Thursday, 30 June 2016


This reading both comforted and inspired me as a moody teen and its words have shaped my adult life. It was hung in my mum's room beside her dressing table where I would dry my hair and just BE unhappy because it was Sunday. It speaks such great stuff. I thought it might be a good time to refresh those who already know it and show it to those who don't:

"Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.

And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy." Max Ehrmann, 1927

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member

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

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Coming Back from War.

A friend of mine has a best friend, also named Mary. We are each known as "The Other Mary."

This Mary has a son; we'll call him Colin.

When he was eighteen Colin joined the army. He did really well in his training and his mother was so proud of him. He went out to Afghanistan.

In some ways Colin was one of the lucky ones: he came back alive. He came back physically unharmed. But he didn't come back the same.

Colin is quieter now; more withdrawn. He hates loud noises. He was out shopping the other day with Mary when a pallet slipped off a loading truck and fell with a crash. Mary looked round, as anyone might, and saw Colin flat on the ground beside her, his hands over his head. For Colin that loud crash was another bomb.

The family used to love November 5th and the firework displays. Last Bonfire Night Colin stayed at home with the dog. The dog hid under the sofa. Mary says she thinks Colin would have hidden there too, if only he could have fitted his muscled six foot three into that space.

And Colin has nightmares. Nearly every night he has nightmares. A boy of four can run to his mother, climb into bed with her and allow her to sooth the monsters away. A man of twenty-four cannot. And the monsters he fears are not imaginary, but real.

Colin has PTSD. He is, thank goodness, recovering. But he will never be the carefree boy he was, and he can never forget those images that haunt him.

Colin's experience is all too common. The MoD insists that the rate of PTSD, depression and suicide among the serving military and veterans is comparable to that in the general population, but the soldiers who suffer will disagree.

The UK does not keep records as does the US. In the US there are a reported 22 suicides per day among military veterans. Over here all we can say is, that in 2012 (the most recent figures I could find) more serving army personnel and veterans lost their lives to suicide than did in combat. That is a sobering statistic.

Why am I telling you this?

Well, if you have served in our armed forces, you will understand. And you may feel that we, the general public, cannot understand. You know that we Moodscopers experience depression, but it cannot be like yours.

And you are right. Which is why I ask you please, to consider writing for Moodscope. The most valuable service Moodscope provides is a community where you can know you are not alone.

No, you are not alone, but you may need to be the first military voice to speak in order that others may speak too.

Help us widen our reach, so we can serve and help everyone who suffers with depression, whatever the cause, whatever the circumstances.

Thank you.

A Moodscope member.

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

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

On the subject of caring.

Whilst trying to assist a colleague through a rough patch recently, a wailing, despairing type of rough patch, you know the one, I was struck by how helpless I felt, even having been there so many times myself.

It didn't help that I could only respond by phone having received a far-too-bright text with "help me" written clearly between the lines. I had to listen to this lovely person wailing their heart out on the other end of the line, when I wanted to just hug them, listen and hand out the tissues."

And I realised, even as a fellow passenger of the good old roller-coaster that is bi-polar and its siblings, that mere blandishments over the phone seemed so glaringly insufficient.

The colleague was in a place of safety, hiding upstairs, family downstairs, an understanding one at that, but he didn't feel he could impose, as "There's nothing really wrong with me".

I tried to tempt him out remotely, using the following analogies, on the basis that people want to be allowed to try to help, and they can't try to help if you shut yourself away.

Thus, if you find someone lying in the road, you don't attempt heart surgery, but you care, within the limits of your expertise – from getting assistance, keeping them warm, safe and comforted. You are there for them.

A sick child: comfort, warmth, a tentative diagnosis to assess need for intervention, and reassurance go a long way. You are there for them.

A friend suffering a bereavement of someone very dear to them – hopefully most of us haven't had this experience – just listening helps a lot. You are there for them.

A howling, grief-ridden pal, partner or relative arriving in your midst, you don't immediately start psychotherapy, you sling an arm around them and dole out the tissues. You are there for them.

So my message is, I think, that we must allow people to try to help, as I find just being with people, and being allowed to be there but not there, is good therapy.

A Moodscope member.

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

Monday, 27 June 2016

KISS and Make-Up.

This is not going to be about what you may be thinking! Forgiveness and reconciliation are gorgeous achievements in life, but today's message is about you and what goes on between your ears!

As I grow older (and, frankly, way more cynical) I realise that most of the rules we live by are made up. Gravity is real, and represents a law, rule and principle that we do well to respect, but most other things are made up by our culture. Somehow Life has bolted the 'gift' of consciousness onto an existing monkey and lizard brain, and we thus do our best to make sense of it all. But we don't always get it right. Some of our made up rules keep our inner monkey and lizard happy and safe and maybe they need a shake-up.

I would like to stir up the Revolutionary in you today. I believe you are highly likely to have bought into some rules that no longer serve your best interest. For example, I have a 'rule' that I should be at my damn computer by 9 am to work for a client I don't enjoy working for. I write this blog on a Tuesday, which we call "Choose-day" in this house. So today I have chosen to put my writing first in the chance that it just might help someone (other than me – it always helps me!) Today, I have broken the rules.

Of course, I will pay a penalty for breaking the rules – after all, I can't charge the client for time I don't invest, but there is also a reward for breaking the rules – I get to make my art.

Here's the challenge: if most of the rules are made up, make up your own! Rules like the 10 Commandments are very sensible rules – I wouldn't change those – but I would challenge the little rules we make up or accept that tell what we should and ought to be doing with our time. Time freedom is one of the greatest liberties on Earth.

Today, I would ask you to give yourself permission to do something you wouldn't usually allow yourself the luxury of indulging in. Break and old rule and make up a new one. And use the KISS principle – "Keep It Short (and) Simple" because all of us could benefit from having a simpler life with less restrictive rules.

So there you have it: KISS and Make-Up. (Off to put on my mascara.)

A Moodscope member.

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

Sunday, 26 June 2016


I'm not a fan of Neighbours. But I gather Natalie Imbruglia acted in it.

Like many actresses, Ms I. went on to forge a successful singing career. These days, there aren't many songs that grab my ear. But her "That Day" did. It still does. Every time I hear it. That day; this day. Today. Just a "beautiful" portrait of the human condition, in all its ugly and awkward contrariness:

Well, that day, that day
What a mess, what a marvel
I walked into that cloud again
And I lost myself and I'm sad, sad, sad
Small, alone, scared, craving purity
A fragile mind and a gentle spirit
That day, that day
What a marvelous mess
Well this is all that I can do, I'm done to be me
Sad, scared, small, alone, beautiful
It's supposed to be like this; I accept everything
It's supposed to be like this

That day, that day
I lay down beside myself
In this feeling of pain, sadness
Scared, small, climbing, crawling towards the light
And it's all that I see and I'm tired and I'm right
And I'm wrong and it's beautiful

Well, that day, that day
What a mess, what a marvel
We're all the same but no one thinks so
And it's okay and I'm small and I'm divine
And it's beautiful and it's coming and it's already here
And it's absolutely perfect...

We think we're alone. We FEEL alone. We cry, strive, howl, despair... alone. And so do a thousand others. So we're together. Together in our aloneness. Or our loneliness. But together. Sharing that same humanity. Screaming at it. Against it! But shackled by it, constrained by it, held by it, enabled by it, freed by it. Stuck in a body, stuck in one mind; hating it all, hating all others, hating ourself. And then, above the scream, a tiny child's voice: "Love yourself". Love the closest person to you: Love You. The You you hide.

Charity begins at home. Begins within. Goes without. Love Thy Neighbour.

Who is my Neighbour? Turns out it's Natalie. And it's me.

A Moodscope member.

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Saturday, 25 June 2016

My .............. used to say.

Recently my partner suggested that I seem to be quoting things my mother used to say and  I had not realized I was doing this. I think as we are growing up our parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles say things that influence us in some way.

Sometimes a saying that we hear all the time as children we will later find ourselves repeating to our children. A saying might be something that really helps us in hard times or simply brings a smile to our faces.

These sayings don't have to be profound or witty or clever but the fact we remember them when we need them makes them special.

So please share any sayings that people from your past, or people in your life now say. I would love to read them. If there is a background to the sayings or you want to talk about how the saying has affected you that would be good too.

The saying may be very short or long. It may be in a foreign language. It may be something that was said often or just once but had a profound affect.

I will start.

My  mother used to say, "Don't worry about what others are thinking about you as they are too busy worrying about what you are thinking about them". She used to say this if I was nervous before going to a party.

So please share your memory but completing the line

My ............. used to say...

A Moodscope member

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Friday, 24 June 2016

Labour and other Pains.

Pain is a very powerful motivator, physical and mental. When it's extremely bad, you'll do anything to stop it. I have suffered mental anguish, but I've never been actively suicidal. So when I try and imagine what that might be like, I think of the time I was in the worst pain ever in my life, when I was in labour.

With my daughter, because she was induced, the pain was sudden and unendurable, so I had strong drugs to stop the pain. With my son, it was slow and bearable, at least at first. As the waves of pain became more intense, I started to get agitated, even though I'd prepared for it. The pain got to a peak and I thought it was never going to end. It did, but because each one got stronger and the pain increased, I was more terrified as each one came.

I try and imagine what it would be like to experience that rolling peak as a mental pain, as a negative voice that drip-fed fear and loathing, building and falling, infecting so much of my life until I'd do anything to shut it up. Or imagine if it was a sudden unbearable pain as with my daughter, that shrieked through the brain and overwhelmed me.

How long would I have been able to survive if I didn't get the right drugs, medical help or ongoing support? If I'd been alone, the feeling would have been magnified. As it was, I had two midwives, my friend and a husband to help me through it, with doctors on hand if things went pear-shaped.

Being alone in your head with dark, depressive thoughts whizzing round is such a hideous place to be, so I think that the more we find common language to coax these into the light, could help on a personal and societal level.

For carers, it can frankly be terrifying when someone you know and love says they feel suicidal or does something extreme like hold a knife to their throat, because that's the only way they know to express their pain. However, looking at it objectively, it is actually a positive thing that the person is confiding in you. The more we can talk about it, the less frightening it is and I think the easier it is to find strategies to deal with it – or am I being completely naïve?

It would be great to get your feedback on this. I don't expect or want people to feel they have to share stuff here; it's an open forum and the last thing I want to do is make Moodscopers feel vulnerable. Perhaps this blog can be the start of a conversation with those whom you feel safe: family, friend, carer or medic, although of course if you want to comment here, that's fine too.

Lastly, remember that awesome things can come out of extreme pain. In labour, after my friend told me to shut up and breathe, I learnt how to surf the waves of pain and eventually my son was born. Meanwhile, in terms of mental pain, look at how Jon Cousins gave birth to Moodscope. Isn't this seven-year old doing well?

A View From the Far Side
A Moodscope member.

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

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Nappies on!

I saw a brilliantly simple and powerful poster today. I am sharing its description with you in the hope that its simplicity and power will stick with you too.

It was a photograph of a baby learning to toddle. Picture a baby trying to stand, photographed from behind wearing a nappy. Beside it were the words:

"Never once did he think 'I just don't think this walking thing is for me'..."

It doesn't matter how you recover, just keep at it.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Respect Yourself.

Yeah, right!

We hear that a lot, don't we? Respect yourself.

I don't know about you, but I find that difficult. I look at all the talents and gifts I have been given, and then I look at what I've done with them. I tell you, it's difficult not to just crawl away and hide under a rock sometimes.

I think it was Groucho Marx who said, "I don't care to belong to any club that will have me as a member." I know how he feels.

I've been given so much, and I have used it so little.

I haven't worked for a year, and even when I am well enough to run my business it makes very little money. Prolonged ill health has meant my poor husband has had to do the job of both mother and father this past year. It is he who does all the taxi work, he does most of the cleaning, he organises the children and attends school meetings. He juggles the finances so we don't actually starve. My novel writing is going much more slowly than I had hoped and there are many other talents I am just not actively pursuing at all.

So I find it difficult to respect myself. In fact, I am ashamed.

And yes – I know that is not the view held by most of my friends (and I hold you Moodscopers as my friends).

The problem with holding someone's hand all night so they don't jump off the roof (literally or metaphorically) is that you cannot measure that in the same way you can money. Making people smile is not hard currency. It's valuable; immensely valuable, but it can't be tabulated into a neat statement of profit and loss. Writing for you every week is a good thing and I suppose I feel moderately proud of that, but then again, you make it so easy...

So no – I don't respect myself.

But having self-respect now, that's something different. Having self-respect means holding myself accountable to certain standards. It means choosing to tell the truth, even if that truth paints me in a bad light. It means making every effort to get up, shower and dress each morning, even when everything in me wants so badly to just stay in bed. It means facing unpleasant facts and taking appropriate action, even if action is the last thing I want to take.

Self-respect means turning up in your inbox every Wednesday morning. It means honouring my commitments to my friends, attending appointments on time, cooking meals for my family.

It means doing what I can when I can.

And accepting that I can't possibly do everything I could possibly do.

If I can't respect myself, at least I can be kind to myself.

And respect myself for that, at least.

A Moodscope member.

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

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

The Power of Language.

A couple of years ago my son was deeply stuck in the mire, triggered by his then wife kicking him out of the family home. He was rejected and cut off from his three small children. Without sufficient funds to home himself as well as providing maintenance for his kids he had no choice but to move back in with us, his parents.

He was heart broken and devastated. His world had crumbled around him and he saw no reason for living.

Somehow he managed to keep going to work each day and, initially, I would greet him on his daily return with the standard "How was your day?" enquiry. Not surprisingly my enquiries were met with "awful" or something similar, depending on just how ghastly he felt that day.

After a few days I understood my mistake. I was attempting to reach out to him from a place of safety, from a place of 'normality'. There were no such things for my son at that time and my silly question was serving no purpose other than to remind him of the awful mire that he was stuck in.

At that time I read something about the power of language and how critical the way we phrase things can be, and it made me completely rethink my innocent question. So the following day, as he returned from work, I greeted him with "So, what was the least awful thing that happened to you today?". He stopped in utter surprise and looked at me...

"Umm... the Least awful?"
"Yes" I replied "The Least awful"
"Oh... well, I suppose I did manage to finish that job my boss has been plaguing me about for the last 2 weeks, I guess that's something"
"Yes" I said "That's definitely something, it might even be better than just something"
and there was a hint of a smile.

After that it became a habit. Gradually he was looking for the positives in his day without even realising. You see he wouldn't allow himself to be positive at that time. In his eyes there couldn't possibly be anything to be positive about. But this 'least awful' thing was something he could see as possible.

And the 'least awfuls' slowly grew. He would even sometimes smile as I asked the question, almost as if he could see some humour in my distorted question.

Then one day we had: "Well that pretty girl was there at lunch again today and she smiled at me - she's got a great smile" and then I knew we were safe.

He had at last found the courage to really notice the world around him, to look past the mire, to see other people and even to enjoy their presence a little.  Without really realising it he had found that the mire wasn't so totally dark after all... not quite a silver lining, but just not so very very dark.

I wanted to share this story because I wondered whether, if someone here is stuck in the mire, they could find something today, however small, that they could call the 'least awful' thing for their day today, because those 'least awful's can grow, and then the dark can gradually become less dark... I've seen it.

A Moodscope member.

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

Monday, 20 June 2016

The Proactive Mower.

Why did I do it? My purpose was clear: to mow the lawns. My motive was pure: to please Penelope (and this was no chore, I love mowing the lawns.) Furthermore, I was willing, ready and able.

Yet for some hidden reason, I attached the back lawn with its smug daisies with enthusiasm but no pattern. I just went for it! Normally, I add a pattern and sequence to my mowing.

After a while, I remembered why I mow the lawns with a pattern and sequence. I began asking myself the question, "Have I mowed that part?" My inner critic answered each time, "Well, can't you tell? If you can't tell, you haven't mown the grass very well, have you?"

Truth be told, I could tell most of the time but I couldn't be sure. I concluded that to mow the lawn without a pattern and procedure was wasteful. It could be done more efficiently and enjoyably without confusion, and, without the counsel of my inner critic!

Fortunately, I had the front to do next and the neighbour's front. These two lawns were approached with a pattern to my purpose! It was far more satisfying, and my inner critic went off somewhere else to poke about in the archives of my mind so see if it could bring up other examples of my stupidity to encourage better planning in future. I think it got lost because I was at peace the whole time I mowed with purpose and a pattern to follow.

So what's my point? Whether or not we each sense some noble purpose in life, we all live a life filled with purposes great and small. The purpose may be to get through the day, or even one hour at a time when life is hard, or it may be to feed the hungry of your county, your country or even your continent. One difference that makes a huge difference is to impose on or find a pattern to your purpose.

Every purpose needs a structure and a procedure – a pattern of what makes sense to do first, and what next. The lawn is a good one because if you mow in relatively straight lines, you not only have a sensible procedure but also have pretty reliable feedback on the success you're having in achieving your purpose. You get a sense of progress.

I'm not sure what you're facing this week, but I'm sure it could be stated as a purpose.  Given this purpose, what pattern could you create to move you steadily towards your purpose? For many of us, rhythms and rituals work – we get up at set times, we get ready in a set sequence, we do things in an established order. This reduces stress because we know what we plan to do next and we can focus, therefore, on one thing at a time. But there's a bigger message here – how could you lay a pattern over your bigger plans and purposes so that you can mow that larger metaphorical lawn of life one methodical strip at a time?

A Moodscope member

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

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Who knows best?

A friend's husband died several years ago. She is not feeling any different now than she was when he died. She has trouble listening to the news, driving, eating and going to places she used to go with her husband. A few months ago when I found out she was going to the cemetery every month as well as birthdays and anniversaries, I commented that it may be too often.

She looked at me with disbelief, "I don't go once a month I go once a day."

I was speechless. I felt she was undermining herself and would find it hard cope with her daily life. Then I thought who was I to give advice to tell her how to behave. I am not a grief counsellor, yet I felt I knew what was best for her. I wanted to help her but why was I sure my way was the right way. Is there a proper way to grieve?

I also know what it is like to receive advice from a friend who feels they know best and how uncomfortable it made me feel.

I was once in a relationship with a man that none of my friends and family liked. It was a chaotic relationship that I would probably leave one day. One friend in particular would ask every time we met "Have you left him yet?" She would also comment and advise me why I should leave him every time we spoke.

One day I told my friend that while I appreciated her concern, it was my decision and her continual comments stressed me. She had to accept I was doing what I could cope with in my own time.

I eventually did leave my partner but all the 'helpful advice" I was given I saw as negativity and possibly stubbornly stayed longer in the relationship than I should have. I know my friend was convinced she was right but the timing was not right and her continual negative comments put so much pressure on me.

It is hard when we see a friend or loved one making what we consider is a bad decision or not doing anything, that we feel we must impart our knowledge to them. At times this maybe appropriate but at other times it may be harmful.

Why do we sometimes feel we know what is best for someone? Are we confusing our opinions with facts? Sometimes people are so focused on being right and knowing what is best for another person, they lose sight of what the other person needs.

Is there a right way to approach a problem? Or should we be more flexible in our approaches and recognise that there maybe more than way to help someone.

A Moodscope member

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

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Finding Ways to Heal Yourself.

So this is a poem I wrote in my early twenties, a long time ago, when mobile phones were like bricks and only rich men in Land Rovers had them.

It's generally stayed in my computer, shared with a few people over the years. Some didn't know how to respond, because it's pretty out there in terms of feelings. But I think you're ready for it. In fact, I think of all the people I could share it with, you lot (or some of you anyway) will get it.

And just so we're clear, I'm proud of this poem, I think it's a great poem (Now, now, let's not carried away, Self-Ed). It's the point where I started to find ways to heal myself after a very difficult time in my teens; and is something I've come back to at points in my life, different lines resonating according to what was going on at the time.

Getting things out on the page can be so useful, can't it? Just one of the ways as I've seen here that we separate out and make sense of our different selves.

Glass Walls of Illusion.


I see you and speak
We laugh and we talk
but I'm numb.
I see all the colours
Can touch and be touched
but I'm numb.
The winter of cold.
The desert of soul.
I am numb.
Belief in Him gone.
Belief in what? None
I am numb

I am numb
I am dumb
I am done

You have all the answers.
She has all the answers.
They have all the answers
But me? I am dumb
Either that or I'm numb

And you at your centre
Have love the placenta
And me at my centre
Have hole the conjecture
And outside that space
Are iced walls of face
I am numb.

The passion is buried
The feelings are gone
The greyness is come
I am done


Of course you're not done
You hear beats from the drum
The heart is deep, covered
In layers of scum
But you are not numb
And nor are you dumb

It's 'me' that is smothered
by Voices uncovered
Through deep, searching questions of
who is and why was
and when was and what is
But 'I' am not numb

While 'me' is there sobbing
The 'I' is deep, throbbing
A bright, golden glowing
Of sure certain knowing
That life in the cosmos
is bigger and better than
'I' and 'me' or 'thou' and 'thee'
Life is not numb, it's fun

And it's hope & jokes & love & cheers
that keep us going through the years
So keep that in mind
when you're numb

Yes sometimes you feel numb
But you are not numb
The glass is illusion
The 'me' is confusion
And you are not done
You've begun.

A View From The Far Side
A Moodscope member.

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

Friday, 17 June 2016


Mary's blog on 'Foul weather friends' and the man who 'just listened' when she was going through a terrible time set a train of thought on 'togetherness', to me, a situation when people 'coalesce' with no need for scoring off each other, waiting to get your word in without listening to the other person, and never, never bearing a grudge.

It can be a life-long marriage, but not necessarily – because marriage is made of many parts, and some of the happiest marriages I know are so because each party has personal interests, they come together and act as a team at glorious and disastrous moments, and survive.

I've been observing lots of couples of our age (over 80's) recently – and in houses I pass the TV is always on – are they living in companionable silence (real togetherness) or the only way they can stand each other?

Is it empathy? With human or animal. There has been a lot of reference to the importance of animals as an aid to depression – lots of cats sodden with tears – ours is most understanding. To me, perfection in 'togetherness' is the equine discipline of dressage – man and animal in perfect and beautiful accord.

We have Australian friends (we know that health, distance and money means we will never meet again) who knew, instinctively, when one wanted 'peace' whether it was for a nap, read a book, gaze at the view.

The art of not talking is a difficult one to acquire – I am terribly guilty. In the last year, we have had plenty of dramas. Our sons who were there at the time knew 'togetherness', just 'being there' reducing stress if they could, but making sure that I could deal with doctors, ambulances, paper work while the guests/family sat quietly, and re-assuring Mr G.

How do you define a relationship which 'works'?

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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Thursday, 16 June 2016

Laugh, love and Live.

I recently spent some time with a friend and her baby and I actually wished I was a child again... to be carefree, not have the stresses or responsibilities of being an adult!

Have you ever noticed how a child is always laughing and happy? If children get into a fight it usually lasts no longer than a few moments yet when adults get into a fight they hold grudges for greater periods of time, sometimes destroying a friendship of many years over nothing!

I went to a talk recently and the speaker talked of finding our inner child and starting to live life to the fullest. One thing that the speaker spoke about was "Laugh, Love and Live! Laugh so your sides and cheeks hurt, love with all your heart and Live life as though it was your last day!" We must remember people will not remember us for the amount of money we made, how many houses we have, the exotic places we visit or the cars we drive, they will remember the laughs we had together, the love we shared and the adventures we lived through!

So the next time you take a walk in the park, take your shoes off and let the grass tickle your feet. The next time your child asks you to play with them, put down your phone or put away the laptop, disconnect from technology and become a child again. Next time your spouse suggests going to dinner and a movie, become a teenager again going out on that special "first date"!

We need to get our priorities right in life... as the saying goes "All work and no play makes us dull!"

With love

The Wildchild
A Moodscope member.

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Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Foul Weather Friends.

We've all heard of fair weather friends: those friends who prove, in bad times, that they are no true friends at all. They are the ones with all the sticking power of a wet Post It note, the ones who disappear so fast you don't even see their dust.

But there are other friends who appear sometimes out of the blue, just when those blue skies turn inky black. They appear clad in oilskins, prepared to weather through the storm with you. Occasionally they might carry umbrellas and blankets, but more often than not, they provide only a comforting arm to lean on, an absorbent shoulder to cry on and the steady reassurance that you are not alone.

Dave was one such friend. Thirty years ago when I was going through my (very painful) divorce, he was there for me. Oh, I knew him casually as he'd been a member of the larger Dungeons and Dragons gaming group to which we belonged. He always played a cleric as it was against his principles to use an edged blade; although the damage he could wield with that staff was considerable; never underestimate a cleric, folks!

But the moment my ex and I parted, the moment I moved out on my own, there he was, at the end of the phone, night after night, deep into those nights, listening to me as I wept.

Just listening mostly, and not saying much. These foul weather friends are really good at listening.

And then disappearing when you don't need them anymore. The moment I was ready to stand on my own two feet, to set out to explore the next chapter of my life, Dave, with gentleness and delicate tact, just disappeared.

I have not seen him since, but have heard from mutual friends that he made a habit of supporting people in distress, people who needed him and then leaving when they didn't need him further. Something like Nanny McPhee, do you remember?

"When you need me but do not want me I must stay. When you want me but no longer need me then I have to go."

I'm thinking of Dave just at the moment as it is my turn to provide the shoulder for a friend, to listen deep into the night, to metaphorically hold their hand and to assure them they are not alone. It is an honour and a privilege and I appreciate deeply the trust shown to me.

Every blog we post here on Moodscope is designed to perform that same function. Moodscope, by its nature, is a foul weather friend.

No – we can't do much listening here, on the front of the page; but if you go to the comments then you will find a space there. Feel free to pour your heart out. You can do it anonymously and be assured of a safe space with no judgement and plenty of support.

We have hankies and hugs. You are not alone.

A Moodscope member.

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

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Ridicule or educate.

Over the years people have said things to me that at best can be seen as silly and  upsetting at worst.

As soon as someone knows you have an illness mental or physical everyone becomes an instant expert and advice and helpful comments follow!!

How often when people say something ridiculous have I wanted to say something sarcastic back or even witty but used to just smile and say thanks for your concern.

One day I decided instead of feeling uncomfortable or upset I could use this as a time to educate in a low key way without making the person feel awkward.

A customer said to me that she was having a 'bipolar moment" because she was buying 2 books and looking to buy more!

I have put in brackets what I wanted to say but didn't!

(What I wanted to say was, no if you were having a bipolar moment you would have stripped off, be dancing on the table, bought everything in my shop and be flirting with everyone.)

I explained to the customer that I knew she was joking and yes bipolar can be about spending too much but it is much more than a moment and there is a very low side. I did not want to overwhelm her or make her feel uncomfortable. She seemed to listen.

There are times when people's comments can upset us and we do not have the energy to reply. If I feel well I do try to educate or just offer another perspective.

I have a friend in her late 70's whose younger brother had depression and was staying with her for a break who asked me;

"Why is he ok one day and the next he stays in his room all day. I don't know what I have done wrong."

I explained that some days can be better than others. I reassured her that it was not anything she was doing that was causing his depression and equally nothing she could do would suddenly make him better.

My friend listened and read some information. She still found her brother's behaviour difficult to cope with, but she did not take it personally and gave him space to rest and improve.

When someone makes an unhelpful comment, gives unwanted advice or asks a silly question about your mental health, how do you respond?

Do you ignore, get angry, educate or respond differently depending on who makes the comment and the mood you are in.

If it is appropriate I would try to educate and see how it goes.

A Moodscope member

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Monday, 13 June 2016

"The Way You See Your Life Shapes Your Life."

So begins Day 5 of Rick Warren's influential book, "The Purpose Driven Life – What on Earth am I here for?"

I'd like to flip that and ask, "What shape do you see yourself as?" And to keep this simple, let me offer you as many choices as you have digits on one hand!

Do you see yourself most like a box? Or are you more like a triangle? Do you resemble a circle? Or would you prefer to see yourself as a squiggle (like an uncoiled spring)? Not sure? How about a rectangle?

Pause before you proceed and place those five shapes in order of preference. You have the capacity to be all of these but not the preference, so put them in a list from your favourite to your least favourite. {And, yes, I know some of you have done this before – there's a new twist coming!}

Dr Susan Dellinger calls this shape-system PsychoGeometrics™ - and she assigns different communication styles to each shape. For today, though, let's see them as windows through which we see our lives.

The box or the square window is a window that enjoys detail and analysis of life. It likes to see the boxes ticked. It's about process and procedure.

The triangle (or arched window if you ever saw the UK's show, "Play School") likes results – literally to get to the point (or the top). It's about production.

The circle or round window is all about the people. It's about harmony and balance in relationships.

The squiggle doesn't have a frame, so it's more interested in creating more possibilities.

And the dear rectangle is never quite sure what shape it's in so it is about procrastination, discovery and change.

It takes all shapes to make the world – specifically your world. You were never meant to do this alone. You cannot be all shapes all the time. So don't try to.

Do you fancy changing the shape you're in?

'Cos you know you can choose the shape you're in, don't you?

One shape at a time.

You could choose, today, another frame through which to see the world.

And once you've settled on the shape that suits you, seek out the other shapes so you may build a better world together. We need one another.

Who is best at seeing your world through the square window? Spend time with them, learn from them, imitate them when you need to. Who can see most effectively through the arched window? Who do you know who is wonderful as seeing through the round window? And who is always seeing possibilities? Build your house with all these windows in it and you will see a more amazing world than you ever imagined!

A Moodscope member.

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Sunday, 12 June 2016

Perfect ten.

I'm on a diet. I need to lose weight. My weight has been a problem to me over the years. But I don't ever see myself as a fat girl, I only see me as I was. Always skinny as a youngster. Sometimes it's the clothes that nip and crease or just won't do up, sometimes it's the photos that tell me - god, you're fat! And it's always a shock! How did that happen? Someone snuck in during the night and pumped me full of fat!!! Or did I eat from a plate that said EAT ME and drink from a bottle that said DRINK ME!

I wish I hadn't! Why did I? Was I seeking comfort? Eating from boredom or just because it was there? I know tonight I ate far too much. I put together a wonderful selection of chilli foods - chilli beef and beans, re-fried beans, nachos, cheese, sour cream, guacamole... and then I had to eat it! Just me. Wasn't trying to impress anyone but me. I knew how it should be done and I did it. Knew I was on a diet. But I ate it. I am furious with myself. Tomorrow I will have to work twice as hard at the gym.

I could give up, but I won't! It's important to me, to my self esteem. I want to look as good as I can and so I will go the extra mile. I will get my weight back under control.

Why? This might be very shallow, but when people tell me I look good - I feel good. When my clothes hang right (no extra bumps and curves) I feel people looking at me and not appraising me badly but WELL! It makes me feel better about myself.

Is it shallow of people to judge me this way (yes of course it is and I know this is only peripheral - but at least they look!) or is it more shallow of me to be affected by it? Probably! However I bet most of us have body issues? I never knew anyone who was totally happy with what they were given, or trained and acquired. Look around - not many perfect tens (or male equivalents)! However with a plan and sticking to the plan perhaps we could all be perfect tens!!

So what is my message - apart from avoid the chilli and all the trimmings! It is really about taking control of what is important to you. Only you/me can do this for ourselves! And it's about self respect. Set your values and stick with them. If body image is an issue/value for you, as it is for me, then it has to be worth working at and sacrificing for.

I let myself down today but I am not going to beat myself up about it anymore. Tomorrow I shall diet again and exercise some more and take control back into my hands and out of the hands of that little demon who was serving my dinner tonight. She's sacked!

I have faced up to my foolish excesses, forgiven myself, but each and every day is a new opportunity for a new start. Tomorrow can be a wonderful new today.

What will you do with your new day today or tomorrow?

A Moodscope Member

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Saturday, 11 June 2016

Stop, Look and Listen!

I remember, as a child, being on a school trip and hearing that we don't look up enough.  It stuck with me from that moment on and every single day I find myself looking up. It's true, when you look up there is a whole different world going on that many people miss.

Often there are amazing pieces of a building that go wholly unnoticed until you lift your eyes. As a teenager, there was a particular café my mum and I would go to... it overlooked a gallery and from there we had the surprising view of statues that were built on the gallery roof. Nobody would ever see them unless they happened to be above the gallery roof level.

I believe changing perspective is a huge healer in our horrible illness. It's powerful and it can be very hard to chase. Sometimes I catch it and sometimes not. Sometimes I catch its tail ends and then lose them again. But it is important to keep chasing it. Sometimes a holiday is the only proper time we get to change our perspective but even physically going up a hill and looking down over the village, town or city can be enough to reshape our thinking.

Another way to change perspective is to listen. Really listen. Name each noise you can hear. We never use our ears enough and yet we have two! If you are incredibly lucky, you may also hear something your body is trying to tell you.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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Friday, 10 June 2016

The Wisdom of Cats.

What do I worry about? Lady Penelope has two cats – brother and sister from the same litter. They are the laziest creatures I've ever met. They contribute nothing. They cost her a fortune in vet's bills. And she loves them.

When she awakes, they appear. They purr and talk and she feeds and pets them. When she sits down, they appear. They pile up on her lap – sometimes on top of one another – they purr and she pets them.

When they are even remotely hungry, they appear in the kitchen and look expectant. She feeds them – and sometimes they just turn their noses up. But she feeds them again, day after day, without fail. In fact, she's never failed them.

To me, it's a very one-sided relationship, but it works for Lady Penelope... and the cats!

Surely you and I are smarter than cats? Or at least as clever?

We work, we're conscientious, we're responsible.
We don't get to laze around all day, and lie across someone's lap and get stroked.
And yet, Lady Penelope's cats seem to have made a better choice.
We can make all manner of excuses for them, but I think they are just smarter.
In fact, I think they have faith in her.

Is it time for you and I to learn from the wisdom of cats?

The flowers of the field are dressed most splendidly at this time of the year in the UK – at no cost – it's just natural. They don't labour or spin or weave. They just 'are'.

The birds of the air find their fill of food but don't work for it. They certainly say, "Thank you!" every morning though, with the most glorious songs. Yes, they've known privation in Winter but now it's Summer. It's time for abundance.

And the cats just turn up with positive expectation and get a result every time.

What if you and I were to have a positive expectation of a Universe that expresses abundance at this time of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere)? Do you think something wonderful could turn up today if we looked for it and purred in delight?

What could we have faith in today?

I'd love to know.

A Moodscope member.

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Thursday, 9 June 2016

Once upon a time.

I have never been gifted at picking a title for a blog, a poem, or even a shop. Some people seem to have a knack of choosing captivating witty tiles but not me. I state the obvious. What I wanted convey was how I find the stories people tell in their comments to the blog so fascinating, so full of honesty and so raw I start to cry.

I wanted a title that would acknowledge the great depth of experience and wisdom of Moodscopers by encouraging everyone from those who rarely write to those who write daily to share their voices.

The titles I rejected were:

Listen to your voice.

Let your voice be heard.

Tell me a story.

Telling tales,


You get the idea that I have no skill at this!!

I wanted a title that would inspire everyone reading this to tell a story.

I find I can learn so much and connect with others through their stories. I know some people don't feel they have much to offer in a comment or are not up to writing at all. A response does not have to be long. One word, a simple phrase can contain much emotion.

I want to hear your story anything you wish to share. I find the diversity in experiences and lifestyles that appear in comments refreshing.

Not everyone feels confident in writing for many reasons but this a very safe place to start. I am Queen of typos, have been known to post a reply 3 times and to call people the wrong name or misspell their name. So no one judges. There are no grammar police here just friendly people who love to read your words.

So if you have never commented before or you comment a little, daily, or somewhere in between have a go.

Start with Once upon a time and write a few words, a phrase or two, a sentence or a paragraph.

It can be sad, or happy, angry, calm, or any emotion you like.

Just type Once upon a time and see what happens.

I look forward to reading your stories.

A Moodscope member

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Wednesday, 8 June 2016

From Russia With Love.

If you want to be happy for a week, says the old adage, buy a car. If you want to be happy for a year, then take a wife. If you want to be happy for the rest of your life, plant a garden.

I would never claim to be a gardener. My forte is weeding. I can weed with the best of them, and I have discovered an almost fool proof way of discovering if some unknown bit of foliage is a valued plant or a weed: you simply give it a gentle tug. If it comes up with little or no resistance, then it was a plant. Oops!

But I do love my garden and just at the moment it is glorious. The irises are mostly over, but the peonies are hanging on, the lilac is swamping the whole place with its heady scent and competing with the honeysuckle draped over the wall from next door. The borders are burgeoning with red hot pokers, alliums, foxgloves, snapdragons and the roses are now in full bloom.

I know of no more pleasurable sensation than to bury one's face in the velvety fragrance of a deep red rose, after of course, first checking to ensure no bee has had the same idea!

We tend to think of roses as being quintessentially English, or at least European, and we are familiar with their long history and literary significance, right from the middle ages. There is a story called "Roman de la Rose" written in 1260 by Guillaume de Lorris; a tale about a young man's search for love, using the Rosa Gallica as an allegorical subject of his love. But there are records showing that roses were grown in Egypt as far back as 1300BC.

And roses are hardy. They take the heat and they will stand the cold. They will grow in sub-tropical conditions and in sub-arctic climates too.

They seem to bring people together.

My friend Raz is planting a memorial garden and we were discussing the roses he should plant high up on a windy mountain side. Now I have friends who grow roses in the Philippines and in Arizona, and they have opinions. Raz brought an Italian friend into the discussion (Google Translate is a wonderful thing for non-polyglots like me). Then a contribution from Kamchatka showed up. I didn't even know where Kamchatka is; it's a peninsula on the far east side of Russia, north of the Okhotsk Sea. It is covered in snow for six months of the year and even in summer temperatures reach only 16°C, but yet here too are roses. The warmth of fellowship travelled over with the photographs of people's flowers.

Whether it is the semi tundra of Russia, the deserts of Arizona, an Italian mountainside or my Cambridgeshire walled garden, roses and friendship grow equally well.

The rose question settled, we're now onto violets.

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Both smell sweet
And bring happiness too.

Or something like that.

A Moodscope member

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Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Remote Control.

How annoying is it when we can't find something?

It's so hard to feel settled and relaxed if something that I need isn't in it's usual place.

I sometimes think it'd be great to have a remote control to help me find what I'm searching for.

The thing is, it's the remote control that tends to go walkabout!

For smartphone users it probably won't be long before we can simply ask "Hey Siri where are my keys?" (other smartphones are available!) Then a little GPS would locate them (using a very clever photo and finger print matching system of course;) and ping! Problem solved!

My phone goes missing less these days, because if it had hips we'd be joined. Wait, scrap that idea, unless it would be able to help with clothes, paper and everyone else's belongings in the house including socks forget it! I refuse to allow an object to replace my memory, as well as my organisational skills! It may look like chaos, but I usually know exactly which pile it's in!

The time factor usually makes things worse for me. It's when I'm in a hurry that losing something is most frustrating. When I finally accept that I've hunted everywhere, traced and retraced my steps and asked everyone (only to be helpfully be reminded to retrace my steps... and breathe!) I give up, knowing that it will turn up in the oddest place, long after I've shouldered the cost and inconvenience of replacing the thing.

I wonder if it's the feeling of not being in control of something that normally is in my control, that bothers me so much? I've heard people say that they are super organised so as to feel in control.

Not feeling in control of my emotions has been something I've struggled with. I'm not hard on myself about it anymore though, I simply am a person who feels very deeply, so being in control of my feelings has been harder work for me. Being in control of and able to express strong emotions seems to be a bit easier without the pressure of trying to fight them.

We can't be in control of others, but how fabulous would it be to turn down the volume or switch to another channel sometimes!

Joking aside, taking control of my wellbeing has been an enormous relief. I struggled too long trying to be content, because I felt I ought not to want or rely on anything or anyone external. (I don't mean for help though, please bring on the help!).

I know that the same is not true for everyone, but I definitely feel more comfortable for now and that I can get on with life's ups and downs without that deep down gut feeling that things are not right for me.

Is there something that is within your control to find, but something else that is holding you back?

LillyPet xx
A Moodscope member.

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Monday, 6 June 2016

One More Night Among The Frogs.

I remember a wonderful insight from the preacher, Kenneth Copeland. He pointed out the strange response of Pharaoh to Moses in the midst of the plague of frogs. In the account, Egypt is covered with frogs. They are everywhere – especially in the homes of the Egyptians. Open the washing basket and guess what? Yup, your smalls and frogs! Open the airing cupboard, and guess what? Yup, your linen and frogs!! Open the larder, and guess what?  More frogs than food!!!

Moses said he would give Pharoah the choice of when he would like the plague to end, and Pharaoh said, "Tomorrow!" (Exodus 8:9-10).

Kenneth said this was the equivalent of Pharaoh electing to spend one more night amongst the frogs.

Give me one more night in this horrible condition – I'll have it changed... tomorrow.

My point is simple – I'm the same as Pharaoh. You might be similar too.

I wait for a birthday, or even a big birthday with an 0. I wait for the New Year or the change of seasons. I wait for a new month or week or day until I commit to change for the better.

Give me one more night among the frogs that afflict me, that hold me back, that pull me down.

Pharaoh could just as easily have said, "Doh, Moses! Now let me see... HOW ABOUT NOW!!!???!!!"

No one said you or I had to wait until tomorrow for our lives to improve.

No one said there we had to spend another second in our current situation.

The time is ripe.

The time in now.

And, like Pharaoh, we've been given the honour of deciding when life is going to change for the better.

Let's choose a better life... now.

A Moodscope member.

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Sunday, 5 June 2016

Ebb and Flow.

My love and commitment
Ebbs and flows like the sea
And on really bad days,
When life takes on a turbulent quality
I feel tossed and buffeted about.
On such days I could be caustic.

Wind blown like grass on the moors
Or petals on a delicate flower
Or scorched by the sun
Where there is no easily available shelter;
I find myself wilting.
I want to escape, to find a hiding place.

Usually it is because someone
Has made a withering comment to me;
It has permeated my whole being
Causing me to shrivel within.
The words seemed to scorch and damage
My inner self.

May other people's comments be more
Like mist to me
Appearing briefly and then vanishing entirely.
Give me more persevering endurance
Like a farmer patiently waiting for rain
So that his crops can grow and flourish
Building up an ever-growing resilience
To any negativity.

May my words be always sensitive
Caring, nurturing
Like an ever-flowing Spring
Sparkling with fresh, sweet water
That can only refresh and reinvigorate.

A Moodscope member.

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Saturday, 4 June 2016

I like food...

I am a little passionate about nutrition. I wasn't always but I changed. I cook a lot and I enjoy it (not washing the dishes, never the dishes!). However, cooking is a challenge for me when I am low. I have no desire, no patience and little taste, food becomes bland.

Today I am giving you a recipe. Maybe you'll try it. It's packed with goodness, takes just a little effort, and gives you a hot, comforting meal, for any time of day, which might just help nourish your body and mind a little.

For one serving you'll need:
4 medium or large tomatoes
2 eggs
1 or 2 cloves of garlic

Also a little oven dish, some oil and salt and pepper, and a bit of foil.

1.     Cut the tomatoes into quarters and put in the dish
2.     Crush and add the garlic, pour a little oil over and stir everything
3.     Put in the oven for about 20 minutes (about 180 or gas 6)
4.     Go and look out a window and consider the smell of cooking
5.     Make a space in the middle of the tomatoes and crack each egg into the space
6.     Cover with foil and give it another 10 minutes (longer if you like eggs to be set)
7.     Remove from oven (and the foil) and sprinkle with some salt and pepper
8.     Eat straight from the dish if you want to save on washing up
9.     Bread is optional, as are chives over the top
10.   Be proud that you have taken care of yourself.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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Friday, 3 June 2016

Would I lie to myself?

One of my favourite UK panel shows (they are the best) is Would I lie to you. Panelists read from a card which is either a lie or the truth. The other team must decided if it is true or a lie. Even when I am having a bad day, I can watch an episode and smile for half an hour.

It has made me think about lies and why we believe them. I do not tell lies, ok I am sometimes creative with the truth but only to improve a story!! I should rephrase that:

I do not tell lies to others but I have told and still do tell lies to myself.

Some are just small ones, such as telling myself I really do need to eat another slice of Camembert or I need to buy another handbag.

Alas the big lies I have told myself have affected my life in different ways.

One that I had told myself for many years was if only I had not had bipolar I could have been (just insert any amazing career from academic, to journalist, to multi-media personality, to comedian to humanitarian work and a many more). This lie blamed all my attempts and struggles with my studies and holding down a job on my bipolar. Sure bipolar did not make life easy but who knows what I would have done if I had not had a diagnosis.

I used to tell myself the reason my marriage and subsequent relationship did not work was that I kept picking the wrong men. This lie was comforting as I could take no responsibility in the breakdown of my relationships, after all I had chosen the wrong partner. Even to me this lie was a bit shaky after all I made the choices willingly and maybe just maybe my behaviour over the years may have contributed to the relationships ending.

Maybe my most dangerous lie was to believe that if I loved someone enough, cared enough, worked hard enough, I could change their behaviour.

I tried so hard, I loved so much, I changed myself and nearly risked my mental and physical health, before I realised love was not enough to change my partner's behaviour.

So do you lie to yourself? Or did you in the past? What was the biggest lie you told yourself.

A Moodscope member

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Thursday, 2 June 2016

Finding Happiness.

At the end of my last blog was the following Thought for the Day.

"Every day is a new day, and you'll never be able to find happiness if you don't move on." Carrie Underwood

While I can see that it might seem to fit with the theme of moving on from a grief ambush, its sentiment is not one I agree with. Well it's true that every day is a new day, unless perhaps you live in a black hole in space, but the way I understood it was that Carrie is suggesting there's a mythical golden state of happiness that we can all attain, if only we can let go of the past.

We all have 'stuff' going on in our lives, mental and physical, some of it extreme and I think that happiness is available wherever we are, including in the middle of our not-moving-on-ness. Of course it fluctuates all the time, its appearance as cyclical as other emotions sparked by illness (mental and physical), grief and the relationships we have with those around us.

Sometimes it's easy to see, imbuing us with its rays from inside or outside, other times not recognised until after the moment has passed and we look back. For many, it may well feel like it's gone forever as we go through a tunnel, but at the back of the knees, or wherever it lives, I think happiness is always present, ready to pop out, even if only fleetingly.

Moments in my life where it's appeared recently have been when playing football with my son and his younger friend, who spent the whole time giggling infectiously as he scampered round my lumbering figure; swimming outside in the rain and seeing some ducks landing on the blue waters of the municipal pool; watching an episode of Graham Norton as my daughter fell asleep on me, and having a good-natured banter with colleagues at work. Flickers of happiness that boost me through the days.

Achieving something out of the ordinary can make you happy too. I once mended a tap that had been switched off for months because it leaked. It involved me ordering a ceramic disk thingy online and watching how to do it on YouTube. I'm grinning inside now when I think that I, Ms D.I.Y. Disaster, did something that my male friends had said needed a professional.

So to summarise (counsel), I'd argue that happiness, or the memory of happiness, is there inside all of us in our static state and connectable at any instant; and that one facet of my ongoing recovery is seeking that connection as often as possible when the mind starts to tumble down.

A View From the Far Side
A Moodscope member.

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Wednesday, 1 June 2016

The Patronus Charm – A Practical Guide.

High Summer. Hot sun on my back and the warm air full of childish shrieks and parents' chatter. We mill around in a kaleidoscope of bright colours then file out along the high rails. The taste of raspberry sorbet lingers on my tongue; the smell of sun cream battles with the enclosure's dust and dung.

Close up they are bigger. Far, far bigger. Every wrinkle in their skin is clear, I feel the breeze as they move the air with their ears. The scent of them, musk and wildness, overwhelms. My outstretched hand holds banana, skin and all, resting on my palm. A great grey anaconda gracefully unfurls, and two fingers grasp the fruit with delicate precision. A dribble of wetness, a tickle of whiskers; a snort. I feel and smell his breath as he furls up that trunk again and neatly pops the morsel into that cavernous mouth.

A moment only and the elephant moves to the next hand and the next treat.

That is an example of an anchor memory.

An anchor memory is a weapon you can use against negative thoughts that run like vampire squirrels on acid through your mind, driving you crazy with feelings of worthlessness, despair, guilt and shame. It is our version of Harry Potter's Patronus Charm.

In the Harry Potter books, the Patronus charm acts as a shield between you and the Dementors (forces of dark depression and despair). In real life it acts a little differently but to the same effect.

"Concentrate on a single very happy memory," says Professor Lupin, in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. "Allow it to fill you up; lose yourself in it – then speak the incantation."

We don't need an incantation (although some therapists recommend that you come up with your own dismissal phrase for these unhelpful thoughts), but we do need to grasp our anchor memory - it helps to have lots to choose from - and allow it to fill us up utterly, so negative recollections and feelings are swamped by it and forced (at least temporarily) out.

Go back to my memory of feeding the elephant for a moment. Can you see how every sense is involved? That's the trick. You need to have scent, taste, sound and sensation involved in this memory: it needs to be all encompassing, so it surrounds you totally and you are protected on all sides. More than this, it should be a magical moment; a moment that glitters and sparkles for you.

When we mine our past for happy memories, we tend to think of significant occasions: the birth of our children, a family celebration. But actually, memories that are most useful here are those perfect moments when we lost ourselves utterly.

So go back, find some memories and immerse all your senses in them. I promise you that even the darkest life contains enough magic for this. Then practise. Like every spell, this takes practise.

A Moodscope member.

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