The Moodscope Blog

4

August

The Meaning of Chocolate

Wednesday August 4, 2021


I have been told, and I’m sure it’s true, that there are some people who don’t like chocolate.

I’ve never actually met any of them myself, but I have no reason to doubt it. Unlikely though it seems, some people just don’t care for the stuff.

Most of us do, don’t we?

In fact, most of us have a favourite brand.

In the UK, our most well-known brand is Cadbury. Cadbury’s Dairy Milk is possibly the most famous chocolate bar in the world, although my American cousins may disagree. I believe you have something called Hershey’s. I tasted it. I don’t want to insult anyone, so I will just say it isn’t like Cadbury’s.

The Europeans, of course, look down their noses at Cadbury. Their chocolate, they say, is far superior. If you want good chocolate, then you must try Lindt, or Ritter Sport.

And all this is before you get into the gourmet brands.

Just around the corner from me is the Hotel Chocolat factory. Chocolate here is turned into an art-form and receiving one of their “Winter Puddings” selection boxes at Christmas is a sybaritic delight.

But back to Cadbury. How many of us remember the series of advertisements featuring a James Bond-like figure, dressed all in black, performing great feats of daring just to leave a box of chocolates on a woman’s pillow? “All because the lady loves Milk Tray…” For me that advert was the epitome of romance. And, in my years before that, the Milky Bar Kid was the boy of my dreams.

Everyone in my family loves chocolate, but we all like different brands. My husband is a Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut man, my younger daughter prefers the smoother Galaxy, while my elder daughter — Philistine that she is — says she can’t tell the difference and will I just get her the cheapest! I am the chocolate snob because I like it dark; the darker the better.

All this proves, as if proof were needed, that not all chocolate is created equal. Certainly not all price points are created equal.

Standing in the supermarket the other day, I was debating this point. The chocolate section is at the end of an aisle. The more expensive brands with interesting flavours are on the top rows, with descending price points to floor level and the value brand featuring milk, dark and white only.

I thought about the reasons we all choose a different chocolate and what that chocolate means to us. It’s more than just a sweet treat; it is comfort and romance; the feeling of being indulged and of being indulgent.

In the end, I bought the standard bars of chocolate for everyone as I always do. I didn’t go for “Spiced Ginger,” for myself, tempting though it was. The store brand 85% is just as good as Lindt and half the price.

I like indulgence as much as the next girl but I don’t want to get carried away. Not at least, until next Christmas!

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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


3

August

Free floating anxiety 

Tuesday August 3, 2021


I would never have recognised myself, if it had not been pointed out by others, friends, colleagues, and family, that I worry unnecessarily. My activity is more time and energy consuming than for lot of other people. I was an adult when my mother commented, that quite often she would speak to me, and I would be really worried about something, but the next time she phoned, I would not mention it. When she would ask, I would brush it off, yes that worked out ok, and I was onto the next worry. 

A friend once mentioned she had “Free floating anxiety”, I was curious, what is it? Her explanation was her mind was like a radar looking for something to latch onto, anything that was passing it would suck in, and she would then be consumed by it.  

For my anxiety, if I recognise what is going on, it is ok. But mostly, I am down a rabbit warren maze of anxious thoughts, getting more confused, and more panicked.  It is isolating, and does not make me good company, I can become too encapsulated in a worry bubble.  

But there is an upside to the worry. I have achieved a lot and the worry has made me financially stable (careful saving – you never know what might happen…. A driver for working hard, being astute). It also means when there is a crisis, others feel overwhelmed, but I am used to feeling worried, and coping with uncomfortable emotions, and I clearly, calmly see the path forwards, and spring into action. 
 
How do you cope with worrying? Have you any advice? Have you had any benefits? 
 
Daisy
A Moodscope member. 

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


2

August

Silent Seeds

Monday August 2, 2021


[To listen to an audio version of this blog post, please click here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1396123/8956548]

When this is published, I will be starting my first day in full-time employment for decades. It will be a massive relief to close the door on activities that haven’t borne fruit – years of work with nothing to show for it.

…or is there nothing to show for it? I thought this new chapter would provide an elegant way to say, “No,” to the further investment of my time in daily video production. On the Friday before starting the new job, I fulfilled a promise to myself to create 90 videos, less than a minute long each. These videos have a single focus: an inspirational quote from one of the thinking giants of history. They’ve taken a lot of time and effort to produce – with no clear benefit to me other than proving to myself I can keep a promise. No, the benefit was focused on sharing value with the people who are kind enough to look at my Social Media feeds (LinkedIn and YouTube in this case).

I think Caroline’s tireless efforts at Moodscope are similar. Caroline is wonderful at finding a quote to go with each blog, and I don’t perceive any financial benefit in this activity for Caroline. That’s not what is motivating the generous investment of her time.

Thus, what I am about to say to myself, I say to Caroline, and I say to you: we don’t know the extent of the good we do. Our seeds are, for the most part, ‘silent seeds’.

I say, “for the most part,” because as soon as I’d decided to save time and stop producing daily inspirational posts, some of my seeds started talking back! I believe it is five people who have said to me this week how helpful they find the brief posts. One even said it had inspired him to have a go at video himself. Now I feel like I can’t stop sharing what inspires me. Do I have to do it daily? I think I do. I believe in ‘Daily Bread’ – fresh inspiration each and every day. So does Caroline.

Here’s an idea or two. Don’t be a silent seed. If you’ve benefited from Moodscope – explicitly tell Caroline – even if you’ve told her before. Let her know that her daily investment is paying off in your life. Secondly, have faith in your own silent seeds. Every bit of good you do – every kind word, every kind deed, every kind look – is a viable seed. You will most certainly never know the full extent of the good you’ve done but I can assure you that your kindness is bearing fruit.

We scatter seed on the ground…“Night and day, whether she|he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though she|he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain – first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head…”

You can trust your seeds – every seed of kindness. Your job is not to check in on the seed. Your job is to have faith that, no matter how ‘silent’ your seeds are, they are growing. Don’t quit.

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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


1

August

Bathtime 

Sunday August 1, 2021


When my children were little, bathtime was my favourite part. Washing off the day and helping them wriggle into freshly laundered pyjamas.  As I cleaned a bath this week, I was imagining soaking in it with bubbles or salts, allowing all my worries to flood into the water, and then into the pipes as the plug was pulled. Magic! I suspect we could all benefit from that. So, why not? Imagine I’ve just poured you a virtual bath and you get to say whatever it is that you are carrying, that you don’t want to face, or say out loud to another human. 
 
No big confessions are needed, no daily grump, but something you’ve had trouble admitting, something you are holding onto, something that might lose its sting a little or start your journey in a new direction.  Let’s exorcise some ghosts. And once its typed, you get to pull the plug and lessen it slightly. You can be anonymous if you wish. 
 
Here’s mine - I worry I’ll always feel inadequate, and I worry I’ll never feel free. I’m locked-in to several things (including my brother’s business) with my ex-partner. He holds most of the cards and I feel reasonably powerless in the set-up. I need to tread the line carefully to keep life manageable. And it makes me wonder if I’ll ever feel free. I can’t walk away from our relationship and wipe clean the slate. It’s been this way for a long, long time.  Will I always live in this half-life, in-between something and nothing? Will I ever feel differently? There. It’s said. I don’t need it fixed, I just thought I’d say it. 
 
Your turn. Say whatever it is that you need to say. We don’t need to speak of it again, but it might help it drain away or at least melt it into parts! 
 
Ease into the bath. 
 
Love from

The bathroom, near the room above the garage 
A Moodscope member.

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


31

July

Feeling down? Keep it simple

Saturday July 31, 2021


I really hope this morning you are feeling bright with a good Moodscope score. If not, read on.

I want to take you back to mid February. It was cold, there was a little snow on the ground and my mental health poor. Five days earlier I had slipped and fallen on the canal towpath and fractured the fibula bone in my right leg. The crutches ensured I could not go outside and my mobility was very limited indoors. Crucially I could not take my daily walks which had greatly helped my mental health. Sleeping was uncomfortable. I was very low.

My wife was getting ready to go shopping and asked if I needed anything. As I knew spring was approaching I requested a few packets of seeds that I could sow later for summer colour in the garden. She returned with three packets one of which contained sweet pea seeds. I smiled. Many years ago I had grown a wonderful display of sweet peas but in recent years two further attempts had not been successful.

Skip forward to mid March. Weather improving I ventured tentatively to the greenhouse to do a few early gardening jobs. I opened the sweet pea packet and proceeded to sow the seeds in two compost filled large pots.

Imagine my delight when, about two weeks later, a few green shoots appeared. I watered and talked to them.
By the end of April I was transplanting the young plants around two obelisks in the garden and tying them loosely to the nearest metal support. Over the next few weeks they grew and with a bit of encouragement entwined themselves as they got higher and higher.

At the beginning of June I saw the first bud! Around four weeks later on a warm summers evening I cut a bunch of my own sweet peas, put them in a small glass vase with water, placed it on the kitchen windowsill, stood back and smiled again. The colours, delicate petals and fragrance made my senses come alive.

You may be wondering why I have told you this story. I realise if you have no interest in gardening or flowers it may have been tedious. Sometimes I feel we make mental health issues over-complicated. Very often the simple acts are more rewarding and should be encouraged… The pleasure I have gained from a simple packet of seeds is immeasurable. So my message today is find a simple pleasure and enjoy to the full, please.

I would love to hear about any of your simple pleasures.

Teg
A Moodscope member.

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


29

July

I am not sorry for…

Thursday July 29, 2021


Recently I wrote a blog about when is an apology a non-apology or an ifpology?

It looked at how some people apologise but don’t mean it. Years ago, I wrote a blog about how I feel compelled to say sorry, even when I have nothing to be sorry for.

I came across an article about people saying what they are not sorry for.
Now this is a challenge for me as I tend to say sorry, but I found it revealing.
 
I am not sorry for respecting people who disagree with me.
I am not sorry for being angry at the injustices in the world.
I am not sorry for having my own opinions even if that annoys others.
I am not sorry being sensitive and caring about others.
I am not sorry for trying not to apologise for being myself anymore.
I am not sorry for standing up for people who need help even when others don’t understand.

Some may think this is a negative exercise but for me, it showed me things I felt strongly either personally or socially.
 
I am hoping you will finish the line:
I am not sorry for ….
and see what it reveals.

You can write a few lines or more depending on how those words inspire you.
 
Leah
A Moodscope member.

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


29

July


The following is a very simple method of diluting the effects of Bipolar/Depression.

These four traits cover our constitution, they are essential for a sane mind and a positive persona...

1. Physical
2. Mental
3. Emotional
4. Spiritual

PHYSICAL - Exercising the body moderately, a half hour walk a day, or a half hour swim, or a half hour bike ride is sufficient to get our system oiled adequately. (Running wears out the knees...future knee replacement candidate) No need for an expensive gym.

MENTAL - Exercising the mind moderately, doing a crossword or Suduko, arithmetic of sorts, writing a journal each day of the events in life that are good to keep ourselves in-tune... keeping our minds occupied.

EMOTIONAL - Preventing ourselves from contention of any sort. The main key is to train ourselves never to become offended by anything or anyone - Not becoming a doormat because this encourages the perpetrator to use and abuse our kindness, giving others the power to use and abuse us over and over again. This attracts and builds self-confidence.

SPIRITUAL - Whether you believe in God or not, many believe there is a power beyond reason that governs the way we live our lives....

A selfish, Self-centred attitude prevents both minor and major miracles happening in our daily life. But a kindness in recognising others in need has a double action, on the one hand it lifts the other person’s spirits, and in so doing we see the smile and gratitude of the person. And on the other hand this has an amazing effect upon our mental wellbeing, it brings a ‘brightness of hope' into our life.

These are the four elements necessary in life to feel fulfilled. It separates the conscious from the sub-conscious mind...

Control over the sub-conscious mind is vital. Remove just one of these four traits and we struggle with all that each day brings. All four together give us that elixir of life, that inner peace and inner happiness necessary to feel balanced.
 
My brother is a very negative man, he always comments on the way I live life because I'm singing and enjoy each moment in a positive way, never giving up on anyone or anything, persistent until all is resolved.

Serious problems rear their ugly heads - dealing with them - facing up to them immediately is vital. Procrastination is not on my agenda. It is the only sure way to avoid ruminating. Keeping both mind and body active sees us through all our trials.

I appreciate rising to this level requires dedication and persistence, training and changing the way that our childhood has ‘governed’ us thus far.

The alternative is to continually groan about our issues. I Look forward to each day with enthusiasm, despite serious physical infirmities....

It’s time to take control of our conscious (positive mind) over our sub-conscious (negative mind).

The clouds are always grey…

But the sky is always blue… even when the clouds cover the sun!

Dave Xx
A Moodscope member.

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


28

July


As a child, I loved the books by Noel Streatfield. I suppose Ballet Shoes is her best-known work, but my favourite is White Boots, a story about skating.

The book starts, “Even when the last of the medicine bottles had been put away and she was supposed to have “had” convalescence, Harriet did not get well.”

I have felt like that, over the past weeks.

February 2017, I finally accepted my bipolar disorder was becoming worse, and my family was suffering. I sought help and was put on mood stabilising medication. This medication has managed the highs, but the lows have still occurred, although much less than before. In December, I had a three-week depressive episode, and in May I dipped again. The colour leached from the world, the soft pedal went down, and reality retreated to the far horizon, leaving me stranded like a starfish abandoned by the tide.

This time, the “down” was longer and deeper. I came up again on 1st July.

Except, I didn’t. The world came back into focus, the sound came back, I could feel again but I was still depressed. My Moodscope buddies all told me my scores had been wobbly ever since Christmas and they did not feel I was well.

Normally, when I come out of a depression, I am immediately back to my bouncy, energetic, optimistic self. This time, and in December, not so much.

I am lucky enough to have a wonderful GP. She is warm, understanding, compassionate, and happy to work with me, rather than for me, to control this condition. I had spoken to her in the middle of the dip, when it became worryingly deep, and she rang me two weeks later to check up on me. I know I am exceptionally fortunate to have this level of service from the overworked NHS and am profoundly grateful.

The upshot, and the point of this blog, was that we adjusted my medication and added in an additional anti-depressant. Ten days later, normality is restored, and my energy levels are back.

Perhaps it is the effect of Lockdown; my GP wryly joked she felt it would be beneficial to put antidepressants in the national water supply, just as we have fluoride. Perhaps it is something else. Whatever has caused this additional depression, I am enormously grateful for the medication.

Perhaps you feel your own medication is not working as well as it did. Perhaps you have been struggling on without medication, as I did for so many years. If you are, I would urge you to seek help. Sometimes you need to try several different drugs before you find the right one or the right mix for you, but it is so worth doing.

I hope your GP and any psychiatrist are understanding, knowledgeable and ready to work with you.

Depression and bipolar are medical conditions, just like any other, and the right medication can relieve the symptoms and make life liveable again.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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


27

July

Flashback

Tuesday July 27, 2021


Anyone who has joined Moodscope since the summer of 2017 will not know that I lost a child to an accidental drug overdose. They were in their mid twenties. We had had two children living abroad and our fair share of emergency phone calls.

Now that I think about it, it is about 7 years since another child had a psychotic breakdown whilst living abroad, necessitating last minute emergency flights out and hospital visits. A highly anxious time for all concerned.

Then this week my little dog found and ate a chicken bone, resulting in a very bad tummy ache, dehydration and two nights in vet emergency care. He is fine now, but the episode brought back echoes of previous hospital trauma.

Thus I find myself with a tight knot in my stomach, lead in my limbs and fog in my brain.

I find it extraordinary how the body can subconsciously produce these symptoms. I find myself biting my lip and my shoulders tight. I know this will pass, but we still have to get past the anniversary of my child dying.  It is sapping my energy and, life for a while becomes a case of just one foot in front of the other and treating myself gently for a while.

I wish all Moodscopers well  and that we can ‘cope’ with these ‘moods’.

Love

AS xx
A Moodscope member.

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


26

July

Diving for Pearls

Monday July 26, 2021


[To listen to an audio version of this blog post please click here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1396123/8914917]

We go through Life paddling, swimming, or diving. I awoke today realising I would benefit from reading some of a friend’s work on Motivation. I didn’t want to read a whole book – diving deep into this important topic. Am I lazy? It would’ve been more convenient for me to swim a bit in the content – perhaps watching some videos instead. Less time, less effort but also less reward.

I’m the same about many matters in Life… even those skills and areas I really care about. Take guitar, for example, I’ve been playing for 50 years! In truth, I’ve been swimming for 50 years – using the same skills over and over for 45 years in all likelihood. I’m OK, but I could be so much better. I do enough to (usually) get by and enjoy it. Software is the same – I’ll learn enough to get the result I want, but rarely will I dive deeper.

Here’s the real shocker: I’m a swimmer when it comes to mental wellbeing. I started to dive into a course with Kings College but it wasn’t water I enjoyed diving in.

I’ve got a friend called Oli who is a Diver. I think you know him! He dives for pearls. When we discuss mental wellbeing here in this blog, it is clear that he has dived deep into what makes us tick and continues to dive. It’s like it’s his vocation – his mission, his passion. And, like many other divers in this community, he brings up pearls from the deep to show and tell. Oh, and he’s a pretty ace guitarist.

Do I want to, “Be More Oli,”? Nope… I like Oli like he is, but I don’t want to be him. I want to be more me… with added twist of diligence for zest. I want to choose one or, at the most, two areas to go diving into. Am I lazy? I think I have been. So now the choice is to get less lazy and do the work necessary to go diving… but where?

The answer is almost irrelevant because this blog was secretly about you – secretly until now, that is! You can’t go diving all the time, so I’m certain you spend your life paddling, swimming, and occasionally diving. I’d like to know two things: where have you dived in the past (= in which areas are you an expert), and more exciting, where would you like to go diving in future? What would you like to explore in depth? Not necessarily for fame, fortune, or a career but because it would delight your soul to discover pearls in that place?

It’s OK to paddle and swim along most of the River of Life, but when that River reaches the Ocean, and you want the deeper rewards, you’ve got to dive for pearls.

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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


25

July


My youngest daughter acquired her first boyfriend some months ago.  She’s almost 17.  He is one year older.  He arrived in a way I felt cautious about. Having my own leftover (and undealt with) feelings of a sexual assault around that age, I felt every hair on my body stand up in alert and, in all honesty, I felt primed to attack. Not literally of course, but in myself. I’m ashamed of that but yes, I felt it. My eldest daughter had her first boyfriend around the same age, and I didn’t feel this then, but it came around in a much more organic way - they’d been friends for a long, long time beforehand. 
 
Anyway, this boyfriend has sat on benches outside in the park, countless times, in sub-zero temperatures, for hours at a time. He would bring them a blanket. Later, it would include walking her home. Un-naturally I was annoyed he now knew where we lived. Later still, he visited the house. I was very polite, even smiley sometimes, but distanced. I was not hugely welcoming of anybody because the pandemic made me shutter-in and that’s hard to lose even when abiding by rules. He would visit in the afternoon and go home at tea-time.   
 
Eventually, he’d stay a bit longer at weekends, eat with us, and his dad would pick him up - he doesn’t live anywhere remotely near. Before term ended, my daughter had been in a class with a positive case and had to isolate for ten days. She cried over FaceTime to the boyfriend (note to me: she’s comfortable crying in front of him), mainly with shock at the situation and with fear her test may be positive (it was negative). He not only listened but, a couple of days later, crept up to the doorstep after midnight (and enrolled a parent to assist by car) and left a gorgeous bunch of flowers, chocolates, and the most beautifully worded, handwritten, jotter paper letter I’ve ever read.   
 
The relationship has grown in a kind, gentle, fun, beautiful way. I couldn’t have dreamt of a lovelier time for her. And even if it halts tomorrow, its good enough, it has given her a very important marker.   
 
My head got it wrong. And my heart began to thaw. Now, months on from reliving my own traumas and attempting to exorcise some ghosts, I realise he is the very best thing that could have come into her life at this point. I am sorrowful that he will leave town to go hundreds of miles away to University in September. I am preparing for my sorrow, as well as hers. 
 
What can be my message today after all this heart-rambling?  It is that whatever we think is the case, is not always the case. That we must stay open, stay fresh in our minds and be willing to be wrong. About people, about situations, and mostly about our own historical baggage muddying the present. 
 
Keep striving for today. No matter how you arrive into it. Let it thrive. 
 
Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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


24

July


Meditation works and is free of risks and adverse side effects, except for a numb leg and a sore bottom!

Meditation is easy: Just sit still and shut up. (Don’t look around; don’t stare. Sit upright). You do it for as long as you can, preferably for 2x20 minutes.

Meditation is a sort of psychotherapy without a therapist. You sit quietly and watch your thoughts pass by. Sitting like a mountain; thoughts are like clouds, they come and go. You don’t make them linger.

There is a Zen school in Japan; I forgot its name, which says that by practicing Zazen, the sitting meditation, long enough you will reach enlightenment almost automatically. It has not happened to me, yet. Or I just haven’t noticed.

By watching your thoughts you may recognize recurring patterns. What, if…? Will I be…? Why did I …? At the time when… After some time these thoughts may fade away. Or you greet them like old acquaintances: Oh, it’s you again.
Then you are on the way.

In my case the thoughts usually start fading away during the second session; during the first one I am too occupied by what is going on in my mind. But then the peace and quiet is enjoyable. It may last for quite a while, until I switch the telly on or make a phone call.

There are some useful tricks to reach stillness: Count your out-breath. Watch your breathing movements. Breathe in, breathe out, and pause. You don’t breathe, it breathes you. (If that makes sense to you).

I used to meditate in a group once a week; have been doing this since 1997 or so. But due to Covid-19 this is not possible any more. So I do it by myself. But I am still in contact with the group.

JohnWalker
A Moodscope member.

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


23

July

How did it happen?

Friday July 23, 2021


It started slowly.

At first in my 30s it was a few familiar words - “Because I said so”, “Only boring people are bored”, and in reply to a child saying, “I feel like an ice cream” replying “You don’t look like one.”

In my 40s I noticed I was saving a handbag for best.

In my 50s once trying to work out if I could find a use for a paper bag that was torn and had a hole. 

It was definite, I had turned into my mother!

I had always said I would not use sayings like my mum did, but I had. I would not put away good items and never use them as I was “saving them for best.” yet I did. Would not turn into a hoarder like mum mum yet I was starting to.
 
What was happening to me, was I turning into my mother.?

I never felt I was like my mother in any way because everyone said I was just like my dad. I remember about six months after he died one of my children asked me to try not to channel her Pop at a family gathering. I think she was very politely telling me do not be pedantic and correct people and tell embarrassing stories. Of course I was not aware I was gradually taking on my dad’s mannerisms.
 
I wonder, if we get on with our parents, why we fear turning into them. Does it mean we worried we are getting old, or did we always want to avoid some of their traits?

Can you describe a moment where you became aware you maybe be turning in to one of your parents? How did you feel?

Have you found yourself starting a trait of your parent’s that you do not like?Do you think it is a cyclical thing that we turn into our parents, so it is inevitable?

Leah
A Moodscope member.

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


22

July

Regrets

Thursday July 22, 2021


I’ve just read ‘The Midnight Library’ by Matt Haig. It is a beautiful book, and I recommend it wholeheartedly. Reading it felt a little like being wrapped up in a warm hug.

It looks at regret, and the energy we can waste on it. It also looks at the idea of a ‘perfect’ life vs a real life with all its ups and downs and imperfections. It highlights the importance of exploring the small things that make life worth living. Recognising the difference we make to the people around us who we don’t necessarily see or notice. Focusing on the relationships that support us, and learning to appreciate them – even though they may sometimes be challenging or feel like they are not enough.

It looks at big dreams, and what they might feel like if they are achieved, and then at what life could have been like in different, parallel universes – the one where you ended that relationship, chose a different job or moved to a different place.

What are your regrets? What are the decisions/choices that still get stuck in your head – the ‘what if’s”. I often wonder what my life would have been like if I had not stayed in the relationship I am in (almost 30 years now)… or if I had taken up good therapy much earlier… or stayed in employment and not started my own business.

I’m fairly good at not getting too stuck and just looking with idle curiosity but I know others who do get stuck – spending huge chunks of time ruminating on what might have been, or regretting choices made long since. Where do you sit on that spectrum? What could you let go of?

Sarah
A Moodscope member.

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


21

July

Comfort Blanket

Wednesday July 21, 2021


Yes, it’s 29 degrees in the shade here in Cambridgeshire and I’m writing about blankets.

You see, I’m a great believer in the power of a restorative nap. When I lay down this afternoon it was far too warm to snuggle under the duvet, so I just lay on top. After about five minutes of uncomfortable wriggling, I realised I could not relax without something over me; I felt too exposed. I found a lightweight fleece blanket, draped that over me, and immediately fell sleep.

What is it about blankets?

• Blankets make great toys. Did you ever make a blanket fort as a child? An old-fashioned clothes horse, a kitchen chair and a draped blanket made a wonderful den or smuggler’s cave or lion’s lair.

• Blankets bring comfort. My cousin had his “Blankie.” It was a piece of the blanket from his cot, and it had a satin edge. He would suck his thumb and rub his nose with the shiny material. I think the blanket had once been blue but repeated rubbings and washings had turned it a faded grey. He loved it and would not be parted from it.

• Blankets can be decorative. The Christmas before I went to university, I was given a blanket with picture of a tiger on it. That blanket covered my bed all through university and I still have it now, 40 years later. I love that tiger.

• Blankets can be worn. I have a fleece-lined hooded blanket patterned with mystical lamplit bookshelves. I wore it to a carol concert in a chilly Hereford Cathedral and gained admiring comments from some teenagers hanging around outside. The idea of curling up inside my own warm library is wonderful.

• Blankets can be used for therapy. I have seen advertisements for a “weighted” blanket which can help people suffering from anxiety. It makes their immediate environment feel safe and solid.

• A blanket of snow softens the hard edges of the landscape beneath. I sometimes refer to my mood stabilising mediation as my snow blanket: it doesn’t prevent the ups and downs, but it softens them and blunts the extremes.

• Blankets can even save you from annihilation. In his short story, Ghost V, Robert Sheckley introduces a hallucinogenic gas which causes the imagined monsters from the protagonists’ childhood to become real. Most of the monsters can be defeated using remembered strategies from their youth, but “The Grabber” was designed to be invincible. They are just on the point of being eaten, WHEN — they remember! ANY monster can be defeated by hiding your head under the blankets!

So, here’s a big thank you to all the blankets which have served us over the years. A blanket is a hug without arms. They have comforted us in times of misery, decorated our beds and sofas, created hiding places, become stylish cloaks, protected us from monsters and even kept us warm.

It may be nearing 30 degrees out there, but we all still need our blanket.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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


20

July

Red Letter Day

Tuesday July 20, 2021


I’m 62 soon, a red letter day.

The NHS was formed in 1948*, then life expectancy, for men was 65 and for women was 70. Improvements in medicine mean, today it’s for men 79 and 83 for women. It’s risen every year since 1948.

I have Bipolar, therefore I am on the Serious Mental Illness Register. For over a decade, the NHS has recognised that people on the SMI have shortened life expectancy**. Nationally it’s estimated to be 15-20 years shorter. Locally the average age of death for someone on the SMI is 57 for men and 62 for woman. So, my life expectancy is still worse than it was in 1948.

My feelings are very mixed. First there is anger, that Bipolar, that has taken so much from me, may indirectly take my life. Even that, confuses me, as I have so many times contemplated my own death by suicide, so why do I fear it now? I feel guilty that I don’t keep my self in good physical heath, thus am complicit, as poor physical health is likely to kill me. I feel betrayed by the health service that, I haven’t benefited from its improvements. I feel anxious, that my own death may be fast approaching. But mostly, I feel REALLY ANGRY, yet there is little I can do, and acceptance is hard. I can’t help feeling within days I shall be living on borrowed time. I promise you though, I will live each of those days to the fullest and celebrate them all.

Karen
A Moodscope member.

*The history of the NHS in charts - BBC News
**NHS England » Achieving more for people with severe mental illness


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


19

July

This too shall…

Monday July 19, 2021


[To listen to an audio version of this blog, please click here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1396123/8877805 and to watch the video, please click here: https://youtu.be/ZQxYlvU4NCM]

What leapt to mind as your brain sought to finish that phrase? “This too shall…” For most of us, it would be “This too shall pass.”

That’s a great thought, and it can really help build resilience in the moment. But it’s not what I’ve got in mind today though… and it’s not how I want to live my life. It feels like, “this too shall pass,” means we are waiting… waiting for something better to come along to relieve us of the current distress or discomfort. I’d like to learn how to thrive in the here and now, not wait for the now and then.

Let’s add to the ‘This Too’ sayings.

Here’s my additional ‘This Too’ saying, “This too shall serve me.”

One of my sons has had a tough, few years. I remember his confusion and pain as, having been ‘let go’ from one position, (illegally, I might add), he could not find acceptance from another employer for over a year. The torment dragged on and on, but in the meantime, he pursued his passion for learning through academic studies. Eventually he found employment, then Covid hit. The resulting furlough gave him more time for his passion – paid time for his passion - more study. Then he was ‘let go’ again. Now, he’s doing a job that fits his strengths – that gives him purpose - and he’s engaging in even more study. The difficult time did pass but, on reflection, it also served him well. Add in the bonus of quality time with his young, growing family and you have to wonder whether it was a ‘bad’ time after all.

If he’d had the luxury of seeing his times of trial from his current position of prosperity, he would have breathed a sigh of relief… and would have been able to say with confidence, “This too shall pass.” But he would also have been able to say, “This too shall serve me.”

OK, let’s dispense with the naivety. Sometimes Life utterly crushes us and we don’t come out better on the ‘other side’ of the challenges. I’m not talking about those times. I’m talking about the majority of times where we do come through the hassle and we can look back with a perspective enriched by more information, more experience, and, crucially, an awareness of how we’ve used the difficult time to our advantage – we’ve made it serve us.

Today’s message is no more than this: to boldly assert in the face of difficult circumstances, “This, too, shall serve me.”

When we do this, we leave space for a shift in perception. Our awareness will begin to lock on to any evidence that the setback or suffering could serve us in the longer term. We make it work for us.

What I’d love to know is about the times in your own life when a setback turned into a strength – even a springboard or a stepping stone, when a stumbling block became a blessing.

Where you, too, could say…

“This, too, has served me.”

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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


18

July


As you’ll possibly know (since it’s all I seem to be able to write about) I’ve been wading through treacle, waist high, for some weeks. It has been my experience in the past that the end of the school year can mince me! But, since ‘normality’ has been held in suspended animation for some time, I more expected to cruise through into summer. There is the key word – expectation. 
 
Somewhere after Easter, and well before the end of the summer term, I fell into a ditch when I had expected to dance around it wearing flowers in my hair! If we are to have half a chance of having the upper hand with our state of mind, then perhaps expectation must be ditched.  Expectation (not to be confused with hope or aims) can give us a false sense of ourselves, a mark to fall short of.   
 
This week I knew the tank was going into the red. All usual attempts, over countless weeks, at lifting myself out of the ditch had failed. So I had a go at punching my way out. Sink or swim. I did two days of hard labour clearing a garden with my dad. It has been scorching sunshine and it might have been bordering on stupid. But the slot was there, and the rain was not. My body feels its labours! It turns out depression didn’t like it one bit. I swam. Seems I now have that iron shadow by the throat. It’s not over but I certainly claimed a stake. 
 
They say every day is a school day. I learned that I had more in the tank than I expected.    
 
Love from

The room above the garage 
A Moodscope member.
 
p.s. Thank you for holding on to me this spell. I know I’ve met none of you, but your calm presence has been both strong and powerful. 

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to post a comment below.


17

July


I have a basket of beach findings curated over many years, far and wide, I love to look over. Every treasure tells a story. Of its history and journey. And what it means to the person who uncovers it. For me beach combing, one of life’s simplest and free pleasures, shows me the uniqueness of pebbles and shells. That, like people, not one is the same. Suddenly seeing pebbles in one place the myriad hues of grey stand out. Who knew so many colours could exist outside of those fancy paint swatch cards? The smoothness. The roughness. How for some the granite really glints in the sun like precious gems. The joy of finding that stone that is kind of heart shaped and if, like your own heart, you choose to keep it or give it away. I gave my last one away, but will now be carefully guarding the latest replacement. That perfectly smooth oval pebble that has the potential of becoming a pretty painted paperweight or doorstop. A satisfying flat slate that makes the perfect skimming stone and with it the challenge to break your personal best record. For me a ‘9’ on Brean Downs beach in 2016.

Then there are the shells. Again so many types. Even in England alone. The excitement at finding a mussel shell whose two halves remain connected and the fragility of this mirroring the preciousness of our own personal connections. That pretty petrol iridescence of the inside of this common mussel shell. How that acts as a reminder to me not to judge someone by their ordinary looking outer shell and how great beauty lies inside of us all. The crab shell that has had its lifeblood pecked clean from the soaring seagulls overhead and a rogue random lonely claw poking menacingly atop the sand like some bizarre sandcastle flag. The great scallop shell that to this very day still holds all my earrings on my dressing table that I found as a small girl on a family holiday in Devon. The conch from more exotic climes that I can so clearly hear the swooshing of the sea in at my ear. A memory of my first holiday abroad, which, if I close my eyes I am transported back to that baking hot summer and broken attempts at speaking the language. 

But the finest treasure of all for me is the prized sea glass. Smooth and translucent and worn by the sea’s constant caresses. I take this from the basket and rub it in my palm to calm me when I feel anxious, like a meditative crystal, or a Catholic praying on the rosary. 

Another precious, less pretty, treasure was acquired from Portobello Beach in the summer of 2018 and brings me hope and positivity. It is a cockle shell with three barnacles clinging on for dear life - and now in death - demonstrating their sheer resilience. I look at this now in a time of great personal difficulties and draw strength from it, knowing that I too can cling on and come out the other side. 

This tradition of beach combing, like all good traditions, has continued, and now my son aged eight accompanies me as we scour the shorelines in search of our booty to add to this basket like land locked pirates. 

Sue
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to post a comment below.


16

July


When is an apology a non-apology or an ifpology? 

I call myself the queen of sorry as I am always saying sorry whether things are my fault or not. Years ago I wrote a blog about saying sorry.

What about people who never apologise as they think they are right all the time or who only apologise because they must apologise.

We have heard politicians and PR people telling us “I'm sorry you feel that way" or “I am sorry you took offence to my words which were never intended to offend” This is a non-apology apology. It does not admit there was anything wrong with the remarks or behaviour.

The expression “Mistakes were made” " is often used where a speaker admits an incident was handled incorrectly but seeks to sidestep any responsibility by talking in the passive voice. The declaration of "mistakes" is framed in a vague way with no actual naming of the person.

When people say things like “I am sorry if I offended anyone”, “I am sorry if people were offended by my joke when I was being funny”. This is an ifpology.

I think many of us know people who have apologised without really apologising. Years ago, for family harmony I said, “I am sorry if you took offence from my words.”
so I could end an in-law ignoring me and making family functions awkward.

Do you think people who say sorry too much or people who never say sorry, can learn to change their behaviour or is it too hard?

How do you cope with people you know who never apologise or who use an no apology or an ifpology?

Leah
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to post a comment below.


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