Monday, 30 November 2015

The A to Z Guide to Life - an introduction.

At the age of 18, I was in a good place. I'd had a profound spiritual experience, and, as a result, I knew who I was, what I was here for, and that everybody else needed fixing.

Within less than two years I realised that I was the one that needed fixing first! My purpose has remained constant though, even though the focus of that purpose has shifted.

So what am I here for? The verse that 'spoke' to me, that 'called' to me, talks of transformation through new patterns of thinking. Change your thinking, change your World.  A free translation would be: "Be being transformed by the renewing of your mind." It's from Paul's letter to the Roman Church, a community of believers who were in danger of staying stuck in the ways of thinking of those around them. They were taking their lead from the wrong sources.

I figure that's a message that's relevant for people stuck in any culture at any age. The culture in which we live can squeeze us all too easily into its own mould. We all need new patterns of thinking to make that metamorphic transformation from caterpillar to butterfly or that leap from tadpole to frog.

Knowing now that I continue to need fixing first, and that I have more to learn than I ever realised as an arrogant 18 year old, I nevertheless have to acknowledge that I've learned some useful patterns of thinking over the years. And so, I'd love to share some of those useful patterns with you. It'll be an A to Z of patterns that bring hope.

I say 'share' because you are very likely to have some better patterns too that would do me the World of good. So let's trade.

We keep these blogs short, so I'll close this one with a pattern of thought that will serve us all well: always keep learning! The moment you think you know enough, it's "Game Over!"

And in that spirit, I'd like to ask you, "What's the most important change you've made in the last year?" And, "What was the thinking that led to this change?"

A Moodscope member.

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Sunday, 29 November 2015

No ink to leave a mark.

Didn't want to get up.
Got up anyway.

Didn't want to cook.
Cooked anyway.

Didn't want to eat.
Ate anyway. Tasted like cardboard.

Didn't want to go out.
Went out anyway.

Didn't speak to anyone but children.
That was good.

No passion.
No spark.
No ink to leave a mark.

Did it anyway.
Do it anyway.
Any way you can.

Saw the glory of once vibrant leaves
elegantly bidding a vibrant farewell.
They will return.

I will return.
We will return.
Again and again.

We will do it anyway.
Any way we can.

Love from

The room above the garage.
A Moodscope member.

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Saturday, 28 November 2015

Your best friend wouldn't tell you.

If somebody has body odour or bad breath do you tell them? Or subtly move away, change your desk or open a window?

If someone you know well becomes miserable for no apparent reason, is anyone going to move in and say 'Why not see the doctor, you may be depressed'. Mostly, because the 'cafard', black dog, grey cloud can be explained by something as simple as a bad hair day or a partnership break-down.

I spend too much time in hospitals with people in a desperate state, and too much time on my own, but reading the blogs with great care (particularly Mary's a few days' ago) I don't see depression everywhere, but look at close acquaintances in a new light.

When my husband's sight problems a few years ago caused him to stop driving and reading, he settled to a deep anger against the world. As he was happy (unlike most men) to be driven around by me – to outsiders our life seemed to go on without a hitch. But he would not avail himself of outside help, it was me or nothing.

He now has Alzheimers. I may be jumping to conclusions, but could he have gone in to a deep depression, which, if recognised, might have put the Alzheimers off for a while?

Another example, is a friend I have 'finished' with. His meanness and sponging had gone too far. For years he behaved oddly - he hated being 70 and was horrible to his wife. He was one of these real 'macho' guys - rally driving, shooting, always very competitive.

A few years ago he suddenly insisted on separate rooms, blamed his back. We believe he became impotent, but his pride would not let him seek help, and certainly not admit to depression.

So, who tells?

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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Friday, 27 November 2015

Adult Orphans.

When my father died about 8 years ago I realised I was an orphan as my mother had died 6 years earlier. I know most people think of an orphan as a young child like Oliver Twist, who has no parents and lives a wretched life.

We are all our parents' children no matter how old we are.

I was grieving so much but people just said my parents, especially my dad had a good innings, (I can't recall the number of times people said that to me,) I was adult and I should really be over the grieving by now.

People would say you look well and I would smile and say yes but I was not ok and I felt life would never be the same. I felt alone, rudderless and looking for direction. I felt no-one understood me.

My brothers said they were coping so I felt there was something wrong with me, until I found an interesting article about adult orphans.

The article acknowldeges that the adult orphans are the forgotten grievers and are supposed to grieve a little then get back to their lives as they are adults and their parents lived a long life.

I found myself nodding with every word.

The death of your parents is one of adult life's most significant rites of passage. Our community acknowldeges the loss and grief that young children experience when their parents die, however adults are expected to be very different, coping with the grief of the death of the people that raised them from birth and whom they have known for many decades.

No matter what our age humans have a need for unconditional love to be guided, and a soft place to land, that parents offer.

Once I felt my grief had been acknowledged, it didn't take my feeling of loss away, but I felt I could understand my feelings and stop feeling I had to apologise.

I realised that because my parents had been in my life for nearly 50 years, it would take me more than a few weeks to work out how to live with out them and plan a new way of defining myself. I was no longer some one's daughter. In my family I was now the older generation and was reminded of my mortality when my son, a few months, after his grandfather's funeral, wanted to know about my own funeral plans!

Some days I felt I was warpped tightly in a sadness shawl and at my daughter's suggestion, I started writing to my dad on the computer. In the first few months was writing every few days, sometimes daily.

This helped me because I was thinking about him all the time it helped me to express my thoughts.

If you know someone whose elderly parents have died, try to acknowledge the grief he/she is feeling, offer understanding and be willing to listen.

If you are an adult orphan be kind to yourself, allow yourself time to grieve, tell people you trust how you feel and start to navigate your way in a different world.

A Moodscope member.

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Thursday, 26 November 2015

Twenty-One today...

In my youth this used to mean getting the key of the door to come and go as you pleased. Nowadays as parents we say "You're twenty-one now, give me back that key and sod off."

What I am referring to is that today I complete 21 alcohol-free days. Four weeks ago I would have given long odds on this possibility. However the consultant has convinced me that I need a long stretch to allow the anti-depressants to do some serious work, instead of merely patching me up. My first target was payday. Now I hope to get to Xmas and see how I feel. I went to a support group meeting yesterday but didn't really feel it was for me. Fortunately I am feeling strong at the moment.

I went back to work last week. Everyone seemed genuinely pleased to see me back so I took a few of my staff into my confidence. Everyone has been really supportive. Interestingly enough the Management Committee with which I had so many issues seems to have imploded in my absence and has gone from being dysfunctional to totally non-functional. This ironically means that I am able to get on managing the business without interference.

I still go to the pub occasionally but I find non-alcoholic beer is not as satisfying and easier to say "enough" to, so I don't feel the need to visit as often or stay as long.

I had expected a smooth recovery. However it seems to go two steps forward one step back. I had a very productive day yesterday getting some key tasks done but I am working from home today as I woke up feeling rough. (I used to blame the beer for this but it now has an alibi!) I have also found the local library to be a quiet place to get on with work. (Libraries: quiet! Who knew?) It also means I don't go to the pub afterwards.

Twenty-one steps into the thousand-mile journey: So far so good...

A Moodscope member.

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Wednesday, 25 November 2015

The Best Laid Plans...

We had my son Tom and his Jenny home for the weekend.

(Long pause.)

Yes – we never realised how calm and ordered our life was until Tom joined our family. He arrives and chaos rushes in right on his heels! My moderately tidy house suddenly has clothes and sporting equipment scattered everywhere. My fridge is raided. His sisters acquire new pets. Fortunately this time he did actually ask first, so it was stick insects only and not the snake he had contemplated bringing.

So yes, we had plans for the weekend. But – as my lovely son says, with a huge grin on his face. "Mum – you make plans, but then I happen!"

And of course, he had ideas of his own. And as the chaos that follows him has the force of a hurricane, those ideas happen – somehow - and we all get swept along for the ride.

Don't get me wrong – it's a great ride! I just didn't plan on spending my Saturday in the snowdome at Milton Keynes rushing down an icy slope on a toboggan about the size of a ten pence piece! I'd planned all our meals and shopped carefully but instead we all ended up grazing our way through the weekend, or having meals a lot later than scheduled and eating different things to those on the menu.

There are two ways of dealing with Tom. You can fight him and get incredibly stressed or you can relax and go with the flow.

The second way is usually best. Because while Tom is a hurricane, he is also incredibly centred and the calm eye of the storm.

He will listen – but you have to let him know clearly what you want to do, why you want to do it and why it's important. We all have to compromise. So Sunday lunch with my mother was ordered and civilized. (phew!)

We knew when we adopted Tom that there would be turbulent times ahead. He is an adult, and he has his own way of doing things. Because we didn't have any part in his upbringing, his ways are foreign to us, just as much as if he were a refugee from another country. Our ways are foreign to him.

So when he's not with us our life is moderately calm and placid – a smoothly running river. With Tom it's a thrilling, exhilarating, white water ride.

We love having him in the family. Everything is better with Tom around. He shakes us out of our rut and comfort zone. We give him the security and solidity of knowing he is totally loved and accepted. We're incredibly good for each other.

Even if he did leave his roller skates behind that I had to post back to him this morning!

A Moodscope member.

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Tuesday, 24 November 2015

The Knights in shining armour.

My best friends don't really know who they are. They have no idea that they play a bigger part in my life than the part they know about. They do not know that they can be my salvation.

I've known Eric for about 16 years. He had great concern for me a few years back when I went through my separation and made a point of coming down from his window cleaning ladder to see into my eyes when he enquired about how I was coping. He trusted me and shared wisdom from his breakdown following his divorce. Generally he's 'just' my window cleaner.

I've known Graham over 20 years. He doesn't just deliver packages, he rings the bell and has a chat. We discuss anything at all. Sometimes serious stuff. Sometimes not. Always a laugh to be had at the end. We pass each other driving sometimes and a hand always comes out the window.

Dave calls me "darlin" and sends me texts with "hello lovely, I'm in your area is it any good?". He sometimes hugs me to say hello and always parts with "look after". We've been friends for about 12 years. Mostly I pay him to wash my car.

My favourite of them all is Robert. He looked liked he might cry when he stumbled into learning my partner and I had called it quits and, as I welled up saying "It's ok", he gently enveloped me with one wall sized arm saying "It's clearly not ok".  He has the biggest, happiest face (and body) and we share a very stupid and daft sense of humour. He is the highlight of my week. We meet on Friday lunchtimes. He delivers our butcher meat. My relationship with his family business goes back 16 years and I've been good friends with him for 9.

They need nothing from me. And they take nothing. They are dependable, regular givers in my life and I thoroughly cherish them. Avoiding celebrations for my big birthday a couple of years ago, I realised being with these guys was the only type of event where I would feel truly comfortable. They don't know each other. They don't know they help keep me on the straight and narrow. Maybe one day I will tell them how magically important they are to me.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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Monday, 23 November 2015

Are we the new normal?

Julia made a comment on a blog recently about depression being normal. And it got me thinking... How often have I thought myself weak for having depression? Felt shame? Like I'm less than other people; like it's an affliction I have to bear. But what if it isn't? What if depression is a condition of the strong? When you look back over time depression has visited so many of the greatest minds, creative thinkers and emotionally astute people that have ever lived. Winston Churchill, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Abraham Lincoln, Halle Berry, Dolly Parton (I know, right?!) Stephen Fry, Mozart, Newton. The list goes on.

Everyone I know that suffers depression is sensitive. Diligent. Thoughtful. Caring. Too caring maybe? I can't speak for anyone else and I hate to lump all depressives together (back to the collective noun question again!) but for me I can honestly say that I am thin-skinned. Empathy rich. I think differently. Feel more. Question more. Don't agree with the world and spend my time searching. Pushing. Challenging the norm. And because of the sensitivity the 'challenging the norm' part often feels tough. It's like I'm going against the grain and that's not a very comfortable place to be.

I believe a big part of my depression is from trying to squeeze my round, alternative-thinking, self into a square hole. I've folded and twisted and contorted myself and then looked out with a fake smile. Pretending to agree with the way the world is. But everyone around me can see bits of the 'real me' are sticking out, they know I'm not speaking my truth and that my laughter is forced. Right now I am slowly unraveling into something new. And every time I squash myself down again I deny who I am. Depression. Repression. Same thing?

Where would we be if Mozart had fitted in? If Churchill had stopped his voice from being heard? If Amy Winehouse hadn't unleashed her creative genius on the world?

Isn't it time we stood up and were proud? Unveiled our real selves? We might just be the future of this crazy, mixed up world. We might be the new normal...

A Moodscope member.

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Sunday, 22 November 2015

The Volcano Within.

If you insist! If you just dare! You will witness a rage like no other here! Do you want to see the volcano erupt?!

Sometimes dormant, sometimes bubbling, spitting away at the surface. Warning those who throw stones at it's glowing cracks, the open wounds, to keep away! No don't touch! Steer clear! Go! Evacuate!

It's intense heat and sparks that fly a dangerous place, created by history. How does one dismantle a volcano? The power of it's vast and deep furnace is simply far too great. The local people know it well, live close and read it's signs, keep away from it's firey surface. Travellers visit it's beautiful majesty, innocent to it's ugly fury. Created by history.

The history of the earth itself.
How do you dismantle a volcano?
The power of nature is way too great.

It is within, burning away at the very core, mysterious, all powerful, mighty and terrifying. Formed by terror upon terror, face to face. No fight, no flight. Survive. Survive. Survive and wait.

Wait for what? Wait for who? Wait for when?
So erupt. Go ahead. Then what?
Then what?
Then what? Forever?

Open your eyes. You can open them now. It's gone. The danger has gone. Peep. See! Gone! Look at where you are right now. Who you are right now. What you see right now. It's safe. It's ok, no need to hide. No need to fight no need.
No need to run no need.
There's nothing there. No ghosts, no monsters.
No need to build a fortress no need.
No need to reek havoc no need.
No need to explode, erupt, destroy, defend.
No need my love no need.

Take a deep breath of clean fresh air, it's safe, its clear.

No need to shield your eyes my love. Stand straight, stand tall. Look how you've grown! Look around! Walk to where you want to be. Wherever you want to be!

With those bright eyes wide open now, you are free!
Free as a bird to please yourself, to live in peace, to keep those eyes wide open.

A Moodscope member.

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Saturday, 21 November 2015

Why you're afraid of me.

In my area it has taken 39 years for the promised new building for mental health sufferers to become a reality!

It's crazy, and the stigma attached to the old building was tremendous. Just the mere mention of the name conjured up all kinds of thoughts in peoples imagination. People think it's the building that scares people but the truth is people are more scared of what happens within! You don't even look at the building when you have to go there as I did.

Here's a poem I wrote about it after visiting:

I didn't see the tall iron gates
standing in front of me.
The building didn't scare me!
I didn't even notice it was there.
I was looking only down!

The thoughts of what lay within,
were more worrying to me.
What were they going to do,
would I ever be allowed out?
My head was in a spin!

What of the rumours I'd heard?
The stigma of the place!
What was I going to face?
Are they going to fry my brain?
The thought of such pain!

"The thoughts that race around my head,
are plain crazy, so I've been told!
My mind's gone off the beaten track,
not on course with the rest of you!
That makes the going tough on me."

I've been put in the nuthouse!
What of those on the outside,
when they hear I'm on the inside?
What will their thoughts be?
"Yeah, I knew that he was crazy man!"

"They will have put him in chains,
bolted to the walls!"
"Locked behind bars within locked rooms!"
"That crazy man won't ever escape!"
"I'll never be of a mind to be put in that place!"

When shown to a room,
what a relief!
I see no chains fixed to the wall,
not even a lock on the door.
Well only one, to keep you out!

Worried now that night-time is here,
everyone heading for their rooms
"lights out, sleep tight!"
Not chained – not even to the bed!
There's nothing to fear in here.

I've been on the inside looking out,
you've all got it wrong!
You listen too much to rumours of old,
you're too afraid to learn the truth.
Things have changed – no men in white coats!

A Moodscope member.

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Friday, 20 November 2015

What do you say next?

I finally made it to my 40th high school reunion after many months of indecision. I had prepared by arranging to go with a few friends so I would not enter the cafe alone; I had a plan to go outside and walk outside if I felt overwhelmed and I even contacted former classmates on FB before hand. Ok, I did change my outfits about a dozen times but that was more about warmth than fashion or nerves.

I had just arrived and hadn't even put my coat down when I heard someone ask me "what have you done with your life?"

I took a deep breath while my legs wobbled, and I felt hot and uncomfortable. Why hadn't I prepared for this obvious question?

Do I say flippantly "Do you want 40 years in 40 words, in 40 secs, or 40 mins (OK I realised this wasn't an option!)

If I knew who the person was asking me the question that would have made the reply easier, but I couldnt read the small font on her name tag and I didnt recognise her.

Do just go for the safe domestic details, children, where I live or do I talk about my shop?

Bipolar has been a major part of my last 40 years but do people want to hear that here or do I want to tell someone whose name I can't remember. Will I be known as that woman with bipolar. The silence seemed to last for hours but it was probably only a few seconds when I put on my happy face and chatted about my shop briefly then asked her about her life.

During the night, I probably used all of the answers above depending to whom I was speaking.

I know I think way too much and over-analyse conversations and social situations. In the past I have avoided reunions or large parties so I was pleased that I took a big step to attend the reunion. I was pleased I managed to chat to people and listen to the amazing variety of life stories other women told.

It made me think of how we respond to questions and how much or little we choose to reveal about ourselves in social situations.

When someone asks "What have you done since school?", or even "How are you?", what do you say next?

A Moodscope member.

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Thursday, 19 November 2015

Did you remember to log out?

My eldest daughter forgets to log out of the computer after she has written up her homework. The computer doesn't receive its cue to take its anti-virus and general-security smoothie and so we end up with a computer that needs to do a fair bit of preening in front of the mirror before we can use it properly. And so I am gently encouraging her to remember. (For 'gently' read "aaahh, you've done it again, its driving me crazy!".)

We are sitting in the dawn of silly season. The season where everyone goes a little crazy. Life-loving people have an excuse to ramp it up (hello science-experiment cocktails) and people you see as Stalwarts of Sensible suddenly show a little of what's under the guise and it can be shocking, worrying, amusing and warming. My work no longer gives me colleagues and so my exposure is limited. I enjoyed it, but I didn't realise how much it drained me. What else drains me? Exposure to the full-on Christmas Express. TV, radio, packaging, advertising, catalogues... Oh the catalogues!!! Here is what I'm doing...

When the postman drops the leafy bricks through the door, I lift them up and I put them straight into recycling. They do not pass 'Go'. If I open them, the scenes my eyes feast upon will send my brain and body into "it's time I...", "should I...?", "they do it with matching pyjamas...", "do we need a...?". Silly turns to panic. I end up feeling not only feeble for not BEING a Christmas scene but I feel I need to keep up! Stop. It.

It's the equivalent of being a child and looking at the sweet counter. Don't look. Be your parent and pull your eyes away. It's not needed. You will buy sweets when you are allowed. You will make your Christmas season the way you can handle it and unless you are very strong minded, you might need to operate a bypass system. Catalogues straight to recycling. You can even draw a face on the recycling bin, give it a name and feel good that you have "just fed George". I'm not a big TV watcher but if there is something I'd like to see I record it... that way I can fast forward through the 743,945 adverts every 15 minutes. They too make me feel inadequate and have me craving a version of 'The Waltons' existence. CDs at the ready to avoid constant Christmas music trundling through your subconscious winding up the conveyor. Be prepared to prepare less. REBEL!

Log out. Login to precisely what you need and only what you need. Joy will be yours!

Love from

The room above the garage.
A Moodscope member.

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Wednesday, 18 November 2015

An Awkward Question.

"Mummy, can you die from depression?"

We were at the open evening at the school which my elder daughter attends and which we very much hope will offer a place to our little one. But I had only got as far as the first stop in the science labs before I had to sit down with an attack of the shakes and was escorted down to the library by a junior science teacher and sat down in the quiet with a plastic cup full of water.

I spent the whole evening there, fending off kind concern and gratefully accepting more cups of water and tea.

The open evening finally ended and the library staff solicitously escorted me to the reception foyer to wait for my family. My little one held my hand while Daddy and daughter no. 1 collected the car and brought it round so I had only a few yards to walk.

That's when the question was asked.

Thankfully she also supplied the context. "Because when Kylie at school shook like this she fell down and they had to call an ambulance and she nearly died."

Kylie has epilepsy. Grand Mal. My daughter was right beside her when she had an episode last school term. It was pretty tough on her. (But tougher on Kylie, obviously.)

What could I say? The truth is, "Yes darling. You can die from it. Your grandfather did. One of your great uncles did. More people in your family have died from depression than have from cancer."

But she doesn't want or need to know the rather depressing suicide statistics in our family. She needs reassurance. Which thankfully, I can give her.

"Well, yes darling; some people do die from this. But I'm not going to."

And I'm not.

Oh, the temptation is there. Every single bloody episode of depression it's there. Ironically the impulse grows stronger just before I'm able to leap out of the pit (or – for readers of previous blogs – just before the leviathan spits me out).

But I can't do it. I'm loved too much. Only today I got a present from my son and his girlfriend. It was a mug with the legend, "You are loved. Now and Always. And don't you forget it!" written in happy lettering.

And that reminds me how quickly things can change. This time last year I didn't have my son Tom (see You Can't Choose Your Family, 18th February 2015) and he didn't have his Jenny. Things can change in a heartbeat.

My husband loves and needs me. Tom, Jenny and my daughters love and need me. I couldn't ask my mother and siblings to go through the whole mess of suicide yet again.

So I have to hold on. For their sakes. For your sakes (because you guys would be upset too – wouldn't you?)

I'm not able to slip away unnoticed, unremembered, unforsaken.


So I'm staying for my family. I'm staying for you. Until I'm better and it seems worth staying for life itself. That will happen soon. I promise. It has before. It will again. It will. It will. It will.

A Moodscope member.

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Tuesday, 17 November 2015


Hope. One four letter word but vital. Two months ago my marriage ended, I lost my hope, I didn't think I'd ever feel better. In an effort to conquer the pain I focused all my hope on doing a university course, thinking if I could get through that I could overcome.

Then anxiety came a-knocking, took any hope I had and any confidence in my abilities. I felt hope-less; crushed by the critical voices I withdrew from the course and I am so disappointed with myself.

The anxiety has engulfed me, encroaching on every area of my life. Questions flood in... what am I doing with my life? Will I forever be stuck in dead end jobs because of my anxiety? How will I ever feel OK in my own skin again? How do people do life? How do they have faith and push forward and achieve?

Right now I feel I have forgotten to grow up. I'm 33, living in a friend's spare room, working two jobs that do not allow me to use my skills. Broke, lost and scared.

But the other day I remembered about hope. I have that little 4 letter word tattooed on my back, done in a dark time over 10 years ago. I was hope-full then, that the depression would lift and I would come back to myself.

Right now I am struggling to find hope in things, I feel boxed in by my fear. Thoughts come thick and fast - You are pointless. You are worthless. You will never get a good job. You will never achieve anything. You will never see the world because you're too broke. Your friends will leave you because you're a drain. No-one will want to know you if you're honest about how you feel.

I search online for quick fixes - I try mindfulness, positive affirmations, exercise, pushing through, in a frantic and flighty way. Hoping something will stick and save me from myself.

This morning after a fairly sleepless night I was ready to throw the towel in, take to my bed and surrender. But I found a glimmer of hope, I'd booked a yoga class and arranged to see a friend. If I could only get up and out then maybe just maybe it would help a little.

I did it. I went to yoga. I saw my friend. I was honest about where I'm at. She encouraged me, gave me hope. Bolstered by this I took the next positive step and braved the shops to buy a box file to sort papers I have had lying on the floor since I moved 4 weeks ago.

Small triumphs, little steps. Reasons to hope for a brighter day. I'll keep you posted.

What gives you hope in dark times?

Love from

Down the well
A Moodscope member.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Vinnie The Bouncer.

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

Like many of us, I have a passion for writing. Many writers hope that some of their sayings will become quoted by others - something we call a "signature quote". Like the "Just Do Its" of the World - our sayings can become part of our brand - part of our legacy. One of my favourite sayings is, "'Reality' leaves much to the imagination." I'm hoping that's deeply profound! And I hope it captures your imagination!

This saying reflects not only my experience but also my understanding of perception. The brain 'makes up' a lot of information in order to make sense of World about us fast enough to make split-second decisions. We 'fill in the gaps' in what we really sense in order to function effectively.

This works amazingly most of the time, but sometimes we can have an over-active imagination. Feeling low, is often an aspect of over-imagining that happens to us - and what will happen next. We use imagination to fill-in-the-gaps and extrapolate our assessment of circumstances into possible future scenarios - few of them being happy ones! We make up meanings too!

It's almost impossible to stop this but I'd like to introduce you to Vinnie, The Bouncer (or Boncer?) Vinnie, modelled on Vinnie Jones, is the Bouncer in my Bonce. Sometimes I have to throw out some of the imaginations from the Nightclub of my Mind. Vinnie acts as an interrupter of unhelpful thoughts. He says, "Oi!  You! That's not my thaut! [tought], get arrrt! [out] of me 'ed!"

Of course, this is ridiculous, but it's actually the interruption I'm after - to interfere with an unhelpful pattern of thinking.  And it works.

Vinnie's for hire. If you'd like to borrow my Bouncer and let him allow only best-dressed thoughts into your mind, go ahead, be my guest!

All the bestest.

A Moodscope member.

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

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Fleur - my lifeline.

Today is a special day for me. It is my 1 year anniversary with an extremely special lady.
Her name is Fleur and she is of the 4 legged variety. Not my cat, or a dog, Fleur is my horse.

A year ago today she arrived at the stables and I handed over a wad of cash and she became mine. In her previous life she was a race horse and then did point to point races. Since day one she has brought joy into my life and made me smile on a daily basis. At very low points she knows nothing of the state of my mind and is continuously pleased to see me, nuzzling me, neighing for her hay, happily cantering through the fields letting me be a passenger. Being with her melts away any kind of anxiety or negativity to the point where I don't realise it has gone til I am driving home and a huge black cloud comes over me.

We have also shared many many highs, competing together, winning rosettes, watching sunsets, going on roadtrips, enjoying jumping, and having many cuddles, the list is endless.

She is pampered beyond belief (as I imagine many of your pets are also!) and gets anything she needs - the second she seems unwell, the vet is called, the dentist twice per year (when I haven't been in over 10 years!), the nutritionist, the physio, the instructor, new rugs, new shoes, new tack - every penny I earn goes on her, but she is so worth it. She is my lifeline some days and offers a little relief from the darkness - she is completely oblivious she has this power.

I am conscious that no life is infinite - not mine or hers. But from now until that day comes I will cherish every second with her, care for her and love her. She owes me nothing but still continues to be there and give something that no one else can.

I hope you can find this joy somewhere in your life - from someone or something, whether it be a person, an animal, an activity, or yourself. That is my wish for today - that everyone can experience this joy somehow - look for it, try hard and find it - trust me - you wont regret it.

A Moodscope member.

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

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Wisdom received from Moodscopers. Part 3.

Following my previous blog "Wisdom received from Moodscopers Part 2"  (3 November 2015) here is the final part of what I have learnt since joining Moodscope.
I have learnt...

11. To let go of the outcome and to let it be...

12. To reflect on my responses to any given situation and ask myself whether I am (or anyone one else is) reacting as a child or as an adult.

13. That "All things pass, and this too shall pass."

14. That it is enjoying the journey which really matters, not arriving at the destination.

15. That the journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.

16. That tears are often tears of healing.

17. That the only thing I can control is my own response to any given situation.

18. That happy coincidence is really a benign universe working for our good.

I can now change "I have learnt..." to "Today I choose (to accept)..."

Thank-you again, Moodscope.

Wishing everyone peace of mind and heart.

A Moodscope member.

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

Friday, 13 November 2015

Party songs.

This morning I awoke early with the 80's song Agadoo rolling round my head.

So I decided to get up and play party songs before work. I logged in to YouTube and played Agadoo by Black Lace, Locomotion by Little Eva, Lets Dance by Chris Montez, Star Trekkin by The Firm and a couple of other songs. I even danced to Locomotion in my lounge. I was truly having fun and went off to work with a smile on my face and in my heart.

What songs would do it for you? Or even better, put some tunes into your heart.

A Moodscope member.

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

Thursday, 12 November 2015

I Want to be Clearer.

Chasing the world,
Out there again.
Outside my head,
Often in pain.

Escaping again,
Ego driven stuff.
'Needing' something,
Maybe being too rough.

What do I 'want',
When I listen to my heart,

When I am coherent,
When I am true,
When there is only me,
Before there is you?

Inscaping only,
Only going in.
Escaping's only,
...just a sin?

Losing focus,
Losing me.
Losing my mother,
I just couldn't see.

47 years ago,
Still in my head.
What do you do,
When your Mum is dead?

I've lived on my own,
Flying so free.
I've lived with another,
Not being me.

What are my boundaries,
That I will stick to?
What are my values,
To which I'll hold true?

I only devalue you,
When I devalue me.
That's why I need to be clear,
Where are my bound-aries.

When I am happy,
I make no judgment.
When I feel blue
I so often resent.

Can you look in,
Before you look out?
Whatever you're feeling,
You'll make life about.

Don't blame 'them',
Be responsible for you.
Life won't change,
Unless you do.

A Moodscope member.

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Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Hugging your GP.

Sometimes I think I must be the luckiest girl in the world.

Yes, in spite of the fairly tragic things that have happened to me during my 52 years on this planet, life is good.

I have the blessing of a wonderful GP.

Oh, don't get me wrong – my previous GP, who first diagnosed the bi-polar was wonderful too. And a former GP in quite another city was great – even though he thought my depression was a result of sin and not a faulty serotonin valve in my brain (I'm quite sure that sin was involved too – but I'm not going to get into a religious argument with any of you just now).

Today I discovered just why she's as wonderful as she is.

I needed an appointment with her simply to rubberstamp the emergency prescription of meds the doctor on call had given me when I first realised that this was a serious down.

I think she was supposed to give me twelve minutes and she insisted on giving me half an hour.

In that time I was invited to join the GP/Patient forum. My children were invited to join the "Young Carers" group and I was validated, supported and made to feel loved.

Okay – so part of that is on me. I showed her my Moodscope scores for 30 days, 90 days, a year and four years. More than anything else that demonstrates a willingness to be responsible, to measure, to be part of the solution. I had annotated my comments so that the odd "down" in the middle of an otherwise stable period could be put down to a cold or other physical cause. Apart from that there is a consistent pattern.

I'm not sure a GP is supposed to share themselves. But oh, I am so honoured that my lovely GP chose to share with me her history with a family who suffer from mental health issues themselves. She has experienced it at first hand. She would be the very last person to say, "Just snap out of it."

Your GP is a person, with health issues themselves. They suffer with the politics, which were never what they signed up for. They really want to help, and so often their hands are tied.

I said, "My daughter might want to study medicine," and she said, "Oh no! The politics are awful!"

She loves giving care in the community. She loves being the GP for four generations of the same family. She hates the politics.

At the end of the appointment I asked if I could hug her. She said yes, that quite a few of her patients hug her.

You know what? I'm not surprised.

She's a gift. And I'm very, very grateful for her.

A Moodscope member.

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

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

A workman and his tools.

Show depression you are not going to be easy. Arm yourself to be ready for a visit:

- Keep some store cupboard foods for days when you just can't go out.

- A timetable – when our brains are fog we often need to see the instruction written down.

- A 3 item list of things to do when well.

- Memories of when we felt happy (this can be hard but worthwhile).

- Box of photographs – we usually only photograph the good stuff.

- Split the day in two – in one half be the patient and allow yourself to be ill, in the other half be the carer and guide yourself into doing something that will help.

- A list of food you can make easily - bacon, egg and tomato in a pan, job done and gluten free.

- Don't take on any projects (this includes clearing something out). Routine can be a safety net.

- Trust someone with knowing you are ill. If there is nobody, there is always someone on Moodscope.

- Wash your survival outfit. A dressing gown without jam splodge is a win.

- Eat 3 times a day. BOOM! SMASH! KAPOW! Jackie Chan your depression!

- Look into the mirror and say "I have depression/bipolar/dodgy feet and I am proud". Then be proud because you have been honest.

Please share and swap your tools on the blogspot, it helps us all.

Remind yourself that you are in charge and that even breathing in and out is fighting.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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

Monday, 9 November 2015

Taking The Plunge.

[To listen to the audio version of this blog:]

I broke the bath. Yes, that's right, you heard me correctly. My vast gravitas was way more than the bath could take when I stood in it to have a shower. It cracked up - couldn't take me seriously.

The lady of the house, however, took the situation very seriously. She was not amused.

So we needed a new bath.

After months of unfulfilled promises from various vendors, we finally had a new bath fitted. But one of the old bath's problems remained: the water wouldn't drain away fast enough. The lady of the house was once more unamused.

I'm not a DIY-kind-of-chap. There aren't many practical bones in my body (well, actually, all my bones are very practical, but you know what I mean.) I do, however, understand a little bit of Physics. I showed the lady how the bends in the pipe made it physically impossible for the water to drain away. In fact, I was quite proud of my scientific stance on the matter.

We've known each other for nine years now. She holds me in deep respect. Typically, she totally ignored me! What did she do? She took a plunger to it. The water flowed away perfectly.

"Science" = 0; "Lady of the House" = 1. Game over!

OK, so what's the lesson? For me, it was the danger of commitment to an idea that was wrong. I was totally convinced, convicted I tell you, that there was no way the water would ever flow given the existing plumbing. So I stopped trying to fix it. But it was fixable, wasn't it?

Fancy trying on a new belief for size today?

How about challenging an old one that's stopping you from taking action?

Is there a belief that you've quit on that could do with fresh examination?

Go on, take the plunge!

A Moodscope member.

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

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Take my advice.

I have a card in my shop that says take my advice, I am not using it. This makes me smile because it is so true for me and I assume for others as well.

Why is it so easy to give out my opinion on a range of issues and instruct others what to do, yet when it comes to receiving advice I find it very hard.

It seems so easy for me to advise others, to share my wise words,to listen very carefully and compassionately yet when I am given advice I sometimes find my mind closing and feeling a bit annoyed.

I think it is human nature to want to help others especially if they come to us seeking help. Being kind to others is seen as being generous and is respected by others, so we take time and effort to counsel others. However I know I treat myself very differently than I would a friend in need.

I would never tell a friend, or anyone who ask for my advice, "to get over it", "to stop being so lazy", "to think of others and stop being so self-absorbed" and "just think of all those people who are worse off than you."

Who would treat anyone like that, anyone they cared for, but that is how I treat/talk to myself and I am sure many others do too.

I once told a friend who had been feeling guilty over something trivial, to forgive herself as she was a compassionate person who did not deserve her harsh treatment. I have no such understanding for myself.

Advice always seems easier to give that to receive. Even in Moodscope I sometimes feel like a fraud because I can write kind reassuring words to others but am often impatient with myself.

Can you receive advice as easily as you give it?

Are you more a giver/receiver of advice?

A Moodscope member.

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Saturday, 7 November 2015

Today's blog comes to you from a Mental Health ward in Dublin.

Between problems at work and accommodation problems I was under a great deal of stress in recent months. After a bad day at work and with no enthusiasm to go home I usually ended up in the pub. I had a couple of weeks sick leave in August but that was only a temporary respite and things continued heading down into full-blown depression. (Missing work, late for work, avoiding social situations.) After a recent out-patient visit I was offered a week's "respite" to get me out of my stressful situations and "re-balance."

When I discussed the offer with a friend he said, "the pressure on resources is incredible, so if they are offering you this you must really need it." However when on arrival I was put on librium (for de-tox) and had all my charger cords and razor blades removed I realised it was a bit more serious than that. It turns out that alcohol abuse and male suicide are major problems in Ireland and they take no chances.

The good news is that my blood pressure and pulse, lungs and heart are akin to a fit 21-year old: unfortunately the libido is like the picture in the attic...I do not understand why, given the link between exercise and positive mental health, there are not more gym facilities. I am actually missing my weekly bike ride while in here.

On balance I think my stay here has actually been of great benefit. The first few days I felt wiped out and dozy, but in the last couple of days I have found the time to write this blog, and have got on with some long-term projects which required peace and quiet and uninterrupted headspace. It remains to be seen whether I can take this new calm forward into my work and life.
So when I am discharged tomorrow I have to abstain from alcohol for as long as I can, if not forever. Which is strange, it seems the cure is to avoid the one thing which has kept me going all these years: cognitive dissonance! (Actually the doctors probably don't realise that as a Geordie if I was going to lie about my alcohol consumption I would increase it not reduce it!) I also need to find new lodgings, and possibly a job back in Newcastle.

There has been a sense of inevitability about being here because from early adolescence I always felt I would end up in a mental hospital, a very strange tick-box on the bucket list indeed! However having done it I feel that the only way from here is up. So up I go!

I will let you know how I re-adjust to civvy street.

A Moodscope member.

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

Friday, 6 November 2015

Love you gran.

I hit a low. I'm always low but I have different degrees. I was expecting it differently, at this time of year a slow but regular descent into winter. Nope. Not this one. Jollying along, feeling slightly superhuman maybe, then a cricket bat to the knees had me reeling.

I think I swore. I know I did. I find it cathartic. I spent a few days licking my wounds and internally wailing (I may have wailed externally once or twice, maybe even in this virtual world!). Then I pulled up my socks and grudgingly started the wheels of survival once again. Got myself outside on foot and walking pavements. Crossly. In the cold and the rain. Yuck.

Passed a little old lady (love them!) in her mac and her plastic head wrap. That sent me into thinking about my beloved granny... me and my brother pulling on that amazing headgear and laughing at each other, at ourselves but also at how funny the world sounded through the plastic. There followed a trip in to her wondrous ways and her ability to crack us up.

There. I'd learned. The world can keep turning. We only need to do ONE thing and we learn we can do it. We can. It's usually the thing you want to do least that you need to do most.

(I know, I wish it was crisp sandwiches too.)

Do one thing.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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Thursday, 5 November 2015

The Modern Day CV.

All too often we see the Curriculum Vitae as the definitive statements of who we are.

Our past education, qualifications and experience.

It's all about our past and a narrow ability to remember facts, which is all IQ really is.

The IQ test was created in 1905 by Alfred Binet to determine those in society that required help rather than ridicule and incarceration. Unfortunately it became used for the very opposite reason, to identify those that money and education should not be wasted upon!

We are now the most in-debt, obese, medicated and addicted adults in human history, so IQ is clearly only part of the answer.

Today CVs are the prime 'measurement' of our ability to do a job – hence why many are 'made up' and often contain 'mis-truths'.

In recent years I have come more and more to see that there is another form of CV which far more greatly determines someone who feels not only good to be around, but who is by their very character, helping society.

I call this ability Confident Vulnerability - the modern CV.

During my times working in organisations, I have come to see that people who are comfortable to show their weaknesses, make it safe for others to say what they truly think and feel.

It was Simon Sinek who stated that when a leader makes people feel safe, everyone becomes selfless.

Needless to say the converse is also true, when the boss seeks and displays supposed perfection and we need to be 'right' rather than human, everyone then becomes selfish.

Many of us have worked in teams and organisations where it does not feel 'safe' to be ourselves and so, as humans genetically driven to protect ourselves in danger, we alter our behaviour to protect 'me' not we. So while we maybe are in a team, it's really a team of one!

Much of mental ill health is due to the workplace and the mismatch of our own values to that of the organisation. The more diverse, the more stress.

If you are struggling in life, seek out those with the healing CV – those who are Confidently Vulnerable.

These are people who will share real life with you with all its warts and not 'tell' you what to do, but share how they feel. They will share their concerns while also being strong enough to respect their own and your boundaries.

If you wish to grow a group of friends who will be compassionate, supportive and honest about what is real to them - their feelings (not the supposed IQ facts) watch for those who can be Confidently Vulnerable.

The old IQ CV looks backward with facts.
The new EQ CV looks forwards with the real facts – your feelings.

A Moodscope member. 

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

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Depression's Twin Sister.

Well, the last time I felt this constantly nauseous, I was sitting on the loo watching two blue lines appear on the little white stick. And the last time the stomach cramps were this bad it was the norovirus!

So, what was it? I was fairly sure that, after two children, I had found out where they were coming from and put a stop to it, so I wasn't pregnant. And I didn't feel ill particularly. Maybe I had suddenly become wheat intolerant.

So I gave up wheat. Things got slightly better, but not much.

It was my GP who helpfully (and far too cheerfully, I felt) said, "Oh yes; nausea and stomach pains are common symptoms of anxiety."

"Oh." (I wasn't conscious of feeling particularly anxious.)

"And anxiety is often a forerunner to depression or accompanies it." (Looking down at my notes and nodding wisely.)


And she was right, blast it. After three weeks of feeling sick and having my insides audition for internet troll status, the dark pit opened up under me, or the leviathan swam along and swallowed me up, or the black dog sat on me – choose which analogy works best for you.

That was two years ago.

This time when it happened I was a little more prepared. And attentive. Yes – I now noticed how I have frequent nightmares about turning up for a professional engagement having forgotten my equipment, about chasing a train down the track because I have missed it by seconds, about watching my children fall into the river and get swept away (very silly – they are both exceptionally strong swimmers).

So this time it wasn't quite such a surprise when the depression turned up, hit me over the head and dragged me off into the darkness.

Hey ho – here we go again.

On the plus side, the stomach pains have gone away, as has the nausea. I mean, I don't have an appetite particularly, but I'm not having to mainline ginger ale just in order to cope. And the insomnia means no nightmares. There's always a bright side!

And next time it happens I will be prepared. I will know what's coming and will start the medication earlier.

Any new information that helps us learn more about our condition and how to manage it is good. Maybe not always pleasant, but positive all the same.

I'd encourage us all to pay attention to our symptoms, to monitor ourselves and keep records. The daily Moodscope test helps with that, especially if we use the note function with it. I believe it's the responsible thing to do.

We may not like the results of the test, but ignoring our symptoms doesn't make them go away. Ignorance is not bliss, ignorance is putting your head in the sand like the ostrich, who leaves his bottom out as an invitation to get kicked.

I don't know about you, but I don't like getting kicked around.

If anyone's going to do the kicking, it's going to be me!

A Moodscope member.

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

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Wisdom received from Moodscopers. Part 2.

Following my previous blog "Wisdom received from Moodscopers  Part 1" (20 October 2015) here is the second part of what I have learnt since joining Moodscope.

I have learnt...

6. To stand back and see the bigger picture that is, to look at the situation from another standpoint. I find that seeing my Moodscope graph really helps here:

So what if I have a low score today? When I read my comment, it is easier to understand why. When I look at the graph over time it is easier to accept the troughs as I can also see the peaks. It also becomes easier to say "This too shall pass."

7. That action leads to motivation (to quote Hopeful One)(far more often than vice versa).

Doing something, anything, however small, helps to redeem a bleak day; making a cup of tea,loading the washing machine,writing a list, which helps me focus on what needs doing
even better, ticking things off the list – even if on bad days it can be as basic as:get up/shower/have breakfast/check Moodscope/make phone call.

8. That my intuition and "gut" feeling are to be trusted, "I am my own authority."

It's ok to say "No thank-you", to acknowledge that what works for one person may not work for me, (after all, what does interest and attract me will be more likely to help me), to avoid people (and situations) who drain my limited energy levels.
9. To give myself positive, supportive messages and affirmations for, to quote Les, "What we look for, we find."

"I am safe; all is well"
"I lovingly release the past; I joyfully embrace the future"
"I release all negativity; I release all guilt; I release the need to feel unworthy"
"I release all negative thought patterns; I release the need to procrastinate"
"I forgive myself; I forgive..."
"Today I choose to live fully in the present moment"

10. To count my blessings regularly. Sometimes we dismiss well-worn clichés, forgetting the inherent wisdom they hold.

I can now change "I have learnt..." to "Today I choose (to accept)..."

A Moodscope member.

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

Monday, 2 November 2015

Words, Will and Ways.

Professor Sue Black, the forensic anthropologist, was the guest on "The Life Scientific" (Radio 4) this week. Aside from her excellent taste in music, what she shared was fascinating. She had grown up in a remote Scottish village where her Grandmother had sown seeds of possibility deep in her psyche. Granny had consistently called Sue her, "Varsity Girl" - instilling the idea of going to University.

At school, she'd spent some time gaining experience as a laboratory assistant and had enthusiastically declared to her biology teacher that this was what she wanted to do with her life. Her teacher was a refined man and so shocked her into a change of vision by uncharacteristically swearing at her - saying that she shouldn't be so (expletive) stupid - she was going to go to University! He recognised her talent, and shoved her firmly in the right direction!

Two influential members of the cast of Sue's life drama had said the right 'magic' words at the right time, nudging the course of her development in the right direction for her. Positive words have power.

Of course, in her heart, Sue agreed with this direction. In fact, she had a very unhappy time at one school and used her will-power to knuckle down to study so that she could qualify for a more appropriate academy. Later, she withheld some of the truth about her University funding so that her parents wouldn't bear the financial burden of seeing her through college. She worked her way through herself. Clearly, Sue is a 'driven' personality.

But what touched me most was how she dealt with grief. Her Grandmother smoked over 40 per day and eventually paid the price. As she was dying, she told Sue not to worry because she wasn't "going away". She said that any time Sue needed her, she'd be at her shoulder to watch over her and guide her. Sue shared on the programme that she was not religious but that this thought had comforted her throughout life and had influenced her behaviours.

Grief is a difficult subject, but one that should not be avoided. I finished listening to the programme wondering how I might be the messenger of good words into the lives of others - sowing the seeds of possibility. How might I nudge them forward towards bolder choices in life when I could see potential that they hadn't fully recognised? And I considered how I might be a comfort to my loved ones as Grandmother's wisdom had sustained Sue years after her passing. It was a moving experience that has empowered resolve in my life to be a more positive influence.

A Moodscope member.

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

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Loneliness to solitude.

I love Autumn; falling leaves, cosy jumpers, warm fires. However, one of the downsides is the growing number of restaurants advertising Christmas and New Year parties. Party dresses pop up in the shops, sparkly and beautiful, impossibly high-heeled shoes and recipes for canapés.

For many and complex reasons, over the last six or seven years I have increasingly lost my confidence and ability to relate to people and build friendships. Gradually, those who I met for coffee and lunch in carefree days have slipped away, and the invitations to New Year parties dried up many years ago. My husband revels in his introverted nature, peacefully enjoying solitary bike rides, but for me, being an introvert and sensitive is a painful experience.

Ironically, I am currently engaged in a year long study looking at how people relate to each other, and while this often brings to the surface difficult feelings, it can sometimes provide clues that help me to cope. The spiritual writer Henri Nouwen writes about moving from loneliness to solitude, an attitude that accepts alone-ness while recognizing that we are part of something much larger than ourselves. Solitude has a peacefulness about it that isn't self-judgmental or negative, but mindful of the world and the beauty around us.

So while I journey from loneliness to solitude, I am thankful for the company of my husband, and we have agreed to plan our own New Year party – who says parties need more than just two?

A Moodscope member.

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