Tuesday, 28 February 2017

I Don't Do 'Demanding'.

I feel a rant coming on, but bear with me!

I'm tired of demands being put on me. Enough already!

Does anyone else feel like they don't put upon anyone, ask very little of anyone yet people are relentless in wanting more from you?

I feel like taking a stand. Who'd like to join me? Let's have an enough is enough.

I'm tired of the guilt of not being perceived as a team player if I don't want to do what doesn't feel right but feel forced to because others would have to if I don't. For me 'Team' means all being on the same side, if there have to be sides that is.

I'm just tired full stop I think!

So today I'm going to take my time and do what I want to.

In the nicest possible way anyone who thinks it's ok to want more out of me will have to think again!

There will be days when I will be giving beyond measure. Needing something is different, but today I'm doing me and anyone who thinks that it's ok to be demanding will be met by a polite redirection!

Rant over.

I'm aware that there is a lot of negative energy and language here, which I haven't unpicked, just expressing what's on my mind.

Coming out of my head now and back in the room! Onwards and upwards!

A Moodscope member.

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Monday, 27 February 2017


One of my daily delights is to watch the birds enjoying the food we put out for them.  This abundance of food – over and above any expectations of the Season – is a simple example of 'grace'.  Grace is 'unmerited favour'.

Our lovely winged friends don't 'deserve' this gift. They haven't 'earned' this gift. I, for one, am somewhat 'offended' by the thought that they should have to 'earn' their gifts from me. For me, it is a great pleasure just to give. You may argue I am expecting something in return, but let's agree to disagree on that. I get pleasure from seeing them enjoying this abundance, for sure, but they are going to get the gift whether I see them enjoy it or not.

My pleasure is in the giving to creatures who cannot return the favour.

The Moodscope blog is a great place to be honest and bare one's soul. Honestly, then, I am not sure anymore whether the Universe is a friendly place or not, or whether there is any higher power particularly active at the moment, but I do know there are many gracious people on the Planet. These are the people who enjoy giving without expecting anything in return, and I am grateful for them.

My point today? If the Universe is a friendly place, is it possible that it might get pleasure from bestowing on you today a gift that you haven't had to earn, a kindness that you don't particularly deserve, and an enrichment that you don't have to pay back?

I hope so. And I hope that, today at least, you'll be as open as the birds to the surprise bounty of abundance that could be coming your way.

A Moodscope member.

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Sunday, 26 February 2017

Life goes on.

It's so very hard to comprehend
How life can still go on
That birds will keep on singing
Even though they know you've gone.

Why does the sun keep on shining
Though you're no longer here?
The raindrops keep on falling
As if you're still so near.

Why do the flowers prepare to bloom?
Their growth showing no repent
When surely they all must know
You'll no longer smell their scent?

Why do I still feel you everywhere
And ache so much within
Why does my head mock me so
whispering that you'll walk back in.

... Well the birds will keep on singing
And the sun will always shine
For they all know better than me
You hear them all the time.

You'll feel the sun and all its warmth
Through bodies that feel no pain
You'll see the horses grazing
And the dogs playing in the lane.

You'll feel joy when we're happy
Laugh at our jokes and smile
For you haven't totally left us
Just moved on for a little while.

And one day we'll all meet up again
It's part of the inevitable
But til then I'll try my very best
To live life to the very full.

A Moodscope member.

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Saturday, 25 February 2017

It was just a wig.

When I was seven I came home from school to find a woman in our kitchen with short light brown hair. I screamed. I demanded "What have you do with my mum?" She explained that she was my mum but how could she be, my mother had long dark brown hair that she always wore in a bun on top of her head.

I ran out of the house and down the street crying wondering where my mother was. Eventually this woman found me and took off her short hair and I realized she indeed was my mother. It was also the day I discovered what a wig was.

Everyone in my family laughs at this anecdote and chant, it was just a wig! They say how could you have feared a wig? In my defense, there were not a lot of wigs in the suburbs of Sydney in the 1960s!

I see it as the start of my having difficulty coping with change.

My mother assumed that a seven year old would be able to recognize her own mother but with a different hairstyle. Not me, my mother had the same hair colour and hairstyle all my seven years and I thought it would never change.

From this early age I always had difficulty with changes even if it was a desirable change. I have never avoided change I just find the thought of things being different to be challenging.

I am not talking about life changing events or traumatic changes but rather those changes we need to handle throughout our life.

What about you? Can you remember a moment, a story from your past or your present which illustrates how you cope with change?

Do you think it makes a difference if it is a desirable change rather than a negative change?

A  Moodscope member.

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Friday, 24 February 2017

Let it go... Let it go...

Families, eh? Can't live with 'em... Can't live without 'em!!

When I am in the middle of a family fued/fight/disagreement/issue or even simply sitting watching from the sidelines or listening to others, I try to think...WWJD? (As Christian teenager's wristbands often remind them... "What Would Jesus Do?")

It makes me stop before I speak and try to see things from the perspectives of:

A. God the Father, our ultimate judge and Jesus His Son, our Saviour
B. The 'instigator or aggressor' and their loyal friends and family
C. An unbiased onlooker
D. Myself as a child and as an adult

Looking at an issue from different perspectives can help me avoid saying or doing something I may later regret. Once hurtful words are spoken we have no control over their impact. (Even if you later apologise - the damage is done - you can't take them back again!).

This is the first time I have had the courage to write a blog, although I have commented occasionally in the past...

I feel empowered by simply putting my thoughts into words on yet another restless night at 4.30 am on the morning and sharing with this wonderful moodscope community so I'd encourage anyone who is a bit nervous of blogging for the 1st time..'JUST DO IT!'

I was diagnosed with bipolar about 30 years ago and have to take meds with nasty side effects, but if only I could practice what I preach I am still hopeful life could just be calm enough for me to manage without the meds at all.

A Moodscope member.

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Thursday, 23 February 2017

Dealing with anxiety.

I have experienced anxiety in some form for the past twenty years. For the most part, my anxiety has been 'managed' through avoidant behaviours which don't actually manage my anxiety at all. When anxiety is doing the thinking for me, I struggle to think and act. The simplest of acts becomes virtually impossible and I find myself retreating back to bed, unable to deal with things. This avoidant behaviour only reinforces anxiety's grip upon my brain, and so she will do more of my thinking the next time the situation comes around.

However, I am learning that I can fight back. It is hard work, and sometimes I really don't want to or have the energy in me to fight. Anxiety has had a grip on my brain for a long time and she has made herself well and truly at home over the past eighteen months when I have not been well, though I am firmly on the road to recovery now. I'm a very logical person when anxiety is not ruling my brain and I am fighting back with logic. Again, this is not easy and some days are significantly better than others. Anxiety does not like it when I question her decisions. Anxiety says 'no' when I want to say 'yes', so I'm trying to say 'yes' more often to those things which anxiety would usually prevent me from doing to show her that she doesn't matter and that I can manage, regardless of the fireworks she sets off in my brain to stop me.

As well as fighting with logic, I have added mindfulness and meditation to my anxiety armoury. Once, when a panic attack started when I was driving (the majority of my anxiety resides here), I even found myself swearing very loudly at anxiety and telling her in no uncertain terms to go away as she was not wanted. I'm not sure that's going to become a recommended strategy, but it certainly worked for me at the time!

So, I will continue to fight anxiety each day with whatever strategy I can find. I will continue to say 'yes' when anxiety says 'no'. Do you have any other anxiety busting weapons to add to the armoury?

A Moodscope member.

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Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Reconciliation and Restoration.

Family can be wonderful. I love my family, I value my family; but, oh, I how cherish my friends.

There are many levels of friendship of course, and many reasons for friendship. My friend of longest standing (we do not use the term "oldest friend" for obvious reasons) has known me for 42 years. We see each other only every month or so, but inside ten minutes will be finishing each other's sentences. A friend who was once my neighbour moved to the States seven years ago but we text nearly every day. Another friend is my eagle-eyed Moodscope buddy who regularly comments on my score and supports me through my down times. I love them all.

2016 was a bad year for many of us. It was particularly tough on my family. We had broken bones, surgical operations, a serious car crash, the stress of demolishing and rebuilding our house and things going disastrously wrong for my son Tom and his partner. Oh, and a worse than usual bipolar cycle for me.

In the middle of this, I nearly lost a very dear friend.

Oh, it was entirely my fault; not that that made it any easier.

I had known Raz for only a year. Although I had told him about my bipolar he had not lived through my cycles of mania and depression. And I had not told him what to expect, for there always seemed to be other things to talk about. Many, many other things: that's friendship.

So, when my mania arrived it was a shock. Who was this unreasonable, demanding, jealous, raging creature? Who was this person who abandoned him just when he really needed a friend? I wrote my blog "Bipolar Exploding Hedgehog" (26th October 2016) and cut myself off.

I regretted it of course. I regretted it within 48 hours, but the damage had been done. After an exchange of bitter and angry emails Raz retreated into silence. My texts went unanswered and even unread.

"Let him go, Mum," said Tom. "Some friendships are not meant to last forever."

But I couldn't let go. Friendship is too valuable to just – let go. Especially in hurt and anger.

On Christmas Day I tried reaching out yet again over that chasm of pain and betrayal. And this time Raz replied. Perhaps it helped that we share a Christian faith and Christmas is a time of peace and reconciliation.

It's taken a while. We have had to feel our way into something that is not quite the same. To trust each other with silly jokes and to share our creativity together; to lean on each other again. We are mutually fearful of further misunderstanding. The flip side of love is pain.

But it is worth it. It was worth reaching out again and again. I don't know if I could have done it for years rather than the two months it took. I do know it would still be worth it.

Friendship is a most precious gift.

A Moodscope member.

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Tuesday, 21 February 2017

One sided.

Prompted by Jane, in my last blog, about things sometimes appearing 'one sided' and also talk of parents recently, I thought I would share my relationship with my dad, or lack of!  He is still with us, but I rarely see him.

He left us when I was a child, he fell in love with another woman, who he had been having an affair with for some time. I didn't really hold it against him, you cannot help who you fall in love with. He saw my sister and I on a regular basis when we were children and some of my best memories are with him.

When we got older, contact became less and less, like he didn't know how to relate to us anymore. He wasn't there for us anymore, refused invites, made excuses if we asked for anything and didn't bother with his grandchildren (my sister's kids).

We tried and tried in different ways but eventually it was time to give up. We were not getting anywhere and as Pennie-Lynn said in her response to my last blog, you have to accept the way things are...

His wife died of cancer some years ago now, she was only 49 (10 years younger than him) so this was a massive shock. It was quick and unpleasant and my dad turned to me, ringing me at every given opportunity. I was there for him of course, my sister however, had a completely different attitude. "He hasn't been there for us, so why should we be there for him".

When my step mum was moved to a hospice, with only days to live, I moved in with my dad to support him. I put my whole life on hold and would not leave him alone at any given time.  I was there when he received the dreaded phone call, I was there to arrange the funeral, to help him with all of the paperwork, I stayed with him for a good few months. How could I leave my father to cope alone?

It wasn't an easy time, as others must have thought, "He's ok, his daughter is with him" so we had little support.

I also foolishly believed our relationship had been rekindled and that we would become close again. We had conversations we had never had before.

But my dad couldn't bear being alone, as in not in a relationship, he often told me this, I was no substitute for a partner or wife. "Better than nobody", I would reply.

He met someone else very quickly, through one of the support groups he attended.

And I was dumped! He had no interest in anything but her, to the point of obsession, which may have been his way of coping, I understand that.

But I felt used.

I didn't get my dad back.

I don't regret it, I would probably do it all over again...

A Moodscope member.

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Monday, 20 February 2017

Alice or Malice in Wonderland?

We all live in a wonderful land. Sometimes, what happens is less than wonderful but the potential is always there for wonder. Our biggest and most prevalent wonder is:

I wonder what this means?

Humankind's quest for meaning haunts us every day. We may go deep and seek the very meaning of life itself, or we may just try to get through the day wondering what the meaning is behind the actions and words of our colleagues, customers, friends, and family.We may even question the meaning behind our own actions as in,

Why did I do that? What was I thinking?!

Our answer to, "I wonder what this means?" can easily lead to the positive adventure of Alice in Wonderland, or it can just as easily lead to the nightmare of Malice in Wonderland. This was brought home to me recently when a third-party informed me of how a
friend had allegedly criticised me behind my back. I had no evidence - just what the third party had shared. The 'witness' was a credible one, as was the criticism, so I began to wonder...

On this occasion I chose Malice in Wonderland. I was hurt, offended, and I lashed out. A better path to choose would have been one where I either ignored the unsubstantiated report, or spoke directly with the alleged critic, or even better, asked a better question. This one:

"What else could this mean?"

As soon as we ask, "What else could this mean?" we open the door (or the looking glass) to Wonderland. It is the question of the philosopher and the scientist - that leads to deep discoveries, but it is also the question of the expert in relationships. By settling
on not one but multiple meanings, we can soften the blow of Malice.

When a loved one says or does something that grates against our emotions, asking this magical question can help us think twice, or multiple times before jumping to conclusions and making harmful assumptions. It can give us pause for thought, and even help us
become wiser.

Whether my friend criticised me behind my back or not, I know he has my well-being at heart. Who hasn't ever said something about someone else behind their back? Isn't gossip the tastiest delicacy - especially in delicate matters? Asking instead, "What else could this mean?" could well save a friendship, avoid conflict, and open positive possibilities to rival Alice's Adventures in Wonderland!

If you're having a tough time at the moment, it may not mean that the Universe is out to get you! Ask yourself, "What else could this mean?" and let healing thoughts flow bringing comfort.

A Moodscope member.

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Sunday, 19 February 2017

Can't sleep.

Can't sleep. Not unusual at all since I got the news about my brother passing. I feel so tired, I think I'm going to be able sleep then I can't. Then the tiredness is like a vicious circle and I feel worse.

I'm not sure how to grieve, if there is a wrong way or a right way? Knowing it is better for him doesn't make it feel better for me.

Some days I can pretend it's not happened. Like on Christmas Day so the kids could have a great time, and even New Year when there was a good reason not to sleep and I felt almost happy and positive and ready to make changes. But resuming work felt meaningless and like wading through mud. All my passion was gone. And I'm missing my humour as I rely on my humour so much, for so many things, including to hide my insecurities.

My Mum taught me to always find humour in everything, I miss her so much, the Mum she was. She is blissfully unaware, as she has forgotten already, but she kept asking for my brother when I stayed with her on Boxing Day. I felt so angry at the world at that point. I guess it's down to Time. And right now I'm staring at the clock on the wall, Time is driving me nuts.

No need to reply. I just needed a very safe place to voice this without feeling like I'm burdening anyone. I feel indulgent talking about it but I know I can trust you. Hopefully now I can sleep. I know I will feel better again.

Possibly even in the morning.

A Moodscope member.

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Saturday, 18 February 2017

Today I was amazing.

Well, to be more accurate, it was last Sunday.

Many Moodscope blogs and comments advocate self-kindness. Yet many of us are all too familiar with the inner critic which taunts and heckles; that dismisses hope and diminishes enthusiasm and achievements. My own head voice tells me regularly and firmly how completely rubbish I am. And I believe it unconditionally.

So what caused this turnaround in thinking, in someone who is highly resistant to the notion that thoughts can be challenged and up-ended in a CBT kind of a way?

I've been frightened of flying for all of my adult life. And not just scared, but filled with absolute terror about the 'being trapped in so high up' issue to the point of wanting to escape and feel safe. Which really isn't helpful at 30,000 feet.

But there's a great big, beautiful world out there which, someday, somehow, I'd like to see and experience more of.

So on Sunday I joined about 100 other fearful flyers on a course which was designed to help us tackle our fears.

The day was filled with information, advice and the greatest support, but was also intense and quite emotional for me. Yet with much trepidation and a couple of false starts I boarded the plane that afternoon. We took to the skies and, instead of being filled with sheer terror, I thought how amazing it was to be high above fluffy white clouds infused with a golden glow from the winter sun. And how amazing we all were for being on that flight.

I don't think I've conquered my fears, but I've faced them head on and given them warning of my intentions. And maybe, just maybe, this new-found self-belief will filter its way into other areas of my thinking and my life.

But amazing doesn't just come in big, scary packages. Amazing is the blog which offers advice or insight into hard-earned experience when the writer might be going through the toughest of times. Amazing can be the comments which offer support, humour and understanding from afar. And most amazing of all, is everyone in the Moodscope community for simply hanging on in there.

With love

A Moodscope member.

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Friday, 17 February 2017

Why don't you smile?

I was reading some catalogues in my shop when a customer said to me , "It can't be that bad, smile". I tend to have a serious face when I am reading or thinking but why does a complete stranger feel they have the right to comment on my facial gestures.

For all they know a friend may have died, I may have found out I have a serious illness or maybe that I am just thinking and don't see a need to smile.

If this was the only time someone had said this that might be ok but I do get people commenting quite regularly. If you want me to smile do not tell me to, as this will make me frown!

In case you think I am Oscar the grouch's cousin or am grumpy - I do smile and laugh when I feel it is appropriate. I just don't like someone, especially a stranger telling me when I should smile.

I wonder why in the last ten to twenty years people feel they have right to ask strangers to smile. Is it part of the "Everyone must be happy' movement?

I do think a lot and I don't smile while I am thinking.

A young friend was dancing at a family gathering when a friend of the family  came up and told her she would look much more attractive if she smiled! My friend was so surprised she did not reply. What would you do if someone said that to you?

Have you ever had anyone ask you to smile?

How did that make you feel?

Are you someone that comments to another about their lack of a smile?

Can you explain why you do that and if it helps?

A Moodscope member.

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Thursday, 16 February 2017

Bottling Life's Pleasures.

This week I was looking through a cardboard box of books and CDs which has remained undisturbed since I moved some years ago.

I have been feeling ok recently. The mid-February days in my village are a little brighter and I hear the beginnings of the year's birdsong. From now until May/June our british birds will be ramping up their chorus which is something to look forward to.

These sounds, when I am well and can hear them, make me happy. Sometimes I listen to spring birdsong recordings in the middle of December, a bit like using a daylight lamp to help with SAD.

As I flipped through the contents of this box I was thinking about noise associations or triggers. Sights, sounds and smells can all evoke emotionally charged memories, sometimes in the background, below the surface. I started to make a mental list of good noise and bad, of sounds to bottle or to avoid. For instance I love the descending scale of the chaffinch but hate the ring ring of the telephone. I have never been relaxed about telephones but that's another story.

I threw out most of the CDs but 'Sounds of the Rainforest' caught my eye, originally free with a weekend paper! I speed-listened through various macaws, howlers and horned screamers until I came upon track 26, the most beautiful unnamed exotic birdsong!

Now, smartphones have many uses... but shrill, jangling ringtones that break the peace, harbingers of unwanted calls or worse, hmm!

After a little research on the internet I managed to install this one track as... yes you guessed... a ringtone! Now when I get a call it starts with a whisper of dripping trees, the distant rumbles of a receding storm, frogs and the evening song of the amazonian mystery bird. For the time being I am happy to be contacted by phone.

Incidentally I looked into the ethical and permitted usage of this recording and that seems ok too.

Terence x
A Moodscope member.

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Wednesday, 15 February 2017

When I'm Cleaning Windows.

[If you'd like to listen to an audio version of this blog, please click here: https://soundcloud.com/user-231831520/sets/when-im-cleaning-windows]

When my elder daughter started senior school four years ago, she was given what seemed, at the time, some very good advice: "Stay well clear of the "popular gang.""

If she had gone to one of the local schools (it was local people giving the advice) no doubt those words would have been wise, but at the school she attends it turns out that the "popular gang" consists of hardworking, intelligent and kind girls. Girls just like her in fact. Oops!

So it's taken her a few years to find her friendship group.

Yesterday was the first time she felt confident enough to invite a group of friends home. Five of them turned up for a Lord of the Rings movie marathon.

I took the position that, being teenagers, they would be happy if well fed and watered and they wouldn't be too concerned about the tidiness or cleanliness of the house. My husband disagreed. Out came the hoover. Out came the duster. Then he started on the windows...

Now, we don't have a window cleaner and I will be the first to admit that my windows do not have that crystal clear sparkle in which a housewife might take a proper pride, so I watched him with affectionate tolerance as he wielded a soapy rag and squeegee in the cold outside.

The problem was that, once he had cleaned the outside, the grime on the inside became glaringly obvious. Well, there was no glare; just grime!

So I set about cleaning the inside of the windows...

Which revealed the inadequacies of his outside cleaning...

Once that had been addressed, the remaining smears on the inside became visible...

By the time we had finished yesterday I was convinced that our windows would have passed the most stringent sunshine test.

Until this morning, when the sun shone in from a different angle... Big sigh...

It occurred to me that the analogy of the windows could fit our lives and our efforts in the direction of self-improvement.

Whether we start on our inside or our outside, we need to work on both, for both need work. We can take decisions and actions which affect our circumstances (the outside), but until we change our way of thinking and being, we cannot fully benefit from those decisions. That change in our thinking often results in further decisions and changes and so it goes on.

I have experienced this most recently with my marriage. A resolve to communicate more honestly has resulted in some hard conversations. This has cleared up a lot of things, but highlighted those areas where we needed to change our actions. Taking those actions has in turn revealed further scope for personal change.

All this has meant that our marriage is healthier now than it has been for a long time, perhaps than it has ever been.

Of course, there is still room for improvement. But, after all, perfection is so boring, isn't it?

A Moodscope member.

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Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Simple Pleasures.

You could say that there's a lot to be depressed about. Depending on your political persuasion (and bear with me if you are not of the same ilk), 2016 was not a good one with Brexit, the election of Trump, not to mention the deaths of Bowie, Victoria Wood, Prince and George Michael.

I used to be very political. As a member of CND as a school girl I have been on the odd march in my time. As a teenager I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. I now have a friend who like me is a depressive but unlike me remains so sensitive to political events she seems so angry all the time.

So what has changed for me? Don't get me wrong we need campaigners, activists and people to be agents of change. But I am also more aware of what I can do and what I can take personal responsibility for and what I can't. I don't have American citizenship so should not feel responsible for what happens there but did have the vote here and used it!

The difference in my outlook is that, in a scary world, I now know that I need to take heart from the simple pleasures in life. This week's simple pleasure was espied during a dog walk one drizzly day. I caught sight of a flash of vivid blue, blinked and looked again. To my delight there was a kingfisher perched on a branch overhanging the stream in our local park. Not bad for the second city, urban Birmingham. (I am now waiting for Outraged of Manchester to respond).

In this crazy, scary world I have discovered it's the little things that make the difference. This afternoon it's the luxury of reading the paper in bed.

What helps you gain a different perspective when all seems bleak?

Brum Mum
A Moodscope member.

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Monday, 13 February 2017

Your Story, My Story, History.

"I wanna tell you a story..."

Mike Yarwood, the famous TV impersonator, is credited with associating the all-round entertainer, Max Bygraves, with that phrase. Max actually said, "I want to tell you a joke." Funny how stories change...

Winston Churchill said that, "History is written by the victors," - changing the story too.

Is It Time To Change Your Story?

If you've ever wondered why the bookshelves of the world are largely filled with stories - with 'invented reality' - it is because we live our lives by stories. We tell ourselves stories every minute of every day. We do this when we are awake, and we do this in our dreams. We invent stuff.

Max Bygraves' original saying, "I want to tell you a joke," may be more relevant than we may at first think. Why? Well, because many of our stories are a joke... and not a funny one.

We tell ourselves stories about the person who is too old to start something.

We tell ourselves stories about the person who is too tired to do what they intended.

We tell ourselves stories about the person who said it is time to quit, to give up, to resign, to walk away.

We tell ourselves stories about what other people think about that person.

And that 'person' is us.

There's one outstanding piece of good news, though:

You are the story-teller.
Your history is written by you.
You can change the story, anytime, any place, anywhere, anyhow.
Tell yourself better stories today!

A Moodscope member.

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Sunday, 12 February 2017

The Dark Side of Attachment Addiction.

Not so very long ago I found myself involved in two relationships back-to-back. Both are puzzling to me and I find that after four marriages followed by 13 years single, they made absolutely no sense. Yet the four marriages did not "make sense" either.

So, upon reflection, I began my search for self-knowledge and to learn the answer to the question, "Am I addicted to romantic love?"

It was not pretty nor am I proud of it. I have also been diagnosed as uni-polar, thereby enabling me (officially!) to wallow in depression and high degrees of anxiety. However, in the interest of mental health (I am in my second year of Recovery from alcohol addiction) I present the following summary for possible self-growth and sharing. Ultimately my hope is that I will accept my journey with the quest to better myself and leave behind the need to be involved romantically.

The first of the two was a younger professional, brilliant, and kind. I pressured him to say he loved me. He did not. Added to that, he wanted to keep our relationship a secret. We never went public. I became a burden to him with numerous health concerns. Two years later it was over. Truly over.

Moments after this relationship ended, another love appeared - perhaps as a rebound.

The second of the two was minutely older, from another religion and culture, was also brilliant, a professional, and deeply kind. While I did not place any pressure on him, it was the opposite dynamic. He was relentless in asking for my love, my buy-in to the relationship, and my presence in his life. Oddly and refreshingly, he worshipped his deceased partner. He placed her highest on his pyramid of adoration.

At first it was a lovely change from the divorced males I'd been around who complained constantly about their former spouses. This was new to me and I loved it. I loved that he had loved his partner of many years and wakened each day to her memories, while ending each day with them as well. Their home remains a shrine to her life.

Soon after the initial months, I realized I could not bring myself to be intimate with him in the their home. It was not working for me. I tried to keep our relations totally at my lake cottage. It then became important to be honest with him. I did this. He understood. Or, he tried to understand.

Unfortunately his worshipping of her above all entities and things was troublesome for my heart. I was the invader. That combined with a generalized lack of safety and the sense that my voice was not important lead me to review the union.

It ended with him making the final call. This worked for me since I could not bear the thought of hurting him in this way. And so, I leaned in, learned, extrapolated, and left. Oh, and neither of us enjoyed the other's cooking skills. Aaaack...

Am I a better person for having known both of these individuals? Absolutely. Yet I recognize my needs were not healthy. I walk on.

I am still learning - at the tender age of 67.

A Moodscope member.

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Saturday, 11 February 2017

Is there a certain way to grieve?

A question I keep asking myself - How should I be feeling as I Grieve for the loss of my dad six weeks ago?

My answer is simply I dont know. You see part of me is still in shock and numbed by how my dad's time with us was so limited as he died so quicly, just fifteen weeks after diagnosis.

I cry still, but then sometimes I have a big smile on my face as I remember something funny dad said or did. Should I be moping around? My answer is definitely not as I know my dad wouldn't want that. I can feel him around me, giving me strength to carry on with life.

I am a sufferer of depression, but for past 12 months it's settled as I've started to understand it, working with my mind, to recognise the triggers which sometimes set a feeling off.

I like to think happy and positive thoughts for everyone and that keeps me going. It doesn't mean I dont struggle still, it's just I focus on others a lot as it helps me stay positive.

But my question still remains, is there a certain way to grieve?

A Moodscope member.

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Friday, 10 February 2017

What is missing?

I was hosting on Christmas day and it was an early start with a very late finish. I missed my meditation. And so ended my unbroken 100+ days of constant. Initially I felt crushed.  That was it. Run streak over, disappointed in myself and no impetus left to wash myself in its dewy freshness daily.

Then I took a very heavy virus. Night sweats and hours of listening to my own wheeze can never be gone too soon. I stood in the shower and learned that my mind was on a rampage!  I was angry at the ignorance of my aunt and her attitude to my beautiful (and very ill) granny.  I was fearful at the return of school and a routine I struggle with. I was consumed with the excruciatingly lonely world of solo parenting my three. My mind jumped from one self-worth question to the next and I was exhausted merely standing under warm water!!

Then a little miracle happened. My 100+ days of meditation grabbed hold and guided me in.  Child to mothership. I heard the words "The moment you realise you've been distracted, just return to the breath". And it worked. I repeated it a number of times.

It enabled me to wash off the night. Replace the bedding. Make a big skillet of goodness and sit around the table with my crew and a pot of tea and see that life was ok.

Meditation returns tomorrow morning with the return of my pressured but secure routine. The unbroken run streak never mattered. It's the returning that matters. Whatever it is that makes the difference in your life... return to what you need to be able to get hold of it. And again. And again. And it will come through for you. Trust it.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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Thursday, 9 February 2017

Three true stories of kindness.

This week is Children's Mental Health Week, and our friends at the children's mental health charity Place2Be is encouraging us all to spread a little kindness. Three pupils at one of Place2Be's Partner Schools share their personal stories of kindness for Children's Mental Health Week.


When I was in Year 4, people spread rumours about me to all my friends and most people believed it. They did this because I was smart and someone who likes school. I felt so alone and only had about four people who truly stuck up for me. The next few months were like madness for me. More and more of my friends started to leave and people became even more horrible to me and I started to give up. I gave up on trying to fix it and just sat down and acted as if I didn't care: Even though I did, deep down.

Then I found out about Place2Be's 15 minute talk-Place2Talk. So I signed up! My best friend came with me to make me feel better. Place2Be didn't only listen to me, they helped me. They helped me in a way no-one else could and I felt much better. They listened to me and helped me decide how to feel better about it all. So if you're ever feeling alone, Place2Be, a friend or adult can help you through and make you feel happier again. Remember to NEVER give up.


It was in Year 5, I was 9 years old, few months before 10, and I had my friends and my twin brother in my year. My family and I knew about his special needs, but it wasn't a big deal so he still went to the same school as me. But with his special needs, he couldn't stand it. I'm still not sure what it was that set him off, the work, the other children, I don't know. But one day, he just ran out of class. Then he went out of school. This kept on happening, so he had to leave. This was a few weeks before Christmas break.

Many people still don't know about me having a twin, because they just know about me and my big brother (since he was Head Boy). Twins have a special bond, and being separated was like a stab in the heart. My friends knew how hard this was for me and showed they cared about me. Some days, I briefly remember, I would just sit on the bench. But my friends came to me, influenced me to play with them, made me laugh and got me in a better mood.
My parents, even though they were going through all the change as well, helped me because I was too young to understand all the changes that were happening. I don't know how I would have gone through this change without my friends and family.

There are still moments when I feel down, but I know there will always be someone there for me. So when someone leaves someone you care for, or even someone you know from class, it would be kind and caring if you were there for them. So spread some happiness every once in a while.


Once I witnessed domestic abuse. Sorry to start this so depressing but that's what we're here for people! My dad walked out of the family in November 2012 and ever since things have been turbulent.

I saw it on the Sunday and was as terrified as a rabbit caught in the headlights. It left me feeling confused and scared for what would happen next. I was worried that I would have to protect my little sister because he would try to hurt us.

Luckily I had Place2Be the next day so I had someone to talk to. My counsellor was very calming for me and gave me tissues. He made me feel safe and that nobody could harm me like that at school which felt like a weight off my shoulders. Although he said because of the nature of what I had said he had to inform the head of the safeguarding team.

Later that day my teacher came to find me and ask me my side of the story and write it down on paper. I did so and she was extremely kind to me and said that I was brave and courageous. She was the first adult (apart from my family) who believed me for me and did not consider me as just a 'child' but as a person who was hurting and urgently needed help.

My mum, grandparents, aunt and cousin were the only people (up to that point) who I felt I could actually talk to. Now, at my secondary school, with a fresh new start, I had found others I could talk to; people who I could trust and were kind to me. Having someone finally listen to me made me feel like I really wasn't going mad and my feelings did matter.

Some advice I would give to people that are facing similar things to me (or anyone) would be never to bottle up feelings and to talk to people - for even a bottle has a capacity and has to explode at some point. Even if it feels like no one wants to listen, eventually, someone will, and when they do things change for the better.

Place2Be is proud to be a charity partner of the Heads Together campaign, spearheaded by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. The campaign aims to change how we talk about mental health and end stigma once and for all. Find out more at headstogether.org.uk

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


Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Lost in Music.

[To listen to an audio version of this blog please click here: https://soundcloud.com/user-231831520/sets/lost-in-music-playlist]

It has long been known that music can help people suffering with depression. Even in the bible, in 1 Samuel, 16, when King Saul suffers from "an evil spirit", the young shepherd boy David was brought in to play the lyre to him. Whenever the (dark) spirit came upon Saul, David would take the harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.

Others before me have written about the music that inspires them. Most recently Lex wrote about the guitar sound of The Edge from U2.

But I think it is not just music, but the way we listen to that music which makes it most efficacious to relieve our suffering.

It is easy to have music as the background to our tortured thoughts. The power of our mind is such that even the muscular intensity of Wagner can become mere posturing in the corner, and can even fuel the darkness if we are not watchful. We do have to consciously listen. To put it another way, we have to practise mindfulness when we listen. We have to immerse ourselves in the music, so that it drives all else away but itself.

I am lucky enough to have synaesthesia. For those of you who have not come across this term before, it means the condition whereby sensations are experienced simultaneously by more than one sense. For instance, I taste in sound, I smell in texture, and I see music in colour. There are other forms of synaesthesia; for instance, some people experience certain words in taste or colour, so that Wednesday is always yellow.

I have no idea what colour today is. But I can tell you the sound of a single violin is a sinuous line of green light, like an undulating laser beam; that the flute is a soft balloon covered with silvery brown fur – soft as chinchilla; that the clarinet is a smooth and polished shaft of flexible golden wood, the grain showing all along its length.

If I listen to music, really listen – as opposed to using it as soothing background noise while I drive round Cambridge in my Mini, or write, then it can encompass me totally, surrounding me with light and colour and kaleidoscopic shapes. It is a totally sensual experience that reaches deep down and fills my soul, so there is no room for the darkness.

For me it is always classical music; for some reason the colours don't work so well with pop and rock. Different composers and genres give different effects and satisfactions, from the mathematical patterns of Bach's violins, through the bronze and white-gold impact and fire of Listz's piano, to the ocean-wash of Gjeilo's choral works.

Next time you play music, close your eyes and listen; really listen, with all your senses. See what you can see, or taste, or feel. Get carried away by it; get lost in it, and leave your demons behind.

A Moodscope member.

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Tuesday, 7 February 2017

After you stumble...

"When you stumble, make it part of the dance." Author unknown.

A few years ago, I was encouraged by friends to enter a Poetry Slam competition. I enjoy public speaking and writing poetry but had never entered a poetry slam. On the night, I discovered that the other contestants all had poetry books published and were experienced at poetry slam competitions. I wanted to run away or hide but had my partner and friends in the audience. I managed to last a few rounds, but as people commented, my performance had nothing to do with poetry! I stumbled in front of friends and strangers and totally ignored it was a poetry competition. I still laugh about it and cringe a bit.

We are humans so we will make errors. Maybe we can learn to accept them as part of our dance.

Don't waste your time and effort trying to hide or cover up your stumbles or your missteps, your hesitation, just laugh if you can and keep moving.

Do you worry that you may be imperfect so this stops you from doing the things you would like to do? Instead, decide to do them, as best as you can even if it is not as perfect as you would envisage. Is it because we focus on being the best dancer, the best writer, the best artists, the best swimmer instead of enjoying the process and laugh at our stumbles that we avoid starting a new challenge.

If you are reluctant to start a dance, a new job, a new hobby, a new idea, a physical or mental challenge because you are afraid you will stumble, why not have a go and be patient with yourself.

If we all make our stumbles part of the dance they will be the dance and we learn to value all our efforts.

What do you do when you stumble? Do you make it part of your dance or do you cope in other ways?

Do you avoid trying new challenges in case you stumble?

A Moodscope member.

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Monday, 6 February 2017

Causes and Effects.

Yes, I know it should be 'cause and effect' - and that is going to be my point.

I'm not a greedy guitarist - I don't want to be able to play in all styles, like all my heroes. I am, however, an ambitious guitarist. I would like to sound like The Edge. The Edge's signature sound revolves around the innovative use of delays mixed with his unique picking style and the tone of his guitars and amps.

Here is why I have played on words today for the blog.

You cannot get The Edge's Signature Sound with one effect pedal.

It is not cause and effect. It is causes and effects. The Edge's sound is broad and rich because it is not in mono. He uses a stereophonic set up with multiple amplifiers and multiple delays.

Your life is as complicated and as sophisticated as The Edge's Sound - and more so. The 'effects' in your life - your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours have not one cause but many.

"All behaviour is caused and the causes are multiple."

This is one reason why I don't believe there is a simple or quick fix for anything.

The spiritual and self-development industries depend largely on the illusion that there is one solution. "If you do this one thing..." Those of us who are disillusioned with this approach know this to be a deception.

I think the worst vice is 'Advice' - advice from those who think in terms of a single cause leading to a single effect.

So what am I saying today? I'd begin with a plea. My plea is that you and I stop trying to 'fix' the complex problems in our friends' lives by applying single 'cause and effect' thinking. The key may well be to keep going - keep digging.

My life is 'interesting' in part because of my family's break-up just before my 'A' Levels. Without this, I would have become a botanist. Instead I became a Theologian. I can point to a very distinct cause - but pinpointing that cause would not be accurate. 'A' did not lead to 'B'. 'A' plus 'C' plus 'X' and 'Y' and 'Z' led to 'B'. There is no 'root cause' - there's a whole root system!

Understanding this means that you can never blame an individual person or event for the way your life is turning out.

That's a liberating thought, isn't it? No single person or event is to 'blame' (or due the 'credit') for your current woes or wonders. It's complicated.

Moving forward then, our 'freedom' or our 'success' or our 'happiness' will depend upon multiple causes and effects. It'll be complicated but it's doable!

Have I found The Edge Sound? Not yet, but I'm a lot closer. The key was understanding multiple causes and multiple effects - probably not the insight The Edge was intending when he created his Signature Sound, but I am profoundly grateful for his complexity.

A Moodscope member.

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Sunday, 5 February 2017

Blowing a fuse.

On 8th August 2012 I blew my fuse again. I gleaned this terminology from a book by Dr. Timothy Cantopher called Depressive Illness: The Curse of the Strong. He believes that although depression can be triggered by events and psychological factors, depression is essentially a chemical imbalance and this 'fuse' is our brain transmitter chemicals. If you put 18 amps through a 13 amp fuse there is only one possible result. He contends that by realising that mental health is a physical illness it allows the sufferer to take the rest needed and to stop fighting it.

Whether you believe his theory is not important, but believing that mental health is just as physical as a temporary thing like a broken leg or a lifetime illness like diabetes was my eureka moment and turned my thinking around.

It didn't mean I gave up by feeling that it wasn't my fault and I couldn't help it, but rather it empowered me to accept that my depression was part of me and whether it was temporary or permanent it was OK.

I believe that there are events in my past that have triggered my depression, but although they are important, they are not. That might sound a contradiction, but I cannot change those events, but I can try to change the way they control me. I spent close to forty years battling with past events that were not my fault and even if they were, what did that achieve... a fairly regular cycle of breakdowns triggered by those extra 5 amps?

I am not saying I don't relive those events, nor am I saying that I ignore them, as I don't. They still have a nasty habit of creeping up on me unexpectedly. What I try to do is to take a step back and give myself the compassion I would give someone else in my position. I feel I am good at helping other people to be understanding of themselves, so why should I not extend that compassion to myself?

I am not sure if anyone on Moodscope has already said this, but in the words of the late, great Whitney Houston "Learning to love yourself, it is the greatest love of all".

A Moodscope member.

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Saturday, 4 February 2017

My New Different.

I can't believe that this time last year Mum was still with us. As Saturday approaches, I try to stay positive, but the pain is tangible... They've both gone now, within just seven months of each other; my consolation is that Mum and Dad are reunited again and that makes my loss almost bearable, almost!

It isn't true what they say; it doesn't get easier, it just becomes different and the 'New Different' is where we have to learn to live again. There's days when I genuinely feel stronger but then it hits me with a force that literally takes my breath away. It makes me gasp and I have to just stop. Problem is you never know when it's coming, apart from obvious dates... and now I'm on the eve of it being exactly a year since I was able to hug the most precious, loving, generous woman I've ever had the privilege to call Mum.

Sometimes it feels like years since I last heard her say my name and yet there's times when I still feel her hand looped through my arm as if it were yesterday. I can feel it because she used to hold tightly at times due to the pain she was in but she insisted that walking 'kept her going'. She used to say "If you don't use it you'll lose it". She was such a strong, dignified woman. Anyway the reason I can feel her grip is because she held so tightly her nails used to dig into my arm. I used to say "Steady on you're hurting." Mum would instantly loosen her grip saying "Oh sorry love, didn't mean to" but as I feel the sensation of her hand still holding my arm I'm thankful her nails dug in a little because that feeling means she's still close!

So Saturday will come and go, we'll mark it appropriately and Sunday will dawn like any other week. I know this is the way it has to be now; so I'll just learn to see the good in this new different. As you always said Mum "Chin up Chuck, the sun's always shining above the clouds." Sometimes I feel as if the sun will never shine again but my heart is reminded of your words that it's there somewhere even if 'covered in cloud' at times.

So I'll continue to move forward and enjoy life by your example remembering "A day without a smile is a day wasted" and "Enjoy every minute of every day because life is precious." Well Mum this world was certainly a precious place when you were in it and strangely it lost its sparkle when you left, but I will find a way out of the dark and look to the future with the same spirit and joy of life that you showed.

If you're learning to live with your 'New Different' trust me when I say there'll be days that you will be able to remember them without such pain. There will be times when you can smile through the tears. If all else fails, please be comforted by Mum's philosophy that the sun is always shining even if temporarily covered by clouds!"

A Moodscope member.

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Friday, 3 February 2017

Personal Prescription.

If I could write a wish list or personal prescription for my well being (and not healing others, or world peace!), what would it look like?

1 Good Sleep. When I go to sleep at 10.30 for a few days in a row, I wake at 6.30 without waking in the night.

2 Sunshine. (Warm sunshine even better!) For me everything is at least a notch better when the sun is shining! Motivation, energy, getting out, smiles, meeting up with people, plans.

Ok I've been low on sunny days too, but I'm in wish list mode, so they'd be a thing of the past!

I like all sorts of weather and climates. Nothing beats a crackling fire in the winter. I love sitting round a campfire or even just lighting candles, so for my personal prescription regular warm sunshine and times just gazing into a fire, would challenge the number one spot!

3 Good movement. I would miraculously have the motivation, time and energy to get out for a lovely walk and move around enough to have notched up 10,000 steps a day without even realising it!

I'd play table tennis once a week, enjoy a zumba party dance class and a yoga or pilates class just at the right level. Somehow just these things would keep me in great physical shape. Done. ;) There'd be no barriers to travel and I'd visit places near and far experiencing all the things that are out there and just the right balance with being able to enjoy being right here at home.

4. Calm. I would drift through life never needing to hurry or worry. My breath regular and deep. There'd be time for everything. There'd be a place for everything and plenty of light and space. There'd be just enough money for what was needed with the odd guilt free treat along the way! I'd live in each moment, knowing that life is what it is and that I do what I can, with moments to just be.

5. Companionship. I'd have good, worry free relationships with loved ones, friends and colleagues and people in general, with just the right balance of company and me time, miraculously just happening! Sharing smiles, chatting, learning and a belly full of laughs every now and again.

I'd have a special companion who I could be myself with, always there for me to love and be loved by.

So my Personal Prescription has come out as, sleep, sunshine, movement, calm and companionship in that order for some reason.

If, for once, you could put just you and what you'd like into a wish list, what would yours look like?

It might just be one word. Go for it wish away! :)

A Moodscope member.

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Thursday, 2 February 2017

The pros and cons of people pleasing.

I thought there were only benefits in being a people pleaser, I never imagined others would see it as an undesirable trait. To me people pleasing is all about thinking of others before myself and so being a caring compassionate person.

I would proudly say I was a people pleaser then I noticed a few years ago people saying 'yes you are' with a sarcastic tone. After googling I saw the tide had turned and now most of the articles were about the down side of people pleasing.

According to the articles people pleasers are unhappy because they please people when they don't want to and feel guilty.

This isn't me or is it? I like to do things for other people because I like helping.

One point was that we must  learn in life that we don't have to like everyone, everyone doesn't have to like us and that's ok.

I want everyone not to like me but to like each other. I can't handle conflict. So I will everything to make people get on with each other.

It also said you feel exhausted and depleted from putting everyone else's needs before your own and not taking the time out to practice self-care. I thought that was just the definition of being a parent or a carer.

If your people pleasing affects your own health, then it becomes a becomes a problem.

If you find it hard to say no even when saying yes will stress you, you may need to limit your people pleasing activities.

Some of the high costs to a people pleaser, can be deep resentment, loss of self awareness, exhaustion and low self esteem.

I can relate to some of the negative results of people pleasing, especially the exhaustion and the loss of self...

Practicing saying no to people without feeling guilty later is another important skill... I have learnt to say no but am still working on the guilt.

Do you see yourself as a people pleaser?

Is it a problem for you - in what ways?

Or are you a people pleaser who has found the balance? How?

Any advice for a people pleaser who wants to change?

A Moodscope member.

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


Wednesday, 1 February 2017

The Perfect Family.

I think many of us are guilty of looking at other people and thinking they've got it all worked out.

I'm as guilty of it as anyone. My studio, where I work and see clients is right at the back of the house. While it is possible to direct my clients through the garden to enter by the French Windows, I'm never quite sure they will make it, or if the rampant grapevine and killer roses will get them first. So I take them through my house, apologising all the way for the mess and clutter.

"You call this messy?" They say kindly. "You haven't seen my house!"

But in my mind, everyone else lives in immaculate Ideal Home d├ęcor, with never a cushion out of place, and certainly not with wetsuits draped like sad selkie skins over every sofa, precarious piles of paperwork precipitating off the dining room table; the floor scattered with bucolic guinea pig hay...

Some of you may think that my family and I have it all worked out emotionally. After all, how could I dare write for you if I didn't?

Did you hear that? Yes – that was the sound of hollow laughter echoing round the depths of despair.

My husband and I were talking yesterday about the price that is paid by my family when I am ill. He called it a disaster area.

Oh, I'm alright. When I am a jellied lump of misery, clinging to the sofa like some stranded sea anemone, I am not aware of anything except my own suffering. It is my family who have to pick up my jettisoned duties and carry on some semblance of normal life.

It is my husband who has to take on all the taxi work; running the girls to sailing, to trampoline club, to badminton, to swimming. It is he who has to pick up the hoover before the colour of the carpets is a mere memory; he has to sort laundry and do ironing.

My elder daughter takes on my role of mother to all of us. She worries about, encourages and cares for us all. She organises me (I am grateful); She organises her sister (who resents it). At fourteen, this is too much; her stress levels go through the roof.

My younger daughter suffers most. Being highly empathic, she finds it difficult to cope with my depression. For her it is almost infectious. She grieves over it and tries to make me smile. Fake smiles don't fool her and so she feels even worse.

I am well again now, and for now, but the price is still being paid. The family walk on eggshells around me. They are reluctant to cede the roles they have taken on back to me. And so I feel guilty.

There has to be a better way of managing this illness, so my family don't suffer. I hope these new pills work. If they don't, I won't stop looking. I can't.

A Moodscope member.

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