Thursday, 24 May 2018

Ommmmm

This evening I went to my first yoga class in years. It was wonderfully relaxing and nourishing. I have known the teacher for a long time and she is always so wonderfully calm and joyous. She constantly smiles: so full of love for the world whilst also being exceptionally sensitive and compassionate. To me, she seems to exude Zen.

I know life isn't like that though. I'm sure she has days where she feels cross, lonely and stressed. Yet I still put her on a pedestal. I dream of walking on fluffy clouds, reacting calmly to all situations, never raising my voice, never acting on a negative impulse. I fantasise about immersing myself in nurture and healing and love. And as I walked back from the class this evening, I promised myself (for the millionth time) to bring more calm and peace into my world.

The problem is, the second things get hard or stressful or I feel down, the thought to nourish myself goes out of the window. I don't even see the thought: it has run away long before. Autopilot has already kicked in and before I realise it, I'm engaging in the same self-destructive habits as always. And once I'm there, damaging myself once again, it's ten times harder to drag myself out and to more positive things.

I've tried meditation (sends me to sleep), exercise (great for working off stress but not relaxing), watching TV (strangely stimulating) and more. Actually, the best thing for me is just sitting silently with my eyes closed. But with two small children it's nigh on impossible to find the space, the pause, the breath, which will calm me down and keep me from taking self-destructive actions. I also mostly just don't remember to do it when I need it most.

So I have a new idea. I'm going to try listening to calming music. It won't stop me running round after the children and my jobs list and it won't stop the stresses from coming. But I can play it in the background and perhaps it will keep me grounded enough to stop my subconscious taking over before I've given it permission. Singing is good for the soul after all.

I'd love to hear others' successes with finding peace and intercepting negative patterns of habitual behaviour. Also any music suggestions would be great!

But for now, I'm off to find my gong and incense sticks, and of course some calming music.

Shizzle
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/ommmmm

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Who Are You? And What Have You Done With Mary?

I'm in charge now.

My brother is too busy: he has a demanding business to run, with never enough staff to run it. My sister is more than a hundred miles away. She's busy too.

Well, yes – I'm busy. But my business is flexible and I'm on hand and so I am now in charge.

In charge of selling my mother's house.

What's different now is that I don't recognise myself. From nowhere an efficient and business-like person has emerged. I am brisk on the phone. I am making appointments in a timely manner. I am unapologetically expecting people to do their jobs.

It's spread to my own business. I am following up enquiries and then chasing payment.

I'm a different person and – being totally honest – I'm not entirely sure I like her. It's certainly not comfortable being her.

I'm used to the charming, diffident and (let's face it) ineffectual person I've always been. But there's no doubt this new Mary is getting things done.

And – of course – there is a worry that this is not really me. This maybe the medication or, even more scary, this is the mania breaking through that medication.

Before, when the mania came, I felt I could do anything! I could achieve anything! I was invincible! And the rest of the world was too slow and too stupid and just plain dull.

So, is it mania again? And – if not – what is it?

Well, part of it is being trusted. If it were not for the medication, neither my brother nor my sister could afford to entrust me with this. Things would go wrong because they always did. I would forget appointments, fail to complete paperwork, and make irresponsible financial decisions. The medication means they can trust me and that means a lot. I don't want to let them down.

Part of it is getting back into Personal Development Training. Taking the time to work on your life, rather than just living in your life makes you reassess things. It makes you realise what is important to you. It means you spend less time on those things which are meaningless and more time doing those things you love, or working on achieving the things you want. (You can call them goals if you like. I won't, because I dislike goals on principle.)

Part of it is reaching 55. Heck – if I can't have authority and maturity now, then when is it ever going to kick in? Haven't I earned the right to tell it how it is? With courtesy and consideration, naturally; but without prevarication.

So, no, I don't think it's the mania. I'm not sure what it is, but I don't think my family and friends should be worried.

But, if you don't mind, I'll carry on being a little worried myself. Until things settle down, at least. Until I've become used to this new person and got to know her.

And hopefully, to like her.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/who-are-you-and-what-have-you-done-with-mary

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Another day. Another death.

A beautiful soul takes his life in a moment of... we will never know. Will we say 'it', that menacing shadow, had become too much to tolerate and this was the only option or will we recognise that to hold yourself up through many years of holding yourself up is not unlike doing constant gym pull ups, hour by hour, day by day. And it really is.

Living with moving mental health can be like walking around doing all the things that life needs whilst wearing an over-sized coat made of heavy weight chain mail. You can operate. You can smile. You can present your best self. You can work. You can be honest with people that it's there. You can cope. But all the while you do so wearing this giant's coat made of metal and it covers your hands, tangles at your feet, it pulls and it snags, it cuts and its hot and its sore. Sometimes you want so desperately to Take Off The Coat.

Young men are the biggest casualty. Some women seem to have a little tap and can sometimes depressurise just enough to hold safe. But young men often seem to be built without that gauge. It's hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on, gone.

How do we care for those who are battling mental health on an half hour by half hour basis. Well, this is not long enough to go into detail so I will say this... we often struggle to tell you we are struggling because we can't deal with admitting it to ourselves let alone someone else. We need you to know us well enough to see. We need you to recognise the subtleties of our words, our movements, our habits and we need you to perhaps dial in your care. Yes, dial in. Those who battle this war can tend towards being gentle souls. We can't always cope with how you want to help. The orderly doctor appointment or cheery phone call checking in on us might do little except make us pull on our Eleanor Rigby faces that we've kept in our jars for these moments. We need you to watch. We need you to blend in. We need you to think how help would be helpful. A gently placed "I really want to be more of a support and I would like you to tell me how" could be a breakthrough moment. Even "I have no idea how to help but I want to and I want you to teach me and if you can't I want to just sit with you".

We are difficult to help. Admittedly. But that doesn't mean we don't want to be helped. It means you may have to recognise that the help you want to give isn't always the help we need. Phone numbers are just numbers. Be subtle, be gentle, be honest and don't stop. It means that you become part of the fabric not part of the solution. The solution may never come but the fabric is here right now. And to those mourning a loss, there might be just a little comfort in lifting your sore eyes with admiration at how someone pulled up, how hard, how often, how long, how many and know that we witnessed a warrior.

Love from 
The room above the garage.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/another-day-another-death

Monday, 21 May 2018

Hostile Henry

[The next in a series of childlike stories based around the 20 Moodscope Cards.  "Hostile," is described by Moodscope as, "Feeling unfriendly towards others."  Here, then, is the story of Hostile Henry.]

Henry was a rescue dog.

His new family loved him, but he had learned not to trust humans, nor most other dogs, so Henry growled a lot. Sometimes he snapped at both dogs and people.

His new family were at a loss to know how to help Henry learn to know, like, and trust again.

Then the daughter in the family, Rachel, had a brilliant idea. "Let's get a kitten!" she said over the dinner table. Mum asked what was her thinking behind the idea and Rachel said, "I've noticed the neighbour's cat is treated well by their own two dogs. I wondered if Henry could learn to protect a seemingly helpless kitten, and begin to build his trust again?"

"That's brilliant!" declared the rest of the family as with one voice! And so, "Tiddles," came to play!

Tiddles hadn't learned not to trust anybody and everything. In fact, Tiddles hadn't learned anything! She pounced on the vacuum cleaner, climbed up the curtains, tiddled everywhere, fell down the stairs, and 'cuddled' Hostile Henry without remembering first to retract her claws. Henry growled quietly at first, but didn't retaliate. The old-fashioned word for his behaviour was long-suffering.

And 'long' was a good word for the first day Tiddles came to stay. By the end of it, Henry was exhausted by the enthusiastic 'attention' he'd received from Tiddles. He gruffed off to his basket doggy bed and lay down with one eye on the room in case of another 'encounter'!

Tiddles came across and jumped into Henry's basket... and then laid curled up by Henry's warm tummy. Henry huffed as only dogs can huff, but looked secretly smug. Within moments, a tiny purr began, like the sound of the engine of bliss. Tiddles, the Monster, was heading towards sleep...

Henry said, under his breath, (btw, you do know that dogs can talk, don't you?), "Goodnight Tiddles... I'm glad you've joined the family." And, safe at last, Henry joined Tiddles in Sleepisville Dreamland.

... I wish I could say the story had a happy ending, but the truth was that Henry never really got to trust everyone. Perhaps that's a good thing. But Tiddles and Henry became inseparable. And the lovely thing was that Henry opened up to the family too – in fact he was fiercely protective of them and Tiddles – but that's OK, isn't it?

Years later, when Tiddles asked Henry what the secret was to his long and happy life, he sighed contentedly and said, "Find a few special friends, and be loyal and kind to them.  Everything else then finds its own place." Ah, nice one, Happy Henry!

Neil
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/hostile-henry-the-moodscope-card-labelled-hostile

Sunday, 20 May 2018

I'm Game...

I've been pondering and saying in the comments section about writing a blog as requested recently from us, the readers of Moodscope.

I like writing; a letter or card with positive, careful scribblings are my preferred method of contact. Nothing is as exciting as receiving an envelope through the letterbox (that isn't brown of course!). I love to read poetry however not sure if I could write one. (Haiku anyone?)! Maybe something to put on my bucket list for another day!

My daughter is a Storyteller with her own business and presenter of blogs. I am SO proud of her achievements. Quite shy until put under the spotlight (or on the stage!) and she comes to life basking in the applause and enjoying her success. A New Year's resolution was for her to write a blog a day, every day for a year. And she is doing very well. Thoughts become blogs that become points of interest to her clients and followers and some are stirring up some interesting discussions in social circles up (eg. in the pub!!) and down the land!!

Here's the thing; she has said that I really ought to try blogging online. I might really enjoy it(?). I begged to differ, however, as she is very passionate about her work I decided to follow her on her daily blogs and thought, actually, maybe I would enjoy it.

So...I'm game.

I'm going to attempt to write a blog a day for Moodscope and see where it takes me. Down a country lane where I have to time to listen to nature, watch the flowers grow and admire the view or jump on a Harley Davidson and roar off into the sunset leaving all cares and woes behind?

How would you deal with a small challenge when/if it arose?

Would you be the Hare or the Tortoise?

Take care everyone and drop me a line.

Lacey
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/im-game

Saturday, 19 May 2018

What I learnt from my shop.

People often write about what pearls of wisdom they have learnt from school, university, famous people, famous books, philosophy and travelling. I was thinking what I have learnt from my shop.

I have learnt:

# That if a child does not behave before they come into my shop they will not instantly start to behave the moment they enter the shop.

# That nearly every customer is an expert in retail and are very keen to share their expertise.

# That not only do customers expect me to have read every book in my shop but to have read or least know the title of every book ever published.

# That if you give a toddler one of our teddy bears as they enter shop and expect them to give it up when leaving the shop, there will be tears and tantrums, and the toddler will be upset too.

# That people will say in loud voices negative things about my shop, just ignoring me.

# That people will assume all I do all day is read books and say how they wished they had a booksshop so they could read all day.

I am thinking you will have learnt something from your work, your garden, volunteering, public transport and many other places where by simply observing you will have learnt something interesting.

So please share what knowledge you have gained and where you have gained it from?

Can be simple or profound or both.

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/what-i-learnt-from-my-shop

Friday, 18 May 2018

More Worries.

Worries seem to be a common theme to Moodscope members to a lesser or greater extent. It is interesting to me how worries can change their size depending on the situation. Sometimes worries can appear to be huge insurmountable mountains and at other times they appear as small obstacles that can easily be negotiated.

Worries for me can also take on physical shapes and colours. Mountains are a frequent example where they appear as a range of worries where even if you manage to scale the first one there is always going to be a bigger one right behind and no sight of the green and pleasant valley to motivate you to get over the climb. Mountains are grey and menacing just like worries. I don't think I've seen and green or yellow worries! Maybe if they took on a more appealing colour they wouldn't appear quite as big worries.

So perhaps thinking more rationally about worries is part of helping to cope with them. Accepting that no one has a magic wand to make them disappear, maybe a little creative thinking by recolouring and reshaping the worry in to a more friendly object might make them a little easier to deal with. After all black jagged mountains are quite threatening where as a pleasant rounded green hill seems to me far more manageable.

Another technique that I find useful is to break things down into bite sized chunks. When I cycled from Lands End to John O'Groats, I covered the country in 20 mile rest stops – I did not worry about getting over the next steep hill or where I was going to stop overnight I just carried on to the next break and low and behold I eventually arrived at John O'Groats! My cycle ride also taught me the importance of having a clear goal.

One of the things about having goals or a focus is that it enables other issues to be "parked "if they are not central to your goal. "Parking" these issues does not mean that you can ignore them it's just a way of dealing with them when you can and I guess also giving them less importance. After all you cannot deal with everything and everything in life cannot be all important. Goals definitely help in dealing with life – they give focus and they help prioritise things.

For my cycle ride I had to train and fit everything around work and family commitments. I was lucky having a supportive wife and also working within a commutable distance so managed to swap a boring drive into two valuable training sessions. If only everything in life could be rearranged to turn an obstacle into a bonus!

Steven
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/more-worries

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Facing Challenges and Feeding my Inner Lioness.

So, how do you define a challenge?

Over these past few years, some of mine have been tangible and specific. Here are three for you.

With a crippling fear of heights, I challenged myself to do Go-Ape and completed the whole course! The certificate of completion made me SO proud.

Starting my own civil funeral celebrancy business 4 years ago, as a person who was previously terrified of giving presentations in front of others and could barely say my name and the dreaded "what I did" around a large table of new colleagues. I have stood in front of anything from 1-350 people at a hugely important and never-to-be-repeated occasion to manage the whole ceremony.

The final challenge was to move 500 miles away from Cambridgeshire to the Highlands, bringing fresh challenges. The crippling missing of loved ones and a new and strange house that needed to be brought back to life with love and care (uninhabited for two years, full of the reminders of nine cats and their detritus) with more than a few problems of its own.

18 months later and my business hasn't taken off so I've had to challenge myself with new work that makes me happy (still a work in progress), we have made some lovely new friends, precious visitors still come and stay with us and the house has come on leaps and bounds.

The biggest challenge I face constantly is the management of my own mental health. An aspiring writer, I have challenged myself to write a best-seller and have entered myself into a national competition.

I've tried (and failed) at some new positions but been brave enough to go for them in the first place and give them time. I've joined new clubs and still trying new things - Scottish Country Dancing and Pole Dancing sadly didn't work out but I am still doing art, badminton and writing.

Within the next five years, I'd like to have another business and also sing in a band (even if it's just for one gig).

As for my mental health... well that's another story. However I have learnt that the power of positive thinking for myself is a bit of a battle... but then I go back and think of some of the stuff I have overcome and I feel very proud. And then it can take me as little as trying to learn how to make a bed properly (with hospital corners) and I'm back to the person who feels anxious, stupid and totally out of her depth in my new role. Waiting to jump ship like the frightened and bedraggled little rat that I feel deep down inside. And then my inner lioness growls a reminder that she's still there... licking her wounds, ready to face the world again with just the merest hint of a swagger... and I give in to her.

Liz (part rat/part Lioness)
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/facing-challenges-and-feeding-my-inner-lioness

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Small Pleasures.

It was the culling season in the Wednesday household.

My second daughter stared in agonised indecision. "Mummy, it's so difficult to choose," she said. "Whichever four I save, two have got to go..."

I stood there; supportive, but refusing to make the decision for her.

Eventually, she took a deep breath, and separated two from the herd. "I'm sorry," she told them. "I'm so sorry..."

She stroked them one last time before, gently, I took them away.

"Mummy," she said. "Mugs have feelings too."

Yes – we have just one cupboard for mugs. It will hold sixteen mugs, which - for those of you who can do the maths – is four each. Now, mugs don't exactly breed, but they do increase, mostly because mugs are such a good gift. Everyone likes a nice mug for their coffee,* right? This means that every now and again, the mug herd becomes too large for its habitat, and spills out onto the window ledge; meaning numbers must be thinned.

But this last time made me think. I too had to cull, but which should it be? Not the lovely big mug with a peacock on it which my sister gave me. Not the mug with the green frogs on it which my sister gave me. Not the lovely big soup sized one with the butterflies, which my sister gave me. Not the one with cows on which – no, you're wrong – my mother gave me just last week because I admired it so much and she had too many mugs for her new home. Two others went out. Two I had bought for myself because I quite liked them.

Quite liking is not enough, there must be love. It is that love which makes my morning coffee a joy. Oh, and the coffee itself: I adore good coffee.

These small moments of joy are not confined to mugs and coffee. I love scented candles. I have one burning as I write this: Melon and Spiced Pomegranate; my daughter gave it to me. I have a beautifully soft turquoise blanket I wrap around me when reading or watching television, and scented handmade soaps in the shower. Yes, I am an unabashed sensualist.

It's easy to dismiss these little things. My coffee, after all, would taste the same from a plain white mug; even a chipped one. I could write without scent and music playing in my headphones. Any old rug will do to keep me warm and I would be just as clean with plain old carbolic soap in the shower.

But – yes – but...

I think we all recognise how small privations can build up to make us feel deprived and depressed. So – looking at it from the other side, what small pleasures can we build into our lives to help protect us against the onslaught of the black dog?

A coffee mug with a silly and happily grinning black dog, perhaps?

Mary
A Moodscope member.

*or beverage of your choice.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/small-pleasures

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Walking on air.

I came out of the counsellor 's room at the doctor's surgery walking on air. I felt like a new woman. I shall remember that feeling for as long as I live. Tissues were used, it had been difficult to get the words out, but out they had come, like an avalanche. I didn't know whether what I was saying was proper, but I said it anyway.

The counsellor had looked at me in an empathetic way, unblinking, and said something to the effect that I had been very brave. I was amazed. Bravery hadn't come into it, I didn't think. I had not gone in to that room expressly to discuss an issue harking back to when I was seven, and a 14 year old had sexually abused my twin sister and me, in turn, in the windowless bathroom of our apartment, whilst my 10 year old brother held guard by the door. I really hadn't. But there was something about the counsellor that I felt I could trust, as I hadn't trusted anyone since that shameful, abhorrent event, that had preyed on my mind for over three decades. I had never discussed it, but it had had a profound and devastating effect on my entire life. It had rocked my confidence and I know for a fact that I was never the same after that day. I lived daily with shame.

To return to the counselling session and the two years of weekly sessions with the woman who represented for me my saviour. I gradually began to rebuild my identity, my sense of "me "as a valid and lovable person, and to put aside "that event". Some may think this an exaggeration. I can only speak for myself when I say that I saw that the lifting of the veil, the unburdening of the soul on that and subsequent days and months was like being reborn with power. Power to confront evil, bullying, abuse. I had previously not felt I had that permission. It was, and still is, exhilarating. Shame leads you down dark alleys, and into the pit of depression. To be free of it is simply wonderful.

Sally
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/walking-on-air