Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Solitary Confinement.

I've never understood why solitary confinement is used as a punishment.*

It's that time of year when the parents of year six children troop around their local secondary schools assessing to which they should apply for their precious darlings.

There always seems to be an almost unhealthy glee in the voices of the teachers as they point out the isolation unit, where disruptive children are sent as a punishment. There those children have to do their school work, alone, and in absolute silence, under the strict eye of a member of staff to see that they don't just kick back in their chair and stare vacantly into space. Apparently it works very well.

When we visited one such unit with my eldest daughter, three years ago now, I could see the gleam in her eye. "Mummy," she whispered as we left, "Do you think they'd let me go to the isolation unit without me being naughty?"

You see for her, as for me, the concept of being left alone, in peace and quiet, to get on with our work, with the built-in discipline of a watcher, is alluring indeed.

Real people are scratchy, they are distracting and demanding, they are emotionally needy, they take our energy when we need all that energy for ourselves.

Not always of course. My daughter is socially poised and confident, she works well with others. Most people cannot possibly believe I am an introvert; the life and soul of the party is what they see. Most of the time we have energy enough to give away. We enjoy giving it away. We like being with others.

But, oh, we love to be alone. When I'm down at the bottom of my bi-polar cycle it's a necessity. I just can't cope with people.

I know I'm not alone (ha ha) in this. One of my friends likens her withdrawal to being in her fortress with the drawbridge up and the moat well stocked with piranha.

I would ideally stock my fortress with a computer and the internet and an e-reader. But just pencil and paper will do. Or even nothing at all.

Because whereas real people are a distraction, the people in my head are a delight.

You're never alone with a good book. Even if it's one you're writing yourself.

A Moodscope member.

*And please – yes, I know solitary confinement is a severe punishment for most people, that it is over-used in our prisons and causes psychological stress and damage and that the rates of recidivism are higher for prisoners subjected to this. This hopefully light-hearted post expresses my own very personal point of view only.

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

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Here's to brighter mornings.

Having been brought up on a diet of fear and anger, I've been determined to balance work and raising a family in a loving and gentle way, whilst suffering with anxiety and depression. I've managed to raise two amazing young people who have beautiful souls and who make me feel proud and grateful for the joy that they have to share.

I have come a long way in finding ways to make myself feel well. Walking, yoga, sleeping enough, eating well and hormone balancing supplements have all helped. Not being hard on myself on bad days, is so important. Sometimes just to stop and rest or do what suits ME for a change is what I need.

Having a low feeling when I wake up has been a struggle though. I've tried slow release food at night and a healthy snack first thing to bring my blood sugar up, but thats not it. When I wake up and there's no special person there saying "Good morning gorgeous! Have a wonderful day!" (Ok so life isn't a Disney movie), but waking up alone and feeling low is tough sometimes. On a bad day, I almost choose to stay focussed on negatives. I put it down to loneliness and I kept repeating my focus on it.

Surprisingly my hairdresser described the same feeling and she's married! Her hubby's just sleeping! A friend of hers thought it was because as babies we woke up to having our main carer paying attention to us and suggested that distracting the brain with something uplifting makes a big difference. For my hairdresser it's comedy! For another friend it's music. I then stumbled across a combination if the two on you tube! Comedians being blown away by amazing singers! Uplifting and funny is a much nicer way to start the day and doesn't rely on me finding Prince Charming!

All it took was a shift from feeling powerless to hopeful. Just knowing that there is a way out seems to have done the trick.

It's first thing in the morning as I write this and I feel uplifted. I've always enjoyed writing. Maybe there's another bright path to follow!

Here's to brighter mornings.

A Moodscope member.

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

Monday, 5 October 2015

Ten Good Friends.

[If you'd like to hear an audio version of this blog please click here.]

I am active - feeling full of energy
I am enthusiastic - showing eagerness
I am alert - being quick to notice and act
I am interested - wanting to be involved in something
I am attentive - paying close attention
I am inspired - feeling the desire to do something
I am excited - looking forward to things
I am determined - being resolute, showing determination
I am strong - feeling able to cope with difficulties
I am proud - feeling a real sense of achievement today.

Saying these out loud simply feels good.

I am sure we all recognise these ten good friends. If you are a fan of practical psychological tips, you're likely to have come across several experiments where hearing positive words and phrases has improved the listeners' mood and state. When surrounded by positive words, there is a tendency for humans to behave more tolerantly and to be more generous.

I've been told, "Be careful what you wish for!" But far more fundamental is, "Be careful what you think about!" What we think about has a habit of expanding until it consumes our attention... and everything we think about has an emotional charge associated with it. Our ten good friends have a positive charge, and they work well together. They are worth thinking about often.

So I got thinking to myself, "What would have to happen for all ten good friends to join me today?" It will be different for all of us, but it's a fun exercise which I am recommending to you.

To feel full of energy, I certainly would have to have had a good night's sleep - one undisturbed by bad dreams or too many loo breaks! A good shower and an excellent coffee would allow my child-like curiosity and enthusiasm permission to emerge. I'd also be naturally alert - especially in the morning - my best time. So, assuming I wasn't aware of anything boring or horrible in the day ahead, I'd be off to a great start with at least three good friends. And knowing how positive friends, like birds of a feather, are likely to flock together, I'm sure the other magnificent seven would check-in somewhen during the day!

I wonder what would jump-start your day in a positive way?

Would you share?

A Moodscope member.

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

Sunday, 4 October 2015

The visitor.

Sometime depression creeps into my house
Through the back door

Sometimes he arrives at the front door
With a fanfare
And a flounce

Sometimes he waits round the corner
Ready to jump out
And pounce

And sometimes he's in the bushes
Being quiet
As a mouse

I try not to fight his presence
Try not to shut the door
Try not to close the curtains
And try not to ignore

Because he always has a message
A letter to deliver
A hidden sign, a note, a card
Or a thought for me to consider

So next time he comes I'm ready
Ready to welcome him in
Ready to say come stay with me
Lets talk, shall I begin?

And in time he'll come less often
Of that I now am clear
As I get better at spotting the signs
That his visit is drawing near

I'll know he's bought his ticket
Or is looking up his route
I'll know he's packing a suitcase
And putting it in his boot

And I'll know that I can call him
Say thank you my old friend
I know you want to help me
And your help just has to end

I've found some better ways of coping
Of getting through the day
With friends, with walks, with nature
With love and purpose and play

You've taught me life
And shown the route
And for that I'm ever grateful

So now you can set your SatNav
To another destination

A Moodscope member.

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

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Flaky time.

There's a little edge to the air. Some stunning sunsets. And just the beginning of leaves offering up their fire dance before they submit to winter. Hands up who adores and dreads Autumn? I adore its beauty and I am won over by nature's lesson in how to live healthily... be vibrant Spring to Autumn then go underground. I also dread what is coming next. Winter breaks me year upon year (yes, I do try all the SAD stuff) and, as we cannot go underground, we must find a way through.

How will it be?

Once again I encourage you to look through and beyond and decide in advance how you wish to emerge. I'm arming myself now with tools, physical and mental, so that I can expect the stormiest of days and welcome them. Say hello at the door and show depression how it will be handled whilst being my guest...

Hello depression, you may come with me on my walk but please walk behind me and do not obscure my eyes from seeing. Please loosen your grip at key points in the day, when I'm showering you must wait outside the door and allow me to be private. This will be called my Head Holiday and I will think only of the water: How does it sound?  How does it smell? How does it look? How does it taste? (Guaranteed to laugh at yourself trying to taste water in the shower, try it). How does it feel? You may sit beside me on the couch but you may not sit upon me. I need to move or parts of me will die. Be good now depression, be good.

And if you are rude, bad mannered or smelly I will open The Box of Photographs. It contains all manner of images showing happy stuff that you were not invited to. You wouldn't like me to open that box now would you?

Behave depression. Behave. We have a long list of tools in here.

Love from

The room above the garage.
A Moodscope member.

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

Friday, 2 October 2015

Human Dis-Illusion.

Humans are imperfect beings,
The trouble is they so like 'doing'.
They so wish for such 'wrong' things,
It's that bloody head that they keep 'wooing'.

They 'do' more things,
And their mind takes 'wings'.
They lose themselves, 
In 'gold' that stings.

Cars and trinkets,
Fill their minds.
When hearts and souls,
Would be far more kind.

Things 'out there' never succeed,
And yet this life is full of greed.
Still there's hope in a little seed,
That says less is more, with less speed.

That escaping life to get away,
From 'normal' life that takes place each day.
By 'buying' more things that distract the mind,
Only prostitutes you and makes you 'blind'.

There's also work that always stops you,
From looking in to find the pain.
We fill our day with endless stuff,
And that's what drives anyone insane!

In doing so, we neglect to look,
Inside us, where all pain resides.
We think we'll avoid it by looking away,
But that is where all hope abides.

Some run faster until they die,
Thinking they can leave it all behind.
Some just run and fall each day,
Hoping sleep will wash it away.

But there's nowhere to go,
In this life of ours.
To avoid who we are,
We simply devour.
The truth inside,
The past in us.
The answer to,
Our human truss.

Humans are imperfect beings,
The trouble is they so like 'doing'.
They so wish for such wrong things,
It's the heart they need to now start 'wooing'.

What thoughts does this poem raise for you?

A Moodscope member.

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

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Is colouring calming?

"What do you call that?" Mrs P, my second class teacher bellowed at me, as she lent over my work, her silver snake bangle banging on my desk.

I tried so hard not to cry and said it was my colouring-in.

She then marched me down to the kindergarten class where she told the class I should stay there until I could learn how to colour in like someone in second class.

I can still here the laughter of the kindergarten students mocking me. How I wished I could colour in neatly. I tried so hard to be like my friend Belinda whose work was always neat and whose colouring in always perfect.

Somehow my coloured pencils, (not Derwents like Belinda's ), had a mind of their own and always messed up my colouring-in by forcing my hand to colour outside the lines.

I felt so humiliated that day, not only did I have to spend all day in kindergarten, I had to spend lunch time with them too where I was bullied by 5 year olds jeering - "You are a baby, you can't colour in!"

So fast forward 50 years, imagine my surprise that the latest publishing fad is colouring books for adults to promote calmness and mindfulness.

As you can imagine colouring-in is still stressful for me so the thought of using it as a way to destress really confused me.

Some people do find colouring in very therapeutic and research shows it does help people to zone out and relax.

One customer (I saw the trend and stocked up with adult colouring books) was going into hospital where she found colouring-in helped her to cope with all the waiting and the stress.

There is a theory too that as adults we want to go back to a child-like activity because we find it reassuring.

I assume that most people reading this will find colouring-in relaxing and maybe I am the only one who finds colouring-in brings back memories of inadequacy.

Is there anything you find relaxing but stressful too?

A Moodscope Member.

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

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys.

My friends are getting a divorce.

Well, not literally. They are two Facebook friends. So far as I know they have never met. But oh, the venom, the bitterness, the hatred...

And dammit, I'm in the middle; in spite of never having met either of them myself!

Look, I got dragged in, okay? A writer I know (Jocasta), invited me to join a group promoting a certain cover model, a muscled young man we'll call Zack.

Over time, that group became close. Probably too close. We shared too much. We supported each other. But the focus was this particular model. When personal affairs meant Zack walked away for a while, there was a lot of grief and anger in the group.

Well, I'm guessing that all of us have at some time felt the need to walk away, to lock ourselves in that dark room, to cease involvement. It doesn't mean we don't love our friends anymore. It just means we need to hide under our stone for a while. I wasn't going to unfriend Zack just because he wasn't playing with us every day like he used to. I emailed him every so often just to say "Hi." Occasionally he'd even answer:  "I'm fine. Just dealing with things. Thanks keeping in touch."

Meanwhile, I supported Jocasta through her problems with administrative support and legal wrangles with her publisher.

Then Zack came back. His modelling career took off. Without Jocasta's help. And that's when the smelly stuff really hit the fan.

Oh it's hard when two people you care for (because as humans we're programmed to care) behave badly. When they throw written punches at each other that make you wince (remember the ammunition we'd given each other in the group!). When they accuse you of "enabling" the other simply because you will not commit to them and unfriend the other.

My husband and children think I should walk away from them both. They have a valid point. But, I have tenacity in my DNA: once you're on my "friend" list, you have to fight hard to get off it. I have been known to come and find you twenty and even thirty years later!

So it's taking valuable emotional resources from me. I hate it. Maybe I should walk away. I'm not going to. I do care for them both. Even when I want to bang their heads together.

One day they'll both reach calmer waters. They will have moved on. Maybe have even forgiven the other for whatever sins that other has committed against them.

And I will still be friends with them both.

That has to be worth it – surely.

A Moodscope member.

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

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Thank-you Moodscope.

Leah's post "This old dog can learn new tricks" and the subsequent comments on Friday 28th August resonated hugely with me. I have been a member of Moodscope since 2011.
Life had been tough since early 2008 (a combination of a heavy caring commitment, a stressful job, hubby's stressful job, a nervous breakdown in 2010, three minor operations for early breast cancer in 2011, recuperating, then being diagnosed with a chronic fatigue condition in the Autumn).
I always read the daily blog, the comments afterwards and I particularly appreciate the "Thought for the day" at the end of the email. I usually do the cards and when I do, I annotate the graph.

I have been rereading my comments and scores and reflecting on how far I have come since then.

The key thing I notice is that it is not WHAT is happening that has changed (I still have to manage the medical condition, the job is still stressful, swop the caring commitment for bereavement and winding everything up, and add an escalating family row...) No, the key change I notice is HOW I respond to life. I am far calmer, more sanguine, more accepting, more positive, more realistic, no longer frustrated and resentful, less anxious and "controlling".
A key part of my recovery and increasing peace of mind is down to Moodscope:

to the wisdom in the blogs,
to the wonderful, caring community who respond,
to the feeling of no longer being alone but part of a wide circle of understanding, empathising, supportive members, some of whom feel like friends.
I can never thank-you all enough for your help in bringing me to where I am today – and special thanks must go to Caroline for making it happen, to Adrian and to lovely Jon who started it.

Prompted by Les' poem "If I were young again" (Thursday 27th August), I have summarised what I have learnt since joining Moodscope. This will appear in three future blogs entitled "Wisdom received from Moodscopers".

Thank-you one and all.

A Moodscope member.

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

Monday, 28 September 2015

Planting Trees.

The wise teacher asks, "When is the best time to plant a tree?"
I can let you into a secret: the answer they are seeking is, "20 years ago!"

So, when is the second best time to plant a tree? Of course we could say, "19 years ago..." and so on, but the answer I am holding onto today is... "Today!"

Having seen the Dalai Lama recently, several important matters became far clearer to me.  One was that "Happiness" is definitely an inside job. Happiness has surprisingly little to do with external materialism. The undoubted value of material wealth is nevertheless eclipsed by: enriching relationships, being in the now, learning, growing, appreciating, giving, and creating a sense of purpose and direction. If I win the lottery this week, I shall be joyful, but that material wealth will only serve to fuel the other elements I've listed. Poverty, of course, can severely impact relationships, our ability to learn and grow, and can even sometimes make us reluctant to give. But money clearly isn't the answer it's been made out to be. It is not of prime importance.

A second important matter was that emotional change takes time. Becoming resilient takes time and experience and review and reflection. Resilience, like a tree, needs nourishment and nurturing. And so does learning to be happy.

I'd thought of planting financial trees that would help me in my later years, but I hadn't thought of planting the seeds of becoming more happy, more resilient, more at peace. I certainly hadn't considered that these trees might take 20 years to come to maturity. Of course, many trees can bear fruit within a few years - so I might be surprised by joy earlier than expected! However, the important lessons for me were that happiness really is up to me, and I need to be planting the seeds for the harvest I want now. With nourishment, those seeds can then grow and bear fruit year after year after year.

What trees would you like to plant? If money isn't the answer we'd been promised, are we focusing on it too much? Is there a better use of our time?

A Moodscope member.

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