Thursday, 17 April 2014

To listen is to heal...

Last week I offered a story on why people shout and do not truly listen to each others hearts.

The best poem I know about listening is below, see what you think or should I say 'feel'.


When I ask you to listen to me
and you start giving me advice,
you have not done what I asked.

When I ask you to listen to me
and you begin to tell me why
I shouldn’t feel that way,
you are trampling on my feelings.

When I ask you to listen to me
and you feel you have to do something
to solve my problem,
you have failed me,
strange as that may seem.

Listen! All I ask is that you listen.
Don’t talk or do – just hear me.

Advice is cheap; 20 cents will get
you both Dear Abby and Billy Graham
in the same newspaper.
And I can do for myself; I am not helpless.
Maybe discouraged and faltering,
but not helpless.

When you do something for me that I can
and need to do for myself,
you contribute to my fear and

But when you accept as a simple fact
that I feel what I feel,
no matter how irrational,
then I can stop trying to convince
you and get about this business
of understanding what’s behind
this irrational feeling.

And when that’s clear, the answers are
obvious and I don’t need advice.
Irrational feelings make sense when
we understand what’s behind them.

Perhaps that’s why prayer works, sometimes,
for some people – because God is mute,
and he doesn’t give advice or try
to fix things.
God just listens and lets you work
it out for yourself.

So please listen, and just hear me.
And if you want to talk, wait a minute
for your turn – and I will listen to you.


How much do you listen? Are you mixing with people who do not listen to you? What do you display and accept into your life?

"Hearing is one of the body's five senses, but listening is an art and with it comes the gift of healing"

A Moodscope member.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Driving you crazy.

I did a lot of driving last weekend; down to the coast, back home to meet a couple of Sunday commitments, back down to the coast and then home again.

Normally my husband is in the driving seat; not because I am a bad driver, but because he is a terrible passenger. Last Wednesday however, he made the painful discovery that, whereas washing detergent is great at cleaning clothes, it is not recommended as an eye bath. We spent an amusing three hours in A&E where he adequately demonstrated his command of basic Anglo Saxon to the pretty nurses, and he emerged with a raffish eye-patch and instructions not to drive for a week.

Before I agreed to drive the hundred miles to the coast with him beside me a full and frank discussion was required and the results were illuminating.

We have been married for fifteen years but I had never before realised that his annoying habit of informing me that the road is clear or that two cars are coming or "watch out for that pothole", all of which I have seen clearly for myself thank you very much; stem from his upbringing. Apparently, in his family, it is required for the passenger to provide extra eyes and to be on the lookout for hazards. In my family, it is the height of bad manners to comment or offer advice unless specifically asked.

But you give a little to get a little, and in return for his promise to keep quiet and not keep putting his foot on an imaginary brake, I agreed to slow down and drive at a sedate 65 mph.

It proved to be a much more pleasant way of travelling; just tootling along, allowing all the Ford Mondeos to whizz past doing eighty and more, occasionally pulling out to pass a lorry doing fifty-five.

Surprisingly, it didn't seem to take any longer to get there. Maybe five minutes or so and the whole thing was much more relaxing. In fact, my passenger even leaned back and closed his good eye a couple of times.

Given that I'm at the scratchy, irritable stage of my bi-polar cycle at the moment, anything that reduces stress is good. What's more, it saves on petrol too. So if you were on the A14 over the weekend, cursing the elderly Volvo in front of you resolutely doing five miles per hour less than the limit: I can only apologise. But, hey, relax; chill: your stress levels will thank you.

A Moodscope member.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Bottling a positive mood.

Today I was chatting with my colleagues about Easter Eggs. So far I have 2 Easter Eggs, one of which I bought myself along with my 3 daughter's eggs. I told them that when my daughters were little I made Easter Eggs for them and all their cousins and that I was looking forward to doing the same with my grandchildren when they arrive. I also told them about a book that I have written (not published yet) about a cat flea who ski's and skates around the kitchen and garden and generally has lots of adventurous fun.

I felt really hyper after our few minute chat.

That got me thinking...

Wouldn't it be great if we could 'bottle' our hyper mood/happy mood/calm mood/loving mood?

I have started to make a list of the things which make me feel hyper when I talk about them:

1 My book.
2 Easter Eggs and making them (new hyper subject).
3 The thought of having lots of fun with grandchildren.
4 The craft projects and greetings cards that I make.

I will add to this list when I think of more things.

When I am needing a 'boost' of mood, I can telephone one of my friends or family and talk about one of the things on my list! Or even just peruse the list.

Yey! It has also resulted in my writing this blog for you and I hope it has inspired you or just made you feel happy about maybe having an Easter Egg soon.

Warmest wishes,
A Moodscope member.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Temporarily stranded but never stuck. (2)

To be rendered stuck, hindered or stationary, by circumstances can be a painful thing. We can find ourselves stuck, or at a standstill, with feelings too. It may feel impossible to move forward from either.

However, no matter how stuck we may feel there is always movement, imperceptible it maybe but there is movement, nonetheless. Arthur Hugh Clough's poem, Say Not The Struggle Naught Availeth, expresses it well.

"For while the tired waves, vainly breaking,
    Seem here no painful inch to gain,
Far back, through creeks and inlets making,
    Comes silent, flooding in, the main.

Yes, sometimes, the tide doesn't look as though it is coming in, does it? It happens slowly but it is coming in.

Shift and change can happen suddenly. In the meantime, we can actively plant flowers in the mind and soul; read, learn, show kindness, be patient, hold out our unique gifts, or 'colours', to the world and those around us.

"In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins, not through strength but by perseverance." H. Jackson Brown Jr.

A Moodscope member.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Temporarily stranded but never stuck. (1)

Shaking up thoughts, like raffle tickets in a top hat and choosing a positive over a negative is something that has been written about in many different ways on this blog.  When it actually happens though, when you manage it, well, it's a glorious thing indeed.  It's like sunshine stretching out from behind a grey cloud. This happened to me on Saturday morning.

The weather was fine, I anticipated a lovely day ahead with my friend at a one day poetry class (theme: 10 poems to save your life) and the setting was in the delightful Calderstones Park, Liverpool.

My friend's husband was ferrying us there and having not seen them for a while, I gave a brief account of where I'm up to in life. (It is brief too, for it can be summed up in one word: Stuck!)

My friend's husband, ever wise, quick as a flash said, "You're going to study poetry for the day Su. How can you be stuck?" This was an epiphany moment for me. It's like grappling in the dark for something and then someone flicks on a light. My day started afresh from that moment on and what a beauteous day it was too.

It's been said that in every situation there are at least 30 ways to change your point of view. Granted, I'm not sure it's possible when in the thick of a depression. If it was that easy, the whole "Snap out of it!" theory wouldn't be so abhorrent to us. However, on the days when it is possible to flick to a more positive pathway, oh, then by all means, shall we try?

(The next post from me will express why exactly the words from my friend pulled me up short)

A Moodscope member.

Saturday, 12 April 2014


One thing I know well about being in a depression is how it can suddenly take you ages to make a decision and even postpone making those important decisions until the very last possible moment, or until we might feel better, even though we know that could be some time.

Structure and organisation by someone else helps guide us in what we do in work situations, but in our private life we have to balance, organise and choose everything ourselves.

We decide whether to go to the shops or not, to pay our bills or not, to eat a healthy meal or not, to get out of bed or not.

The funny thing is, by not making a decision we DO make a decision.

If you don't, want or can't decide whether to cook today, you will end up simply not doing it. Which is a result of decisiveness. You postpone making a decision and you end up simply, not consciously, making a choice which leads to not doing certain things.

Not being able to decide about something can be an indication that you have too many (hard) decisions to make and don't know where to start. These are probably things that make you fearful or unsure.

Make one decision today. Write down everything that you know you need to decide on doing or arranging. Consciously choose every day to review one of those subjects. If you have trouble making any decisions and need some structure, use something I've been using for years now. It's called the Eisenhower model. It helps you to decide to do something, to plan, to delegate and eliminate.

For me, the decision I will make today will be about reviewing my financial situation and what measures I need to take to make sure we make it to the end of the year.

If you have big life decisions to make about changing your job, what to do with your relationship or perhaps moving house and need help, find someone you can talk to. It could be your best friend, a coach a therapist or even a random person on the train.

A Moodscope member.

Friday, 11 April 2014

The Hunger Games.

Thanks to Les, we're all now well acquainted with the acronym HALT. Each letter standing for a symptom often synonymous with depression. How about we take a look at how we can fight the often, all consuming, H, which stands for hunger.

In one of the Moodscope blogs that Jon wrote, he said he wished someone would come up with a cook book for depressed souls (meaning, recipes extremely simple to create) with healthy fare (foods known to help the mind as well as the body). 

My craft is not in the kitchen. I'm no orthorexic [My word of the day: it means obsessed by healthy eating.] but I do so try to cook healthy fare from scratch. Alas, it can feel overwhelming to begin and all too often, I'm in a real tizzy by the end (and that's even when I'm supping the wine instead of cooking with it!). I'm no tidy cook either. Yes, eating healthily when low and tired can feel like an insurmountable task. What to do?  What helps you?

For me, it helps to have a ton of healthier snacks in stock: raisins, dried fruit and nuts, bananas, small apples... For those with sleep disorders, you will know the hunger and craving for sugar can feel permanent, as the body is continually trying to "wake up".  Having a supply of cakes, biscuits and sweets in my cupboards is dangerous. Best not buy them to begin with.

My favourite meal when weary is wholegrain rice (Uncle Ben's provide jolly easy cooking instructions), fish, perhaps baked and a colourful, crisp salad, with a simple dressing.  It's simple, tasty and not unhealthy.

Drinking lots of water helps to curb the hunger slightly.

Do you have simple, healthy recipes to share? Given that we live at a time when eating healthily has never been so important and yet never been so difficult, I think a pooling of tips, healthy snacks and recipes would be truly beneficial. Help! Please?

A Moodscope member.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Who needs to hear your heart again?

"Deep listening from the heart is one half of true communication. Speaking from the heart is the other half." Sara Paddison, Hidden Power of the Heart.

Ever wonder why we shout when we are angry?

This story is one of the best explanations I've come across. Enjoy!

A Hindu saint who was visiting the river Ganges to take a bath, found a group of family members on the banks, shouting in anger at each other.

He turned to his disciples, smiled and asked, "Why do people shout in anger at each other?"

His disciples thought for a while and one of them said, "Because when we lose our calm we shout."

"But why should you shout when the other person is just next to you?" asked the saint. "Can't you just as well tell him what you have to say in a soft manner?"

When some of the answers did not satisfy the others, the saint finally explained, "When two people are angry at each other, their hearts distance a lot. To cover that distance they must shout to be able to hear each other. The angrier they are, the stronger they will have to shout to hear each other to cover that great distance."

"What happens when two people fall in love? They don't shout at each other but talk softly because their hearts are very close. The distance between them is either nonexistent or very small."

The saint continued, "When they love each other even more, what happens? They do not speak, only whisper and they get even closer to each other in their love. Finally they even need not whisper, they only look at each other and that's all. That is how close two people are when they love each other."

He looked at his disciples and said, "So when you argue do not let your hearts get distant. Do not say words that distance each other more, or else there will come a day when the distance is so great that you will not find the path to return."

Who did you last raise your voice to?

Who needs to 'hear' your heart again, not your voice?

As our hearts separate - our voices rise according to the exact distance we move apart!

"An open ear is the only believable sign of an open heart." David Augsburger.

A Moodscope member.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Don’t Pet The Porcupine.

So, in no particular order: the people I hate.

Those who keep telling me, with saccharine voices that “Family comes first.” Actually, no: my health has to come first because if I don’t look after me then my family is shortly going to have a sectioned mother or no mother at all!
Those puzzled people who say “But you’re always so bright and bubbly and optimistic; surely you don’t get depressed.”
The people who want me to DO things. I hate them even more when I say “yes”.
People who come to the door selling things or asking for charity.
People who phone me.
People who email me.
My friends (even my Moodscope Buddies).
My husband (who is lovely).
My children (who are lovely for quite of lot of the time really).

Just at the moment I feel like a porcupine. I’m not just spiky, I’m offensively spiky. It takes a real effort of will not to snap at people. Even the delightful postman was nearly snarled at today. He was telling me about his recent holiday. Normally I’d be interested, but today my brain was screaming “GO AWAY” and my smile felt like congealed cheese on a cold beef burger.

I hate myself the most, because this is like being possessed by an alien. This growling rage is utterly foreign to the person I am for most of the time. I know it’s all chemical; it’s a part of the bi-polar thing, but it’s really not nice for anyone; not my family, not my friends, definitely not for me.

This is where the discipline comes in. It’s time for my EFT exercises (Tapping) it’s time for meditation. For me, doing this is as effective as drugs, but it takes longer and I hate it. Oh, and I hate my therapist too (wonderful woman that she is).

Deep breath.

Because, really, I love them all. I need to remember this and everyone else needs to remember this too. It will pass. It will get better. In the meantime – just don’t pet the porcupine, OK?

A Moodscope member.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Hold the vision, trust the process.

It is time I admitted it, my name is Amy and I am an extremist. Yes I am your classic black and white thinking, it's perfect or its broken kind of gal. I've battled with a veritable feast of mind demons for over 10 years, a heady mix of OCD, depression and anxiety. And I've expended a great deal of energy searching for The Answer.

I have laboured under the belief there is one definite activity/choice/lifestyle that will free me from the dungeon, slay the dragons and all will be well forevermore. If only I could find it. This search has led me to try out (and swiftly abandon) paganism, vegetarianism, yoga, knitting, arranging my books in order of height, cleaning the house, refusing to clean the house, writing detailed plans, surrendering to chance, feeding squirrels, baking my own bread, watching films with subtitles etc. It has also led to some questionable decisions such as shaving my head and having an affair with my boss - just two shining examples.

While some of these activities are healthy and some mind expanding, the fatal error I have made time and time again is thinking that they should serve as an instant fix, rendering me OCD/depression/anxiety free. However (and partially thanks to Moodscope) I am slowly, and finally, learning that change happens incrementally, in tiny stages, but these stages are entirely valuable in themselves.

So at the start of the year in the spirit of resolutions, I compiled a list of things I wanted to achieve or change. Unlike the squillion other lists I have compiled in my lifetime I broke this down into each step I would take to achieve this change. And what struck me very clearly is that the big things wouldn't happen without the little stages. While previously I would dismiss each activity when it failed to be an instant fix, I can now see that they are a series of healthy and/or positive choices. Choices which will slowly but surely result in a healthier, happier life.

As an anonymous wise person said 'Hold the vision, trust the process'. Keep your focus on your vision and trust that by taking it a step at a time you can make it a reality. It made a difference to this hardened sceptic, so trust me anything's possible.

A Moodscope member.