Sunday, 7 February 2016

Lost & Forlorn.

Sometimes if I dip for a time, most often in the morning, this is how I feel as I seek to somehow re-connect to the world outside my bedroom. Well, just my bed really...

How dark is blue,
In this life of mine.
As I walk the streets,
It's no pantomime.

Alone and lost,
As I walk in the dark.
I only think back,
The future's too stark.

I used to be happy,
Walking the streets.
I really had nothing,
But my heart had a beat.

I have achieved so much,
Changed so many lives.
Now I feel empty,
And the cut of the knives.

I used to have angst,
And suicidal thoughts.
Now I am lost,
And my thoughts come to nought.

I am so creative,
And can make connections as well.
But there must be something,
To take me to hell.

I lost my daughter,
Through my wife and money.
I lost my dog,
Life wasn't funny.

But I pulled on through,
And did my own thing.
The problem is now,
My heart doesn't sing.

My soul is bleeding,
My spirit is gone.
How long can I go on,
Dark and forlorn.

But I'll get up tomorrow,
Put my feet on the floor.
I can only keep moving,
Yet I can't find the door!        

There is always that need to KNOW I have to move, history has shown to me that the more I move, the more I lift.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts about the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our blog on the Moodscope web site:

Saturday, 6 February 2016

My finest moment...

When we're depressed we struggle to remember anything good we did. As we recover we remember times when we achieved, no matter how insignificant it was. I must be recovering because I recently remembered this story.

I was playing in a rugby game in Burton-on-Trent. They had a huge pack of forwards who all seemed to work at the brewery (and didn't look as though much of the output made it past them and through the doors.) Their only strategy was to use their huge players to batter their way forward, which was exhausting to defend. (Imagine Indiana Jones trying to rugby-tackle the boulder instead of running away from it).

As they won the ball yet again they hoisted a high-kick which was coming down just outside our "22." It was well-placed, whoever caught it would be immediately hit by their onrushing forwards. As I ran back I noticed that although my team-mates were heading in the general direction of where the ball would land, for some strange reason no-one was actually getting into position to catch it.

Someone pulled the string in the middle of my back and my unbidden voice said "mine!" Immediately I sensed opponents assessing my bulk (not huge) and calculating course and speed to impact like some meat-seeking missile.

I caught the ball and got hit by a stampede of Staffordshire beef. I was desperately trying to avoid being turned or losing the ball while being driven back on the run. After a few centuries (!!) team-mates began to arrive, holding me up and slowing then stopping the retreat. Once stable I rolled the ball along the deck to the scrum-half, who kicked into touch level with where the move started. We hadn't lost a yard.

We lost the game, and overall I didn't have much of a game, but for a fleeting second I did what needed to be done and felt good about it.
(This may not actually be my finest moment, but I like telling the story... )

So what was your finest moment?

A Moodscope member.

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Friday, 5 February 2016

Living with the tough stuff.

This morning (whilst in the bath) I was thinking how utterly British I am. At Christmas I wrote the cheeriest round robin describing all the positive things that happened in 2015. I completely downplayed the fact that I spent three weeks last February having been rushed to A and E with a stomach problem. My Facebook page exudes positivity - and I positively dislike those posts where people put down how annoyed, angry or sad they are.

In fact, I came to the conclusion that I should be awarded a doctorate in CBT, just for effort alone. However, there is a problem with this. Now I'm not knocking the power of positivity, nor CBT, which many people find helpful, but what do you do with those more uncomfortable feelings, like anger, sadness, guilt or jealousy?

It's only as an adult that I have realised that it's ok to be angry. How much depression could I have avoided if only I had realised that earlier? Last month I was very angry about something that happened to one of my clients at work, but actually it was right to be angry and although I couldn't do a lot about it, I reported the situation to my CEO who has blogged about the issue in the national news. This client had been treated appallingly and I was right to be angry on her behalf.

Occasionally in complete frustration with my kids I have stormed off for a five minute walk around the estate where I live - it's given me breathing time to stop myself totally blowing a gasket!!

It's taken me 44 years to realise that it's ok to feel negative emotions, that they are, after all, just part of being human and that pushing them away or ignoring them does not help at all.

I recently came across a wonderful little video about dealing with difficult feelings on Vimeo designed for children. Check out 'A Curious Look' by Helena Cameron.

How are you feeling today? If you're not feeling good, ask yourself why. Are you, like me, trying to be terribly British and ignore those negative feelings? Own them, feel them and see what you can learn from them.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our blog on the Moodscope web site:

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Share my laughter as well as comfort my tears.

Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone;
For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.

The lines above come from the poem Solitude by the famous poet Ella Wheeler Cox in 1883. My mother used to quote the first two lines to me when I would be sad and she wanted to cheer me up.

Ella apparently was inspired to write this poem on the way to a ball where she saw a woman dressed in a black dress and comforted her. When they arrived, the poet was so depressed that she could barely attend the celebrations. As she looked at her own happy face in the mirror, she suddenly recalled the sorrowful widow. It was at that moment that she wrote the opening lines of "Solitude".

I have often been troubled by the meaning of these lines. I used to think if you were sad no one wanted to be around you, and I thought that was not very kind because when one is sad one needs people around. People like happy people because they make them feel good about themselves.

I sometimes think that on moodscope while we are very good at supporting each other when we are down, sometimes I wonder that we feel we don't want to share our good times in case that comes across as being boastful or may be seen as insensitive.

I know that moodscope provides a soft place for us to land and supports us as we journey towards better health. I don't want anyone to cry alone or to feel alone when sad and depressed.

I would like us to be able to celebrate our achievements no matter how big or small we may think they are. This needs to be to done in a context where we are sensitive to people who are feeling rock bottom.

I thought maybe as a start we could just share one thing recently we have done that made us smile and pleased with our selves.

I went to a water aerobics class. This may not sound like much but I am not into exercise or group exercise. I managed to last the whole lesson without complaining too much!

Moodscope member

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Wednesday, 3 February 2016

A Life threatening Illness.

Isn't it time we stopped pretending?

Depression can and does kill.

Suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK.

It kills a lot of women too – but the fact is that over 75% of all suicide deaths are men.
4,624 of them last year.

Oh, and just to clear something up; yes, more women than men attempt suicide. The men just seem to be more successful at it.

I'd like to say that I am uniquely qualified to write this blog as I lost a father to suicide in 1967, I lost an uncle to suicide in 2008, I lost another friend just last year.

But I'm sadly not unique, or even particularly unusual.

And I'm surely not the only one here, or even in the minority reading this, who has done more than flirted with that precipice, who has thought about it. I have not just wanted to die, I have actively planned my death. Quite a few times. Somehow, by the grace of God. Or just because I procrastinated that one extra day that allowed for healing, I'm still here, writing this.

And I'd never want my mother to know how close I've come or how many times.

So I want this to be a bit of a wake-up call for us. We need to take our illness seriously. And we need to make others take our illness more seriously.

My forty year old neighbour has cancer. It's for the second time of asking and she's facing a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and then radiotherapy. We're all putting a brave face on it. We're all expressing interest in her treatment, planning how we can help out the family while she's going through it. We're thinking positive thoughts. But you know what? Behind it all is the thought "Oh, what a tragedy it would be if she doesn't make it. For that family to lose a wife and mother so young..."

Because we take cancer seriously. These days we'll all talk about it. There's no shame in it.

So for goodness' sake can we please talk about depression? Let's do our research on it. Let's discuss treatments and drugs and recovery rates.

And if we lose someone to this terrible illness, we must not for one moment let that little comment slide past us. You know – the one where people say "I wonder what he can be thinking of, that he felt he had nothing to live for?"

He. Was. Ill. He died from his illness, not through choice, any more than a cancer or a heart disease patient dies through choice. It was not "selfish", it was not a moral failing. It was his (or her) illness.

And I for one would like to see this illness treated with the same respect and given the same funding as cancer. A world where depression was easily diagnosed, treated and cured: how would that be?

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our blog on the Moodscope web site:

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

My Five Currencies.

Today the sun has graced us with its big beaming face. Living in a wet, rainy grey climate really does challenge many of us. My inkling is that part of the reason Britain is teeming with eccentrics and off-the-wall characters is because of our weather.

I have been called "crazy" and "mad" in affectionate ways. And do you know what, instead of trying to tone it down I have decided to embrace this part of me that affords me sunshine. Maybe it is a way of escaping the dark (and I do still go there) but it gives me energy, the currency of living. That's my number one currency.

But I need other currencies to pay into my energy account, especially to balance the zany.

Nutrition is the number two. I haven't eaten unhealthily but I haven't packed enough nutrients or protein. Ridiculous actually as my cooking has inspired others who tell me to write a book on my creations. Depression can take the appetite hostage and anxiety can tighten the purse strings. Since supping daily "blasts" using a well known extractor I feel more vitalised. Frozen berries, spinach, apples and beetroot with fresh ginger is a great pick me up, hard lining nutrients to my brain.

Number three goes without saying – music: especially on the radio or new finds on YouTube. The preponderance of enriching music out there is inspiring.

Number four - meditation and breathing via any source you like. Gyms are functional but for me soulless, so the free fresh air and singing my own ditties gets the lungs working. Wouldn't it be great to have dance breaks at work? I bet that would oomph productivity, the Holy Grail of the industry!

Number five. Winter is the time the trees shut up shop and go within to cultivate energy within ready for new growth in Spring. Trees tend to be around for a while so I am following their wisdom in winter and having plenty of sleep or if insomnia is a problem listening to relaxation tracks or binaural beats on my headphones.

I bet you all use these strategies and more already. I am creating a tree on wall in the house where I pin my tips as leaves to help me sustain these good habits. As I feel better I hope to pin larger leaves with the fruits of my strategies.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our blog on the Moodscope web site:

Monday, 1 February 2016

'I' is for 'Improv' – used by Drama experts as short for 'Improvisation'.

This is one of my favourite forms of Art. It is displayed particularly well in the Game Show, 'Whose Line Is It Anyway?'

With Improv, as in the show, the goal is to create flowing dialogue – and there are rules to the Game of Improv.

My alternative title to today's blog is, 'Turning Talking Traps into Flowing Conversations' – in recognition that being 'misunderstood' is one of the major blocks to enjoying a life to the full.

We can learn from the principles of improvisation. So let me begin with the key question, "Which would you prefer: points or prizes?"

In popular Game Shows, points make prizes but in 'The Game of Strife' the rules are the opposite. You can make your point and win the argument, but the only 'prize' you'll get is a damaged relationship and often resentment. If you would prefer to have the prize of a great long-term relationship, you need to play by different rules. And this is where Improv can help.

In Improv you never negate the point of another player on stage. If one suggests a scenario where they have been injured in some adventure, the next player can ruin the play simply by saying, "No you're not!"  Any negation blocks the flow. In the rest of life, this is called an 'Empathy Blocker'!

I have seen this time and time again in relationships. One party continually blocks the other's flow by putting them down or contradicting what they say. It never works. Never.

Improv Professionals use 'and' a lot to move the flow on. They accept the other person's position and then build from it. It's a 'yes + and' strategy that works well. It builds relationships upon the foundation of letting the other party know they have been heard and understood.

So the next time you're tempted to contradict someone, realise you are falling into a Talking Trap. Press Pause! Then, let the conversation flow by acknowledging the other person's point and then build upon it. It takes practice, but the prize of free flowing relationships founded on deep rapport is well worth the effort.

I am so committed to the importance of improving relationships that I am launching a new radio show today! It's called, 'The Really Useful ShowTime' (T.R.U.S.T. for short), and exists to deliver on one promise: that the content will be really useful! You can listen to this for free around the World by tuning in to:
The timing is Noon-2 pm UK time.

The first show is going to cover how to improve your memory recall – something I think we'd all find 'Really Useful'.

DJ Lexi!
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our blog on the Moodscope web site:

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Fantasy v Reality.

In my fantasy world, I am very organized and have all my papers and belongings so organised I know where everything is.

I read widely, watch only documentaries on television.

Confident in my abilities, I relax when having visitors and giving parties. I am known for my patience and my positive nature. My moods are very stable and people remark on my calm nature.

You have probably guessed my reality. I am totally disorganized can never find anything.

I used to read widely but now I am so tired after a day in my shop. I barely have the energy to use the remote. I watch television to relax so just fun shows.

I find having guests to stay and giving small parties for friends very stressful and cope by making endless lists about the most trivial of things. I am very impatient and can be very negative, even grumpy. Sad but true. I can have five different moods in one day and people always tell me to relax!!

My fantasy life is not just what I want to be, it is how I see  myself. So why this chasm between what I want to be/think I am and what I really am? The real me is who I am no matter how much I try to change, I come back to being disorganized and moody. I am not the only one with a different fantasy self and real self. A friend said her fantasy self sets the alarm every night for an early start to go to the gym, but her real self hits the snooze button every morning!

Why do we have a need to be something we are not, a better version of ourselves, to make us more likeable? Or is it because we say what we think others want to hear or maybe we make up a version of ourselves that we prefer to the real us.

What do you think? Do you have a fantasy version of yourself?

A Moodscope member.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

The path to serenity.

"You always sound so calm and serene; tell me the essence I need for that." So wrote another member in reply to my blog "Wisdom received from Moodscopers Part 1 (20th October 2015).

Well here goes...

Ironically, the October "Wisdom" blog was published the day after a particularly depressing departmental meeting at work with my lovely team of caring, supportive colleagues, all of whom (me included) were experiencing stress, loss of sleep, loss of family time and frustration at the unreasonable deadlines we were being asked to meet. (So, Frankie, you should be working not writing a Moodscope blog!!!). Even our normally grounded Head of Department was experiencing physical signs of stress (heart palpitations) and our superbly efficient Second in Department was uncharacteristically near to tears.

In the past I too would have had the same feelings, but I don't – how come?

I have learnt that the only thing I can change is my response to this situation. I recognise that it is the situation which is unreasonable, not me so I don't feel guilty.

If I do start feeling stressed, then I acknowledge that it is a perfectly reasonable response given the unreasonable demands being made.

Re-reading the above makes it sound so simple, but it isn't; I know that, and it hasn't been easy to reach this point of acceptance. It has taken time, determination and constant repetitions (said aloud) of affirmations, such as:

"All things pass and this too shall pass."
"I am doing my best in a tough situation."
"These dead-lines are unreasonable, my response to them is reasonable."
"I am not alone in feeling this way; I am supported and understood."
And my favourite when with my colleagues "It was ever thus." To remind us all that we DO cope under pressure and that the deadlines do come and go.

And when I say it has taken time, it has, a long time; this new found serenity and acceptance did not happen overnight but over a period of months and was a gradual process with plenty of ups and downs along the way.

I once did some "silly" research to see how long it would take to change a habit. I decided to change the hand I use to hold a toothbrush and clean my teeth. I arrogantly thought that it would take me a week... it took six. Now, if it takes six weeks to change a simple thing like that, then think just how much longer it takes to change long-held (perhaps from childhood) thought patterns, responses and behaviours...

It brings me back time and time again to the Serenity Prayer:

(God), Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

What thought patterns and responses do you want to change?  Are you ready to do so?

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our blog on the Moodscope web site:

Friday, 29 January 2016

Connecting with Your Inner Sunflower.

I want you to look up from your screen now and see where the light is. Go on... Was it out of the window? Was it the bulb hanging from the ceiling? Or perhaps the only light in your room right now is the one emanating from this screen.

The very presence of light in our lives, whether it be natural or man made, is fundamental to human existence. Although we can survive for long periods of time without it, there is an atavistic core of our being which longs for light because we know it is responsible for giving us life. We know that we need it for warmth, sustenance and, of course, for seeing.

Without light we are blind.

Seasonal Affective Disorder aside, we all suffer in some way from a lack of light during the winter. In my tool box of anti-depressant gems which I have been gathering for myself over the years, light has been one of my life savers: to turn to it when it's there; to create it when it's not there.

When the sun comes out, tilt your face towards it and close your eyes. You'll be surprised how quickly it will lift your mood. And when that light has gone, create your own. I've strung fairy lights from my walls and planted candles around my room which I light religiously at nightfall. They warm my soul when it's dark. They make me feel brighter. I believe that in these moments we are actually collecting light – like a human solar panel – storing it up so that our life-force level doesn't drop too low. So away you go and collect yourself some light! Turn your face towards it like a sunflower. Let it shine on you and keep you alive.

A Moodscope member.

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