Saturday, 30 December 2017

Never surrender!

Well I don't know about other Moodscope members, but I travel to the darkside quite often with my anxiety and depression, and being menopausal doesn't help either!! And everytime I go there I think that I'm not going to make it back, but I always do and suprise myself, be it with the help of medication, family and friends support or just with the strength of character that I don't think I posses but obviously I do!!

Life is a constant fight and it is frightening and very lonely at times even with a good support network around me. I know it is difficult for people to understand my condition unless they have experienced something similar themselves, so I do try and explain, eventhough it is difficult to find the words sometimes.

But I'm back again and fighting on and I will continue to do so and never surrender!!

Sharon the brave
Moodscope member

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Friday, 29 December 2017

Different strokes for different folks.

Advice on how to cope with depression and anxiety isn't in short supply, but it's unrealistic to think that everything works equally well for all people. This isn't just true for self-help of course, but for a huge range of human experiences.

Take sport, for instance. A coaching tip that connects with one person might have no impact on another. As our friend told us, after years of struggling, his skiing was immediately improved when his instructor explained that turning required the same shift of weight you use to dodge around an opponent in rugby. It worked for him but not for anyone else in the group.

The moral is, try lots of different things until one connects directly with you. You don't know what it's going to be until you give it a go. One Moodscoper told us that for her, the best coping mechanism is a particular form of exercise, not exercise in general. Her guaranteed antidote her is circuit training - a gym session where you go through a prescribed set of exercises, moving from one routine to another without break, followed by a period minutes of stretching and relaxation.

She's tried many other forms of working out but none came close as a mood-booster. She's not exactly sure why circuit training is her thing. Perhaps it's because you have to follow a set routine, with no room for decisions. In a way, it doesn't matter why it works so well. She's just glad that she discovered an infallible method of lifting her mood.

What works for you?

The Moodscope team.

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Thursday, 28 December 2017

From thinker to doer.

I haven't been working now for 6 months. I was worried that a period of not working would bring on an episode as it did in the past, but it hasn't - thank goodness.

Many things have helped - but one of the things that has kept me well has been my transition from being a 'thinker' to a 'doer'.  I've (almost) always ruminated and over thought and I'm sure that has added insult to injury. I knew I was going to be made redundant so while going through that stressful period, I made plans. I was going to look for work, do a work related online course, and decorate so that if the worst came to the worst, I can rent out my spare room to cover the mortgage.

As yet, I've not finished decorating but have made a number of different things (knitted 2 jumpers, set up two websites!) and have finished the online course. Work is still not forthcoming but I will keep on keeping on.

Work has always provided me with cash to live but more importantly perhaps is a routine which simply disappears when you stop. I'm making my own routine and it's working.

Despite the money worries and insecurity, I'm well - and that's what matters.

When life doesn't go to plan, how do you react? Is it having a detrimental effect on your condition?

The wee one
A Moodscope member.

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Wednesday, 27 December 2017

The Terrifying Prospect of Another Year.

[To listen to an audio version of this blog, please click here:]

So – that's over then.

Yes – the 25th has been and gone. We survived, if only just.

There's still family to visit of course and the almost equally dreaded New Year's Eve. We have a party this year – but a small party – just a get-together of good friends. So, it won't be too bad. It won't be like other parties where I have crept away to hide. I have been known to slink underneath a handy table, one with a long tablecloth, just to get away. I have sought refuge in the kitchen washing up. "Oh – don't do that!" says my hostess, a little embarrassed. "Go back out there and enjoy yourself." Enjoy myself? I'd rather scrub dishes, thank you.

But this is a small party where everyone knows me well enough I can say, "I'm just going to check out for a bit. I'll be back in a while." They know I need my alone time.

People who don't know me well only remember me from my manic days when I was the life and soul of the party. I can still perform on occasion – after all, part of my job is to give entertaining talks. I'm pretty good at that. Parties – not so much. If I can find one interesting person to talk to for most of the evening, that's fine. Working the room? I mean – how on earth does one work a room, for goodness' sake?

And then, 2018. The whole year, stretched out before us, challenging us to do something with it. It's like that length of fabric or pack of beautiful paper, or piece of wood. We feel we really ought to do something worthwhile with it. Maybe we should have a project. We should achieve something with it.

How about we just have a project to survive to the end of 2018, to just get through? For some of us, that is an achievement in itself. In my darkest times, just getting through to the end of the day was a victory. Getting through the whole year was worthy of an Olympic medal!

I've got a few plans. Keeping on with being healthy is one. I want to carry on working towards the goal on the scales (it's a reasonable one – don't be concerned). I want to stay on top of the drinking. I'd like my business to make a profit. It doesn't even have to be a big profit, just so long as it's paying me, rather than the other way around.

I'd like to stay talking to my girls and my husband. I'd like to stay talking to my friends and nurture those friendships.

Small ongoing goals. Carrying on, really. Keeping on keeping on. Appreciating the small joys and getting through the inevitable griefs and challenges.

2018 doesn't have to be special. If we get to Christmas next year then that's enough.

It's more than some can hope for, after all.

A Moodscope member.

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Tuesday, 26 December 2017

I'm fine, just a little tired.

When you ask me what's wrong, I'm not sure what to say.

Do you wanna hear how I wish I could crawl out of my own skin because it doesn't feel much like home anymore?

Do you wanna hear how I don't mind the voices in my head or the ringing in my ears because then I know I'm not alone?

Do you wanna hear how I can't stand to look in the mirror anymore because I don't know what self love is?

Do you wanna hear about how I'm not sure what love is because it's something so foreign to me?

Do you wanna hear about how I cant sleep much anymore so I often find myself thinking about everything I wish I could change.

Do you wanna hear about how I'm not even sure why I'm sad, I just know that this hole inside me shouldn't be here.

I know that these things are things you don't need to hear, so instead I tell you I'm fine, just a little tired

A Moodscope member.

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Monday, 25 December 2017

Merry Moodmas.

"And so this is Christmas. And what have we done. Another year over. And a new one just begun." (John Lennon)

Those words always prove to me that my internal pipework is working beautifully. My astonishing creation of a body can read the words, convert them to emotion which turns cogs and wheels, and produce tears. It's quite an amazing feat and I am fascinated.

And so I read the words. I puddle the tears. Some spill. And there must be a lesson in there.

I like to see this time of year as the middle of the year. I find it too hard to deal with the weight of it being both 'the end' and 'the start'. It's too much. I make a strong effort to remind myself daily that it's just another week in the middle.

What I would like to remind you of is that you are here and you are reading this. I bet you have had a wonderful Christmas somewhere in your history and I bet you have had an awful one too. I know I have. And maybe this year it will lean more towards one than the other. But what you must remember, and really give yourself credit for, is that between all the days from then to now you have held yourself up, got yourself through and never given up. Those who have not suffered with poor mental health cannot possibly understand how immense that achievement is.

The paper and the boxes and the endless plastic packaging which require pliers, patience and swearing (is it just me?) can all take a back seat. The best present is to ourselves and it is the gift of recognition. To recognise that we have, once again, clung on, made it through and that we are still doing it. We have done it before, we can do it again. And I am so very proud of you all. People I have never met, but sometimes hear comments from, I share in your disappointments and your achievements as well as those of you I have never heard from but who I know read, digest and silently keep on.

I consider you all good friends with big hearts. I like being a part of us, steadying each other over stepping stones, and I wish you all to treat your absolute 'needs' first and then have a very Merry Moodmas. So glad to walk with you.

Much love from

The room above the garage with the little lights.
A Moodscope member.

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Sunday, 24 December 2017

Are you a party person?

Depending on your personality, you have been longing for or dreading this time of year: office parties, Christmas with the family and the silliness of New Year's Eve. The recent blog, on the joy of snow, had as the thought for the day 'Never ever underestimate the importance of having fun'.

The snow reminded me that it wrecked our 55th wedding anniversary. Our 63rd was on the 19th December – I thought 'pointless celebration, my husband still knows I am his wife, but blames me for "getting rid of him" into a care home. But there they are all 'party people', birthdays celebrated with a gather round, cake and a sing-song. Mr G not keen on latter, but I'm half the marriage, so made a big variety of little cakes popular over many decades, staff were pleased.

I think our 48th anniversary was in Madras (Chennai). Decorated chairs with gold bows, red roses for me and a disgusting cake. The Taj group keep records, and realised we had a golden wedding coming up. They suggested we fly a load of friends and family out, with the inducement that the hotel was always set up for Bollywood movies, and our party could be part of one! As it happened, a daughter said 'Party is on us (in UK) but I needed to take 50 year history of photos of business, travel and family. A tall order – resulted in displays which pleased everybody and an album of 'composites'. The cake, made by me, was totally OTT.

When we left our second house, we thought that if you had a house warming party why not a house cooling? So we told the kids and the au pair to invite their friends. Coming downstairs, I greeted 'guests' and asked whose friends they were. Nobody, they'd just heard there was a good party! There were 28 for breakfast the next morning, the removal men arrived, took one look and started the other end of the house (it had 17 rooms, we could not afford to live in it). My oldest friend, very acerbic, phoned for news. 'We've just had a super party' (14th July, I think). 'Oh, you two, you'd have a party if you cut your fingernails'.

When the son who is 60 next week was 6 he wanted a party – for 30 littles boys. Riot wasn't in it – we used the village hall, not going to wreck the house. They fought, they went up one side of the stage and down the other, they illustrated the meaning of a 'bun fight', Then, being polite little boys they left, panting, saying 'We've never had so much fun in our lives'. (Back to thought for the day).

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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Saturday, 23 December 2017

Blog through the fog.

The fog being my brain.

Why do we develop these mental states that haunt us and tie us down?

I observed that my nerve left me some time in my early 50's. After a very active career, filled with travel, new people, hard work and daily changes of routine, I had become reluctant to even drive to the garden centre! Driving now being the cause of several heart pounding moments on the M25, among others. The fear of the open road, of all the obstacles, dangers and aggressions of some fellow drivers. It is enough to make me a recluse, except that our lives have to move on.

So have I now become trapped in my fearful mind. Imagining the worst outcome of every journey and searching for non-motorway routes for every trip? People say to me that they too dislike driving, but they will still take on a drive to Manchester or Marseilles, disliking but doing.

I however would do anything to get out of such mileage, for fear of the loss of control or collapse at the wheel. Life limiting.

So why do we change? Life experience should make us stronger not weaker? Fear creeps up on us and slaps us on the back. Pinning you down and slowing your step. It infects your world, grabbing at your insecurities, expanding your imagination of the imminent disasters you could befall. Pull yourself together. Get a grip. It's all in your mind. It's not real.

Oh but it is. To me.

A Moodscope member.

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Friday, 22 December 2017

Christmas approaches...

For years I have written a Christmas 'Round Robin' letter updating friends with news of my life. These have been happy, sad, distressing, heartbroken, glad and joyous synopses and keep me in touch with those I love and admire.

I wrote to Moodscope once and the replies I received were so welcome and I apologise that I never responded to any of the kind people who wrote and helped me at a very difficult time. I thought I was ok but regressed and went back to a dark place in my mind and life.

Recently I have had good news regarding a cancer op and am clear for the next year and now my son and his wife have given me a gorgeous grandson. My feelings however have been put into turmoil as I expected none of the extreme negative feelings I now have again towards my ex husband who left me after 32 years of marriage and married a younger 'friend of a friend of his'!

All your thoughts and expectations are paramount when married of the time to come when grandchildren arrive and then to enjoy them with your partner/husband. This for me is especially so at Christmas time which is so wonderful when children make it very special.

It is my circumstance of being alone that makes what used to be a lovely time for me in the family home now so different... My son and daughter in law have kindly asked me to stay over with them on Christmas Eve and we will then go to her parents to stay over on Christmas day evening. They have always been wonderful and generous to me with their care and consideration. Then on Boxing Day my son, wife and my grandson will be with my ex-husband and his wife... and this is where the pain intensifies and continues for me... I truly resent they will all be together and I accept I am deeply angry. My son still loves his father and they have to accept his wife and be with them also at Christmas.

This is not how I thought my life and retirement would be and I am finding it much harder to cope with now I am a grandmother. I so wanted to have lots of time being around with my grandson but now I am 72 and thoughts of that time being so limited scares me and fills me with sadness. I can just try to accept what I can't change and cheer myself up with the fact that the option to not growing old is certainly unwanted!

It is so hard to be alone and the family time of Christmas accentuates this. I keep going through in my mind all the good things I have in my life and try not to be negative and know that I will pull through when the 'Season of Good Cheer' is over!!! I will make the most of my future time with my grandson, son and daughter in law and try to lose my bitterness. I know it is not good for me but its hard to shift and to find a peaceful and rested mind.

I wish all Moodscopers a very Good Christmas and I hope peace and joy will prevail for you.


Lyn x
A Moodscope member.

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Thursday, 21 December 2017

For times of need.

Clearly more of an earth warrior than I credit myself for, I am recycling a blog. Yikes!  Cheating! No? Yes.

In this season I have one time when I can listen to Christmas music. It's at the very start when my children pull out the CDs and for a while we take therapy in belting out each and every last Christmas song from Wham to Sinatra.

From that point, on all of the other days, sometimes just on repeated repeat, I play this.  Over and over and over and over. I carry it from house to car, from car to house. I have it on my phone, I have it on CD, I am seeking out vinyl. Sometimes I just concentrate on their faces.

It gets me through absolutely everything. I share it again with you. May it help:

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Christmas and Candles.

[To listen to an audio version of this blog please click here:]

"Are you ready for Christmas?" asked a poem read out on Sunday.

It was our carol service; the church was packed.

We have a pretty church, parts of it dating back to the 600s; part of it built only ten years ago. It sits on the banks of the river Ouse, set on a rise, so the floods of winter never reach it, although they come right up to the gate.

From the church door, you look across the water meadows. In summer they are lush, grazed by fat cattle, their tails flicking in the sunshine; swallows darting between the willows. In December, they are a scene in monochrome: grey pencilled lines of grass and charcoal etched branches against a Payne's Grey wash of sky. And between the church and that view, the river.

There have been times when the river has called to me, in my darkness. After rain or snow it runs deep and fast. Branches and other flotsam caught in it, end up at Denver Sluice, fifty miles away. They are used to retrieval operations there.

But my medication is keeping the darkness away. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of it and know it's out there, still lurking. It would love to draw me down – deep down. But it can't, at least, not right now.

So, I stood with quiet joy in my heart as the choir sang the first verse of Once in Royal David's City; unaccompanied and in candlelight.

The first reading was from Isaiah. I sat back and prepared for one of my favourite passages, "The people who have walked in darkness have seen a great light." But it wasn't Isaiah 9, but Isaiah 42: "A bruised reed he will not break and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out."

I imagine, if you are reading this, that – like me – you have often felt like a bruised reed; battered and trodden down in the mud. You have felt it impossible ever to rise again. You have felt as if your flame is the tiniest flicker, just one step away from the grey ash that signals the end of light. Maybe you're there right now. I know there have been many Christmases when I have been there.

This is not a religious post; I wouldn't do that to you – but in answer to the question, "Are you ready for Christmas?" No – I haven't got all my presents. Nothing is wrapped. My cards are unwritten. I haven't got a Christmas menu sorted, let alone bought the food.

But – I am ready for the real message of Christmas. I'm ready for that message of hope, born in darkness. I am ready to hear that my broken reed will be lifted, supported and nursed back to strength. I'm ready to hear that my flickering candle flame will be gently breathed on so it gives light again.

That message of hope applies throughout the year and not just in December.

I'm certainly ready for that.

A Moodscope member.

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Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Are you a weed?

I have noticed that when a living thing is used in a story or to point our psychological strengths and weaknesses it is usually an animal like an elephant, a wolf, a tiger, an owl, a dolphin or some animal like that.

Rarely does anyone use a plant to illustrate a human characteristic let alone a weed. A weed is a plant considered unwanted in a particular situation, that is a weed is a plant in the wrong place.

I have often felt like a weed in my life. I used to think there was something wrong with me but often it was because I was in the wrong place. Maybe with the people who did not understand me, maybe I was in an unsuitable job, maybe I was living in the wrong town, but I usually came to the conclusion there was something not right with me.

The thing is maybe I was a weed and I just need to find the right place for me.

Have you ever felt you were in the wrong place, or you were surrounded by people who did not understand you?

If you moved to another place and found people accepted you did that help?

Or are you still looking for that special environment where you can be appreciated and nurtured?

Have you ever felt like a weed?

A Moodscope member

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Monday, 18 December 2017

It's The Most Vulnerable Time of the Year.

It's back, why does it come back? And why now? It's Christmas and I love Christmas. I love the winter, I love the chilled air and the assault on my senses when I leave the house. I love the list making and the excuse to treat myself and those whom I love. I love the food and wine and chocolate in every room of the house. I love the lit coal fire and the hot water bottles. I love Christmas carols and christmas songs. I love the lights and the smell of the tree. Ok, so I don't love all the socialising, I find the magnitude of social engagements to negotiate terrifying. Oh why has it found me out now?

I've been well really; bobbing along to a merry little rhythm and it's all been fine. I've taken on a couple more hours teaching, joined a social running group, helped on the PTA. The odd down day and I've bounced back up. I'm generally a positive person despite the depression, I'm a teacher, a parent, an empathetic and supportive friend and I live a full life. But it's come back again.

I won't deny looking over my shoulder when I'm whizzing forwards, checking it's not closing in on me. I definitely look ahead and anticipate if it could be looming around the next corner, but I wasn't expecting it to pounce on me with quite so much force. Is it out of the blue?

I want to have a tantrum, stamp my feet and shout in it's face that 'It's not fair!', 'Leave me alone!', 'Go away!'. It has taken over my being again and I'm angry because it's robbed me of the beautiful winter and Christmas with my children. I'm still here, I know, but I'm not me, it's making sure of that.

I know for lots of people Christmas is a time to hibernate or protect themself, last year I was prepared, I had a list ready of 'How to look after myself at Christmas'. It feels too late for that now. What do I do Moodscopers?

A Moodscope member.

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Sunday, 17 December 2017

Tis the season (part iii).

Week 3 together. Something soothing...

Take a piece of paper, real paper, you will be keeping it. And a pencil because if you listen closely you might find the music from its spine as you scribe is on its own worth a ticket fee.

Can you write out a small list of things which make Christmas work? Did you notice that I did not say what makes Christmas 'Christmas' or what makes Christmas 'special' but what makes Christmas work for us. Once its written, all we need to do is to let time take care of it. I'll start you with mine. And it would be interesting, and maybe helpful for others, to hear yours.  My list reads:

To be with a small group of people and to tolerate their differences.
To eat together regardless of what is on the plate.
To sip something special but to value and limit it, water is special to many.
To surprise children with something they had not expected.
To toast those who are no longer at our table but waiting in the next room.

There. Maybe it's not that hard to make Christmas soothing and manageable. The 'right' napkins are not important. We have our lists. Stick yours up and let us all worry less about what does not matter.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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Saturday, 16 December 2017

Waking up to a positive, energetic day.

It's summer in Cape Town and a December south-easter wind rattles roofs and jangles nerves. I am working hard, harder than last month and I'm loving it. This morning I woke to a calming meditation and as I listened the words, "I can do it," came to mind. I went downstairs and made a coffee. I can hear the sound of the ocean and the wind has miraculously calmed down.

As I wait for the water to boil, I think about all the people in the world with no running water, a roof over their heads and a comfortable bed to sleep in. As I pour fresh ground coffee, I feel grateful for the many comforts I enjoy.

Today, I refuse to listen to all the bad news, over and over. It only makes me worried and upset. By letting go of all this noise, I can free my mind to be present to the moment breath by breath.

You see, getting to this place is not easy. As an older woman (now 60), I have fought the world, always wanting to make a difference (whatever that means). I see how futile  is this struggle, this angst. Now, it's about quality of life and making time to be in the flow, in the zone.

Quite simply, I take control of my mind chatter with mindful breathing and a strong commitment to practice loving kindness and to apply the balm of patience to angry and reactive thoughts. They only cloud my judgement and my loving heart is obscured, like clouds in the clear blue sky.

Julia G
A Moodscope member.

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Friday, 15 December 2017

Rip it up and start again.

When I was little I loved to draw stuff even though I am no artist but if I made a mistake on my nice new clean sheet of paper I could not tolerate it and I would screw the paper up and start again. If only real life was so easy.

We all make mistakes as we grow up and become adults. Others may make mistakes in how they treat and relate to us. Sometimes life goes through phases when everything feels like one big mistake. I know. I experienced a lengthy period of depression twenty years ago when my own life felt just like that and which felt like it would never end. But the important thing I think is to realise that life does indeed go through phases. Some are good. Some are bad. Some are short. Some can be very long. Sometimes we get stuck in them and they feel very painful and out of our control or alternatively we can become so familiar with them that we accept them even if they make us feel very uncomfortable.

But do we have to ?... or do we have the power to rip things up and start again?

Do we even want to start again or are we resigned to what we have created or had thrust upon us or even secretly a little proud of our stuff or just don't think we have it within us to draw anything better? The art analogy is taking over !!!

Ironically my husband came to talk to me in the middle of writing this piece and when  I went back to it I thought to myself... maybe this is not very good... maybe nobody will be interested in my ramblings... maybe I'd better scrap it and start again! But after giving it a little more thought I decided not to. Stuff doesn't have to be perfect. Life doesn't have to be perfect and I don't have to be perfect or even try to be perfect any more.

So you can admire the handiwork of your life, paint over it, erase bits of it, embellish it, frame it for everyone to see, be proud of what you have created, hide it somewhere or rip it up and start again. The options are many, you are the artist and the choice is yours.

In keeping with the art analogy, I myself am choosing a clean sheet today but keeping all my  previous efforts, both good and bad, in a treasured portfolio... my mind.

So what will you choose to do today with the masterpiece that is your life ? I can't wait to find out!

Much love to all you moodscopers out there

Romy B
A Moodscope member.

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Thursday, 14 December 2017

Let your happiness start now.

Only a few weeks to Christmas and the race has started already.

"I'm busy, sorry I'll call you later, see you later, I have to go lots of things to do, catch up  another time..." the same words over and over again. It's mad busy out there, may be good busy but it's still busy with the endless run to shops, buying gifts, sending cards, arranging dinners, meeting friends, going out and do not forget the "New Year resolution list".

The so exciting and apprehensive new year list with all the "I must and I will do this and that... to be happy in 2018."

Not surprisingly, with all these things to do and race to run, the Christmas holidays are the height of the flu season.

What about the real meaning of this magical season? Would not the real Christmas miracle be if we slowed down long enough to remember the reason for this festivity so that our celebrations became authentic and meaningful?

So let's slow down and look at our lists again so we can choose to let only what we love best about the holiday remain. Now we can finally relax and be delighted by the sounds of bells and joyful music, savor the aroma of the roast turkey and gingerbread, sipping hot chocolate and re-creating cherished customs that care for our souls and the souls of our loved ones.

Let you happiness start NOW!

Have a peaceful and joyful Christmas

A Moodscope member.

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Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Mens Sana in Corpore Sano - Parte Quinque

[To listen to an audio version of this blog, please click here:]


I write this with a sense of failure.

It is now a month since I started this series and, yes, there is a reason why I left this topic to last. I am lousy at meditation.

Oh, I had such good intentions. I always do. A month, I thought; a month was surely enough to get into good habits.

I sought advice from anyone I could think of who was good at this. I downloaded apps and guided meditations. I subscribed to a couple of daily "Thoughts". But nope, after a month I think I have done exactly two meditations and read maybe four of the thoughts.

So, this morning, I made myself do another meditation. This one from Head Space, which comes highly recommended from a fellow Moodscope user.

Honesty time? Yup – I felt really good after doing it. I felt light and floaty – as if I'd had an hour's whole-body massage in a darkened room with soft panpipe music and jasmine scented air.

But doing it was sheer torture.

So, I identified a few things.

1. I cannot bear to do "nothing". I can't even watch TV without doing the ironing at the same time.
2. I'm really rebellious. When the guide asks me to breathe in a certain way, my reaction is to do exactly the opposite.
3. My inner child feels as if she's being punished; being asked to sit quietly on her hands for those minutes, when she really wants to play.

On the other hand, I do other things which are very nearly meditation.

I have written many times about swimming. There is something about the rhythmical movement of one's limbs through the water, the discipline of breathing, that is conducive to letting one's thoughts wander where they will. I usually use my swimming time to play with ideas for writing and in intercessory prayer – which is different from meditative prayer. Guess what? I'm not much good at meditative prayer either.

Another thing I do is make greetings cards. Apparently, studies have shown that the brainwaves of someone who is deeply involved in a craft process are identical to the brainwaves of someone meditating. So – when I'm cutting paper to millimetre accuracy, when I'm placing that stamp image with pinpoint precision, when I'm gluing embellishments exactly where they need to be: that's as good as meditation. Isn't it?

Well, maybe. I think both are good for mental health. But both are meditation lite. They're not a substitute for the real thing. I rarely rise from a cardmaking session with the feeling of having spent an afternoon in a spa, with that physical feeling which is at once a feeling of heaviness and lightness – a feeling of being effortlessly stretched like Alice after she drank of that bottle so invitingly labelled "Drink Me!"

It's a good feeling. A feeling of being calm, loose, relaxed, centred, resilient. A feeling I'd like to feel again.

Almost worth meditating for.

A Moodscope member.

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Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Do You Wanna Build A Snowman..?

Yay, it's snowing! Outside my garden looks like a Christmas card. I'm impatiently waiting for my daughter and her friends to wake up, after a late birthday sleepover, so we can pull out the sled, build a snowman and generally have fun. Snow happens here in the East Midlands so rarely that, when it does, I make a conscience effort to go outside and have fun and not listen to my 'louder' voice telling me to stay under the covers with hot drinks!! Time for hot chocolate later when we are back in doors with red noses, rosy cheeks and a feeling a contentment and pleasure.

Is snow fun for you? Do you wanna build a snowman?

Jane SG
A Moodscope member.

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Monday, 11 December 2017

How can I help?

Today's poem was inspired by a very genuine friend who was proud of how she gave love letters to homeless people. She assured me that these were received well, and that she never gave them money.

I realised, to my shame, that I was horrified by this. She sincerely believed she was doing them good because nobody told them how beautiful they were and how loved.

However, I also realise that I have turned away from friend and neighbour when it was in my power to make a relevant difference.

Instead, I have shared empty words.

So I wrote this poem to myself, and for whomsoever it resonates with.

True to life, when my turn came to need help, many friends said, "If I can help in any way... just let me know." When the right type of help was blisteringly obvious. Appropriate help did not come.

Christmas is not a happy season for all, but it is a grand opportunity to make a significant difference to someone's life.

Thus here is the poem.

"How can I help?" I helpfully said!
They gasped, "I am thirsty."
So I gave them some bread.


Then I saw a friend stranded - they had a flat tyre.
So I stopped and I hugged them,
And shared a word to inspire!


What of the homeless man exposed to the rain?
Well, I gave him my own ticket
For a cheap flight to Spain!


And when it was my turn...


I said, "Send reinforcements; we're going to die."
You heard, "Lend me fourpence; we're going to fly."
So you said you'd no change, and instead gave a grin,
Not knowing that I was about to give in.


Helping a friend doesn't take the science of a rocket
If your neighbour's in need, put your hand in your pocket.


It doesn't cost much to show that you care;
You may well be the answer
To someone's last prayer.

A Moodscope member.

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Sunday, 10 December 2017

Tis the season (part ii).

It's our second week. If I could create a warm room for us all with soft stuff and candles in the style of the Danish concept Hygge then I would. (Of course, in this virtual world someone else would cook and clean for us, we'd all get along and our differences would dovetail, never to collide.)

How can I bring you something soothing this week? My thought is a reverse advent. For you. Throw around in your head the idea of putting just 5 minutes inwards each day. Only 5 minutes, time it. You can't? I'm raising an eyebrow. A time investment in to you. Just for the season and you can go back to ignoring yourself after December if you wish.

Why not a deposit into the Bank of Mental Health? Daily. Five minutes. You might find it strange. Indulgent. Useless. Absurd. Are you willing to try? You might grow to look forward to it!

Ideas - for me, things like making a fresh bed for myself, a candle with dinner, to rub lotion into my sore feet every morning before socks, drying my hair, lying flat on the floor staring at the ceiling, enjoying the sunset or sometimes just telling myself into the mirror "you are doing ok Room, better than you think".

Maybe you will think it's weird. And maybe you'll like it. Be soothed. Five minutes. A reverse advent.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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Saturday, 9 December 2017

Alert and Ashamed.

Alert: Being quick to notice and react
Ashamed: Feeling shame for doing something wrong or foolish

I have plagiarised the series of excellent blogs by Lex, offered to our Moodscope community quite a while ago (September to November 2013) looking at the Moodscope cards and their meaning. Today I'd like to take another look at the Alert and Ashamed cards.


Lex gives us the vivid examples of pets, seemingly sleeping but with senses still working, easily able to score a 3 on this card because they are ever quick to notice and then leap into activity... especially if there is food or attention available.

There is a difference between being aware and being alert. Being aware relies heavily upon our innate senses, senses that are often the key to our own survival. Being alert takes us that extra mile, we are now FULLY aware, wide-awake and keen. Imagine hearing sounds all around you, being aware of those sounds. Now you hear a gunshot ring through the ambient noise – you change gear and become alert.

I think most of us are better at awareness than being alert. We become alert most often because we have become fearful. Practice being alert and you will appreciate your surroundings so much more.


So we have done something wrong or foolish? Show me someone who hasn't! This card is making the way that we feel about our mistakes very strong. Are we sure that we are really ashamed or is it that we are embarrassed about something we said or did?

Being embarrassed is usually fairly easy to handle, often we have caused other people to laugh at us but it's usually quickly forgotten. The magic words "I'm sorry!" will often be all that are needed. I get ashamed only when I keep doing the same wrong or foolish thing time after time, especially if what I keep repeating hurts others around me.

Lex postulated that taking a break even for a few minutes to go to the loo is often a good coping tactic.

Shame is an emotion that makes you feel horrible. It's not the same as the feeling of guilt because you did something wrong. Shame makes you feel inside that you're unworthy and inadequate.

Understand that most people feel a bit ashamed, so don't be too hard on yourself when marking yourself on this card. Best of all if you have someone close who you feel able to share your insecurity with, try not staying completely in emotional hiding. I'm a typical guy and find this very hard but when I do manage to do it even a little bit... fantastic.

Please share with other Moodscope members your tips, insights ideas or advice on these two cards.

A Moodscope member

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Friday, 8 December 2017

They can't take that away from me.

Pre digital cameras, when you got your prints from the chemist the packet (and much publicity) had the phrase 'because someone took a picture'. Without this record, it would be difficult to remember that we built most of that house ourselves, the five children had a super time, always larks, impromptu parties and loads of visitors. The children are in their 50's, the house and garden are under the M25, but the memories live on.

The title is a Gershwin song from the 1930's, sung by all the most famous singers in their time. I've written about memories, their importance for me, loaded on a computer with a large screen, and appearing at random. A doctor who specialises in dementia says it is a brilliant way of communicating with sufferers, who cannot cope with albums.

The whole subject of photographs came up last week - visit of eldest son, complete with USB and CD of latest family occasions, grand-daughter wedding and brother-in-law 90th birthday, plus shire horses and a breed of sheep, of which the ram could be champion of the crumpled horn. We were then glued to the screen. Friendly battles ensued on pictures which could not be dated. I did it on dresses or hair styles; son had a fool-proof method, any number plate he could put a date to.

This blog has a serious warning and a plea. My brother in law is in a bad way – he's 91, still stubbornly living at home, rapidly losing sight, hearing and mobility. I've tried over the decades to persuade him to let me see his photographs – he has been a visiting professor in many countries, and took many pictures. They are all in boxes. He has a mentally ill son, a daughter and grand-daughter. If they do not insist on getting him to name the photos where he can, his whole life will be lost, no record except, I expect, an obituary in the 'Times'.

The saying 'every picture tells a story' is very true. Our record of the bicentenary of the French Revolution in 1989 is a glorious example. We wanted to watch the fireworks - we took a champagne picnic. Could get no nearer than the 5th bridge, already about 10,000 people on it. We were pictured on the central reservation. A police car tried to cross, we all stood up and did the Mexican Wave. Afterwards, on that warm July night, it was one giant street party.

I've kept a diary for 30 years, invaluable. Records now go on Facebook. This Christmas, as well as texting and watching soaps, dig in the family photos, and play the game 'Who was that, where was that', it's fun.

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Mens Sana in Corpore Sano - Pars Quattuor.


"Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleeve of care. The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath. Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course, Chief nourisher in life's feast."

Yup – That's Shakespeare. It so very often is. That's from the Scottish Play. What is often forgotten in this quotation is that it comes immediately after the line, "Macbeth does murder sleep."

When I was in my mania periods, back in the bad old days before medication, I was rather proud of the way I could do without sleep. I could function for weeks on three and a half hours a night. I would cheerfully murder sleep.

Of course, the moment I came out of the high and slid down that garderobe slope into the dungeon of depression, I could sleep for seventeen hours a day; and frequently did.

Even recently I was still spending hours awake during the night. At three in the morning I would text friends all around the world. "I am concerned for your health," replied Raz, it being either 9am or 9pm for him. "You should be in the sweet embrace of Morpheus, not conversing with me."

I was unconcerned. So long as I could still function, did it matter that I did not or could not sleep?

But then I read of recent research which suggests that a lack of sleep could seriously shorten your life and certainly adversely affect your health. Turns out, old Will knew what he was talking about.

So, I started to develop a more disciplined sleep routine. I know this does not work for everyone, and I know that there are some (many?) of you who feel you have tried everything to get a good night's sleep and yet still you lie awake, tormented by your thoughts. I do not wish to patronise you with these ideas.

Our day as a family starts at 5.45am, when I stumble out of bed to wake the girls who are blissfully sleeping through their alarms. (How can they do that, if their alarms wake me at the other end of the house through two closed doors?) Working back from that, I try to be in bed by 10pm with lights out at 10.30pm. To facilitate this, the phone and computer get switched off at 9.30pm and I have a snack of slow release carbohydrates to stop me waking hungry in the night. A gentle wind down, warm shower and cosy pyjamas are all part of this process.

And no – it doesn't work all the time. It doesn't take into account evenings spent out. It doesn't account for that really good book I can't put down until my Kindle falls forward and bats me on the nose. It doesn't account for waking up at 1.30am for no good reason.

But it has worked enough for me to feel the benefits, and to recommend the regime to others.

What sleep routine would you recommend?

A Moodscope member.

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Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Who am I? What am I? Where am I?

Don't worry, dear reader. I am not having an existential crisis! I know exactly where I am. It's an early evening and I am sitting on my well-worn leather sofa, dog by my side and beer at hand (low alcohol, I hasten to add).

What am I? Well, I also know the answer to that. I am a mother of two, plus dog, daughter, sister, partner (although God bless him, we only manage to meet up once a week), friend and in my professional life an adviser on employment rights.

Who am I? Well, I clearly am lots of different things to different people. And the real question that has been nagging me for some months is more not about not knowing who I am, but wondering when I have time to be me?!

Like many people, I am a wage slave with caring responsibilities, and finding time for me is scarce, but yet so important....

This is why I have found mindfulness such a helpful concept. It's learning to live in the moment, trying to focus on being in the present, and although it's a skill which may take a lifetime to master, it's one I want to learn.

Yesterday when parking up to drop my son off at the school disco, he pointed out a bird perching in a bush by the car. "What's that, Mum?", he asked. I squinted and saw a little Jenny wren right there, a yard in front of us. On explaining that this was the smallest bird in the British Isles he was very impressed, which just added to the pleasure of the moment.

I can't really answer the question I posed at the beginning of this blog. I wear many different hats. My responses and behaviour are shaped by my habits and experience gained over the years. What I do know that is that I need time for myself and I need moments of pleasure, like that brief glimpse of a wren in a bush, all 90 seconds of it.

I hope that today you find one small thing that either makes you smile or is comforting.

A Moodscope member.

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Monday, 4 December 2017

Two friends and one enemy: Could, Should, and Must.

[To listen to an extended audio version of this blog please click here:]

For years, years I say, I have been banging on about the dangers of the words 'should' and 'must'. 'Should' and 'Must' have been my enemies - enemies of freedom and productivity. But one of them has just shifted from long-term enemy to firm-friend.

'Should' is a modal operator of necessity. It's a way of helping us understand the often hidden rules we live our lives by, and by which we judge our experience as good or bad, right or wrong, acceptable or unacceptable.

'Should' can be challenged with a great question:

"What would happen if I didn't?"

For example, a useful rule is that I 'should' ring my mother more often than I do... To test the value of this self-imposed rule, asking myself, "What would happen if I didn't?" then opens up a useful stream of thinking:

She may not feel loved
I would miss out on her news
We would weaken our bond.

Since I would like Mum to feel more loved, hear her news, and relish the opportunity to strengthen our bond, it would be a good move to call my Mother! The important difference to be made is to shift from the disempowering 'should' to the empowering word: 'could'!

Suddenly, there seems to be a more empowering option - to choose to call my Mum because I can (could), not out of guilt but rather out of love and in the quest for positive possibilities.

'Should' then, remains an enemy of the state - the state of freedom.

By now you must have guessed who my new friend is: 'Must'!

'Must' is a modal operator of necessity, equally as dangerous and challengeable as 'Should' but one that can be turned to good use. 'Must' can disempower or it can empower.

Let's take a rewriting of the Ten Commandments as our example. "Thou shalt not..." is actually very strong language. It is non-negotiable. It is absolute. And, unfortunately for many of us, it is archaic and thus open to misinterpretation. For most of us, 'shalt not' means 'shouldn't'... and therein lies a lot of trouble.

Listen to one of the commandments written in three ways, beginning with the archaic:

Thou shalt not commit adultery (archaic)
You should not commit adultery (interpreted as)
You must not commit adultery (new alternative form.)

Laying aside the 'shall not' for now, let's consider the difference between 'should' and 'must'.

If I should not commit adultery, that sounds to me like adultery is ill-advised, best not to commit it. However, there is the possibility of exploring the option.

If I must not commit adultery, that sounds to me like adultery is never an option, I must never, ever commit it. There is no possibility of entertaining it as an option.

I hope you agree.

'Must' then can be used to change my behaviour because it changes my options and possibilities. It takes the choice out of the equation. The negotiable becomes non-negotiable, and the energy wasted on choosing is saved because there is no choice.

Let me illustrate.

"I must not eat crisps." This is far easier than, "I should not eat crisps."

Smoking, drinking, swearing... you name it. The power to change is in the shift from 'should' to 'must'.

I recognise that this has the potential to transform your future, so let's start gently and in a manageable way with just three promises to yourself where you will move from the good idea of 'should' to the great action of 'must'.

Kurt Lewin, I believe, suggested that a goal we commit publicly to is a goal we are 10x more likely to achieve. Please feel free to commit publicly to your own 'must' goals in the comments below.

Now I must tidy the lounge...

A Moodscope member.

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Sunday, 3 December 2017

Tis the season (part i).

I'm sending a weekly blog in December designed to soothe. Press pause. Reset. Help you pull away from what we think we should be doing. If you are at a difficult point in life and/or health, then this season might be almost unbearable.

From a mental health perspective, I find this time of year filled with feelings of heaven and hell. Heart spilling with love watching my eldest daughter lead her choir in a huge service in our cathedral, followed by silent sobs in bed overnight as I battle through fragmenting myself to help others and a realisation of utter loneliness. Why that dichotomy? It's because there are many things to enjoy about this season and they in turn can highlight what is missing.

Let's revolt! Turn away from the crippling excess. Return to valuing the special, the smaller the more significant. I think for those of us who suffer in our mental health, witnessing the excess of eating, drinking, spending, frivolity, lights and noise can be an extra body blow. We either throw ourselves into it, in an attempt to surf over the season, being buffeted and numbed in the process, or we withdraw even further and hold that weightiness upon our shoulders. We must feel we can stand aside from both.

And so how do we navigate? How do we care for that delicate balance? Well I'm going to attempt to bring you something soothing once a week. And to start I'll say that you are not alone, we will step through it together. If you haven't commented ever before, think about saying hi, it's a connection. That alone can be pivotal. You are not alone. And we will cross the stepping stones of the season bit by bit together. Sometimes we'll slip and sometimes we'll fall. But if we hold hands we can get there together.

Love from

The room above the garage, sticking out a hand.
A Moodscope member.

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Saturday, 2 December 2017

Feeling Cold.

I've felt physically cold for two days and now I'm snuggled down with two hot water bottles and a teddy. This has given me time to re visit the Moodscope site. It has been nice to check in and see the familiar names, as well as a lot of names I don't recognise.

I've had a long break from Moodscope. As a result I wittingly put myself 'out in the cold' and increased my feelings of loneliness. Starting a new job six weeks ago, after nearly 8 and a half years in my previous job, also increased my feelings of loneliness. I don't really feel I 'belong' anywhere anymore. However I'm finding my way back to supportive places, such as Moodscope, and warm, comforting things around me at home.

Do you ever feel 'out in the cold?' Where do you find your warmth? Maybe if you are feeling down, or cold, today you can look for things around you which will warm you up a little. Who knows, you may even feel warmth down to your toes, like mine nestled on my hot water bottle!

Jane SG
A Moodscope member.

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Friday, 1 December 2017

Not my favourite words.

I love words. I love reading words, I love writing words. I like mixing words up, I like listening to words. I like playing with words. I like speaking words out loud or saying them silently. I like word games.

However, there are a couple of words I hear in other people's vocabulary and sometimes in my own, that I do not like.

Now of course there is no law on what words you use unless they are deemed defamatory or swear words but there are a couple of words that I cannot find any positive use in them.

The first one is failure, even the sound of the word is sad. When you are depressed and feeling very low, you may say "I am such a failure" my whole life is a failure, every relationship I have is a failure. It is such a big all-encompassing word how on earth can you make it more manageable, make it less general and more specific. As I am naming words I don't like to use I should try to put something in its place. I of course can't and don't want to tell people what to say. Maybe you could narrow the word down.

Maybe saying I made a few mistakes in my last job, I had trouble keeping up at school, instead of saying I am total failure at life. How can you fail at life, it isn't an exam? At schools here, they don't even use the word fail but you have not met the requirements to pass - ok it may mean the same, but it does not sound as damaging.

So, looking at just one section of your life instead of calling it all a failure.

The other word that is not on my favourite is the word stupid. I am so stupid, you are stupid - what does it mean? What good does come out of calling people that word? If you are called or call yourself stupid it makes you feel you have no skills or talent and makes you feel worse.

I have never met a stupid person; some people have more skills in one area than others, but everyone has things they can do. I feel people are trying to say I made a mistake I did something silly, I want to learn from what I have done.

That narrows down the word and makes it more meaningful.

I will stop at two words that are not my favourites and hand it over to you.

Please choose one or two words that are not your favourite words.

Explain why you have chosen those words (excluding swear words) that you do not like to use, and what words we could use in their place.

A Moodscope member

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Thursday, 30 November 2017

Forgive them! You're joking!

That would have been my response if asked whether I had forgiven those responsible for the depression I have suffered for the last decade.

Forgive Sami my Line Manager, who contributed most towards my downward slide? Having turned my life into years of misery, I know what I'd like to do with him and it doesn't involve forgiveness!

However, I soon realised more responsibility lay with our Director, Trevor. He knew what Sami was like and how he treated staff yet did nothing about it. He became the man to target.

However, I knew that Trevor was never up to the job and eventually my anger moved to Anna, the HR Director. Like Trevor she knew about Sami. Three of his staff had been on long-term sick leave, suffering from work-related stress, never to return. Like Trevor, she did nothing about it.

Things changed when it was my turn. I knew the rules and was prepared to take action, and take occasional sick leave to ease the pressure. In addition, retirement was less than four years away.

Two years on, my decision to make a formal complaint was met with the offer of a termination package. By then my health, and that of my wife, demanded I accept.

The organisational incompetence I had long suspected soon became evident as an agreement reached in early September, after numerous delays was approved in late December - but they had used incorrect figures. We were back to square one.

I walked out claiming sickness and, miraculously, the whole thing was resolved in 24 hours. By then I had a sick certificate until early January and retired four weeks later. Shell shocked, exhausted and with self confidence and self esteem in tatters I descended slowly into despair.

Forgive them, over my dead body! That is how it might have turned out but for reading an article on Forgiveness a few months ago. It offered some tips, including:

Forgiveness comes easy when you realise that what they say or do is about them not about you.

So I set about trying to understand why they acted the way they had. I analysed the behaviour of each one. After that it was easy.

Sami got the results his bosses wanted when he bullied people and was rewarded with promotion so why would he change? Trevor needed those results and, apart from being incompetent, was more concerned with strategic issues than staff welfare. The same is true for Anna who previously had only worked at Group HQ so had no experience at the sharp end of HR.

That still left the CEO Denise. She was guilty either for not asking why they needed to pay off a senior manager or for accepting the answer without question, but then she may have considered me collateral damage.

Once on paper I could see why it all went wrong. I'm not sure I have forgiven them but realise that given the individuals, their shortcomings and the situation the end result was almost inevitable.

A Moodscope member.

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Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Mens Sana in Corpore Sano – Pars Tres

[To listen to an audio version of this blog please click here:]


Now – let's be honest, for some of us this is a dirty word, isn't it?

For some of us, double games at school was a nightmare; one to be dreaded, endured with grim stoicism and recollected with shudders.

But that doesn't mean we can get out of working this body of ours. I mean, if we were a piece of machinery –a car, for instance – we couldn't keep it in the garage for twenty years or so and expect it to start first time, could we? (Okay – so all of you who have watched Wood Allen's 'Sleeper' will say, 'Twenty years! I'd expect it to start after two hundred!' But that only happens if you're built by VW, darling!)

I'm sure we've all heard and read about the numerous studies which have shown that exercise is as effective as anti-depressants in moderate cases of depression. It's something to do with endorphins, I believe. Endorphins are those chemicals released into your body which give you a 'natural high'. Sadly, you can't buy them on street corners from slightly dodgy looking young men wearing baggy jackets with lots of pockets.

But – yes – reluctantly – we must accept that exercise is good for us. If we can do it, that is. When I was in my deepest depression and my friends (even friends here) recommended 'a brisk walk', I would raise my hollowed eyed face to explain that it was as much as I could do to walk to the bathroom and back. My trembling legs would not even take me to the end of the garden. When you're shaking like a jelly balanced on a jackhammer, exercise is a cruel impossibility.

But exercise as a tool in our chest of preventative 'medicines' is another thing. A good thing.

But what type of exercise?

I have a friend who plays tennis as often as she can. She loves being out on the courts, pitting herself against a competitor. Even when it's a friendly game, she likes to win. She plays netball too. She likes to exercise with other people.

But then, she loved games at school.

For some, exercise is a solitary – well – exercise. They like to compete against themselves only, pushing to run further or faster; or to row fifty more strokes in that same ten minutes.

For others, exercise is not about pushing one's limits, it is about relaxation, enjoyment, meditation.

If I cannot swim in the morning, I like to take myself out for a walk at lunchtime. I don't stride along at a great pace, swinging my arms and breathing deeply through my nose in an intentional fashion. Instead, I give myself time to appreciate my surroundings. Sometimes I will stop to take photographs of flowers or the view.

Working one's body may produce the 'high' that combats depression, but the meditative component, the beauty of the natural world seen while walking must play a part too.

I think so, anyway.

A Moodscope member.

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

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Losing the Plot.

How did your mental illness first make it's presence felt? By which I mean, was there a point when you realised that you were not just a bit down, stressed, overworked, hormonal- whatever? A good night's sleep or a few drinks could no longer be counted on to lift your mood.

Did you struggle to cope a long time before seeking help, or were you dragged protesting to a doctor by a family member at the end of their tether?

I came into a life of chaos from birth, but for a long time I still felt that I had survived reasonably unscathed.

Looking back, the first changes were largely physical. "Yuppie Flu" was hitting the headlines, and although I did not fit the lifestyle profile, the symptoms were spot-on.

I found myself ruminating endlessly about the most absurdly trivial decisions - should I cook broccoli or cabbage for instance. Buying things became a misery-far too much choice. I embraced online and mail order shopping. I don't drive, I could never get the hang of it. Now however, I found myself becoming terrified as a passenger. Lorries in particular seemed thuggish and threatening.

Worse was the running commentary in my head. I was not hearing voices as such, it was the sound of my own thoughts. A non-stop monologue of scorn, self-hatred, derision.

I made a decision to shake myself out of it. Did I feel scared in cars because I had no control? Well, learning to drive could be the answer. I explained my situation to some extent to the instructor. He assured me that he had indeed got many middle-aged ladies through their test.

He turned out to be a horrible man, shouting in exasperation, telling me to shut up and do as I was told. He made me drive to a notorious accident spot near the city, and do a right-hand turn. When I froze, with cars honking all round me, made me change places, and drove home at breakneck speeds hands off the wheel, shouting "Speed is good". Princess Diana had been killed the day before.

I was too traumatised to lodge a complaint. He actually did me a favour as it turned out. The next day I washed and polished the floor. I stood back, at least I could do something well. I opened a cupboard and a bottle of ketchup smashed to the ground. The voice – "You can't even do that properly" over and over. I went to the wall, and started banging my head, hard. I wanted to lose consciousness, I wanted to punish myself.

I went to my G.P and begged for Prozac - very much the in thing at the time. I did not realise how deeply depressed I had been until the illness started to lift. To me, depressed people lay in bed, not eating, not participating. I was not like that. I was just a worrier by nature, wasn't I? No, I was very ill according to my G.P, who questioned me about suicidal thoughts. "I don't want to die" I said "I just take no pleasure in being alive".

So,that's my story. I am still in love with my little green and white saviours, my Vitamin P.

So, over to you.

A moodscope member.

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

Monday, 27 November 2017

Now Here's A Thing.

[To listen to an audio version of this blog, please click here:]

This is a quickie - but not for everyone. It's just for those of us who 'talk' to objects! My head is so often in the clouds that I quite frequently don't look where I'm going. The result is that I get 'assaulted' by door handles, 'evil' chairs, and just about any obstruction that is hell-bent to doing harm to my body.

My reaction is to treat the inanimate object as if it 'did' this to me!!! And as if it did it to me deliberately! Trust me, this does not lead to a positive mindset!

Yes, it's as ridiculous as it sounds... but I'm not alone, am I? Do you get cross with inanimate objects? Do you talk to them as if they deliberately hurt you? Hey, do you go further and swear at them and punish them like Basil Fawlty?

Dare I say it, "Do you have a naughty computer?"

If your answer is 'Yes!' to any or all of these, I'm developing a new strategy that is lowering my stress and raising my levels of joy! Would you like to hear more?

The strategy involves pinching a saying from Jim Steele and using it out of context. When I worked alongside Jim, years ago, I was tickled by his use of the phrase,

"Now here's a thing..."

Jim used this to great effect to draw people's attention, almost hypnotically, towards a key learning point in our workshops.

Well, there's something I need to learn! This is that inanimate objects don't have personalities and they are most certainly not out to get me!

May I Interrupt Myself?

When we practice an unhelpful pattern in our lives, it only gets stronger. These kinds of patterns need to be broken... interrupted. If you are not in the habit of ascribing malicious intent to inanimate objects, this part of the blog will still be relevant because any pattern that doesn't serve you must be broken.

Here's what I do.

I interrupt my pattern.

Every time I'm 'attacked' by evil door-handles, or spitefully delayed by my 'stupid' computer, I say to myself, "Now here's a thing..."

By calling each object a 'thing' - I've managed to get some perspective, some self-control, AND to stop losing my temper quite so much.

It might just work for you too!

Now there's a thing!

A Moodscope member

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

Sunday, 26 November 2017


Why worry, there should be laughter after pain
There should be sunshine after rain
These things have always been the same
So why worry now
Why worry now

Dire Straits - Why Worry.

This song is in my head. I don't seem to worry about the usual things, like getting old, crime, how I look, my job, money... In fact, I'd say I'm actually quite chilled out about that stuff.

I worry about the little things and sometimes they whizz around my head, especially if I'm on my own. Recently I've taken up meditation to help calm my mind, I'm not great at the routine yet but on the days I remember, it's definitely calming me.

I worry I sleep too much
I worry I don't sleep enough
I worry about what I said
I worry about what I didn't say
I worry that I'm really ill
I worry other people are ill
I worry when I've posted on social media
I worry when I read other people's posts on social media
I worry my friends don't really like me
I worry about being on my own
I worry about socialising
I worry we're not going out enough
I worry I'm not running enough
I worry I'm running too much
I worry my running will turn to self harm
I worry I am doing too much
I worry I'm not doing enough
I've bought a book called the 'worry trick'
I worry I've got too many books.

A Moodscope member

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Saturday, 25 November 2017


Today's blog is for those of you who feel so bad you cannot express just how bad you feel. You want to stay in bed all day, or watch TV and not speak to a soul or if you have no-one to speak to, feel miserable at being alone.

Now I know Moodsope is here to lift our spirits on a daily basis and it does this very well, but I sometimes feel that there may be many people out there for whom the uplifting blogs pass them by. The content of the blog is just too complicated and exhausting to think about, and try as you may, you find it impossible to relate to, let alone think of a post to write in reply.

This blog is for all of you.

There are so many advantages to being a part of Moodscope, without reading the daily blog. (Although, I hope you are reading this one!)

Here are three:

1. You are welcomed here however bad, happy, sad, you feel.
2. You are part of a group of friends who share the same problems, a sort of community who is here to help each other.
3. Doing the cards as often as you can really does help your mood, even if you get a lower score than is usual for you.

Now on scale of one to ten how are you feeling today?

No complicated, deep replies today please. You can even growl or just say "Yuk!" or "one!". Those who are happy, shout "10!"

But if you haven't the energy to get past the robot today, please accept a big hug and a "Hi" from me.

The Moodscope Team

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Friday, 24 November 2017

Oh me, oh my!

I heard a line, a magnificent line, that I cannot claim to be mine. But it struck such a chord with me that I wanted to squirrel it away and share it here with you.

"I was climbing up a ladder that was leaning against the wrong wall."

Boom. Did that strike anything within you?

It's a line that can be applied to so many areas in our lives whether it be work, learning, socialising, reading, mental health, fitness, relationships or even just our relationship with the food and drinks we meet.

"I was climbing up a ladder that was leaning against the wrong wall."

Maybe you will give those 13 words a little time today when you are commuting, making a cuppa or visiting that littlest, favourite room of mine.

Is your ladder leaning on the right wall? We might need this printed and wear t-shirts.  (My auto correct just removed the last 'r' and gave me a belly laugh!)

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member

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Thursday, 23 November 2017

Gilt - Ignore it, live with it or purge it.

This was written in September – my life has totally changed since then, and I am struggling with guilt. My husband is now in a permanent home, and every time I see him, and the state he is in, I think I should have done something, could have done something to motivate him over the last few years. Everybody assures me I did all I could. Only reference to my diary can help, where the daily log details the deterioration, and that everything possible was done.

The picture is germane to the subject. In Pondicherry, India, the Cluny sisters took us on a tour of the whole gamut of human suffering. The young man in the picture was dying of AIDS. The picture was painted by another young man who had recently died of the same malady. There was (may still be) a form of Evangelism in the USA, said to have 50 million followers, who said that sufferers from AIDS should not receive any medical treatment, as it was only a punishment for their sinful lives. In the middle ages lepers were given extreme unction, sent outside the town walls and forbidden to return.

I have managed to 'purge' some deep-seated guilt. When my parents separated (I was 16, an only child) I stayed with my father, and had no contact with my Mother. The guilt lasted a long time – until I realised that the bitterness between them was so acute that whoever I stayed with I would have been estranged from the other. I could not 'go it alone' as I would have been put into care. Only now, estranged from our youngest child, I can feel the agony my mother must have gone through. I have searched my soul endlessly to see 'where we went wrong' with our daughter. Now, it seems that she is intolerant and unforgiving by nature.

Much later, we moved to France, and got a lot of 'stick' for leaving the 'old country' while our mothers were still alive. They both lived to 100; we would have been too old to have made the move if we'd waited. I did feel guilty about 'abandoning' my mother, but she was in excellent sheltered accommodation, a sister nearby and lots of grand-children, and we visited at least 5 times a year. Between no longer being able to live alone and going into a home eldest son and his wife took her in, I am eternally grateful.

On the international front, before the Iraq war, the USA was badgering France to join in. France did not think it a 'just war'. The USA tried playing on the emotions, that France had been 'saved' from the Nazis, mostly by US power. Chirac asked if France had to be grateful for ever, even to doing what they saw as wrong.

My current guilt? Ephemeral. Playing too much Solitaire, an addiction to doughnuts and drinking at lunchtime. But I am sure many of us let guilt build up, unable to forget or 'atone'.

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Mens Sana in Corpore Sano – Pars Duorum.


[To listen to an audio version of this blog please click here:]

A word before I start. When I was deep, deep in depression, all I could face was comfort food, especially toast (see Winter Comfort – 16th December 2016). If you are in that phase, be gentle with yourself. This blog is probably not for you just now, but it may be useful when you start to feel a bit better.

On October 27th this year, I stopped drinking alcohol.

Not forever – at least, I don't think it's forever - but until Christmas at least.

Do I feel better for it? I don't know. I'm sure my liver feels better for it and I certainly feel more virtuous! I must confess it has not been easy and I have had to remind myself on several occasions that the first glass is the only one I can resist.

The alcohol consumption was not the only thing to change. I also adopted a low carbohydrate diet. When we discussed nutrition at my last bipolar group meeting, a couple of the long-term members who are dealing with their condition at least semi-successfully, recommended a low carbohydrate diet. (They also recommended a high fat content too – but until my tummy has retreated to a more acceptable size, I'm not quite ready to take this on).

The reasoning behind this decision is that carbohydrates, especially the "white" carbohydrates (sugar, white flour, sugar, potatoes, rice and sugar – oh – did I mention sugar?) give an immediate "lift" as they are very easily converted into energy. Unfortunately, unless we are running a marathon at the time, we cannot use this energy, so the insulin in our bodies converts it into "long term energy" - i.e. fat – and our energy levels crash, with a resulting emotional drop too. Not co-incidentally, we also get a craving for more sugar. Some research has suggested that sugar is as addictive as cocaine. (I do not however intend to personally test this out).

The results of this change in diet have been noticeable. Firstly, I have lost 7lbs in four weeks, which gives me an emotional boost regardless of anything else. I have also noticed a feeling of "lightness" in my body. There is no sense of bloating or sluggishness after meals, and I feel satisfied for longer. This varies day to day of course, and just this morning I have needed a piece of fruit to take me through to lunch. (For all you strict people out there, natural sugars found in fruit do not count – as they are surrounded by fibre.) I definitely have more energy and (early days for this, but I'm hopeful) I seem to be sleeping better.

Heath is a jigsaw. Nutrition is just one of the pieces, but an important one. As one person said last week in the comments (I paraphrase), "If I eat rubbish, I feel rubbish." The advice out there is to eat a "rainbow" – and so this jigsaw piece, nutrition, is most definitely not white!

What are your thoughts?

A Moodscope member

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

Tuesday, 21 November 2017


Lex wrote recently about waking up in the night, and ruminating on forgiveness.

I go to bed about 11pm, read for a little while, feel tired drop off to sleep, then wake between 3/4am and cannot get back to sleep again.

I have several cd's which are supposed to get one back to sleep again, but not me. They all promise the more you play them the more you will get a sleep pattern going, but not me!!!

I've read various so called Sleep experts. I don't drink anything with caffeine, nor drink after 9pm. I don't drink alcohol (it doesn't agree with me) it must be nearly 50 years ago I tried but it doesn't like me, my father was the same. I don't smoke, never got the hang of it, my mother was a chain smoker. I don't watch TV in the bedroom.

Unfortunately I can't have a nice warm bath, as I can't get in the bath anymore - last time I slipped, fell out and hit my head on the toilet!

I do suffer with Tinnitus, which makes it hard to sleep. I have tried various Cd's recommended by experts, but I am sure they don't suffer, because the noise is excruciating.

I go to sitting exercises and have now started lying in bed during the night doing some, also eye exercises trying not to wake my husband (haven't done so far), I do find it stops my mind wandering, but I still need more sleep!

I feel I am doing all the right things, but it's not working. So if anyone out there has any suggestions to help me sleep I'd be very grateful.

A Moodscope member.

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

Monday, 20 November 2017


Yes, it's a rude acronym.

It means:

Same Sh*t, Different Day

...and it was used to great effect in Stephen King's movie, "Dreamcatcher."

Frankly, if this is your truth - that your life seems stuck in a loop of 'same sh*t, different day' (and let's face it, it's the truth for most of us), you and I need to do something about it. I'm up for a change, are you?

Fortunately, there are tons of actions we can take once we know what to act on.

You see, the life you and I are experiencing is not an Island Life.

We are the fruit of our external environment AND our internal state.

Both can be changed.

Your environment matters - so make adjustments.

Your psychological state matters - so make adjustments.

The Power of Three

If there were three things you could change in your external environment, to improve your quality of life, what would they be?

Here are some ideas:

A change in your diet
A change of location
A shift in your rhythm each week
A change of decor and fixtures to celebrate the fact that you are a biological entity. E.g. natural light or daylight balanced lighting, ergonomic furniture, better ventilation.
A change of habit - such as walking in Nature more often
A change in the company you keep
Walk down a different street
Pick More Daisies.

What would your three be?

If there were three things you could change in your internal environment - your character, thought-life, values, and emotions - to improve your quality of life, what would they be?

Here are some ideas:

Have less rules (parents of large families learn this one quickly!)
Be less judgmental
Be more forgiving
Take yourself less seriously
Slow down and become more mindful.

The most exciting truth is that...

If you change anything, you change everything! [Which is WAY more encouraging than the standard, "if you keep on doing what you've always been doing, you'll keep on getting the SSDD.]

A Moodscope member.

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

Sunday, 19 November 2017

How not to write a blog.

Do not and I repeat not do any of the following if you want to write a blog.

Firstly, have over 50 different ideas.

Secondly do not think that any of the ideas you have are worthy of the blog.

Go and search for the scraps of paper you have scribbled on all your ideas and thoughts.

Start getting annoyed because you can't find those precious pieces of papers.

As you are about to ask (maybe shout at) you partner because you can't find it, you remember you put it in a plastic bag in your t-shirt drawer.

After finding out you can't read any of your ideas and the ones you can are silly, you decide to have a large slice of chocolate cake but then you remember you don't bake or buy cake.

You think cooking will give you inspiration

You start to make a cake but give up as you don't have all ingredients.

You eat packets of salted cashews hoping this would be inspiring.

It has been an hour and you have not written one word.

You notice your clothes hanging up on a rack as you have no wardrobe, look messy so you pull all the clothes onto your bed. You start sorting into 2 piles, keep or throw out. Soon you get tired so you go back to writing.

You decide you have no more blogs in you and maybe you should try to learn to draw.

You decided you need space so you put it aside for a week or two.

You hope your mind will think of a theme in that time.

In fact, hope is what stops you giving away your shelves of how to write books that mock you every day.

Every idea is dismissed as it is silly, been done before or you have written about it before.

You used to boast about never running out of ideas and that you can write about anything.

So, you decide to go to bed but the kitchen is a mess with ingredients all on the bench, all your clothes are on your bed.

So, you throw all your clothes on the floor and lie awake all night worrying you will never have a good idea again!

That is how not to write a blog!

Do you have instructions of how not to do something from personal experience? Or what strategies do you use when you find you can't do something you normally do?

It can be writing, cooking, exercise, sewing, woodwork, remembering things, planning, really anything you once did well but now struggle with.

A Moodscope member.

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

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Collateral benefit.

In the early 2000s, or perhaps it was earlier, we started to hear the phrase 'collateral damage'. It referred, as you know, to the effects of military action on people or buildings that were not the intended target. A euphemism, covering up the reluctance of military spokespeople to admit that they were causing unacceptable damage. But I prefer to borrow, and hopefully subvert, that deceitful phrase for a better thought: there can be collateral benefits too (I don't mean from military action).

I get a collateral benefit when I set off to do something, and something else good happens as a by-product. For example, at midsummer I went to a short Solstice camp. I didn't really expect a great deal, but I wanted to mark the season and spend some time in nature. I had not camped at all this year, and hardly last year, so it was a bit of an effort to hunt out the tent, my cooking gear, sleeping bag and so forth. Added to which, the directions were rather vague, I had not been to the site before, and had no-one to go with, so I needed to pluck up my courage a bit.

The collateral benefit was that – apart from being warmly welcomed and having a good time round the camp fire – I met up with someone lovely who I'd known on a counselling course more than 20 years ago. I hadn't seen her since, yet now we are doing some work together. Perhaps 'collateral benefit' is just another phrase for 'serendipity'! But if I had let my negative thoughts or low energy tell me that it was too much trouble to go to the camp, I would never have had the pleasure and luck of re-connecting. Perhaps this is also another way of reminding myself sometimes to 'Just do it'!

Have you noticed any collateral benefits from things you've done recently?

A Moodscope member.

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