Friday, 22 September 2017

I never promised you a rose garden.

I have never read this book – for others who do not know it, a schizophrenic girl of 16 creates another world in order to escape. Her parents struggle with the stigma of mental illness, then she is lucky enough to meet a brilliant therapist who wins her trust and gives her the courage to fight the illness.

My life has been full of physical (as opposed to metaphorical) roses. A picture exists of me, just walking, under lovely rose arches. I still have roses, every garden has had roses, so that is eight decades of roses! But the path has been decidedly thorny at times, none more so than at the present.

I have just had an hour talking to my only niece. Her brother is schizophrenic (so they say) but his father never talks about him, and his sister is scared of him, he has been violent in the past, and now is scary – luckily, perhaps, for everybody, he has become very withdrawn. Her father, 91, is in hospital – she has had to cancel her holiday to be with him. He treats her in the same way as his brother treats me, like a servant. When his second wife had cancer, his daughter was there, propping him up in any way she could, although she was a full-time teacher. Then her own mother (the divorce was bitter, and the children suffered) had cancer, and off the poor girl went again, commuting by train at least every fortnight.

My friend who I have often cited here has been treated (for depression, in theory – she is also a true hypochondriac while being as fit as a fiddle) on and off for 30 years – she goes from GP to faith healer to devotion (she is Catholic), many charlatans, now she doses herself off the Web. She has drained the sympathy of most of her family and friends.

My husband goes to the excellent Alzheimer Day centre here. I am well known – my car, my shop, my chignon – and I have loads of 'pals' among the inmates/patients, I don't know what is politically correct. The unit is the last and most modern added to a hospital which started in 1347. It houses all types of psychiatric illness. My 'pals' are those who are out and about. They all have mental disorders. Do they, like the girl above, have a world to escape to in their minds? Peopled by fairies? An alter ego? Hobgoblins? I think of these people in the light of the Peter Sarsted song 'Where do you go to my lovely?'

In the depths of depression, is everything black? Or have you had your 'rose garden' dreams?

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

P.S. I lay no claim to the roses in the picture. The church is famed because it has had continuous colonies of bees for four centuries. It is in the Mayenne department, calm and beautiful.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/i-never-promised-you-a-rose-garden

Thursday, 21 September 2017

The Pressure to get Motivated.

Hands up if you are always reading or buying books about motivation, success, willpower, goals, productivity, in the hope you will be inspired to action. Are you often reading more lists and posts about how you need to be better?

Do you sometimes feel, if you can read enough articles and enough Facebook quotes, suddenly your brain will put it into action?

Keep your hand up if you have not read any of those books you have bought or borrowed.

My hand is up, I keep buying books but not reading them, finding articles, but not reading them, all in hope I can be motivated, find my true path and follow my dreams. I feel under pressure that I have not achieved enough. These books rather than motivating me make me feel I am not focused enough.

I know people who have read the motivational books, and gone to the "You can be a success" workshops and made endless notes and lists about achieving their goals. Most of them do not get motivated or reach their goals.

What is happening?

Why is the reality different from what books promise us?

Is it maybe that we change when we want to change? Humans cannot be programmed like a robot. I feel it is difficult to create motivation when there isn't any. Sometimes it is not the time to change.

Maybe the book you want to write is not able to be started since you have not worked out the idea for your characters.

Sometimes we are sad and can't motivate ourselves till we have made sense of the sadness.

Some of us use so many tools to be more productive and make so many lists that every minute of our day is programmed.

What about instinct and natural impulse and gut feeling?

Many of us want to control timing in our lives.

For many, unhappiness stems from the belief that our lives should be different than they are. All the books and workshops tell us we should be successful, we can be successful, if only we are determined and become more motivated and organized.

Self-loathing and self-hatred comes from this idea that we need to be able to change our lives, that we must be richer, smarter, or happier.

There needs to be less guilt around the notion that you're not doing your best.

Is it time to stop comparing ourselves to people who are in very different life situations and stages.

Is it possible to start liking who we are now and not thinking about we will be happy when: when we get more motivated, when we achieve our goals, when we realize our dreams.

Imagine what may happen then.

We may motivate ourselves when we are ready and the timing is right.

Do you find motivational books and speakers helpful?

Do you feel pressured by motivational books?

Can you motivate yourself in your own time?

Leah 
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/the-pressure-to-get-motivated

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Getting it Out There.

[To listen to an audio version of this blog please click here: http://bit.ly/2w4RFzP]

I gave my friend an elephant.

He thanked me.
"Don't mention it," I said.

(Boom, Boom)

That was a joke, by the way.

The elephant in the room: I'm sure I can't be the only one who prefers to ignore him. I can't be the only one who lets stuff build up emotionally, who prefers to act as if in ignorance of issues I just don't want to deal with.

I don't want the confrontation. I don't want the anger. I don't want the answers I fear I might get.

So, I put the elephant in a (large) cardboard box. I can ignore him better that way.

Yes, I carry on in fear and worry and in denial which isn't denial at all. And it takes its toll. It's like a medical condition which won't get better by itself. It's something that time won't heal. It can really drag me down.

Experience tells me that, when I do finally face the elephant, he proves not to be so scary after all. He proves not to be that mad African bull elephant with enormous tusks, but a well-mannered Indian elephant; he's rather embarrassed to be found in my living room at all.

But it doesn't get any easier, does it?

Last Summer I had a family issue I had to bring out into the open and address. It turned out to be much, much simpler than I had expected. What I didn't know, was that for my long-suffering husband (who dislikes confrontation even more than I), the elephant was not only bigger, but multi-coloured too. In fact, so gigantic and hideous was his elephant, that we both ended up in slightly hysterical laughter, and banished it with giggles from our room.

Yet – recently, I wimped out of asking a close friend about our own personal elephant. I still haven't. I don't know if I ever can; I'm scared of the answer I might get.

So often our elephant is imaginary, however – a bit like the Heffalump in Winnie the Pooh.

The trouble is, we don't know if he's imaginary – or at least bigger in our imaginations than in reality, until we deal with him. A bit like Schrodinger's cat, we must open the box to find out his state.

I don't have any easy answers. I know that last Summer I had to make a plan and schedule the conversation. I had to choose a time for that conversation when we wouldn't be interrupted. Then – I just had to draw a deep breath and launch in. "I want to talk to you about something..."

In most cases, the other person is pleased to have the conversation. If you get met with a frosty, "I don't want to talk about it," then I suppose you just have to let that elephant be. If you force the issue, you might end up squashed.

But on balance, I think it's healthier to open the box.

And much kinder to the elephant.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/getting-it-out-there

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Go with the flow – Part 1

My previous boss was forever saying "Just go with the flow, Frankie" – and I never could...

Try as I might, I couldn't relax until I had ticked off all the items on my "To do" list, and knew what I was doing the next day, the next week (and preferably the next month too!)  On the plus side, things got done, I kept the family going and life was busy. On the minus side I never put time into recharging my batteries which meant that I was often stressed, irritable and not very relaxing to be around. Another consequence was that when major family crises occurred, I simply rushed around even more frantically to fit everything in.  Dropping anything to free up more time was simply not an option.

Why did I live like that?

Lots of reasons; lack of self-confidence, guilt and fear are the top three on the list.

1 Lack of self-confidence: I have long believed that everyone else is cleverer, more organised, more interesting, a better parent, a better colleague (this list is endless!) than me. So I was always worrying about whether I had done things "the right way" (whatever that is).

2 Guilt: I was top of the class with this! I always scored a "3" on this card. I never finished my "To do" list, you see.

3 Fear: I think my greatest fear was of losing control. How would the whole show keep going if I was no longer in control?
   
The trouble with this was that I lost sight of me, Frankie; take away Frankie, the mother, the wife, the sister, the daughter, the daughter-in-law, the friend everyone turned to, the supportive colleague, and who was left? Who was Frankie without all those hats? I had no idea... No surprise then that I had two nervous breakdowns in ten years, that  my body decided to take over and said "enough is enough – you will stop, like it or not".  

I have learnt the hard way; it is not selfish to take care of myself – it is essential. I need to have some "me" time frequently, preferably daily, so that I can support those around me more effectively. And, you know what? Doing so makes me more relaxed, so everyone else is more relaxed and life is much more harmonious as a result.

Today I will choose some music and sit down to listen to it properly.

What will you do during your "me" time today?  (I would love to know!)

Frankie
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/go-with-the-flow-part-1

Monday, 18 September 2017

Are You Ready To Commit Your Next Offence?

Are you offended easily?  I am.

Let's see just how easy it is to offend me:

• Not using your left-indicator
• Not saying 'Please' or 'Thank You'
• Not smiling back when I smile at you...

Actually, the list is almost endless. But taking offence never brings me pleasure.

I know that you and I are only offended when our 'Code' is violated. We have a rule book in our mind that defines what is good or bad, acceptable or unacceptable. Unfortunately, breaking the rules is only fun for those who do the breaking!

I want you to be happier.

You can be far happier than you have ever been before - starting today. How? By relaxing some of the rules. Specifically, by relaxing your own rules that you expect other people to play by. Trust me - they don't care - it's only you who is suffering.

Is it really the end of the world if someone cuts into my lane without indicating? If they leave enough space, and don't force me to slow down, I think I could let it pass, don't you?

And if someone doesn't say 'Please' - surely that's more a reflection on their lower evolutionary state, isn't it? I'll be content with being such a spiritual giant.

But what about not smiling back when I graciously offer my gorgeous grin? Who knows what sorrows they are facing. Let's face it - I can let them off, can't I?

Yes, all of the above is firmly tongue in cheek, but I know if I have a little voice in my head that says,

"Which rule are they breaking?"

...this gives me enough pause to regain my poise and enjoy the exhilaration of forgiveness instead.

I want to break free... wanna join me?

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/are-you-ready-to-commit-your-next-offence

Sunday, 17 September 2017

A Moment of Calm.

There's a beautiful bay tucked away in a corner of the world, surrounded by impressive, rocky mountains.

My favourite walk, along a wide paved cliff path, looks out over a panoramic view of nothing but sea.

Protected by a sturdy barrier, it's a safe path for me, who without one, has become anxious and panicky from vertigo if I even glanced towards the edge (I have been known to get down on all fours, even on a seaside sand dune!)

Gazing out at the vast ocean, I'd avoid looking at the dizzying sheer drop, on to the rocks and waves, as if it would somehow be tempting fate. A fleeting, irrational, almost superstitious glimpse of doom, enough to cause a sharp intake of breath and an about turn back to safety.

In the past, I'd enjoy this daily walk to the next town and back before the daytime heat set in.

On this trip though, I was encouraged to take a higher path.

The houses at the top seemed so distant. It had never occurred to me to even consider going up there.

So up for the challenge one hot afternoon, off we went.

It was surprisingly possible to stroll, one step at a time, discovering an abundance of unfamiliar and beautiful sights.

Teenagers had often scrambled beyond the path onto rocky slopes, to make their names in hearts out of stones.

My photographs don't seem to capture what is breathtaking about nature. Whether it's tiny white buildings deep inside a valley, magnificent, dark, mountainous rocks towering above them, the alerted face of a small lizard peeping out of it's rocky dry home at strangers passing by, or speckled sunlight glinting between brilliantly coloured tree leaves, shading it's delicate flowers.

A snapshot photo of a moment like that for me is both irresistible and futile.

Enthused by our achievement, we later explored the high path west of the bay.

Approaching the top, we realised that a wonderful stillness and silence had surrounded us.

It was truly serene.

I knew that if I visualised that place, above the sprawling buildings, in the peaceful open sunlight, with sea and mountains in the distance and the purest sense of nothingness, I'd be able to recall that soothing moment of calm.

The path flattened out onto arid, dry, dusty ground, offering weary souls the space and time to just be.

I did go back on that favourite walk.

Somehow I now found myself able to lean comfortably on the barrier and watch the waves washing over the rocks without a care in the world.

I also tried Tai Chi in the open air.

Eyes closed, I breathed in that sense of calm, as my hands lifted and drifted in unison. Peace and harmony from outside in.

I experienced new treasures about a special place, that I wouldn't have if I'd remained in the comfort of my routine.

Discoveries made about myself.

Having not returned to yoga or any kind of class for a couple of years, I'm looking forward to trying some more Tai Chi now that I'm back home. A new class has coincidentally just started locally. Thank you universe!

No commitment, just to see if it might be a way to find some peace and moments of calm.

Lillipet
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/a-moment-of-calm

Saturday, 16 September 2017

You have a boundary problem!

"Sounds like you have a boundary problem."

This is one of the most useful things anyone has ever said to me.

In my thirties, every relationship that came along became, for the time being, the most important thing in my world. Yet another one had just come crashing down around my ears – only, even worse, it hadn't really, permanently, definitely finished. Instead, the guy involved was giving contradictory signals, doing the 'let's stay friends' thing, and in the small town where we both lived, it was inevitable we would bump into each other.

I wasn't coping. I couldn't think about anything else. I felt as if my world was coming to an end: no-one else would ever do; if I couldn't have this relationship, life wasn't going to be worth living – you know the sort of thing. Maybe not all that unusual in a teenager, but in my thirties? Not good.

Luckily, the counsellor I went to was wise and insightful. She listened to my tale of woe, at length, and finally said just that one phrase. Bullseye! Boy, did I have a boundary problem! I absolutely did not have the ability to think of myself as a separate, worthwhile, autonomous person independent of my lover. It did not remotely occur to me that there was a reality, a validity, to living outside of a relationship. I had not found anyone to settle down or have children with, it seemed to be getting too late, I feared missing the form-a-family boat, and I was in full panic mode.  If truth be told, I had pretty much struggled to separate from my family of origin too, and there was a big part of me that wanted to find a parent-figure to bond with, rather than have to strike out on my own.

Twenty years on, I am still grateful to that counsellor. It was a painful lesson, and there were more painful lessons yet to learn, but it was a vital step on the path of growing up. Thank goodness she did not pour out sympathy, or join me in blaming the man who, let's face it, was probably very wise to save himself from such a predatory and dependent lover as me. Sometimes the truth hurts, but, like stepping into the proverbial cold bath, the shock can revitalise us and give us new energy, once we've towelled ourselves dry.

How about you? Have you had any problems keeping healthy boundaries? How have you developed them (if you have)? What, or who, has helped you?

Sal
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/you-have-a-boundary-problem

Friday, 15 September 2017

He is his father's son.

The Stormy Bears, August 6th Blog really hit home to me. But in a slightly different way.

My son is 20, about to hit 21 in a few days. His father, (that's me) is about to turn 68!  This is a 2nd life child. He is absolutely beautiful in almost every sense. However, he is a mental mess!

Starting at age 6 he thought he would need to 'kill himself' to stop the pain in his legs.   Social, school troubles followed for many years. While at the same time he showed an unusual affinity for math. At age 12, he announced he would be creating his own math theorem, the kind that take 300 years to solve!

At age 15 all hell broke loose with drugs, anger, misdiagnoses, treatment, medication, counseling, multiple suicide attempts, and incarceration for breaking a window.

We recently moved and in the process of finding a new psychiatrist and counselor I asked for a full psychiatric evaluation. It involved multiple tests and interviews with my son and his parents. The result was a good, but scary inventory of his issues: Anxiety (!), Personality Disorder, Suicidal tendencies... and on. It started the doctor testing him. We hope this will be a good starting place for new treatment and counseling. He is to start DBT therapy soon.

I watch his moods each day, with hope and frustration. I can tell when the day will start badly. Or when anger is about to explode. Or he is about to fall down a hole of despair for another day. But I do all I can to help him through another day. Hoping he will find some coping skills and a brighter future. After all, he has a theorem to write.

I have not decided whether my love and empathy for him are helpful. If, in the midst of his pain and anger, do I give him too much leeway. Or if guilt is a part of my allowances.

Because, he is very much, his Father's Son.

Ron
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/he-is-his-fathers-son

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

How Much is Physical?

[To listen to an audio version of this blog, please follow this link: http://bit.ly/2xvjDJm]

I once read a story where everything changed and nothing stayed the same. What I mean is, that every day, when the protagonist awoke, things would be different from the day before. Some days he would have a wife, but never the same one. Some days he would have children, but they were never the same children. His house was different; the route to his work was different. Nothing was ever the same. Then one day, that all changed; everything did stay the same and he found he couldn't cope.

It used to be a bit like that for me, but in reverse. The world stayed the same, but I was different every day. Whether in a manic phase or in deepest depression, the days were never the same. I was never the same.

With this new medication, I wake up every morning feeling – about the same: fairly cheerful; moderately energetic and enthusiastic; reasonably alert. Not exactly the same – hey – human here, but – pretty much. After six months, I am just about getting used to it.

So, a little while ago, when, at a friend's house just before lunch, I was suddenly and for no reason, overwhelmed with a desire to weep, to crawl away into a dark place and hide; I was horrified. Was this the depression coming back?

The world retreated behind a thick plate-glass window and sound became dim. My thoughts started that cockroach skittering, that rat scrabbling, in the corners of my mind. The tide of foul darkness engulfed like floodwater, icily cold.

Depression.

Please, no!

Panic!

Then a lance of bright pain pierced behind my left eye and I remembered. Ah yes –  migraine.

Some people get visual "auras" with migraine. Things blur, or zig-zig; one side of their sight might disappear. I get what's called a "neurological aura"; it affects my emotions. Oddly enough, the moment the pain hits, the aura disappears. It's almost a relief. I know that I must take painkillers and lie down for a couple of hours (sometimes more) and it will be over – all bar that floaty, head stuffed with cotton wool feeling, that is.

I hadn't had a migraine for years; I thought they had disappeared for good once I left my highly stressful job, but now they have reappeared as a side effect of the medication. I'll happily take that swap.

But it made me think. How many of the symptoms of our depression are the depression itself? How many may be attributed to physiological reasons?

If we are exhausted, if we have not eaten or drunk enough, if we are in pain; the mind will reflect this.

We know that some of the symptoms of depression are the overwhelming desire to sleep and a craving for carbohydrates. This is the brain decoding the symptoms of depression and effecting the "cure" it knows has worked for similar symptoms before.

But it's always worth thinking about the physical causes of depression.

Before you panic.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/how-much-is-physical

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Please like me.

When I was 9 years old we had a student teacher who was trying to study the social dynamics in the classroom by asking us about who we liked in the class. A few girls decided they would do their own survey by seeing who was the least liked in the class.

They proudly announced to me that I was least popular girl in the class.

Now, before you start getting out the violins and suggest I need counselling, I really was not upset. I knew I was not popular, never was, never have been. It was just and still being my reality. I was never even nominated to be class captain. Even back then, I was ok because I had a few close friends who would always be there for me. The fact the rest of the class preferred other people to me, was fine.

Some may say but Leah you are remembering this some 50 years later so it must have concerned you. Not really, I find it a useful anecdote.

Today we seem obsessed with being liked - how many likes did you get? If something on YouTube is like by 10,000 people and something else only 450 does that make the first one better. Since when does being more popular make it of a better quality?

Of course, people who don't use Facebook, YouTube, twitter, etc are probably aware of the trend to want as many as likes as possible.

Going viral is something people aim for with their posts or videos. Why is popularity seen as being the main thing to aim for and a very desirable trait?

There is nothing new about popular movies, blockbusters, top selling books, achieving fame only on their popularity.

If something is popular should it be valued more than something that is not popular?

Have you ever been popular? What was it like?

Are we concentrating too much on whether a film clip goes viral than on whether it has a worthwhile message.

Leah
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/please-like-me