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.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/drugs-drugs-glorious-drugs-with-apologies-to-flanders-and-swann

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Blogs.

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!!

Jul 
A Moodscope member

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/blogs

Monday, 28 November 2016

Don't.

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!

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/dont

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.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/hanging-by-a-thread

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.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/ghost-in-the-house

Friday, 25 November 2016

Marionette.

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.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/marionette

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.

Mary 
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/comfortably-numb

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.

 Just.

 Hang.

 On.

 Mary
 A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/change-of-state

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

It's a beautiful world.

I have been using Moodscope since 2010 and have found it very useful and it has helped me a lot. I think the simple act of just commenting on the day and why you have a good/bad/indifferent score clarifies and puts a little bit of perspective on situations.

In 2010 when I was 65, my husband of 33 years walked out unexpectedly and that sent me into a deep decline and depression. It was so hard to face the prospect of being single at that age and the loss of a partner, family unit, a lifestyle, his family and certain friends. It would have been easier to be widowed and Lord knows I wished that upon him at the time!!!

I tried all sorts of therapies and have adapted over the last six years of being alone. He recently married the younger woman which I must say was hard to stomach but I've survived.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in June and have just finished radiotherapy and consider myself lucky. It was caught early. I have good relations with my ex's family, my family and my friends have been wonderful support and generally I am ok. Life is tough but I'm getting there...thank you Moodscope...just taking time out to put my thoughts and feelings down helps a lot.

My thoughts to everyone feeling so sad and depressed is that over time, pain lessens and its a beautiful world so look after yourself, cherish life and the friends and families that you do have.

Best wishes

Lyn
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/its-a-beautiful-world

Monday, 21 November 2016

There's a submarine in my consciousness.

Have you ever felt you've been living in the wrong world?

Have you ever felt like a stranger in a strange land, or even a fish out of water?

Well there's a great reason for that! You are!

You've got an Atomic Sub sailing through your consciousness, but beneath the level of awareness. This is why I prefer the description 'subconscious' to 'unconscious' - though I see the value in both.

This Atomic Sub - literally comprising of atoms clustered into molecules that are chemical messengers influencing your behaviour - this Atomic Sub, called your 'Subconscious Mind' is packing a payload, and it's not you with the finger on the trigger.

Have you ever 'over-reacted'? Have you ever felt emotionally overwhelmed without knowing why? Now you know who it is - it is the Captain of the Sub 'Conscious'!

Fear not. Whilst you may not technically be in control. The Captain and Crew of the Sub 'Conscious' still need to come up for air. And they are available for missions - to the highest payer, of course. Yes, they are mercenaries.

Their favourite currency is the gold of 'Attention'.

You can programme your Sub 'Conscious' by giving it Air Time. You can also listen to its signals when it is working in the unseen, and you can listen to it directly using many of the techniques championed in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP).

But hear this. Your Sub 'Conscious' and its crew will have unresolved issues. These will never go away. They need to be heard and dealt with. I'm a huge fan of books - I think you can breakthrough with a book, but not in this area. This is something you need to deal with physically, interactively, energetically.

Tad James has helped thousands resolve disputes between their above surface conscious mind and their below surface subconscious. The most impactful practitioner I have witnessed and experienced is Luke Hawkins, an Australian NLP Coach with the most energetic approach I have seen since Tony Robbins.

The bottom line - or the bottom of the Ocean of Consciousness - is this:

If you are not getting exactly what you want - the issue is not outside of yourself, it's 'below' yourself... down there in the Sub 'Conscious'
You need alignment of mission, intent and purpose
A Bigger, Better World

So, you see (though not always), you are in the wrong world. Because, in fact, the oceans of unconsciousness that the Sub 'Conscious' sails in are far deeper, wider, broader than the tiny bit of the Conscious Realm you think you inhabit. Your time and my time would be far better spent making peace with our subconscious and then working in alignment for our common good.

Hey, what was that?

Up periscope!

Lex 
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/theres-a-submarine-in-my-consciousness

Sunday, 20 November 2016

But you look alright...

Isn't it fun experiencing a mental health difficulty? (Not.)

I'm bipolar, whatever that means, so I know what it feels like and I suspect you all do too.

I experience the low moods - in my case a lot of the time despite Moodscope/medications/psychotherapy/whatever else you want to try, and it's not a lot of fun...

I also experience episodes of elevated mood which at times CAN seem like fun but in reality aren't.

I know the statistics on the prognosis of people with a label of bipolar. I know for example that the suicide rate is higher than in the general population and that's really comforting to know (sorry about the sarcasm) and I know that the life expectancy is lower than in the general population, also a great fact to live with!

I know that all ill health conditions are challenging and often can have life changing consequences but I do feel mental health difficulties can be particularly challenging - I'm biased of course.

Part of the problem with dealing with the consequences of it all is other peoples' perceptions of mental health difficulties, after all, we usually "look alright".

This was brought home to me recently when my very supportive wife was sharing her perception with me that she felt I wasn't pulling my weight in the gardening department of our domestic division of labour issue. She was probably right, but I hate gardening and usually find any excuse to get out of it. Anyway the point is that she said that if I'd had had a stroke she would understand better. Hmmm, I had to think about that for a while. Anyway, I concluded that I didn't want to have a stroke to get out of my share of the gardening so I found some motivation from somewhere and have done a little... aren't leaves a pain at this time of year?

I'm lucky, I still have a wife and family. I'm vaguely aware of the statistics about the prevalence of singledom in people who experience mental health difficulties, but I don't want to think about that at the moment.

Hope you all can keep safe, one way or another.

Chris
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/n-a-20

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Food for Thought Doctor.

At the age of 31 some 25 years ago I had a minor breakdown and had to refrain from working for at least 3 months. Until recently I would not accept that time and why it happened.

I was diagnosed with ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) which comes under Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome. May have been in my system for a while, especially after a severe chill of the kidneys where I nearly didn't make it, this was a something that had remained in my body for a while and came to the forefront when my work became more stressful which I couldn't handle at the time. Yes I broke down and stopped working.

Living with this issue for many years has been dark at times and I despair when I have to rest just because my legs and body say enough today. What makes this worse is that I am known for my high energy and positive attitude to life so when I get hit with fatigue, I drop badly and no one really knows except those close to me.

However I have taken action over the last year and talked to an excellent Doctor at my surgery who studied ME and decided I should have a full health check including analysing everything I do including the food I eat. Through all this they discovered two ulcers and a hiatus hernia and prescribed medicines to combat this, typical additional problem at my age but didn't worry me. The Ulcers have now since healed and I manage the hernia in line with the food I am allowed. They couldn't find anything else to describe the fatigue in the legs.

However, as my diet changed considerably to help the hernia there has been a remarkable difference in my energy levels. It seems my aches and pains seem to be less and my legs do not suffer like before. In fact I have taken up squash again and loving this each week. I have begun to play lawn bowls again which is a more gentle sport but one I love and reasonably good at.

As I write this I feel happy to realise that for the first time in ages I am managing my fatigue and although my legs are feeling weak today I had the strength and energy to overcome the feeling and decided to walk to the shops and have a nice cup of tea with my step daughter.
 
Even better, my mood from eating more healthily has allowed me to get life in order and do the things I appreciate and love. My children are everything and am feeling younger than my age. I accept my body may have some challenges at times but with a positive mental attitude and a healthy diet, my life has just got better.

Maybe we all need that one person who believes in what we tell them such as my Doctor. I thank her for the rest of my life.

Frank from the Quayside
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/food-for-thought-doctor

Friday, 18 November 2016

Who am I?

There is a trend now in self-help books, creative books and workshops and seminars to find one's authentic self, one's real self, one's true self.

I have struggled to work out who I am let alone try to find my authentic self, I can't even work out what my self is.

I admire people who from an early age seem to have the instinct and confidence to know exactly who they are.

Being labelled as bipolar at 16 did not help me work out what sort of person I was but truthfully before that I was confused.

When my moods became more stable I was never sure if I was the talkative extrovert, the talkative introvert, or the quiet girl who sat in the corner reading a book.

Now I wonder if I am a compassionate person who sometimes is impatient and sarcastic. Or am I an impatient sarcastic person who is sometimes compassionate?

This quest to find one's voice is especially important I have read for creative writing. My problem is I have never had one to lose so how can I find it.

Why is there sudden emphasis on finding one's authentic self. My parents managed to live a long life without ever reading a book about finding one's real self. I am sure that these books and article really help people live a more fulfilled life.

However for people like me who have trouble trying work out who they are, all this emphasis on searching for the real self, puts even more pressure on us.

Can I live a full life without ever finding my accurate self or finding my voice?

Have you found your authentic self? Is it an important quest for you?

Leah 
A Moodscope member

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/who-am-i-1

Thursday, 17 November 2016

A tribute to Leonard Cohen who sadly died last week...

Suddenly the night has grown colder,
It is not a trick, my senses play their part.
You fall among the voices departed from us,
As I slip between, the sentries of my heart.

Suddenly the day has grown colder,
I truly wish this moment was imagined.
I was not prepared for this to happen,
Exquisite music, even darker - orphaned.

Suddenly the week has grown colder,
You slept with me on sheets of satin.
Uphold now, the simplicities of pleasure,
First you took Manhattan, then you took Berlin.

Suddenly the month has grown colder,
The God of lyrics, now departed us.
He ached in places, he would evoke,
Conus, corpus, coitus, crisis.

Suddenly the year has grown colder,
A fitful dream, now slipped away.
As someone not prepared for this occasion,
I will not seek to now deceitfully pray.

Suddenly the decade has grown colder,
What strategy takes me, to this abyss?
I fall among your voice and deeper tones,
Listening will never ever, be remiss.

Suddenly the century has grown colder,
It’s not a trick your senses all deceiving.
And you who had the honour of our love,
Therein, foreclosed, herein, above.

Suddenly my life has grown colder,
In full command of every plan I wrecked.
I say goodbye to Leonard leaving,
I say goodbye to Mr Cohen lost.

Les
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/the-deific

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Thank You Ola!

Do you know what it's like to have a thousand crickets under your skin; all dancing a tarantella and climbing over each other to get out through your dermis?

Do you know what it's like to have a whirlpool in your stomach; roiling and churning, greedy to grasp all ships passing and suck them down to a watery grave?

Do you know what it's like to feel that Edvard Munch's The Scream was painted after a visit to the inside your head?

Well, I guess you do. You're reading this in Moodscope, after all.

Yes – welcome to my world; or maybe to your world too.

So, how do you deal with it?

Last Wednesday I had two health appointments, back to back. One was with a psychiatric nurse; a charming gentleman with whom I had an intelligent conversation about ancient choral music, and a counsellor.

The nurse mainly wanted to establish what was going on with me. Yup – those three statements above. Good for his notes and maybe my future treatment, but not exactly helpful right now.

The counsellor wanted to work through some strategies.

So we worked out some things I could do to manage myself and feel better. I may still need the drugs; we're clear on that, but these activities help.

Gentle exercise. You know I swim – I've blogged about it. I try to swim every morning. About half a mile in thirty minutes or so. I don't push it – it's important the exercise is gentle and meditative. If I start the attempt to swim further in the same time, or to beat the person swimming next to me, then the adrenaline starts pumping again. Walking is good too; watching the changes of the seasons; smelling the air, breathing deep.

Words. Oh my darlings – you can have no idea how much it helps me, being able to write honestly into this non-judgemental and understanding place. I write other words too, but this blog is literally a life-saver for me: it gives me purpose and, even on my darkest days, prevents despair.

Art. I would never claim to be a great artist, but I love my painting, my zentangling, and my card making. I love the precision and detail in creating a small piece of art intended to give joy to the person who receives it.

Music. When well enough, I love singing in a choir. When I am not well - well, I love listening to choral music. My constant accompaniment these days is the contemporary Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo. He writes about the beauty of his native country and his mesmeric compositions bring me peace. I am so grateful to him and the choirs which have recoreded his work.

Your therapeutic activities may be different. The important thing is to recognise them as treatment and not to feel guilty or self-indulgent when taking the time to actually do them. This is your medicine.

So, thank you Ola – your medicine is delicious!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XhmEcFwol-A

Mary
A Moodscope member

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/thank-you-ola

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Friend or foe?

Traditionally a fortress is a place of security and safety; a stronghold to protect those within from the invading marauders on the outside, particularly once the drawbridge is pulled up. The 'enemy' can be viewed from the safe vantage point of the ramparts, shot at through arrow slits or doused in boiling oil, if one is that way inclined.

But the fortress of my depression, which has built itself up around me, tends to do just the opposite. The thick impenetrable walls seem to set me apart from the world outside, muffle my senses, trap me in, keeping me distanced from all that's out there to be seen, felt and experienced.

Continuing with the metaphor, I do keep fighting and try so hard to do all that I can to partake in life. I take my battering ram and batter that drawbridge. I go for a run: bam!  I go to the gym: bam! I meet with friends: bam! I volunteer twice a week: bam! I work part-time: bam! I sing in a choir: bam! I spend time with my family and my 5 gorgeous, funny, naughty little grandchildren (I'm so lucky to be a young Grannie) bam bam bam!!

These are all things that are recommended for good mental health, but I've just somehow gravitated towards such activities or they're part of my life anyway. Yet somehow it's never enough and I've still had so many days of late where I've not wanted to keep fighting; keep trying; keep living. And I pull the drawbridge up myself.

So yes, the sunlight sometimes shines through the arrow slits, but generally I feel as if I can't ever break out to truly smell, hear and experience a world that isn't muted and dulled. And I can't quite accept either, that perhaps this should be enough.

Dragonfly
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/friend-or-foe

Monday, 14 November 2016

Rock Paper Scissors.

What a great game!

Paper wraps around rock, scissors cut paper, and rock blunts scissors... well, you know the plays.

Today, I was thinking metaphorically.

Rock as a symbol of action and inaction!

Paper as a symbol of writing or not!!

Scissors as an instrument of cutting things out!!!

The rock that rolls is far superior to the rock that stands still. Action will always triumph over inaction. So what action could you take today to move towards your goals, your objectives, your dreams? Inertia will not serve you.

Paper is for drawing on, for writing on, for creating with. What you write endures forever (with a little help!) I'm still shocked that so much of the New Testament was written by someone who never met Jesus in the flesh. The Apostle Paul knew the importance of writing, and his letters have changed history. Peter, James, and John - Jesus' inner circle - his confidants - those who spent the most time with Him - left us frustratingly little of their experience because they didn't write it down. This is one of the reasons I've committed to writing and publishing on a daily basis. The more I write the clearer my thinking becomes - and, for me, that's worth the time involved. Clarity brings strength, and gives me direction for my actions.

So I'm going to encourage you to write more. Begin it now.

Scissors cut. Part of getting better clarity is cutting out the clutter in our lives - creating focus. There's so much stuff in your life and in my life that could just be cut out. And there are so many activities we could cut out without suffering any loss. In fact, we could be making space for something better in our lives.

Making space is about taking time. The more you cut out, the more time you'll have to focus on what is really important. You'll even be able to take time to devote to those whom you feel most important in your life. And to do that, sometimes you have to cut off some relationships.

So what could we cut out, get rid of, sell, or pass on? Let's make some space for something truly amazing.

Take more action.

Write more - it'll bring clarity and it's great for your soul.

Begin the purge - step up your action to clear your clutter!

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/rock-paper-scissors

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Dear children this is a hill.

Sometimes I know when a low is coming. I often crave sitting at the top of a particular hill. Last weekend I craved it. I dragged my children up it and I took some photographs. It was a magnificent visit, cool but sunny and crisp.

From their upturned faces I could see the walk was not the first thing on their list of hopes for a slow Sunday afternoon. I could also see they knew resistance was futile because I was talking with my (deep breath) 'this is happening even if I have to put you on my back and drag you there, even if you are almost my height, and even if you are now taller than me, and even if you complain it will still happen, so all three of you had best put on warm jackets and get thee to the top of the hill, and then you may come back and plug in to an electronic gadget once you have set the table' voice!

I live in a big town which is full of countryside. It is why I love it. The busy is there and the quiet lives very happily within it. It is full of big hills. My favourite hill looks over the part of the city where I live, work and where my children go to school. It is mesmerising to sit up there and watch life scurry on whilst breathing in the unmoving solidity of the peace. It's energising to me.

As I sat at the top, youngest came to sit with me and curled his arm into mine. We just sat. Middle child joined us and took photos of our feet against the backdrop. Eldest gravitated and showed us photos of us from behind. We were happy. And I realised I don't just drag them there because it's good for us. I drag them there because one day they will have a problem and I want them to remember what helps.

I wish for you to find what helps today.

Love from 
The room above the garage.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/dear-children-this-is-a-hill

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Creativity and what it means to me.

Before I suffered from insomnia and didn't really think much about creativity or worry about defining myself in any way, I objectively liked art and writing, literature and everything one would associate with the word. However I didn't see myself as creative.

I do now though so what has changed?

What has changed for me is the lows and highs I now experience from the good nights and bad. Before, I probably slept the same every night. Now, how I sleep defines how I feel the next day to such an extent that I lost my job because of it and now structure my days around that one thing. Insomnia or a good night's sleep.

Insomnia has forced me to think about myself more; to analyse my reactions, my interpersonal skills and my creativity.

Over the past how many years of insomnia, I don't dare think about it... I have changed into two people, one an extrovert on the scale of mild bi-polar as it only lasts one day at a time, a creative person who can write and feel good about myself, talk to people, be witty and so on and the other persona, who is self doubting, cross, cautious in my approach to people and generally lacking in self confidence.

So creativity has assumed mega proportions for me. I like creativity in others and myself but for the most part, it is elusive. I chase it but it doesn't appear as I am so tired and fed up with endless sleepless nights.

Creativity is important to me as I feel it's self-expression and is at the core of who I am. Or is it? You see I don't know.

I wish I didn't attach so much importance to it but it's the fact that I lose it so often that makes it so important.

Jul
A Moodscope member

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/creativity-and-what-it-means-to-me

Friday, 11 November 2016

Creativity and bipolar-my story.

Hello, I have bipolar and I am not a creative genius.

I have imagined saying this when I meet someone to see their reaction but so far I have resisted the temptation.

I have had people say "You are so lucky to have bipolar" because they have read an article that claims there is a link between mood disorder and creativity and genius.

I think I preferred when people were afraid of me.

I am sure there are people who have bipolar who are very creative but there are many people who have bipolar who are not that creative and people who are creative and/or a genius that do not have a mental illness.

There was a study that looked at what comes first the creative talent or the disorder.

For me, I was an average creative person, but when the mania came into my life, I was convinced I was so talented. Nothing had changed except my perception.

People often say they fear taking medications, as they don't want to lose the one thing they have - their creativity.

For me, the truth is I was never creative when high. I thought I was. I was too busy being reckless, I had no time or energy left to be creative.

I had delusions and unrealistic expectations of what I could achieve. I was certain that as soon as I wrote my novel it would be on the bestseller lists and I would be interviewed on chat shows.

My creativity was an illusion. That is the seductive nature of mania. It was only ever a feeling that was never going to make me a wonderful writer.

I can only tell my story. People will have other experiences. The word creative is being the most desirable characteristic so much so that people sometimes apologise if they are not creative.

It has a personal meaning for everyone. Jul in the next blog in this 2 part series will explain about what Creativity means to her.

Leah
A Moodscope member

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/creativity-and-bipolar-my-story

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Tough Love from a Tender Heart.

Sally Brampton was one of the UK's most revered Agony Aunts writing weekly in the Sunday Times.

She suffered depression and wrote a shockingly honest memoir called 'Shoot the Damn Dog' – referring to the 'black dog' that simply never leaves our side when we are depressed.

I say 'was' ...as earlier this year she walked into the sea near her home and drowned.

It was the end of a long battle with depression.

She so clearly stated that "We cannot change people, places or things; the only thing we can change is how we respond to them."

In her responses to letters, she would even say to people 'Your decisions are so self-centred, you are so child-like – no wonder there is no joy in your... caring/work/home."

We can all offer tough love (as it is called) to others, only if... IF, I believe we are also very open about our own experiences and failures. It has to be from an EQ perspective not an IQ theory, heart and not head. (Which is why so many counsellors can fail.)

All too often we can be too 'nice' to people who need support. We think it may help them. Sometimes we see it in Moodscope comments – although rarely. The challenge is, that apart from an initial kind response, which we compassionately offer, if, after a short period, it does not help them move on, it can actually hold them back or even make them worse.

Sometimes in seeking to support, we fuel someone's 'wallowing/moaning' by writing words like 'I feel for you' or 'It must be awful'. This is where we can, on occasions actually make someone even more dependent on others and further lower their self-esteem by confirming or affirming what they write.

An agony aunt (or uncle), is someone who needs to have lived a bit and loved a bit and learnt enough to know that human attraction or human caring has a lot to do with 'smell'. We can all 'smell' when someone is speaking from their heart or their head! Our challenge is, can we actually say that and thus help people realise that often they may not be helping. If we do not – WE are failing them!!

Needless to say it will normally be uncomfortable to do so – yet do so we must – or we continue to make the world worse and not better, through our own inability to move into discomfort. We have I believe often become too PC and too 'safe'.

Sure there are times you do play safe – but they must be minimal and short, or you are part of the problem rather than the solution. True compassion is to do the right thing, rather than do things right!

"Depression" Sally wrote "blinds eyes and gags mouths. It sucks the life out of everything that it touches. It destroys hope, confidence and every pleasure."

Who can you offer 'tough love' to today, to enable someone you care for, to improve their self-awareness - the start of any change?

Remember...

You cannot change anyone else, only yourself – so don't ask them to change – YOU own it, step into the discomfort of tough love and help them to change as well.

Les
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/tough-love-from-a-tender-heart

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

The Flung Gauntlet.

"Sir, you are ugly. Your breath stinks like that of a midden, and your mother clearly frolicked with a warthog nine months before your birth!"

What a wonderful challenge. Then the satisfying thump as a leather glove hits the stage.
What follows is clearly a duel. A duel to the death, or at least to the pain – and duelling scars, of course.

All this is immensely entertaining in books, in films; on the stage. But a problem arises when we try it at home.

The challenges we receive in real life are rarely as obvious as that above:
"You're wrong."
"You're being silly and emotional."
"You're using your illness as an excuse."
"Why don't you try abc/xyz? I'm sure you will find it's simply a case of too much stress/not enough sleep/a poor diet." (delete as appropriate)

Yet our emotional response is as elemental as if that leather gauntlet had indeed smacked us around the face.

We become defensive and we lash out at the challenger, who then retreats in a huff: "I was only trying to help..." Or even worse, we engage in a furious battle; words whirling, cutting and slashing like sabres, wounding and injuring our relationships and the love we share with our family and friends.

We react, we don't respond.

I know I am particularly bad at taking that couple of deep breaths first – especially when I am in my manic phase. The other day, I accused one of my dearest friends of exhibiting the emotional maturity of a tired eight-year old. It may have been a valid point, but I would never have said it – or said it in that particular way – if I had not been challenged in the first place. I don't know if that relationship will recover. I can only hope and pray that time will heal the wounds each of us has inflicted on the other. Because I miss my friend. I miss him very much.

It is a good habit to develop, that of breathing first. I won't say count to ten – because when we do that, we concentrate on just getting to the point where we can detonate – and the deferred explosion is all the more powerful for having been bottled up for those ten seconds.

My husband has the very good habit of always saying thank you for any criticism or challenge. He then takes it away and mulls over it for twenty-four hours or so, before coming back with a considered reply. This can make conversations rather fragmented and long, but it does mean we rarely row.

If we can say, "Thank you for your opinion, I will consider what you say," and take our time to respond, we are far less likely to hurt the people we love, or the ones whose opinion we value.

On the other hand, we could always consider taking a lesson from the weather: it pays no attention to criticism at all.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/the-flung-gauntlet

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Small changes.

When I was a teenager I tried to occupy less of the world, to become ghost-like.

As an adult I am softly spoken. When anxious my commutation shuts down and I am inaudible.

So I started daily vocal exercises. Take a deep breath, fill my lungs, open my mouth wide say Haaaaaaa for as long as I can. I feel the vibration. Then a couple of tongue twisters. After a few weeks. I got feedback from somebody who didnt know my experiment - "something has switched on in your brain" - (articulation switch?)

I had backache. The doctors said my posture was bad - all that teenage hunching perhaps. I started doing core exercises, my muscles were weak. Now, I am standing straighter. Then I stumbled across this Ted talk on the effect of body language on your mind and started to experiment- the occasional hand on hips stand. Putting my arms outside the arms of the chair when sitting. (http://bit.ly/2bmjI8X)

Small changes, but the ghost is disappearing and the person is appearing, but the biggest metamorphosis is my mind, more confident and feeling good.

What do you experiment with?

The girl whose feet don't reach the ground
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/small-changes

Monday, 7 November 2016

Monday morning - the perfect time to some emotional mathematics? How about if we learn this maths from a young child? Would that make it easier?

Negative minus a Negative = Positive

Emotional maths? How does it feel when someone says, "No!" to you. Not nice, is it? So today I'm going to suggest that you say, "No!" to 'No!' - in your head at least.

The idea came up in a conversation yesterday with my good friend, Jenny Rayner. We are both grandparents, and are experiencing anew the persistence children manifest when they really, really want something. Our grandchildren just don't take 'No!' seriously, they just don't take 'No!' for an answer.

How many exasperated parents have said things like, "No means no!" or "Don't you understand the meaning of 'No!'?"

The answer is simple, parents, it's, "No!" As parents it takes years of negative conditioning to get the negative power of 'No!' through to children! We have to be taught the power of 'No!' - it doesn't come naturally. But when we finally get the message, it sticks for ever.

You still have that inner child who knows how to be resilient and persistent. Your inner child still doesn't know the meaning of the word 'No!' Let's make friends with our inner child.

At an emotional level, young children 'discount' their encounters with 'No!' Essentially, they don't hear it, or at least ignore it as irrelevant. This reflects the brain's own trouble with understanding the negative. Try not to think about something - like fresh coffee now!

Returning to the maths, they apply a negative to a negative - they say, "No!" to 'No!'

How different this is to adults. We count the number of 'No!' responses we get - allowing them to stack up and overwhelm. Essentially we say, "Yes!" to 'No!' Let's try a better strategy:

Jesus said to his adult learners that they needed to receive His Kingdom "like a little child" - they had to model childlike behaviours. 'Childlike' not 'childish'. In fact, He declared that unless they received the Kingdom like a little child, they couldn't enter into it.

You and I can do this. We can consciously negate the negative. If the result we are getting is not what we are wanting, we can discount the negative response and press on into victory. And if you value the practice of reflective listening, use it. Everytime someone says, "No!" to you in a conversation, repeat it back to them! This isn't for their benefit (though it might be fun to watch their reaction!) It is for you to remember to say, "No!" to 'No!'

Ready, Steady, No!

In fact 'no' is an anagram of 'on'!

Game on!

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/saying-no-to-no

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Life is too short.

I heard a session on the radio about life is too short to...

As this was a saying my parents used to say. I decided not to think much just to make a list with what came into my mind.

Life is too short to iron.

Life is too short to fight with family.

Life is too short to judge others.

Life is too short to compare oneself with others.

Life is too short not to have fun.

Life is too short not to enjoy chocolate.

Life is too short to waste even one single minute.

Life is too short to not tell loved ones how much they mean to you.

Life is too short not to be kind.

Life is too short to learn to twitter.

Life is too short to worry if one is original!

So that's all there is. You can write 1 or 101 lines or something in between!!

You can write one line and say why you wrote that line or write a list - your choice.

Disagree with one of my lines.

Have fun! Be serious.

Have a go. Life is too short not to have a go!!

Life is too short to...

Leah 
A Moodscope member

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/life-is-too-short

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Water in the Desert.

Anhedonia (an inability to feel pleasure in normally pleasurable activities) is often a symptom of depression and schizophrenia. I have both diagnoses and find that loss of positive feelings very hard to live with. Emotional flatness is no fun at all and it often means that I have no emotional response, such as to music or events in relationships when I would expect to. The prospect of it continuing - possibly forever can make me feel completely despondent at times. Unfortunately the negative emotions are much more accessible to me.

I had thought that I only feel satisfaction rather than pleasure such as when I've done the washing up. However, I woke up one morning and asked myself what if I can turn that idea of Anhedonia around somehow? I don't have a total absence of feelings, all the time and maybe I'm not acknowledging and appreciating the little emotional life that I do have.  So I set out to identify if and when I experienced pleasure.

It was a work-day so I had to get up early, accompanied by my usual grumblings to myself but as I drew back the living room curtains I was greeted by a luminescent disk in the early morning sky. It shone so brightly I thought it was the sun at first. Then I saw the moonscape on the surface of the perfectly full moon. I can't deny I experienced a sense of wonder and some delight. What a lovely way to start the day! The moon was soon covered by pink streaky clouds, which were almost as beautiful.

My first cup of tea, a hot shower, my new jeans (stretch velvet – a great invention!), a sunny bike ride, a compliment from a colleague, tiny bright yellow leaves on the ground, a packet of chocolate ginger biscuits and getting a library book I wanted all brought me pleasure and more than I expected. I actually felt cheerful.

These are all small things in themselves but they helped build my day. True I don't experience much intensity of emotion but maybe I can't handle that right now. If I can enjoy small pleasures and accompanying feelings like satisfaction and pride maybe I can extend my comfort zone to greater things. It may seem petty but much of life is made up of little moments so the more I can get out of them the better.

Meggle
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/water-in-the-desert

Friday, 4 November 2016

Once upon a mood.

I love to read and yet I struggle with it. My mind struggles to hold concentration long enough for the pages to form meaning. Then there is the memory thing... brain fog so thick that the memory of the chapter before is a challenge. The start of the book gone. And yet it is healthy for our minds to read. To rest my mind in a place of meditation or to rest my mind in a place of reading is almost one in the same for me.

So what do we do? If we are challenged with a scrambled brain but wish to read?

We can return to childhood. Roald Dahl is my favourite author of all time and I am never ashamed to be found to be reading The BFG, The Witches or James and the Giant Peach over and over and over again. Each time I gain something new from his words. From his humour. From his meanings lying under the meanings.

Maybe you'll try it. Maybe you'll return to your favourite book from childhood. You may just find something in there to ignite something deep inside from which something new may grow.

Lastly, perhaps you would drop on to the blogspot to tell me which is your favourite book from your childhood because I think I'd like to read them all!

Love from 
The room above the garage.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/once-upon-a-mood

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Death of a friend.

Flumpy died on Wednesday.

I took her to the Vet.

It was the right thing to do.

I have no regrets.

Nevertheless I am bereft at the loss of my loyal friend who has been there for me everyday, through good times and bad over the last 16 years.

To some my reaction may seem self indulgent, pathetic and weak.

Why should their opinion worry me so?

For the first time in my life, I have decided to show the same level of compassion and understand-ing to myself, that I would freely show to others.

This is something new for me.

They say there are two types on people in the world.  Takers and givers. Takers apparently eat better while givers sleep better...hmmm...I don't agree.  I have spent all of my life giving..and although I don't regret this, I do regret forgetting to give to me! Over the last year during my recu-peration from 'burn out', I have come to realise this simple mistake that so many of us with depres-sion make.

I now work tirelessly at not feeling selfish when I do small things for me.

I accept that I am as human and emotional as anyone else.

Today I feel as if I have 'rocks in my heart'...and for that I will not apologise.

Life is sometimes painful and that pain is subjective to the individual feeling it. I have chosen this time to accept, respect and heal in my own way and in my own time.

I will forgive those who do not understand.

Marie
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/death-of-a-friend

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

These Cruel and Vicious Things.

My daughter is reading The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson for her GCSE English.

I want to tell her not to bother: she has the perfect example of a split personality in her mother.

Ninety percent of the time I am good natured, fairly placid, tolerant and easy-going. And then -

Well – I have told you about the wolves and the hedgehog. I won't bore you again.

It's what happens when I start to come out of that phase I'm coping with now.

Damage control, you might call it.

Did I really say all those things? I frantically rummage through the last few weeks' worth of texts and emails, trying to find out.

Yes, I did. In some cases. In others, thank goodness, the words remained safely locked in my brain – they did not escape to cause damage. But I thought them. Believe me; I thought them so hard it felt as if they would fly out of my head and circle round the intended victim like killer hornets. They battered inside my mouth and stung my tongue so it felt swollen and too big to fit behind my teeth. Yet I dared not open my lips. I dared not touch that keyboard.

Because words are like sharks' teeth – they grip and do not let go. You cannot undo the harm done by words with yet more words.

"The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it."

And yes, there have been tears. Because I never meant to hurt. I never wished to cause a fracture in any of my precious friendships. This is why sometimes I hide away, for fear of causing just this devastation.

Different friends react in different ways:

"Hey – you're certainly on form today! Very witty – but rather cruel, don't you think?"

"Ouch. That hurt! Be careful with my feelings please."

"................................................................" The long silence.

Abject grovelling goes only so far. Hugs can only be given if they are received. Gifts can be interpreted as attempts to purchase forgiveness. I can apologise. I can explain. But the fact remains that those words were said or written and I cannot bring them back, no matter how much I'd like to.

If I said things while drunk, then at least I would have chosen to drink; I did not choose to be bi-polar.

These changes to my character really piss me off.

I'd put it more elegantly, but I'm still up there; with those nasty words.

So, just watch out. And please, don't take anything I say to heart.

Because those hurtful words don't come from my heart – they come from my brain. And my brain can't be trusted right now.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/these-cruel-and-vicious-things

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

PTSD, a small word with big consequences.

Imagine you are being chased by a bear, you are running really fast, it is gaining on you, and you can feel it snarling at your heels, your body physically responds to the situation, it increases your heart rate, it floods your system with adrenaline, and it heightens your sense of awareness. You race towards a tree, clambering up it, you escape, and you survive. You are relieved the ordeal is over.

But it is not...

Everyday your brain is exposed to thousands of stimuli, the brain processes that information on a conveyer belt, stamping it with a date and filing it neatly away.

With PTSD the memory of the trauma becomes stuck going round and round on the brain's conveyor belt. Each time it goes round two things happen;

1. The memory feels real and the body physically responds as if it were.
2. The conveyor belt gets jammed and normal everyday processing is slowed.

So what does this mean? Well I can't really answer that, but I can tell you what it feels like for me.

My brain no longer functions in the way that I expect. I can't concentrate, I find decisions difficult and I become angry and frustrated at my constant inability to do even the most simplest tasks, (writing this blog has taken me the best part of two months).

But I guess if that was the only part of PTSD, I could cope. The most debilitating part of this illness is the constant perception that the memory of the bear is real. My bear follows me about, it jumps out at me in supermarkets, it wakes me up every night and it appears when I least expect it. I am constantly under threat and alert to the possibility of attack from my bear, I live in a constant state of readiness.

I'm joking of course, but when I wake at 2am with vivid hallucinations because my brain hasn't been able to process the normal everyday events, and violent nightmares, I am not laughing. During the day there is little respite too, I see flashbacks to my 'bear' incident and a simple smell, touch or glimpse of something can propel the memory to the present day so quickly my body and mind react as if it is happening all over again.

Like most trauma's I employ fight or flight, sometimes I get angry and fight it, at other times I take flight. But how can I escape from a bear that isn't real? I avoid situations where my bear might be, things that may trigger the memory so I don't go out, I hide at home, but my bear always finds me.

Eventually the depression kicks in, the futility of battling with a bear that does not exist, or the sheer exhaustion of constantly being alert brings the black dog into residence. I surrender to the memory, let it consume me and I feel everything so raw, bleak and pitiful.

At other times I just feel numb, detached and out of all the states to be in, I quite like this one, I have no fear, no emotion, I just feel like I am watching my life on a video tape, anything could happen and I just don't care.

This, for me, is what it is like to live with PTSD.

Yogi Bear
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/ptsd-a-small-word-with-big-consequences