Sunday, 31 May 2015

The Depressive State.

In the 1960's and 70's I was treated as manic-depressive, (in the 1980's it was discovered I wasn't). My access to medication was limited as I only had one good kidney – my excellent GP said 'We're on our own'. Recently, a news item said that there are 6 million people suffering from depression in the UK. The majority of treatment is by CBT – and the wait for any treatment at all is months. During my own time spent in that maelstrom I wrote a book on Manic Depression, some of which was published in the then Psychologist Magazine, the following was a chapter heading, 'The Depressive State'.

Greyness surrounds, the outlook bleak,
No hope, no joy.
Unreasoning, unreasoned hopelessness.
No future, no past,
The present a world without form,
Nor colour, nor light nor laughter
Can penetrate your unreceptive mind.
Amorphous, no will to live or die.
The pain in other people's eyes;
They cannot understand.
Yesterday, just yesterday
You cared, for you, for them, nothing has changed
But you.
To you even the trees have changed;
Twigs, branches, wind-blown leaves
Are one, are blurred,
Joined in the grey unending gloom
Of life,
Where light is now denied,
The light of life, the spirit, the desire
To live.
Living no longer, you exist, meaning has flown,
Oh God! Come back,
Desert me not, you cannot leave me here
Enmeshed in darkling thoughts, a lonely fear.
No one can enter in that sullen mind
Closed to all help, no giving out, no taking in,
Weighed down,
With nothing, for from nothing did this evil thing arise,
There's nothing to fight, nothing to see, nothing to feel.
Then, today the sun shone.

The Gardener.
A Moodscope member.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Are you going to take some action?

I believe that emotions can be classified as helpful or unhelpful. The helpful version of depression is sadness. Sadness happens when there is a loss. It is helpful because it can push us to take some action. But we can also turn sadness into depression...

When my wife left me suddenly and unexpectedly after 30 years of what I thought was a great marriage, I was sad. I was very sad. It was, as described in 'The Journey From Abandonment to Healing' (a very helpful book by Susan Anderson), shattering. I had choices at that point: take action, or refuse to accept the reality of the situation.

It was tempting to refuse to accept what happened, with self-talk like "This can't be happening", "She must come back", and "I can't live without her." But I grew up with a depressed father. I knew I didn't want to go that route. It was difficult but I chose action.
 
* I asked for help from friends and relatives, who responded very lovingly.

* I saw my counselor and asked him for words that would be helpful: he gave me "Your happiness doesn't depend on her."

* I did a daily grief journal, which changed into a gratitude journal about 2 months after the breakup.

* I stayed in my healthy routines of eating, sleeping and exercise.

* I also hung up my daughter's painting which has the words "The sun is always rising somewhere."

If I had refused to accept the reality of the breakup I could have become bitter, but "bitterness is a paralytic" according to Sherlock. Paralysis is one of the symptoms of depression. I am still sad about the divorce, but I am not depressed.
 
Two websites that can be helpful:

http://to.pbs.org/1I9zCv5
http://to.pbs.org/1bThpod

Steve
A Moodscope member.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Got a hanky?

Great word 'hanky'. That's my first smile of the day banked.

Do you carry a hanky? My beautiful dad always has and it has saved every situation from dribbling ice creams, to bloodied knees, sandy eyes, to giant nose excavations. His hankies are handkerchiefs, washed and pressed into a square. The comfort from even the thought of his handkerchiefs is immeasurable. Look away now if eating... As a child I remember travelling alone on a bus and sneezing a big sneeze. I had no hanky and so had to catch everything in my hand and then tuck my hand into my pocket. The embarrassment has stayed with me to this day and so I now carry a hanky.

My dad is being proactive. Deciding in advance how to deal with a situation.
My experience was reactive. Responding to circumstance.

As you read this, can you take a moment to be proactive? Will you decide that you have little strength today and so be kind to yourself and make your path as easy as possible? Or will you find that you have a little more spirit of yourself today from which to make decisions that might bring you a little step further on than yesterday?

If possible, aim for proactive. It is your beacon.

Love from

The room above the garage.
A Moodscope member.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Seeking.

Drifting around the country,
Seeking life and fun.
I’m over my depression,
I think I’ve finally won.

It was a spiritual thing for me,
Not a lack of chemical shots.
Nor the need to work things out,
With a colourless heartless lot. (NHS)

I’ve finally got my life back,
To be the human I once was.
Before I married a twin,
And was crushed within her claws.

I now see the sunshine daily,
And feel the wind in my cheeks.
I can smell the changing seasons,
I’ve found the life that I seek.

I’m finally free to be me,
To take the time inside.
To explore what I find in there,
To turn a personal tide.

To stand on the shores I visit,
Look out on horizons anew.
To cross that chasm in one step,
But I feel we are so few.

Those that can step over discomfort,
Those that inscape each day,
Those that refuse to escape,
Where things outside hold sway.

People search for something out there,
False hope in this material world.
It will always rest constantly in here,
A personal flag unfurled.

For sure it isn’t easy,
For sure it will cause some pain,
For sure tomorrow can be dark,
Until we see we can actually gain.

A deeper insight in to me,
From a time taken to look.
To finally find my vocation,
Not look in some bloody book.

The world is moving from IQ,
That old Newtonian view.
It’s time to fully embrace EQ,
To find out who is truly you.

So step into perpetual discomfort,
And don’t seek to solve your pain.
But keep on walking that dark tunnel,
A new life through which to gain.

Responsibility for all that you do,
Not blaming something out there.
Because the only hope for my future,
Is if I constantly dare.

To become more self-aware,
And turn my needs to wants.
To understand more fully,
My dark internal taunts.

Drifting around the country,
Seeking life and fun.
I’m over my depression,
I think I’ve finally won.

Les
A Moodscope member.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Catharsis.

We had to laugh.

I have a mutual buddy relationship with a fellow Moodscope user. She's much better at being a buddy than I am and a couple of weeks ago, when my scores had dipped (ironically, just as hers started to look a lot healthier) she invited me to go to a concert with her; a way to get me out of my reclusive seclusion and to spend some time together (see – I never think about doing anything like that for her).

So we went to a Gretchen Peters concert.

Neither of us had heard of Gretchen Peters before, other than that she is a respected Country singer who has recently been admitted into the Nashville songwriters' Hall of Fame. We went along in the expectation of having a good evening.

And we did. The band were skilled, the music excellent; Gretchen herself warm, engaging and funny.

But she doesn't write happy songs.

Let me see now; we started with Blackbirds, a song of incest, murder and torching the family home in the cornfields of the Mid West, and lyrics-wise, we went downhill from there.

Gretchen writes songs about loss, about pain, about coming home from the wars with PTDS and no resources; about life with no hope, no future, nothing to live on but the tattered remnants of dreams.

Was this a good place for two depressives to be?

Well, yes, actually.

There's something immensely therapeutic about immersing yourself in musical misery for a defined length of time and then popping up at the end, like a cork in champagne. It seems to create a lightness of spirit, especially when shared with a kindred spirit.

The Greeks understood this; it was they who came up with the concept and word catharsis.
I don't think it works if you're on your own though – you get sucked into the tragedy and it can haunt you. So I don't plan on reading about sad things or watching Film Noir alone.

But – I might book several tickets for the next performance of Titus Andronicus or Tosca; plays where everybody dies in the end. Sounds like fun will be had by all!

Mary
A Moodscope member.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

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 It's how I feel about most things in life, without focusing on my depression each day, so why not be productive in my distress, eh?

I could do it.

Off my own back. Fight this demon.

And finally I realised. 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.

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 their 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.

Monday, 25 May 2015

My Enemy...

...who became my friend.

I have a gift. I can meet a complete stranger, and within an amazingly short space of time, I can see how their life could be so much better. How? Simply because they reveal their self-sabotaging sub-routines through which they nullify their chance of success in life! I can see that they are their own greatest enemy. It usually begins with self-depreciating comments and continues with other ways they talk about themselves and their experience, failures, set-backs, likes, dislikes, prejudices and opinions.

Then I look at their obvious unnecessary failings and I see...

...myself.

I am my own worst enemy.

I hoping this is resonating with you as you get this message. Let me illustrate with the most obvious issue. You see, I'm fat. There are parts I haven't seen for a while. I feel estranged! Often I'll make a joke about this - like I just did. But it's not really funny, and I'm not really laughing. Will I lose weight? It's the obvious solution. No. I'm actually happy being me the way I am.

So then, my enemy must become my friend. I must transform being plump into an advantage. Actors do this. Many of them have characteristics that they transform into part of their character - and so develop unique niches in which to showcase their artistry. Films need fat actors, bald actors, ugly actors, actors who have speech impediments, small actors, tall actors, actors with bad teeth, and actors with bad attitudes. The key is to see everything that could hold you back as a potential asset - an opportunity... and be nice about it.

That's my message today: be kind to yourself. Like everything about yourself. Find something good in every aspect of your physique and personality. We do this, don't we, when we fall in love? They don't put the top on the toothpaste so we think, "Ah, how thoughtful, they left the top off so I could save time!" They pee on the toilet seat, and we think, "Ah, how thoughtful, they know that urine kills certain germs!"

OK, now you know I'm being ridiculous, but I hope you smiled. Just for one day, just for today, would you be nice to yourself? Being fat gives me a lot of presence - I'm going to use that presence.

Presently.

Lex
A Moodscope member.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

I just didn't feel anything.

I've often thought about writing a mental health related blog post, but could never decide what in particular to write about...until this week when I visited the dentist. Probably not the most likely link but bear with me...

Like many others I fear going to the dentist, but to cut a long story short I needed some treatment and, knowing I was a nervous patient, the dentist offered me sedation in the form of diazepam.

I have suffered with anxiety and a form of OCD (obsessive and intrusive thoughts rather than carrying out compulsive physical behaviours) for about eleven years, and I am currently doing pretty well (something I say with much caution since it has a habit of coming back to bite me). I had taken a low dose anti-depressant for two six month periods during my 'anxiety journey' and I have tried numerous therapies and self help techniques with varying degrees of success.

I had never been offered anything stronger by my GP, nor have I wanted it, and had heard the stories about diazepam and valium and their effects, so I was a bit reluctant about taking it but also, rightly or wrongly, rather intrigued. My experience of taking it is of feeling numb. There is no other way I can describe it...I just didn't feel anything. For example, I couldn't cry in the shower before my appointment, despite feeling like I wanted and needed to let it out. Yes, it alleviated my usual pre-appointment anxiety, which was helpful to me on the day...but I remember thinking 'I would hate to feel like this ALL the time'. Whilst I didn't feel worried or anxious, I also didn't feel happy or hopeful about anything in those couple of days. I jokingly said to friends 'so this is what it feels like to be a relaxed person!', but really I was worried that I would never feel like me again, with my ever undulating emotions that make me who I am and have helped me to become a stronger person.

But of course I did return...later on in the week I dropped my five year old nephew off at school as a favour to my sister, and cried all the way to work afterwards over how grown up he's getting and how proud of him I am. Normal service and emotions had been restored, and I was grateful for them.

It's a controversial topic, and I am certainly not denigrating the use of such medication...it's a very personal decision and depends on individual circumstances. I guess I just wanted to share my experience and the little bit of insight I got into what it feels like to take it. Mindfulness and sitting with the anxiety and other emotions that come up may be uncomfortable, sometimes downright unbearable, but I know that negative emotions and thoughts pass and that I can and will have positive ones too. And that is how I plan to roll.

Sharon
A Moodscope member.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Art in a bookcase.



Bidding for something you really (reeeeeeally) want on eBay is not for the faint hearted, is it?

15 seconds, hold your nerve. 12 seconds; breeeeathe. 10 secon...Painc! Arrgh! Bid bid bid!

For 7 months I've frequently scoured eBay for a white Expedit 5x5 bookshelf. Much to the chagrin of many thousands, IKEA don't make them anymore. There's not a shortage of these bookshelves selling on eBay, just never in the area in which I live.

Then, finally, it happened. Somewhere in Meresyside, a white 5x5 Expedit was awaiting a buyer. My mistake, of course, was that I failed to hold my nerve.

Who cries over losing a bid for a bookshelf? Erm (Suzy sheepishly raises her hand), me, I do.

Hey, I'm not a materialistic girl but I do know what I love, plus, 7 months of having my books and 'stuff', piled up all over the floor is not good for one's soul.

I immediately emailed the seller and expressed my abject disappointment. As soon as I'd done so, I felt a bit silly: why ever would she be bothered?

A few days passed and I received an email from said seller saying that the buyer had failed to show and so would I like first refusal? The bookshelves were mine. Mine!

Oh what joy I've had in "dressing" those shelves. I feel that many pieces of the Suzy Soul are contained in those pigeon holes: many of the books I've read and loved, precious letters tied up in ribbon, favourite tea cups, art equipment, journals...It feels like art within a bookcase because I could stand and stare at it all for hours.

Art in our home is important. Art in our home needn't be an original Monet for it to be Real Art with a capital 'A'. Art in our home needn't be expensive or conventional but please, by all means, let it reflect the essence of who we really are.

So when the anxiety strikes and the depression fells we'll not only have something beautiful/whimsical/quirky to gaze upon, but it will also serve as a prodding to remind us of who we really and truly are at our core.

Suzy 
A Moodscope member.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Passion...THE driving emotion.

Last week I offered some 'stuff' about the importance of emotions in our lives.

No emotion = no action & No action = no change.

This is especially important if those of us with mental illness which re-occurs, wish to work to diminish their effects or longevity. You could also be the partner or carer for someone with mental health issues.

So let's treat it (our lives) as something to become better and better at...like a skill or even a sport.

What is it about Olympic sport that pulls us in? More than the demonstration of skill and talent, it's often the back story: How an athlete overcomes hardship or injury; how the underdog beats the odds on favourite; and how winning is not always measured in gold, silver or bronze.

For the two weeks of the biggest sporting event, the Olympics, we bear witness to the power of passion.

Passion is a powerful regenerative energy. It reminds us of who we are and the why's and what for's that brought us here in the first place. When there's alignment between who we are and what we're doing, we work – live and play - better.

While most of us don't live out our passion 24/7, each of us has something we feel passionate about - a career, a place, a cause, a hobby or maybe for some of us, it's just a healthy life! Passion is borne out of what we care about, what we love and what brings us joy - all heart felt emotions that serve us well. Passion lights up our lives and can help get us through the tough times.

Yet in the midst of too many emails to answer, too many deadlines to meet, too much to do (busyness), or simply getting through another day, it's easy for the flame of passion to fade away.

What is it inside you that would rediscover or reignite your passion?

Take a few moments and ask your heart: What matters most to you? What makes your heart come alive? What makes you truly authentic with yourself? (Remember what makes your heart sing April 2nd blog?)

Inscape not escape and feel the passion to be who you really are – as that is THE door to your happiness.

Some mental ill health is about a loss of who we are, as we seek to be socially accepted or 'successful'. To be accepted 'outside' however, we must first accept ourselves inside.

Do you have the passion to go deeper inside and do the real work of life on the only person you can change – yourself? You may find the answer to some of your darkness.

"To be nobody but myself – in a world which is doing its best night and day, to make you everybody else – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting." E.E. Cummings.

And, regardless of your score, you win your game!

Les
A Moodscope member.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

My Demons Don't Post On Facebook.

I bought a gift for someone the other day. It was a plaque which read "I love my computer. All my friends live inside it."

Well, it takes one to know one, I suppose.

For most of us it's true. Even with friends who we know well in "real life", we communicate these days with them by email; on Facebook; by text.

What happened to the long, long phone calls we used to have with our friends?

"Well, huh?" say those of you with a y chromosome, "I can't remember many of those. I used to pick up the phone to my mate, say "Beer o'clock," and ten minutes later we'd meet up down the pub. These days I just text "Beer," instead."

(And my apologies for being ridiculously sexist there, but my point is based on observation and a true story.)

So yes, these days, I do most of my communication through the internet. Oh, and guess what, it's how I'm communicating with you right now!

But I'm careful.

I love Facebook, completely love it. I've met writers from all over the world and readers too. I've received nothing but encouragement and support from the gorgeous people I've met.

But I've also seen the darker side and nearly got caught up in the (needless) drama of it all. I've had to sit back on many occasions and say to myself firmly the words "Not your monkeys. Not your circus!"

So my demons don't post on Facebook. Facebook only gets one side of me and I unashamedly work on making all my comments warm, positive, witty and wise (with the unexpected and unwanted consequence that I end up being something of an agony aunt to friends caught up in that circus drama!)

It doesn't mean I'm dishonest. There's a facility for sending personal messages within FB. These are seen only by the intended recipient. It's there I can be more open and serious.
But Facebook is like a party; a party where everyone's celebrating and having a good time. Occasionally it's used for a more serious purpose like raising awareness of a particular issue, and of course, all of us have friends who post angry political statements. There seems to be quite a few of those around at the moment for some reason...

It's not a place to hang out if watching people have fun makes you feel bad. If looking at your friend's photo of their daughter hugging (yet another) sporting trophy makes you feel empty and futile, if you think you will scream if yet another cat meme pops up in your home feed.

Be sensible. Choose your computer friends carefully, post wisely, retreat quietly when necessary. Share your demons only with those you trust.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Just suppose...

Have you seen the Disney film "Frozen", an intriguing re-working of the Snow Queen story?  We sat down with our elder daughter (23) to watch it the other night – a lovely, cosy family evening; what intrigues me is that both she and darling hubby picked up a strong message of depression from the main character, Elsa; perhaps this is not surprising, given that one suffers from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), while the other suffers from frequent but short bursts of what we refer to as "bleaks".

I did not pick up this message at all; what I got was the sibling rivalry - elder daughter would not talk to younger daughter for several months, a situation (thankfully much improved now) which caused younger daughter and myself considerable sadness and, if I am honest, spoiled my enjoyment of Frozen as I relived the whole ghastly business.

This has reminded me that we can all view the same situation from very different standpoints – each one valid of course, but different.

When we are down, we can become fixated on our own negative viewpoint, and often cannot even acknowledge the existence of a different viewpoint – let alone believe in it...

I am particularly guilty of "discounting the positive" as Hopeful One so wisely pointed out to me back in March (3rd); (thank-you again Hopeful One!) Actually so are hubby and elder daughter now I come to think about it...

So I am trying to play the game "Just suppose..." as in:

• Just suppose that things are getting better (even if I can't see it),
• just suppose I will feel a bit brighter tomorrow,
• just suppose my feelings of inadequacy are passing through like clouds in the sky.

And if all else fails, I can always resort to singing "Let it snow" at the top of my voice!

Frankie
A Moodscope member.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Charity Begins...

For me Charity Begins where your heart is moved. Many of you know my theological background, and will know that what I say next is because of my fascination with wisdom literature rather than any religious intent...

I am deeply touched by the way my hero, Jesus, in the New Testament, is "moved by compassion" when triggered by the sight of an individual's personal grief or the need of the vast multitudes. If was Jesus, I would be totally overwhelmed by the scale of the needs on Earth. Interestingly, He addressed the present and presenting need - what He saw, what was before Him. In fact, after giving out, He would often withdraw alone to recharge.  That, for me as an Introvert, is fascinating too.

I've shared someone else's poster on facebook recently because it captured my imagination.  It says, "Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few mintues, including you!" [Anne Lamotte]

Weaving these two threads together, I have my recipe for compassion:

1  Address the opportunity that presents itself (and let go of the rest of the World's problems for now).
2. Remember that charity begins at home - closer to home than most people realise - with you! You must recharge before giving out, and after giving out, or else you will give out!!

Would it be better not to be compassionate? I hear people saying, "Isn't Nature wonderful?" but I see very little compassion in Nature. There are strong parental bonds, to be sure, but very little compassion outside close family groups of animals. Humans have risen to something higher (and horses, dogs and dolphins... do add to the list!) We can choose to help other species and one another, even when there is nothing in this for us.  That, for me, is the meaning of life. Yes, we do well to be compassionate alongside making sure we have the resources to continue to be so.

Lex
A Moodscope member.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Climbing my way out of the valley.

Back in the valley, that's where I am.

I have climbed two or three peaks over the last couple of weeks. It was amazing, elating, awesome! Being there, right at the top, that's where I long to be.

But the air is thin up there and what goes up must come down. Down. That's me right now. I am in the valley and my three-peak challenge feels surreal.

Is this how mountaineers feel like after a climb? Do they feel tired or exhausted, numb?
I guess they just rest assured in the knowledge that they WILL climb another peak, they will get that kick again, the thin air, close to touching the clouds.

And then they organise their photographs, replenish, keep fit and prepare for the next climb.

For quite some time I have been thinking: If only I could apply this way of thinking.

Then one day I realised that exercise makes all the difference in the valley. Not swimming. Not walking. But one hour of kettlercise or an hour of boxercise. Or a long run.
Something that wears me out. There are a million excuses not to go. This morning I did it without thinking, I just went.

And I know tonight I will sleep - well! And tomorrow I am going to go for a run. And sleep well again. And I am climbing my way out of the valley, just a little up the hill, where the views are nice and I can appreciate the sights.

Kerstin
A Moodscope Member.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Soldier Boy.

Last January severe storms swept across parts of the United States. Many people suffered, none more so than Moodscope user Di, who was unable to reach her beloved brother as he lay dying in a hospice many States away. We, and the people who write and use the Moodscope blog knew of this because Di told us through the comments facility. To some extent we were able to hold her hand and support her through it. She told us a little about her brother and the closeness she felt for him was obvious. She has now written this poem about him and for him. It is a sad poem, full of grief but also full of love:

SOLDIER BOY
A Casualty of War ~ Fifty years later

Standing six feet, five inches
An athlete, a saint to me, his baby sister
A poet, a songwriter, a musician.
A sometimes too-compassionate business person, a stand-up comic
Time tortures him as he works to block out childhood pains
He saves my life, not once, three times.

He runs...and runs...and runs some more...
With drugs,
with alcohol,
With women who help mask his torture though he is
gentle, and fiercely protective of them
And Christ.

He goes to war at eighteen
"For our country," says he
"Because Papa went," and he craves Papa's approval
It is an unquiet and complicated time.

Like many of our young when called into service,
Responding to guerrilla warfare and confronted by a small child
Strapped with explosives,
Running toward his squad,
He removes the child with robot-like coldness
He, a devoted lover of all children
Forty-five years later he finally tells me, his tag-along baby sister.

He returns to the United States of America
After Korea and Viet Nam
He is a wise, old man of twenty-two
People spit on him
Yell at him
No job
No creature comforts
Yet he is first to arrive to cradle me, his sister, upon the death of my only son.

Life runs away while
His path continues with seething harshness
Diagnosed with:
Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome
Agent Orange
Malaria
Heart Disease
Dementia/Alzheimer's
Hemorrhaging on the brain
Each contracted in Korea and Viet Nam
Between eighteen and twenty-two.

I watch
My heart on standby
I cannot breathe
Life's ending arrives
I sing to him
Three thousand miles separate us
I cannot get to him
to hold him as the physical body fades
Roads are shut down
Weather is severe.

For days and nights I call every two hours
A caring assistant places the phone to his ear
I hear his efforts to speak
His moans, his breath
He is comatose yet cries a single tear upon hearing my voice and
His favorite song
I sing more
And more
And then I cannot stop singing.

And laughing
I cannot stop laughing as I
Once again,
Remind him of the time he dropped me, putting my head through the television screen when we were little
And the samurai sword that impaled his foot to the wood floor of our home
After calling me for help he has to pull it out himself because
Upon seeing the fountain of blood arcing upward
I have fainted.

I sing all the songs he begged for as a child
As the last unsteady note fades with my breath
I know
God is watching
My brother's spirit is finally free.

Di
A Moodscope member.

Friday, 15 May 2015

A list of goodly things.

It's never a bad idea to record the things that help us through the dips, is it? Here is what is working for me at the moment.

Speaking in Tongues.

Whilst endeavoring to read or learn a new phrase in Spanish, and then repeating it out loud, I can't possibly at the same time pay heed to the 'monsters of the mind'.

She Shall Have Music Wherever She Goes.

As much as I don't particularly like being inaccessible to fellow humans when I'm out and about, if music helps a kinder tune enter my head - as opposed to the chaotic chorus of self-flagellating thoughts - then I'm not going to be snobbish about it. I'll have music wherever I go.

Obeying the Gut.

My digestive system, like my mind, is rather more fragile than I like to accept. Steering clear of processed fare, cutting back on, or giving up, sugar, gluten, dairy and meat, and eating more fresh produce never fails to aid my mental well-being.

On The Radio.

Helpmechill.com is an online radio station that plays only ethereal music. It envelopes my home with calming, chilled sounds. It can trick me into believing that I too am calm.

And then there is Radio 4's Just A Minute. The object of the game is for panellists to talk for sixty seconds on a given subject, "without hesitation, deviation or repetition". The comedy and banter that ensues always manages to reel me in and get me tittering.

IKEA's Expedit 5x5 Book Shelves.

Oh this is worthy of a post all of its own. Coming soon!

What The Eye Can See The Hand Will Draw.

Whilst drawing, the eye is so intently focused on its subject that, once again, the mind is forced to pipe down and be quiet.

In Suspense.

A suspenseful (non disturbing) film is about the only form of TV that can pull me in enough to give my mind a welcome rest for a couple of hours. Mind you, I must admit, gazing at that yummy Mr Poldark each Sunday evening does me no harm either!

Walk it Off.

Going for a walk, preferably some place pleasant, always my aids my troubled head.

These are a few of my (current) favourite things. What's helping you right now?

Suzy
A Moodscope member.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Humans – Emotional First - Rational Second.

Much of what we read in Moodscope is all about emotions.

Emotion comes from the Latin 'Emotere' meaning 'to move'.

No emotion = no movement = no change.

Emotions can be viewed as energy in motion; a neutral energy that adds power to our thoughts. For example, add emotional energy to a frustrating thought and we can quickly feel anger. On the other hand, add emotional energy to a kind thought of someone and we can experience a feeling of compassion.

It's often difficult to get a grip on our emotions because they happen so fast. Scientists have repeatedly confirmed that our emotional reactions show up in brain activity before we even have time to think. We evaluate everything emotionally as we perceive it. We think about it afterward.

Scientists used to believe that emotions are produced only in the brain. However, sophisticated instruments now show that emotions are the product of an ongoing dialogue between the body and the brain; a combination of feeling sensations, associated mental thoughts and biochemical reactions that shape our emotional experience, in gradations from very pleasant to very painful.

Lastly, emotions trigger many changes in our bodies. For instance every time we feel a stressful emotion approximately 1400 biochemical changes take place.

Psychologists categorize some emotions like love, compassion, appreciation, care and joy as "positive" and others like anger, anxiety, hate, jealousy and sadness as "negative".

We can easily tell the difference between positive and negative emotions in our body. Worry may cause muscle tension; anxiety may agitate the stomach. By contrast, love, appreciation, compassion and kindness may calm us, allowing the body's communication systems to flow with greater harmony and efficiency.

We can effectively utilise the amazing power of emotion when we become more aware of which emotions add quality to our lives and which ones don't.

This is not to say that some emotions are bad. And I am not suggesting we should repress our emotions and not ever feel sad or frustrated. All of our emotions play an important part in how we experience life. They are like the colours on an artist's palette that we use to paint our picture of life. And, while emotions are often reactions to life's events, it is important to understand that they are choices as well.

Can you write down what emotions you went through today and why?

What could you do to ensure you place yourself in a more balanced emotional state?

Will you do it?

Les
A Moodscope member.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Can't Remember... What was it Again?

The conversation goes something like this:

"Have you left me a review of my book?"

"Well, of course I've left you a review! I beta-read that book for you. I got a copy on its release day. I came to your release party. Of course I've left you a review. I said... I said...(pause) I didn't leave you a review, did I?"

Or

(Knock, knock.) "Hello?"

"Uh, hi. Have I come to the right house? You are expecting me? I have a consultation at 10am... (Blank horrified stare from me.) Oh, you weren't expecting me, were you?"

Or

"You did send that document off to the tax people, didn't you?"

"Yes, yes. I'm sure I did."

"So this envelope I've just found addressed to the tax people and clearly not posted has nothing to do with that..."

For me this is the scariest thing about my depressive episodes. Not the withdrawal from human contact, not the days sat shaking on the sofa, too weak to walk further than to the kitchen or bathroom, but the memory gaps. Or even worse, the false memories. Tasks undone or forgotten lie like landmines all over my personal and professional life. They frighten me.

There's a very good clinical reason for these memory gaps. During depression, the part of the brain connected with memory shrinks. It's as if part of the filing system has been thrown out. I can only assume that my false memories occur because the creative part of the brain (at least in my case) is unaffected and just makes up what I think must have occurred, rather than remembering what did actually occur.

Now, I would be the first to admit that admin is not my strong point. If you want five hundred words on the inside of a ping pong ball by five o'clock then I'm your woman. If you need an impromptu ten minute speech on the importance of leg-warmers in popular Eighties culture, then just ask. But organising and keeping a filing system up to date... best look elsewhere for that one.

Even so, I like to keep my promises. I like to be professionally reliable. I like to be a responsible citizen who files tax returns on time.

So my challenge is to create, while well, robust and simple systems that will still work when I'm ill. I need visual reminders of what I need to do when. Even down to "System to follow when a client books an appointment." I need a promise book.

I don't know that these reminders will be infallible. I think I will still need people around me to exercise a lot of tolerance and forgiveness when yet another of those landmines explodes. But, by being responsible about it, I should at least minimize the casualties.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Keep rattling those chains.

Depression has beaten me to the ground more than once, and it will do it again. But each time I have raised up and fought back. It has beaten me some more but each time I have stood back up. Even when I have sat in the corner of this metaphorical boxing ring, tearing my hair, not knowing what to do, just wanting the fight to end, I have beaten it.
I have been on Moodscope for about two months now. It has seen dips in my mood that have left me confined to my flat, a prisoner of my mind. But again I have escaped from depression's chains.

The point of all this seemingly self-praising talk is to show that it is possible. So when you look at that long wobbly line of ups and downs, on Moodscope. No matter what your 'all time low' is. Whether you've had extreme highs and then sudden crashes in scores or whether your score has been consistently lower. Look at the line and see those points that are jutting above the rest. They may be high above the lowest scores, as you've stepped out of a depressed stage. Or they may simply be a few percent higher than the scores of your depressed times. No matter the difference, remember they are higher because you are fighting and change is happening. The score may have only jutted up for a day before sinking low again, but it is still you pulling against the chains of this depression.
 
So keep going, keep rattling those chains. They will weaken! And one day, they might just break.

Stephen
A Moodscope member.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Dear Diary.

Professor Richard Wiseman is an entertaining and fascinating chap. He's not a fan of pop psychology, tending to debunk it. But rather than leave it there, he offers some very positive, scientifically-based alternatives in his book, "59 Seconds".

Today, I'd like to share some insights on the power of writing. It seems, that in many situations, talking about our problems can actually leave us feeling worse. I cannot defend his view here because I know it is vital to talk to others when we are down. So let's flip to his positive alternative. This highlights the weight of scientific evidence to support the habit of writing about our challenges. Writing about 'stuff' - even the bad stuff, helps us feel released from the burden and move on.

My encouragement for us this week is to write not in this soul-searching way but in a soul-enhancing way. The challenge is to write a positive diary with the aim of shifting our brain chemistry.

Richard suggests one theme per day, and taking the weekend off, but I'm going to suggest we just go for the whole four-course meal on a daily basis... just for a week.

Our first entry will be to focus on a favoured future. That it to say, to write about a desired future that is within the realms of posibility, where our realistic dreams and aspirations have worked out.

I know from my own research that this activates a phenomenon in the brain called, rather delightfully, "Memories of the Future". The process sets us up for future success by programming our senses to scan for our dreams coming true.

Secondly, and perhaps more challenging, to write five things about ourselves that we love. (And don't put, "See yesterday's entry!") This is not in Richard's book but came from my friend, Pearl.

Thirdly, to write affectionately about the people in our lives that we appreciate.

Fourthly, and finally, to write a list of things we are grateful for.

I dare you to do "Dear Diary"!
(Just for a week...)

Lex
A Moodscope member.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Reach out to family and friends.

I had never been able to understand how people can get depressed until I got depression myself. It took me a couple of years to realise it and accept it. But I definitely cannot deny it anymore. Strangely, when I started accepting the fact, I felt less anxious.

I'd been living abroad for 3 years, away from my family, boyfriend and close friends. Having to deal with everyday life alone and deserted was a hell of a time sometimes. I was so low and things weren't good. But I recently realised that I'm not alone.

One of the worst situations was my relationship with my boyfriend. I had shut myself off from everyone and it was particularly hard to talk to him. I finally confessed that I felt depressed but this didn't help. Later, like a released river, I told him everything that had annoyed me over the past 2 years. Even though I felt relieved and felt a little bit better, I didn't find the understanding I was expecting from him. His lack of understanding of my depression was devastating to me so I ended our relationship.

So, I decided to talk to my family and close friends. And there was a ray of light for me. I found so much understanding and love that I felt that there is hope again.

My heart is calmer now. I read a lot about self-help and taking small steps everyday in overcoming my depression. Having so much love from my family and friends makes me feel that I am not crazy and I know that I will manage to find myself again.

Maria
A Moodscope member.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Broken Crayons Still Colour.

In my 20's, depression had the ability to knock me off my feet and put me in bed for weeks at a time. I've come some distance since then. Therapy, medication, self-help, knowledge that comes from experience, and just the confidence that comes with the whole, I've-been-here-before-I-know-it-will-pass sapience. It all helps. A lot.

One of the things I fret a lot about when faced with a low these days (which, as you may know from previous posts, I have been in just recently) is that folk won't understand how, if I'm functioning - more or less - I can be poorly.(Oh I know, I know. I need to quit this need to have implicit understanding from fellow humans. I'm working at it. Promise.)

The depressed individual can feel like a shadowy ghost of their real self. They may feel too raw and sensitive to be with more than one person at a time. And the smallest of happenings may trigger teary-eyed despair. Even if they are managing to function they are still climbing a vertical mountain face.

That all said, a soul accompanied by sadness can laugh at a joke, feel gratitude, get out of the house and, although perhaps in a much more limited way, give. They may even find it possible to stick to a normal routine.

Yes, 'broken crayons can still colour' (I don't know who said that, but I love it).

Another enormous paranoia of mine when I'm depressed is that people might think me an attention seeker.

The thing is, when very low, I don't just wish I could erase my name from the earth, I long for all memory of my name to be erased. I want to possess that cloak from fairy tales that magically makes the wearer disappear. I want to be invisible. Attention? No - a bit of understanding maybe - but definitely not attention.

These are two (possible) mis-conceptions about mental illness that I fret about. Are there any myths (imaginary or otherwise) surrounding depression that you would like to debunk?

Suzy
A Moodscope member.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Forge meaning...build identity.

I recently listened to a Ted Talks video by Andrew Soloman 'How the worst moments in our life make us who we are'. Listening to this has completely inspired me to fulfil an ambition that I have held since childhood. The video is a short talk with the resounding message that rather than look to find an identity in order to give ourself a meaning, we should instead forge meaning and build identify from there.

I sit here today having been through experiences in my life that have shaped the person that I am. These experiences cannot be changed. No amount of dwelling on them, looking at "what if's", what could have or should have been is going to change what has happened in my life or the choices I have made along the way. What I do have the power over is how I move forward. The first step for me with this is acceptance of who I am as a person.

I have had to work hard at forgiving myself for some decisions I have made in life, I have had to work hard at forgiving others for decisions they have made that have impacted me in a negative way. I have had to work hard at accepting that I am loveable and worthy as a person. Much of this is still work in progress, but I have to come to realise that my life and all the experiences within it have meaning that can be used in a positive way. My history makes me who I am.

As a child I always said that I wanted to write a book. Writing is my form of creativity, my cathartic release. And so, feeling inspired by Andrew Soloman, that is exactly what I am going to do. I have a story to share that may just go some way in helping others who can relate to my journey, others who may be in the same situation or have been there. I have taken great strength from the lyrics of Emile Sande's song "Read all about it" over the past few months and realise this is exactly what I want to happen. I have a voice and I can use that to speak up and reach out to others. I don't need to erase my history or be ashamed of having experienced depression. I need to embrace all that has been and learn from it so that I can continue to grow. I have needed the words, wisdom, and support from others on my journey and I hope to be able to offer the same service to others struggling on their own journey.

Rosie
A Moodscope member.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Getting up and Moving.

Well today I am in London, seeing my son. Something I would never be able to do if I was depressed and yet it is the very thing that I should be doing no matter what.

It gets me up.
It gets me out.
I have to communicate with others.

I see that there is so much in the world outside my small little safe world that I would hide in, if I was depressed. I will momentarily feel outside myself and thus forget I am depressed – adding light into darkness. I visit places that have changed and moved on e.g. London Kings X station. Life forever changes and intellectually I KNOW I will become human again – to see physical things that change, assists that deeper sense of ongoing change.

When I used to be depressed and even suicidal, I would still do the work that I had committed to doing. It would NOT be easy. I might even have cried behind the scenes, certainly not slept, even thought of suicide, yet for those hours where I am 'on stage' my darkness would be lightened, I would forget my pain while focussing on others.

I believe that much of our recovery is started because we WANT TO recover. Now, that may seem harsh to many and maybe our mind needs to keep us in a neutralised state while we overcome grief? Not loss, despair or sadness - deep grief, where we need to re-adjust.

For me though, I know if I have the courage to keep going out, to keep stepping into fear, to make human contact, to keep working, I will emerge into humanity again.

I also realise there are many other types of mental  health issues. I however, only know depression and thus cannot 'see' the blocks and bridges for others.

It can be all too easy to stay 'depressed' and even avoid what is causing our angst – as when there – we can use it as an excuse - a very good excuse, backed up with GP prescriptions.

Now – that para above may have angered some of you and if it did, why is that? Is your subconscious telling you something? Others, who maybe have been courageous in the past or who clearly know it is a chemical thing, will simply let my words wash by. If you did become attached, ask yourself why – as your subconscious knows far more than you do!

As Churchill once said and maybe he said it with the 'black dog' in mind, the inner war as well as the outer war  – 'Courage is the start of all change'.

Les
A Moodscope member.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Take That Look Off Your Face!

Okay, confession time. I Botox.

Pause.

And you all have an opinion about that, don't you?

Yes, once every three months I pay a week's grocery money to a woman who injects me with one of the most deadly toxins known to man. It paralyses the muscles in my forehead so that I can no longer frown.

Why? Why would I do that? Far less pay good money for it?

Let's get one thing straight. I'm fifty-two (as of yesterday). I have no problem with being fifty-two, in fact I quite like it. I have no problem with owning and claiming the laughter lines around my eyes, around my mouth and the worry lines further up my forehead.
The frown lines are a different matter.

The problem lies not so much in the lines themselves but in the story they tell. The frown lines, when my face is in repose, say "this woman is grumpy and bad tempered." They don't tell the truth. The truth is rather "this woman frowns when she concentrates. And she's found that most things in life need concentration if you're going to get them right."

The lines had become very deep. At every professional photo shoot the photographer would say, matter of factly, "So I'll get rid of the frown lines for you, shall I?" My daughter commented, "Mummy – you always look grumpy, even when I know you're not." My beautician asked for some potting compost as then she could grow leeks in them. I'd like to think she's exaggerating but she assures me they had their own microclimate down there and that she heard they auditioned to be the stunt double for the Mariana Trench!

So yes, I have Botox injections. I've had them for two years now and the lines are fainter, but still there. That's Okay. I do frown – it's one of the wonderful facial expressions by which we humans communicate. But the lines no longer present a falsehood about my character.

Now – I haven't noticed this myself, but studies carried out have suggested that, when people have Botox and therefore cannot frown, they notice that they are happier. And we all know that we can make ourselves feel better by standing up straight and smiling, don't we? (And I'm not talking about the fake show we put on to hide our depression from others, Okay?)

One of my favourite quotations about beauty came from a former Vogue Editor (although I cannot discover which) who said: "If you are not beautiful when you're sixteen, you can blame Mother Nature. If you are not beautiful when you are sixty, you have no one to blame but yourself."

It's true: we write who we are on our faces. And it is not our experiences in life which tell our story, but the manner in which we have met those experiences.

So I suggest we smile, even when it's hard. Go on, let's use our facial expressions to write some good character lines. What will yours say?

Mary
A Moodscope member.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

The magnifying mirror.

You know the type of mirror. It's great for finding and plucking unsightly facial hairs but view your whole face in it and, oh boy, you can't turn the thing around quick enough! There's no perspective in that mirror; you see only imperfection. This is how I seem to observe every conversation I have, down to every last syllable I utter. There is zero perspective.

This is no mere passing fretfulness. I'm. Contorted. With. Anxiety. It's exhausting. Who needs enemies when we have ourselves?

Short of becoming a hermit (very tempting right now; a recluse with 5 cats. Let's get the stereo-type right), I'm not entirely sure what the answer is. Years of therapy, 23 weeks of CBT, every self help book that exists (almost), yes, I have all the tools in the shed but can't always seem to gain access to them. Finding the right drugs has often been problematic too.

Trying to avoid humans (no humans, no conversations to overanalyse) can only ever be a short-term solution. It's a bit like curling up with a hot water bottle - I want the warmth and the comfort of it, but make the bottle too hot, and it becomes as uncomfortable as being too cold. Likewise, I want the comfort of friends but too much contact, or too many people, and I struggle to cope.

Post it notes dotted about my flat, 'You are loved.' 'Don't believe everything you think.'  'Do not believe everything you tell yourself late at night'. Alas, the thoughts, they still stick inside my head like barnacles.

Ah yes, as one wise soul put it, 'As we got older, the monsters crept out from under our beds, to inside our heads.'

I hope one day to be able to smash the magnifying mirror to smithereens. Until then, I can remember that I maybe a bit of a fruitcake, an acquired taste even, but I like fruitcake; deep down, I like me (Suzy hugs herself).

Maybe sometimes, just maybe, we have grown more than we give ourselves credit for.

Suzy
A Moodscope member.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Connect Four.

A game I have enjoyed for many years was first published by Milton Bradley in 1974: Connect Four. It did what it said on the tin - your mission, should you have decided to accept it, was to connect four peices. The game still brings me pleasure.

What a great lesson for life! The very architecture of your neural net is all about connections. So too, when seeking to live and enjoy a life to the full on this pearl of a Planet. It seems success comes down to the quantity and quality of our connections.

Yesterday, I had one of those enchanting moments one can have in the presence of an enthusiast. John is a model railway enthusiast specialising in the development of the Meccano-Hornby story. With passion, he showed me a very modest truck from his layout. The joy of this particular truck was hidden underneath. John revealed the secret with obvious relish. This truck had one kind of connection at one end, and another at the other! Why was this significant? Well with one such truck, John could harness the power of two chapters in model railway history. One connection linked to the earlier Hornby rolling stock, the other to the later Triang version. With one simple innovation, past and present were connected.

This got me thinking about the importance of being a Connector. If part of success in life is about making the right connections, surely one of the greatest joys is connecting not just with others but on behalf of others. I could happily say, this is my chief joy at this time in my life. I now know a lot of people - I've been on Planet long enough to build a phenomenal network. But this network is not for me, it's for others, it's for you. Nowadays, when I meet someone new, my neural net is naturally making connections with other people in my neural database without having to think about it. I live to connect!

Now here's the important part. If this connecting is for mere financial profit, your connections will rightfully see through this and reject your best efforts. We are not islands. We need each other. And it would be really nice to connect with one another without having to use a Toll-Bridge, wouldn't it? In this Connection Economy, not everything has to be about profit - there are other currencies worth investing in.

So, my encouragement to you today is to "Connect Four" - and connect for no profit or self-interest. Find four people today whose life could be enhanced if they connected with someone you know, and be that bridge-builder for them. Connect for the simple pleasure of connecting!

If the Universe works, your good work will come back to you a hundred-fold, but never, ever engage in this good work with any thought of return. It's simply good for you to connect others. In fact, it's good for all of us.

Now for the serious thought. In some senses the chemistry of depression is also about connections. Patterns of thought in our minds and patterns of chemicals in our brains and bodies make connections that produce results. We often seek to influence these connections with psychology and pharmacology. My suggestion today is that we play a deliberate, active role in setting up some new connections that will be of benefit to others. I believe that, in this process, we will find it good medicine for ourselves. That's not why we'll do it, but I believe it will the result. Let's try and see, shall we?

Lex
A Moodscope member.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Mindfulness.

What are you thinking about right now?

Now try this; don't think about a pink elephant. Now what are you thinking about?

Now; think about your breathing; feel the air coming in through your nose, cool and fresh. Feel it flowing out through your nose, warmer now. Don't worry about whether or not you are thinking about pink elephants dancing past, stick with your breathing. In and out. In and out.

Don't try and change your breathing, just let it come and go. Try this for a few minutes.

At this point you probably find all sorts of things come into your mind, not just pink elephants; memories, work, worries, children, pets, aches, pains...the list goes on. For now, just breathe. In and out. In and out. Focus on your breathing.

You might find that you get carried away with some of the thoughts, as soon as you do, come back to focussing on your breathing.

I like to think of my thoughts as a fast flowing river. When I notice I have been carried away by a thought, I mentally climb out of the river, shake the water off and sit down again on the bank, watching the river flow past and just breathe.

Another watery, and classic, analogy is a glass of muddy water. If you leave it alone, it will settle. It is the same with your mind. It has no off switch, but if you give it chance, it will settle.

Mindfulness helps give it chance to settle.

In their excellent book on mindfulness for health Burch & Penman put it beautifully;

You can take a breath only for this moment. Mindfulness is the acceptance of the situation in this moment.

So for just a moment today focus on your breathing and give your busy mind a chance to settle.

Regards,

Lou
A Moodscope member.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Here goes...

Some weeks ago we were asked if anyone of us would like to write a Moodscope blog. 'Oh yes I thought, I'd love to have a go at that.'

Then my fears and doubts kick in and take over.

'You! You couldn't do that'
'What have you got to write about that would interest others?'
'You are rubbish at spelling and what if your grammar is wrong?'
'Everyone will laugh at how stupid you are.'
'The other writers are so much better than you.'
'What if you get negative comments?'

The above comments whirred around my mind for days on end and I was still no closer to writing my masterpiece.

I did however think how wonderful it is that all the moodscope writers, people who I do not know, pop into my inbox every day and show themselves to us in such a way that some of their words make me smile or lift my mood even if only for a little while. Some of them are written so beautifully that they actually move me very deeply. The writers themselves even do this whilst they are themselves in the grip depression.

I wanted to say a big heartfelt THANK YOU! To you all for doing such a wonderful job. I never have felt brave enough to leave comments but I read and value each and every one.

I wonder how many of you out there read the post requesting new bloggers and felt the same as me? Well maybe you are good enough and interesting enough to just help one person through one more day?

Take care

Julie x
A Moodscope member.
 
(yes I did just write that, didn't I!!)

Friday, 1 May 2015

Emotional core strength.

I have recently begun to understand that for the last ten years I have been the emotional equivalent of a body builder. One of those overly muscled men (or women) whose muscles are huge in bulk but little good when it comes to actually lifting something heavy. I have put on a good show; pushing myself to work harder and faster than anyone else and to be perfect, never asking for help (and frequently refusing it when offered) and often loudly asserting that I am fine. But my life and my apparent strength is a lie built on illusions, and a matchstick tower of anxiety, physical illness, depression and self doubt.
It looks pretty cool but a stiff wind would blow it over because it has no firm foundation.

I want to build myself a core of strength which has nothing to do with appearances and is not reliant on anyone else's opinion or reassurances but comes from within and makes me feel solid and confident - I have never had that in my adult life and I confess I have no idea where to start.

I think I felt that wholeness once. I was 21 and the world had not yet played its hand. I had friends, good health, a newly minted degree and bold ideas about how I could make the most of my life and be my own person. And then life happened. Two long term health problems snuck up on me and took my fitness and my hopes and dreams and brought their friends anxiety, depression and long term pain with them and have been with me for more than ten years.

I have been treading water for all that time. Angry at my weakness, angry at anyone who has an easier life, angry at my loss and angry at anyone who gets too close and sees how vulnerable I am. I don't want to be angry anymore.

In recent months I have lost my wonderful father to a brain tumour and given birth to a beautiful baby who deserves a wonderful life and now I want more.

I read the moodscope blogs with interest and I hope to take guidance from the wise words I find here; to find the thing that makes my heart sing and to make time for it, to effect change slowly and gently, to work on breaking the constant cycles of depression, anxiety and physical pain and mostly to be gentle to myself which I hope will lead to me being more gentle with the world.

I'll let you know how I get on.

Fran
A moodscope member.