Saturday, 31 December 2016

Something new.

At the end of every year there is much discussion on changes we can make for the new year, resolutions we will try to keep. The focus is on the next year.

What about this year soon to be last year?

At the start of every year many of us have great ideas about changes we will make, plans we will do, places we will go (sounds like a beloved Dr Seuss book). What often happens though is that before you can say February all those plans and ideas have been abandoned or forgotten.

What about thinking about something small, maybe one thing new you have done this year. It may be as simple as trying a new recipe, a new food, listening to a new musician, watching a movie or reading a book you normally would not read. Just something you did differently. You may have tried a new way of responding to a situation from something you read on Moodscope.

People commented on my blog "Who stole 2016" that I was thinking of the big picture and forgetting the small parts that make up the year. So I did something new by looking at personal things I have done differently or for the first time.

Someone suggested to have a 'done' list instead of or as well as a 'to do' list. I did try that for a week but I seemed to get as much satisfaction from crossing off a list than from writing a new one. I was pleased I did try something new and did not dismiss it before having a go.

I would like to hear about something new you tried this year, big or small, easy or difficult? How did you feel about trying something different?

What did you learn about yourself this year?

A Moodscope member

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Friday, 30 December 2016

I shall perfectly be perfect!

I will try my best not to grump about the New Year! I secretly quite like it really. It's a chance to feel fresh. Spring isn't that far away, lighter days are really happening, if not thoroughly apparent, and if you mark January as the beginning, then we begin again, clean slate.  Anyway, back to The Joy of Grumping! The two main parts I don't like about New Year are (a) alcohol and (b) resolutions.

I had my battle with alcohol some years ago and I won. I am extremely lucky as I caught myself before I stumbled too far down a path. I can now enjoy a glass of something and leave it there. Two glasses on a special occasion. This was my goal. And I haven't wavered. I know I will never go back because I have had some deeply stressful times, many lows, many challenges, many opportunities and I am simply changed. My reason for putting alcohol near my mouth is now completely different.

Then we have resolutions. Also known as The Guilt Trip. Resolve to be picture perfect, stress-free, sugar-free, alcohol-free, exercise adoring, fresh air breathing, nutritionally balancing, family orientating, charity volunteering, save the world-ing and otherwise be like Mother Theresa and the Dalai Lama in a Baywatch beach scene.

The connection between (a) and (b) in this season is that everywhere we look and listen we are surrounded by them. The programmes, the offers, the jokes, the cards, the expectations, the conversations, we are bombarded. So please, you decide. You decide whether to be whirled up like a Yule log and carried along with the icing sugar or whether to step out, switch off and enjoy your personal choice. There is no right or wrong. It's more concise than that. Its personal.

There. Grump over. Thank you for travelling with me this past while and may we keep walking together through 2017. I may need your hand to steady me as I balance over the stepping stones and my hand is there for you. Be well.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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Thursday, 29 December 2016

There Was a Little Girl.

There's a homeless disabled man who sits outside my local supermarket selling the Big Issue.

I am less generous these days than I used to be. Today I was with my father and as soon as he saw the man he started searching for change. They smiled at each other and the man caught my eye after my father had passed and pointed at my dad saying " Good man" I knew that he meant that my dad never passes without a smile and some change. I felt proud of him and a pang of guilt that I had let my standard from him slip.

My parents are polar opposites in terms of personality, yet mine is a product of them both.

I grew up wanting only to be like my father. Calm, quiet, kind, generous and friendly. Positive and drama free. Wonderful, easy company. He sees the best in everyone. People like him.

When I'm well, I'm fairly similar, with a bit of chaotic stress thrown in.

When I am good I am very very good...

My mother has good qualities too. She plans ahead. Organises. Budgets. Makes sure that family are taken care of and are safe. She's proactive and makes things happen. She loves to converse and can be very entertaining. I have a lot of those qualities too.

When I'm not well, my mother's negative thinking comes to the fore. Don't trust people. Look out for yourself and your own. Be judgemental and critical. Challenge and resist. Be fearful very fearful. The world is a dark and threatening place. Catasrophe around every corner.

Worry way ahead about any and everything. Expect the worst. See the worst in people. Warn people of all potential danger. Fight or flight. A victim. When in pain the whole world must know about it. Be angry. Very very angry.

...and when I am bad I am horrid.

My mother has often said that she is depressed or refers to the depression.

My father hides many of his feelings. No fuss. Nothing to worry about. He gives selflessly and doesn't say no.

Now that he's older, his vulnerability sometimes shows. He wells up when he speaks about his youth or starting out in life as a young man. There is sadness and he drowns his sorrows.

Both of them love us beyond measure and would do almost anything for us. In spite of their struggles they have grown old together and depend on each other. They achieved their outward goals and taught us how to do the same.

Emotionally they have struggled and so have we. Who doesn't? I have struggled to grow up in many ways, it's taken me a long time to feel like I've started to.

Are you like either or both of your parents?

Other than traumatic life events and biological factors, how have your parents influenced your mental health?

A Moodscope member.

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Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Goodbye 2016.

There's a card on the Moodscope test (which we all complete diligently every day, of course), "Excitement", which carries the explanation "looking forward to things."

Many of us are all too familiar with the grey cloud which descends upon us and sucks all the enjoyment out of life, so that we feel unable to look forward to anything, even those things which normally, when we are well, bring much pleasure.

But I am looking forward to 2017. Mostly because it will mean saying goodbye to 2016. In management speak, 2016 has been a challenging year; in Chinese curse terms, it has been interesting.

Of course, nothing is altogether bad and nothing is altogether good. Another Moodscope friend of mine described 2016 as, "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times." Yes, that too, for many of us, I guess.

I have decided to take only the good memories with me into 2017.

One of the challenging, interesting but wonderful things of 2016 has been having my son Tom come to live with us. Tom is chaos in human form. He is a hurricane which has disrupted the quiet and ordered running of this house. He is spontaneity itself whereas my husband likes to have everything scheduled. He is untidy (like me), when the rest of the family like to have a place for everything and everything in its place. He will argue passionately and stridently for his point of view, rather than politely agreeing to differ.

He's certainly livened up things round here.

In the last month he has formed the habit of saying, "Hey Mum! Do you want to come out to see a film?"

(I don't want to see a film. I don't want to do anything.)

"Alright," I say, without enthusiasm. "When?"

"Right now. Fantastic Beasts/Miss Peregrine's/Moana's on."

"Well, Okaaay... When does it start?"

"Five minutes ago."

So we dash out of the house, and manage to take our seats just as the last trailer before the main film draws to an action-packed close. And I enjoy the film very much. Even if I have to take a nap afterwards.

Until yesterday I had not realised that this was causing stress for my husband. I was going out with Tom and not with him.

"Fair enough," I said. "I would love to go out with you; you just have to take me out."

"Yes, when you're well again."

And there, I realised, was the crux of things. My husband puts everything on hold when I am ill with depression. Tom realises that, although I may not have much energy, even though I may not be able to drum up much (or any) enthusiasm, if he takes me somewhere, I will enjoy it.

So our joint new years' resolution, for my husband and me, is that we will just do things, regardless.

Although he will probably need to schedule them in the diary at least a week before.

(And I rather like that about him.)

A Moodscope member.

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Tuesday, 27 December 2016

New Beginnings...

I recently started a new job after having looked for many years. I feel proud of myself for having never given up looking to improve this part of my life and it has given me encouragement to tackle other parts.

I feel in control now when in the past I may have buckled under the pressure of a long commute and working with people who were narcissistic and selfish.

Two years ago, my partner was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and my mother passed away a month later. This double whammy floored me and managing my life and my partner's wellbeing has been exhausting. I soon realised I just had to get on with life and do the best I could.

At times like this, you really find out about yourself and your limits and it's quite enlightening to see how much you are able to adapt to. Whatever life threw at me, I found some inner strength to keep things going.

I now take one day at a time, enjoy every moment, and treat life as a gift, which it is, of course.

I am kind to myself, laugh at my mistakes, set my own bar low as I trust that I will always do my best.

I have learnt to love myself as much as I do others in my family, and it brings an inner comfort to my heart that I am at this stage of my journey of recovery.

The little things now bring the greatest reward - seeing a baby's smile in a supermarket queue, or watching nature shed its leaves from autumnal trees in the garden.

Identify the beauty in your life, pat yourself on the back for that job well done, treat yourself to an imaginary inner hug, it releases beautiful endorphins to improve mood.

Always remember there is no one qualified enough to judge you, apart from your good self, and you owe it to yourself to be fair to the most important mind going - yours.

What have you done to make yourself proud recently?

What do you do to keep going, uniquely for you?

A Moodscope member.

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

Monday, 26 December 2016

Let me treat you.

Do you need a little time out?

A little breather?

A moment to let the heart steady and the bones be still?

Perhaps you need soothed?

Or maybe there is need to cry and let the build-up flow out.

My musical tastes run from The Clash to Tchaikovsky, paid musicians to buskers, my only requirement is that the sound must be physically felt in my body. I recommend listening to all music loudly. I wondered if you might enjoy this today and I hope it does something for you.

Speigel im speigel, Arvo Pärt

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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Sunday, 25 December 2016

Merry Christmas!

The Moodscope team would like to wish all of our members a very merry Christmas.

We know from previous blogs and comments that for some it's a very stressful time so we hope that everything is going to plan and that you enjoy if not all of the day, at least some of it.

We'd also like to take this opportunity to thank all the wonderful contributors to the blog - the writers and those that have taken the time to make all the helpful comments. Special thanks to our regular bloggers, Lex, Mary, The Room above the Garage and Leah. We really appreciate it, so thank you all.

Just one more big thank you to all those that have made monetary contributions to Moodscope and of course our subscribers. Your contributions and subscriptions are crucial to keeping Moodscope running and enabling us to develop it further, helping the many thousands of people who are using our service.

We wish you and your families a very merry Christmas.

Kind regards.

The Moodscope Team

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Saturday, 24 December 2016

"Happy Holidays" Depression

The first few years of having children were very difficult. I suffered a strange "sadness" over Christmas. There were the "must dos", put up the Christmas tree, the mad shopping dash, buying Christmas gifts, placing them under the tree, waiting for the morning of the 25th and pretending it was all joyful when they were opened.

The underlying sadness was that I terribly missed my mother who passed on when I was a teen. I felt her absence deeply because during the "happy holidays" she would have spoilt her grand-children, cooked the Christmas lunch and made sure everyone was okay. I felt burdened to do what she did, exacerbating my "festive" depression.

Five years ago, I decided, enough is enough. No more toys and gift shopping. If the kids wanted something for Christmas, they said it, a gift voucher was given. I wasn't going to any crowded shopping malls, which under any day overloads my "sensory system" and leaves me physically, emotionally and mentally drained. Surprisingly my family understood.

We no longer have to put up a Christmas tree if we don't want to. We find simple ways to spend time together. We have a barbeque (known as braai in South Africa) on a regurlar basis. We only invite friends that add value to our lives. We don't live the commercial "happy holidays" anymore. We make the happy holidays ourselves. We go to the park, play board games and recently added two "furry" Jack Russell members to our family.

We do simple things that require little physical, emotional, mental and financial input. We have a good time. We create family memories that are beautiful and relaxing.

I still miss my mother over "Christmas", but it is more of an appreciation of who she was than filling her "shoes".

But, I am my own person, a mother. I handle "Christmas" in a way that makes family life work for me.

What a life lesson. I wish I had known this earlier. I would have saved myself many a "Happy Holiday" depression season.

My festive season depression is pretty much under control, and for that I am grateful.

Happy Holidays to my Moodscope Family!

A Moodscope member

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Friday, 23 December 2016

How would you react?

How do you deal with a bad situation?

It happened just recently, I was mugged! Fortunately the little twits got away with nothing, but I ended up with an injured knee and a very sore hand (from slapping the one twit!)

I thought I had just bruised my knee and by the next morning it would just be tender and bruised! Ha ha, I hardly got any sleep and my knee was three times its normal size and hurt like mad! I ended up on crutches!

My colleagues and people around me were laughing at me and making "hob-a-long" jokes and telling me how slow I was! I had a choice, I could have taken offence, or laughed and joked with them! I decided to take the second route as I did see it as being funny and yes, sometimes things said as a joke can hurt one, but sometimes people don't know exactly how to be sympathetic of ones injuries!

Everyone reacts in a different way to situations. Some have cool thinking heads in emergencies, others will panic and be all over the place - some will try and make the emergency about them and others will be bystanders! Not everyone can deal with emergencies, especially when there is blood or someone is in pain, this does not make one uncompassionate! Some, who are bystanders, offer the greatest help of all by being there holding the door open for the injured and helping carry things for the person!

It is the same when we are having "one of those days!". People who do not suffer with Bipolar, Depression, PTD, whatever we may call it, respond differently to it! I often get told to "Snap out of it!" or to "Grow up!". I wish it was that easy, but it's not! As each of you know and understand we need to deal with it and get over it in our own way! But there are many ways to deal with it:

1. Run after everyone who tells us to "Snap out of it" with a baseball bat and beat them! (Please don't do this!)
2. Look at them and try to explain the feelings we are feeling!
3. Look at them as if they are stupid, say nothing and then walk away.
4. Pretend that nothing is wrong and then go sit by yourself.
5. Scream and Shout and make it into a drama that could win an Oscar! Or
6. Find a bed and sleep it away!

Whichever way you wish to deal with your bad day, remember that there are pros and cons!

I can't tell you how to deal with a situation as each of us is different! But there is one thing we can all do, and that is to support each other and be available for each other.

A Moodscope member.

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

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Merry Moodmas.

Never underestimate the power of a cupboard. They are magical places. Mess vanishes within their clutches, truths can be disappeared into them, stress-whispers, unfit for ears of the Christmas dinner guests, can be said unto them. How I adore a cupboard!

When my little brother first lived on the other side of the world to me, I had 3 very young children. I missed the simpler days of my little brother, the ones when he was far too young to mind having make-up practiced on his face. And so when our time difference allowed, and he would call, nothing would get in the way of having some quiet time to speak. It was normal for me to find a cupboard and squash inside, all tangled up in hoover pieces, with phone, just to have uninterrupted time with him.

I seek out 'the cupboard' in many other ways. Tonight I will go to the Cathedral and hear 6 choirs from our school join together for the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. This year all of my children are old enough to be singing in the official choirs and not just in the congregation.

The year I left my granny's bedside to go to the Cathedral, I found out she had passed away just before I walked inside. I was jangled with grief and yet that moment when those voices first rang out, filling every space with sound, I felt as though the angels themselves had arrived to lift her onwards.  It was the happiest kind of sad I have ever known. That night, and tonight, the Cathedral will be my cupboard.

We all know that we, who struggle with our mood, can find this time of year desperately hard to steer through. I encourage you to find a cupboard. Today. Tomorrow. On Christmas day. All of the days!

Step inside and listen for your own heartbeat. Listen for your breath. Remember from the left of the world to the right, we can each take a little time in a cupboard to be thinking of each other and saying "I am not alone". Mary and Joseph fretted not over the lack of carpet in their stable, nor whether the mince pies should be homemade or bought.  They stood together saying "I am not alone".

I will curl into a cupboard this Christmas time, many times! Even if only for a few minutes. And I will think of you and I will send you my wish... I wish you perspective and a merry Moodmas. You are terribly wonderful, immensely important, and it will be positively powerful to be united in cupboard love.

Much love from

The cupboard near the room above the garage.
A Moodscope member.

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Wednesday, 21 December 2016

All I Want for Christmas...

Some of you might have seen this meme before.

Me: I want a unicorn for Christmas.

Santa: That's ridiculous. What would you really like?

Me: Well, I'd settle for ten minutes to drink my coffee in peace before it goes cold and an opportunity go to the bathroom by myself.

Santa: Hmm. What colour unicorn?

Lying in bed and letting my mind wander, as it does very freely – you may have noticed – I wondered what I want (what I really, really want) for Christmas. I mean, besides world peace and a lifetime supply of Jimmy Choo shoes.

What if – the world could be taken away from me? A sort of reverse gift, if you like.

What if I could wake on Christmas morn to a warm white nothingness? What if there were no Christmas dinner to cook, no church to attend, no family disputes to arbitrate? What if I were just warmly wrapped in a white cloud, with no hunger for food and no thirst? What if I could just drift, weightless, with nowhere to be and no time to be anywhere?

With my energy levels close to zero, that thought is enticing. Not so much, "Stop the world; I want to get off!" – more, "just take the world away from me. Please."

Because the responsibility of parenting my beautiful children is too much. The chore of being a wife to my wonderful husband is an intolerable burden, the weight of running the business I love and caring for my clients is overwhelming.

I have no remaining resources. I am empty.

I know, from previous depressive episodes, that when I recover, when I rise to the surface like a champagne cork, this empty time will seem like a half forgotten nightmare. I will not be able to identify with this vampiric ghost of a stranger who inhabits my body for weeks, even months at a time. Once more I will have energy, enthusiasm and determination in abundance.

But right now, that seems like a dream; and not even a welcome dream, since to even dream of that energy takes more energy than I have right now.

So we are going away to the sea for Christmas, just the immediate family; nobody else.

Christmas lunch will be brisket of beef cooked in the slow cooker and shop bought Christmas pudding. There is no TV, so no necessity to watch the Queen at 3pm. We will play board games. We will walk on the beach. We will lie on the sofas and read books. We will sleep.

And all I want for Christmas is for my family to be happy and peaceful.

Well, alright then – could the unicorn be pink and turquoise, please?

A Moodscope member.

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Tuesday, 20 December 2016

So, what to do when you are...

Yes, when you are having one of those Special Birthdays, the ones that bring up lots of questions about The Future. 'What to do now you are 50!' there I said it, 50. According to a Google search, it would seem that my future options are to:-

1. Change career or become a Consultant.
2. Move house, downsize/upgrade.
3. Start a new small and trendy business.
4. Travel – not just to like Asda but Abroad.
5. Enjoy time with my partner now the children have left home.

Oh how I laughed and wept as I read that. I am sure there is a percentage of folk out there who will do some of those things but it's certainly not matching my current life/work/mental health imbalance. See below.

1. No job or career left to change.
2. Any business plan I have will be highly unstable.
3. Travelling anywhere is difficult when you've no driving license and going out further than Asda requires a lot of mental resilience.
4. No house to sell or downgrade/upgrade.
5. As for a partner, that's another thing that disappeared and now there is only the cat. I still have the children who I should have had sooner as they certainly aren't leaving home.

So what do you do when you are 50 (and have interesting mental health issues) and life hasn't quite turned out as you expected?

Here is my Mental Health Friendly at 50 'What to do!' list

1. Let go of trying to work, find work or be defined by work. Just be whatever you are at the        moment. And do whatever you are doing.
2. If you live somewhere you like, then just live there. If you have to move then get all the help you can to do it.
3. Travel – well you know there is always the TV. It's way cheaper and less smelly.  Never give up a dream of where you would like to go though – for me it is Bath and the Roman baths and I will get there one day.
4. If your children still live with you then enjoy it because one day they'll be gone.
5. Enjoy having a cat but if a frog does turn up then be sure to give it a wee kiss just in case.
6. Finally – Take it back to basics. Breath. Get out of bed. Shower. Eat cake with friends. Repeat daily. Remember you are an immense human being, yes really. REALLY!! 

So that Special Birthday can just roll right on up now that I have got my own realistic 'What to Do' list. Sure I wont be jetting off to Venice or starting up a boutique hotel chain. I will however have good loving friends, a happy cat, teenagers and an abundance of cake. Not bad at all.

A Moodscope member.

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Monday, 19 December 2016

Turn Your Guilt into Gilt.

The emotional alchemy of turning a negative choice into a positive learning.

There are a couple of emotional states that appear to have no value at all, namely 'guilt' and 'anxiety'. My personal belief is that guilt is an invented emotion, just as anxiety is an invented fear to do with the future and unseen.

The event that you've decided to feel guilty about isn't going to go away - it's on your timeline forever. [Unless you know a corrupt Time Lord who'll pop back and fix it for you, you ain't gonna change what happened.] What you can change is your decision to feel bad about it. And then you can learn from it and move forward in a new direction.

So does guilt really have no value? What's its purpose, if any?

Good guilt, if there is such a thing, seeks to provoke change. Good guilt, which I prefer to label as 'repentance', is designed as a catalyst for a turn around. In fact, I'm having a hard job finding the word 'Guilt' at all in the New Testament!!! It's all about having an internal 'alarm' that alerts us to change direction - there's a chance of shipwreck ahead.

We feel bad - so that we can do something about it! (And not so we can wallow in it, or use it as an excuse to paralyse us from taking action.)

Therefore, to change 'Guilt' to 'Gilt' we must learn the lesson, change our minds (metanoia is the Greek verb for repentance - literally to change our way of thinking), and take action in the opposite direction.

As a writer, I may be guilty (couldn't resist that... 'erm, 'sorry'!) of trying to twist a linguistic turn of phrase to serve my purpose. After all, 'Gilt' is only a covering of another substance with Gold leaf or Gold paint. But I think this is perfect. Given that the event can never change, only our perception of it and our response to it, covering the event (the dross, base object) with the beautiful Gold of learning fits perfectly. It may not be pure Alchemy, but it is pure genius.

The process of emotional alchemy - here's a review of the process.

Identify the event that you feel guilty about.

Ask yourself:

what can I learn from this?
what can I do differently, beginning now?
what could I do in future to avoid a repetition?
what's my first physical action step to make progress in a new direction?

Take that action!

Of course the action may require reparation - painful but wise - however, the most important action is to change the orientation of your mind so that you really do move towards what you'd rather have... and to shamelessly mix metaphors... that will lead to the Gold at the end of this rainbow.

A Moodscope member.

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

Sunday, 18 December 2016

To trust? Or not to trust?

"You can talk to me. You don't need to hide how you're feeling."

I talk to them...

I don't hide how I'm feeling...

Realise they didn't mean it...

What do you do when this happens? Especially if it is someone who you felt close to, or who you are close to, but it turns out that for whatever reason they are not equipped to give you what you need after you've found the courage to confide in them.

Do you block them out and distance yourself from them? Do you forgive them for not understanding? Do you get annoyed with yourself for believing that you could lean on them for support? Do you blame them? Do you blame yourself? Does it reaffirm your feeling of being 'too broken'? Do you let it affect your self-esteem? Do you decide you don't need people like that in your life? Do you need anyone in your life? Or are you better off alone?

How much do we accept? How do we hold someone accountable for their emotional offerings? How do you go about the damage limitation after you've said too much and realise that now they know that side of you, they look at you differently and your relationship may never be the same again? What do you do?

Do you resolve to not make that mistake in future? But then, is it the true 'test' to establish if they really do care as much as they implied? If they fail that test, what do you do then? Cut them from your life? Involve them less? Talk to them less? Assign them a less-important role?

Is it their fault though? Didn't they mean well? Isn't this why we have psychiatrists etc? Because some problems are too big for the regular Joe Bloggs to know the answer to? My problems are too big for myself, half the time. Why would it be any different for an outsider?

Do you feel let down? Do you tell them you feel let down? How do you determine who you can depend upon? Is it trial and error? Does anyone have a tried and tested method that I can use to maintain the few decent relationships I have left? And maybe salvage the ones that are now cracked?

A Moodscope member.

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

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Is that you?

Is that you I can see there sitting in the sunshine on the beach Hotel terrace with your friends, laughing and sipping your drink without a care in the world?

Is that you dressed in your cream summer jacket that I used to love you wearing.

Is that you?

Am I seeing someone who just happens to look like you? Same build, style of clothes, same smile and tilt of head when listening to the conversations around you.

Is that you?

I must admit I hadn't expected to see you again; it was rather a shock to say the least.
There is a hot, almost scarlet painful feeling that slinks up from my toes to the top of my head.

My heart is pounding and I feel suffocated for a moment.

You had said goodbye to me a while back, said you were moving on, it was time to go but obviously you must have changed your mind!

Is that you?

It has been so hard for me since you left, I have spent so many hours missing you and reliving all the memories of the years we had together.

It's never easy when it all comes to an end but you had made up your mind, chosen a sunny day in the spring and suddenly there was no longer any 'us' it was just me on my own, heartbroken, and you, well you look happy and seem to have found a new group of friends and are carrying on with it all.

Is that you?

Leaning across the table towards to that lady dressed so beautifully, she throws back her head and her laughter tinkles past me in the breeze, a perfumed delicate laugh that shows me you have truly moved on. I am glad you are happy.

I know I am staring and I know you haven't seen me.

I want to run over to you and throw my arms around you as I have missed you so much, but I know that would be so embarrassing for us all.

I have an idea, and without you even noticing I manage to take a photo of you sat there amongst the holidaymakers, now you are standing up and lifting your silk cap from the table as if about to leave.

As you stand time stops.

You are looking across the crowded terrace at me, our blue eyes are locked and the sun is so hot. The clouds have stopped floating, not a whisper from the crowd, the waves have frozen, the birds have stopped flying and everything is perfectly still.

Is that you walking away dad? You who left me in the spring when the daffodils were bright and summer was patiently waiting around the corner. Before you slipped away quietly in your sleep you had whispered goodbye and said that you had to go.

Is that you?

There is no photo no matter how hard I search, it's not there.

Is that you?

Please let it be you.

A Moodscope member.

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Friday, 16 December 2016

What is the matter?

There has been recent research into what makes an efficient hospital that is also beneficial to patients.

In the past the studies were based on what is the matter with you? It always focused on the health of the patient and what was wrong with them.

It was concerned with what was the best way that the hospital and medical professionals could fix things.

New research is asking a different question. It asks what matters to you? The results are interesting because what matters to the patient is quite different from the concerns of the health administrators. They had been concerned with efficiency, timing, medical health and routines.

Some patients told the simple things that matter to them like having the staff knock before entering the room, having the staff greet them with a smile and it was important that the medical procedures were explained clearly to them.

I thought this research was relevant and helpful.

Have you heard people ask what is the matter with you in a frustrating and slightly angry way?

I have and before I can answer they may say "What have you got to complain about? You are so lucky. You should be grateful you aren't really sick."

What if someone asked you what matters to you?

Sometimes it may not be the question but the fact that someone has actually asked you.

The answer may be as simple as a hug or, it may be you just want to have your mood/illness acknowledged.

What matters to you right now might not matter to you tomorrow. I found it important that someone is asking and someone is ready to listen.

What do you think?

Would it help you if the question changed from what is the matter with you to what matters to you?

A Moodscope member

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Thursday, 15 December 2016

Hypomania - my strategy.

It's not easy for the people around me when I'm depressed, but it's not impossible for them to recognise it or to understand that it's an illness, that I can't help it, and that I don't mean to be that way.

I think it's harder for them to see the hypomania side as an illness. I seem so happy, so carefree, so selfish. I put my need to run around enjoying myself above everyone and everything else. I interrupt a heartfelt story to prattle on about utter nonsense. I ignore my family's wish for me spend time with them because I would rather be dancing. I crave adventure. I need excitement.

And that's the thing about it. It's a need. I don't just want to be off enjoying myself; I can't stop myself. I can see what it's doing to my family and friends but I just can't not, however hard I try. Somewhere in my head, I know that I am going to regret it, I know that I don't want to hurt those I love, but it's like watching a car crash. I can see what's going to happen but I have no power to stop it. And that's hard for those on the outside to understand.

Let's face it, it's hard for me to understand and I'm the one doing it. So, I get scared when I get high. Scared that this time I'm going to finally go too far and lose everyone. That when I come down, I'll have nothing left: no friends, no family, no money, no job, nothing. I still can't stop though.

That's why I've come up with a new strategy. First, I talk about it when I'm stable, trying to explain how it is for me. Then, when I start to ascend, I allow myself to enjoy it. I try to eat and sleep when I can, but I ride it out cheerfully. I make a promise that any big decisions have to be run by at least two close friends and their opinion is final. And then, I stop fighting it. So far, it's working out.

A Moodscope member.

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Wednesday, 14 December 2016

It was Paul Young in 1978 who sang about toast. This was long before he laid his hat anywhere or lived in the love of the common people. I don't know if he has ever suffered with depression, but he certainly knows about the value of comfort food.

We all know about healthy eating, don't we? We know we should eat lots of green vegetables, low fat protein, nuts, seeds and fruit. We know about limiting our sugar intake and that our carbohydrates should be slow releasing; oats and potatoes, not white bread and pasta.

But oh, when we are down, when our energy levels are low, toast is so simple, so easy. The scent of it entices. That crunchy outside and warm chewy centre, that unctuous drip of butter and sweet embrace of strawberry jam envelops our taste buds and makes everything better; even if only for moment.

My own particular favourite is a toasted bagel, spread with crunchy peanut butter and thick cut oxford marmalade. It's something I rarely eat when I am well.

I don't know about you, but when I am down, my taste buds actively reject all the food that is supposed to be good for me. Even reading how a diet rich in Omega 3 oils and leafy green vegetables is good for depression cannot overturn the slow stomach roll that accompanies the thought of mackerel and spinach.  Swapping that image for pan fried salmon with pak choi, or crispy grilled sardines on a bed of balsamic roasted Mediterranean vegetables, doesn't help: I only want toast.

Or rice pudding, if someone else makes it for me.

It has to be sweet and bland and easy to eat. It has to be comfort food.

Books too, have to be comfort books; books I have read so often I almost know every word.

And people. Please don't make me meet anyone new! Please don't let me have to deal with the difficult people I already know. During this time my husband, son and eldest daughter are primed to shield me from difficult family members.

And yes, there is a price to pay. During this time of depression, I put on weight. Because I do not have enough energy to swim or walk further than 100 metres, my fitness levels decline. Relationships suffer for lack of attention. Inevitably, my business income plummets.

There is hope. The darkness is beginning to grey around the edges. Dawn is coming. I know from past episodes that this suffocating oppression will lift as suddenly as it descends. Once more my mouth will water at the thought of stuffed seabass and trout, crisp from the pan. I will desire the whole orange, not just the marmalade and toasted bagels will once more be a Sunday morning treat instead of a staple food.

Health, and all that means, will return. It can't come soon enough.

A Moodscope member.

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Tuesday, 13 December 2016

A rite of bloggage.

I'm delighted to see more and more people submitting a blog. I think if we connect with even one phrase then it has the power to change our hour, if not our day. To read that another is experiencing your fear, your disappointment, your worry, your sorrow, your pride, your aims, your joy or your achievement, can be pivotal. But what happens to us when we write? When we share deep feelings that we may not even be able to say aloud.

For me, writing is like a little therapy session or a meditation. It organises the thoughts as we must drill into our feelings in order to lay them out. That process can turn situations around. Anger wilts. Worry soothes. Smiles are nailed to the board! As you fumble around searching for how you might describe what you wish to say you can sometimes solve your own problem.

If you submit a blog to Moodscope, it can be a trembly moment when you realise it's out there for the first time. (I might have made up the word trembly. I have decided I can do that as I have no English teacher beside me right now and I have decided to be proud!) You wonder will anyone find it useful? Will anyone comment? Will someone disagree to such a point that you will be hounded from the land? And then, someone comments. Someone says thank you. Someone says they understand. Someone says it helped. Someone says they don't agree, but its ok. It's really ok.

And you realise the world keeps turning. Only now you have a little extra tool in your toolbox. You can write your words as a way of healing yourself and perhaps others too. Even if you only begin with yourself as the writer and the reader, it can be powerful medicine in seeing yourself differently. It can begin a beginning. I began my beginning two years ago and I can honestly say it has made a world of difference in my life. Have you tried it?

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member

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Monday, 12 December 2016

"A vision that you cannot see is not a vision!"

I don't know about you, but I forget stuff.

That's why I'm so committed to teaching memory skills. Firstly, I know they work (when applied habitually), and, secondly, I'm in constant need of developing them.

Working memory is like physical health - your brain needs to be constantly exercised and s-t-r-e--t---c----h----------e----------------d!

A core part of my approach to memory skills is the concept of "out of sight, out of mind!" The point is that in order to keep having insights, we need to remind our minds of the importance of what we want to focus upon:

"In sight, in mind!"

In fact, the word 'Remind' is an interesting one, isn't it?

This is potently pertinent when it comes to designing, building and then living in your vision. As soon as you lose sight of it, you've lost the vision. Your subconscious needs continuous reminders of what you value. So, keep it in sight, in mind on a daily basis.

And by this, I mean physically in sight, in mind.

Never has it been easier for you to carry the vision with you.

The ancient practices of Judaism understood the importance of this daily moment-by-moment engagement in the vision of one's purpose and values. Specifically, one practice that is continued today is the wearing of phylacteries. These are often little leather boxes, worn about the body, containing Scriptures written on vellum.

Well now you and I have our iPhone or Samsung Galaxy (those are the only two options, surely?!) And a thousand apps to remind us of what we believe is important. I've just started using "Habit Bull" for nudges, and Evernote for keeping and expanding my vision notes.

Let's look at Proverbs chapter 29 verse 18... the first bit:

"Where there is no vision, the people perish"

Could it be true that you and I could actually 'perish' if we have no vision?

The idea is one of lacking direction, lacking guidelines, lacking impetus.

Doesn't sound like much fun. I'd rather have a compelling vision that gets me leaping out of bed in the morning with passion and purpose, wouldn't you?

Humans need a vision - otherwise they'll settle for any old life... and that's rarely a recipe for happiness, is it?

So build your vision!
Paint your vision!
Capture your vision!
Publish your vision!
And above all things,
Look at your vision on a daily basis.

A Moodscope member.

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Sunday, 11 December 2016

Happiness is a choice.

'Happiness is a choice'. I read that recently. 'If you have a roof over your head and food on your table you are richer than you think'.

I have those things. I have my own car; my own home; a beautiful, loving, affectionate cat to keep me company; some close friends and family members I can depend upon; my health (mainly); a decent job; I'm financially independent. I could go on listing things I have that confirm I am RICH! Rich, beyond my wildest dreams!

I've also spent the last week in a blur of panic attacks, tears, anxiety, and depression.

Am I a spoilt, needy, diva-esque individual who's never happy with her lot? Are my expectations so high that no matter what I have or who I'm with, it's never enough? I can answer that without a moment's hesitation. No.

I'm the kind of person whose heart lifts as she feels the sun on her skin; who feels every breath of wind; admires the loop-de-loops of leaves as they're whisked from the trees. I marvel at the world around me; I appreciate so much. We are engulfed in a myriad of incredible creations that I genuinely do acknowledge every day.

So why aren't I happy? Why isn't unwavering contentment coursing through my veins? Why aren't these things enough?

'Happiness is a choice'. Why can't I choose to be happy? I choose what to wear, what to eat. I choose all kinds of things. Why can't I choose something that will significantly improve my quality of life?

It's not that simple, that's why. Not if the teeth of depression have sunk themselves into you, like dogs dragging you down as you try to escape a gloomy alleyway over a chain link fence. There are a couple on the other side too, so you can't even use one last burst of energy to throw yourself over the top and escape.  Nope. You're going nowhere. The good things in your life? They're waaaay over there. You can see them, smell them, hear them, but they're out of reach.

I have two options. I can give in, let the dogs pull me to the ground and maul me to death. Or I can teeter as near to the top of that fence as I can get, hold on for dear life, and wait. Wait for the dogs to get bored and wander off to torment something else so I can haul myself over and collapse on the other side.

If only it took minutes like in the films. I could be up there for hours, days, weeks, maybe months? All I have faith in is time. Time will pass, whether I am here or not. I force myself to hang on, wait it out, refuse to give up. Eventually, the dogs will tire. The depression will loosen its grip. The chemicals in my brain will level out.

That's why I can't simply 'choose' happiness. If I could choose the right balance of chemicals in my brain, I would do it in a heartbeat. But I can't. All I can choose is ways to cope until the dogs leave me alone.

A Moodscope member.

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Saturday, 10 December 2016

Kicking the Leaves.

My children were messing about in the playground. Too old to go on the slides but young enough to race to the top of the climbing frame.

My friend and I watched and chatted. She kicked the leaves as I clutched my coffee.

I was trying to explain how I felt. The sadness. The disappointment. The anxiety. The despair.

She knows me well. She knew what was going on from the moment we all hugged at the train station.

She knows my fake smile. My fake 'life is a pile of poo but sure I'm grand' throw-away-remarks.

Very few people see through my mask.

But she does. She knows.

She looked at me and stumbled over her words.

I knew what she was going to say. What she was trying to say. I couldn't leave her alone in this.

'You're wondering if I should see a doctor?' I asked her.

The relief flooded her face. She thanked me for saying it first. She had no idea how I would react. But I wasn't upset. I wasn't insulted. She was absolutely right - I am not well at the moment and I need some help. If my stomach/arm/leg/head was sick I would not hesitate to make an appointment.

So, why am I so reluctant to see a doctor about my depression?

Even typing that word feels strange  - I call it my sadness. I don't use the D word.

But my friend knew I was very low. Does that mean others will sense it too? Does that mean my acting skills are not as proficient as they were? Don't tell me my MeryI Streep impression is slipping! Is it because my friend knows me well and loves me or is it because I am actually worse than I thought I was?

The last time I went to the doctor about my mental health, she asked me how I was and I sobbed. I told her what was happening - 'My marriage is over and I am moving house with my children, my ex is full of anger and hate and I am trying to make my way in a stressful career while I'm pretending to the world that I'm okay' (or words to that effect).

She said she would be more surprised if I wasn't depressed and put me on a low-dose anti-depressant. I came off those tablets exactly six months later. I don't know if they helped. Would I have coped anyway? I think I would. It might have been a very different six months but I would have muddled through. Somehow.

I go to a fabulous therapist and I like to think that is enough for me. Therapy, my kids, my friends, chocolate, music, books and any form of water (preferably the warm sea kind but I'll take freezing sea, chlorine pool, lavender bath or imperial leather shower!)

But this time, I might need more than those. I might. I haven't made the appointment yet. If I have to, I will. I accept that acceptance is vital.

Salt Water Mum
A Moodscope member.

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Friday, 9 December 2016

Who stole 2016?

I am sure someone knows. Is it the person who is always so organised that have bought their Christmas present by July? It is the person who makes a list at the start of the year and achieves it by May??

It started well, I watched the fireworks on TV and thought 2016 would be my year - it would be the year I would achieve things and make changes.

I made a list that was achievable.

Then something happened I woke up one day and it was December. So I ask again who stole 2016?

I now have only a few weeks to achieve all my tasks, and to make matters worse I lost the list some time ago.

I have never understood time. How come when you are waiting for someone a minute seems to last for ever but when someone is waiting for you while you do something the time goes so fast.

However, losing a whole year or having it taken from me, seems so ridiculous but what else can it be?

How can it be December yet I have not finished one item on my list - or what I remember was on my list.  My mum told me that as one gets older time goes faster because for a 5 years old a year is a 1/5 of their life but for a 50 year old it is 1/50, so seems faster.

Is that it, 2016 just flew by so quickly I could not grab on to it.

So tell me do you know who stole 2016?

Was it you?

Please let me know your ideas.

How do I stop someone stealing 2017??

A Moodscope member.

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Thursday, 8 December 2016

Does Counselling do it for you?

Counselling figures in many blogs and posts. In many cases, for severe depression in particular, they are vital. People have personal trainers/shoppers. These are usually expensive, but it's a huge industry. I have seen cases of extreme manipulation, and often the 'patient', or 'client' needs to 'cut the cord' despite the risk, or when they become too dependent.

I was sent to an allergy clinic (in fact I had a lifetime's intolerance to dairy products). The woman practised at the most expensive London hospital – she became a 'guru'. A year later she was exposed in a Panorama type programme as a completely untrained charlatan.

We went to Marriage Guidance (now relate) at a particularly difficult time. The service was excellent – what we learned was that we were foundering on: failure to take time off as we built up a business, bitter disagreements on discipline of our daughters (they left home in a huff anyway) and perennial money worries. How many marriages fall at these hurdles?

When I was classified 'manic depressive' I was sent to an excellent psychotherapist, also a priest. One of my problems had been a hyper-critical mother-in-law who bullied me for 25 years. I never said a word to my husband. This therapist said 'what do you want to do to her?' He then put a pouffee in the middle of the room and I bunged all the cushions at it. End of treatment!

At that time I also went to an excellent psychiatrist. He did not tread softly, but said 'You are not marriage material'. Who is? None of my ideas could have come to fruition, married or not, as a woman could NOT make it at that era (late 1960's I think). I had no qualifications either.

At Samaritans we were forbidden to 'counsel' we were untrained. We would give information – on Shelter, places for battered wives, and otherwise just listen. Latest cynicism, an awful aggressive woman came up wanting to sell our house – terrible manner – she does psychotherapy 'on line'. Can anyone do this with no training?

How do you merit counselling?

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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Wednesday, 7 December 2016

More on Drugs.

When I was nine I stole a penny gobstopper. It was acid green and about as big as the circle you make when you touch the tip of your thumb to the tip of your index finger. I sucked on that gobstopper and enjoyed it – right down to the crunchy aniseed bit in the middle. But even though I had stolen that gobstopper, there was still a price to pay.

I discovered something in the week that followed. I discovered that I cannot steal. I suffered the agonising and writhing pangs of remorse and guilt.

The following Saturday I chose another penny gobstopper, duly paying over my shiny penny. Then I dropped it back in the sweetie box while my little sister was picking her selection. I thought that would make it right, but it didn't. I remember that acid green gobstopper still.

I remembered it again last Friday while spending two hours with a consultant psychiatrist.

He asked me about my behaviour during my manic periods. Do I spend money without thinking (yes – but not to the point of irresponsibility), do I indulge in sexual behaviour out of character (yes – I do flirt, but I am not promiscuous), am I tempted to break the law?

Suddenly, I remembered all the times I have had to fight that almost overwhelming impulse to shoplift. Only little things: a magazine, a trinket, a bottle of mid-price perfume. I had never connected the dots before. These impulses occur when I am in my manic phase. I am deeply ashamed of these dark desires and have never given in to them; but only because I remember all too well the lesson of the acid green gobstopper.

The problem is that the periods of mania and subsequent depression are getting more frequent and more extreme. I was talking to the psychiatrist for a reason: we need to find a new treatment before I am arrested for shoplifting, before I do land myself in a situation I cannot control. Before the impulse to end it all swamps me and ends me.

He asked me too about those suicidal impulses. Do they come out of the blue, or when I have been brooding on unhappy things (they come without warning, and I try not to brood.) This was news to my poor husband sitting next to me and providing moral support. I had not told him how bad things get; I had not wanted to worry him – and he doesn't read these blogs.

So the psychiatrist recommended Lamotrigine. He's a sensible and compassionate man and he knows I want to go away and do my own research before making a decision.

The last time I saw a representative from the mental health team, nine years ago, they seemed more interested in ticking boxes than relating to me as an intelligent and responsible human being. They prescribed Sodium Valproate – a drug with many unpleasant side effects. I decided I would rather live with the bipolar.

This time, well – there seem to be very few side effects, and Lamotrigine is apparently effective: it can restore normality.

I think I might give it a try.

A Moodscope member.

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Tuesday, 6 December 2016

P.S. It's just a day.

I can feel Christmas snapping at my ankles and I am wishing to shout a bit. I'm no fan of this time of year for a pile of reasons. Some years the stresses have been unexpected and shocking. This year the stresses are known about and its almost worse. (Near-strangers to stay at Christmas? What is this madness? I'm sick in my head! It's my worst nightmare ALIVE! It's Christmas for crying out loud!! Oh yeah... no room at the inn... the stable... spirit of the season... must remember... breathe.)

So I am just putting it out there now. Who will hold my hand? Who will soothe my brow when I am a whistling kettle?

Mood + Christmas = Scream. Shall we have a blog dedicated to Christmas stress where we can list the problems? No big explanations, just a list, long if you like. It will give the stress a place to be. And from there we can look, survey, sneer, nod, let it all out and therefore and LET IT ALL GO.

My list:

I think I'm borderline OCD so nothing feels 'done' enough.
I have 12 to cater for and four is plenty for my head.
I have two near-strangers coming and I don't want it. At ALL.
I can't stand the excess... of everything. I don't actually like receiving presents!
Routine goes and I need routine to survive.

There. It is said. Breathe out.

Once it's in black and white, it is a starting point of acceptance and letting go. Lists please.

Love from 
The room above the garage.

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Monday, 5 December 2016

Here I Go Again.


Aside from the gratuitous joy of being transported back to 1987 with hair to live for and 'The Ultimate Voice of Rock' - this song has a valuable message. (But not for driving lessons, OK? Please don't drive like that... ever.)

Here I go again, on my own...
Going down the only road I've ever known
...the lonely street of dreams
The Price of Dreams

Many of my spiritual friends get very excited about Dreams... and Unicorns ...and Fairies. Personally, I believe dreams can be very expensive and even painful. I'm sure Dr Martin Luther King Jnr would agree. Gandhi did. David Coverdale agrees too.

Sometimes, you're the only person who keeps believing in your dreams - and then those dreams become a lonely street. But if you don't keep believing in them, who will?

No one can see the World like you can. You are unique. So are your dreams. And that can be both lonely and hard. So, if, like me, you've got to one of those 'Here I Go Again' moments, there is much comfort to be found in this famous poem that follows.

Portia Nelson, "Autobiography in 5 Short Chapters" (copyright, Portia Nelson)

Chapter I

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost... I am hopeless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter II

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in this same place.
But it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter III

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it there.
I still fall in... it's a habit... but,
my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter IV

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter V

I walk down another street.

...Awesome Insight, eh?...

So here I go again - Chapter III - same brick wall (or hole in the sidewalk) I've hit (or fallen into) before. I know I'll survive, and I know I'll get out of it, but it is rather boring, isn't it? When will I learn?

Well, it's my fault - and that's liberating.

This has been a lonely street of dreams, and I'd like to walk around this hole next time, but more than that, maybe, just maybe it's time for you and me to walk down another street. What do you think?

And if that's the case, maybe, just maybe it's time for a new dream and a bit of company on the way this time.

A Moodscope member.

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Sunday, 4 December 2016

The Trees at Oakley.

I have always found trees to be a source of great solace, especially during difficult times when growing up, and I would love to hear other people's experiences of trees. The ones I write about here were a favourite in a nearby village when I moved to the area during adulthood, but I was horrified to discover a few years ago that one of them had been cut down and removed - I heard a while later it was for reasons of safety as it had sadly become diseased. This made me want to write about it and a poem seemed fitting, especially as I have always found poetry to be a way of expressing feelings which I could not convey in any other way.


Very old is the tree, its sinewy trunk stretching up and ever-skywards,
At one with the earth, rising out from the moss-cushioned, violetted soil;
Its roots emerging from the grainy ground as of a monster from the deep.

Flailing limbs toss and sway, dipping down to touch the frowsty floor,
Where claw-like feet peck and pick their way through crusted crunchy nutshells,
Foraging for fruit-bearing sustenance and nestled pools to cool a thirsty throat;
Seeking repose in dim, hushed hollows hewn between the roots.

Creeping ivy, ever-green on lime-green lichen,
Strives to meet with knobbled eyes, bulging out from scarred and pock-marked bark
Rent and straining as its girth grew and expanded.
While, deeper yet, etched sentinel-seer eyes watch wisely, tacitly.
A mottled, contorted and melancholy grin professes silent ire and unexpressed hidden sadness.

Broken branches rub a splintery canker where once festered a weeping open wound,
And stumpy amputations give way to stronger protrusions,
Twisted and melded into one,
Growing thinner and ever finer
As their lace-like fingers weave their latticework against an angry billowing sky;
First rustling, then rushing, as wind through the rafters of a ruined cathedral.

Very old was the tree, its flat cracked stump, cut off at ground level like a forest dweller's table,
The only proof of its neighbouring existence; its majestic gallantry gone for ever
As prevalent, wizened splendour was unpreventive of its own demise.
But hope springs yet, for seeded sproutlings of oak, holly and beech, encircling its bulk,
Flutter their infant leaves as they flitter their unquelled dance, expectantly,
Oblivious of their own fate;
Under the ever watchful guard of girded yews.

A Moodscope member.

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Saturday, 3 December 2016


he first counsellor I spoke with was ok. I was filled with trepidation and yet hopeful that this would finally unravel the complications. Perhaps even grow a way forward of green grass, winking with daisies. It didn't do either. The valuable spark was missing. She was pleasant but we had no chemistry. I made about five visits, cried a lot and left feeling just as confused as ever.

I returned to counselling a few years later. This time, much less hope, just desperation. I paid privately because by then I knew what I didn't want. I didn't want to just talk and be heard. I didn't want to feel the clock ticking (and I mean by counting visits not the minutes within the hour). I didn't want to stay stuck. I wanted a proper working visit. I needed to understand why I was ill. I needed to understand how I might make progress. And I needed someone to tell me it was ok and be level with me about how having hope and making progress are not the same. They need to live together but one alone will not do for very long.

I must confess it was like opening Pandora's box. It got messy. I simply couldn't have done it without a professional. When she had to move on, I didn't feel finished but I did feel I had made huge leaps forward. Over the next few years, I visited the same place on two other occasions and had a mind sweep up. Usually when I felt desperate and usually when I felt that the last resort of medication was appearing on the horizon (I am supportive of medication, but it is entirely personal and it has not been great for me).

My message is that counselling may not work the first time but do not be put off. You may need to try different counsellors. You may need to try many times. But nobody will bring them to you on a plate, you will need to persevere and seek and try. You may need to tell your doctor what you need rather than accept what the budget wants to offer. I did not need CBT, I needed a proper clinical psychologist to step inside and rummage for me. (Rummage. Another great and under used word.)

That one counsellor with whom I made most progress, made a life difference to me. I am still digesting her lessons 8 years on. I use some of it to counsel myself when I am in the middle ground of my ill spells. Counselling is far from an easy option. But it can be extremely valuable and I fear it is falling out of fashion or budget in many circles.

Love from

The room above the garage
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Friday, 2 December 2016

Out of the blue.

It was a beautiful late spring afternoon and we were driving home after buying some great books for my shop. We were smiling and chatting when out of the blue, a gigantic red kangaroo lunged in front of our car.

I am not talking about a cute kangaroo that you see as a soft toy or a clever kangaroo like Skippy (wonders whether moodscopers ever saw Skippy the bush kangaroo on TV!). So this is a Jaws of the kangaroo world with a tail so powerful it could flatten a few humans at once and wreck a car.

My partner had no time to think he just swerved the car and an accident was averted.

My partner had to make a split second decision.

Nothing could have prepared him for this. We just looked at each other and thought about a few what ifs. What if my partner had not been able to move away from the kangaroo, what if the kangaroo had jumped on our car.

In our lives there are times when something happens out of the blue. There is no planning or preparation for some events. There is no time to think. To consider options. One must just act and hope for the best.

When something has happened suddenly out of the blue to you, what did you do? How did you feel afterwards?

The Australian Tourist bureau has asked - well told me to reassure you that most kangaroos are friendly.!! I would still be cautious of the big red kangaroos.

A Moodscope member

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Thursday, 1 December 2016

Have you ever opened up to someone about something painful, only to be told that it was your own fault? That "You should've... or "You shouldn't have..."?

Has anyone told you "That's a self fulfilling prophesy" i.e. You brought it on yourself, or even worse, "You'll draw bad things to you if you think like that."!

One of the things that I love about Moodscope is that people are honest, compassionate and well meaning.  It feels safe, even to disagree.

I've learned so much from others on here that has really helped me.

Often I am moved by or can identify with someone's pain. I'll sometimes offer someone a tip that has helped me. I try to show them that I get how they feel and if I do suggest something that I have personally found helpful, I'll say "Maybe..." or "Perhaps..." so that whether they find the suggestion useful is an option. They have a choice. I run the risk of them feeling patronised, but it seems worth it if there's a chance it might ease or help them to protect themselves from experiencing the same pain again.

Personally, if I tell a trusted person of my pain, I want to hear that they understand how I feel. Maybe they've experienced the same, totally get where I'm coming from and that I'm not alone.

I often want reassurance, or to hear someone say that what that person did was unacceptable.

Not my fault, but their issue!

From a position of feeling safe and supported, I'm more open to other possibilities or points of view.

For me, "helping" is about intent. If the intent is negative, e.g. "To teach you a lesson" or "Being cruel to be kind", that's how I receive it. Negatively.

If the intent is positive and I trust that it's coming from a good heart, not blaming, instructing or directing, but the offering of a kind gift, I will receive it as such. I feel safe enough to consider it with an open mind and not feel threatened by it. Free to choose whether there's something that I can take onboard, incase it provides me with some relief, inspiration or support.

If there is something to add to my toolbox from someone who gets it, I am truly grateful.

For me, being gentle with people's feelings isn't mollycoddling them, it's being respectful.

I also respect that not everyone will agree.

A challenge for me has been to find compassion when my pain has been triggered. Challenging, but possible.

I love this quote that sums it up for me.

"Whenever you have truth, it must be given with love, otherwise the messenger and the message will be rejected".

Wishing peace and harmony to all.

A Moodscope member.

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Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Just to the north of where I live is fen country.

Here the land stretches, further than the eye can see, without mountains, without hills, without even the slightest incline. Here is utter flatness under a vast East Anglian sky.

Today I am travelling north to give a talk to a ladies' charity luncheon. I take the road called Sixteen Mile Bank. Bank, because it travels along the side of one of the large fenland waterways which cut, ruler straight, through the fenland fields; Sixteen Mile – well, I'll let you guess.

This land may be flat, but to me it is beautiful. Today a late November sun is shining from a limpid sky, gilding the bare green rods of willow and flicking lights on the water so it flashes blue and silver and deepest mossy green.

A kestrel hangs unmoving in mid-air, suspended like an illusionist's trick. On the far side of the water a heron, statue-still, is a poem in platinum and steel against the greyed frost of the grass and water reeds. The light picks out a pair of swans, incandescent in their bright white and in the field beside me two horses are being lunged. Their chestnut coats gleam in the sun and their hooves make circular patterns on the ground like an intricate Spirograph.

My soul lifts and I feel joy. I want to share this beauty with someone.

So I'll share it with you.

Last week, there would have been no beauty and no joy. If I had driven this road and observed the sun, the sky, the birds, the water; it would have been an "Oh yes, a kestrel. A heron. Swans. Horses." There would have been no colour and no dancing light.

It is not because I am better that the light and colour have returned, but because of Citalopram (an antidepressant drug). Because of Citalopram I only have to spend a couple of weeks in the utter darkness before I am restored to the point where basic functionality at least is regained, where I actually wish to carry on living.

Before I gave in and accepted that medication might help, I had to cope with the black for months on end. Even then I had to try more than one type of antidepressant before I found one that worked.

And yes – I still have to be careful. After the talk I have to go home and sleep for a couple of hours. The journey home is done on autopilot and I remember nothing about Sixteen Mile Bank except the sensation of my hands gripping tight to the steering wheel, because driving that close to the mesmerising water is dangerous. Every year we lose people to the cold and dark fenland drains.

But at least, this week, I don't want to be among the number of those lost.

I am so very thankful for the drugs.

A Moodscope member.

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Tuesday, 29 November 2016


I have noticed in recent weeks, new names on blogs and also in the comments section. This is pleasing as some have said that although you have been members of Moodscope for many years, this is the first time you have commented (or written a blog).

Moodscope is a place where you can be yourself and not be worried someone is going to criticise you.

We should all feel safe expressing our worries, problems, our dilemmas and telling our life histories or events which have distressed in the past or continue to do so now.

Some blogs set out to help in a gentle way and others help by showing us that we suffer the same things and thoughts and that we are probably more normal than we think since so many people suffer from some sort of mental health issue.

Moodscope has helped me over the years more than anything.

I am not a receptive patient and no therapy or doctor has managed to help me in the way I need. I can't be hypnotised or cognitively behaved and get so tired of being asked the same old questions by therapists so I have all but given up on the mental health professionals.

But reading the blogs and comments from such a caring community who has suffered in different ways but who come across with kindness and warmth have made me feel a hundred times better about myself, and some of the remedies offered have also helped.

So keep the blogs and comments coming in. You never know who you are helping. I try to write every now and again but new names are always a pleasure to see. As well as Lex, Mary, Leah, ratg and our other favourites.

We should all be bottled and sold or given away as a therapy which is guaranteed to work!!

A Moodscope member

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Monday, 28 November 2016


Don't think about an elephant.
Nor a neon-pink giraffe.
Do not think about yawning.
Or stifling a laugh!
So did you?

It's virtually impossible for your conscious mind not to do anything.

It cannot not worry about anything it is worrying about.
It cannot not think about anything it's thinking about.
It cannot not focus on anything you command it not to focus on.
In fact, what you resist persists.
And what persists has consequences... that you may not want.
So we need a better way...

If anything has been burned into my consciousness over the last two weeks it has been:

Focus ONLY on what you want.
That was a quick Pulse, wasn't it?

But the truth just needs to be a simplified as it can be...

You get MORE of what you focus on
So focus ONLY on what you want!

A Moodscope member.

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Sunday, 27 November 2016

Hanging by A Thread.

Today we are publishing the fifth and last of a series of blogs written by Mary. Our thanks to Mary for these astonishingly descriptive blogs. Thank goodness your words don't desert you at this time Mary. The Moodscope Team

I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day."

As so often, another poet got there first. This time, Gerard Manley Hopkins. When it comes to depression, it seems to me, he said most of what there is to say.

Like him, I wake in the small hours, hunted and haunted by nameless dread.

It is in these hours the human spirit has least resistance, when the ill and injured are most likely to die, when one's spirit rattles, loose and untethered, in one's mortal shell.

I am clinging to the side of a black basalt cliff, with a fathomless abyss beneath.

(O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall
Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap
May who ne'er hung there.  Yes, Hopkins again.)

I could not tell you what substance this fear has, only that it is all encompassing, that it makes me tremble and shake so I fear my husband will awake from his peaceful sleep beside me.

Beside me, but far away.

I do not know him and cannot love him; this man who shows me nothing but kindness through these times.

The love of my family and friends is a fantasy.

My God is a joke only the gullible believe.

It is in these hours that experience and common sense are worthless. I cannot believe that this will pass. I cannot believe that the darkness will lift and that day will come.

I fear my tenuous grip will give way and that I will fall deep and deeper into the black. I fear the demons of the depths will reach up with their clawed hands and drag me down. I fear being eaten up entirely. There will be nothing left.

What is worse is that sometimes I want to let go. I want to fall. I want to become nothing. That dark emptiness calls me with a siren's voice. Surely to give in and fall would be easier than hanging on. It would be easy, the voice assures. Just a little effort, just a little pain, then peace. Nothing but black. Nothing at all...

So I weave a web of words around me, anchored with pitons of faith without belief. The words are my cradle and rope harness. If only I can find enough words to describe this, then somehow those words will create a safety net. The words will protect me from the monsters.

Words are my comfort blanket. And if I curl up inside them, sucking my thumb, then there is no one to see but I.

I do not even need to pass these words on. Just to weave them is enough. The words sustain and support me.

Enough to keep holding on to dawn.

A Moodscope member.

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Saturday, 26 November 2016

Ghost in the House.

Today we are publishing the fourth blog in a series of five written by Mary:

There's a ghost in my house. It is me.

Oh, I don't quite flit through the passages, trailing grey draperies, clanking chains and making "woo woo" sounds, but I am a ghost all the same.

My children enter the sitting room after school to find me sleeping on the sofa when they expect me to be cooking their tea. If they need a drink in the night they might find me, heavy eyed but sleepless, wandering aimlessly. They pile into the kitchen at top speed to find me staring in blank incomprehension at the stove.

My eldest daughter takes the spatula gently from my hand. "Go and lie down, Mummy," she says. "I'll cook dinner."

"I should - " I begin and she takes my elbow and steers me back to the sofa. "You are ill," she says, in that firm voice that will earn her a good management salary in a few years' time. "You need to rest."

She is right. I know she is right. There are holes in my brain. Sometimes I cannot even remember how to open a tin of soup and heat it on the stove. I – who love to cook! I am not safe in the kitchen.

Maybe this is what Alzheimer's feels like.

I drift from room to room; purposeless and forgetting what I came for. Yesterday I went back into the dining room/library five times to get the same cookery book. I kept forgetting. And the cookery book was to tell me how to cook something I have cooked a hundred times before. But I had forgotten how.

When I catch sight of myself in a mirror it is a surprise, because I feel invisible and without substance. I feel that I am not really here.

I check my diary constantly – and still forget appointments twenty minutes after reminding myself of them.

So far, everyone has been understanding.

Most of the time I feel I have no substance, then abruptly, the focus changes. I am real and the world wavers like a mirage. I cannot rely on anything being material. I am not drunk, but everything shifts in and out of clarity as if I had drunk half a bottle of vodka.

My friend smiles at me and suddenly I can see the skull beneath her skin, beneath her immaculate makeup.

Yes – this is a scary place to be: some ghastly joke of a carnival fun-house ride.

So I cling to routine as if to the rail guiding me through a hall of distorting mirrors.

And the mirrors show a pale and shaking wraith.

It's the only true thing they show.

A Moodscope member.

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Friday, 25 November 2016


Today we are publishing the third blog in a series of five written by Mary:

You think I'm here with you, but I am far, far away.

You think it is me who is with you, but what you think is me is just a shell which looks and acts and talks like me.

Inside that shell, a vast universe. At the far end of the universe a star; a star with tiny planets, each with its own tiny moons.

I am alone on the smallest moon of the furthermost planet orbiting that faraway star.

I send signals and commands to the puppet's arms and hands and lips and feet. Each command takes a million light years to arrive, yet you notice nothing. You and the puppet you think is me do not exist in real time. Or at least, in the time that is real to me.

I can make the puppet move and dance and laugh and speak. The puppet is graceful and witty. The puppet performs immaculately, and you notice nothing. You do not see that I am not she.

And I am scared.

I am scared that one day the messages will not get through. I am scared of a total system breakdown. I am scared that one day the puppet will collapse in an ungainly heap of limbs and blank eyes with me trapped somewhere deep, deep and far inside.

I am scared that one day those messages really will take too long to arrive. I am scared I will crash the car or slice a limb while cutting up the chicken for dinner.

I do not have faith in the robot I have become.

And you may not visit my tiny moon. When you smile at me, that smile must travel a million light years to reach me; stripped of its warmth and meaning by the vast distance between us.

When you hold me in your arms that data is digitally encoded and arrives in binary format. I feel the sensation, but the soul in your embrace is gone.

I am not lost on my moon. I know where I am. But I do not know how to find my way home.

There are no magic red shoes. There is no yellow brick road. There is no wizard of Oz.

There is only space, and emptiness.

An unimaginable infinity of space.

I am at the far end of it all.

A Moodscope member.

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Thursday, 24 November 2016

Comfortably Numb.

Today we are publishing the second blog of a series of five by Mary:

In 1979, Pink Floyd Released their concept album The Wall. I was sixteen.

I remember Tommy Vance, the week it was released, devoted the entirety of his Friday Night Rock show to playing the whole of this double album. I listened, under the bedclothes (I was supposed to be asleep by 10pm) as the story of "Pink" unfolded – losing his father to the war, his bullying at school, his over-protective mother, music career; the drink and drugs and divorce and finally his breakdown and subsequent freedom.

The song Comfortably Numb occurs at the end of side three (vinyl, remember), when Pink descends into what appears to be a catatonic state. A doctor is called and he has to be medicated.

At the time I don't think the song made a huge impression on me; I was probably jolted awake by the visceral Run Like Hell on the final side, but it means so much more now.

Emerging from the mania of the last few weeks I enter a new world.

There is no pain, you are receding
A distant ship smoke on the horizon
You are only coming through in waves
Your lips move but I can't hear what you're saying...
...I have become comfortably numb

Then the doctor, "Just a little pinprick
There'll be no more Aaaaaaaaaah
But you may feel a little sick."

Roger Waters definitely knew what he was talking about when he penned those lyrics.

As my score plummets from the nineties to the twenties, I'm back on the pills and it's almost a relief. I know what I'm doing again. This is familiar territory. I can't feel anything anymore; the world has retreated to a distance and I have disconnected. Again.

No more insects doing the jitterbug under my skin. No more vicious words snarling like wolves at their kill. No more Aaaaaaaaaah!

But at a price.

The world has gone suddenly muted, as if the soft pedal on the piano has been depressed. Colours have faded. My stomach announces hunger but my taste buds want no food.

My husband holds me, but his hugs are a husk, and his kisses are chaff on my lips.

My children are strangers to me.

And the river calls, dark and inviting. "Come away with me. I will give you peace for ever. Dissolve yourself in me and leave nothing but a trail of bubbles. Slip into and under me; we will wash together into the Wash and the Great North Sea. Slide into silence and leave only silence behind."

But I am too tired to go down to the river. I am the survivor of my own earthquake and personal maelstrom and besides, I still dimly remember past promises I made to stay alive.

I will come through this time too. It's just a matter of holding on; doing the next thing and the next thing and the next.

There is no pain; I am comfortably numb.

A Moodscope member.

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Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Change of State.

Today we are publishing the first of a series of 5 blogs written by Mary.

It never fails to surprise me, how physical is this mental condition we have.

I awake, stomach cramping; churning, and barely make it to the bathroom in time.

I huddle over the toilet, retching miserably; a miserable wretch, my last few meals racing through my mind as I try to think what could have disagreed with me so?

Will the rest of the family be affected? What if it is a stomach bug? Will the children need time off school?

I crawl back to bed, head pounding, shivering with cold, and still nauseous.

It is only after three days of constant sickness and headaches that the penny drops: I am coming out of mania and into the depressive part of my cycle. These symptoms are effectively the withdrawal pains.

This is the third time it's happened. The first time the nausea worried me. I hadn't felt that ill since being pregnant with my children. I even took a pregnancy test – just to be sure: a late life baby was not something I wanted to deal with!

Now – well, it gives me time to prepare, to warn people what's coming. I can look at my diary and make sure I have scheduled only one thing a day for the next few weeks.

The next thing is the exhaustion.

I'm not aware of it first thing. I get out of bed and if I wobble on the way to the shower, then that's just because I haven't quite got my body into gear yet. It's only when my legs start to shake halfway through washing my hair that I realise that this is not going to be a good day.

I can make breakfast for the children, but walking them to the bus stop is an impossibility.

The day becomes punctuated with rest stops and naps. They call depression an invisible illness. Not for me. My face is pale and strained and I walk carefully as though drunk. "Go to bed, Mummy/Darling," is repeated like a mantra throughout the house at various points of the day.

"Do I really look that bad?" I ask. But I can see in the mirror that I do. Even photographs show a pale face without life or vitality.

Somehow I will perform the commitments I have scheduled. I know I can deliver a class, a lecture, that I can talk to a hundred people and they will suspect nothing – just so long as the adrenaline is there. When the clients have gone, when I step off stage, I can collapse. I do collapse.

Driving home is always a nightmare.

But you grit your teeth and get on with it, don't you? I love this job so much and want to stay professional.

And it will pass. I know that this will pass. It always has before; it will again.

Just hang on in there.

 Just hang on.




 A Moodscope member.

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