Thursday, 8 December 2016

Does Counselling do it for you?

Counselling figures in many blogs and posts. In many cases, for severe depression in particular, they are vital. People have personal trainers/shoppers. These are usually expensive, but it's a huge industry. I have seen cases of extreme manipulation, and often the 'patient', or 'client' needs to 'cut the cord' despite the risk, or when they become too dependent.

I was sent to an allergy clinic (in fact I had a lifetime's intolerance to dairy products). The woman practised at the most expensive London hospital – she became a 'guru'. A year later she was exposed in a Panorama type programme as a completely untrained charlatan.

We went to Marriage Guidance (now relate) at a particularly difficult time. The service was excellent – what we learned was that we were foundering on: failure to take time off as we built up a business, bitter disagreements on discipline of our daughters (they left home in a huff anyway) and perennial money worries. How many marriages fall at these hurdles?

When I was classified 'manic depressive' I was sent to an excellent psychotherapist, also a priest. One of my problems had been a hyper-critical mother-in-law who bullied me for 25 years. I never said a word to my husband. This therapist said 'what do you want to do to her?' He then put a pouffee in the middle of the room and I bunged all the cushions at it. End of treatment!

At that time I also went to an excellent psychiatrist. He did not tread softly, but said 'You are not marriage material'. Who is? None of my ideas could have come to fruition, married or not, as a woman could NOT make it at that era (late 1960's I think). I had no qualifications either.

At Samaritans we were forbidden to 'counsel' we were untrained. We would give information – on Shelter, places for battered wives, and otherwise just listen. Latest cynicism, an awful aggressive woman came up wanting to sell our house – terrible manner – she does psychotherapy 'on line'. Can anyone do this with no training?

How do you merit counselling?

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/does-counselling-do-it-for-you

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

More on Drugs.

When I was nine I stole a penny gobstopper. It was acid green and about as big as the circle you make when you touch the tip of your thumb to the tip of your index finger. I sucked on that gobstopper and enjoyed it – right down to the crunchy aniseed bit in the middle. But even though I had stolen that gobstopper, there was still a price to pay.

I discovered something in the week that followed. I discovered that I cannot steal. I suffered the agonising and writhing pangs of remorse and guilt.

The following Saturday I chose another penny gobstopper, duly paying over my shiny penny. Then I dropped it back in the sweetie box while my little sister was picking her selection. I thought that would make it right, but it didn't. I remember that acid green gobstopper still.

I remembered it again last Friday while spending two hours with a consultant psychiatrist.

He asked me about my behaviour during my manic periods. Do I spend money without thinking (yes – but not to the point of irresponsibility), do I indulge in sexual behaviour out of character (yes – I do flirt, but I am not promiscuous), am I tempted to break the law?

Suddenly, I remembered all the times I have had to fight that almost overwhelming impulse to shoplift. Only little things: a magazine, a trinket, a bottle of mid-price perfume. I had never connected the dots before. These impulses occur when I am in my manic phase. I am deeply ashamed of these dark desires and have never given in to them; but only because I remember all too well the lesson of the acid green gobstopper.

The problem is that the periods of mania and subsequent depression are getting more frequent and more extreme. I was talking to the psychiatrist for a reason: we need to find a new treatment before I am arrested for shoplifting, before I do land myself in a situation I cannot control. Before the impulse to end it all swamps me and ends me.

He asked me too about those suicidal impulses. Do they come out of the blue, or when I have been brooding on unhappy things (they come without warning, and I try not to brood.) This was news to my poor husband sitting next to me and providing moral support. I had not told him how bad things get; I had not wanted to worry him – and he doesn't read these blogs.

So the psychiatrist recommended Lamotrigine. He's a sensible and compassionate man and he knows I want to go away and do my own research before making a decision.

The last time I saw a representative from the mental health team, nine years ago, they seemed more interested in ticking boxes than relating to me as an intelligent and responsible human being. They prescribed Sodium Valproate – a drug with many unpleasant side effects. I decided I would rather live with the bipolar.

This time, well – there seem to be very few side effects, and Lamotrigine is apparently effective: it can restore normality.

I think I might give it a try.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/the-more-on-drugs

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

P.S. It's just a day.

I can feel Christmas snapping at my ankles and I am wishing to shout a bit. I'm no fan of this time of year for a pile of reasons. Some years the stresses have been unexpected and shocking. This year the stresses are known about and its almost worse. (Near-strangers to stay at Christmas? What is this madness? I'm sick in my head! It's my worst nightmare ALIVE! It's Christmas for crying out loud!! Oh yeah... no room at the inn... the stable... spirit of the season... must remember... breathe.)

So I am just putting it out there now. Who will hold my hand? Who will soothe my brow when I am a whistling kettle?

Mood + Christmas = Scream. Shall we have a blog dedicated to Christmas stress where we can list the problems? No big explanations, just a list, long if you like. It will give the stress a place to be. And from there we can look, survey, sneer, nod, let it all out and therefore and LET IT ALL GO.

My list:

I think I'm borderline OCD so nothing feels 'done' enough.
I have 12 to cater for and four is plenty for my head.
I have two near-strangers coming and I don't want it. At ALL.
I can't stand the excess... of everything. I don't actually like receiving presents!
Routine goes and I need routine to survive.

There. It is said. Breathe out.

Once it's in black and white, it is a starting point of acceptance and letting go. Lists please.

Love from 
The room above the garage.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/p-s-its-just-a-day

Monday, 5 December 2016

Here I Go Again.

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WyF8RHM1OCg)

Aside from the gratuitous joy of being transported back to 1987 with hair to live for and 'The Ultimate Voice of Rock' - this song has a valuable message. (But not for driving lessons, OK? Please don't drive like that... ever.)

Here I go again, on my own...
Going down the only road I've ever known
...the lonely street of dreams
The Price of Dreams

Many of my spiritual friends get very excited about Dreams... and Unicorns ...and Fairies. Personally, I believe dreams can be very expensive and even painful. I'm sure Dr Martin Luther King Jnr would agree. Gandhi did. David Coverdale agrees too.

Sometimes, you're the only person who keeps believing in your dreams - and then those dreams become a lonely street. But if you don't keep believing in them, who will?

No one can see the World like you can. You are unique. So are your dreams. And that can be both lonely and hard. So, if, like me, you've got to one of those 'Here I Go Again' moments, there is much comfort to be found in this famous poem that follows.

Portia Nelson, "Autobiography in 5 Short Chapters" (copyright, Portia Nelson)

Chapter I

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost... I am hopeless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter II

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in this same place.
But it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter III

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it there.
I still fall in... it's a habit... but,
my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter IV

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter V

I walk down another street.

...Awesome Insight, eh?...

So here I go again - Chapter III - same brick wall (or hole in the sidewalk) I've hit (or fallen into) before. I know I'll survive, and I know I'll get out of it, but it is rather boring, isn't it? When will I learn?

Well, it's my fault - and that's liberating.

This has been a lonely street of dreams, and I'd like to walk around this hole next time, but more than that, maybe, just maybe it's time for you and me to walk down another street. What do you think?

And if that's the case, maybe, just maybe it's time for a new dream and a bit of company on the way this time.

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/here-i-go-again

Sunday, 4 December 2016

The Trees at Oakley.

I have always found trees to be a source of great solace, especially during difficult times when growing up, and I would love to hear other people's experiences of trees. The ones I write about here were a favourite in a nearby village when I moved to the area during adulthood, but I was horrified to discover a few years ago that one of them had been cut down and removed - I heard a while later it was for reasons of safety as it had sadly become diseased. This made me want to write about it and a poem seemed fitting, especially as I have always found poetry to be a way of expressing feelings which I could not convey in any other way.

THE TREES AT OAKLEY

Very old is the tree, its sinewy trunk stretching up and ever-skywards,
At one with the earth, rising out from the moss-cushioned, violetted soil;
Its roots emerging from the grainy ground as of a monster from the deep.

Flailing limbs toss and sway, dipping down to touch the frowsty floor,
Where claw-like feet peck and pick their way through crusted crunchy nutshells,
Foraging for fruit-bearing sustenance and nestled pools to cool a thirsty throat;
Seeking repose in dim, hushed hollows hewn between the roots.

Creeping ivy, ever-green on lime-green lichen,
Strives to meet with knobbled eyes, bulging out from scarred and pock-marked bark
Rent and straining as its girth grew and expanded.
While, deeper yet, etched sentinel-seer eyes watch wisely, tacitly.
A mottled, contorted and melancholy grin professes silent ire and unexpressed hidden sadness.

Broken branches rub a splintery canker where once festered a weeping open wound,
And stumpy amputations give way to stronger protrusions,
Twisted and melded into one,
Growing thinner and ever finer
As their lace-like fingers weave their latticework against an angry billowing sky;
First rustling, then rushing, as wind through the rafters of a ruined cathedral.

Very old was the tree, its flat cracked stump, cut off at ground level like a forest dweller's table,
The only proof of its neighbouring existence; its majestic gallantry gone for ever
As prevalent, wizened splendour was unpreventive of its own demise.
But hope springs yet, for seeded sproutlings of oak, holly and beech, encircling its bulk,
Flutter their infant leaves as they flitter their unquelled dance, expectantly,
Oblivious of their own fate;
Under the ever watchful guard of girded yews.

Nicky
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/the-trees-at-oakley

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Talking.

he first counsellor I spoke with was ok. I was filled with trepidation and yet hopeful that this would finally unravel the complications. Perhaps even grow a way forward of green grass, winking with daisies. It didn't do either. The valuable spark was missing. She was pleasant but we had no chemistry. I made about five visits, cried a lot and left feeling just as confused as ever.

I returned to counselling a few years later. This time, much less hope, just desperation. I paid privately because by then I knew what I didn't want. I didn't want to just talk and be heard. I didn't want to feel the clock ticking (and I mean by counting visits not the minutes within the hour). I didn't want to stay stuck. I wanted a proper working visit. I needed to understand why I was ill. I needed to understand how I might make progress. And I needed someone to tell me it was ok and be level with me about how having hope and making progress are not the same. They need to live together but one alone will not do for very long.

I must confess it was like opening Pandora's box. It got messy. I simply couldn't have done it without a professional. When she had to move on, I didn't feel finished but I did feel I had made huge leaps forward. Over the next few years, I visited the same place on two other occasions and had a mind sweep up. Usually when I felt desperate and usually when I felt that the last resort of medication was appearing on the horizon (I am supportive of medication, but it is entirely personal and it has not been great for me).

My message is that counselling may not work the first time but do not be put off. You may need to try different counsellors. You may need to try many times. But nobody will bring them to you on a plate, you will need to persevere and seek and try. You may need to tell your doctor what you need rather than accept what the budget wants to offer. I did not need CBT, I needed a proper clinical psychologist to step inside and rummage for me. (Rummage. Another great and under used word.)

That one counsellor with whom I made most progress, made a life difference to me. I am still digesting her lessons 8 years on. I use some of it to counsel myself when I am in the middle ground of my ill spells. Counselling is far from an easy option. But it can be extremely valuable and I fear it is falling out of fashion or budget in many circles.

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:

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/talking

Friday, 2 December 2016

Out of the blue.

It was a beautiful late spring afternoon and we were driving home after buying some great books for my shop. We were smiling and chatting when out of the blue, a gigantic red kangaroo lunged in front of our car.

I am not talking about a cute kangaroo that you see as a soft toy or a clever kangaroo like Skippy (wonders whether moodscopers ever saw Skippy the bush kangaroo on TV!). So this is a Jaws of the kangaroo world with a tail so powerful it could flatten a few humans at once and wreck a car.

My partner had no time to think he just swerved the car and an accident was averted.

My partner had to make a split second decision.

Nothing could have prepared him for this. We just looked at each other and thought about a few what ifs. What if my partner had not been able to move away from the kangaroo, what if the kangaroo had jumped on our car.

In our lives there are times when something happens out of the blue. There is no planning or preparation for some events. There is no time to think. To consider options. One must just act and hope for the best.

When something has happened suddenly out of the blue to you, what did you do? How did you feel afterwards?

The Australian Tourist bureau has asked - well told me to reassure you that most kangaroos are friendly.!! I would still be cautious of the big red kangaroos.

Leah 
A Moodscope member

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/out-of-the-blue

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Have you ever opened up to someone about something painful, only to be told that it was your own fault? That "You should've... or "You shouldn't have..."?

Has anyone told you "That's a self fulfilling prophesy" i.e. You brought it on yourself, or even worse, "You'll draw bad things to you if you think like that."!

One of the things that I love about Moodscope is that people are honest, compassionate and well meaning.  It feels safe, even to disagree.

I've learned so much from others on here that has really helped me.

Often I am moved by or can identify with someone's pain. I'll sometimes offer someone a tip that has helped me. I try to show them that I get how they feel and if I do suggest something that I have personally found helpful, I'll say "Maybe..." or "Perhaps..." so that whether they find the suggestion useful is an option. They have a choice. I run the risk of them feeling patronised, but it seems worth it if there's a chance it might ease or help them to protect themselves from experiencing the same pain again.

Personally, if I tell a trusted person of my pain, I want to hear that they understand how I feel. Maybe they've experienced the same, totally get where I'm coming from and that I'm not alone.

I often want reassurance, or to hear someone say that what that person did was unacceptable.

Not my fault, but their issue!

From a position of feeling safe and supported, I'm more open to other possibilities or points of view.

For me, "helping" is about intent. If the intent is negative, e.g. "To teach you a lesson" or "Being cruel to be kind", that's how I receive it. Negatively.

If the intent is positive and I trust that it's coming from a good heart, not blaming, instructing or directing, but the offering of a kind gift, I will receive it as such. I feel safe enough to consider it with an open mind and not feel threatened by it. Free to choose whether there's something that I can take onboard, incase it provides me with some relief, inspiration or support.

If there is something to add to my toolbox from someone who gets it, I am truly grateful.

For me, being gentle with people's feelings isn't mollycoddling them, it's being respectful.

I also respect that not everyone will agree.

A challenge for me has been to find compassion when my pain has been triggered. Challenging, but possible.

I love this quote that sums it up for me.

"Whenever you have truth, it must be given with love, otherwise the messenger and the message will be rejected".

Wishing peace and harmony to all.

LillyPet
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/heavy-handedness

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Just to the north of where I live is fen country.

Here the land stretches, further than the eye can see, without mountains, without hills, without even the slightest incline. Here is utter flatness under a vast East Anglian sky.

Today I am travelling north to give a talk to a ladies' charity luncheon. I take the road called Sixteen Mile Bank. Bank, because it travels along the side of one of the large fenland waterways which cut, ruler straight, through the fenland fields; Sixteen Mile – well, I'll let you guess.

This land may be flat, but to me it is beautiful. Today a late November sun is shining from a limpid sky, gilding the bare green rods of willow and flicking lights on the water so it flashes blue and silver and deepest mossy green.

A kestrel hangs unmoving in mid-air, suspended like an illusionist's trick. On the far side of the water a heron, statue-still, is a poem in platinum and steel against the greyed frost of the grass and water reeds. The light picks out a pair of swans, incandescent in their bright white and in the field beside me two horses are being lunged. Their chestnut coats gleam in the sun and their hooves make circular patterns on the ground like an intricate Spirograph.

My soul lifts and I feel joy. I want to share this beauty with someone.

So I'll share it with you.

Last week, there would have been no beauty and no joy. If I had driven this road and observed the sun, the sky, the birds, the water; it would have been an "Oh yes, a kestrel. A heron. Swans. Horses." There would have been no colour and no dancing light.

It is not because I am better that the light and colour have returned, but because of Citalopram (an antidepressant drug). Because of Citalopram I only have to spend a couple of weeks in the utter darkness before I am restored to the point where basic functionality at least is regained, where I actually wish to carry on living.

Before I gave in and accepted that medication might help, I had to cope with the black for months on end. Even then I had to try more than one type of antidepressant before I found one that worked.

And yes – I still have to be careful. After the talk I have to go home and sleep for a couple of hours. The journey home is done on autopilot and I remember nothing about Sixteen Mile Bank except the sensation of my hands gripping tight to the steering wheel, because driving that close to the mesmerising water is dangerous. Every year we lose people to the cold and dark fenland drains.

But at least, this week, I don't want to be among the number of those lost.

I am so very thankful for the drugs.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/drugs-drugs-glorious-drugs-with-apologies-to-flanders-and-swann

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Blogs.

I have noticed in recent weeks, new names on blogs and also in the comments section. This is pleasing as some have said that although you have been members of Moodscope for many years, this is the first time you have commented (or written a blog).

Moodscope is a place where you can be yourself and not be worried someone is going to criticise you.

We should all feel safe expressing our worries, problems, our dilemmas and telling our life histories or events which have distressed in the past or continue to do so now.

Some blogs set out to help in a gentle way and others help by showing us that we suffer the same things and thoughts and that we are probably more normal than we think since so many people suffer from some sort of mental health issue.

Moodscope has helped me over the years more than anything.

I am not a receptive patient and no therapy or doctor has managed to help me in the way I need. I can't be hypnotised or cognitively behaved and get so tired of being asked the same old questions by therapists so I have all but given up on the mental health professionals.

But reading the blogs and comments from such a caring community who has suffered in different ways but who come across with kindness and warmth have made me feel a hundred times better about myself, and some of the remedies offered have also helped.

So keep the blogs and comments coming in. You never know who you are helping. I try to write every now and again but new names are always a pleasure to see. As well as Lex, Mary, Leah, ratg and our other favourites.

We should all be bottled and sold or given away as a therapy which is guaranteed to work!!

Jul 
A Moodscope member

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/blogs