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What is 'Normal'? Wednesday July 23, 2014

What's normal for me is probably not normal for you.

Three instances:

• My therapist regularly scores 100% when she takes the Moodscope test (she doesn't have depression, but many of her clients do, so she monitors herself to keep on track with them).
• When I am well my score is regularly 75%.
• My daughter will feel quite well but will score 45%.

This may have less to do with our actual mood than our scoring system.

For example, after each one of my classes, my clients are invited to submit a feedback form (anonymously if they wish) to my Head Office. I am always rather amused by this form as they can only say that I am 'good', 'very good', 'excellent' or 'outstanding'. If they have been disappointed in the consultation I think they are supposed to phone up and tell my directors how appalling the experience has been. In thirteen years only one person has done this: you always get at least one, don't you!

The point of this is that, for me, if I get anything less than outstanding, I feel I have failed. Yet there are some of my clients who could never bring themselves to rate even the best experience in the world as more than 'very good'. Yes, they were satisfied, even pleased, with the consultation, but their personality is such that they would never use the rather fulsome words 'delighted' or 'outstanding.' They are British, don't you know!

So some of us can never bring ourselves to score a three on any of the cards; it's just not in us. Personally, I've never scored more than a one on the pride card, but regularly score a three on determined, enthusiastic and inspired (when well, that is: just at the moment if they get a one it's a good day).

So don't compare yourself with other Moodscope users. If you have a mutual buddy system going then do try to follow your buddy's pattern rather than thinking their scores are regularly higher or lower than your own. You might be having a good day at 45%, but if your buddy scores 45% it might be a very bad day for them.

Like a lot of things, the Moodscope system is subjective. It is the pattern over time that is most helpful for us. If you can afford to upgrade from Moodscope Lite then I would recommend it highly. Now that I can see three years' worth of scores the pattern is illuminating and helps me manage my condition. It was extremely useful when I recently changed GP; she could clearly see my bi-polar cycle: the evidence was there, all neatly plotted out on the graph.

But the most useful thing of all: taking the test every day. You can't see the pattern if you don't have the basic data! Don't get disheartened when your result is consistently low, and don't neglect Moodscope when well. You need the good and the bad, the ups and the downs to effectively see the landscape of your emotional health.

Good luck with your own very personal (and subjective) map-making!

A Moodscope member.

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Anonymous Wed, Jul 23rd 2014 @ 6:15am

Dear Mary, you've described me...disheartened when scores are low (persistently) and ignoring when better. I am one of those whose scores always bumble around in the lower section. I know I am never going to be the 'whooper' in the crowd but I do need a hefty kick up the bum. Just back from holiday and feeling oh so tired. Must be kind to myself, must be mind to myself, must be... Thank you Mary, love from the room above the garage.

Anonymous Wed, Jul 23rd 2014 @ 9:19am

Very well written. And excellent point - I receive a lot of feedback forms and notice this phenomenon. Some people will never score 10 out of 10 whatever. Think you are right, it's partly a cultural thing, resistance to being too demonstrative.

Vanessa Wed, Jul 23rd 2014 @ 10:53am

Thanks Mary, thats a really helpful post! Vanessa x

Anonymous Wed, Jul 23rd 2014 @ 12:13pm

I hardly ever rate anything outstanding (or 1) as I hate the tick box culture that suggests all experiences can be described accurately by a number. BUT wise words- I have today updated to paid moodscope. I started in Nov 2013 at massive low, but have neglected regular scoring as my mood improved. The graph helped me accept the tiny changes in my tediously slow recovery- its a great tool. But I have only just realised what you bloggers mean by scoring 1 or 3. Thankfully my brain didn't register the numbers on the cards, so I am now feeling slightly hostile (is that a 1 or 3), but very determined... last comment I wrote vanished so here goes...a little anxious...From Spikey

Mary Wed, Jul 23rd 2014 @ 12:42pm

Hello RATG. The post holiday blues is a well known phenomenon that hits many of us, regardless of our regular state of mental well-being. I have just sent Caroline a blog on preparing for the stress of a holiday but realise we need to plan for the post holiday slump too. So pleased you are being kind to yourself - you are actually being kind to yourself, aren't you? And not beating yourself up becuase you're not being kind to yourself, and then beating yourself up because you're beating yourself up...... (I think only a Moodscope user would understand that!)

Mary Wed, Jul 23rd 2014 @ 12:48pm

Hi Spikey, thank you for your comment. I hope that understanding the numbers will help you obtain more informative scores. There's another blog in the pipeline with a bit on scoring too - it's called Getting Better so watch out for it to see if it helps some more. Best wishes with the recovery: it happens in its own time - and your rate of progress is always going to be different from that of someone else. (By the way - try copying your comments to the clipboard before posting. That way, when the blogspot void swallows your comment up, you can smugly paste it back and publish again!)

Anonymous Wed, Jul 23rd 2014 @ 4:10pm

Long time since I wrote
I have a gem
Change the time of day
You do the cards
Monotony is lower
Some days I don't bother at all
Some days I struggle to type
Because we both love life
Either way is fine
Accept no substitute
Thankyou Stevie.
Love, always.
Rich x

heather Wed, Jul 23rd 2014 @ 4:53pm

Dear Mary, I expect your therapist must be a lovely person - but for me, how irritating to hear of a person who regularly scores 100% on Moodscope. I realise scores are different for each of us but that is certainly NOT normal (in my opinion).
I would sooner have therapy with you any day. Love Heather xx

heather Wed, Jul 23rd 2014 @ 4:58pm

PS: and while I'm on the subject, I think the scores also reflect a lot about our ego as well as our mood.

Anonymous Wed, Jul 23rd 2014 @ 5:17pm

Yes, too right. We need ego boosting from a very early age don't we. Damage may have been done to us, but we can break the cycle with the next generation eh? Gill

Suzy Wed, Jul 23rd 2014 @ 9:17pm

As always, an excellent post from The Mary. All so true. So true. Complex creatures us hoomins.

Anonymous Wed, Jul 23rd 2014 @ 9:56pm

Oh thank you Mary! You've got it and made me laugh. Precisely, I'm beating myself up so...bed now and try to press reset. I felt so well when I arrived home so I know I'm capable of feeling it. Thank you. Love from the ratg.

Dawn Fri, Jul 25th 2014 @ 11:40pm

Hi Mary, this is one of the most helpful things I've ever read. I have stopped using Moodscope because I got disheartened that my scores were never very high and in a way that was making me feel more hopeless about my issues. This has completely changed my way of thinking and now I'm off to start tracking my mood again. thank you so much and good luck to you,

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