Monday, 25 September 2017

I know what your Super-Power is.

Would you like to know what your super-power is?

OK, lean in closer.

Closer still.

'Cos this will be our secret.

Your super-power is the choice to build bridges or build barriers - this is totally within your power! And the two look VERY different. Bridges find a way to connect 'between' and barriers find a way to block that inbetweeness.

I've just offered to mow my neighbour's lawn again (for free). I like mowing. I pointed this out. I said ('cos they're a time-poor motivated seller),

"Adding stripes to a beautifully kept lawn will add £5000 to the value of this property."

Her response?

"I don't believe that."

And she didn't wrap that 'Empathy Blocker' in a smile or a joke. She was serious. What a joke (or something that sounds like 'joke'.) Result? I don't wanna mow her lawn for free no more!

Rapport or Crapport? That is the question!

Any idiot can break rapport (a state I call 'Crapport'!) It takes a master builder to build a bridge of empathy, of integrity, of authenticity, and of love.

I've decided to love my neighbour regardless (and, yes, I mowed the lawn anyway.)

Why? Because I'm supremely grateful. I got a blog out of it!

Next time you have an opportunity to disagree with someone or show 'n' tell them they're wrong - use your super-power instead. Choose to build a bridge of rapport instead of a barrier of crapport.

Love never fails.

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/i-know-what-your-super-power-is

Sunday, 24 September 2017

What's in a name?

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose.
By any other name would smell as sweet;"

Shakespeare's quote implies that it isn't the actual name that matters or characterises an object or person.

Some years ago, when I worked at a till, a customer brought a book to my counter. He told me proudly that he was mentioned in the book, but one couldn't tell as the author had used a synonym!

Of course, he meant a pseudonym, which have been challenged lately in Moodscope comments. I think the consensus is that for Moodscope purposes; where many write so honestly about very personal or sensitive subjects, pseudonyms are used as a protective measure, either for ourselves or for our families.

There are some brave keyboard warriors, aka trolls, who hide behind pseudonyms on many social media platforms so they can anonymously spout vitriol.

My point is that they, and we, have chosen our alter-ego. It hasn't been forced upon us.

While we were in no position to choose our 'given' names, these were generally bestowed upon us at birth, and chosen out of love. I do acknowledge that there are exceptions.

Our names can very much be a part of our identity. Some people love their name, others intensely dislike them, and yet others are quite indifferent: it's just a name.

I always think my name is so 'of its time' and a bit ordinary. My mum is the only person who ever called me by the full version of my name and, even as an adult, I often felt like I was in trouble! Since mum died, even that unloved version of my name has taken on a certain poignancy.

But what if someone else decides we must address ourselves in the manner that they want us to? In a recent 'friendship', that I have now painfully emerged from, I was told that I was 'so sensitive', so felt I must acquiesce to prove otherwise and refer to myself in the suggested way. Because of the nature of this correspondence, which was ostensibly for my benefit, I did occasionally protest and was grudgingly addressed by my own name 'if I preferred'.

Nevertheless, I convinced myself that this form of address was one of endearment and friendship. This ultimately turned out not to be the case and was cited as a means of keeping a distance from me; not to become overly-involved. Even though there was much to suggest otherwise.

So along with losing my sense of self and identity in trying to conform, I felt as if I wasn't worth knowing as 'me'. I wasn't sweet enough by own name, and the alternative was a means of control.

The harshest of lessons that I have learnt from this is to be true to myself. No matter my thoughts on my name or my struggles with being me, these are not for anyone else to disrupt or determine.

With love

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/whats-in-a-name

Saturday, 23 September 2017

The dark wolf and the light wolf.

My first boyfriend was called Jerry Hyde. He's a therapist now (that's the effect I have on people!)  I recently enjoyed reading a self-help book he has written called "Play from the f***ing heart".  In it was the following story, which touched me very much so I thought I would share it with my fellow Moodscopers (not verbatim as I can't lay my hands on the book, but here's the gist):

An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandchild about life.

"A fight is going on inside me between a dark wolf and a light wolf. The dark is evil; the light is good."

The child looked at him with solemn eyes and asked, "Which wolf will win?"

The chief answered, "The one you feed."

So remember:  Feed the light wolf.

OK, you may, like me, wonder what the dark wolf likes to eat. Possibly some of these:  Anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self doubt...  Feel free to make your own list! But if you catch yourself indulging in any of them and feeding the dark wolf, stop!

And what does the light wolf thrive on? How about joy, peace, love, serenity, humility, kindness, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, faith, resilience and tenacity, hope...

So if you can find any of these within yourself, stay with it, build on them and keep feeding the light wolf.  What would you have on your list? Can you add anything that would help strengthen the light wolf?

Marmaladegirl
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-dark-wolf-and-the-light-wolf

Friday, 22 September 2017

I never promised you a rose garden.

I have never read this book – for others who do not know it, a schizophrenic girl of 16 creates another world in order to escape. Her parents struggle with the stigma of mental illness, then she is lucky enough to meet a brilliant therapist who wins her trust and gives her the courage to fight the illness.

My life has been full of physical (as opposed to metaphorical) roses. A picture exists of me, just walking, under lovely rose arches. I still have roses, every garden has had roses, so that is eight decades of roses! But the path has been decidedly thorny at times, none more so than at the present.

I have just had an hour talking to my only niece. Her brother is schizophrenic (so they say) but his father never talks about him, and his sister is scared of him, he has been violent in the past, and now is scary – luckily, perhaps, for everybody, he has become very withdrawn. Her father, 91, is in hospital – she has had to cancel her holiday to be with him. He treats her in the same way as his brother treats me, like a servant. When his second wife had cancer, his daughter was there, propping him up in any way she could, although she was a full-time teacher. Then her own mother (the divorce was bitter, and the children suffered) had cancer, and off the poor girl went again, commuting by train at least every fortnight.

My friend who I have often cited here has been treated (for depression, in theory – she is also a true hypochondriac while being as fit as a fiddle) on and off for 30 years – she goes from GP to faith healer to devotion (she is Catholic), many charlatans, now she doses herself off the Web. She has drained the sympathy of most of her family and friends.

My husband goes to the excellent Alzheimer Day centre here. I am well known – my car, my shop, my chignon – and I have loads of 'pals' among the inmates/patients, I don't know what is politically correct. The unit is the last and most modern added to a hospital which started in 1347. It houses all types of psychiatric illness. My 'pals' are those who are out and about. They all have mental disorders. Do they, like the girl above, have a world to escape to in their minds? Peopled by fairies? An alter ego? Hobgoblins? I think of these people in the light of the Peter Sarsted song 'Where do you go to my lovely?'

In the depths of depression, is everything black? Or have you had your 'rose garden' dreams?

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

P.S. I lay no claim to the roses in the picture. The church is famed because it has had continuous colonies of bees for four centuries. It is in the Mayenne department, calm and beautiful.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/i-never-promised-you-a-rose-garden

Thursday, 21 September 2017

The Pressure to get Motivated.

Hands up if you are always reading or buying books about motivation, success, willpower, goals, productivity, in the hope you will be inspired to action. Are you often reading more lists and posts about how you need to be better?

Do you sometimes feel, if you can read enough articles and enough Facebook quotes, suddenly your brain will put it into action?

Keep your hand up if you have not read any of those books you have bought or borrowed.

My hand is up, I keep buying books but not reading them, finding articles, but not reading them, all in hope I can be motivated, find my true path and follow my dreams. I feel under pressure that I have not achieved enough. These books rather than motivating me make me feel I am not focused enough.

I know people who have read the motivational books, and gone to the "You can be a success" workshops and made endless notes and lists about achieving their goals. Most of them do not get motivated or reach their goals.

What is happening?

Why is the reality different from what books promise us?

Is it maybe that we change when we want to change? Humans cannot be programmed like a robot. I feel it is difficult to create motivation when there isn't any. Sometimes it is not the time to change.

Maybe the book you want to write is not able to be started since you have not worked out the idea for your characters.

Sometimes we are sad and can't motivate ourselves till we have made sense of the sadness.

Some of us use so many tools to be more productive and make so many lists that every minute of our day is programmed.

What about instinct and natural impulse and gut feeling?

Many of us want to control timing in our lives.

For many, unhappiness stems from the belief that our lives should be different than they are. All the books and workshops tell us we should be successful, we can be successful, if only we are determined and become more motivated and organized.

Self-loathing and self-hatred comes from this idea that we need to be able to change our lives, that we must be richer, smarter, or happier.

There needs to be less guilt around the notion that you're not doing your best.

Is it time to stop comparing ourselves to people who are in very different life situations and stages.

Is it possible to start liking who we are now and not thinking about we will be happy when: when we get more motivated, when we achieve our goals, when we realize our dreams.

Imagine what may happen then.

We may motivate ourselves when we are ready and the timing is right.

Do you find motivational books and speakers helpful?

Do you feel pressured by motivational books?

Can you motivate yourself in your own time?

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/the-pressure-to-get-motivated

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Getting it Out There.

[To listen to an audio version of this blog please click here: http://bit.ly/2w4RFzP]

I gave my friend an elephant.

He thanked me.
"Don't mention it," I said.

(Boom, Boom)

That was a joke, by the way.

The elephant in the room: I'm sure I can't be the only one who prefers to ignore him. I can't be the only one who lets stuff build up emotionally, who prefers to act as if in ignorance of issues I just don't want to deal with.

I don't want the confrontation. I don't want the anger. I don't want the answers I fear I might get.

So, I put the elephant in a (large) cardboard box. I can ignore him better that way.

Yes, I carry on in fear and worry and in denial which isn't denial at all. And it takes its toll. It's like a medical condition which won't get better by itself. It's something that time won't heal. It can really drag me down.

Experience tells me that, when I do finally face the elephant, he proves not to be so scary after all. He proves not to be that mad African bull elephant with enormous tusks, but a well-mannered Indian elephant; he's rather embarrassed to be found in my living room at all.

But it doesn't get any easier, does it?

Last Summer I had a family issue I had to bring out into the open and address. It turned out to be much, much simpler than I had expected. What I didn't know, was that for my long-suffering husband (who dislikes confrontation even more than I), the elephant was not only bigger, but multi-coloured too. In fact, so gigantic and hideous was his elephant, that we both ended up in slightly hysterical laughter, and banished it with giggles from our room.

Yet – recently, I wimped out of asking a close friend about our own personal elephant. I still haven't. I don't know if I ever can; I'm scared of the answer I might get.

So often our elephant is imaginary, however – a bit like the Heffalump in Winnie the Pooh.

The trouble is, we don't know if he's imaginary – or at least bigger in our imaginations than in reality, until we deal with him. A bit like Schrodinger's cat, we must open the box to find out his state.

I don't have any easy answers. I know that last Summer I had to make a plan and schedule the conversation. I had to choose a time for that conversation when we wouldn't be interrupted. Then – I just had to draw a deep breath and launch in. "I want to talk to you about something..."

In most cases, the other person is pleased to have the conversation. If you get met with a frosty, "I don't want to talk about it," then I suppose you just have to let that elephant be. If you force the issue, you might end up squashed.

But on balance, I think it's healthier to open the box.

And much kinder to the elephant.

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/getting-it-out-there

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Go with the flow – Part 1

My previous boss was forever saying "Just go with the flow, Frankie" – and I never could...

Try as I might, I couldn't relax until I had ticked off all the items on my "To do" list, and knew what I was doing the next day, the next week (and preferably the next month too!)  On the plus side, things got done, I kept the family going and life was busy. On the minus side I never put time into recharging my batteries which meant that I was often stressed, irritable and not very relaxing to be around. Another consequence was that when major family crises occurred, I simply rushed around even more frantically to fit everything in.  Dropping anything to free up more time was simply not an option.

Why did I live like that?

Lots of reasons; lack of self-confidence, guilt and fear are the top three on the list.

1 Lack of self-confidence: I have long believed that everyone else is cleverer, more organised, more interesting, a better parent, a better colleague (this list is endless!) than me. So I was always worrying about whether I had done things "the right way" (whatever that is).

2 Guilt: I was top of the class with this! I always scored a "3" on this card. I never finished my "To do" list, you see.

3 Fear: I think my greatest fear was of losing control. How would the whole show keep going if I was no longer in control?
   
The trouble with this was that I lost sight of me, Frankie; take away Frankie, the mother, the wife, the sister, the daughter, the daughter-in-law, the friend everyone turned to, the supportive colleague, and who was left? Who was Frankie without all those hats? I had no idea... No surprise then that I had two nervous breakdowns in ten years, that  my body decided to take over and said "enough is enough – you will stop, like it or not".  

I have learnt the hard way; it is not selfish to take care of myself – it is essential. I need to have some "me" time frequently, preferably daily, so that I can support those around me more effectively. And, you know what? Doing so makes me more relaxed, so everyone else is more relaxed and life is much more harmonious as a result.

Today I will choose some music and sit down to listen to it properly.

What will you do during your "me" time today?  (I would love to know!)

Frankie
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/go-with-the-flow-part-1

Monday, 18 September 2017

Are You Ready To Commit Your Next Offence?

Are you offended easily?  I am.

Let's see just how easy it is to offend me:

• Not using your left-indicator
• Not saying 'Please' or 'Thank You'
• Not smiling back when I smile at you...

Actually, the list is almost endless. But taking offence never brings me pleasure.

I know that you and I are only offended when our 'Code' is violated. We have a rule book in our mind that defines what is good or bad, acceptable or unacceptable. Unfortunately, breaking the rules is only fun for those who do the breaking!

I want you to be happier.

You can be far happier than you have ever been before - starting today. How? By relaxing some of the rules. Specifically, by relaxing your own rules that you expect other people to play by. Trust me - they don't care - it's only you who is suffering.

Is it really the end of the world if someone cuts into my lane without indicating? If they leave enough space, and don't force me to slow down, I think I could let it pass, don't you?

And if someone doesn't say 'Please' - surely that's more a reflection on their lower evolutionary state, isn't it? I'll be content with being such a spiritual giant.

But what about not smiling back when I graciously offer my gorgeous grin? Who knows what sorrows they are facing. Let's face it - I can let them off, can't I?

Yes, all of the above is firmly tongue in cheek, but I know if I have a little voice in my head that says,

"Which rule are they breaking?"

...this gives me enough pause to regain my poise and enjoy the exhilaration of forgiveness instead.

I want to break free... wanna join me?

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/are-you-ready-to-commit-your-next-offence

Sunday, 17 September 2017

A Moment of Calm.

There's a beautiful bay tucked away in a corner of the world, surrounded by impressive, rocky mountains.

My favourite walk, along a wide paved cliff path, looks out over a panoramic view of nothing but sea.

Protected by a sturdy barrier, it's a safe path for me, who without one, has become anxious and panicky from vertigo if I even glanced towards the edge (I have been known to get down on all fours, even on a seaside sand dune!)

Gazing out at the vast ocean, I'd avoid looking at the dizzying sheer drop, on to the rocks and waves, as if it would somehow be tempting fate. A fleeting, irrational, almost superstitious glimpse of doom, enough to cause a sharp intake of breath and an about turn back to safety.

In the past, I'd enjoy this daily walk to the next town and back before the daytime heat set in.

On this trip though, I was encouraged to take a higher path.

The houses at the top seemed so distant. It had never occurred to me to even consider going up there.

So up for the challenge one hot afternoon, off we went.

It was surprisingly possible to stroll, one step at a time, discovering an abundance of unfamiliar and beautiful sights.

Teenagers had often scrambled beyond the path onto rocky slopes, to make their names in hearts out of stones.

My photographs don't seem to capture what is breathtaking about nature. Whether it's tiny white buildings deep inside a valley, magnificent, dark, mountainous rocks towering above them, the alerted face of a small lizard peeping out of it's rocky dry home at strangers passing by, or speckled sunlight glinting between brilliantly coloured tree leaves, shading it's delicate flowers.

A snapshot photo of a moment like that for me is both irresistible and futile.

Enthused by our achievement, we later explored the high path west of the bay.

Approaching the top, we realised that a wonderful stillness and silence had surrounded us.

It was truly serene.

I knew that if I visualised that place, above the sprawling buildings, in the peaceful open sunlight, with sea and mountains in the distance and the purest sense of nothingness, I'd be able to recall that soothing moment of calm.

The path flattened out onto arid, dry, dusty ground, offering weary souls the space and time to just be.

I did go back on that favourite walk.

Somehow I now found myself able to lean comfortably on the barrier and watch the waves washing over the rocks without a care in the world.

I also tried Tai Chi in the open air.

Eyes closed, I breathed in that sense of calm, as my hands lifted and drifted in unison. Peace and harmony from outside in.

I experienced new treasures about a special place, that I wouldn't have if I'd remained in the comfort of my routine.

Discoveries made about myself.

Having not returned to yoga or any kind of class for a couple of years, I'm looking forward to trying some more Tai Chi now that I'm back home. A new class has coincidentally just started locally. Thank you universe!

No commitment, just to see if it might be a way to find some peace and moments of calm.

Lillipet
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/a-moment-of-calm

Saturday, 16 September 2017

You have a boundary problem!

"Sounds like you have a boundary problem."

This is one of the most useful things anyone has ever said to me.

In my thirties, every relationship that came along became, for the time being, the most important thing in my world. Yet another one had just come crashing down around my ears – only, even worse, it hadn't really, permanently, definitely finished. Instead, the guy involved was giving contradictory signals, doing the 'let's stay friends' thing, and in the small town where we both lived, it was inevitable we would bump into each other.

I wasn't coping. I couldn't think about anything else. I felt as if my world was coming to an end: no-one else would ever do; if I couldn't have this relationship, life wasn't going to be worth living – you know the sort of thing. Maybe not all that unusual in a teenager, but in my thirties? Not good.

Luckily, the counsellor I went to was wise and insightful. She listened to my tale of woe, at length, and finally said just that one phrase. Bullseye! Boy, did I have a boundary problem! I absolutely did not have the ability to think of myself as a separate, worthwhile, autonomous person independent of my lover. It did not remotely occur to me that there was a reality, a validity, to living outside of a relationship. I had not found anyone to settle down or have children with, it seemed to be getting too late, I feared missing the form-a-family boat, and I was in full panic mode.  If truth be told, I had pretty much struggled to separate from my family of origin too, and there was a big part of me that wanted to find a parent-figure to bond with, rather than have to strike out on my own.

Twenty years on, I am still grateful to that counsellor. It was a painful lesson, and there were more painful lessons yet to learn, but it was a vital step on the path of growing up. Thank goodness she did not pour out sympathy, or join me in blaming the man who, let's face it, was probably very wise to save himself from such a predatory and dependent lover as me. Sometimes the truth hurts, but, like stepping into the proverbial cold bath, the shock can revitalise us and give us new energy, once we've towelled ourselves dry.

How about you? Have you had any problems keeping healthy boundaries? How have you developed them (if you have)? What, or who, has helped you?

Sal
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/you-have-a-boundary-problem

Friday, 15 September 2017

He is his father's son.

The Stormy Bears, August 6th Blog really hit home to me. But in a slightly different way.

My son is 20, about to hit 21 in a few days. His father, (that's me) is about to turn 68!  This is a 2nd life child. He is absolutely beautiful in almost every sense. However, he is a mental mess!

Starting at age 6 he thought he would need to 'kill himself' to stop the pain in his legs.   Social, school troubles followed for many years. While at the same time he showed an unusual affinity for math. At age 12, he announced he would be creating his own math theorem, the kind that take 300 years to solve!

At age 15 all hell broke loose with drugs, anger, misdiagnoses, treatment, medication, counseling, multiple suicide attempts, and incarceration for breaking a window.

We recently moved and in the process of finding a new psychiatrist and counselor I asked for a full psychiatric evaluation. It involved multiple tests and interviews with my son and his parents. The result was a good, but scary inventory of his issues: Anxiety (!), Personality Disorder, Suicidal tendencies... and on. It started the doctor testing him. We hope this will be a good starting place for new treatment and counseling. He is to start DBT therapy soon.

I watch his moods each day, with hope and frustration. I can tell when the day will start badly. Or when anger is about to explode. Or he is about to fall down a hole of despair for another day. But I do all I can to help him through another day. Hoping he will find some coping skills and a brighter future. After all, he has a theorem to write.

I have not decided whether my love and empathy for him are helpful. If, in the midst of his pain and anger, do I give him too much leeway. Or if guilt is a part of my allowances.

Because, he is very much, his Father's Son.

Ron
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/he-is-his-fathers-son

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

How Much is Physical?

[To listen to an audio version of this blog, please follow this link: http://bit.ly/2xvjDJm]

I once read a story where everything changed and nothing stayed the same. What I mean is, that every day, when the protagonist awoke, things would be different from the day before. Some days he would have a wife, but never the same one. Some days he would have children, but they were never the same children. His house was different; the route to his work was different. Nothing was ever the same. Then one day, that all changed; everything did stay the same and he found he couldn't cope.

It used to be a bit like that for me, but in reverse. The world stayed the same, but I was different every day. Whether in a manic phase or in deepest depression, the days were never the same. I was never the same.

With this new medication, I wake up every morning feeling – about the same: fairly cheerful; moderately energetic and enthusiastic; reasonably alert. Not exactly the same – hey – human here, but – pretty much. After six months, I am just about getting used to it.

So, a little while ago, when, at a friend's house just before lunch, I was suddenly and for no reason, overwhelmed with a desire to weep, to crawl away into a dark place and hide; I was horrified. Was this the depression coming back?

The world retreated behind a thick plate-glass window and sound became dim. My thoughts started that cockroach skittering, that rat scrabbling, in the corners of my mind. The tide of foul darkness engulfed like floodwater, icily cold.

Depression.

Please, no!

Panic!

Then a lance of bright pain pierced behind my left eye and I remembered. Ah yes –  migraine.

Some people get visual "auras" with migraine. Things blur, or zig-zig; one side of their sight might disappear. I get what's called a "neurological aura"; it affects my emotions. Oddly enough, the moment the pain hits, the aura disappears. It's almost a relief. I know that I must take painkillers and lie down for a couple of hours (sometimes more) and it will be over – all bar that floaty, head stuffed with cotton wool feeling, that is.

I hadn't had a migraine for years; I thought they had disappeared for good once I left my highly stressful job, but now they have reappeared as a side effect of the medication. I'll happily take that swap.

But it made me think. How many of the symptoms of our depression are the depression itself? How many may be attributed to physiological reasons?

If we are exhausted, if we have not eaten or drunk enough, if we are in pain; the mind will reflect this.

We know that some of the symptoms of depression are the overwhelming desire to sleep and a craving for carbohydrates. This is the brain decoding the symptoms of depression and effecting the "cure" it knows has worked for similar symptoms before.

But it's always worth thinking about the physical causes of depression.

Before you panic.

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/how-much-is-physical

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Please like me.

When I was 9 years old we had a student teacher who was trying to study the social dynamics in the classroom by asking us about who we liked in the class. A few girls decided they would do their own survey by seeing who was the least liked in the class.

They proudly announced to me that I was least popular girl in the class.

Now, before you start getting out the violins and suggest I need counselling, I really was not upset. I knew I was not popular, never was, never have been. It was just and still being my reality. I was never even nominated to be class captain. Even back then, I was ok because I had a few close friends who would always be there for me. The fact the rest of the class preferred other people to me, was fine.

Some may say but Leah you are remembering this some 50 years later so it must have concerned you. Not really, I find it a useful anecdote.

Today we seem obsessed with being liked - how many likes did you get? If something on YouTube is like by 10,000 people and something else only 450 does that make the first one better. Since when does being more popular make it of a better quality?

Of course, people who don't use Facebook, YouTube, twitter, etc are probably aware of the trend to want as many as likes as possible.

Going viral is something people aim for with their posts or videos. Why is popularity seen as being the main thing to aim for and a very desirable trait?

There is nothing new about popular movies, blockbusters, top selling books, achieving fame only on their popularity.

If something is popular should it be valued more than something that is not popular?

Have you ever been popular? What was it like?

Are we concentrating too much on whether a film clip goes viral than on whether it has a worthwhile message.

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/please-like-me

Monday, 11 September 2017

The Flea in Me, who said, "That won't work!"



I've never really had a 'happy' tummy. It's caused me much grief over the years (and I've given it a lot of grief too!) I know its limitations.

Or do I?

I'm attending a four day conference in London, travelling in each day. The journey is unpleasant and promises to be worse today - Sunday. My tummy is playing up. I'm dreading the journey and then the uncomfortable seating in a freezing and dark conference centre... not the most positive frame, is it?

Bizarrely, I found myself having a chat to my tummy! I told it it had 'proven' to me time after time that it wasn't to be trusted and I would have to take steps today to 'protect' myself against a possible meltdown. (Which has happen so many times before - and I know all the signs.)

Then I remembered the fleas.

Do I really want to think like a flea?

A parasite?

Whether the above video clip is true or not, the point is taken. These fleas have adopted self-limiting beliefs that are robbing them of opportunity.

Just because something 'hasn't worked' a 1000 times before, doesn't mean it isn't going to work this time.

Have you stopped trying?

Have you stopped trusting?

Have you stopped giving?

Jump higher, my friend, jump higher - the lid may have moved 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/the-flea-in-me-who-said-that-wont-work

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Shadows.

A shadow fell across the sun the other day and the world watched in wonder.
The earths light went out for a few minutes and the birds became very still.
When the shadow had passed people turned away and carried on about their business.
Scurrying here, there and everywhere!
Shadows furiously racing to keep up with them!
Scurrying madly cramming bags full of goodies.
Scurrying home to unload the contents then forget about them.
Designer bags put away in to the shadows of their silk protective shroud.

A man living in the shadows inside a ragged sleeping bag, slumped on a street corner, hand stretched out for pity, money, anything to get by.

Shadows of faceless people passing him by.
Shadows spoiling a sunny day drifting by and resting a while over the brightness.
Shadows of dark clouds reaching out, silhouettes in the fading light.
Stretching out to become the dark of the night.
Shadows in my mind swimming around, blocking out thoughts.
Shadows in the night making me lie wide eyed listening for a creak on the stairs.
Shadows in my dreams. Screaming jumping shouting.

Then out of nowhere light blinds the shadows, thoughts race.
A coin handed with kindness to the poor man on the street corner. His smile a beacon in my heart.
Words start connecting again in my brain and I am free of the dark thing.
The shadow that tried with stealth to drag me into the blackness has gone.

The day is good and long and the Shadows for now are sleeping.

Audrey
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/shadows

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Warrior Training.

Spiritual warrior that is.

My brain is wired differently than most people. This I have finally accepted.

For a long time I operated at two speeds. At my worst I was self destructive, enraged, paranoid, suicidal - a runaway train barreling down 100 miles an hour at anything in my path. This was usually followed by periods of shame, tiredness, loneliness, depression.

Luckily I have not experienced my worst in a long time, thanks to an arsenal of meds, an amazing therapist, and what I call my daily non negotiables - running, yoga, rest, limited drinking and meditation. Mindfulness meditation. I could not meditate for a long time. I couldn't sit still long enough to be alone with my thoughts. I didn't want to. The rage was too great, the depression too bleak, the shame too painful. But that was when I was trying to escape from myself. I didn't want to exist. I was ashamed of existing.

Through therapy - my therapist is also a practicing kundalini yoga teacher - I learned to sit with the thoughts and feelings. Not judge them but rather observe them and release them. When a particularly painful memory comes up, we use breathing and EMDR to help release the emotions behind the event.

I do my hardest work with her, but she has taught me a very effective technique for dealing with uncomfortable feelings on the spot when I'm alone. After a few deep breaths to settle myself, I concentrate on where in my body I feel the tension. Usually it's my stomach, but sometimes it's my heart, or my throat. I give the feeling a number from 1 through 10, 10 being the most intense. Then I give it a color and a shape. Usually red is the color that comes to mind, and sometimes it's a ball, other times a tight knot or even a knife. Then I just sit and breath and focus on the color and the shape and watch it change. It will change, from red, to perhaps yellow or green, to something else. The shape changes too. And then eventually I realize the tension is gone. Then I visualize the feeling floating down a chord or string from my spine into the earth, dissolving into nothing, hurting no one.

I like the term spiritual warrior because to me it means never giving up on myself. I can accept myself as I am, knowing that I am not perfect, that I have hurt others, that I have been hurt, and know that it is all part of who I am.

I can change my reality of myself, see myself differently than as someone who is just shameful and strange and unlovable. I have another speed now and it's becoming my norm - being calm and rational and dare I say happy. It's a daily practice - a lifetime practice - but it's worth it to me to be a warrior for my own peace of mind.

Lexi
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/warrior-training

Friday, 8 September 2017

Busyness and resting.

The following is a rough synopsis of a series of programmes broadcast in the UK on BBC Radio 4 last year entitled "Oliver Burkeman is busy". The five 15 minute programmes are available until the middle of September through BBC iPlayer.

• Research shows that, compared to the past, women are doing more paid work and less unpaid work, whilst for men it is the reverse. Overall, there has been no significant change in the amount that we do!
In the "Knowledge economy" it is more difficult to identify what has been achieved compared to, say,  working in a factory. At Microsoft, whilst young staff thought they were busy, constantly answering e-mails, etc. their managers were concerned they had lost control of their workload.
In addition, in these situations individuals start dividing their time into ever smaller slices. This leads to a growing number of unfinished tasks. Again, research shows that we find it easier to remember tasks whilst they are still current. Consequently, the brain is trying to juggle more balls and this leads to things being missed and an increased difficulty in making even simple decisions. The brain becomes overwhelmed.
Multi-tasking: when we are switching between two different tasks it takes about 40% longer to complete them and performance drops. A Harvard MBA performs at the level of an eight year old once they start "multi-tasking" so jobs tend to go unfinished as other priorities appear. The result is that the brain's to do list increases which creates more distractions.

As you might expect, the answers are all too familiar:

Cluster similar tasks together, e.g. answer your e-mails, etc. between sessions focused on more important or demanding issues.
If you are focused on something, like a meeting, and arrive early, don't check your e-mails as this is likely to distract you from the subject of the meeting.
Don't fill your day with appointments as something unexpected will throw your schedule. Add a couple of short periods for "meeting with self". Use them for that unplanned event but if nothing crops up use them for thinking, revising priorities or getting a head start on tomorrow's agenda.
Establish a closing down routine for the end of the day. Turn off laptops, phones, etc. and start cooking dinner. Anything that tells the brain "work is over".
The human body is very good at coping with short bouts of stress but it is not a machine.
The way to change is not to look for things to give up but to focus on what is important to you.
Take time off. Really. Set aside time to rest and relax. Go for a walk. It is only when you stop and think that you will get the opportunity to change things and make improvements in your life.

I can relate particularly to feeling overwhelmed, most days there is at least one occasion when I just want to sit down and cry. Listen to the programmes and see if there is anything that helps.

Alan
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/busyness-and-resting

Thursday, 7 September 2017

There's nothing like a bit of D.I.Y. is there? No, not the get-out-the-hammer-and-nails, off-to-B&Q kind of D.I.Y., (do I strike you as the sort of person who is going to build it myself?) I mean Do It Yourself in a Self Help kind of way.

The current trend for mental health is "Tell someone" - which I totally agree with.

"Don't keep it to yourself; ask for help" - yep, done that. Unfortunately, I have not had positive experiences. It has felt like that trust exercise where you fall straight back and somebody catches you - except that on every occasion they just let me drop, smack bang, flat on my back. Ouch!

Husband (now ex) told me to get a grip. Having 'shared' with my parents and siblings, they just pretend that they don't have such a difficult person in the family and hope (even after all these years) that I'll either grow out of it or (now that I am in my fifties) snap out of it. Professional help has proved to be incredibly difficult to access and then inappropriate and inadequate if I have got it. (No disrespect to all the effective and committed practitioners out there, unfortunately I didn't get sent to you.) So ultimately what I have learned is that if I want help, I have to do it myself.

When I am depressed I feel out of control and powerless; I panic because I think I can't cope. One of the ways that I seek to regain a feeling that I am in control is by searching for ways that help me to deal with the illness when it's there or, even better, prevent it from returning. Being part of the Moodscope community is one of those things and the few blogs that I have written for Moodscope are about things that help me that I hope might help YOU too.

All sorts of people write blogs for Moodscope and mostly they do not, to my knowledge, write for a living or have any professional background in advising on depression, bi-polar or anxiety (I say "mostly" because I know some do). What we all have is PERSONAL EXPERIENCE and this gives us a unique understanding; in many ways WE are the experts! Who is the expert on you? YOU are! Hopefully we are all on a journey to recovery, finding things that work for US as individuals to manage our conditions.

This is becoming a blog about two kinds of D.I.Y.  Firstly the help yourself kind. Be your own project, the on-going aim of which is to bring about improvement. Secondly (and this has just dawned on me) if you find anything that works, put it out here on Moodscope.  Don't just be a consumer of the blogs, write one! Do it yourself! There's a glorious range of contributors, with so many different styles and such varied approaches to life - but ALL of them are helpful in their way, and YOUR contribution would be helpful too. I am not good at D.I.Y. (the put-a-shelf-up kind) but I am trying to improve at the helping myself kind of D.I.Y., and I would really appreciate YOUR input!

Thank you.

Marmaladegirl
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/a-spot-of-d-i-y

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Letter to Bradley – Age 12

[To listen to an audio version of this blog, please follow this link: http://bit.ly/2iX4FFE]

Dear Bradley,

Your mother phoned me last night and she is worried. You know she is worried and I know you don't want her to worry, but – let's face it, if you were your mother, you'd be worried too, wouldn't you?

She phoned me because she'd heard that my daughter, your friend from Primary School, has self-harming issues too. She thought I might understand.

I do understand, although not for the reason she thinks.

What I want to say to you, Bradley, is that you're not alone. You may think you are. You may think that you're the only one who feels like this. You may think that something must be wrong with you; that somehow, you're a failure because you can't cope. You might feel weak because you can't shrug off the bullying – or stand up to the bullies.

And because the darkness has overwhelmed you.

So, you cut yourself because the bright pain overcomes the dark for a brief time. And because this is a pain you can control, even if you cannot control the desire for this pain. You cannot control the hurt of the dark, but you can control the bright bloom of pain. It's all that keeps you going sometimes.

You need to know you are not a failure and you are not weak; you have the illness known as depression. Your mother says you call it the sadness. That's as good a name as any. Some of us here call it the black dog, although that's an insult to all dogs everywhere. For me it's a dirty grey monster that swallows me up whole, and cuts me off from everyone. I call my monster Leviathan; it's just a bit easier if it has a name.

I admire you so much for talking to your mother, for explaining to her how things are for you. For many of us that is impossible. We are dumb, and unable to confide in anyone.

I am sorry you are having to cope with the bullies; those monsters who just look human. They exist everywhere and take joy in hurting us; hurting us physically and emotionally – even spiritually. They steal our joy and stamp our energy into the ground. They carry the sadness with them and cast it over us like a net so we cannot escape and then they laugh at us as we struggle.

But I want you to know you are not alone. You are not alone and you are not friendless and there are people out here who understand.

We understand because we live in the darkness, the sadness, too. We know how it is to struggle every day to get out of bed because we dread the day ahead. We know how it is to grasp anything that promises a brief respite or escape from the pain – even if that respite or escape is more pain.

You're not alone in the dark, because we're here too, and we're fighting with you.

Welcome to our band of heroes, Bradley. You're safe here.

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/letter-to-bradley-age-12

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

I believe in fairies.

Adults have it all wrong. They spend little time on the really important stuff. We only need to look at a four year old, blowing bubbles in the wind to see the magic. The belly laugh when a concentrated-on bubble flies off the wand and pops! Or when a tumble of bubbles appear and the child feels like a King! I am lucky to have a video of my eldest daughter doing this very thing and it is one of my most treasured possessions. I'd picked up a cheap, plastic bubble machine, filled it with batteries and liquid and switched the switch to 'on'. The squeals!! I don't even need the video as I can remember every moment and sound. It was a windy afternoon and so she was caught up inside this magical tornado of bubbles.

It has been a long time since I felt that freedom. And yet it is vital.

Unless ye olde Knight wearing white satin appears on a steed outside my front door in the next wee bit, I'm not convinced I'm going to feel that sense of freedom today. Or tomorrow. But even in the writing of this first paragraph, it sent me back to a place where I felt wonderful. And that is all you need. Just for a few moments, recall something wonderful. And that is all you need. You have traversed yet another moment. Now you can carry on, just the same as you were, but now with a sprinkle of fairy dust on top. I declare no growing up today if we can at all avoid it!

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:

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/i-believe-in-fairies

Monday, 4 September 2017

When Harry Met Joe – a Windows Fairy Tale.

When Harry (Harrington Ingham) met Joe (Joseph Left), the two psychologists came up with a model of four windows that can really help people grow. Since I've been using this a lot recently in mentoring and coaching, I thought I'd share how this can help us all mature because I think the Moodscope Community is good at this.

The four windows are frames for what we know, and don't know about ourselves. The most often used window is the self we show the World and the window through which the World can see us. We even say, "What you see is what you get!" and, "Take me as I am." Frame 1 is 'known to self, shown to others'. The quick reference word for this is 'The Arena'.

The next frame is far more mysterious. This one is the self that is known to us but not shown to others - what the psychologists call 'The Fa├žade'. Imagine a window with the curtains closed. Only you and I know why we hide certain aspects of ourselves from others. Growth comes from opening up more and more... pulling back those curtains. We do, however, need to choose our moment and our audience carefully. Remember, they've invested in seeing you and I a certain way, and they are certain of that! New revelations bring uncertainty into the picture... for a while.

The most immediate area for growth is our Blind Spot. In this window, other people can clearly see what we're like, but we don't see it. It's as if we've turned our back on the window.

Let me tell you about Bridget.

Bridget is what all of us need: a good friend. She told me years ago that I was a 'Sullen Tiger'. Initially flattered, thinking it was a rather cool Kung Fu name, I asked her what she meant. She said, "I'm never sure whether you are going to rug nicely around my legs... or turn and claw me one!" I was offended and stomped off... just like a Sullen Tiger would. Within 20 paces, I realised she was absolutely correct, and, in that moment of insight, my Sullen Tiger moved from the Blind Spot into the Arena.

Another friend, Jacqui, told me yesterday that a lot of people loved me. I genuinely confessed surprise at this - another Blind Spot.

So who would you be Bridget and Jacqui to? And what would you say to move them forward? Care, tact, and perfect timing help!

Molly has said some challenging things in the past and I've found them helpful as part of my own journey of self-discovery.

An adaptation of Robert Burns' poem, 'To a Louse' explains the poet's own understanding of this window.

Oh, would some Power give us the gift
To see ourselves as others see us!
It would from many a blunder free us,
And foolish notion:
What airs in dress and gait would leave us,
And even devotion!

Even stranger is the last window. This is the self that is unknown both to us and to those outside looking in. It can be discovered often through the behaviours we don't tolerate in others. This is because we often project dissatisfaction with issues we can't face in ourselves. This, I feel, is a subject for its own blog!

OK, that's more than enough for today - go and be Bridget, Molly, or Jacqui like a good friend!

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/when-harry-met-joe-a-windows-fairy-tale

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Reasons To Be Cheerful.



This is from an article I wrote in 2003 for our UK church magazine.

A pop song – another 'Don't worry, be happy'. We'd just returned from India, and turned into curmudgeons – not even 'Old Codgers' which has overtones of cosiness. From a country which had poverty and sadness, England seemed full of discontent – illustrated by the politician's words 'You never had it so good'. Young people were well fed, educated, they had total freedom of choice, yet the crime rate was rising, children of broken homes on the increase, many did not have the joy of a father-figure because modern woman thought she could manage without (by choice or abandoned), and many children were under psychiatric care.

In the same issue were extracts from 'If I had my life to live over' by Erma Bombeck*, written when she found out she was dying of cancer. A few of her 'regrets':

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have taken time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show dirt, or would last a lifetime.

When my children kissed me impetuously, I would never have said 'Later, now go get washed up for dinner'.

There would have been more 'love you's. More 'I'm sorry'.

Now, 14 years later, neither of us is terminally ill, but it's often difficult to be cheerful. However, the picture above has real meaning. Among the girls is the one we have 'brought up' from the age of 7. She was rescued from an awful childhood, and taken into a Catholic convent. We paid all the bills, and visited 9 times. I lost touch – her English is not good. Then I heard she had moved states, followed by the news that she was ill and had an abortion. Reading between the lines it seems likely she was raped, she'd never tell me. I thought she was dead. Now, she has 'surfaced' through Facebook, it was her birthday a couple of days ago, and we are going to be 'grandparents' again in a few months. (She regards us as her parents, and our children as her siblings, she knows all about them). Reasons to be cheerful indeed.

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

* Erma Bombeck was a much syndicated writer of humorous columns in the US, she died of kidney failure.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/reasons-to-be-cheerful

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Saying Goodbye.

Yesterday my very courageous daughter said her goodbyes to her grandma. She didn't know, until we were at the hospital, that it would probably be be last time she saw her. Nor did I before we went. I just suddenly instinctively knew and I told my daughter to say anything she needed to say. What a brave young girl. Aged just 12.

It took me ages to get to sleep last night and I'm awake early this morning. I don't know how long left we have with Mum, whether it's days or a few weeks even. I do know, however, that this is the beginning of the end.

I feel stupidly strong and needy all at the same time. I feel lonely, yet loved. I feel numb and choked, yet I can still make my Dad (step-dad) laugh a little. Although he is devastated.

I lost my brother in December. Now it's time to be brave again. I'm getting ready to say goodbye again. I know this is all part of life. You may have been through this already with a parent. Or another loved one. I know that many Moodscopers have.

I'm so sorry that this is a sad blog and I certainly don't want to rake up painful memories for anyone. I'm just asking for your support. A hug would be lovely. Thank you.

Jane SG
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-goodbye

Friday, 1 September 2017

Boys Don't Cry.

I casually remarked to the Man with Two Brains that it seemed to be the case that the majority of the bloggers and contributors to Moodscope were women.

That familiar smirk, he's about to say something he thinks is very clever.

"It stands to reason doesn't it? You're all nutters. These forums are all filled with women having a good moan"

I should explain that he is so-called high functioning Aspergers. One of three brothers, no sisters, off to boys boarding school aged 12, followed by a largely male college at Oxford, Officer in the Navy, then career in engineering. Only three girlfriends in his life including me. I say "girlfriends" but soft-hearted charitable ladies would be more accurate.

All of this makes him eminently qualified, in his eyes, to be an expert on female psychology. We once read a book and did tests on the extreme male/female brain. We are each perfect examples.

To be fair to him, he is very respectful of the few women he encounters in his professional life. We have had very many rocky patches in our years together. Were it not for our adored rescue dogs I doubt we would be together today. One particularly bad patch was last winter. I asked if he would consider finding himself a therapist. If I am honest, it was not because I hoped it would help us stay together, things seemed to have gone too far. My main intention was to allow us to discuss parting without bringing on one of his meltdowns.

To my great surprise he agreed. His chosen therapist was a woman of around my age (I am older than him). They got on well, and he accepted a lot of her insights. We are still together, and I have no doubt he will go back to therapy if the need arises.

This got me thinking though. Are there actually more female members of Moodscope? Do the men feel intimidated? I wonder if they are more inclined to do the daily test. It is a bit technical and maybe they relate to it more easily. I hardly ever do the test, but I do read the blogs and comments nearly every day.    

I would really like to hear the male viewpoint on mental illness, anxiety, mood swings, despair. Are they having to put on a brave act with everyone in their lives? I think it is true that in all age groups men are at much higher risk of suicide than women. Why is this?

Come on boys,have a good moan, you never know, it might help.

Valerie
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/boys-dont-cry

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Waving but refusing to drown.

I've been quiet on Moodscope for a while, not because of illness, but actually because I've had a period of good health.

So when my current period of illness arrived rather unexpectedly, it took me by surprise. It has come on slowly, just as work has quietend down and the school holidays arrived. Instead of being happy, my mood has nosedived and anxiety rocketed.

I'm torn between fighting this depression, keeping my very British stiff upper lip, or feeling it, owning it and giving in to 'it', whatever 'it' is. This might even mean taking time off work which is definitely not part of my plan.

In the spirit of self-care, I am trying to keep going and to keep to a routine. The dog has been walked, I have met up with a friend for a Balti and cheerily engaged in conversation with fellow dog walkers, despite feeling bloody awful (with apologies to those who object to swearing!)

Melanie recently blogged about how you can tell yourself you feel something but also tell yourself that this doesn't mean that you ARE that feeling (Feeling my feelings, 21st August). So....I may feel awful but I am not awful, for example.

I feel like I am drowning but I am not drowning because I know that I can swim. I need buoyancy aids (medication, decent food, exercise, a good friend) but I know that eventually I will swim through this rather murky, cold sea and find a calm lake where I can rest. (Psalm 23 comes to mind for those of a religious persuasion...)

I hope that whatever you are feeling today you can take comfort from the fact that there are others feeling it to and that you are part of a Moodscope community that genuinely cares about your wellbeing.

So I send a friendly wave from this part of the world...

BrumMum
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/waving-but-refusing-to-drown

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Building Something Amazing.



I have discovered nine magic words.

Those words are, "I'm a writer. May I ask you some questions?"

Magic; every time. It's amazing what people will tell you if you ask.

Of course, a lot of the time I'm asking people questions they're happy to answer. This weekend was an instance.

Yesterday an artist came to our beach and built this. I hope you can see the image. It's a six-foot-high tower of rocks, the largest about ten inches in diameter and the smallest, right at the top, an irregular cone, about an inch and a half at its base. It's like a perpendicular piece of dry stone wall, an incredible feat of engineering and balance.

James Brunt is an artist who travels the country. He paints, he works with children - creating practical projects like den-making, but at every beach he builds a sculpture like this one.

Of course, it's a wonderful piece of mindfulness, as the focus and concentration required is absolute. For about an hour he's at one with the beach and the rocks. Even the fact the piece of art he creates is necessarily temporary is part of it. He takes photographs, but he leaves no material legacy; his art is ephemeral.

But what was of most interest to me is the principals of engineering he uses. When I asked, he demonstrated, balancing one rock upon another on the sea wall.

There are three important considerations.

1) There must be three firm points of contact between each stone
2) There must be an absolute centre of gravity
3) The engineer uses the imperfections in the stones to create the stability

It came to my mind that these principals of engineering could very well be applied to our own lives. We need three points of contact: friends, family, our work, our faith, hobbies for which we have a passion, our pets. The list of possible contacts is probably endless and only you know which ones you can lean on (and know that you too, will provide a point of contact to support someone else).

Our centre of gravity must be our own moral compass. For some that comes from their faith or spirituality, for some from their basic humanity. We need a place to stand and that place must be founded on truth and acceptance, both of self and of others. Which brings me to the third and most important point.

We know that we are not perfect. Nobody is. We have imperfections, and that is what makes us perfect to build with.

Our points of contact are also not perfect but our joint imperfections fit together perfectly, allowing us to build together something bigger than we are as individuals.

James Brunt could build a tower with perfectly regular stones, but it would be like building with Lego: boring and without the seeming magic of impossibility. There would be no art.

It is our imperfections which make us art; which make us impossibly beautiful.

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/waving-but-refusing-to-drown

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Facing an uncomfortable truth.

For the past ten years I have used my lived experience of mental illness to give talks to community groups, self-help groups, carers and mental health forums. I have also written articles, blogs, and given radio and newspaper interviews. I always pride myself on my honesty as I feel it helps others and reduces the stigma involved with mental illness. I would answer questions as openly as I could and I felt no topic was out of bounds.

Last week my daughter asked if I could help her with her assignment about parenting and mental health as part of her studies. As soon as I read her email I felt my jaw tighten, tummy feel uncomfortable, my chest fill with guilt and my lower lip start to wobble. This was not a good start.

I rarely write or talk about my parenting because I reasoned my children need their privacy.

I have had my parenting decisions questioned in the past but in last few years I had decided the past was the past and to concentrate on the present and future. This had been working well but now I felt the peace was being threatened.

I have so much guilt about my parenting that it could not be contained in one lifetime so I had buried the pain and the guilt into a box. Unlike Pandora this box was never ever going to be open. However, my maternal instinct that wanted to help my child created more guilt and angst.

Who am I? I thought I was this open and honest person prepared to reveal all so that the discussion of mental health and its stigmatisation can be as detailed and thorough as possible.

I was now thinking of my self-preservation as I did not want to open that box.

I think the hard part is not just remembering the bad decisions I made as a parent but the fact I am not as honest and open as I thought. The hardest part is the disappointment I read in my daughter's email. I let her down when she was a child and now I am disappointing her again.

After many tears and soul searching we made a compromise and she emailed me some questions, which I answered, it was difficult but I did it.

Have you had to face some unpleasant truth about yourself? How did you handle it?

Are there things in your past you would rather leave there?

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/facing-an-uncomfortable-truth

Monday, 28 August 2017

Love me... love me not.

I grew up in a culture where men came first. It sounds negative but it wasn't always. Men being first on the food chain also meant they were to shoulder the heavier responsibilities in life; such as earning the family's income and disciplining the kids. Males went forth and slew dragons while the females looked after the household, their man, and the children born of that union.

The life I signed up for was the life I knew was expected of me. At fourteen I fell in love without reserve and planned my future around him; his work and provision for us, right down to the used, modest mobile home with dark paneling and shag rug. We would set up home in the yard of a family member like young couples did in my hometown; until we grew enough equity to place the trailer on a small acreage.

One day he just turned and walked away. We were fourteen - neither of us had the skills to manage a relationship muchless a breakup. It hurt me deeply then and it often comes to mind.

After a second boyfriend came along I found it helped assuage the pain of rejection from the first. And so on. I went through a string of unhealthy relationships. So desperate for love and affection that had been missing from my austere upbringing. I did not date so much as seize ahold of someone and hope to build something that worked. I became a relationship addict.

My children were conceived in ill fated relationships and I have many major regrets around that and the numerous failed romances they were affected by.

"You have a broken picker," a friend told me once, in regards to men.

I have a diploma in addictions counselling that has helped me along the journey of healing, self forgiveness and acceptance.

"Addiction is that thing that makes you fail in your responsibilities," was the speech the principal gave at my oldest daughters grade nine graduation. He continued on to say that the fourteen and fifteen year olds were at the age where addictions were established.

Sometimes I still get an outbreak of the; "if only's," that I have to talk back to. "If only my first love had worked out...life would have been so much more organized." Then I ask myself; do I really wish I was living in the shadow of another? Would I be happy stuck in a town so tiny and equally small minded where even stomach aches are practically communal? No, no, and no.

Today I have two beautiful daughters, a dozen careers and a rainbow of experiences to draw wisdom from. I refuse to have hurtful relationships; friendship or otherwise. When I visit my hometown the women and I exchange admiring glances. They perhaps looking at my freedom of clothing and expression; myself appreciating the role they staunchly perform in starched dresses.

I am grateful life turned out better than I signed up for.

Bailey
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/love-me-love-me-not

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Pinny on!

In case the word pinny is not widely used (I'm Scottish), it is an apron. Stick on your aprons, for today is cooking day.

Long, long ago, in a far away time, I was the unhealthiest person who lived. Then forces combined, I turned over a new leaf and have never looked back. I'm passionate about breakfast. I make breakfasts seven days a week and sometimes it is a far better meal than my dinner offerings. I'm told this is how it should be for a happy digestion... eat like a King for breakfast, a Queen for lunch and a pauper for dinner.

So, today then. What are we having? Or tomorrow if you are unprepared. Personally, the humble egg is my best friend. Get out a small pan and slide in a little oil. Crack in two of the world's best sources of protein, preferably in silence. Look out the window whilst allowing them a few minutes to very gently bubble. Lift, then lay them honourably over a crusty source. Give thanks to the knife and fork as they aide your first achievement of self-care in the day.

Eat well my friends!

Love from

The room above the garage.
A Moodscope member

P.S. Removing the pinny before you leave the house is not essential but often spares blushes. Yet another thing I had to learn the hard way.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/pinny-on

Saturday, 26 August 2017

N.E.D.

I am a teacher. I still see myself as such even though I haven't been in a classroom since 2009. I became too ill to work and although I have managed to return to employment, so far it has been as a cleaner or shop assistant although I have recently gone up in the world by getting an admin job.

When I was working as a teacher I had a picture of NED and what he stood for in my classroom. Not my own idea but adopted from something my children had been told at Primary School:

Never give up
Encourage others
Do your best

NED!

I found it really inspirational that Primary school children were being encouraged to think like this. The degree to which mental health issues exist in our young people is becoming clearer and more disturbing every day. Anything we can do to make them aware, to teach them to help themselves and that encourages them to help others, will help develop their resilience. It is never too early to start building resilience that they can use for the rest of their lives. My first born started showing signs of depression at 8 years old and children, as you probably know, can be depressed a lot younger than that.

I am a Secondary school teacher - so I took NED and any other ideas I had to the teenagers there. They seized upon whatever I could offer them, however simple my offerings were, like a drowning person clutching at straws. I only wish I could have offered them an entire programme of life skills, but I was there to teach English so I had neither the training nor the remit to do so (Mr Gove was insisting on Shakespeare and syntax instead).

Only the other day I found myself encouraging my two daughters with those simple statements (still, after all these years!) And it made me think that maybe the Moodscope community would find encouragement from them too:

Never give up
Encourage others
Do your best

I don't know about you but I need it short, pithy, simple but also powerful when I am struggling (Keep It Simple Stupid! KISS - another mnemonic I use). So if you are struggling, write down NED. Tell yourself what each letter stands for and try to follow those instructions. I hope it helps a bit.

Lots of love,

Marmaladegirl
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-e-d

Friday, 25 August 2017

An uphill descent.



When I was 13 I went on a walk with friends. We came to the top of a steep hill and started the walk down. I soon missed my footing and found myself trotting to keep on my feet. This accomplished, I tried to slow my pace, but the momentum of my downward trot soon had me running. I tried to slow down with increasing desperation because I could see where this was going. As I continued downwards my momentum would outstrip my pace, and then I would really fall. And that's exactly what happened. No matter what I did I couldn't slow down; in fact I was gathering speed. Half way down the hill my feet went from under me and I fell headlong, bounced a bit, and finally came to rest with the breath knocked out of me.

Apart from the initial shock and some impressive bruises, I was fine. Because this was a real hill and my body took the fall. When my mind takes the same journey things tend not to turn out so well.

It's hard to describe (hypo)mania to someone who hasn't experienced it. Surely high is good? At first it seems so. It's like increasing the colour saturation of a photo, making everything more vibrant and engaging. But slide the bar too far and what you see is a scarily unreal intensity of colour.

Someone once told me that a high is actually depression in disguise. And I do see that as my mood goes up, I'm running faster and faster down that hill and the only possible outcome is falling. It's just a matter of when, and how much mayhem I create in the meantime.

Because I do try to slow the pace. I know as soon as I recognise the warning signs exactly where this goes. But there's something so compelling about the momentum of it that I can't make it stop. And, initially at least, I find myself running in the opposite direction of anyone or anything that might slow me down.

Like standing atop a hill, the first part is amazing. Such a clear and beautiful view, perceiving things that are just not visible at ground level. The world is big and expansive and there I stand at the top, above everything that surrounds me. But as I embark on this upward descent the tipping point comes sooner than you can imagine. And then I'm really running, exhilarated but terrified, leaving a trail of chaos In my wake.

They say what goes up must come down, and it applies as much to mood as wallpaper. Because once I'm on that headlong run, the only possible outcome is falling. And falling downhill is no fun at all. You zip past horizontal to land sprawled in a heap somewhere near the bottom.

I don't know the answer. I've not yet found a well paved, level path to walk. All I can hope is that, when I first miss my footing, there's someone there to reach out a hand to catch me.

Becky
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/an-uphill-descent

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Where will it all end?

Or will it?

I am sure many will recognise this endless thought.

Should I go to work today? Or will I stay home, doors locked, curtains drawn, bedcovers safely pulled over my head. Safe and warm. Sleeping.

Will I eat today or stick to the endless mugs of coffee?

Will I answer the phone or stand staring at it as I often do. Waiting, hands wringing praying for it to stop.

This morning whilst putting out the washing (that has been washed three times as I couldn't find the energy to pull it out of the machine), I was distracted by a tiny bird fluttering back and forth, my eyes followed it as it swooped, chirping happily in the sunshine, its only aim to eat and provide for its young: and live.

Beautiful little yellow bird with no thoughts of flying into a wall as I sometimes do whilst driving along, sometimes a bit too fast, sometimes closing my eyes just for a second as if daring something to happen. Never sure what.

No thoughts of lying down in a safe nest of soft covers and closing its small eyes hoping for the sleep that never ends.

The darkness at the top of the garden in the dense woodland looks both a bit scary in the shadows and also very inviting, the small stone steps beckoning me up.

I hear the wind sweep gently through the tall ferns as I take the first step.

I know what will happen if I reach the top.

I will not come back down.

I have planned this moment, though was just never sure when it would come. I had prepared the means (hidden in my secret place under the Hydrangea bush right at the top) to pass into the world of the endless sleep.

Is this where it will all end?

I can hear the phone ringing and feel the warmth of the sun on my back.

I take another step and listen to the happy sounds of children playing somewhere in a sunny green garden.

The pretty bird still swishes back and for, yellow as the golden flowers beneath her.

Shall I take the next step which would take me out of the sunshine into the shadows or should I try once more to find the point of it all?

My cat curling around my ankles looks up at me, eyes locked unspoken words.

I turn then and cannot see through my tears as I walk back into the brightness.

Where will it all end?

Or will it?

Audrey
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/where-will-it-all-end

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Abigail and Sarah.



My daughter has two soft dolls named Abigail and Sarah. Her brother picked them out for her in a shop in France when he was aged 6 and she was just 6 months old. He insisted that she had to have them both and he named them.

Since then Abigail and Sarah have always been my daughter's most prized possessions. They have gradually gone from their original soft lilac and pink colours respectively, to being covered in patches of pinks, purples, flowers and hearts. Abigail used to rattle but, having been crushed at some point, an operation at the Teddy Bear hospital only restored a faint sound. Sarah used to have a loud squeak but, after being run over by a car, now only squeaks quietly. They have both been lost, (the anguish), and then found, (the joy), more than once. They now stay in the safe haven of my daughter's bedroom and are still hugged every night and loved more than ever. In spite of being far from their original glory, to my daughter they are the most beautiful things in the world.

You may have been crushed in your life. You may have lost your squeak or rattle. You may feel that your original colours have faded. I wonder though have you patched yourself up or been patched up? Do you feel loved? Can you see that whatever life has thrown at you that you are still here, in all your glory. You are the most beautiful being in the world.

Sending you love today.

Jane SG 
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/abigail-and-sarah

Monday, 21 August 2017

Feeling my feelings.

A phrase from A Course in Miracles is: "In my Defencelessness my Safety lies."

I had been thinking this meant a sort of "turn the other cheek" way of behaving towards others – not reacting, not attacking back – and I think it does mean this. Today I understood also that "defencelessness" is about being undefended to my own feelings, letting myself feel my sadness or my fear/anxiety or whatever it is, leaning into it, welcoming it, really feeling it and even if at that moment there is no relief, shortly after, as I go about my daily business, there is indeed relief.

Listening to Mike Robbins in a 2017 Hayhouse summit talk yesterday - he was talking about his mentor encouraging him to give himself permission to feel powerless. He did not want to do this, however he started to do a meditation using such words as "I give myself permission to feel powerless - it does not mean I am powerless."

So I can say (for example): "I give myself permission to feel left out - it does not mean I AM left out." "I give myself permission to feel anxious. It does not mean I AM anxious." A big one for me – for I avoid situations where I might feel jealous as much as I can: "I give myself permission to feel jealous. It does not mean I AM jealous. It is just a feeling." Another one: "I give myself permission to feel lonely. It does not mean I AM lonely."

Another 2017 Hayhouse summit talk was by Andy Newbigging. He had the phrase: "I am willing to experience...." So it goes like this: "I am willing to experience the human emotion of loneliness". How relaxing is that!

What Andy says is that we are all resisting life - either resisting something or attached to its opposite, often both. Once we stop resisting we become free - both to experience it and to experience its opposite. In my defencelessness my safety lies. If I am willing to experience unhappiness then the option of happiness also opens up to me.

I would love to hear your experiences and how this resonates or not with you.

Melanie
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/feeling-my-feelings

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Comfort zone stay or leave?

My neighbour was telling us how good she felt venturing out of her comfort zone, travelling for a few days by herself to a big city to go to visit an art gallery. She rarely goes away by herself as it makes her anxious so she was so pleased that she made the effort and had a good time.

A friend who heard this story, said to me later that she often hears and reads the term 'comfort zone' and how it appears we are constantly pressured to move out of our 'comfort zone.' She then confessed, against popular thought, that she likes the term comfort zone and has no wish to leave it.

She explained it took her a long time and many years of depression and sickness and struggle to reach a Comfort Zone. She wondered when did 'comfort' become a negative word?

I agree that Comfort is good, and feels warm, snuggly and healing.

While it is a great place to be in when the depression, insecurity, self doubts hits hard, it can be a place of retreat, where just being may be the best thing one can do at that time.

That does not mean that I always want to stay in that safe place. There are times for me when I need to experience something different. I know I always have soft place to land.

I wonder if part of liking ourselves is knowing when it is okay to be in our comfort zone, and to have the strength and ability to experience a new activity.

For some, staying in the comfort zone may mean that they are preventing themselves from growing or experiencing life. Maybe we can still do that from our comfort zone.

There is no point in pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to do public speaking, dancing or mountain climbing if you have no interest in those activities.

Once we feel better we can venture to try things which fit with our values or we would like to try.

So, are you someone who feels he/she has struggled so hard to have a comfort zone that leaving it is not an option?

Do you want to give three cheers for your comfort zone and say don't pressure me to leave as I took so long to get here?

What you have done when you moved out of your comfort zone and how did it feel?

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/comfort-zone-stay-or-leave

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Terrible at accepting help.

Today, I went to a social gathering outside in a garden with a lovely lunch buffet. Not usually much of a problem for me, but I've recently acquired a hindrance: a crawling baby. Everything she sees, she wants, and she wants to put it in her mouth, from grass to glasses, handbags to shoes, and even very occasionally her toys. Added to that she's at the stage where a parent has to be in sight at all times and everyone else is a scary monster (unless their toes are tasty or they are a useful climbing frame). Suddenly acquiring food at a buffet seemed an impossible task.

Now there were plenty of offers of help to be had but I spent most of the lunch trying to do things on my own. Why? Sometimes it's an understandable impracticality: I'm a fussy eater, so "Can I get you a plate of food", the most common refrain, was never going to work for me. Sometimes it's fear of inconveniencing someone: I don't want to leave a baby who will probably scream her head off as soon as I'm out of sight, I don't want to inflict that on them. (And then I start to worry that if I carry on that way she'll never get used to strangers, but parental anxiety is a story for another day.) Sometimes it's purely lack of trust.

But often it's a case of wanting to do it all myself, of being seen to be independent and capable. My brain is telling me that I should be able to do it all by myself. There's two flaws I can see in that thinking. Firstly, accepting help doesn't necessarily imply that I can't do a thing, simply that it's easier with someone along side me. And secondly, why "should" I be able to do everything? How absurd. If my skill set in life doesn't include being able to juggle a baby, a plate, and those things you use to serve up salad then it doesn't make me a failure as a human, just normal.

My pride was getting in the way and making life that little bit more difficult. As with a lunch buffet, so with the bigger things in life. There are days where I can get through by myself, but a chat with a friend or a hug make it that much easier. And there are times when I can't get through the day without help from others, and that's alright too.

As I was going, a friend offered to pack some things away. Could I have done it myself?  Sure. But it was a lot easier with help.


Lucy
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/terrible-at-accepting-help

Friday, 18 August 2017

When the rain stops pouring.

I've always found friendships a little tough. I'm a very loyal person and have often felt disappointed in loyalty not being returned. At the same time, I can easily feel suffocated and far too watched and minded in friendships. Throughout my life I've found my friendships ebb and flow, mainly ebb. I lost friends when they had children and I didn't. I lost friends when I had three children very close in age and they didn't. I lost many friends when my marriage ended. It has made me become choosy about who I trust and how I trust, but perhaps I've always been like that.

This is not a sad story. I really like where I am now. I have a small circle of general friends and a very tiny group who don't know each other but who are trusted implicitly. I'm lucky to have my brothers and parents. We're close in that if we don't all see each other for months we don't take offence and when something big happens we are tight. Few people know of my depression. Only one knows how far it took me. I don't have, and never will have, long term friends who have been with me always and who might combine to form a 'Friends' style TV moment. But as I say, this is not a sad story.

Nowadays, I tend to go about life making the most diverse and intense connections which can continue to make me smile and feel good months, even years, after we've met and un-met. Let me just clarify, I'm not up alleyways having clandestine encounters!

Most recently I met a gorgeous Taxi driver, comfortably aged with a comfortable aura. A youngish grandfather of nearly four, trousers pressed, shirt fresh, tie, cab spread with obligatory travel rug and a conversation to die for. I confess I have more than a soft spot for the older generation. I could have travelled around the town twice and not tired of his words. He had the art of conversation, not talking too long on himself before bouncing the conversation to me. Always more comfortable investigating others lives, I filled in the blanks and returned the ball. At the end of our half hour journey, he rounded down my fare and I tipped. I told him I'd had a lovely time talking with him and he said "and I enjoyed it very much too". After we parted, and he turned his cab, he leant forward to find me in the crowd and smiled and waved. I was already there to return it. His wave lifted me on to a wave which I'm still enjoying more than a month on.

What is my message today? That depression is occasionally a great thing. That the searing, soul despairing ache and physical pain can sometimes bring with it an ability to find true contentment in the smallest of things. And I wish everyone could have that.

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:

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/when-the-rain-stops-pouring