Thursday, 31 July 2014

Human-Beings or Human-Doings?

"In work we have to find high ground from the arriving tsunami of expectation concerning what I am going to do. Work, like marriage, is a place you can lose yourself more easily than perhaps finding yourself. It is a place full of powerful undercurrents, a place to find ourselves, but also, a place to drown, losing all sense of our own voice, our own contribution and conversation." David Whyte

This quote from David Whyte's excellent book 'The Three Marriages', I believe begins to explore a number of the blogs and comments on Moodscope.

There have been comments on how challenges start at work or how people cannot be themselves at work and I'm sure some will also 'lose' themselves in work. And then of course we also have the complexity of marriage and our own identity.

Many of us will spend far more of our living life at work than anywhere else and yet we mostly do so as Human-Doings and not Human-Beings.

Work also, as local communities diminish, can become our most constant and supportive or disturbing 'community'.  The challenge can come if our personal values conflict with those at work and whether we feel empowered or disempowered, lead or managed, loved or left?

In the midst of a seemingly endless life, however, we can spend as much time attempting to put food on the table or holding a relationship together that we often neglect the necessary internal skills which help us pursue, come to know, 'and sustain a marriage with the person we find on the inside', as David Whyte would say.

Why do so many of us struggle to feel connected?

There is so much around to 'separate' us from ourselves and that third 'marriage' (to yourself) - after the 'marriage' to work and/or spouse - to be OK with who and what you are.

If you cannot like and love yourself - can you possibly like or love anyone else?

Our real challenge in life is often to be strong enough to be who we really are, whether in work or not, as so much around us attempts to pull and push us into becoming someone else.

How much do you believe you are truly happy in your three 'marriages' - what you do and who you live with (if anyone) and crucially with yourself?

A Moodscope member.

PS. Here's a poem I wrote when I left as Chief Executive of Moray Council.

Pain yet hope inside

I put my life on hold
As the air around grew cold,
I went inside to hide
But I lost my peace and pride.

I lost my way in life
As I dealt with stressful strife,
Other people's problems not mine
Plus a porous and poisonous grapevine.

I went in search of spirit
But there was no breath left in it,
It was my direction I had to find
To leave this pain so far behind.

Someone has to make a stand
And get back to those shaking hands,
This sign of trust and honesty
For a culture which will save the day.

No paper signed in triplicate
No contract clause to squeeze and fit,
No doing you down immorally
We need to find integrity.

So when my blackness then befell
I mostly could then always tell,
That it would touch me from inside
Of how we live in a world with pride.

So if you wish sustainable success
It's not about the push and press,
But trusting in yourself and staff
And making sure you have a laugh.

Only then will all your friends and foes
Clearly see the way to go,
Is open and honest with respect
It is only then you can 'collect'.

The happiness you search inside
The one that's never found outside,
The one we never clearly see
Until you find what's inside 'me'.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Holiday Preparations.

So we plan the holiday, book the tickets, pack the suitcases, organise the neighbour to look after the cat; we even remember the sunscreen.

But how many of us remember to guard our mental health while on holiday? Surveys have shown that holidays are, after bereavement, divorce, moving house and redundancy, the most stressful time in our lives.

Well, I do have to plan for my holiday, because I get ill (depressed) if I don't.

I'm lucky enough to be able to take the whole of August away from work and to spend it in a chalet right on the beach (albeit a muddy beach with more rocks than sand – but nevertheless, a beach). This is an immense privilege and I am deeply grateful, but it's not all delight.

For a start, there's no routine, or at least, there's a different routine. I like getting up early; I like meals at regular times and I really like my alone time. On holiday the family tends to sleep late, all timings are tide-dependant (because for two hours either side of high tide everyone is either on or in the water) and the chalet is so small and so stuffed full of family and friends that I rarely get more than an hour or so by myself!
So we (my therapist and I) put together a plan. Here it is, in case some elements of it might work for you.

1. Continue to do Moodscope every day (this involves buying a MIFI so I have internet access). Buddies get to watch like hawks. Also continue with tapping, meditation and EFT daily.
2. Being honest with friends and neighbours at the coast about my recent depression so they understand and give me space.
3. Severely limit the alcohol intake (very difficult in that environment) but I know it's better for me.
4. Go to bed by 10.30pm regardless of whatever beach party is going on.
5. Create a flexible menu plan and have the necessary food delivered so I'm not worried about what to feed people.
6. Ensure I create at least 2.5 hours a day solitary time (if they are out doing beach/water things I am inside with a note on the door saying "Mary is resting". If they are inside then I am out walking). This time can be used for reading or writing or crafting. The important thing for me, being such an introvert, is that I am by myself.
7. Swim for half an hour every day, or, if the weather does not allow this, take a long walk.
8. Spend half an hour a day with the children doing school homework (Most of the kids down there do this, so mine don't feel hard done by, honest!)
9. Love my husband, and make sure he does what he wants to do too.
10. Have Fun!

You will have your own priorities, but make sure you plan for your own mental health and have a great holiday!

A Moodscope member.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Self Soothing.

Here is a useful tool to keep in your tool box. Like most new skills it needs regular practise and frequent use to stop it becoming forgotten and rusty.

Imagine talking directly to your soul; your innermost core. Ask what it really wants and needs. I guess your answers may be similar to mine some of the time. This afternoon I feel empty and isolated despite having a loving partner and family. My soul needs comfort, warmth, reassurance and a small space just to be still.

Self- soothing is about recognising and allowing your emotional needs to be important and acting on that to care for yourself.

I have an image of wrapping my soul in a blanket, of bathing it and nourishing it and respecting it. Sometimes it needs a dose of steely determination to complete a long walk or to ride out a panic attack. At other times it needs nudging out of self-pity with a wry dose of humour. When I am really overwhelmed with life I try to pour a feeling of peace into my soul. I keep reminding myself to do this; giving myself repeated doses. Sometimes it helps quite a lot.

Today I am acknowledging and acting on my emptiness and isolation. I have made a huge mug of hot milky coffee, wrapped myself in a fluffy blanket and am reading a good book; a warm easy happy novel.

Is this incredibly selfish or self-soothing? The answer is probably both. I know it helps when I am able to do it.

Maybe you too could ask your soul what it needs and then sooth it, feed it and bathe it too.

A Moodscope member.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Time to look after yourself, now!

Is today yet another day that stretches out in front of you with no real purpose?
You may not see anyone, there's no phone call or letter and nothing seems worth watching on TV.

The joys of living alone can be completely overlooked when your life has changed from being frantically busy and needed to, for whatever reason, leading a solitary existence.

But think a while and recognise your past successes, however great or small.

You may have had a successful career, helped ageing parents, schooled children and taught them to be independent; you may have been a good neighbour. You will be able to think of other triumphs if you set your mind to it.

And now you need to look after yourself a little bit. No pressure, just getting out of bed, taking it easy and creating one achievement a day no matter how great or small.

Here's a list of possibles to start with. You can add your own as well.

1. Get yourself a new indoor plant, preferably flowering, and note its development; slow but sure. That plant needs you to water and encourage it.

2. Treat yourself to something you have never tried for lunch or tea. You don't have to cook it yourself; there are plenty of ready-made dishes in supermarkets!

3. Take a short walk if you can (or sit by an open window or door) and notice anything unusual; or even just appreciate the usual things.

4. Go to a coffee morning: the local church usually has one and you don't have to go again if you don't like it! You could even ask someone in for coffee (it's useful to give them the start and finish time).

At the end of the day note the thing you did in a diary. It will be interesting to look back on in the future.

A Moodscope member.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

The Pus Pages.

For cat lovers this isn't referring to kitty stories.  Nope.

The positive thing about writing is that you connect with yourself in the deepest way, and that's heaven. You get a chance to know who you are, to know what you think. You begin to have a relationship with your mind. - Natalie Goldberg

Perhaps, I feel, even more important than having a relationship with your mind is getting in touch with your feelings. My Pus Pages help me do just that. Otherwise known as the 'morning pages' spoken of in The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron.

Each day, if I can, I squeeze out all the mental pus by writing, uncensored and unmeasured, in a cheap ole notebook. There is little beauty to be found here and they are not to be read back over. (These pages are not like my journals which contain only the beautiful strands of my everyday tapestry.) There certainly isn't checking of spelling, grammar or sentence structure. You simply go at it, not stopping until you have filled both sides of an A4 piece of paper. Sometimes I'll scribble (if the pus isn't free flowing) down something nice, like the how pretty the flowers look in front of me but, for the most part, it's all the ruminations, anxieties, upsets and the tumbles of everyday.

Kept up and done regularly, these pages can cause the fault lines running through our life to shift and move. In short, they can cause little miracles and blessings to happen. It's like walking through dense jungle and then suddenly having a kindly native come up and walk in front of you, machete in hand, clearing the way before you. You'll become suddenly very aware of what goals you need to set or what areas of your life you'd like to change or improve. Indeed, everything becomes a lot clearer.

Last Sunday, I felt deeply agitated and edgy. I then I realised, I'd failed to do my Pus Pages for the last week or so. Oh I'm a master at this. I have severe lows, I relearn all the things that help, I manifest little signs of improvement so then, stupidly, stop doing all the things that help and then, obviously, still being firmly ensconced in the Fragile Camp, I start sinking again.

Your pages almost certainly won't contain epiphanies, winsome words, grandiose thoughts; they will however, be packed with all the everyday tedium, fretting and daily angsts. Stick with it though. Life sure gets a lot clearer and calmer when you clear out all the mental garbage each day.

Imagine if you didn't empty your rubbish bin regularly!

A Moodscope member.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Are you stressed?

The clearest thing I remember the psychiatrist saying to me when I was diagnosed with type II bipolar disorder in 2012 was 'you MUST keep stress levels down'. Easier said than done as we all know, but it's something that I've taken with me and tried to live by ever since, although almost impossible at times with a busy life, two very energetic young boys and recently, an even more energetic puppy!

Yet I think we would all agree that the psychiatrist has a very valid point. The impact of stress on us all in the modern world is huge and can lead to all sorts of problems with physical and mental health. The bipolar episodes I'd been experiencing on a virtually non-stop cycle for at least 2 years when I saw this psychiatrist were in no small part linked to stress – work stress, family stress and a lot of relationship problems that had been ongoing for a few years, thankfully now resolved. I was mentally burnt out, totally exhausted and very frightened about what was happening to me and from what I have read since my diagnosis, bipolar and stress have a very common - and strong - link.

In trying to take the psychiatrist's advice on board since that time, I have learnt that I have to do certain things in order to keep well, whilst I cannot do other things now.

Getting enough sleep and fresh air, good diet, medication at the right time and watching alcohol intake are all a must (boring at times – the 20 year-old party girl of the past would be horrified!) whereas very late nights or drinking-only nights out are a no-no now, it's just not worth the fall out for the next few days. Of course it all slips now and then (and it's bliss to relinquish that control sometimes, like on holiday!) but on the whole, life stays happier, calmer and more stable trying to stick with what I know helps.

And on the subject of saying no, it's another thing I've learnt can be a powerful tool in stress management and reduction, but I'm sure that's another blog!!

A Moodscope member.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Healing Myself.

Nine months after my Mother died in 2010 I went to my GP who said I had low mood from grief.

I heard about Moodscope from the radio and joined that day. It has helped me so much, especially the daily emails, which, on my worst days were the only encouragement I had to get up and face the day.

Knowing there are people out there who understand is priceless.

I have worked hard to heal myself with professional help from a counsellor who is also a qualified hypnotherapist.

I wanted to share something with the Moodscope community. He taught me self-hypnosis. My key words are: "I am in control of my thoughts, my feelings and my actions".

But I was anxious that I wasn't doing it right. And the moment of realisation came when he said "There is no right; if it feels good for you, then that's fine."

This had an amazing effect on me as I felt free to be myself at last.

A Moodscope member.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

When we need help - Ask.

Just this week, I was asked by someone I knew, but had never met, to write a poem for a very personal distressing situation.

They wanted to write a poem, but for various reason could not do so, possibly as it was just too emotional.

They knew I could usually put words into a form that would flow and asked would it be possible for their situation.

I felt my own mood lift.

Here was I in a low place and yet to help and serve someone else immediately made me feel 'useful', while giving me a sense of worth.

All too often we may not ask or approach someone else for fear of them 'being too busy' or that they 'may not want to'.

If we think such things, we are immediately putting our thoughts onto them and denying them their own thoughts, or their ability to help us, as well as feeling wanted.

How many times do we say to people - "X will be far too busy", or, "I'm sure they may not want to do that" and decide that to hear a refusal would be worse...yet they are our close friends.

If we do so, we are not only disempowering them, we are also negating the building of stronger communication links and the creation of a greater support system. A support system for which we possibly crave.

I often use a phrase - 'Show weakness to gain strength'.

We are all insecure in our own way and for others to show that they need help or advice strengthens our trust in each other and the person who often starts that growth, is the one who initially asks for help. How would you feel if you found out that a friend didn't ask you as they thought you may say no or be too busy?

What do you need help with today?

Who can you ask and enable them to help if they can?

Asking not Tasking

To ask others,
Is to help them too.
You can't help someone,
Without helping 'you'.

How often do we take,
That 'helping' away.
We say they'll be busy,
Too busy today.

So we sit in our 'failure',
And struggle on by.
We are not important,
But why oh why?

Do we not offer others,
The chance to say yes.
To help their friend,
To serve and to bless.

That friendship of years,
Through laughter and tears.
To strengthen that bond,
Through hopes and through fears.

So when you want help,
Give them their place.
To serve their friend,
And the human race.

A Moodscope member.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

What is 'Normal'?

What's normal for me is probably not normal for you.

Three instances:

• My therapist regularly scores 100% when she takes the Moodscope test (she doesn't have depression, but many of her clients do, so she monitors herself to keep on track with them).
• When I am well my score is regularly 75%.
• My daughter will feel quite well but will score 45%.

This may have less to do with our actual mood than our scoring system.

For example, after each one of my classes, my clients are invited to submit a feedback form (anonymously if they wish) to my Head Office. I am always rather amused by this form as they can only say that I am 'good', 'very good', 'excellent' or 'outstanding'. If they have been disappointed in the consultation I think they are supposed to phone up and tell my directors how appalling the experience has been. In thirteen years only one person has done this: you always get at least one, don't you!

The point of this is that, for me, if I get anything less than outstanding, I feel I have failed. Yet there are some of my clients who could never bring themselves to rate even the best experience in the world as more than 'very good'. Yes, they were satisfied, even pleased, with the consultation, but their personality is such that they would never use the rather fulsome words 'delighted' or 'outstanding.' They are British, don't you know!

So some of us can never bring ourselves to score a three on any of the cards; it's just not in us. Personally, I've never scored more than a one on the pride card, but regularly score a three on determined, enthusiastic and inspired (when well, that is: just at the moment if they get a one it's a good day).

So don't compare yourself with other Moodscope users. If you have a mutual buddy system going then do try to follow your buddy's pattern rather than thinking their scores are regularly higher or lower than your own. You might be having a good day at 45%, but if your buddy scores 45% it might be a very bad day for them.

Like a lot of things, the Moodscope system is subjective. It is the pattern over time that is most helpful for us. If you can afford to upgrade from Moodscope Lite then I would recommend it highly. Now that I can see three years' worth of scores the pattern is illuminating and helps me manage my condition. It was extremely useful when I recently changed GP; she could clearly see my bi-polar cycle: the evidence was there, all neatly plotted out on the graph.

But the most useful thing of all: taking the test every day. You can't see the pattern if you don't have the basic data! Don't get disheartened when your result is consistently low, and don't neglect Moodscope when well. You need the good and the bad, the ups and the downs to effectively see the landscape of your emotional health.

Good luck with your own very personal (and subjective) map-making!

A Moodscope member.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Happy Talk.

Once as a small child I watched the musical South Pacific on TV. I remember very little, if any, of the storyline, but what stuck with me was the music. I've said before that music is something which really connects me to my feelings and emotions and not always for the good. That time it was a positive and really enjoyable experience. I loved the song Happy Talk and the melody and cadence of the music still make me smile to this day.

I recently added it to my 'Happiness tracks' and I listened carefully to the song driving to work one morning last week. How true for me those lyrics are, I suddenly thought.

'Talk about things you'd like to do'. If you talk about the things you'd like to do research has shown that you are much more likely to do them. Maybe it's just the verbal commitment or maybe we're all too scared to go back on our word, but we feel we can't back out once we've shared an idea with others. Whatever it is you want to do; wherever you want your life to take you, share that idea or thought or plan with someone; anyone who will listen; and it might just be a help in achieving your goal.

'You gotta have a dream - if you don't have a dream - how you gonna have a dream come true?'

So start right now. Share your dream; talk, talk, talk, about it to anyone and everyone who will listen. Keep happy by planning your dream: writing about it, photographing it, pinning it, tasting it, visiting it. Whatever 'it' is, talk happy about it until your dream comes true.

Happy Talking...and just for the record I 'm going to learn how to keep bees.

Share your dreams...

A Moodscope member.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Into every life a little rain must fall.

I have blogged before about making the positive choice; focussing on the sunny side; nurturing instead of nagging ourselves; being our own best friend rather than our own worst enemy. But what about the times when we can't do this; when we can't even see the positive let alone focus on it; when we feel swamped by our own personal black cloud – whatever that may be? How can we continue then?

When we manage to focus on the positive, it is not a question of doing so at the expense of the negative; nor is it trying to deny the negative feelings. On the contrary, it is important to acknowledge the bleakness, the negativity and perhaps even to accept it as being an integral part of us.

Throughout my life my default position has been to deny the reality of my negative feelings; but I am slowly coming to realise that this strategy has served only to make matters worse.

Diana Ross once sang about having a broken heart with the line "Good morning heartache; sit down." and several Moodscopers have referred to their "black dog". I now try to be more accepting of my bleak and negative feelings. Sometimes I will deliberately listen to music which makes me sad – almost as if I am giving myself permission to feel bleak (but always with a time limit and always with a cup of tea afterwards). Hubby's current phrase which is helping me is: "Into every life a little rain must fall".

So in the bleak times I try to remind myself that I just have to trust that it will not be like this forever; that one day, maybe even later today, it will pass, like a heavy shower, or a dense fog...

I loved Rika's final paragraph on her blog 18th February and think that it is well worth repeating:  "I wish you a wonderful day, but in the case that you aren't having a wonderful day, I offer a knowing smile and I hope that your tomorrow is better."

A Moodscope member.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

I just have to remember I'm still me.

I've had long spells of 'low mood' for a good few years. For ages, I wanted to know 'why'. My life is good. My wife truly loves me (I've stopped wondering why - no good can come of pulling on a thread!) I have a good job and am well-off financially.

It wasn't until recently that I realised that knowing 'why' doesn't really help. I discovered that I have low testosterone. That causes (amongst other things) low mood. Having T treatment helped my mood enormously, though the levels do vary a lot - so often, low mood returns.

When it does, life seems as hopeless as ever - even though I know 'why'. But I've realised that it's still 'me' underneath the fog. My values are still the same, no matter how I feel or how temporarily grouchy I might be sometimes. When I can keep that in mind - 'I'm not the feeling. I'm not the thought. The moods pass and 'I'm' still here' - it's much more tolerable. I just have to remember I'm still me!

A Moodscope member.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Mindful and Soothing.

I would like to invite you to pause for a moment, and imagine walking into a kitchen filled with the smell of freshly baked bread. Take a breath, and allow the smell to fill your nostrils with its warm richness. Perhaps it is a tin loaf, just turned out on a cooling rack, its crust split by the work of the yeast and the warmth of the oven.

Perhaps there is a pile of rolls, soft and golden, inviting you to pick one up and break it open, savouring the steaming aroma and taking a first bite of that taste of heaven!
There is, in my opinion, nothing like freshly baked bread, and if you have made it yourself, it's even better. The entire process of measuring, kneading, proving and kneading again is inherently mindful and soothing, its rhythm and pace relaxing and satisfying.

Often, when I am struggling, it can be a means of distraction from my thoughts, slowing me down and giving me an opportunity to gain a sense of achievement. When all seems hopeless, I contemplate the ingredients, and remind myself that despite their unpromising dryness, the simple ingredient of yeast will transform them into something that is life sustaining.

What are we waiting for? Let's get baking!

A Moodscope member.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Just do one thing each day.

I have been experiencing severe anxiety for nearly five years now and along with this have been periods of low mood.

My career involves counselling and so I spend my days supporting people to move through these difficult stages in their lives but actually, I don't take the supportive advice myself. I know all of the things that I should be doing, I understand the nature of what I experience but getting the motivation to fight the anxious thoughts and go out and do these things is somewhat challenging. I allow anxiety and low moods to get the better of me and I'm not afraid to admit that.

Admitting this is what has allowed me to get to the point now where I can do something about it and start taking the suggestions that I give others. Getting to this point can be difficult; it's taken me five years! Up until now, I have outwardly said that anxiety does not define me but internally I have allowed it to and now it's time to change that.

From experience, I have found that it can be something that you hear, see, read etc. that prompts this change in perspective. It might be something huge that prompts this turning point but it also may be a series of small things that gets you there. For me, it has been a series of small things. Lots of little things that have challenged my way of thinking and taken me one step closer to making change. The latest thing (which has tipped this change process over the edge) was something that I read about how we spend our days when we are feeling low. We often hear that exercise, getting out of bed, eating well and doing things are important to moving the low mood and while this is true, I have found it difficult to simply 'do' these things.

So, to share the advice that I found helpful: Each day, do one thing that makes you feel like you have accomplished something and one thing that you enjoy - it's a place to start and feeling like you have accomplished something in your day can be a really great way of shifting the low mood.

A Moodscope member.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Young girl crying.

All too often we may find ourselves feeling lonely and all alone - or we view or feel  through a song or film, something that stirs something in us.

Many of us know that feeling and being trapped in it - even although we are desperate to find some connection and communication through a social interaction.

Many of the blogs written help us feel connected, or as Trisha stated in her comments last week - she no longer 'felt alone' and it enabled her to 'feel'.

As I had recovered enough to come home last week to the house my children grew up in, next to their village primary school, needless to say I was struggling after staying with wonderful friends.

I managed to go out of the door a few times into the garden but not actually out of the gate, which adjoins the primary school, until I heard deep sobbing.

It was a 10 year old, sitting alone in a concealed corner sobbing her heart out.

It reminded me of my daughter, who I have not seen in 6 years since my wife left, but first my heart went out to this poor child and I walked over to see if I could console her.

When I came back in I sat down and and wrote this poem. I rarely change words, they simply flow intuitively.

Can you 'feel' her? Where does it take you if you sit with your feelings at the end of it..?

I saw a young girl crying,
On the back of the Primary school.
It struck into my heart,
How life can be so cruel.

I thought of my daughter,
Who sat there years before.
Right next to our home,
50 metres from the door.

I haven't seen my Ria,
In over 6 years now.
I saw this young girl crying,
What can I do somehow?

My heart bleeds for people,
Who sometimes cannot see.
How they are going to get through,
To be all that they can be.

We are just the same as adults,
As we often sit alone.
Trying to make sense,
Of what and where is 'home'.

So many minds,
Struggling to get through.
What life throws them,
Likely, one of them is you.

Yet another day,
Passes through and goes.
Yet another week,
Flashes past and shows.

How many are weeping,
Inside ourselves  for hope.
How many are keeping,
Their emotions in to cope.

That young girl sitting crying,
Alone and hidden from sight.
How many of us are hoping,
Day will turn to night?

Les (Not Lex - an error!)
A Moodscope member.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Your comments count!

If you're anything like me, you avoid the comments page at the end of online articles, especially that of online newspapers, feeling that it can be full of time-wasting, back-biting, negative sniping.

Indeed, until I started to write to write for Moodscope, it never really occurred to me to check out the blogspot page at the bottom. What's really very impressive about the comments page here though is the ongoing wisdom and support of the offerings. Here is a response to Mary's post, 'Don't do something, just sit there!'

"My psychologist told me to move forwards towards the mountains of desire (and figure out what they actually are) and I said some days I cant even walk or stand up and I'm in so much pain! And he said, 'well then shuffle your bum towards them and shuffle your bum every day towards your goals 'cause if you give up and just sit there nothing will change.' Yes I could have slapped him. But I shuffle my bum every day towards the things I want and my depression is slowly lifting. I had to lower my expectations from walking tall towards those mountains to a pathetic bum shuffle but I'm glad he annoyed me into doing it. Chronic fatigue is such a mental battle I hear you!! Shuffle your bum Mary! I'm cheering you on!! :)"  - Jules

I thought that was fantastic! I've since used this in cards for those going through physical illness too: it's a 'keep on keeping on', 'keep looking up', 'keep setting small milestones' message and it carries energy.

These comments are like an addendum or post script that reflect many folk dealing with different shades of the same colour.

I've even been grateful for 'negative' comments, from the The Grammar Police, for example.  (I hope I'm reforming from my heinous crime of 'redundant apostrophes' Anonymous! A cringeful moment, I can't lie, but helpful too. I'm reading Eats, Shoots and Leaves for you!)

Life is busy. Not everything can be read and digested. Impossible to try. But if you go down to the blogspot page sometimes, you might find a nice surprise. I certainly do.  Thank you Jules!

A Moodscope member.

Monday, 14 July 2014

The Golden Gate.

Anyone who heard the Today programme on Radio 4 on 28th June will have been astonished and moved by the piece on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Since it was built in 1937 over 1400 people have committed suicide by jumping from it.

Now, after a successful campaign, it has been voted to spend money on a stainless steel safety net. Among those involved in the decision was Kevin Hines,and we heard him interviewed by John Humphries.

Kevin is bi-polar, and aged 19 he jumped from the bridge. At the split second his hands let go of the rail he says he was snapped out of his psychosis and filled with regret, praying to God to let him live.

He hit the water at 75 mph, like crashing into a brick wall. He was then vacuumed 80 feet down. Still praying, he struggled to push himself to what he hoped was the surface. He started to see a circle of light, and tried to aim at it, when he felt something brushing his legs. All he could think was that he had survived the fall, only to be killed by a shark. He kicked at it, but it would not go. Then he found himself at the surface, where he stayed bobbing around until the coastguards rescued him.

In hospital he nearly died of pneumonia. His teeth had been knocked out, but worse was the injury to his spine. Some lower vertebrae had shattered, and shards had embedded into internal organs. Surgeons painstakingly removed them, then mashed them into a paste which was inserted into a titanium tube and inserted in his spine, thus saving him from life in a wheel chair.

In a strange twist of life, he later met with one of the bystanders who had been there next to him when he jumped. Kevin mentioned he was convinced the shark would kill him, and was astonished when the man told him there was no shark. A sea lion had stayed with him, supporting him right up until his rescue.

He now takes nothing for granted, every day he recalls how he wanted to live.

Sadly, there are no sea lions or rescue boats where I live in the Midlands. But there are the great people on Moodscope, helping to keep each other afloat just that bit longer.

A Moodscope member.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

To understand all is to forgive all.

For the last ten days or so there has been the most annoying sound just outside my back door; a "Weeeep, Weeeep, Weeeep, Chirrrrp, Weeeep" sound. It was obviously a bird of some sort but it was high up in the tree next door (yes, that tree that sends it roots into our garden to uplift our patio paving into an interesting and ankle-risking adventure playground) and we couldn't see what it was.

The sound was incessant and really rather irritating. It didn't get to the point where I seriously considered giving my hunting cat (not the couch potato one) a helping hand up that tree (because, while I applaud his sterling efforts in rodent control I do not at all espouse his predatory interest in our feathered garden friends), but it has to be confessed that the thought did cross my mind.

Yesterday we actually saw the bird; it is a male chaffinch. Upon looking it up I discover that the reason he is singing so loudly this late in the season is that he is probably a lonely bachelor who was unsuccessful in finding a mate earlier on.

Some of you reading this may be ornithologists yourselves and will be saying "No – that's not a chaffinch call, she's got that one wrong" and if you do know of a bird that looks exactly like a chaffinch with the above call, then please; I'd love to hear from you.

So my feelings for this bird have now completely changed. So I suspect that my poor chaffinch is the bird equivalent of the somewhat nerdy systems analyst who lists mountaineering, financial investments and canoeing as his hobbies and who would make some lonely female chaffinch an excellent husband if she could just get over that rather unfortunate mating call.

I now feel compassion for him, not annoyance. I've even become rather fond of him and listen out every now and again to see if he's still advertising in the garden equivalent of the lonely hearts column.

I have to admit though, that his song is really unattractive. Now, if I knew some lady chaffinches I would introduce them right away - if only to shut him up and get him out of that flippin' tree!

A Moodscope member.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Anxiety, what a pest it is.

Someone asked me recently if my insomnia got worse if I was worried about a future commitment.

I hesitated on this one as I was feeling so dreadful that day, I didn't think it could get any worse even if I had to make a televised speech to the Houses of Parliament in a few days.

However I did reply and said "Yes it can do!"

But not really believing that it might actually get worse and anyway this person obviously didn't know how ghastly I was feeling.

But then something happened, a light bulb moment as they say and it wasn't a good moment!  I realised that yes, my insomnia can be directly related to something I have committed myself to months ahead.

For instance a lunch party at my house which I happily invited a few friends and their spouses weeks ago. I imagined a summer day, sitting outside, wine, nice food prepared by me (even though I dislike the thought of cooking), bunting etc.

And hey ho what happened? Yes, you guessed it, my anxiety levels rose as the day got nearer, weeks before actually and my sleep got worse as I was forced to think this lunch was actually a reality and not a dream in my head.

I got to the point where I lost count of the number of times I cancelled it, the excuses I made etc. Would I feel worse if I cancelled or better?

In the end I am going through with it. Listen to that language. "Going through with it"! It sounds like such an ordeal!

And also here's the irony. The lunch is tomorrow and of course I have been thinking I MUST sleep the night before the lunch, I must, I must and  guess what happened, I slept soundly last night, the one night I didn't care if I didn't sleep. Of course I won't sleep tonight but by the time you read this, it will all be over, but I can guarantee I will still be analysing the whole event in my head still.

A Moodscope member.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Managing Your GP.

Earlier this month I had a change of GP and medication.

Maybe that gives the wrong impression; I am sure the change of medication would have come about had I not changed GP, but my former GP is now the senior partner and has reduced her hours so that one has to wait a long time for an appointment. I had faithfully promised my Moodscope Buddy that I would see somebody very soon (a week of scores below 10% had caused considerable anxiety), so I booked the next available appointment.

Our poor overworked GPs get something like seven minutes per patient (maybe twelve minutes – but it's really not that long) and when you're dealing with something complicated like a mental health issue how can you expect them to get up to speed with your case in that length of time; especially, if like many of us, you have pages and pages and pages of health record notes? I was concerned about this and wanted to be proactive in managing my appointment.

So I sent the GP an email, outlining my case and history. Not a long one, just about 350 words that she could read much more quickly than with me talking to her. I also took my husband along to the appointment; partly for emotional comfort, but also so he could support or qualify any of my statements regarding my symptoms and the effect they have on family life.

I think I've said before that I am fortunate in my GP practice. They are a forward thinking lot who run late surgeries, will prescribe over the phone for simple conditions, run phone consultations (not sure if they do Skype yet) and are fully aware that drugs are not the answer to everything.

What I did with this GP might not work with every GP. But it was successful this time; in fact, I was thanked for sending the email. Apparently it was very useful and she'd like it if more patients did it too! I was also asked to send a follow-up email so she could put in my notes how effective this new medication is.

I now have a new medication which is much more effective than the last lot (hallelujah!), while not being so effective it makes me feel as if I'm better. The Moodscope score is up to 40%, and life is bearable again – for both me and my family.

And I have a new GP – who is just as lovely as my former GP: I am truly blessed.

But I'm sure being proactive helped.

A Moodscope member.

Club 45.

No, it's not a holiday company for 45 year olds. It's a principle. I would love to be remembered for my erudite insights – my deep wisdom, but this is one of my Araldite insights! (Araldite was a glue from my childhood – so this is an idea that has stuck like glue.) I used to mention it in my workshops because of the need to keep participants minds active and fresh throughout the day. Many weren't used to sitting and concentrating for long periods of time.

The principle is very simple – your body-brain system needs to refresh or reboot itself every once in a while. The reason is physically fascinating – your lymphatic system needs help. Your blood's circulatory system has its own pump – the heart. This works regardless of your body's posture or level of activity. Not so the lymphatic system. Amongst other things, the lymphatic system helps to remove toxins from the body. It has amazing valves to ensure the lymph flows the right way. But it's only pump is movement. If you sit still for too long, trouble begins to brew in your lymph.

By this I mean that if you sit still for too long, the toxins build up with nowhere to go.  Being in a stuck state is easy when we're not in a happy frame of mind. We can sit or lie immovable. Even a little, regular movement can help.

It is my hunch that phrases like a 'pain in the neck' or a 'pain in the bottom' come from this build-up of toxins in the lymph nodes. When the poisons collect, there is natural discomfort. So, to avoid this, I set up 'Club 45' in my seminars – enforcing a physical movement break every 45 minutes.

I am slightly embarrassed to say that this was the most popular aspect of my training... that and lunch. Why?  Well because it works. Taking a 20 second physical stretch break every 45 minutes allows your amazing lymphatic system to do its job well. You'll feel energised, refreshed, healthier.

There's more... 'Mind the Gap' is one of my favourite saying from our Underground and Rail system. Interestingly, giving your mind a gap by having a break every 45 minutes also allows new insights to emerge. It's like giving yourself space to think.

So, give yourself a break by having a break!

A Moodscope member.

(ps. I use a kitchen timer so I don't have to think about monitoring the time.)

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Moray Moodscope 2.

Last Sunday I wrote some words,
For my Moodscope return.
The response affected me,
Some made my warm heart turn.

They were so rich,
So kind so pure.
Such authentic words,
Like a lady so demure.

Since then I have come home,
From my friends in Motherwell.
In this lonely house,
Where so oft I've been unwell.

The first two days I hardly moved.
Endless TV took my soul,
It often felt like another mind,
My heart had lost its goal.

I stayed in one room,
And in that gloom,
I hardly could get up, another day, another way,
Night couldn't come too soon.

It's when I feel human,
It's when I do feel safe.
Yet I know that in the morning.
So many thoughts would chafe.

Now I've ran out of food,
I'll have to move.
Go shop tomorrow,
Into the world and prove,
I can do it,
I can return,
Into a world,
That surely can burn.

So many of us struggle,
To be 'normal' each day.
The stories in Moodscope,
Say it in so many ways.

Tonight, even at sunset,
I sat in the garden and thought.
And picked and cleared and sat and stared,
At what my actions had bought.

What if I had done this and that,
What if, what if, what if?
But I am here now,
At a precipice.

The young birds chirped late,
The swifts glided up above,
The doves coo'd and coo'd,
Where do we all find love?

So many hearts out there,
Saying such constructive things.
Comments on our Moodscope,
Support and care to bring.

Tonight I sit with my music,
A good indication I am able,
To open my heart and feelings,
To offer you all my table.

A table of life,
A table of loss,
A table of meaning,
No candy floss.

Words of wisdom,
Words of wounds,
Words of wonder,
That come with tunes.

Music that lifts,
Music that learns,
Music that leans,
Into dreams and concerns.

When I am me,
Music is always here.
A musicscape to my life,
Words and feelings always near.

'If I should fall behind',
Is a song from Bruce, (Springsteen)
Live from Madison Square Gdns,
It feels like a truce.


'If I had a son',
Such beauty from James Maddock,
That says in so few words,
If I had all the luck.

How are you all my friends,
Out there in daily blogs?
How many yearn to connect,
Instead of life's long slogs?

We all suffer in some way,
In our mental minds.
We all lose our balance,
With thoughts that become unkind.

I dedicate this one to you,
These words that just fall out.
As I sit and feel connected,
I don't need to scream and shout.

So this is my tale,
Of my week so far to you,
You have all helped me,
Not to feel so blue.

A Moodscope member.

If I fall behind (
If I had a son (
(listen to the song without visual the first time to truly 'hear' the lyrics)

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Accepting Help is Hard.

Let's face it – for all our talk about depression being an illness – a clinical condition, many of us are still embarrassed and ashamed when we fall into it. The fact that some of the symptoms of the depression are feelings of guilt and shame doesn't really help; it's a bit of a vicious circle.

So we feel that we really ought to be able to cope: that somehow we're inadequate when we just can't deal with everyday life... What was that? Oh yes, more guilt and shame and back on that vicious hamster wheel again!

So, even though I know that I need to rest and to do as little as possible while I get better, it's really hard to accept help. I am lucky enough to have a husband who picks up the majority of the childcare, the housework and who will field telephone calls for me (the faint halo behind his head is worrying, but I have not yet received that call from the Pope wanting to beatify him). I still feel guilty though when I hear the sound of the vacuum cleaner and know he's at it again. (Ah yes, you spotted that guilt again – well done!)

The other day a friend popped round while I was doing the ironing. "You shouldn't be doing that!" she said "You should be resting." and she promptly sat me down on a chair and finished the ironing herself. It was embarrassing, but I realised that of course I would do the same for her if our positions were reversed. My mother sends food, "So you don't have the cook for the children if you don't feel up to it, dear." It's hard to accept that: I should be looking after her, not the other way round.

This time the depression has been particularly tough and I've had to call upon friends and colleagues to give me lifts, to represent me at meetings. I've had to cancel appointments with clients and send apologies to other commitments when I just haven't been well enough to attend. Everyone without fail has been understanding, flexible and supportive. But it's hard.

It's difficult to accept that people are honestly happy to help and delighted to be asked. Friends and family really want to help and give support through the bad patches. Mostly they can't help, except by just being there at the end of the phone and sending positive thoughts and prayers, but sometimes they can assist with the practical things, the laundry, the cleaning, the admin.

It means letting others into our most vulnerable space and trusting them. It's hard.
It's much easier to be a gracious giver than a grateful recipient and pride is a big and bitter pill to swallow.

But I tell you, it felt so good having the ironing all done, finished and put away. It was hard, but worth it.

A Moodscope member.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Holly Golightly adored Tiffany's and me? I adore epiphanies.

I remember a glorious epiphany I had whilst on a private water taxi from Skopelos to Skiathos. As I sliced my hand through the turquoise waters, donning my shades and head scarf, hoping for an Audrey Hepburn look, I observed the Greek chap who was operating the small boat. He spoke English with a New York drawl and was a fine looking fellow.  Conversing with him, I realised a profound truth: should I ever marry, it would have to be to someone with whom I felt even freer than when single. An epiphany indeed.

So, for example, should I decide to strip naked (I'm actually quite prudish but it just seems to nail my point here) and dance around the garden in the summer rain, just because I love summer rain, my husband wouldn't fret and flap about what the neighbours might think. He would sigh, (probably wearily), and admit, 'Ah yes, there goes my Suzy.' Should I decide to slide down a banister in a public place, wave at passing aircraft or have a big rant over a rotten day he would shrug and accept it; accept me. In short, he would let me feel. He'd grasp my need for solitude too.

Whether in a depression or a 'horrible high', the clattering and clanging going on in my mind is of a different quality in sound but equally as distressing. When recovering from either, I find I'm allowed moments of tremendous clarity. Recovery from a depression (or high) can do that. It gives that part of us that has been screaming to be heard (our intuition) an attentive audience and sometimes, just sometimes, it affords sufficient silence/quiet to be heard.

It's like a huge wrecking ball made from feathers and downing coming at you from the middle distance. It hits you hard but not unpleasantly and it comes as if from nowhere.
But does it? Come from nowhere, I mean?

I feel strongly that a depression is our body's way of telling us that there's a whole lot of stuff we've not yet dealt with. If we listen closely, it can tell us where we're going wrong; what feeling/s we're failing to take care of, or worse, ignoring.

"Don't look for beauty. You must let beauty come to you. Those who look for beauty are mere journalists."- Borges

Epiphanies cannot be forced. They come from allowing the feelings; taking care of the feelings. Just as a thorny cactus can sprout a colourful flower, even the messiest of feelings can give birth to beauty.

Ah yes, give me an epiphany over a Tiffany diamond any day.

A Moodscope member.

Monday, 7 July 2014


How many times I have wished for the power to touch somebody and briefly let them see how bad I feel. If I had this superpower firstly I would use it on my GP, then my psychiatrist, psychologist and a few selected family and friends. And for good measure, the receptionist at my GP's surgery who scorns at me and my mental health emergencies, and one or two people in the supermarket making my day hell. Possibly to customer service people for gas, phone and electric companies as well and finally and most definitely to anybody telling me to "get over it" or "pull my socks up".

Wow that felt good. I was zapping away with that superpower there. I needed it badly today talking to the community mental health crisis team and the more I needed to zap the person not being very helpful, the more distressed I was getting.

What superpower do you wish you had in the fight against poorly mental health? An anti-stigma wand? An "I'm not lazy, honest!" ray? Or something less dramatic like jedi mind control or the vulcan death grip? Something for you to imagine when the next person who looks at you like you have two heads comes along!

Have a lovely day. May the force be with you.

A Moodscope member.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

I am Worthy. A guide to self-worth.

The two words 'I am' form an extremely powerful statement, for whatever words you use after them create a powerful affirmation. Being aware of the words you use, either in thought or the spoken word is very important and is something that needs your attention on a daily basis. Energy follows thought, so mastering your thoughts has a major impact on your outer world experiences.

A great way to turn things around for yourself is first and foremost in promoting your own self-worth. Do you let yourself believe that another person 'makes you feel' a certain way? Nobody has such power to 'make us feel'. We hold our own power within ourselves and now is the time to take responsibility for our own thoughts, words and actions.

To begin, we need to focus on filling up our own cup of Love. Imagine you have a small cup in your heart centre. Do you remember the song Magic Penny? It clearly states that Love is something if you give it away, you end up having more. But what if your cup is empty? What if you have over exerted yourself and shown love to others but not saved any for yourself? It is NOT selfish to think of yourself first. It is self-worth and self- Love.

So begin by doing something on a daily basis for YOU. Have a rest, read a book, take a bath, with NO guilt attached. Begin to fill up your own cup with love and the more you do this, the more you will notice how strong you feel. You then have resources to care for others and in return you get the love sent back to you, but only if you don't let your own cup run dry! Maintain the flowing of this love in your heart by giving and receiving unconditionally and notice how much stronger you begin to feel. Small steps, day by day.

A Moodscope member.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

The start of my journey to recovery.

My awareness of being depressed only occurred in the first part of this year, but I look back and wonder just how long I have been living in a depressed state.

In February I found myself contacting a Counsellor and nervously attending a session. I was in a very unhappy place in my relationship and had been for a number of years, I needed to work out what to do about it.

Prior to attending the session I was petrified that the counsellor would think I was wasting their time, that there wasn't really a problem, that I should deal with things.

I have lived with an addict for 18 years and, having tried numerous ways to 'cure' the addiction I had reached a point of realisation that I was helpless to change my partner. My way of coping over the past few years has been to shut down my emotions completely.

I cried my way through that first session, and then the next, and then the next. I was handed a checklist which I duly completed and it was suggested to me that I speak to my GP about depression. My initial reaction was defensive, I am not depressed, it can't happen to someone like me. I work with people with mental health issues, I work with people with addictions, I work in a very challenging role.

And yet here I was, living with an addict and in denial about my life and my own depression. I felt a complete failure and was adamant I was not depressed.

But then I thought back to my childhood, living with a mum who was severely depressed, and vowing that if I ever was I would do something about it. So here I am, taking action to do just that.

A Moodscope member.

Friday, 4 July 2014

I was just suffering with 'life'.

I've recently finished some sessions with a counsellor. Technically he was a CBT therapist but I was lucky in that he was also a warm and compassionate human being. Even better, he treated me as exactly the same. Not as a diagnosis, or a patient that needed 'fixing'; just as me, Fiona, a fellow human being who was struggling right now.

I've never felt entirely comfortable with being labelled as having 'depression' – though I concede that my symptoms fit with modern society's classification system and that we must all fit into a neat box... Oooh, better get back in that box Fiona!

No, I've always thought that the way I have thought, felt, reacted and behaved has been a result of 'stuff' that I have experienced. That my resilience and coping strategies perhaps weren't as honed as they could be. That I wasn't doing the best job of taking care of myself. In essence then, I was just suffering with 'life'!

Sadly though life isn't a formal diagnosis is it, and no one gives us any leeway for living it. Life is full of joy and excitement; new experiences; love and friendship; pleasures a plenty. Simultaneously it's full of challenges, change and chaos; trials and tribulations. Its just not plain sailing is it, and some of us, well, we just aren't very good at sea.

So, to find someone who understood this, and accepted me, made all the difference. It wasn't like going for therapy; it was like chatting to a new friend. A friend who turned round, threw a lifeline to me flailing around in the water and said "Actually; how you're feeling? That's OK. I'm here. I'm listening".

A Moodscope member.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Foot In Mouth Disease...

What a bizarre English idiom: to put your foot in your mouth. Aside from this being physically impossible for me since the age of 6 months (I'm just not that flexible), it really is a strange phrase, isn't it? That's beside the point. The point is, I am a Master at the art. It means to say something offensive or embarrassing... and I'm a natural at that!  No effort required!

In the UK Market, Nestlé have broadened their range of KitKat chocolate bars. I'm sure it's the same the World over. One of the new ones is a 'KitKat Chunky'. Great, delicious chunks of chocolate. Want some?

I bought some. Knowing how much my friend loves chocolate, I said to her, "Would you like a KitKat Chunky?"

Her response was, "Would you like a slap?"

There was a pause.

On reflection, I realised she thought I was calling her "Chunky"!

Fortunately, we both laughed and saw the funny side of me putting my foot in my mouth. It did, however, remind me of a great principle: "The meaning of your communication is the response you get." This saying from Linguistics suggests that your intention really doesn't count for much in the game we call 'communication'. If someone misreads what you mean (and who hasn't been misunderstood?), then it's up to you to change your communication...

...until you get the response you want or intend.

This simple principle has saved me all manner of anxiety and effort over trying to justify what I intended to mean. When the communication doesn't 'work' – I simply look for another way to make my point and let go of the guilt. This can be easily softened by, "I didn't put that very well; what I meant to say was..."

A Moodscope member.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Do half of it – or think of a different way!

Last week my husband came back from church with some advice for me. "I was talking to Suzanne;" he said "And she tells me she advises her clients to unload just half the dishwasher at a time."

I looked at him, slightly confused and wondering where this was going. "You see, if they unload the whole dishwasher it wipes them out for the day; but if they unload half and then have a rest, they can do the other half later."

Well, I see what he was getting at, although Suzanne's clients are the very elderly with Alzheimer's, and it's a bit galling to receive the same advice she gives to them. Probably good advice though.

So yesterday was a good day and I decided to tackle Mount Ironing (as it had got to the state where I was sure I could see snow on the higher peaks). So, having fitted the iron with crampons and climbing harness, we embarked together on the lower slopes.

My usual methodology with ironing is to switch off my brain and just go steadily through the pile, applying flat heat and steam to whatever comes out next and keeping going until the basket is quite empty and I fall over from exhaustion. Maybe I would have done that yesterday too, but the iron decided it had done enough a quarter of the way through and tripped out on me. Checking the plugs and changing the fuse didn't help so I was forced to retreat ignominiously and leave the glorious ascent for another day.

Instead I sat with my youngest daughter and watched Mirror Mirror with Julia Roberts (recommended if you like light-hearted froth with some genuinely witty one-liners).

When my husband came home he gently pointed out that, if I had followed my usual pattern of ironing, I would be totally exhausted and unable to do anything at all for the next two days. He then winked at the iron and it smugly turned on its red light and began huffing steam in an odiously self-satisfied way (I'm living with a conspiracy, I tell you: even my household appliances are involved!).

The Rock of my Life then remarked that he was quite capable of ironing his own shirts and that it would be a much better use of my energy just to iron the children's school things and let them wear crumpled pyjamas and tee-shirts and jeans; that, in fact, most of the ironing didn't really need to be done at all. (This from a man whose normal cry is "Standards must be maintained!" and "You just can't get the staff!").

So we did just that. Mount Ironing was conquered (if not in quite the way I had envisaged) and I am not exhausted today.

I now just have to learn to live with the fact that even I can't tell that the children's tee-shirts haven't been ironed, once they've been wearing them for five minutes anyway, and that maybe I've been wasting my time ironing all these years!

A Moodscope member.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Man's best friend.

Now everybody loves a cute kitten or an adorable puppy don't they? They are pretty and handsome, vulnerable and needy. When my nine year old son asked for a puppy last year, how could I refuse? My heart said "yes" but my head said "not practical, too costly, such a tie and hard work."

My heart won the day but I soon began to regret it when I was left 'holding the puppy'. His big brown eyes and handsome face did not win me over and resentment began to build inside me. My mood dipped and continued on that path for months and months. I was scared that by the puppy 'controlling' my world I was trapped into a situation I could not change (and oh yes, I'm allergic to dog hair too). It seemed that no-one was listened to my pleas for a helping hand or to my sneezing and wheezing!

Through the use of a fantastic pet sitting service and regular sessions with a person centred counsellor I can now happily say that my opinion of the puppy is a positive one and it is easier to see why people say dogs are 'man's best friend'.

Marley and Me
A Moodscope member and her dog!