Sunday, 28 May 2017

Mirror, Mirror.

Years ago,when I was a mere slip of a girl (around 50 say) I vowed that if I reached a certain age, I would Let Myself Go. I would stop having my roots done, go out without a face full of slap, stop squirting on a bit of perfume to go shopping.

Most of my planned surrender was based around food. Having once been very fat, I have maintained a slim, some say skinny, body by exercising iron self-control, and walking a lot. I've served my time for many years.

I decided I would continue with the walking, as I enjoy it. But the new diet-oh boy! Instead of spending many of my waking hours thinking about food, I would be stuffing my face with forbidden treats. This would be potent self-medication for anxiety and depression. Instead of gloomy ruminations, I would be busy planning the next feast.

The Gods have dealt me a cruel hand, very greedy, but self-conscious about my looks. Rich puddings, toast dripping with butter, and chocolate would join the daily Prozac. Instead of waking each morning with that vague sense of dread, dragging downstairs to breakfast on fresh fruit, I would spring out of bed, celebrate my Celtic roots, and get the pan out. After all, who cares if an old lady is rather portly. I could save a fortune on fillers and Botox, my own lardy padding would fill out the wrinkles very nicely, nature's own dermafiller.

When I ceased to care about appearances, became invisible, stopped getting the occasional glad eye from the opposite sex, I would feel liberated. My partner once failed to notice when I had a foot of hair cut off, so no problems there. He might moan that there was less room on the sofa, and  wonder who this big grey-haired woman was who had moved in, and why his stash of biscuits had vanished, but he would soon adjust.

Then I reached the deadline, and found that even if nobody else cared, I did. Give it a few more years, perhaps I could stretch it out a bit longer. I blame mirrors, you can't get away from them. I blame Helen Mirren too, but mostly I blame mirrors. Years passed.
I gave myself an extension, no need to be too hasty. Just another year, then Wahay!!

So,forward to the present day. Off to get the highlights done, cursing the huge mirror at the hairdressers, composing my face before I look up. My neighbour is gardening in shorts, absorbed in the pleasure of her plants, varicose veins galore, bingo wings flapping. I am  avidly reading the beauty blogs, counting calories, combing my hair and putting on blusher before signing for a parcel. I just can't let this wretched woman go.

A Moodscope user.

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

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Sing a new song, Chiquitita.

It's been an interesting week for me. Thoughts turned to suicide far more often than usual (and worry not, they were just thoughts). Such sadness in the news, coupled with family and friend issues (mostly imagined) took their toll. Mix in a portion of tiredness and stir the mix vigorously with negative imagination... well, most of us know all about this... the results were pretty predictable. A deep low.

So, on my way to yet another meeting, I decided to take some ABBA in the car to lift my spirit.  Except, ABBA's lyrics are full of sadness too, if you really listen. And really listen, I did!

The result is that I have a new personal theme song!  Chiquitita!

I'll have to change the Spanish to the male equivalent, but the message remains sound.

Chiquitita, tell me what's wrong
You're enchained by your own sorrow
In your eyes there is no hope for tomorrow
How I hate to see you like this
There is no way you can deny it
I can see that you're oh so sad, so quiet...

[So far, that's a perfect description of both how I feel and what I do when I feel like that. So what can we do?]

Chiquitita, tell me the truth
I'm a shoulder you can cry on
Your best friend, I'm the one you must rely on
You were always sure of yourself
Now I see you've broken a feather
I hope we can patch it up together

[First thing is to find Moodscope-friendly, friends! Thankfully, you're here. And then comes the breakthrough...]

Chiquitita, you and I know
How the heartaches come and they go and the scars they're leaving
You'll be dancing once again and the pain will end
You will have no time for grieving

Chiquitita, you and I cry
But the sun is still in the sky and shining above you
Let me hear you sing once more like you did before
Sing a new song, Chiquitita
Try once more like you did before
Sing a new song, Chiquitita

Sadness will pass and I will find a New Song to sing.

I hope you will too.

And then, I'll be more sure of myself again, but doubly-sure of those friends who are that shoulder to cry on, and that catalyst for hope.

Thank you... you know who you are x

A Moodscope member.

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

Friday, 26 May 2017

Show me the menu.

When depression chooses you it can feel like someone is holding a blade to your throat.  You might feel you have very little on the menu to get you well. But if you stay open minded there is a never-ending list of things to try. I'm going to list some and it'd be great if you could add what I've missed on to the blog spot. For those who have just found themselves held hostage this could be the start of something good. For those who need a change this could be the start of something good.


There, both top of the list. They are valuable and there are heaps of other things out there which may enhance them, or replace them:

Painting with or without an art group
Singing with or without a choir
Running. Cycling. Any exercise. With a group or solo. Even better with a trainer (I made huge progress this way and boxing was a revolution inside my head!)
Writing a blog or even just writing for nobody to see
Sitting at the beach with or without people (the sea is full of energy you can borrow)
Overhauling your diet
Overhauling your alcohol intake
Meditation ('Headspace' is far from the frumpy misconception)
Returning to the thing you dreamt of when asked the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
Being alone
Not being alone
Looking back at photographs (if they bring tears then perhaps you need it!)
Music. All. Any.
Overhauling your friends, family, colleagues. Do you still wear the shoes you wore thirty years ago?
Taking the type of break that can bring perspective and clarity.
Trusting someone with yourself. But be choosy, you are vulnerable.
Committing to something you know you need and is good for you, however small, and doing it... Every... Single... Day.

Perhaps you can add more to the blogspot, otherwise known as the Centre of Excellence.

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:

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Labels, traits, illness, syndrome - whats in a name?

Recently I commented on a blog about HSP, highly sensitive person, that I saw it as another label. The writer, AVFTFS, explained that she didn't see HSP as a label but rather as a trait... She sees it as a trait she was born with, like having blue eyes. Something that is neither positive or negative in itself but just is.

I found this fascinating and wondered what is the difference between a label, a trait, a characteristic, a personality type, an illness, a temperament, a disorder, a syndrome, and what difference each word makes or if each word is treated the same by individuals or society.

"This notion - that mental illnesses are largely inborn personality traits that get pushed into extreme territory by life experience - has just gotten some high-tech confirmation from researchers." Melissa Healy

I think the above research that mental illnesses start as personality traits may remove the stigma that a mental illness has. I have noticed people seem to be saying more often they have a depressive trait, a personality type, a unique character rather than using the word mental or syndrome or disorder or illness.

So if you a have a characteristic, trait or any personality quirk not described as an illness, it seems there is less stigma as people have more confidence in gaining help  even if the help would be similar if it was labelled as an illness.

Does it matter what we name things as long as we get help? I think that it does. I am sure if I had been told I had a personality trait that meant I had big mood swings I think my life would have been different. Would it have been better, who knows? I think I would have suffered less stigma and sought help much sooner than I did.

What do you think?

Does it make a difference having a medical label rather than a personality type?

Should we treat people's symptoms and not label them at all?

What do you see as the difference between the different words - illness, trait, syndrome, characteristic, personality type etc?

A Moodscope member.

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

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Courage, mes braves!

[To listen to an audio version of this blog please click here:]

When I was at school, my favourite hymn (I have never sung it since), went like this:

When a knight won his spurs in the stories of old
He was gentle and brave he was gallant and bold
With a shield on his arm and a lance in his hand
For God and for valour he rode through the land

No charger have I, and no sword by my side
Yet still to adventure and battle I ride
Though back into storyland giants have fled
And the knights are no more and the dragons are dead

Let faith be my shield and let joy be my steed
Against the dragons of anger the ogres of greed
And let me set free with the sword of my youth
From the castle of darkness the power of the truth

In my mind, I could see clearly that young knight galloping through the sunlit and verdant countryside, in search of giants to kill and dragons to slay. I pictured his white horse gaily caparisoned with a scalloped harness in scarlet and gold, his armour polished to a platinum gleam. In my imagination, he galloped blithely on forever; he never actually came across those giants and all the dragons stayed safely hidden from his sight.

So, the words of that third verse held for me no more reality than the first. If I did think about them, the dragons and ogres were something external – separate from myself – easily slain and with no blood spilled to sully my shining view of my own immaculate ego.

Real-life isn’t quite like that, of course, because the monsters live inside us, and they’re jolly difficult to kill.

So, my idea of courage, valour, bravery – all that, has changed. Courage is no longer charging over the barricades, or even steeling yourself to perform that single difficult act. Courage is demanded and found every single day.

Courage is finding the strength to get out of bed, to shower and to dress. Courage is getting the children’s breakfast, seeing them off to school with a smile and a wave. Courage is stepping outside your front door, to work or to shop; to meet people and face the world. Courage is seizing every drop of joy in that darkness and treasuring it as if a diamond found in a coalmine. Courage is just - keeping on keeping on.

I know many of you Moodscope users are housebound; not because of physical infirmity, but because of mental ill health. For you, the dragon guarding the door is ever watchful; opening one glinting eye and rattling his scales if you even get near. If you get past him, the ogres just beyond your garden path are legion. Just because they exist only in your mind, does not mean they are not real.

I want you all to award yourself for your bravery. You may not be that charging knight; but you are infinitely more courageous: you fight your dragons every day.

A Moodscope member.

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

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

No regrets.

No, no regrets (apologies to Piaf)

Our UK vet, recently deceased, said 'If you don't learn something new every day you have not lived'. He was passionate about Percheron horses and the local Agricultural Show, but had acquired a wide knowledge of the most esoteric subjects. He always admired my articles for the local 'Rag' and the local church, so I miss him.

Another friend, said, often 'I wish I had done so and so (piano playing among them). She had time, money and opportunity, and although she worked diligently for the church I don't think she ever attained any 'personal' objective.

With my husband we went to a 'Commune' for a course on 'Technique for solving difficulties'. I've never met such a discontented lot – all women (except Mr G, who could not wait to go down the pub). Half were married, and convinced that their husbands and kids had deprived them from being financial wizards, great artists etc. The other half were single professionals who bemoaned the prospects of old age without children. A local farmer's wife (in UK) said if she had her life over again she would never have married him.

So, am I content?

I would not mind having a little less hassle at the moment. I would have liked my books to have been read by a wider audience – they are liked (in English and French) but cannot face the trauma of marketing them.

I have been much inspired today (19th May) by Radio 4 'Book of the Week', Henry Marsh, a famous neuro-surgeon, whose enthusiasm for life encompasses still doing operations unpaid, keeping bees, walking 25 miles a week, trying to keep dementia and Alzheimer's at bay (even he does not have the answer, just follows perceived wisdom).

And, I have a dream. The unit where Mr G goes daily is light, bright, and well-staffed. It is built round a courtyard, full of weeds. I want to build a 'garden of peace'. What do I need? More years, money, volunteers, permission, generous plant growers.

My 'fame' is in the photo – colours changed every year, photos world-wide, but I can't sign a wall of flowers, so will go un-sung.

Is there anything you regret?

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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

Monday, 22 May 2017

Moodscope in One Word. Up for a challenge?

[To watch a video of this blog please click here:]

How excellent are you at responding to a challenge? For this research to work, I need to ask you a favour. The favour is to decide on your answer before you read what anybody else has written. So, what's the question?

The question is: if you were to describe Moodscope in one word, what would that word be?

Of course, Moodscope is founded upon 20 key words.

Here they are in the order they were randomly presented to me when I wrote this blog"


These are all powerful words when scoping our moods and how they shift day-to-day. None of them, however, are what I associate with what Moodscope means to me personally.

I can't really say any more, can I, until we all start to share?!

So, if I may echo the question again, what does 'Moodscope' mean to you?

Can't wait to read your responses!

(And in case you're wondering why I'm asking for your response, the answer is simple.  Moodscope is an important part of all our lives, and it would be great to spread the word.  In order to spread the word, it would help to understand what Moodscope Users like you and I think and feel and value about Moodscope. This could then influence how Moodscope is promoted to new audiences.)

I'll share my word about 7pm UK time...

A Moodscope member.

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

Sunday, 21 May 2017

It's the Only Thing to Make Sense.

I admit it: my family life is in chaos!

I won't bore you with details; the details are too distressing, but – things are, shall we politely say, challenging.

I didn't send a Christmas letter last year. When all that could be said was that: nobody had died (it was close); my steadfast rock of a husband and I were still together; we were not financially destitute: well, there didn't seem much point.

2017, I thought, could only get better.

And it has.


I think...

Of most personal note (you could hardly have missed this), my terrifyingly violent mood-swings of the latter half of 2016 sent me back to the Mental Health Team and the wonderful Dr Samar (not his real name, which has 101 syllables and challenges even the most cosmopolitan of linguists). Dr Samar asked all the right questions, listened in the most proactive way and involved me, as an intelligent individual, in the prescription of the medication I now take. This medication has resulted in me becoming really rather boring in respect to the mania and depression (so far: it's early days yet). I now understand why many people with bi-polar stop taking the tablets... (Don't worry – I won't stop. I love and care for my family and friends too much to stop being sane).

Tom, my adopted son, moved out. This was upsetting for me. It was a relief to my husband, and a mixed blessing to the girls. While they loved having their big brother around, they hated the friction between him and their father – even when they considered Daddy was being dictatorial, unreasonable and altogether WRONG!!!

The challenges of 2016 made my husband and I talk as never before. I was shocked at some of the things he was thinking. He was challenged by some of my ideas. A full and frank exchange of ideas/opinions resulted in a stronger foundation for going forward. This was good.


But life, always challenging, moves on.

Life sometimes presents itself as shifting sands, where things and people you thought you could trust prove to be false, or at least, unreliable; where people you never noticed much step forward, take centre stage, and star in the soap-opera that is your life.

As I look around, there seems to be no logic; no basis on which to anchor the lives of my family and me. I love my husband and biological daughters. I love my adopted son no less. I love my darling friends Richard (another son) and Raz (a relationship far too complicated for me to even understand, let alone explain). I love my Moodscope buddies and I love you, the wonderful Moodscope Readers, to whom I write but never meet.

But unless I have some higher faith, we all are but flotsam and jetsam on the stormy oceans of life.

Forgive me if I cling to faith.

When nothing makes logical sense, it's the only thing to make ineffable sense.

A Moodscope member.

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

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Learning from comments.

I know Moodscope is best known for its test and charting of moods, but the thing I find most helpful is listening and learning from others through comments.

There is such a diverse range of experiences and ideas so I am always eager to read what people have written. I have been so touched by the honesty in comments and the raw emotions, I have been in tears as I read them. I am also touched by the kindness and compassion for others.

Some people have commented that they don't know what to write because they feel it has already been said and they don't feel confident about expressing their ideas or worry no-one is listening or interested in their ideas.

It is our inner critic trying to undermine our confidence. Everyone can express their thoughts and share their ideas with others.

I see blogs as just the springboard for so many ideas and sharing of so many stories I know many people are happy to read and that is great.

I am always curious as to why someone who has never commented or rarely comments decides to reply. It so good to hear from new voices.

I wonder how we can encourage more people to comment - if they want to of course. Also, what makes people want to comment a lot. I know I like to give feedback to the blogger because I know I appreciate it.

Do you have any ideas of how to encourage someone who wants to comment but is unsure and worried?

What do you find helpful about comments?

A Moodscope member

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

Friday, 19 May 2017

Recovery Colleges - a new concept in mental health care.

Recovery in mental health terms is not seen in the same way as physical health. There, staff think of it in terms of a cure. For mental health staff, recovery is a concept of a journey through life not a 'cure'.

Health education is being seen as the way forward in mental health care and being provided by Recovery Colleges. (These colleges are only available in the UK - if you know of any similar services in other countries, please add a comment to this blog.)

Recovery Colleges provide courses about all aspects of health and well-being with a mental health slant in the community. You do not have to have a diagnosis or even be under the care of mental health care teams or other Doctors to access. Family members and carers are also eligible. It's self referral and provided free by the NHS.

Courses cover living skills like confidence and self esteem as well as specific mental health conditions. As the number of courses grow they will cover health topics from birth to death and address mental health issues of physical illness.

I'm a volunteer tutor for my local Recovery College, I am that 'Someone with Lived experience' with nearly 40 years of experience to comment on, what's worked – or didn't and why, for me.

The philosophy behind these courses is radical in health care terms, as they are being             co-developed and delivered by a 'Professional' and equally by 'Someone with Lived experience". That uniqueness of 'equal but joint' reflects a slow acceptance that we, the 'Persons with Lived Experience' have a lot to share and teach each other.

Moodscope is a great example of this. Developed as a result Jon's 'lived experience' he developed a beneficial tool to track mood, it helped to raise mood. Yet in class, I've not meet another 'Moodscoper' but I know it helped me gain insight. Professionals I meet say they've heard of it but haven't used it. I advocate it strongly, every opportunity I get. Hoping my experience gives students another tool to gain insight.

My Recovery College is less than two years old. I have co-facilitated and been a student. Combining theory with reality, it's often the sharing 'this has worked for me' ideas that I have learnt most from.

Maslow's theory - Hierarchy of Needs, discusses how to get 'added value' from life. To achieve a good life, you need to strive for the top of the pyramid (self actualisation). Recently I heard a colleague talk passionately of his own experience - that he can only live well when he concentrates, on the often over looked base of the pyramid - sleep, food, exercise etc. It was for me a 'lightbulb moment' - the relevancy of theory and reality.

Insight empowers, helping you on your journey of recovery. Education is one route, it's the balance of theory with reality is what is empowering about Recovery College courses.

For more information about your local Recovery College search your Mental Health Services Trust website, if they don't have one, email their PALS office and request one.

A Moodscope member.

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