Sunday, 23 November 2014

I Am Not My Thoughts or Emotions.

Having had over a 554 day lag since the last time I recorded my Moodscope score, today was the day I decided it was time to revisit and record.
 
Let me tell you a bit about my life leading up to today, in a nutshell.

I was diagnosed with post-natal depression eleven months after the birth of my first child, some nineteen years ago now. However, I can predate that particular period of darkness with many years of undiagnosed and life sapping anxiety, even right back into my childhood.

After the PND diagnosis, I took a roller coaster ride through medication, psychotherapy, and cognitive behaviour therapy – followed by the happy days of recovery and being thankful to be alive. Three times I travelled this path. It's hard to say which breakdown was the worst. The life-saving anti-depressants transformed me mentally, but oh-so-slowly – much longer than the suggested 6-8 weeks. Each time I was also transformed physically, by those same drugs, into a perspiring, vomiting skeleton. But, I learnt to endure, as did those around me. Each breakdown had its own horrors. And yet, each time, like the Phoenix, I rose out of the ashes, to the glorious days of recovery.

And now my babies are young adults, and I feel a huge mixture of happiness and sadness.

Recent months as a mother and a human being have contained more highs and lows than my psyche would like to deal with, and I feel depleted. It is about eight years since my last and final breakdown, and since then I have gained so many tools for my mental health tool kit.  Mindfulness, meditation, yoga, expressing my feelings, reaching out rather than shutting down – all of these continually help to correct my course, maintain my equilibrium.

And then today, I remembered the cards on Moodscope, and revisited them. The score was unimportant to me really. The process however, made sense. Just looking at all those emotions, and calculating how intensely or not I was experiencing them, reminded me how all our feelings and thoughts fluctuate so much. Bringing my awareness to them, and assessing them, brought me back to the sense of who I am. My inner self. The awareness that is "the Real Me", so-to-speak. I am not my thoughts or emotions, and I am thankful to Moodscope for reminding me of that. I will come back to do the cards again tomorrow, and for the foreseeable future, whilst I find my feet again.

Someone suggested to me that I might be experiencing something akin to PND, as my babies fly the nest, and it's an interesting thought. Life is full of births and deaths, and rebirths, for all of us. As humans we have to keep learning to let go, over and over again. And we learn how to find our feet, over and over again too. We're not all in the same boat, but our boats all travel the same river.

Lyndsey
A Moodscope member. 

Saturday, 22 November 2014

So sorry Spike.

In the 70's and 80's,I used to be involved in organising protest marches and demos,campaigning against blood sports and vivisection, the fur trade etc.

Like many of my generation I grew up listening to the Goon Show, and it was common knowledge that Spike Milligan had suffered a major mental breakdown, and spent a long period in hospital. It was said that the pressure of being the only script writer on the team, having to produce perfection every week, pushed him over the edge. He was later diagnosed as manic depressive (or bi-polar as it is now called). I remember hearing him say that the only peace and comfort he could find in hospital was when the resident cat would come and lie on his bed.

Although I have always been a very "highly strung" person, at that time I still had some resilience left, and could summon up the energy to take on projects as long as they were planned well in advance. In my mind, people like Spike had been ill, then cured or at least put back on an even keel.

He was a patron of several animal rights organisations, and so I and others would approach him asking for his attendance at various events. This of course would be announced in press releases and the like. Television crews would turn out, press would attend, members of the public, who would never normally attend a demo, would come from all over the country. In fact the only person missing would be Spike. Sometimes his agents or family would cancel at the last minute, saying he was indisposed, sometimes we would have no warning at all. It became embarassing, the press thought we were making it up to get publicity.

There were a couple of similar no-shows from a well-known continental film star. I later heard that she was battling depression and becoming a recluse.

Now, all these years later, I am still doing my best for the cause dear to my heart. But now it is rare to see something highlighted in my diary that does not cause my heart to sink. I must have been having a good day when I agreed to it, but now I am praying that it will have to be cancelled, not my fault, no need for guilt.

Of course, I hardly ever back out, I know how it feels to be let down. I go along, and usually end up doing a grand job, but oh, the relief when it is over. It will take a few days for the adrenaline I have had to produce to calm down, for my sleep to return. Until the next time.

Spike, for thinking you were rude and unreliable - I am truly sorry.

Valerie
A Moodscope member.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Sex And Depression.

Now come on, confess: how many of you clicked on this email because of the title when you haven't clicked on a Moodscope email for a number of days/weeks now?

Hmmm. Thought so.

There's something about sex, isn't there?

So – my own confession: I'm in my 50s and I still really like sex.
(Ah, a moment here – please forgive me but I know my teenage daughter sometimes reads these blogs).

You have to understand of course that I have never actually had sex and that both my daughters were created by Immaculate Conception. Now, stop reading this, darling and do some homework.

Gone now? Good.

So – we've established that I am a normal woman with a healthy libido, lucky enough to be married to a man more than happy to satisfy that libido (and that's quite enough of the personal information, I feel).

But when that grey monster of depression comes and swallows me up things are very different.

In that wonderful video by the World Health Organisation "I Had A Black Dog, His Name Was Depression" there is an image that shows the narrator in bed with his wife/partner with the black dog lying, like a great bolster, between them. He says: "He would take my love and bury my intimacy." Those of us who suffer depression know how very true that is.

When depression shows up we not only don't feel like making love, we are often incapable of it. You may think that it should be easier for women, because, after all, we can fake it, whereas for you guys if it's not happening then there's really no pretending, is there? But if you're in a loving relationship there's no faking anything with a man who knows you better than you know yourself.

Sometimes it's better to say "Let me make you feel good, darling. Don't worry about me: I can't at the moment; we'll make up for it when I'm better." It's not perfect, but it's better than lying in the same bed with a whole universe in the shape of that black dog between you. Often it's just a loving touch or hug that we need, and need to give, not necessarily sex.

It takes trust, a depth of love and intimacy (not to mention patience) which not all of us are lucky enough to have.

But at least let's have honesty: it's not you, it's not me; It's this bloody illness! It will pass – eventually and then (please!) – Game On!

Mary
A Moodscope member.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

A way to say thank you…?

You don't actually have to do this quiz, although you can ;-)
Simply read the email straight through, and you'll get the point!

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world?
2. Name the last five Booker prize winners?
3. Name the last five winners of the Miss UK contest?
4. Name Ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer prize?
5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress?
6. Name the last decade's worth of World champions in your favourite sport?

How did you do?

The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. They have the most of what you may seem to want, wealth, money, beauty, intelligence, influence, creativity, talent.

But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Money is spent. Health replaces wealth...physical (PQ), mental (IQ), emotional (EQ) and spiritual (SQ).

Accolades, certificates, are buried with their owners and you cannot take 'materials' with you.

Here's another quiz. See how you do on this one?

1. Name a key teacher who aided your journey through school?
2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time?
3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile?
4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special?
5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with?
6. Name half a dozen 'heroes' whose stories/lives have inspired you?

Easier?

Lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones who both care for and forgive you the most.

One could also say, that the ones who love you most are the ones who have forgiven you most - as you moved from young to older, dependent to interdependent (not independent) and clever (knowing the answers) to wise (knowing the questions).

Why not send this on to a few on your list above, those people who have made a difference in your life with only two words in the subject line - "Thank You."

Les
A Moodscope member.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

You can't condemn it until you've tried it – at least three times...

Well, I should hope there are actually some things we would condemn without trying them first; torturing puppies, playing tag with the cars on the motorway, filing our teeth to points and then lurking in dark corners pretending to be vampires – I could go on...

But what about those things that we completely write out of our lives without trying first? These are things that are not illegal, immoral, unaffordable or even just silly; but things that we just dismiss as "not for me, thank you."

Skiing was definitely "not for me". If you had asked me a month ago, I could have listed for you at least fifty different ways I would have preferred to break my leg rather than by skiing. No, you were never, but NEVER, going to get me on a ski slope!

So why am I now three lessons in on a "learn to ski" course?

It's all the fault of my ridiculously sporty daughter. She's going skiing with the school next February and her father decided that it would be good if she learned at least the basics of skiing first, before venturing out onto a high and snowy Austrian Alp.

Excellent thinking, darling. I agree.

Then he thought it would also be a good idea if the rest of the family learned to ski too, and promptly booked us all in on this "learn to ski" course at our local dry ski slope.

I understand (because I've looked it up) that booking your wife into skiing lessons does not constitute unreasonable behaviour adequate for divorce.

So, there we all are, uncomfortable in tight boots with five feet of sole sticking out, shuffling our way through what seems like a million bottle-brushes sewn together in a grid pattern. I daren't look up because I'll cross these skis and fall over before we've even started. And this is before we even begin sliding slowly, ever so slowly, down the nursery slopes.

"ARGHHH!" – Thump. Yes, that was me falling over.

Oh I hated it the first time.

I hated it the second time.

I really wanted to hate it the third time, but, you know what? I actually have to concede that I was having fun.

My family have taken to it like Penguins to an ice-slide and love every minute. I still resemble a hippo emulating Bambi in the frozen lake scene; the moment when I skied straight off the side of the slope into the patch of ninja stinging nettles ranks as the funniest thing the instructor has seen all week.

But it is kind of fun. And I'm sort of glad hubby booked me in too.

Even if I'm not quite prepared for us all to swap February in Tenerife for Austria just yet.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

"The Moodscope Mobile App made such a positive difference to me."

Just one quote from a member who has started using the Moodscope App.

Here are a few more:

"The new Moodscope App has meant that I’ve logged my scores much more frequently. Partly because I’ve been able to do it whilst out and about but also because it’s meant I can log my scores quicker as well, whilst waiting for a phone call or a meeting to start."

KSP, A Moodscope member

"I have found that I've probably used the app about 70% of the time in preference to using the website, as it's quicker and easier."

RH, A Moodscope member

"Thanks for the App. Now I can do the test on my mobile, it's not only more convenient, but I don't have to worry about who may oversee me doing the test in the office on my PC. Seems more private, which is important to me."

JL, A Moodscope member.

"For several weeks now I have being using the new mobile app and I have found it really useful. I'm Moodscoping on the train, in the cafe where I have breakfast and have even been doing it whilst I was away for a few days on holiday. Not sure if that's good or bad, but I know it's helping me!"

SH, A Moodscope member.

Has this persuaded you to try it? Or if you are already using it, please send us your feedback

The Moodscope Web App is available to Moodscope Essential and Moodscope Plus members, so if you're already a subscriber go to http://m.moodscope.com to access it,  and if you're not and you'd like to upgrade, details are your Moodscope account home page.

Thanks to everyone for all your support and feedback. It's very much appreciated.

Kind regards.

Adrian and Caroline
The Moodscope Team.

Monday, 17 November 2014

The revolving door.

I have these thoughts, they are generally quite self defeating. I have had them for a little while now and they keep going round, and round and then round a bit more. I have come to think of them as being stuck in a revolving door. You know the ones, where if you miss the exit point you go round again, praying that it's not going to get stuck in between the entry and exit points. Well, I realise that these thoughts are doing just that. They are sometimes stuck, can't move anywhere so sit in my mind. I perhaps do a little work at this stage trying to help them on their journey. Maybe I might meditate, or distract myself by reading a book, or I might explore the thoughts a little - challenge them, work with them. I can normally get the door revolving again and off they continue on their journey.

Only, when I'm not looking I find that either they missed the exit and stayed on board the revolving platform, or they hopped off for a little while, only to rejoin the merry go round for another spin! So, on my own journey, having earlier being enlightened to the fact that I am not my mind or my thoughts, I am beginning to consider these thoughts as intruders that are not welcome in the revolving door anymore. I try to watch them rather than attach to them (still practising this) but admit that I find this difficult.

It is becoming clear to me that these particular thoughts keep appearing because I am actually inviting them to stay in the revolving door. I am preventing them from exiting in some way and their presence in my mind is challenging me to find the solution. It is clear that the revolving door may hit a long term jam through the build up of the thoughts if I don't take action. I need to allow only positive thoughts to flow through the doorway. So, what I need to be is a "doorman" to monitor the flow and prevent the negative thoughts contaminating the doorway.

I don't seem to have the power to stop the thoughts but I can take ownership of what damage I allow them to achieve. I will strive to be actively on the lookout for the troublesome thoughts and will work to deny them entry and to eject them wherever I find them! But I need to go beyond this, I need to be active in reducing them, setting them on a different direction, diluting them and discouraging them so hopefully, in time they will reduce in intensity and frequency. So, thoughts beware...I am on warrior duty!

Rosie
A Moodscope member.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Find the beauty of your mind.

I am a pebble, I am a grain of sand,
I am the earth, I am the sky,
I am the sea, I am the land,
All I am I understand.

It's not for me to wonder why,
That all the people who rush by,
Don't see the beauty all around,
And through all the noise can't hear a sound.

For if you listen you will hear,
If you look you will see,
All the senses are free,
They are our treasure don't you see.

We all have the power, just trust,
And you will find the beauty of your mind,
It will set you free to be happy like me.

Sarah
A Moodscope member.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Just stop.

In the last couple of weeks there have been more than a few mentions of meditation. Now, I am the first to admit that months and years previously, I furrowed my brow at the thought of meditation and quietly deemed it for The Lentil and Leg Hair Weaving Brigade. Excuse me a second whilst I add sauce to my hat as I try to eat it. Hello, my name is Room, and I am the new member to The Lentil and Leg Hair Weaving Brigade. And it's a very rock and roll little place! Ignoramus am I for being so judgemental.

The lovely Rupert, on one of the blogs recently, said he didn't think he could calm his mind and thoughts long enough to say the word never mind try it. Well he didn't say that exactly but I think that's what he meant. That is me. Too busy to think. Too busy to plan.  Too busy for friendship. Too busy to find anything to accompany me through life without making me busier, hence my affection for all at Moodscope...you are there when I'm ready.

Recently I was introduced to a wonderful App which offers a free trial called Take Ten. It offers ten sessions of introduction to mediation, each ten minutes long. It's also available on the website below.

I found my favourite chair (the squashy green one, by the window in the hall), opened the App on my phone and listened. My expectation was low, my patience was low, I thought I'd make session two but most likely never session four...then, hello, a smooth and calm voice came to me from my right thigh. An easy voice called Andy. He told me what to do and when to do it. I just had to obey. He seemed to know when my mind was drifting and coached me back in. Ten minutes passed and I realised it had been really easy. Looked forward to the next one! Next day, same time, same chair, same Andy saying Hi, teaching me whilst holding my hand. And when he was finished with me I felt pretty good! Now, my mayhem life, my problems, my challenges, and my Vesuvius work pile was still there, but I felt more ready to go about it all. Haven't had that feeling in a long while.

I introduced my ten year old son to Headspace a few days in. He told me he thought Andy was a "cool guy" and has been doing the sessions at the same time as me. I feel very proud of my son knowing he is so open to learning how to tame his mind (an ongoing thing I have been working on with him for over a year). If a ten year old, and a previously-judgemental ignoramus can be won over by Andy, I wonder if you can too.  Rupert, all you need is your phone and earphones on the commute to work. Pretend you're sleeping :-)

This is Andy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzR62JJCMBQ

And this could be your salvation:

https://www.headspace.com/

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member

Friday, 14 November 2014

The art of happiness.

At a recent counselling appointment I was asked to explore the times when I am happy. I sat and thought for a moment and then reported that I'm not sure I'm ever really happy. Afterwards I found myself being troubled by this. Is it really true that I am never a happy person? I didn't actually think so. I love spending my time with my children and am generally very happy in their company. I go to work and am fortunate to really enjoy my role. I am generally a really happy and laid back person to be around in the office and can often be heard chatting and laughing (as opposed to working!). When I am with friends I am a positive and upbeat person. Yet at that moment in time, when asked, I considered that I wasn't a happy person.

I know the times when I feel my lowest, it's when I'm on my own and my thoughts begin to wander. I have a tendency to let this happen rather than take positive action to keep my thoughts in check. In the situations I describe myself as happy in, it might not always be genuine. There are times when I just want to hide myself away but I can't so I put on a front to disguise my inner feelings. And it can be exhausting, pretending to the world that I am immensely happy when I feel nothing like it. I suppose if I really wanted, I could not pretend on the days that I do, I could show the world my sadness and grief. But actually I don't want to. This would lead people to enquire as to the source of the depths of my mood and it's a story that I don't want to share.

So faking my mood acts as a shield to protect me. But also I find that faking happiness can lead to genuine happiness. When I act happy, those around me are more likely to feed off that and in return the happiness is perpetuated. Likewise, when I allow my negativity to flow, this impacts on those around me. I only have to look at the days where it's been like a battlefield with the kids and it's clear that often they have just fed off my mood for the day. But also, sometimes I feel genuine happiness, but then perhaps feel guilty for being happy. I am in a difficult situation right now, I am finding it a struggle and I think somewhere, deep inside, I hold a message that tells me if I'm at all happy at any point then I can't be going through an inner struggle and therefore admitting happiness in this time would be like declaring that I am free of my struggles.

So, on full reflection, I do have many periods of happiness. These periods sometimes run alongside my darkest days, sometimes they are genuine, sometimes they are forced. Experiencing happiness doesn't mean I no longer have troubles, it doesn't mean I don't engage in negative thinking, it doesn't even mean I don't need guidance and support. It simply means that I continue to be able to experience a range of emotions, or at least remember what happiness is like in order to fake it until I make it!!

Rosie
A Moodscope member.