Thursday, 25 August 2016

Great Expectations.

For some time now I've found myself becoming increasingly disappointed in people. Friends, family, the wider world. If I let it, it could really get me down. So I've chosen to examine this view instead. I asked myself what I'm really disappointed in.

It turns out that I expect people to behave the way I think they should; the way I would. And I expect them to do this consistently; no exceptions. And I feel disappointed when they don't do this. Which happens a lot.

I'm sure you'll agree, there's some glaringly obvious flaws with this thinking! Firstly, expecting, or assuming, is dangerous. My other half is forever informing me that "to assume is to make an ass out of u (you) and me". Thank you dear, very clever. However he's right. If we expect something, particularly something we have little, if any, control over, we are inviting disappointment. To hope would be healthier I think, but not to expect. We need to be aware and accept that things may not go according to our plan.

Ah yes, my plan – my standards of behaviour; my rules for living. It seems I forgot to issue this vast document to every single person I meet. So I'm expecting people to live up to a job description, when they haven't applied for the job, aren't aware of the person specification and have no idea of the criteria they're expected to meet. Slightly harsh?!
And us human's aren't predictable; we aren't consistent. We like our habits, yes, and many of us like routine, but with the best will in the world we cannot possibly be consistent all day, every day, given all the many variables we face in our lives.

No wonder then that I feel constantly disappointed – I've set myself up for it!

The most amusing revelation in my self-analysis however is that if I apply the same expectations to myself, I fall short. I don't meet my own standards of behaviour, all the time. I'm not consistent. I'm not always kind; actually I can be horrible when I'm tired. I'm not always reliable; in fact I'm often late, despite hating poor punctuality in others! Basically then I'm a living contradiction...

So I'm adopting acceptance. Despite my flaws and inconsistencies, people accept me for who I am; I need to do a bit more of that myself. That doesn't mean I should accept poor behaviour and not challenge discrimination or injustice; it just means accepting that I cannot control every aspect of every one's lives. Well, at least until I've got that rule book printed and sent out...

A Moodscope member.

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Wednesday, 24 August 2016

The Good Black Dog.

Findsay exudes calm.

He curls up, an enormous lump of black fur and patience, at the feet of the woman who looks after him.

Findsay is a guide dog in training.

He's the seventh dog the lady next door has trained in this way. She takes puppies at eight weeks old and passes them on to the guide dog specialist trainers at eighteen months. Finsay the black labrador is one year now and has six months left to go with her.

She looks at him with fondness. "He's such a calm dog," she says. "Nothing ever bothers him. And he's a big dog too. He will be brilliant for someone who has anxiety or depression."

Many guide dogs serve a joint purpose. Their primary purpose is to help their owners navigate a world that is primarily organised for the sighted, but they also act as therapy dogs. A dog has to be fed and walked every day. That routine gives a purpose, a pattern and gets the dog's owner out into the fresh air taking some exercise. We know that all these things are beneficial to people suffering from depression.

The routine of caring for any animal gives purpose. A friend tells me how helpful her hens are when she's going through her dark times. She has to get up to feed them and collect the eggs. Just performing that routine steadies her and at least gets her out of bed and relating to something in the world – even if she cannot, in those periods, cope with people.

My fellow bloggers have also written about the support they get from their cats. I am seeing it at the moment. A family member is not well and I am caring for her. One of our cats sleeps with her all day and all night. He leaves her side only at meal times and for toilet breaks. I know that he is doing her more good with his undemanding presence than I can imagine. He cannot cook for her, or talk to her when she needs to talk; for that she needs a human, but his furry presence is invaluable.

Mammals seem to be best at therapy; dogs and cats especially as they love you back. While my daughter's guinea pigs are very cute and cuddly, I'm not quite sure if they engage with me or her in the way our cats do. The stick insect (more of a log insect now it is eight inches long) is interesting and rather sweet, if you're into six legs, wavy antennae and the sting of sharply hooked feet as it walks over your skin; not everybody is. And my son keeps snakes…. No – I'm not going to talk about the snakes.

For those of us allergic to fur and unenthusiastic about insects or reptiles there's always fish. Beautiful and calming to watch; definitely therapeutic.

But not cuddly – the film Finding Dory notwithstanding.

I'll stick with my cats, thank you.

A Moodscope member.

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Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Dog therapy.

Last year I shared that I had taken on a rescue dog, a lurcher.

It didn't work out. A lovely dog, but used to racing not walking, and too strong for me to handle he went back to the home, much to my children's horror.

In May we adopted a stray from the Dogs Home, Ruby Skittles (kids' choice of name). A Jack Russell cross, she went on holiday to Dorset with us and is now a firm part of the family.

I am writing about her for a number of reasons. Firstly, I have learnt resilience. The old me would have taken the need to return a dog as a complete personal failure, never to be repeated. The new me recognised I had chosen the wrong dog and that a different breed was required more suitable for my needs.

Secondly, I learned to face the fear. My friends over 30 years expressed delight and surprise that their dog phobic friend now owned a dog. After all, my friend reminded me of the days I walked round the edge of the park rather than come across anything vaguely canine.

Thirdly, dog ownership is therapeutic. Whether I will be saying this midwinter but owning Ruby Skittles gets me out of bed, makes me exercise (currently doing over 10,000 steps a day) and has introduced me to a new social life, chatting with other dog owners.

Dog ownership is a huge responsibility and not a magic placebo. I have not been ill lately, apart from a nasty bout of whooping cough which has lasted all summer. What can you do to face a fear, build resilience or just be therapy? Knitting or windsurfing... there's something out there for you.

A Moodscope member.

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Monday, 22 August 2016

I haven't written a blog for a while, I've wanted to, but just haven't had one in me! Nothing that would give anyone a lift anyway.

Then the title came to me.

There have been times that I felt that I couldn't enjoy anything, that there was no such thing as " finding happiness" or how to "be happy". Surely it's just a momentary state, an emotion due to something specific?

Euphoria and good old belly laughs are great, but rare for me. I'd like to think that laughter therapy is really funny, but I'm not convinced. Maybe someone out there can enlighten me?

So focussing on just being well, with no high expectations seemed to be the way to go.

Recently though, I've dared to think that I more often feel happy. More of the time, I do what I want to do. For myself and for others. I don't do what I don't want to do. I say what I want to say. I feel guilty less. People may not like that I'm not up for being controlled by them, but I'm basically a good person and entitled to make my own choices thank you very muchly! :)

So in doing pretty much exactly as I please, (ok so maybe not exactly...) I feel more free.

This is my life. I want to enjoy as much of it as I can and feel that I have suffered enough for anyone to get in the way of that.

I'm not saying it's easy and goodness knows it takes a long time, but it can happen. Moments of happiness really are more frequent and now I even find that sometimes I sing...

A Moodscope member.

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Sunday, 21 August 2016

Did I mention I work in a Hospital?

Every day I see almost every emotion that exists!

Happiness: Sadness: Frustration: Anger: Elation: and more...

I hear laughter, babies crying as they enter the world, snatches of conversation that you can never make sense of.

There is the busy hustle and bustle on and on, clock ticking, lives being lived sometimes lost.

It is so very easy to complain and feel sorry for yourself because your phone never stops ringing or your tea has gone cold.

It's easy to forget that outside of this big place of care there are people and souls alone, leaving life without a kind hold of their hand or a tear wiped quickly away as goodbyes are made.

It is this realisation that sometimes overwhelms me and I see how we take everything for granted.

Every person animal, insect and yes even every snail! deserves a moment to be thought of and cared about.

This is why I wrote my poem, sat here one busy afternoon when it all stood there before me.

The Snail.

I walked through woods of Brown and Green and saw a Silver snail.
I asked him just how far he'd been he looked so weak and frail,
At first I thought his ears were deaf or that he was not listening,
But then I saw he lay alone in death his last journeys trail still glistening...
The tears rose but did not shed for what means this to me? Just because one snail is dead my heart need not grieve!
So on I walked upon my way when a thought struck at my mind, who will care when, comes my time to leave this world behind?
So back I went to find that snail and say for him a prayer, and when I'm gone I hope that somewhere somebody will care.

A Moodscope member.

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Saturday, 20 August 2016

I will not let my condition define me.

Four years ago I was hospitalised with severe depression. Several months and appointments later I was diagnosed with Moderate to severe recurrent depressive disorder.

Numerous appointments, no improvement at best, and at worse, relapses later, seeing yet a different psychiatrist, the diagnosis has been recently changed to – Less likely recurrent depressive disorder, more likely, Unstable emotions personality disorder.

This new diagnosis has thrown me off course a little, and led me to a discussion with my GP last week about how I am struggling to deal with the new diagnosis.

The GP asked me why this would make a difference, why I would want to be labelled.

The truth is, I don't. I don't want to be labelled, I don't want to be stereotyped, but I DO want to know what I am facing, and I want to be able to tell other people what my condition is.

I think this is because I don't feel that it is who I am, it is something that I have. By not having a clear diagnosis it feels much harder to separate my condition from my personality, something that is essential when it comes to the less likeable traits of a condition.

It is more empowering to be able to say "I self harm because of my condition", rather than "I self harm because I don't like myself". They may sound like subtle differences, but when you are grabbing on to every tactic to keep hold of your sanity, it can make a huge difference.

I don't want to be pigeon holed, I want to be treated as an individual, but I also want to be assured that I am not the only one out there feeling this way, and the only way to do this is to put this nasty little creature of a condition in a box, clearly marked. I may have to carry it around with me, it may be heavier at times than others, but this way, it WILL NOT define me!

A Moodscope member.

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Friday, 19 August 2016

The simple words of the wise Dr.

When some people are in a reflective or spiritual mood they go to the bible, classical philosophers, the modern philosophers or they Google quotations. For me I go to that wonderful wise doctor, Dr Seuss. His words and rhyme always make me smile and think. The simplicity of the words and the wisdom implied just makes me feel better.

The following is one quote that I can really relate to and try to live up to every day.

"Today you are You, that is truer than true.

There is no one alive who is Youer than You" Dr Seuss

The amazing, real, unique, individuality of you should be admired every second!

Loving who we are is a key lesson from Dr. Seuss. There is no one else like you, anywhere in the galaxy. That means you are a very special person.

I love those words youer than you, so simple yet so forceful. How often do we read about ways to change ourselves to make us fitter, cleverer, kinder, more assertive, calmer, more organized etc. Of course it is important to be the best while being true to our real selves.

Being youer than you when we are constantly bombarded with advice can be hard and at times  I know I doubt myself and get so confused I lose being youer than you.

Dr. Seuss shows us we must be our true selves. We must recognize our imperfections and accept our real selves.

"Those who mind don't matter, those who matter don't mind" Dr Seuss

In the above quote Dr Seuss shows us we should not worry what other people think of us because if they matter they will accept our imperfections, they don't mind and if they mind and want to complain and criticize us they don't matter.

This quote below fills me with childish enthusiasm.

"I've heard there are troubles of more than one kind; some come from ahead, and some come from behind.

But I've brought a big bat.

I'm already, you see; now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!" Dr. Seuss

I like the vision of getting a big bat - mine would be bright purple and have a very large  surface area to shoo those troubles away. It is a childish thought but it is full of bravery and confidence which is why it appeals to me.

So how do you try to be Youer than you?

Do you agree that 'Those who mind don't matter, those who matter don't mind"?

What sort of bat would you use to take on your troubles?

A Moodscope member.

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Thursday, 18 August 2016

Me, my funk and I.

We are due to move house in 6 days. You'd think I'd be busy packing and sorting. I'm very aware this needs doing and that the panic about the imminent date can only be contained by actually doing something to be ready for it. But, as per the ever helpful manner of an addled mind, I instead seem to be in a state of temporary suspension. I feel like I'm just floating around in the air, drifting aimlessly, looking on at the chaos below but unable to be part of it.

In truth I feel quite overwhelmed. You know that feeling when you know you have so much to do, that it paralyses you into doing absolutely nothing? (Again, thank you brain, for your ironic paradoxes). My motivation, energy and ability to take any sort of productive action are out of my reach.

What's also joyful in this already frustrating situation is that I then feel guilty about not doing all the very many things I should be doing. Frau Should was introduced by a kind Moodscoper recently, and I realised I knew her well. She pops in frequently to feed the negative voices that I'd successfully locked up in a cage for being too loud; she helps them escape, and then they all pick up the sticks I'd forgotten to tidy away, and start beating me for doing nothing; for being such a failure.

It's no wonder all I actually want to do is pack myself into the nearest box and just wait for it all to be over...

What I am managing to do, quite successfully I might add, is mope and flop around, sighing dramatically, crying over every little thing, and claiming, to absolutely no one listening, that I can't do this.

Even as I write I know how absurd this all is. My behaviour is neither helpful, nor does it actually serve any purpose. My claims are simply untrue.

My other half describes this as my "funk" that I get into now and again and I quite like this description. It makes me feel less ridiculous. Perhaps my funk has a bass guitar and hangs out with James Brown, which in fact would make it rather cool.

Whatever it is or does, we just have to wait for it to pass. We both know it will; that I will wake up tomorrow, or the day after, or lets at least hope before we actually move, with a renewed sense of productivity and positivity. We both know that of course everything will get done, and we will move into our new home, and start the next chapter of our lives together. In our inevitably funky house!

A Moodscope member.

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Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Frayed Around the Edges.

If you have to throw a book at somebody (literally, not figuratively), then I suppose it shows rather more class if the book is "The Collected Essays of Francis Bacon" rather than say, "50 Shades"...

Yes, that was me. I threw a book at Tom. And not in a funning way either. It didn't hit him of course – that wasn't the point – and he has quite forgiven me (we were laughing about it just last night), but I was deeply, deeply ashamed of myself at the time; Francis Bacon or not.

The last occasion I threw something at anybody it was in 1995, so you can see I don't exactly make a habit of it.

I once saw a wall hanging. It said, "I've got one nerve left; and you're getting on it!" Tom just said the wrong thing at the wrong time and I snapped.

What do you do when you are at the end of your tether? What is your recourse when things just become too much? Some people shout, some people storm out and slam doors, some retreat into stony silence. Some people throw things.

It's been a tough old time for my family and loved ones over the last couple of months and all too often I have felt that I am the one at the eye of the storm, keeping everyone together; calming people down, smoothing over hurt feelings, explaining people to other people, bolstering confidence and keeping confidences.

It's taken its toll and I have nowhere and no one to run to because my normal harbours are now part of the storm.

Many of us, when that happens, wish to retreat into solitude; into a blissful calm and an order over which we are in entire charge.

Yesterday was like that for me.

My husband and young children have gone to Snowdonia and for a whole day I was alone. A whole day in which the house was tidy. I could eat what I wanted when I wanted. I could take a nap or read a book without someone shouting "Mummy – have you seen…?" It was wonderful.

Then Tom and Jenny and our young German friend Jan arrived, bringing chaos in their wake.

Oh, it's a lovely kind of chaos and I would rather have their messiness with them, than my own order without.

But it was nice to have that order and calm – just for one day.

I know it's not possible to arrange this for many of us. All too many of us have responsibilities we cannot lay down, where even the prospect of an hour's respite is something tantalisingly out of reach.

But, if you can ask for help, to create some space for yourself, just for one day, it does all the good in the world.

Today I am refreshed and ready for the chaos again, ready to hold the centre together.

And Francis Bacon is safely back on his shelf.

A Moodscope member.

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Tuesday, 16 August 2016

My Cornish Pixies.

Like many a child and adult I have enjoyed JK Rowlings books about Harry Potter and his wizarding friends. Although to me it is not all fantasy; you see I really do have some Cornish Pixies.

For those who managed to avoid the whole Potter Craze or just cant remember, Cornish Pixies are little demon type creatures that create havoc when they get loose.

I have pixies that live in a cage in my head. Most of the time I am able to keep them controlled. As long as I rest, eat properly and sleep I can find time to check the locks are secure and that they are content.


If I get so tied up in work, plans and ideas that I forget my own needs then the little critters find ways to break out and pandemonium takes over in my head. They whisper nasty things in my ear about me, that there is nobody who can help me, that I am no good and they will never ever go away until I kill myself. They find the switches in my brain that trigger anxiety and switch them on so I start getting anxious over nothing. They play with the sleep switch so I keep falling asleep in the day but cant sleep at night (They like having me awake at night, I find it harder to catch them!), they dig through my memories and find dark, nasty thoughts, then spread them across my brain so I cant ignore them and they hide the nice memories where I cant see them.

When they get loose like this catching them again can be difficult. So I have to try and catch them using various techniques and squash them back into their cage.

If I read a good book some of them may get bored and go back in the cage for a nap (Slam – got some!) If I can get some medication to bypass the sleep switch they are playing with and get a proper nights sleep I can sneak up on them and grab them whilst they are dozing. (in they go...)

Medication can also help with the anxiety and so eventually they get bored of trying to mess with switches that no longer work. (Swoop... got you!!)

My friends help to reassure me that the pixies are lying about me and so provide hoods that I can put over their heads to shut them up and get them back in the cage.

If I rest I can concentrate on rediscovering the nicer memories and start clearing away the bad ones again.

Sometimes getting them under control may take just a day. Sometimes longer and sometimes I may need some outside help but seeing the dark thoughts and feelings I have as coming from the Pixies helps me to recognise that underneath I am still there, that these are just passing thoughts that can be tackled.

Its not me it's the Pixies.

A Moodscope member.

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