Monday, 25 June 2018

To Think and To Own

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

There's an archaic piece of language that I really like (it's in the King James Version of the Good News according to Matthew.)  This is not a religious blog though.  It's about troubling thoughts, other people's thoughts, and then about how to 'own' good thoughts.

The piece I'm thinking about says, "Therefore take no thought, saying..." Could it be that we only ever really 'own' a thought when we say it out loud? I hope this is true, because, if you are like me, you'll have a lot of troubling thoughts! In fact, my inner chatter is rarely silent.

The idea of never owning a thought until I say it is comforting. Watching television - other people dump thoughts into my mind that I don't want (so I don't watch much television). People say unkind things about other people – and their thoughts enter my mind because I've been listening. I don't want those thoughts either. Social Media is rich with other people's thoughts and opinions that I don't necessarily want to adopt as my own.

So, I'm going to act as if the concept is true. And this leads to an exciting new dimension in what I choose to say out loud.

Inwardly, I am a very critical person and I love a bit of gossip. Gossip rarely makes the other person look good, does it? In fact, we talk about a 'good gossip' but it is rarely good gossip! This is something I'd like to change. I'd like to ONLY say good things about people, and I'd love to stop judging people. This makes sense because I am so rarely right!

Thus, I'm practicing a new regime – to only speak out words I'd be proud to 'own' – words that I'd be happy to see in print as a quote attributed to me. When people talk about me behind my back, I want them to say, "Lex only ever has a good word to say about other people!"

Finally, acting as if this is true would mean that saying our affirmations out loud is the best practice. So, here is one: "Every day, I am becoming better at letting good words come out of my mouth. What I say, makes others feel better about themselves, and more hopeful about their future. My words boost other people's confidence - and make them feel loved and appreciated."

What good affirmations do you say?

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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Sunday, 24 June 2018

Keeping an Open Mind

A few years ago I realised that I hadn't tasted broad beans for over 40 years. Aged six, I said "Yuck" and had avoided them ever since. What a fool I felt, aged 50, when I tried them and realised I had been missing out on many a tasty treat.

I persuaded my partner to attend a festival with me last weekend. Festivals are really not his thing: too many people. But he was willing to try, and conceded that, as it was a very small festival, that it was OK. He is still convinced he wouldn't like a 'real' festival.
 
While at Leestock (for that was the very real festival), I checked out the food stalls. The non-meat choice was limited. One item on offer was a water melon and feta salad. It sounded interesting... but I know I don't like water melon. Maybe it was the festival atmosphere, or the hunger in my belly, I threw caution to the wind and ordered the salad.  And it was delicious. Waddaya know? I love water melon!

Today I made the salad for lunch, and it was yummy.

For those who need to know:

Ingredients:
Half a watermelon chopped into small cubes
Pack of feta cheese chopped up small/crumbled
Handful  of fresh coriander leaves, chopped finely
Drizzle of chilli oil (or a few drops of hot sauce in olive oil)

Method:
Mix everything.

Eat.

Today, a friend was kindly complimenting my appearance, as she had not seen me since some quite dramatic weight loss. I explained my method: eat less and cut out most sweet things and alcohol. I mentioned that I had the additional help of hypnotherapy sessions, to get me into good habits. "Ah!" she declared." I don't believe in any of that mumbo jumbo. It can't work". Yet, there was the evidence standing before her.

I'm a rather stubborn mule. But, when I take the risk and leave my comfort zone, new avenues of joy can open up.

Have you had any "eating your hat" moments to share?

Susannah
A Moodscope member

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Saturday, 23 June 2018

I had a dream

One night, a few years ago, I had what felt like a significant dream. It's come back to me several times in my thoughts, as it's resonated with me for so much of my life. In the dream, I was reading a newspaper article about a little girl who was missing, and then found by a group of people who were searching for her. She was found in a shallow grave in the woods, covered over by dried leaves. When the leaves were moved away, the little girl was naked, and looked deformed in some way – her face had no mouth, but the mouth was in her stomach. As I read the article, in my dream, I sensed it related to me and I was reading about myself.

For a long time, I've had no voice. Not literally. But it's been hard to speak up, to speak out, and on the rare times I have, I've often felt misunderstood, judged, or misheard. Easier then to shut down and be quiet again. A 'safer' way of living, but it actually keeps me feeling disconnected from others which isn't great and contributes again to the inner loneliness.

I wrote my first Moodscope blog some months ago ('Never alone' July 2017), and mentioned then about not being heard. I guess this relates to some of that too.

As I reflect on my 48 years, I notice certain patterns and aspects of life where I shut down, I don't speak, I feel I have no voice, no words. I am slowly coming to understand that place and as I give it time, love and attention, it allows me to heal and be heard within, enables me to speak up for myself, and then I feel more 'adult' with the ability to talk more freely and spontaneously.

I've noticed recently how hypersensitive I really am, (and though I now view this partly as a gift), the hypervigilance within can put me back into a silent place – no voice, no words – usually triggered by feeling unsafe in some way, or by a response or lack of response from others to something I said or did.

I'm slowly breaking out of this, and as I learned from my tutor in my counselling course – 'awareness = choice = change.' As I become more aware of my 'stuff' and listen to me, then I can begin to make choices and changes in my life. I can begin to feel safe, make healthy choices, build healthier relationships, and to speak up for myself when I need to. It's been a place of devastation and disablement within my inner being; however it's slowly healing and becoming empowered.

Thank you to all who responded to my last blog – there were so many lovely and encouraging responses, I was deeply moved – I'm sorry I couldn't comment on them all – but thank you so much – for 'listening', for reading, for being there, and for helping me heal as I am heard.

Maggie Jane
A Moodscope member.

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Thursday, 21 June 2018

Please don't mollycoddle me.



I was shopping in LIDL this morning. The lady from the second-hand shop opposite our first house was also shopping. She said, accusingly "I saw you wheeling a wheel-barrow down the road". "Yes, so?" I said. The implication - hard work, too old, man's work? So, realising I would continue, she added a 'bon courage' for good measure, and a 'doucement' (take it quietly). I could not do what is in the picture now - I do not climb ladders when on my own in the house, and get giddy on scaffolding.

But most of the town, the nuns in particular, seem to disapprove of anything I do of a physical nature, except walking. There are several in their late 80's, (one 96), who firmly do their 'constitutional', particularly getting out on market mornings. Happily, it is common enough now not to get stared at as some sort of phenomenon. If only my husband had continued walking he would not be in a care home now, but regrets are useless.

I am asked if I could not get help? I've moaned enough on Moodscope, how all the offers of help never came to fruition. There are plenty of professionals but that needs money: so many jobs would not be touched by a professional, fiddly, not in their line; the 'little man' round the corner does not exist. Family do what they can when here, but Mr Sod has my name high on his list, and for the last year torrential rain has scuppered family work in the garden.

The nuns, bless them, are darlings, but so hyper-careful they remind me of my Mum. She got it into her head that being aged 70 was a sort of water-shed (she lived to 2 months off 100). She must not climb stairs, so got herself moved to a downstairs flat. She would not open letters, she might be stressed – so I got everything on standing order, and a daughter took over when we moved to France. She must not bend. She had a little bit of ground in front of her window – she made a good job of it, and got awards, I took over that, as well.

A friend, male, Formula 3 driver, underwater diving, DIY of a 'cowboy' standard, said you should not climb ladders over 70. The nuns are also always fussing that I do not wear enough clothes, or go out in the rain without a hat or umbrella (high-speed dash 50 metres to the bread-shop).

I am wheeling the barrow in preparation for a major event, moving my collection of old stone sinks (already moved from the UK) by the chemist's sons, who are lovely, but don't realise I have to organise things. They will rush in, smiles, kisses, and enthusiasm, and I have to clear a path and empty the sinks. Nil desperandum I think, what about you?

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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Wednesday, 20 June 2018

A Moment in Time.

We started in glorious June sunshine and travelled back ten thousand years.

Not literally, of course; I have not invented the time machine yet – but we visited an English Heritage site dating back to Neolithic times.

One of my "intentions" is to spend more time with my husband as a couple. After twenty years together and with two teenage daughters, it's all too easy to slip into the relationship of congenial housemates who share a bed, but not the most intimate thoughts, hopes and dreams of the other. Our girls laugh at Mummy and Daddy going on a "date" but they also think it's rather sweet.

So, we climbed down this Neolithic flint mine; down a prosaic modern ladder, our feet clanging against steel rungs; the sound swallowed by dead dust of chalk walls.

At the bottom, room to stand; to walk around; to crouch down and peer into the crawl spaces through which our ancestors tunnelled, molelike, to prise out from the soft chalk, with antler picks, the smooth slabs of hearthstone flint. From that flint they chipped out axes and knives, scrapers and the heads for arrows with which they hunted game.  Flint was their life.

Now we tasted history with the flat greyness of chalk dust in our mouths and the smell of underground and the chill of exactly four degrees centigrade.

Arising back out into warmth, into the golden benevolence of the sun, was like being reborn. The air was full to bursting with the song of larks: their sound a cornucopia of dazzling gems, pouring down to splash into the percussive vibrato of crickets, busy in the long rattling stems of grass.

We stood, on one of the many mine-mounds in this hundred-acre site, and just – stood. The sun; the sounds; the scents; the myriad shades of blue in the sky; the green and gold and bronze and grey in the grass; the dark pine forest beyond; the feel of our hands clasped with love between us.

It was a moment.

Mindfulness is a thing more talked about than experienced – at least in my experience. But I think, last Friday, I came close. Sometimes people refer to being "in the zone." I think it means being so all-absorbed in something there is no room for self.

While I was down in that flint mine, opening myself up to history; while I was out on that mound in the sunshine, the sensations were so all-encompassing there was no room for self. There was no room for worrying about how my daughter's GCSE exam was going, or how I was going to get my newsletter out on time and put together a marketing strategy, or what I was going to say to that friend who has had her feelings hurt by another friend...

We cannot escape our problems; they need to be considered and resolved; but we can and should replace our impotent worries with the wonder of just – being in the moment.

For those who are interested, the mine can be found in Norfolk and is owned by English Heritage: http://bit.ly/2M6tGbj

And – just because – The Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams: http://bit.ly/2yr2guO

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Determination, the two-edged sword

It took me some years to notice that the ten blue cards have the 'negative' feelings, while the ten red cards have the 'positive' feelings. And determination is a red card, a positive feeling.

That got me thinking, because for me, determination is a double-edged sword.

You see, I am a rather determined person. And of course, that can be helpful. My determination has kept me focused during my final exams in school and university. It helped me through the difficult times at my first job. It gives me the feeling that I can do whatever I want to do, as long as I set my mind to it.

But that's wrong, isn't it? And sometimes it is really dangerous to my well-being.

Earlier this year, I did a small bicycle tour - just along the river to the next town. I love to bike, so I was looking forward to it. But when I started, it quickly became clear that something wasn't right. I was slower than I used to be, just didn't have the energy I expected to have. The short tour soon felt long and exhausting to me.

But why? I could not see any reason for that. My bike was in good condition, the road was okay, there were no slopes to climb or anything. So I continued. I should be able to do this just fine, so I would do it. I was determined to finish the tour. And finish I did. Afterwards, I wasn't even proud about it, just exhausted and somewhat shocked about my lack of energy. My determination led me do finish the tour, but it wasn't fun and I didn't feel good about it.

My determination got the better of me. It led me to ignore my tiredness and kept me going long after my energy was spent.

This can happen to me in all kinds of situations. If there is something really difficult at work, or in my private life, something that is too much for me to handle by myself – chances are I will stubbornly tackle it and keep on working at it until I am more than exhausted, my well-being run down and my self-esteem low. "But I can make it if I just try hard enough!", I think.

But the truth is: No, sometimes I can't make it. Not alone, and maybe not at all. Sometimes, in these kind of situations, it is best to give up on that assignment, that tour, that piece of work. To admit: I can't do it alone. Or maybe I can't do it at all, at least right now.

Admitting that is hard for me. It feels like admitting defeat. But on the other hand – as soon as I do it, I feel relieved. The weight lifts, the sorrows grow smaller, and I can breathe again.

Mirjam
A Moodscope member

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Monday, 18 June 2018

What would you do?

If I were standing in front of you and told you that if you gave me £5/$6.60 we could make someone who is suffering from depression's life a little easier would you give it to me?

I'm sure you would as you understand how awful it can be to suffer with a mental health issue, and what little help is available.

If every person reading this email donated just £5/$6.60 to Moodscope today we would reach our crowdfunding target tomorrow!

We are hoping to raise £50,000/$66,340 to develop and launch an App version of our online service, make all the wonderful blogs and comments by members easily searchable and to reach out and offer Moodscope to the millions who need it.

So far we have raised £9946/$13,203 from 137 early contributors which is fantastic and I'd like to personally thank everyone who has donated.

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Kind regards.

Caroline
The Moodscope Team

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Message to myself.

I have a confession: my name is Leah and I like to write letters to myself.

Long time readers of my blogs would know I have written a letter to my bipolar, and an interview with my inner critic.

I don't expect a reply. It may sound quite strange but even since I was young I just felt a need, if I was experiencing difficult times, to write letters to myself.

When I read them back they had a calming effect on me or if not calming I could see what I was writing down and the mere fact I had written something really helped me.

These days is it more likely to be written on the computer as I am at the computer a lot and it is easy to access. Sometimes I will email myself, so it seems like I am getting an email from someone else even though I know it is from me. Does that sound weird?

When I address myself as another person it helps to get things into perspective and I can give advice and sometimes I see my problems from a different perspective.

Now this isn't going to work for everyone. Some of you will think Oh dear, Leah has so many more problems than I realised.

Just in case you think I am not strange enough, I have written a conversation with myself usually when I have a decision to make.

It can be comforting to write everything down and things will appear that you didn't see before.

People say that you should treat yourself as you would a friend because we are usually kinder to friends to yourself.

So, a letter to myself is usually kinder and more understanding as I write to myself like I am a friend.

If you have you tried writing a letter to yourself, how did you find it?

If not, would you be willing to try it?

Leah 
A Moodscope member

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Saturday, 16 June 2018

A Little Food for Thought...

Waking up feeling lower than low is nothing new to many of us.

I wrote a blog quite a while ago about how I pulled myself out of a bad spell of miserable mornings, by watching uplifting YouTube videos, just to distract my thoughts. I didn't have to keep it up, just knowing it was possible to feel better in itself helped.

That was then. I've been going up and down since, as you do, with a particularly tough time late winter, when it should've been spring!

I've been dragging my sorry self through ever since, then about a week ago, got back to questioning this really low feeling when I wake up. Negative thoughts spinning round in my head before I'm awake enough to recognise them. Drowsy, sad and just downright crappy!

Then one morning, when I wasn't worrying about anything in particular, I thought "This really feels physiological, could it be just low blood sugar?" Obvious I know, that it doesn't help that we fast at night, but I also noticed that my body clock was regularly waking me at 4 am.

So I got some oat based (therefore slow release energy) breakfast snacks and kept them by my bedside to see if eating one at 4am made a difference.

It's unbelievable the difference it's made! I quickly learned not to keep a whole box nearby, : ) but I do have a sleepy snack with my anti-depressant tablet then, with food, (instead of in the morning with tea) and drift back off. I then wake up in a couple of hours able to ease myself into the day without feeling dreadful.

There are no magic answers I know, if it were that simple, we'd all know about it by now, but just wanted to share something that has made a difference, at least for now, every little helps (Ok not the most profound quote you'll read on Moodscope!)

Sending warm well wishes to all.

LP :) xx
A Moodscope member

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Friday, 15 June 2018

Coping with people being nice after a complaint

Recently I have taken it upon myself to complain about two issues which were plainly wrong or shouldn't have happened. One involving a faulty machine here in France and the other involving hedge cutting in our garden at home. Both boring topics I know.

On both occasions, I wasn't happy and what happened was wrong so I decided to have it out with the shop owner here who sold us the tractor mower and the gardener at home who cut the hedge.

That took a lot of effort, backwards and forwards in emails and face to face confrontations all done on my part in a kind way but ever so slightly argumentative. I was like a dog with a bone as I needed to make them see that they had made a mistake.

This wasn't easy since there were two ways of looking at it, one attempting to absolve themselves of all liability and blame and my way; the issues got muddied. Ultimately though I knew I was right. My OH tried to persuade me to just let it go and pay up. He got fed up with me "going on and on about it" and sought a solution rather than hear me out.

Well... and here's the point of my blog. Eventually I succeeded in getting the wrongs put right but was I happy?? NO! I found it so difficult to be proved right and to accept the appropriate action as recompense.

I was just not used to being assertive like that and achieving my goal and then being apologised to and having the machine mended for free and having the hedge cutting bill reduced. I felt guilty! Very guilty. So much so that I apologised to the tractor shopkeeper and thanked the hedge cutter profusely for his kindness.

I still feel bad about it all. Was it worth it? Maybe my OH was right after all and it's best to let these things go.

Has anyone else experienced similar emotions in a similar situation? The need to get something put right but feeling guilty about it when it is.

Jul
A Moodscope member

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