Sunday, 30 November 2014

Bad Days Depend on the Way you See Them.

If you're reading this then the likelihood is that you know all about bad days. You could draw a map of the Slough of Despond, you could describe intimately the fifty shades of grey and darkness that make up the colour of those bad times and you have measured exactly how deep is that pit of despair.

And we have days that start off bad and just get worse; days when we end up thinking that we are a worthless individual, unworthy to even pollute this planet with our presence. Our sins and iniquities weigh us down and we just want to die.

No – that's not an exaggeration, but it is often an exaggerated response to small hurts and minor transgressions. I remember that the last time I felt like that, I was looking at my bank statement which showed I had gone £8 overdrawn.

That £8 might as well have been £8 million judging by the way I felt. I'd been overdrawn before; I've been overdrawn since (admin has never been a strong point), but at that particular time, even a small unplanned negative balance was enough to throw me into the blackest despair.

Even in the midst of that despair however, I could hear distantly the voice of my more sensible self, telling me I was overreacting, and even laughing at all that drama.

I had a bad day recently too. A migraine meant I had to cancel plans and disappoint some clients. In the afternoon I decided, against husbandly advice and still feeling very woozy, to keep my appointment to donate blood, and had the misfortune to suffer a dramatic nosebleed while in the chair so that everything and everybody (all the nice nurses anyway) had to stop to mop me up and disengage me from the equipment. Apparently one is not allowed to donate blood through one's nose. I crept from the local town hall in abject humiliation.

Sensible Mary laughed at that one too – and advised me to write a blog on it! This time she was loud and clear.

That's because I'm well at the moment. Those same events, happening when the Black Dog of Depression was in residence, would have been enough to put me on the floor, to make me feel useless; an unsightly blot on the landscape of our fair land.

So sometimes we need to take a step back and look at things in proportion. We might not be able to feel any differently about the situation, but we need to intellectually know that we are over-reacting to minor events. They feel big and overwhelm us because our view point is from the dark pit of despair (that's something lower than the viewpoint of an ant, by the way). It's OK to feel this way, but we need to think as well.

The bank is used to people going overdrawn. They slap a £35 fine on you and forget it. The nice nurses at the blood donor sessions are used to people fainting, or being sick or having nosebleeds, they've already forgotten about it.

And I got a blog out of it: hey – everybody wins.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Learning to Live With Life!

My son is studying the book "About A Boy" at school. My son is Aspergers a form of autism and even though we have watched the film over and over as he finds visual learning works better for him than reading, he still has not grasped the fact that Marcus one of the main characters in this story is also autistic, and that both are having very similar experiences in their lives.

As a mum, I am finding this story quite difficult to handle, because you see I'm Fiona, Marcus's mum. I'm the depressed women from this story, it's like looking at my own life reflected on the big screen for everyone to see.

Not suicidal like Fiona in the film/book thank goodness, but at the bottom of that black pit of despair, desperately trying to crawl out of the hole, only to be pushed straight back down again, on a regular basis.

I'm glad that my son doesn't see me in Fiona as he has enough to cope with, and I have pondered over the school's motives in making him study this book. I did ask the question and was told it was part of the curriculum, and that the other option was "Of Mice and Men" both equally way over the top of my son's comprehension.

So I've decided to use it as a positive, in that my son can see the bullying that Marcus endures, and my son can then talk to me about how he felt when he was bullied, through Marcus. He can learn empathy for his mum, something my son is only just starting to show.

Can you imagine 14 years of your child's life with no hugs or kisses from them, it breaks my heart, but I'm starting to turn this around, and have to say have had more hugs since starting with this story. He can also see how brave Marcus was to sing in public and that he was able to make friends, as I'm sure my son will do one day. (Another aspect that breaks my heart). So from something I first considered insensitive, it now does seem to be having a positive side to it.

But now it has become very obvious to me how lost I am, and that it has been so long now, that I don't remember actually when I did feel like me, or felt real happiness. So the facts are, that not only do I feel I lost my son at the time of diagnosis, but also myself. Life has become a constant battle for his needs, and I have totally forgotten about myself.

Recently I was forced to make a stand as it has got to the point where my mental health is seriously starting to suffer. So I decided to quit my job, take some time out to try and reassess my life. To look at who can and is willing to support me with the massive responsibilities that I have held and juggled for the last 14 years. To come to terms with the fact that I am not super woman and that it's okay for me to admit that to the world, but more importantly myself.

That I now need to focus more on getting myself well, starting with plenty of rest. So please excuse me I'm off for a nap.

Helen
A Moodscope member.

Friday, 28 November 2014

What do we value?

This week I have just returned from Spain where I was robbed of all my treasured possessions – lap top, passport, credit cards, dead parents photos, loved ones photos, all business contacts, my glasses (so I could not even read at the police station), all passwords, all contacts, all bank cards, my diary, treasured notes (all kept in one safe place)...everything that enabled my life to work.

So here I am back in the UK having to face up to the fact that not only do I live alone, I also run my own business on all the stuff I write about – leadership, values, trust the four quotients (PQ, IQ, EQ & SQ, To Live, To Love, To Learn, To Leave a Legacy).

Now as most of you will know I have also suffered from depression for the last 23 years except one, with one suicide attempt.

My immediate worry was not about losing my 'normal' every day personal and professional life, but would I go down again and with such a loss, would I lose myself again and see more 'clearly' that I didn't have the courage and strength to fight back again from this new and deeper 'low'?

So, once again while I am still mentally 'OK' I have a choice, do I look back and continually say what if? Or do I push those thoughts away, as I talked about in my blog some time ago about not becoming attached to these thoughts, and simply put the first appointment I can remember into my totally blank diary and step forward?

Also, going through my divorce has continued to challenge what I consider important, i.e. no matter what it costs I must do it based on my values, we should not give in to bullying, lies and deceit.

I also ask myself what am I teaching my son in all this?

Do I tell my son or daughter that I will always listen to them and then when I am busy, say sharply to "go away I'm busy"?

The differences between what you say and what you do creates the exact and equal level of disengagement with you, whether at home, work or play.

What's your level of disengagement with self and others?

Do you walk the talk of the values you purport to have? If not – you are disengaging from yourself – the cause of much mental illness.

Give a number between 0 – 10. For full engagement (10) or complete disengagement (0) to yourself, your boss, your peers, your family...simply think of the person and the number WILL appear immediately in your head.

That FIRST number is true, no matter how uncomfortable it is, your subconscious tells you the truth (EQ), often before you attempt to 'alter' it by thinking (IQ) why it cannot be that number!

If you wish to deepen that engagement of love, talk about that number and why with whoever it is?

Remember  though, the only person you can change is yourself.

You may however be changing to be courageous enough and vulnerable enough to simply talk about tough stuff to people who matter. If you don't face it, do they matter?

All else, like my passport, bank cards, credit cards, diary, lost phots, lap top, notes is surface stuff, it is the relationship to ourselves first, in valuing ourselves that is the basis for a healthier mind and heart.

And in this materialistic, busyness, short term  world, that is not easy, and right now I am searching inside.

Les
A Moodscope member.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Changing your mind: Becoming a child again.

For my fourth blog on Mindfulness I am going to talk about a silly technique that I find helps to settle me if I am going somewhere and I start to get anxious.

When my kids were little we used to play a game on car journeys. We would look at the letters on the number plates of passing cars and try and make phrases out of them. They did not have to make sense but the funnier they could be the better. So for example DFB would be Donkeys Fart Better, GCU could be Golden Coloured Unicorns and so on.

When I am starting to get tense just focussing on thinking up silly phrases helps to stop the thoughts running around my head and gives me a few seconds breathing space.

Maybe you have silly games like this that you played as a kid, try doing them again as an adult. But if you don't have kids with you I would recommend doing them just in your head!!

Penny
A Moodscope member.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Piggy In The Middle.

There's a family row going on right now.

Well, no; it's not a row. It's just that there's a decision to be made by the extended family (six living members) and there are eleven opinions on what that decision should be (because five out the six are married or have partners). Inevitably there is conflict and equally inevitably, brothers have fallen out with sisters, nieces with uncles (or at least, aunts by marriage) and there is a whole lot of dissonance going on.

But everyone honestly wants the best for everyone. It's just that they have different ideas of what that best is and how it should be achieved.

And who is in the middle of it all? Who is still talking to everybody? To whom is everyone involved pouring their heart out to?

Yes, that would be me. (Sigh)

My job, at which I seem (reluctantly) to be good at, is listening to everybody, validating their concerns and then (diplomatically) presenting eleven different points of view to eleven different people in eleven different ways. Quite frankly, it's been exhausting.
And time-consuming.

Apparently it's all the fault of having a sun sign of Taurus with Sagittarius rising and a moon sign of Libra: I can see both sides of the story. Even when it's a dodecahedron story. And no – I don't understand all this astrological stuff either.

But at last we seem to be getting somewhere: we have a way forward. And everyone has been listened to; everyone feels that their opinion is valued and, even if their preferred actions are not being taken, they understand the thinking, reasons and logic behind the decision.

Which, in turn means I can invite them all to the family gathering just after Christmas.
Oh, I know full well there will still be tensions; a couple of cousins won't be speaking over something that happened last Christmas (and when I find myself thinking "how petty" I have to remind myself that I have not experienced that particular injury/backlash, so I don't know how it feels) but hopefully I can still get all eleven adults (plus six children and two hangers on) round one dining table in a spirit of reconciliation and harmony.

It's an ambitious project, but I remind myself that the family was exceptionally harmonious before the death of its head (my uncle), in July 2013. It can and will be harmonious again.

It might just take a tanker full of oil to pour on the troubled waters though, and, just at the moment, I'm fresh out of Fry-Light!

But I draw a deep breath and remind myself of Stephen Covey's first principal: "Begin with the end in mind." Quite frankly, I don't care what the family decision is, I just want a united family and I'm prepared to do whatever it takes to get my united family back.

Even if I have to see, show and tell eleven different sides of the same story.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Chooseday.

It's Tuesday.

Monday hadn't gone well. I'd pinched a nerve in my spine and my lower back had locked into a spasm of fear. I walked as if I was crippled – as if I'd had an 'accident'. 'Everything' had gone wrong. Of course, it hadn't, but it seemed as if it had. Good riddance to Monday, I thought.

Tuesday morning came. I tore a sheet off my 1950's style calendar, and the comment was, "Time for Decision". I posted: "Good riddance to Monday," on Facebook, and a new friend challenged me with the thought that today was 'Chooseday'. She asked me, publicly, what I would choose today? I was getting a new message, loud and clear.

What would I choose?  Well, I chose to look after my back – I took the pain to be a sign that I wasn't taking good enough care of myself. I chose to defer a couple of meetings to give my body time to reset and heal...

But then I got to thinking. My whole life was off-track. There was compromise leaking from every pore. Wrong job, wrong partners, wrong location, wrong attitude, wrong choices! How had I let matters slide this far off the path? Answer = my choices. Tiny choice by tiny choice.

So, from now on, my Tuesdays are going to be 'Chooseday'.

A day for good, purposeful, fresh choices.

What will you choose today?

Lex
A Moodscope member.

Monday, 24 November 2014

I can fight this demon.

The world has a funny way of changing you into the next person you are to be in this life.

As I have been ill these past few weeks with a chest infection, I have lost track of the two capsules a day I was to take of my antidepressants, only taking one most days. Yet, a strange feeling came over me with a reduction of the medication. Not worry I could go back. But courage.

I felt that I needed no help. Well no professional help. No psychiatrist or counsellor opening my files and putting me on show with a variety of outlandish assumptions about what defined me. I could do it alone. I would firstly learn to love myself. That is the key to all. Then I would work upon discovering triggers. Everyday. Non-stop. No rest. No relaxation. Stressful stuff! But that's how I feel about most things in life, without focusing on my depression each day, so why not be productive in my distress?

I could do it.

Off my own back. Fight this demon.

At first my plans were to destroy the deep blackness inside of me. Suffocate it with happy colours and style. But that is exactly how I fell into an earlier relapse last year. Pushing it further down.

But then I realised, it's not about storming in, all guns blazing, chucking the icy bucket of water over that dark ocean. It's about accepting it's there inside you. The harsh waves crashing against the shore. But just like the movement of the tide, coming in and out, there is a natural ebb and flow to the movement of emotions. Some days the ocean is lost in the horizon. Other days, its nibbling at your feet. Accepting that you will always walk alongside the tide is the first step. Yet the hardest.

I am grateful for that horrible cough. An incredibly insignificant moment in the grand scheme of things, yet it was the first stepping stone to effective recovery.

John
A Moodscope member.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

I Am Not My Thoughts or Emotions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lyndsey
A Moodscope member. 

Saturday, 22 November 2014

So sorry Spike.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Valerie
A Moodscope member.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Sex And Depression.

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

Hmmm. Thought so.

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

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

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

Gone now? Good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mary
A Moodscope member.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

A way to say thank you…?

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

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

How did you do?

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

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

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

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

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

Easier?

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

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

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

Les
A Moodscope member.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

Excellent thinking, darling. I agree.

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

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

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

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

Oh I hated it the first time.

I hated it the second time.

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

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

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

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

Mary
A Moodscope member.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

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

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

Here are a few more:

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

KSP, A Moodscope member

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

RH, A Moodscope member

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

JL, A Moodscope member.

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

SH, A Moodscope member.

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

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

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

Kind regards.

Adrian and Caroline
The Moodscope Team.

Monday, 17 November 2014

The revolving door.

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

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

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

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

Rosie
A Moodscope member.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Find the beauty of your mind.

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

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

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

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

Sarah
A Moodscope member.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Just stop.

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

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

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

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

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

This is Andy:

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

And this could be your salvation:

https://www.headspace.com/

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member

Friday, 14 November 2014

The art of happiness.

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

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

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

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

Rosie
A Moodscope member.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

A Soft Place To Fall.

I was looking for a soft place to fall,
In this world of hard knocks.
I was looking for somewhere to shelter,
In amongst the sharp rocks.

What do you see,
When you look inside me?
What do you see,
When you look inside you?

In amongst the grains of sand,
Is a life of joy.
In amongst the fiery hands,
Is the life of a little boy.

In amongst the conformity,
Is a new wild life.
In amongst the entropy,
Is the release from strife.

Lean on me,
As I find myself.
Lean on me,
As I step down from the shelf. (of tribal norms)

Go,
Fly,
Live,
Love.

Time to breathe,
Time to seek,
Time to leave,
No life for the meek.

I was looking for a soft place to fall,
In this world of hard knocks.
I was looking for somewhere to shelter,
In amongst the sharp rocks.

It was always there,
Inside me.
It was waiting there,
Waiting for me,
Waiting to 'be'.

So......what are you waiting for?

Is fear holding you back?

When are you REALLY going to 'be' you?

Les 
A Moodscope member.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Changing your mind: Taking a Line for a walk.

This is the third of my blogs on Mindfulness techniques that I find helpful. This one is concentrated drawing.

You don't need to be an artist to do this, or even have ANY drawing abilities at all, as long as you can hold a pen or a pencil and make a mark on paper you can do this one.

You can do this within a set time (use a timer or an alarm on your watch/phone)or just keep going till you fill the paper, up to you.

Get a sheet of blank paper. Anything will do from the back of an envelope to a A1 sheet of drawing paper. Get something to draw with. Again anything will do. A pencil, pen, crayon whatever you can find.

Look at your paper and pick a spot, anywhere will do. Place the tip of your chosen drawing implement on it (I will assume a pen for now) and start to move the pen across the paper. Concentrate on the line and the feeling of the pen on the paper. Is it scratchy or smooth? Try to vary the line, can you make it darker or lighter?

Don't take your pen off the paper and keep making lines, shapes, pictures whatever takes your fancy but keep concentrating on the line. If your mind starts to wander bring it back firmly but kindly to the line. If you forget and take the pen off the paper, don't beat yourself up but start a new line and try to keep focused on maintaining that continuous line.

Keep going till you run out of your set time or out of paper.

I find this technique very useful when I am getting particularly anxious whilst waiting for people or if I am having a really bad spell and can't concentrate on anything.

Penny
A Moodscope member.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Two Mile Walk.

The other day I was sitting at my computer, it was raining outside and windy, I felt fat and lazy (tired, depressed, you name it I felt it in all its negativity).

Then I suddenly remembered a YouTube clip, which my son's American girlfriend had sent me a year or so ago when she knew, because of a broken wrist I was unable to run or do much exercise. She thought this would help. And it did.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6xa4Fbzt2I

So the other grey afternoon, I clicked on the link, cleared a small space in front of my computer and started to watch (then got up off my chair!). Just hearing the sound of the familiar music cheered me up and I hadn't even started the walk.

It's a 2 mile "walk" which you can do at home and it lasts 30 minutes.

The girl who walks through it with you is great and very motivational. You can imagine old, fat, young, tired (yup that's me), thin people doing just the same as you while you are walking. Well I do.

There is also a one mile and a three mile version so you could start with the 1 mile walk which lasts 15 minutes.

Honestly I can guarantee you will feel so good afterwards. I am so happy I have discovered Lesley again. For starters, just watch it and you'll see what I mean.

Julia
A Moodscope member.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Self-Care is not Self-ish.

To care is a basic human instinct: We care. It doesn't matter if we're the care giver or care receiver, care is beneficial. It's a mental (IQ), emotional (EQ), physical (PQ) and spiritual (SQ) lubricant that enhances personal, family and organisational performance. It increases adaptability and resilience. It's the glue that holds relationships together.

Think about how much easier it is to put in extra hours doing what you really care about. And how much quicker it is to adjust to unpleasant or unexpected circumstances when you perceive your environment as caring. And how much more patient and tolerant you are with the people you care for.

Care even impacts on your health. A single, 5 minute episode of sincere care can increase *IgA levels, the body's first line of defence against infection. Maybe even your first line of mental defence against depression?

On the other hand, consider what happens when you don't care: Maybe you procrastinate; or you simply don't do it. And if you do, it becomes drudgery, like metal on metal. Here's the rub. That 'I don't care' attitude not only compromises performance, it creates stress in your system and can actually reduce IgA levels.

So here's a stress reduction tip: Take a care inventory. First, make a 'care' list: The people, places and things you care for and about. And notice how you feel.

Next, make a second 'needs more care' list: Those need-to-do activities, projects, co-workers, etc. you have difficulty with. Feel any different?

Pick one you think will make a difference, take a deep breath and remember something from your first list - someone or something you care about or a time when someone extended care to you. Feel the care for a minute or two. Then ask yourself how you can add more care to the situation. You may be surprised.

If nothing else, you've stopped the drain and boosted your IgA.

And that's the most important thing of all - and it's not self-ish - its self-care!

If you are not healthy and happy, your ability to care for others in the way that you want to, will proportionately reduce!

Do you care enough for others, to firstly care enough for yourself?

And  importantly - do you care for yourself enough, to move away and even out of situations, relationships or employment that adds stress, lowers you IgA levels and thus makes you more vulnerable for anxiety and illness?

What are you going to do today to show and feel care?

Les
A Moodscope member.

* Immunoglobulins, such as IgA, are a key part of your body's immune system. When healthy, this system effectively neutralises foreign threats. However, low levels of immunoglobulins can indicate the presence of chronic infections, diseases or cancer. When necessary, your doctor can use a simple blood test to confirm whether your IgA levels are at the appropriate levels.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Trust that the fog will clear.

Yesterday I was reflecting on something that had happened in counselling during the morning. My counsellor had mentioned something about my decision to end my relationship and about it being a permanent state. I shed a few tears at this point but was unable to pinpoint why. It played on my mind a bit throughout the day as I couldn't really understand my reaction. I am happy with my decision, I do not want to reverse it, I see no future for us. So why does the thought of divorce and the finality of everything reduce me to tears?

Driving to work this morning I had a moment of clarity. It was foggy this morning on the roads and I could only see the immediate space my car was occupying on the road. I was unable to see into the distance. Yet I didn't panic, I knew the road so could anticipate what was up ahead, I obviously had to drive carefully because of not being able to track other cars on the road but other than that I trusted in my knowledge of the road to not be phased by the fog.

My clarity this morning came from realising that it is not the decision to end the relationship that triggered the tears, it was the uncertainty of what lies ahead. It's a road I haven't been down before so I can't anticipate what is coming up. It's like the new road is foggy, just like my drive to work. All I can see right now is my immediate surroundings, and it feels unnerving to not know what is further up the road. Sometimes it's exciting not knowing, feeling a sense of anticipation, but then the realisation that it's not a book I'm reading but my actual life can sometimes make me want to turn back down the road where I've come from.

Just like driving in the fog on the trusted road to work, I need to learn to tune into my instinct and to trust in myself as I begin to journey down unfamiliar territory. That's what I would have done had I driven a different route to work this morning. I would have travelled slowly, looking all around me as hard as I could to be aware of where I was, I would have drawn upon my knowledge of driving codes, knowledge of the area and trusted in my instincts. But, whatever road I was on, the fog would have cleared from the immediate space and that is all that matters. That the space where I exist, the here and now, is all I need to be able to focus on. The fog will clear as I get there, I don't need to be able to see what's there until I arrive there. So it was a lesson in living for the moment and not being afraid of not being able to see what awaits further down the road.

Rosie
A Moodscope member.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Bereavement and Depression 4 of 4.

Recovering From Grief.

Eventually, it doesn't hurt quite so much.
Eventually you go for hours, days, even weeks without thinking of the person who has gone.
Eventually the sun shines and you are happy again.

It may take months, or a year, or several years.

It doesn't mean the lost or dead person comes back, and while you are in the throes of grief it does seem as if you can never be happy again and that life simply cannot go on – but it does.

You learn to cope without that person, as an amputee learns to walk with an artificial limb or to manage life in a wheelchair.

Of course, the amputee has a choice whether to bitterly resent that wheelchair or to learn tricks in it and enter wheelchair marathons. People suffering grief and the pain of loss have that same choice.

There is no magic formula for determining how long your suffering will last. A friend of mine who sadly lost her husband to cancer remarried with great happiness eighteen months later. I'm sure it helped that she and her late husband had said all that needed to be said, that they had grieved together while he was ill and that she knew she had his blessing to seek another partner.

It took me four years to recover from my divorce; I had a lot of bitterness and resentment to get through first before I was ready to heal.

It can take a long time to get to that place of healing, and sometimes we might be reluctant to get there because it seems disloyal; it seems as if we are admitting that we didn't really love if we no longer grieve.

But life is like a river that inexorably sweeps us past stationary events. Even the great and traumatic events retreat as we move on. If we try to hold onto them against the flow all that happens is that the rest of life passes us by, flotsam and decayed weeds start to build up on us and we get very sore arms. It's just not healthy!

Grief is natural, but so too is the eventual recovery from grief and the regaining of happiness.

Hopefully we have good memories of our lost one.

We can keep these as we float downstream to the rest of our life.

Much nicer than collecting rotting weeds and cast-off crisp packets.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Bereavement and Depression 3.

It's Complicated.

One of the problems we have now with grief, especially the grief from bereavement, is that there are few rituals once the funeral is over. In Victorian times the whole family would go "into mourning", wearing black bombazine and crepe (if you were female that is – black hat bands, cravats and gloves were sufficient for men) for set amounts of time according to the relationship with the deceased. If you were in mourning then you didn't go to parties or other social events: you were expected to stay quietly at home and yes, to mourn.

These days it seems that, as soon as the funeral refreshments have been cleared away, we're supposed to carry on as usual but yet, everything has changed. We don't want to bore or embarrass people by becoming emotional at inappropriate moments, yet grief can sweep us away unexpectedly for months, even years after a loss.

And it can be complicated. With my own case, my sister and I had not realised just how much we were loved and cared for by our late uncle until we started to administer his estate. Because our father had died young, our uncle was the man we relied on and looked up to. He never tried to take the place of our father yet, to all intents and purposes, that's what he was. To explain the depth of our grief to anyone outside our immediate circle has been difficult. In Victorian times you mourned an uncle for three months, but a father for a year. We have wanted that year, please.

It can be complicated when there have been unresolved issues, things left unsaid, when a deceased person's will is unexpected or perceived to be unfair, if at death someone is unforgiven or unforgiving.

We do need to talk, even the most stoic of us. For many of us, an understanding friend can be enough. When I grieved the loss of my first husband a kindly friend allowed me to weep and vent on her shoulder to an extraordinarily generous fashion. When I commented on this she explained that she had wept and vented on another friend when her own relationship broke up. It was her turn to lend the shoulder. A few years later, yes, it was my turn. I think that this is one time we cannot pay forward, but can only pay on in our turn with understanding.

Sometimes no friend is available and that is where the professionals come in. There are organisations that can provide support free of charge. The Samaritans is the most obvious one. As they say "You don't have to be suicidal to get in touch"; their volunteers are trained to listen and have the time to listen, no matter how complicated your feelings of loss and pain and grief.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Bereavement and Depression 2.

Liquorice All Sorts Come in More Than Black.

Grief looks and feels different for everyone and everyone grieves in their own way and different for each loss.

When my uncle died suddenly last year it was a total shock to everyone except him. We could tell that he was unsurprised not to wake up that sunny July morning because of the way he had left his affairs. But for the whole family of which he was the head, in spite of never having married or had children himself, it was utterly unexpected.

We have all handled the grief in different ways. While the loss has been deep for all of us for some there has been more laughter than tears. My siblings and I have become closer while dealing with probate and all the administration; but there have been totally unexpected feelings and symptoms too.

There has been a lot of anger which has seemed to come from nowhere and have no focus, so unexpected quarrels have sprung up in what has always been the most placid and affectionate of families. For some it has been easier to retreat into work to avoid dealing with things. There have been embarrassing lapses of memory (how did that happen?) and I'll be honest enough to say that I have drunk a lot more alcohol this year than ever before (unconnected to the memory lapses, I promise!).

Talking to a friend who had experienced a similar loss we found that physical and mental exhaustion had hit us both at unexpected times, meaning that our businesses had suffered; yet another symptom of grief.

When a close friend died in a diving accident, many years ago now, I felt nothing for months and then experienced reoccurring nightmares where my house and town were swept away in a deluge of icy water. It was a mutual friend who happened to be a GP and therapist who connected the nightmares to the unexpressed grief. I hadn't made that link for myself.

I found a piece which puts it brilliantly, so I'll quote it here.

"Grief can feel like sadness. It can also feel like a zillion other things: anger, betrayal, loneliness, fear. You might feel grief as emotions. You might cry and know that you are sad. You might also feel grief physically. You might feel a knot in your stomach. Your heart might race. You might feel tired or have a headache. You might feel everything all at once, and feel mad/sad/crazy and just want to scream. You may feel like you're just drowning and overwhelmed. Or you might feel…nothing. You might just feel … Sometimes grief just feels numb." (Healthcare Chaplaincy Network)

There is no guidebook on "how to grieve"; we all have to just get on with it in our own individual way.

Whatever way yours is, it is right for you.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Bereavement and Depression 1.

My Cat Had Very Soggy Fur: Grief and Loss.

Some time ago Caroline asked me to write a piece on bereavement and depression. Having suffered bereavement myself last year, I guess I seemed like an obvious choice.

Twenty three years ago my best friend had to move house. She was sad to go because they were leaving a beautiful part of the country and leaving good friends. The thing that haunts her still is that she had to separate their then four year old daughter Sophie from her best friend Beth.

Children recover quickly of course. Or do they? Sophie has never made another close friend like Beth and, thank goodness, visits and emails have meant that the two are still in touch. But my friend still regrets the amount of grief she had to inflict on Sophie and Beth.

When we think about bereavement and grief we automatically think about loss through death; but grief is a response to any loss. That might mean a loss of a loved one through death. But it might also mean many other things. We can grieve the loss of a friendship, losing our health or physical ability, our job, or a beloved pet. Loss could mean divorce, miscarriage, infertility, moving, or being deployed.

Surely the most painful loss must be that of a child. But loss cannot be tidily categorised into big or small. Another friend of mine has experienced more than a dozen miscarriages and has been unable to have children. I read that one man said that when he and his wife were trying to start a family and his wife was not conceiving that each time her monthly period arrived it felt for both of them like a death with no body.

The bitterest grief I have ever felt was for the loss of my first husband; not through death, but through divorce because he didn't want me anymore. The sense of loss caused by betrayal and rejection hurt far more than his physical absence. I would sit for hours with my (long-suffering) cat on my lap weeping into her fur. When that cat died, at the grand old age of twenty three, I grieved for her too, but in a more accepting way: she had a good life and it was time. She died peacefully purring on my lap and we laid her to rest under her favourite tree.

Experiencing loss is a part of life and grief is the appropriate response. Nobody should be expected to just shrug off a loss and carry on as normal. Whatever your loss is, you need to give yourself permission and time to grieve; however that grief looks and feels to you.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Gardening of the Mind.

I had never really appreciated the great satisfaction of gardening until recently when something clicked and I realised that gardening is a bit like tidying, but with plants. I am a huge fan of tidying and order and so suddenly gardening became a rather attractive activity!

One day, whilst having a good weed, it struck me that what I was doing to our garden was a bit like what I am doing to my mind:

First of all I had become more aware of my 'garden'. So far I hadn't planted anything in it, someone else had done this and I had been letting things grow as they wanted to, cutting things back a bit every so often. I realised that my garden is not entirely as I would like and that some 'plants' are taking up more than their fair share of space, but I also realised that I have a say in what makes up my garden so I can make changes.

Despite wanting everything to be different NOW, I can only chip away at it and must accept that plants may not be entirely weeded out the first time around - I will have to keep checking back to see what's sprouting up and tending to things as necessary. The work will never be done but will get easier if I make a good initial effort and then make a promise to keep on top of things.

I'm not sure what some of the plants are and if I want to keep them – I may have dug up and discarded some treasures by mistake, but I can always change the make up of my garden and try new stuff out. Some things may not grow first time around but I can try again, perhaps following someone else's advice on how to get the best results. I can also try out different tools.

The garden will never look the same each day - plants will grow and change and outside forces will affect them, and the plants may affect each other, but I have a fair amount of control, and whilst I'm gardening I can appreciate what an amazing thing my garden actually is, including all the elements I never realised were there, growing and scuttling away, as well as being grateful for the things that the previous gardeners have planted that have grown so quietly and steadily.

I also realise that the weeds have their own beauty and purpose too: the various bugs are happy with them; they can have lovely flowers and they are really impressive growers, so it's not the end of the world if they grow back – they're not 'bad', I just have to keep them in check.

So here's to your own gardening activities! As I become a more experienced gardener I hope to share my tips - I'd like the fruits of my garden to be enjoyed by more than just me.  I planted some crocuses yesterday – fingers crossed they pop their heads out of the ground next Spring...

All the best.

Lois
A Moodscope member.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Anytime, anywhere get a handle on your mood.

Our new Mobile Web App makes it possible.

Available to Moodscope Essential and Plus users, our new Mobile Web App allows you to take the test wherever you are, even if you're not online. It will store your results until your device is connected once again and then plot your scores and comments on your graph automatically. This will come in very handy when you are on the move or away on holiday or business.

If you are an occasional user of the Moodscope test, let us just remind you of the significant personal benefits of the test, which you can now do anytime, anywhere:-

• An awareness of your precise mood with scores on all relevant dimensions like 'irritable', 'nervous', or 'strong' for example.

• A growing base of personal knowledge of what drives your mood up or down.

• The ability to make conscious and unconscious adjustments to your behaviour that will improve your mood.

• A view of your long-term mood trends.

So for example, rather than a general sense of feeling down it's easy to identify precise feelings like "I am extremely jittery and quite nervous" or "I am feeling very upset and a little angry". This better identification of the prevailing mood state tends to cause the mind to look for causes, remedies and actions.

Imagine the liberty of being able to do the test ANYTIME, ANYWHERE. A minute of downtime can be enough.

The Mobile Web App is free to all Moodscope Essential and Moodscope Plus members. Moodscope Lite members need to upgrade to Essential or Plus to get it.

Simply get started now by simply going to http://m.moodscope.com on your smartphone or tablet.

Adrian
The Moodscope Team.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Was it post-traumatic stress?

Post-traumatic stress is recognized as a form of mental illness, as a result of things like serving in a war zone, observing some terrible event and so on - I wonder why that has never transferred itself to the stress that any of us might experience as a result of losing a relationship.

That loss can be a sudden death, an unexpected marriage or partnership breakdown or even a serious illness like Alzheimers that may remove a person from sharing the same kind of relationship as we may have had with them before.

In my case it was my ex husband suddenly walking out with no warning. I came home from a meeting, there were many things missing from the house and the briefest scribbled note on the TV saying 'sorry, I've left'. From that day to this, he has never explained in detail what his reasons were or why.

I was already in depression following other problems outside of the marriage - loss of my Mum two years before, unemployment, conflicts with my in-laws, and a physical condition I hadn't even realised had got worse.

What I went through after my ex's sudden departure was very definitely post traumatic shock and stress, but it was never really treated that way or named. The physical symptoms of shock were with me for months afterwards and I only have to think about that night to have them return. I have learned to deal with it by 'reaching for the better feeling thought'.

This form of mindfulness extends into a daily meditation and I can use it whenever I need, to deal with situations that would previously have brought on tears and desperate feelings of hopelessness, at worst suicidal ideation.

The transition has been slow but it is now showing results in all areas of my life and I am so grateful to those who helped me to find my positivity again.

Jenny
A Moodscope Member.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Changing your mind: The Mindful Walk.

This is the second of my mindfulness exercises that I thought I would share with you.

This is one you can do anytime you have a few minutes to spare. You can do it whilst walking from the car/bus to work, getting some air at lunchtime or just getting out the house for a walk during the day. You try to engage as many senses as you can in the environment that you in.

Start by just feeling the air. Is there a wind? Is it hot or cold? Is the sun shining? Can you feel the warmth on your skin?

Listen. What can you hear? Can you hear birds, traffic, people. Think about what you can hear. If you can hear birds what do you think they are doing? Where is the traffic going, imagine the people in the cars, taxis, lorries and busses and pavements, make up stories about what they may be doing.

See. Look around you. Look at the big picture and then look at the small. I have found some amazing caterpillars by stopping and looking closely at the bushes. Look up. If you are in a city there is some wonderful architecture to see, look for detailed carvings imagine the people who were involved in their creation. The designer, the sculptor. Try to work out how the architecture was made. Were the bricks moulded or is it carved stone? Where did the materials come from? If you are in a park try to find out why the park exists, think about the trees, how old are they, why they were planted in that place?

Touch. Feel the things around you. Touch the trees, touch the buildings (be careful with this one, people may think you are slightly mad) are the surfaces rough or smooth, cold or warm are there patterns you can feel?

What can you smell? Focus on the scent around you. Can you smell flowers, cut grass, hot dog stand, peoples cologne. As people pass you try to catch their smell (not always pleasant but certainly educational) try to imagine why they smell like that. Are they going to an important meeting, seeing their loved one or just on their way back from a bad night out!

I try to do this one every time I go out with my dog and I find that I am generally calmer and more relaxed when I get back. Hope it helps.

Penny
A Moodscope member.