text that says "omg, just realised my trousers are on inside out and I'm in public, what will I do?" has us both doubled up). We talk of our lows little, nigh on never, and yet there is comfort in knowing that there is a shared understanding should it be needed.

When I have been very low recently, I thought I could not hold on to my secret any longer. I thought I would burst with the effort of making myself appear me. I did not burst. The worst passed. And now I ponder a little longer whether to remain vacant or become engaged with those around me.

One thing I am sure of is that engaging here, with you all, is helpful. You are here, silently, standing in the same toilet queue as I am, and I know if my cubicle has no toilet paper left to soak up my tears, that one of you will chuck me your roll. As I will chuck you mine.

And that, my friends, concludes all the toilet chat for today. May your visits be little uncomplicated oases in otherwise complicated days.

Love from

The room above the garage.
A Moodscope member.

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Anonymous Tue, Sep 9th 2014 @ 7:50am

Fantastic post. I'm so glad to see another one of yours. Engaging is a big subject. Vacancy too. There are benefits in both approaches much the same as in signage on toilets. (Can't stop chatting about toilets - much too interesting.) Both being vacant and being engaged can take energy and be exhausting. I know from experience.

Both can also allow me to build up my energy. "Vulnerabilty is a strenght". When I've let it out and have found people who actually believe this - I found that it is true for me too. I wish us all to find many such outlets (also other than moodscope) so that it may be safe and strenghtening to just be - whatever state we are in - and to share it with others.

Love from

And appearing to be engaged and there when one is not is exhausting. I know from experience. I used to be in an invisible bubble and filter everything. Now I have less protective layers and that feels good. But the change is big and I'm very tired now Being engaged takes a lot of energy too and courage. So does not engaging.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Tue, Sep 9th 2014 @ 8:09am

Hey RATG, great stuff! You have started my day with a giggle! It puts a whole new meaning on red for stop and green to go, doesn't it?

Rupert Tue, Sep 9th 2014 @ 8:10am

I loved this post and now you come to say it I too have a hankering for the return to those simpler "turn it and the mesge changes" locks! It is so exhausting though constantly having to put on a brave face and pretend everything is fine when all you want to do is curl up. Today is going to be a challenge in itself let alone the mountain of work I have to get through! Thanks for the light hearted start anyway!

Lex McKee Tue, Sep 9th 2014 @ 9:19am

Ha ha!! Mary, I love the RATG too! Hey RATG, you time-travelled me back to my first romance. A Convent lass who smuggled out love letters past the "Penguins" (as she called the Nuns) ... wait for it, written on Izal toilet paper! Never has such love been associated with such a naff scent! [For those readers not familiar with this type of toilet tissue - it was like tracing paper - great for writing on but very unkind to one's netherlands.]

Now, seriously. I think it is vital what we have an inner and outer circle of connections. Only those we can dare to trust should be allowed into the Executive Toilet where we can be safely engaged together - and pass the roll under the door when required. Not only is it not wise to engage with all the others 'out there' - I think it is unnecessarily. It is far easier to put on our "Game Face" if, and only if, we have sufficient people engaged in the inner circle. I'm glad, so glad, you engaged with us RATG. ...and if there is room above the garage, I'd like to be in your inner circle too. xx

Anonymous Tue, Sep 9th 2014 @ 10:33am

Love this RATG. ;o)


Anonymous Tue, Sep 9th 2014 @ 11:19am

Sometimes there is no better sound in the world than the sound of the bolt moving into the lock in your cubicle door. Its the physical equivalent of a meditative breathing space. But you cant Live in the toilet ;)

Julia Tue, Sep 9th 2014 @ 1:44pm

Hi RATG. This is my constant dilemma too. I have never really really explained to those around me how I am, how I have been over the years and am still to this day. I have one email friend who lives in America, who knows. We have met twice but with our families in tow. And of course I have Moodscope friends who totally understand. But immediate family, no. How daft is that? Telling them would explain a lot I guess but I cannot bring myself to do it. I tell myself that it would put me in the victim position and my confessions could be construed as an attempt to exonerate my behaviour over the years, an excuse. Also I don't see my depression and insomnia as having been too destructive on our family life; I have compensated for it for so many years. What my family see is what they get and they must be used to me by now. But there are times when I really want to tell my daughter for example why I am like I am, not to make excuses but so that she can see that I am not deliberately vague, vacant or evasive. I actually can't help it! I may do one day. Your sentence about chucking the toilet roll to each other almost made me cry. Rare for me. I love your blog RATG, really loved it. It's special.

Anonymous Tue, Sep 9th 2014 @ 2:48pm

this really resonated with me.

I am pretty open about having been depressed, particularly when it is over. It is much harder when it is still current.

I did have most people in my life knowing, or at least most who care. Close family and most friends. I used to give caveats for social occasions that I might need to cancel at the last moment if I wasn't up to it. They then had a choice whether or not to see me under those arrangements and fine if they didn't. One friend I said I was feeling low and needed empathy and if she wasn't up to that (she admits to scoring low on empathy) we didn't have to meet. She elected to meet and was very kind.

And yet, I really do believe we should treat it the same as a physical illness. We wouldn't dream of explaining that a broken leg will prevent us from doing things. Yet I chose to do a post and comments here anonymously. If everyone was open there would be less stigma yet I know I am not open doing this.

I try not to slip into self pity and victimhood when low. I run a mile from people who just dump their emotions on me so try not to be one of those people. I am so wary of this that I'm sure I go too far the other way and just pretend things are fine too much. I love black humour about it!

I too would be happy to be an email pal - not sure how this can be arranged?

Anonymous Tue, Sep 9th 2014 @ 5:10pm


Anonymous Tue, Sep 9th 2014 @ 5:14pm

Vacant or engaged that pretty much says it all doesn't it...I want to be engaged but at times feel so empty......We must push on as best as we are able..

Anonymous Tue, Sep 9th 2014 @ 7:01pm

Peer support is the most effective treatment for depression ever known. There is actual evidence for that. Aside from that, you sharing your story out loud brings a sense of normalcy to others. Women suffer in silence a lot. That is a contributing factor. Speak up. You have a voice. Start slow with trustworthy people and accept their help. It is good for them and you.
Across the pond,

Anonymous Tue, Sep 9th 2014 @ 10:09pm

Brilliant. Just brilliant. Your wit and imagery has touched me greatly. You are clearly very special. Thank you.

Anonymous Tue, Sep 9th 2014 @ 10:19pm

Thank you Karin, such kind words. I'm very interested in your comment about having less protective layers. Going to consider that for me. Thank you x.

Anonymous Tue, Sep 9th 2014 @ 10:20pm

If I made you giggle, I feel very happy, hello Mrs x.

Anonymous Tue, Sep 9th 2014 @ 10:22pm

How did your day work out Rupert? I hope the mountain became a hill.

Anonymous Tue, Sep 9th 2014 @ 10:29pm

Hello Lex, Izal toilet paper, I never knew the name but I knew the torture!!! :-D Brilliant to read about your love letters...please say you kept them! 'Executive Toilet' is perfect. Plenty room here, you're in :-D

Anonymous Tue, Sep 9th 2014 @ 10:30pm

Merci Suze x

Anonymous Tue, Sep 9th 2014 @ 10:33pm

Exactly this! I do find these visits like little spaces of precious calm. Pleased to meet a fellow visitor.

Anonymous Tue, Sep 9th 2014 @ 10:39pm

Hello Julia! Wow, what kind words, thank you. You know, I think you'll tell (and this applies to me too) when the stars align and it's right. I don't like the idea of being the 'victim' either. When it's time, we will know. Until then, we perhaps need it to be this way, therefore it is right x.

Anonymous Tue, Sep 9th 2014 @ 10:43pm

Being anonymous is both safe and liberating. Never feel bad about being anonymous.

Anonymous Tue, Sep 9th 2014 @ 10:45pm

And you are, and we do...keep up the push x.

Anonymous Tue, Sep 9th 2014 @ 10:48pm

Normalcy is what will bring and end to stigma. The Depressed can laugh? Yes. And more. Thanks Margaret.

Anonymous Tue, Sep 9th 2014 @ 10:49pm

Thank YOU! I will sleep on that happy feeling!

Anonymous Tue, Sep 9th 2014 @ 11:57pm

new to moodscope - hi everyone - scared if I write a blog that you will all pull out the plug that connects your computer! my lows are VERY low and I begin to wonder why I am on anti-depressants at all, am on a mood stabiliser too...don't get on very well with anti-psychotics. loved the bit about tears and the toilet roll! makes me feel that I'm not the only one. been severely depressed for 6 months now. takes its toll on you and you wonder if this grindtoahalt life is how your life is going to be forevermore. I look forward to reading some more of members' blogs and adding my own too!!

Caroline Ashcroft Wed, Sep 10th 2014 @ 9:19am

Welcome! One thing you'll realise from using the Moodscope test and talking to other members on the blog is that there is light and the end of the tunnel and that the lows don't usually last for ever. I hope Moodscope is a help to you.

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