Thursday, 18 January 2018


When I was a child if an adult or teacher told me, they were disappointed in me I would feel so small and start to cry. It was the one criticism that I dreaded and really wounded me. As a people pleaser the thought I had disappointed an adult because I said something a bit rude or when a teacher said I disappointed her because I had left my homework at home, was too overwhelming for me to understand. People expected me to be good - when I slipped a bit they were disappointed. My upper lip would tremble, and I would say as many sorrys as I could before curling up like a misshapen rock sobbing softly and getting cross with myself.

What is it about disappointing others that many like me find so hard to bear? Is it because we have set ourselves such high standards or that others have too high expectations. When you are well behaved it is only a matter of time before you have a minor fall from grace. If you are always diligent there will be a time when you are not. You can't please everyone all the time so you are bound sooner or later not to please someone. I know the theory but the practice is harder.

I found when I first had my mood swing I was so disappointed in myself because I thought I was destined to go smooth sailing through my life and then when it didn't happen I blamed myself for being such a mess.

I think disappointing myself has always upset me more than disappointing others. I am not sure when I realized I was not going to be a world famous academic or writer and that I needed to lower my expectation and be content with what I have. Well to be honest, while I realize those things aren't going to happen I secretly imagine they may.

Does it worry you if someone says you disappoint them?

Do you find yourself a disappointment? Why or why not?

A Moodscope member.

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

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Why Worry?

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

I think we all have a special seminal album in our lives. Sometimes we have one for each decade. For me, the seventies produced A Night at the Opera by Queen; the eighties The Joshua Tree by U2; the nineties, Gorecki's Symphony of Sorrowful Songs and the noughties, Lady Gaga's The Fame (tied with Karl Jenkin's The Armed Man). We're not out of the teens yet, but so far Night Visions by Imagine Dragons is looking good for it.

There are other albums which hold a special place in my heart; albums I return to again and again. One of them nearly pipped U2 in the nineties: Dire Straits' Brothers in Arms.

Not only does it contain the eponymous track, but also the wonderful 'Why Worry?' Follow this link for eight and a half minutes of utter bliss:

I was recently sent an email with some of the most beautiful advice I have ever received. It contains two sections on worry.

'Never borrow from the future. If you worry about what may happen tomorrow and it doesn't happen, you have worried in vain. Even if it does happen, you have to worry twice.'

I think we can all acknowledge the wisdom of this, but it's not always easy, is it, to just – stop – worrying?

But there is more advice.

'Separate worries from concerns. If a situation is a concern, find out what you can do and let go of the anxiety. If you can't do anything about a situation, forget it.'

Sometimes it takes a real effort of will to forget something we can't do anything about. If the situation is out of our control; if we have done everything we possibly can; if the problem belongs absolutely to another person, we can stop worrying.

Two nights ago, I was texting with a friend. "I feel like giving up," he said. "I may as well just kill myself..." then he went quiet. And I had to consider my options.

This friend lives a hundred miles away and it was 2am. If he lived in the same town I could have popped round, banged on his door and sat up with him. Could I reasonably do more, in this situation, than tell him he was loved and cared for? And that things would probably look better in the morning – when he wasn't drunk!

I turned over and went back to sleep. Because lying awake wasn't going to help anyone. But it did take an effort of will to dismiss him from my thoughts.

And – yes – he's still with us; still depressed, but here.

Worry helps no one.

And – from a favourite hero of my childhood:

Biggles's Philosophy

When you are flying, everything is all right or it is not all right.

If it is all right there is no need to worry. If it is not all right one of two things will happen. Either you will crash or you will not crash.

If you do not crash there is no need to worry. If you do crash one of two things is certain. Either you will be injured or you will not be injured.

If you are not injured there is no need to worry. If you are injured one of two things is certain. Either you will recover or you will not recover.

If you recover there is no need to worry. If you don't recover you can't worry.

From Spitfire Parade, by Capt. W.E. Johns, Oxford University Press, 1941

A Moodscope member.

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

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

The Root of all Evil?

The actual quotation is "For the love of money is the root of all evil".  It is not money  that is evil, but the greed and dishonesty it can inspire.

A few things prompted this blog. I watched a T.V. programme about the emergency services. It focused on the  rise in calls involving panic attacks, and suicide attempts. Money problems, zero- hour contracts and unemployment were a common feature. A distraught woman  reported that her husband, a successful businessman employing a large workforce, was missing. His company was in trouble, he felt responsible for 150 mortgages. Tragically he was found hanged.

Last weekend I watched The Florida Project. It is the story of the cheap rundown motels surrounding Disneyland, home to a large moving population of people scratching a living, fighting to maintain some dignity, and often failing.

Then I watched a Ted Talk by a pair of young Americans calling themselves The Minimalists. Their philosophy is that we have more than is good for us.

I am now financially comfortable, although I have an irrational fear of poverty. This is a hangover from a couple of periods in the past, when I truly did not know where the next meal was coming from. I recall one dinner, Weetabix, a dented tin of pears from the back of the pantry, strawberry blancmange. Surprisingly tasty, but most importantly, filling.

I was doing 3 jobs to pay the bills. Around the same time a friend suggested we meet for lunch. It was at a local wine bar, not too expensive. I worked out that if I lived on baked potatoes and toast for a couple of weeks, and cut my own hair, I could split the bill.

She was the daughter of titled parents, living rent-free in a lovely house owned by the family. She was just off to Los Angeles; plane tickets a gift from friends over there. She spent the lunch bemoaning her poverty, she could not afford facials and leg waxing before the trip. I heard myself say, "Let me get this" and she did not argue. I walked away, the meal turned to lead in my stomach. My idea of being broke was not quite the same as hers.

To this day I cannot put my card in the cash machine without a small lurch in my guts - will it get swallowed up, am I overdrawn?

I have had the usual bad times in my life, but next to serious illness or death of loved-ones, I can think of nothing that is as depressing and debilitating as long-term money worry.

A saying of my mother's - "When money goes out the door, love flies out the window". A therapist told me that more marriages break up over money than sex or infidelity. Money clearly represents something pretty powerful in our relationships.

It's not just marriage. How many siblings seem fine with each other, until a parent's will is read? Then all the grudges and resentments from the past come out.

I would be interested to know if money, or lack of it, has played a part in your mental health problems?  On a lighter note, what has been the most "creative" dinner you have conjured up when strapped for cash-your penny-pinching signature dish.

A Moodscope member.

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

Monday, 15 January 2018

Healed by Music.

On two occasions already this year, classical music has had a soothing effect upon my soul. Those of us who experience and understand depression, will resonate with the sense of torment that so often pervades everything and every day. Music can heal this torment.

Yesterday, in the dark before dawn, I stood on the platform at Dorking station and reflected on the fact that I would rather be under the train that was arriving than on the train. My day went OK and then the journey back was worse than the journey to London. I was not in my happy place!

My sister, bless her, gave me her ticket to see and listen to the London Philharmonic Orchestra at Dorking Halls. I sat with my Dad, who was well enough at last to go out, listening to the magic of Mozart, Brahms, and Schubert. What we saw was as exciting as what we heard – animated and enthusiastic musicians putting their heart and soul into creating a collaborative work of beauty. Dad said he had 'woken up' for the first time in weeks. The music was healing him too.

This, for me, was the climax of Civilisation – the highest expression of what it was to be human and part of a tribe or team. Whilst I am sure there are politics in any orchestra, we were blissfully unaware of any disharmony. All we saw and heard was harmony, unity, symphony. And, God, was it good!

The Orchestra offers us hope – hope that there are models of working together for common good that require no win-lose scenario. There were no losers last night, just winners. No teams fighting for supremacy, just one team.

Is it time for you and me to bring our own orchestra together to orchestrate a better future? The Double Bass section was close to the Cellos but they played a different yet complementary role. I can't go on like this alone – I need a team to perform with – I need to belong to something bigger than myself where my 'flow' supports other people in their talents. I need a team to create something of beauty with my life... and I'm certain you do too.

I've picked you already for my team – my orchestra. Your support and understanding often plays the key role in keeping me moving forward. For that, I thank you all. Now, I wonder what beauty we could create if we put our minds together?

A Moodscope member.

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

Sunday, 14 January 2018

In The Hole.

I feel as if I have fallen into a hole, and I've left all the tools that I need to get myself out up on the surface.

I can try to figure out another way to get myself out. I can ask friends to throw some tools in to help me. Or I can sit in my hole and patiently wait it out.

I do know what I need to do and I have got better at being kind to myself, I'll eventually get around to using those tools again too. Some are easier, like drink enough water, get to bed early, get out for some fresh air. Some are harder when they collide with other daily duties of work and family care.

I bet we are all familiar with the frustration of finding yourself in the hole and knowing the tools are just out of reach to us at that moment. What do you do? What strategies do you have that are easiest to employ?

A Moodscope member.

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

Saturday, 13 January 2018


This is my first blog.

I've been reading the others for a while now and never felt able or indeed competent enough to contribute. The blogs are all incisive and thought provoking. Not sure I can match that. At the back of my mind, well, at the forefront really, I don't want to come across as a whiny self absorbed individual.

I'm feeling pretty low at the moment.

Work isn't going too well. An incident two weeks ago has left me feeling very shaken. Being shouted at by a member of staff openly in front of colleagues in the presence of my manager was humiliating to say the least. The incident was bad enough but then when the manager ignored it I felt completely unsupported. When I asked her she said 'leave it...that's the way she gets on.

I'm just shocked and stunned. Undermined once again by my manager who has her favourites and will always support them regardless. I did tell her in an attempt to stick up for myself that I disagreed with her indifference and felt unsupported. That honest approach just backfired. More senior staff were drafted in and I ended up being firmly told I was in the wrong.

Bullies best not to speak up.

Well that's my tale of woe.

How do I cope with this overwhelming sense of negativity. How do I move on. Any ideas, coping strategies...any advice would be welcome. I need some of your ideas to get back on track.

A Moodscope member.

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

Friday, 12 January 2018

Your Comfort Blanket.

I am addicted to 'Charlie Brown' cartoons. There is a character called Linus, who sucks his thumb and carries a blanket around. Everybody tries to 'wean' him from it, particularly his grouchy sister Lucy. Then, a challenge is offered, if Grandma gives up smoking, will Linus part with his blanket? He agrees with utter confidence, Grandma will never give up her fags. She does. Consternation, Linus pictured with hair standing on end.

I am writing this on Christmas Eve 2017, having the blog today on 'Parties'. At our age Christmas cards/letters/e-mails are usually fairly predictable. Aches and pains, deaths (if not notified at the time) and the achievements of grand-children. But one floored me completely, from very good friends in Adelaide, Australia. One of their daughters had bouts of depression, quite seriously – but she seemed cured enough to finish her doctoral thesis. Now I hear she is hospitalised with profound depression, which must be pretty serious. Their other daughter (two sons as well) is a GP.

With her husband they struggled for 11 years with infertility treatments, until finally giving up and adopting two Indian brothers (wee bit of influence from us). Now, we hear he has early onset dementia, and, at 55, is in a worse state than my husband at 87. Their life is wrecked; she has had to stop work. At that age you are usually at the pinnacle of your profession, saving for your retirement and educating your children. Not only is the present grim for the whole family but the future 'mortgaged' to this dreadful illness. I read this e-mail having left Mr G's care home, where at least sufferers are usually in their late 80's. I looked for comfort, and found it.

I keep my own blogs in my inbox – quick reference to the subject matter, try not to repeat myself. I read the posts to many – particularly to 'I never promised you a rose garden'. The replies, now over three years of blogging, are a 'comfort blanket'. My subjects can be something arising from a previous blog or post, something silly that has happened, a distant memory.

Moodscope was 'conceived' for depressives. But 'all human life is there'. We are, naturally, obsessed with our own problems – usually what drove us to Moodscope in the first place. But throughout there are word pictures of people's lives, loves, environments, problems. Also, favourite books, music, humour, information (on helpful therapies, medication etc). A comfort blanket indeed.

The picture is of yet another Christmas in India. I had made individual shawls for the children in the convent, and we'd gathered masks and hats. People might ask 'Shawls, in India?' But the children, in a Catholic convent, got up early for mass, they also got fevers. They had few personal possessions; those pretty shawls were personal, all very pretty, vital for an Indian girl.

I do hope you have a 'comfort blanket', real or metaphorical.

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien.

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

It was a lime green gobstopper, about the size of the circle you make when you place the tips of your thumb and middle finger together. It cost tuppence in old money and I had already spent my weekly sixpence.

I stole that green gobstopper when I was nine years old and it still haunts me.

You only regret the things you don't do.

At first this seems like a stupid thing to say. After all, I bet we've all done some idiotic things in the past which seemed like a good idea at the time and then had to deal with the resulting mess, whether physical or emotional.

I know I have acted out of anger, out of pain, out of exhaustion. I have done some things which, on balanced judgement, I would never have considered: things which were against my moral code; things which broke the law; things which were dangerous. Things that hurt other people.

And I've also done some good things which turned out really badly.

But I don't regret any of them.

I don't regret going on that horse-trekking adventure which resulted in my smashed ankle. I don't regret taking Tom into our lives (and no – sadly, that hasn't worked out; I'll write about it one day) and I don't regret taking the job which turned out to be a disaster. I don't even regret that lime green gobstopper, because it taught me something valuable.

I do regret not studying for my exams, I regret not going on medication for my bi-polar condition earlier, I regret not going to America with my friend Raz when he asked me.

But, if I twist it around, then – do I regret all the books I read, all the writing I did, while I could have been studying? Do I regret the years spent working through the highs and lows of mania and depression and the lessons learned from that? Do I regret prioritising the needs of my family over the desires of my friend?

When I change the negatives to positives my perception changes.

It's very easy to find ourselves in a vortex of negative thinking. When things go wrong, we start a vicious circle of self-blame and castigation. It doesn't help anyone.

We mostly do the best we can with the resources we have available. When we fail to do what we know or believe to be right, then it's because we do not have sufficient resources to bolster our resolution or to support us against anger, pain or physical weakness.

Sometimes we don't do things because we don't have the knowledge.

But we always did something else.

The trick is not to regret the something else.

A Moodscope member.

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

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Have you ever tried running in wellies?

No... well, I have and it's not easy. So wellies may be great for keeping your feet dry but I can assure you they are not designed for running in. So picture this, I have let the dog off the lead, but suddenly realise that she has run ahead to chase the geese, and there am I, trying to move as fast as I can, in a pair of wellies, skippering and sliding, across the slopes of our local park. There is nothing gracious about this middle-aged, slightly overweight lady waddling her way through the muddy banks.

What can I do?

In life, when we are depressed, we often feel slowed down, not able to keep up, operating on a different level to the rest of the world. At times like these it's not easy to pull the wellies off. (Even in real life, getting the wellies off at times poses a challenge).

So what can we do? Wellies are not designed for running. Get your trainers on if that's your thing. When in wellies all we can do is slow down... and why run at life?

So the reality is the dog is going to chase the geese in any case, there is no way I can outrun her. And sometimes accept you are running in mud. It's a slow, ungaily walk which doesn't get easier walking. And maybe someone's trying to tell you something... now's not the time for running. It's time to slow down, allow yourself some breathing space, allow the mind to heal... there will be other days for sprinting.

A Moodscope member.

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

Saturday, 6 January 2018


When my loved ones are asked what is my biggest flaw, they say in unison 'impatience". I find this perplexing because if you asked me what is my greatest strength I would say patience.

What is happening here, are my loved ones misreading my behaviour or do I have little insight into my behaviour. Maybe it is a matter of interpretation and context.

People say I am impatient when I see myself as eager and encouraging. When people talk I wait and listen but sometimes I may ask a question, which to me shows how interested I am, yet others see me as being impulsive and impatient. I see myself as being patient as I wait without complaining, I try to be patient with people who are having problems and to be tolerant of others behaviour.

I see patience as enduring difficult situations such as waiting calmly if things are delayed and it is also having provocation without responding in negative annoyance/anger.

Patience is the level of tolerance one can have before negativity in the form of comments and or behaviour but do we all have the same level of patience or does it vary from person to person and within the individual. I know when I feel low I am much more impatient and when I was manic I had virtually no patience with anyone else.

It occurred to me that I have always viewed patience in terms of degrees. As in common phrases like, "You just need to be a bit more patient" or "Developing patience." Or "Don't be so impatient."

Maybe the divide between impatience and patience is not along a scale. The change from impatience to patience is rather having a different attitude rather than an effort.  Instead of being patient, maybe another way is to become patient.

When you are stressed how do you stay patient?

Do you have degrees of patience depending on your mood or the situation?

Do you think your friends/family see your level of patience different from your own?

A Moodscope member

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