Tuesday, 24 November 2015

The Knights in shining armour.

My best friends don't really know who they are. They have no idea that they play a bigger part in my life than the part they know about. They do not know that they can be my salvation.

I've known Eric for about 16 years. He had great concern for me a few years back when I went through my separation and made a point of coming down from his window cleaning ladder to see into my eyes when he enquired about how I was coping. He trusted me and shared wisdom from his breakdown following his divorce. Generally he's 'just' my window cleaner.

I've known Graham over 20 years. He doesn't just deliver packages, he rings the bell and has a chat. We discuss anything at all. Sometimes serious stuff. Sometimes not. Always a laugh to be had at the end. We pass each other driving sometimes and a hand always comes out the window.

Dave calls me "darlin" and sends me texts with "hello lovely, I'm in your area is it any good?". He sometimes hugs me to say hello and always parts with "look after". We've been friends for about 12 years. Mostly I pay him to wash my car.

My favourite of them all is Robert. He looked liked he might cry when he stumbled into learning my partner and I had called it quits and, as I welled up saying "It's ok", he gently enveloped me with one wall sized arm saying "It's clearly not ok".  He has the biggest, happiest face (and body) and we share a very stupid and daft sense of humour. He is the highlight of my week. We meet on Friday lunchtimes. He delivers our butcher meat. My relationship with his family business goes back 16 years and I've been good friends with him for 9.

They need nothing from me. And they take nothing. They are dependable, regular givers in my life and I thoroughly cherish them. Avoiding celebrations for my big birthday a couple of years ago, I realised being with these guys was the only type of event where I would feel truly comfortable. They don't know each other. They don't know they help keep me on the straight and narrow. Maybe one day I will tell them how magically important they are to me.

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:


Monday, 23 November 2015

Are we the new normal?

Julia made a comment on a blog recently about depression being normal. And it got me thinking... How often have I thought myself weak for having depression? Felt shame? Like I'm less than other people; like it's an affliction I have to bear. But what if it isn't? What if depression is a condition of the strong? When you look back over time depression has visited so many of the greatest minds, creative thinkers and emotionally astute people that have ever lived. Winston Churchill, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Abraham Lincoln, Halle Berry, Dolly Parton (I know, right?!) Stephen Fry, Mozart, Newton. The list goes on.

Everyone I know that suffers depression is sensitive. Diligent. Thoughtful. Caring. Too caring maybe? I can't speak for anyone else and I hate to lump all depressives together (back to the collective noun question again!) but for me I can honestly say that I am thin-skinned. Empathy rich. I think differently. Feel more. Question more. Don't agree with the world and spend my time searching. Pushing. Challenging the norm. And because of the sensitivity the 'challenging the norm' part often feels tough. It's like I'm going against the grain and that's not a very comfortable place to be.

I believe a big part of my depression is from trying to squeeze my round, alternative-thinking, self into a square hole. I've folded and twisted and contorted myself and then looked out with a fake smile. Pretending to agree with the way the world is. But everyone around me can see bits of the 'real me' are sticking out, they know I'm not speaking my truth and that my laughter is forced. Right now I am slowly unraveling into something new. And every time I squash myself down again I deny who I am. Depression. Repression. Same thing?

Where would we be if Mozart had fitted in? If Churchill had stopped his voice from being heard? If Amy Winehouse hadn't unleashed her creative genius on the world?

Isn't it time we stood up and were proud? Unveiled our real selves? We might just be the future of this crazy, mixed up world. We might be the new normal...

A Moodscope member.

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


Sunday, 22 November 2015

The Volcano Within.

If you insist! If you just dare! You will witness a rage like no other here! Do you want to see the volcano erupt?!

Sometimes dormant, sometimes bubbling, spitting away at the surface. Warning those who throw stones at it's glowing cracks, the open wounds, to keep away! No don't touch! Steer clear! Go! Evacuate!

It's intense heat and sparks that fly a dangerous place, created by history. How does one dismantle a volcano? The power of it's vast and deep furnace is simply far too great. The local people know it well, live close and read it's signs, keep away from it's firey surface. Travellers visit it's beautiful majesty, innocent to it's ugly fury. Created by history.

The history of the earth itself.
How do you dismantle a volcano?
The power of nature is way too great.

It is within, burning away at the very core, mysterious, all powerful, mighty and terrifying. Formed by terror upon terror, face to face. No fight, no flight. Survive. Survive. Survive and wait.

Wait for what? Wait for who? Wait for when?
So erupt. Go ahead. Then what?
Then what?
Then what? Forever?

Open your eyes. You can open them now. It's gone. The danger has gone. Peep. See! Gone! Look at where you are right now. Who you are right now. What you see right now. It's safe. It's ok, no need to hide. No need to fight no need.
No need to run no need.
There's nothing there. No ghosts, no monsters.
No need to build a fortress no need.
No need to reek havoc no need.
No need to explode, erupt, destroy, defend.
No need my love no need.

Take a deep breath of clean fresh air, it's safe, its clear.

No need to shield your eyes my love. Stand straight, stand tall. Look how you've grown! Look around! Walk to where you want to be. Wherever you want to be!

With those bright eyes wide open now, you are free!
Free as a bird to please yourself, to live in peace, to keep those eyes wide open.

A Moodscope member.

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


Saturday, 21 November 2015

Why you're afraid of me.

In my area it has taken 39 years for the promised new building for mental health sufferers to become a reality!

It's crazy, and the stigma attached to the old building was tremendous. Just the mere mention of the name conjured up all kinds of thoughts in peoples imagination. People think it's the building that scares people but the truth is people are more scared of what happens within! You don't even look at the building when you have to go there as I did.

Here's a poem I wrote about it after visiting:

I didn't see the tall iron gates
standing in front of me.
The building didn't scare me!
I didn't even notice it was there.
I was looking only down!

The thoughts of what lay within,
were more worrying to me.
What were they going to do,
would I ever be allowed out?
My head was in a spin!

What of the rumours I'd heard?
The stigma of the place!
What was I going to face?
Are they going to fry my brain?
The thought of such pain!

"The thoughts that race around my head,
are plain crazy, so I've been told!
My mind's gone off the beaten track,
not on course with the rest of you!
That makes the going tough on me."

I've been put in the nuthouse!
What of those on the outside,
when they hear I'm on the inside?
What will their thoughts be?
"Yeah, I knew that he was crazy man!"

"They will have put him in chains,
bolted to the walls!"
"Locked behind bars within locked rooms!"
"That crazy man won't ever escape!"
"I'll never be of a mind to be put in that place!"

When shown to a room,
what a relief!
I see no chains fixed to the wall,
not even a lock on the door.
Well only one, to keep you out!

Worried now that night-time is here,
everyone heading for their rooms
"lights out, sleep tight!"
Not chained – not even to the bed!
There's nothing to fear in here.

I've been on the inside looking out,
you've all got it wrong!
You listen too much to rumours of old,
you're too afraid to learn the truth.
Things have changed – no men in white coats!

A Moodscope member.

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


Friday, 20 November 2015

What do you say next?

I finally made it to my 40th high school reunion after many months of indecision. I had prepared by arranging to go with a few friends so I would not enter the cafe alone; I had a plan to go outside and walk outside if I felt overwhelmed and I even contacted former classmates on FB before hand. Ok, I did change my outfits about a dozen times but that was more about warmth than fashion or nerves.

I had just arrived and hadn't even put my coat down when I heard someone ask me "what have you done with your life?"

I took a deep breath while my legs wobbled, and I felt hot and uncomfortable. Why hadn't I prepared for this obvious question?

Do I say flippantly "Do you want 40 years in 40 words, in 40 secs, or 40 mins (OK I realised this wasn't an option!)

If I knew who the person was asking me the question that would have made the reply easier, but I couldnt read the small font on her name tag and I didnt recognise her.

Do just go for the safe domestic details, children, where I live or do I talk about my shop?

Bipolar has been a major part of my last 40 years but do people want to hear that here or do I want to tell someone whose name I can't remember. Will I be known as that woman with bipolar. The silence seemed to last for hours but it was probably only a few seconds when I put on my happy face and chatted about my shop briefly then asked her about her life.

During the night, I probably used all of the answers above depending to whom I was speaking.

I know I think way too much and over-analyse conversations and social situations. In the past I have avoided reunions or large parties so I was pleased that I took a big step to attend the reunion. I was pleased I managed to chat to people and listen to the amazing variety of life stories other women told.

It made me think of how we respond to questions and how much or little we choose to reveal about ourselves in social situations.

When someone asks "What have you done since school?", or even "How are you?", what do you say next?

A Moodscope member.

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


Thursday, 19 November 2015

Did you remember to log out?

My eldest daughter forgets to log out of the computer after she has written up her homework. The computer doesn't receive its cue to take its anti-virus and general-security smoothie and so we end up with a computer that needs to do a fair bit of preening in front of the mirror before we can use it properly. And so I am gently encouraging her to remember. (For 'gently' read "aaahh, you've done it again, its driving me crazy!".)

We are sitting in the dawn of silly season. The season where everyone goes a little crazy. Life-loving people have an excuse to ramp it up (hello science-experiment cocktails) and people you see as Stalwarts of Sensible suddenly show a little of what's under the guise and it can be shocking, worrying, amusing and warming. My work no longer gives me colleagues and so my exposure is limited. I enjoyed it, but I didn't realise how much it drained me. What else drains me? Exposure to the full-on Christmas Express. TV, radio, packaging, advertising, catalogues... Oh the catalogues!!! Here is what I'm doing...

When the postman drops the leafy bricks through the door, I lift them up and I put them straight into recycling. They do not pass 'Go'. If I open them, the scenes my eyes feast upon will send my brain and body into "it's time I...", "should I...?", "they do it with matching pyjamas...", "do we need a...?". Silly turns to panic. I end up feeling not only feeble for not BEING a Christmas scene but I feel I need to keep up! Stop. It.

It's the equivalent of being a child and looking at the sweet counter. Don't look. Be your parent and pull your eyes away. It's not needed. You will buy sweets when you are allowed. You will make your Christmas season the way you can handle it and unless you are very strong minded, you might need to operate a bypass system. Catalogues straight to recycling. You can even draw a face on the recycling bin, give it a name and feel good that you have "just fed George". I'm not a big TV watcher but if there is something I'd like to see I record it... that way I can fast forward through the 743,945 adverts every 15 minutes. They too make me feel inadequate and have me craving a version of 'The Waltons' existence. CDs at the ready to avoid constant Christmas music trundling through your subconscious winding up the conveyor. Be prepared to prepare less. REBEL!

Log out. Login to precisely what you need and only what you need. Joy will be yours!

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:


Wednesday, 18 November 2015

An Awkward Question.

"Mummy, can you die from depression?"

We were at the open evening at the school which my elder daughter attends and which we very much hope will offer a place to our little one. But I had only got as far as the first stop in the science labs before I had to sit down with an attack of the shakes and was escorted down to the library by a junior science teacher and sat down in the quiet with a plastic cup full of water.

I spent the whole evening there, fending off kind concern and gratefully accepting more cups of water and tea.

The open evening finally ended and the library staff solicitously escorted me to the reception foyer to wait for my family. My little one held my hand while Daddy and daughter no. 1 collected the car and brought it round so I had only a few yards to walk.

That's when the question was asked.

Thankfully she also supplied the context. "Because when Kylie at school shook like this she fell down and they had to call an ambulance and she nearly died."

Kylie has epilepsy. Grand Mal. My daughter was right beside her when she had an episode last school term. It was pretty tough on her. (But tougher on Kylie, obviously.)

What could I say? The truth is, "Yes darling. You can die from it. Your grandfather did. One of your great uncles did. More people in your family have died from depression than have from cancer."

But she doesn't want or need to know the rather depressing suicide statistics in our family. She needs reassurance. Which thankfully, I can give her.

"Well, yes darling; some people do die from this. But I'm not going to."

And I'm not.

Oh, the temptation is there. Every single bloody episode of depression it's there. Ironically the impulse grows stronger just before I'm able to leap out of the pit (or – for readers of previous blogs – just before the leviathan spits me out).

But I can't do it. I'm loved too much. Only today I got a present from my son and his girlfriend. It was a mug with the legend, "You are loved. Now and Always. And don't you forget it!" written in happy lettering.

And that reminds me how quickly things can change. This time last year I didn't have my son Tom (see You Can't Choose Your Family, 18th February 2015) and he didn't have his Jenny. Things can change in a heartbeat.

My husband loves and needs me. Tom, Jenny and my daughters love and need me. I couldn't ask my mother and siblings to go through the whole mess of suicide yet again.

So I have to hold on. For their sakes. For your sakes (because you guys would be upset too – wouldn't you?)

I'm not able to slip away unnoticed, unremembered, unforsaken.


So I'm staying for my family. I'm staying for you. Until I'm better and it seems worth staying for life itself. That will happen soon. I promise. It has before. It will again. It will. It will. It will.

A Moodscope member.

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


Tuesday, 17 November 2015


Hope. One four letter word but vital. Two months ago my marriage ended, I lost my hope, I didn't think I'd ever feel better. In an effort to conquer the pain I focused all my hope on doing a university course, thinking if I could get through that I could overcome.

Then anxiety came a-knocking, took any hope I had and any confidence in my abilities. I felt hope-less; crushed by the critical voices I withdrew from the course and I am so disappointed with myself.

The anxiety has engulfed me, encroaching on every area of my life. Questions flood in... what am I doing with my life? Will I forever be stuck in dead end jobs because of my anxiety? How will I ever feel OK in my own skin again? How do people do life? How do they have faith and push forward and achieve?

Right now I feel I have forgotten to grow up. I'm 33, living in a friend's spare room, working two jobs that do not allow me to use my skills. Broke, lost and scared.

But the other day I remembered about hope. I have that little 4 letter word tattooed on my back, done in a dark time over 10 years ago. I was hope-full then, that the depression would lift and I would come back to myself.

Right now I am struggling to find hope in things, I feel boxed in by my fear. Thoughts come thick and fast - You are pointless. You are worthless. You will never get a good job. You will never achieve anything. You will never see the world because you're too broke. Your friends will leave you because you're a drain. No-one will want to know you if you're honest about how you feel.

I search online for quick fixes - I try mindfulness, positive affirmations, exercise, pushing through, in a frantic and flighty way. Hoping something will stick and save me from myself.

This morning after a fairly sleepless night I was ready to throw the towel in, take to my bed and surrender. But I found a glimmer of hope, I'd booked a yoga class and arranged to see a friend. If I could only get up and out then maybe just maybe it would help a little.

I did it. I went to yoga. I saw my friend. I was honest about where I'm at. She encouraged me, gave me hope. Bolstered by this I took the next positive step and braved the shops to buy a box file to sort papers I have had lying on the floor since I moved 4 weeks ago.

Small triumphs, little steps. Reasons to hope for a brighter day. I'll keep you posted.

What gives you hope in dark times?

Love from

Down the well
A Moodscope member.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Vinnie The Bouncer.

[To listen to an audio version of this blog: https://soundcloud.com/lex-mckee/blog-vinne-the-bouncer]

Like many of us, I have a passion for writing. Many writers hope that some of their sayings will become quoted by others - something we call a "signature quote". Like the "Just Do Its" of the World - our sayings can become part of our brand - part of our legacy. One of my favourite sayings is, "'Reality' leaves much to the imagination." I'm hoping that's deeply profound! And I hope it captures your imagination!

This saying reflects not only my experience but also my understanding of perception. The brain 'makes up' a lot of information in order to make sense of World about us fast enough to make split-second decisions. We 'fill in the gaps' in what we really sense in order to function effectively.

This works amazingly most of the time, but sometimes we can have an over-active imagination. Feeling low, is often an aspect of over-imagining that happens to us - and what will happen next. We use imagination to fill-in-the-gaps and extrapolate our assessment of circumstances into possible future scenarios - few of them being happy ones! We make up meanings too!

It's almost impossible to stop this but I'd like to introduce you to Vinnie, The Bouncer (or Boncer?) Vinnie, modelled on Vinnie Jones, is the Bouncer in my Bonce. Sometimes I have to throw out some of the imaginations from the Nightclub of my Mind. Vinnie acts as an interrupter of unhelpful thoughts. He says, "Oi!  You! That's not my thaut! [tought], get arrrt! [out] of me 'ed!"

Of course, this is ridiculous, but it's actually the interruption I'm after - to interfere with an unhelpful pattern of thinking.  And it works.

Vinnie's for hire. If you'd like to borrow my Bouncer and let him allow only best-dressed thoughts into your mind, go ahead, be my guest!

All the bestest.

A Moodscope member.

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


Sunday, 15 November 2015

Fleur - my lifeline.

Today is a special day for me. It is my 1 year anniversary with an extremely special lady.
Her name is Fleur and she is of the 4 legged variety. Not my cat, or a dog, Fleur is my horse.

A year ago today she arrived at the stables and I handed over a wad of cash and she became mine. In her previous life she was a race horse and then did point to point races. Since day one she has brought joy into my life and made me smile on a daily basis. At very low points she knows nothing of the state of my mind and is continuously pleased to see me, nuzzling me, neighing for her hay, happily cantering through the fields letting me be a passenger. Being with her melts away any kind of anxiety or negativity to the point where I don't realise it has gone til I am driving home and a huge black cloud comes over me.

We have also shared many many highs, competing together, winning rosettes, watching sunsets, going on roadtrips, enjoying jumping, and having many cuddles, the list is endless.

She is pampered beyond belief (as I imagine many of your pets are also!) and gets anything she needs - the second she seems unwell, the vet is called, the dentist twice per year (when I haven't been in over 10 years!), the nutritionist, the physio, the instructor, new rugs, new shoes, new tack - every penny I earn goes on her, but she is so worth it. She is my lifeline some days and offers a little relief from the darkness - she is completely oblivious she has this power.

I am conscious that no life is infinite - not mine or hers. But from now until that day comes I will cherish every second with her, care for her and love her. She owes me nothing but still continues to be there and give something that no one else can.

I hope you can find this joy somewhere in your life - from someone or something, whether it be a person, an animal, an activity, or yourself. That is my wish for today - that everyone can experience this joy somehow - look for it, try hard and find it - trust me - you wont regret it.

A Moodscope member.

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