Sunday, 30 April 2017


The Chapel was built to service a mining community that has long since gone. It was a house of prayer on Sundays, and a school during the week. It hosted countless people whose lives had been more testing and arduous than it's possible to imagine from a cosy twenty-first Century perspective. People came here to celebrate and commemorate, to test the depths of their Welsh roots buried deep in slate and soil, to learn what they could, to have perhaps a better life than their forebears.

I was there as a tourist, looking back on the history that surrounded me, the distant field walls weeping stones, the roofless gables and rutted trackways. But I was also looking back to the childhood holidays we shared in Wales. The seemingly endless, intimate summer days, of crabbing, visits to castles and A&E, of bike rides and walks and bird song and salt water and candy floss and tears and sand and stars. It's a nostalgia that I sought solace in. A life before I had to worry about job security, payments on the car, ageing parents, loneliness and dreams that died in the thinking.

But in my case, as with many others, the past is not always a safe place to go back to. The sun and warmth fade, give way to memories less welcome. The rooms we thoughtlessly left thirty years ago as children now, as adults, are furnished with odd angles and dark shadows, dimensions warped and voices stilled. Our past is something we revisit with caution. I went to the Chapel hoping for comfort in my history. Instead, I found something as broken, roofless and rutted as the landscape.

True, I'd had issues with my meds, and the dizziness I experienced without my sertraline made me realise just how foolish a cold-turkey farewell would be to my 100mg friends. I didn't feel safe though, and chose to leave the Chapel before the clouds became too thick and penetrate. Back home, with the curlews and the Sea, I regained something of the stability I missed in Wales. But the darkness followed. It always finds me.

I am reacquainted with my medication, no longer dizzy. But the self doubt and loathing linger, the challenges of daily life increase. Each day that I get up and go to work is a little victory. The giddy days feel like I've won a lottery. But they are becoming scarce. Sometimes the future does feel bright. I have to remind myself of that. That summer was once warm. That birdsong and sand and salt air are free and plentiful.

Face forward. To a future with walls, roofs and open tracks.

The Old Man and the Sea (TOMATS)
A Moodscope member.

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Saturday, 29 April 2017

Wanted: Target (and the self-discipline to achieve it).

When I first started Moodscope Hopeful One was a regular contributor. He and I both followed the thorny path of carers to Alzheimer victims. We agreed that self-respect helped us – dress well, keep your head up, face the world bravely (if not brazenly). I have slipped badly, depressed, scruffy, drinking too much and comfort eating.

Panic has set in, because, inevitably, I've put on weight. As I have two vertebrae described as 'equivalent to a ruined Greek temple' the last thing they need is to cart extra kilos about. So, as a lifelong 'good doer' (referring to animals, really, who put on weight for minimum input, therefore economic) I need little food.

'Targets' have always been clothes. 'On view' every week in my 'Open' garden I could not let it down, so dressed well. There were always holidays in exotic places, (Club Med 'tops'), weddings, parties, giving lectures – always that 'incentive' to keep 'Trim' (never 'slim', unattainable).

I went, aged 40, to Lucie Clayton's grooming course, and was top student. People were flattering about my choice of dresses 'Debenhams, 30 years ago' I'd say, proudly. I can still get in them, if a tad tight. I loved high heels. I was asked once if I was a dancer, because I walked so well – no hope. I have long hair, and endless ornaments gained round the world, never used. If the 'dress' target does not work, then keeping fit must be the 'goad'. Already, after a winter incarcerated with my husband, and the extra weight, I have back and sciatic pain.

But – this morning, for mass, I put my unkempt hair up, and made sure it looked nice from the back. I sat, and stood, very straight in church. It's a start. Then it's my husband - sunk in gloom. He used to love white cotton shirts – I dig them out, plus tie. His hair is still thick, his beard trim – we could still be a presentable pair. Some people put pictures of themselves when they looked nice on their mirrors. Anybody got any tips?

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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Friday, 28 April 2017

Letter to my alcoholic sister.

You are breaking my heart;

I see you abusing yourself with alcohol and prescription medicines, unable to engage with any of us or with life in any meaningful way. When you are sober, you become paranoid, creating confusion and chaos around you, upsetting us, playing the "Poor me" card, making ridiculous claims and demands, bad-mouthing us...

Where is the charming, witty, talented, generous, caring sister we knew, admired and loved? We see her so very rarely these days...

Yes, my heart is breaking; I try to make contact with you and you reject my attempts.

Meanwhile we continue dealing with the deaths of Mum and beloved auntie,
sorting through their things, getting their properties ready for selling and you...?

You drink yourself into oblivion, holding us all up, trying to play us off against each other; when sober you create problems with the neighbours, and try to undo everything we have achieved.

What gives you the right:

• to "opt out" of the situation?
• to sabotage our attempts to deal with the realities of two properties to clear
  and sell, two estates to wind up?
• to act like a spoilt child with your "Poor me" claims?
• and then to claim that you were "there" for Mum and auntie when in reality you
  weren't, whilst we were, week after exhausting, distressing week throughout 2016.

When do we get to act the child?

• to sob our hearts out for losing both Mum and auntie within two months?
• to turn our backs on what is happening?
• to stamp our feet and shout "It's not fair" like you are doing?

And the more often you behave badly, the more determined we become to restrict our contact with you.

And that breaks my heart even more; not only have I lost Mum and auntie, now I am losing you as well – to your addictions and to your denial that you have a problem.

No-one is more determined than you; why, oh why can't you harness that determination and tackle your issues? Why do you continue denying the reality of your situation; refusing all help that is offered to you? Discharging yourself time and again from hospital against all professional advice?

I love you.

You are breaking my heart.

For my own sanity I cannot keep on like this – forever hoping that you will change your ways.

This is good-bye...

So, lovely Moodscopers; dare I send this?

A Moodscope member.

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Thursday, 27 April 2017

Preparing to Stay Well.

Five months, that was the length of my last very low period. It came in gradually... there some days, gone the next. I don't fit within any NHS guidelines to qualify for help or support and I'm wary of antidepressants after my last three prescriptions left me suffering so many side affects that I didn't know how to deal with anything. I know that I need to do what I can to help myself and continue to be there for my young family.

Coming out of a bad patch gives a new clarity to things, like the way new colours in Spring can look twice as bright as the flowers do in Summer. I feel more sociable again, easy does it with the social calendar though, I've learnt not to run head first into a hedonistic booking of coffees and evenings out, just go steady, I might feel better but I'm still in a recovery and there could still be a bad day or two.

So this time, whilst I'm in the throes of peace time within myself, I'm going to shore up my defenses. That might sound like I'm being overly pessimistic expecting the worst to happen but I'm really not. It's a positive thing, I'm preparing to help myself be well.

I'm looking at recipes from The Happy Kitchen #goodmoodfood and trying them out whilst I have the clarity and appetite to do so, I've tried a few that are already becoming staples for me and will be easy to make however I am feeling... sweet potato and chickpea curry!

I'm trying to do some different forms of exercise whilst I can motivate myself. I went to a Clubbercise class on Saturday, neon face paints and glow sticks were obligatory and it's in the dark so less awkwardness! I went on a 'Mental Health Mates' walk and was immeasurably lifted by meeting with other people with the same issues as well as getting some fresh air in a new setting, these take place monthly in different towns and cities across the country.

I've joined a local WI, I've always wanted to, but lately my self confidence had been so low that I wasn't up to any kind of new group thing. I know that I get a buzz from learning new things and being creative so I'm hoping that if I hit another low patch I'll still be able to get myself to a meeting and feel some benefit.

Two months ago I'd have found one of the above enough to cope with and I know I can be guilty of overdoing things when I get a window of mental clarity. Like many other people, if I'm not going to qualify for help with my mental health problems then I'm going to have to cast my net as far and wide as possible whilst I'm able and stockpile all the resources that I can ready for when the next storm hits.

A Moodscope member.

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Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Nursing a Grudge.

[To listen to an audio version of this blog please follow this link:]

My GP once said to me, "I get many women in my surgery who want something to make them sleep. They don't need sleeping tablets: they need to forgive the man sleeping next to them for having an affair; sometimes, an affair long ago."

At the time, I nodded and said nothing. It seemed wisest, because I didn't want to get into an argument, but inside, I was seething.

Why should those women have to forgive their husbands? Had those husbands gone down on bended knee and grovelled? Had they bought those wives diamonds, or flowers? Had they taken them to Paris? Had they dedicated themselves totally from that day forward to making their wives happy? In short, did they deserve to be forgiven?

But I didn't understand, then, what my doctor was saying.

Those women were lying awake; their bitterness and resentfulness keeping them from Morpheus' arms; preventing rest. Their husbands, meanwhile, were peacefully asleep. Who, exactly, was suffering?

So, having thought about it, I realised something.

We must forgive for the sake of our own emotional and mental health and not for any other reason. We forgive because we want relationship and love to be re-established more than we want to hold onto our righteous hurt, fury and loss.

Does this mean that our forgiveness wipes out the transgression? Does it mean that it was acceptable for the other person to do what they did?

By no means! Other people injure us for many reasons. Sometimes it is thoughtlessness; sometimes it is by mistake; sometimes they thought they were doing the right thing and it turned out to be so totally the wrong thing, it would have been better had they done nothing at all. And sometimes they hurt us through selfishness, through greed, or just because they can.

And, in the midst of our hurt we cry out, "I shall never forgive them. Never!"

Well, never is a long, long time. It's a wearisome time to carry a heavy lump of bitterness. Some people think that holding onto hurt can increase our chances of falling ill with certain diseases. In fact, we talk about this kind of bitterness, "eating away like a cancer in our chest."

Forgiving someone doesn't make them right. It doesn't mean they didn't hurt you. It doesn't mean that you don't have a right to your upset and anger and grief: you absolutely do.

Forgiving someone has nothing to do with whether they are repentant or not. Sometimes the person who hurt us most is dead. They may have gone to their grave unknowing, or callously indifferent to the harm they did while alive.

We forgive because we want to live. We release the anger and the hurt and the bitterness. We leave it in the past and walk forward because we want the best possible life for ourselves. We wish for peace in our hearts.

And we'd really like to sleep.


A Moodscope member.

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Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Hope dashed.

I saw a neuropsychiatrist a few weeks ago. A very clever, softly spoken man, he had instructions to Assess me for 20 minutes and on the basis of that Assessment, I would proceed to some sort of Treatment. I was in with him for over 40 mins. And when I finally came out of his room, I was in tiny, wet pieces. My precious mask which has held up for so many years, and which has received a good battering since I broke my wrist last autumn, finally dissolved and ran away.

In the few minutes I was in the room with the quietly spoken doctor, he succeeded in breaking every one of my defences. He brought to the surface again every single thing I was carefully disguising with smiles and good cheer.

I came out of his room utterly naked.

However, now that he has identified my need, even if I have to wait a year or more, I can have that hope.

And so, even though I emerged crying, red faced and a "mess" I also felt relieved that I had been heard.

As a contrast with that, I had an appointment with my GP a day or so ago. I asked him about help with the excruciating pain in my legs, which has finally been shown to have no connection to the surgery I had to remove a brain tumour over five years ago. He stood up; opened the door to his office and said "Cleverer people than I have not sorted out that one. Good day to you."

Enraged is the only word possible. My Civil Partner patiently pushed me in my wheelchair, through the building, out to the car.

I was not heard. I am disappearing.

With my defences gone, utterly, and no support at all from my GP, I have somehow to re-build myself from my roots.

I need your help to do that, Moodscopers. Please help. I can't do this alone.

A Moodscope member.

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

Monday, 24 April 2017

A Manifesto for a Life to the Full.

Movement, nutrition, reproduction, excretion, growth, respiration, sensitivity are the seven characteristics of a Living Organism. Using these seven characteristics, you can accelerate your journey towards more of a life of abundance in seven straightforward steps:

1. Make sure you're moving towards a specific and motivating destination. Have a compelling vision of the future that gives you hope and that has milestones that can be measured.

2. Be conscious of the nutritional choices you make. Is your soul-food as good as the decisions you make about eating healthy natural food? Where do you get your energy from? How could you get more energy? Do you have any energy-vampires that need to be excluded from your life? How about any mood-hoovers that you could switch off?

3. What are your unique gifts and talents that would benefit being installed in others? How could you reproduce these skills and abilities in others? What can you teach? Who wants to be taught it?

4. How good are you at dealing with the excretion of set-backs, waste, and disappointment? How could you become more resilient? What did you learn from your last set-back?

5. In which ways are you growing the most? In which areas would you like to grow the most? What's the first physical action step to get you on the path to growth? What stunts your growth?

6. Do you think you have achieved a good balance of give-and-take, of giving-and-receiving? This is respiration in Nature, and an important part of feeling truly alive. You must find a purpose to give yourself too, but you must also find the flow of resources to keep you being able to give.

7/ On a scale of 1-100, how sensitive would you rate yourself as when it comes to understanding yourself? How would you rate your understanding of others?

Improving the momentum of your movement towards what you want, increasing the energy you get into your life though the right 'nutrition', reproducing more of your excellence in your team, family, and community, learning to deal rapidly and effectively with set-backs, growing more sustainably and rapidly, taking your giving and receiving up a level, and becoming more accurately and acutely sensitive to yourself, those around you, and your environment - all these add up to living life more abundantly.

A Moodscope member.

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Sunday, 23 April 2017

Gardeners World.

This time of year we have buds and the start of new beginnings, but like with most gardens, some work can be done in order to make space for the buds, the blossoms and new shoots.

Tend to your own internal garden. Weed out the unwanted old thoughts that hinder new growth.

Prune and revive the hardy areas that survive even in the harshest winters.

Plant new hopeful seeds of learning that can bare fruitful new ideas.

Nourish and replenish the soul-soil so that your blossoms bloom from within because the Spring in happiness begins from the inside...

It's nobody else's job but yours.

The trusty-yogi
A Moodscope member.

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Saturday, 22 April 2017

Is your job worthwhile?

Many years ago when my children were school aged, I worked with children with disabilities at their school. People would often comment how patient I was, how they admired me for doing something worthwhile. I used to say that I was no saint. I did feel good that I was doing a job that was valued by others and seen as being worthwhile.

Ask people what they want in a job, and meaningfulness is often ranked  their number one priority — above promotions, income, job security, and hours.

Many people feel their jobs don't matter and don't have a lasting impact on others.
According to surveys, there are jobs that are highly meaningful to virtually anyone who holds them: eg. kindergarten teachers, surgeons, firefighters, ambulance workers, midwives, adult literacy teachers.

They all make an important difference in the lives of others. They hold a purpose for the people doing the jobs and for everyone else who admires what they do.

Fast forward to the last eleven years where I own and manage a book and gift store. I tell myself I am helping people with their reading, helping customers to buy quirky presents  but in reality in this consumer obsessed society I am asking to people to buy more things they want but don't need.

I used to feel a bit embarrassed when I told people what I did.

One day a friend told me she felt I was wonderful for running a small business when I had a mental illness and I would encourage and offer hope to other people.

Often the chance to help others can be what makes our work worthwhile. I had never viewed my work as encouraging others and offering hope.

I think if I see a value and a purpose in what I do, others will too.

What about you, do you value what you do whether paid or unpaid?

Do you look to others to find worth in what you do? Why?

Is it important that others see your work as being worthwhile? Why?

Does having a job that helps others seem more meaningful to you?

A Moodscope member.

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

Friday, 21 April 2017

That Moment.

There's that moment, that split second, literally.

Split between one choice or the other. Act or don't act.

You know which the better choice for you is.
Don't press send. Don't make that call.
Don't react.
Don't put it into your shopping basket. Don't have that drink.
Don't eat that junk, but you make a choice.

To hell with it, boom, done. Too late now I've done it. Felt good. I "needed" that....Really?

It seems there's something about a "don't" that makes it hard to resist doing!

Of course I know that everything is not so simple!

At times though, you're there, suspended for a moment and it's possible to get in there.
You haven't done it yet. You haven't ruined anything, you still have a chance. You can still make the better choice. You don't HAVE to give in and do it.

Sometimes I say
"I can..." to myself instead of a "Don't...".

A simple example is hoarding. I've been in the habit of keeping even the smallest things, even if I have loads, because they're perfectly good. Saying "I can actually get rid of that!" leads to immediate positive action and is much more effective than "Don't keep that" or "I don't need to keep that. Which just throws up questions and excuses!

When I make a choice that is good for me, wow! Does that feel great! I feel lifted, self respected. I CAN change the course of things sometimes, if I get in there and press pause.
If I listened to my true self each time, which would I choose?

Last night I switched the movie off and went to bed. Sounds small, but it felt like a first.

Have you found yourself in that moment and surprised yourself? Or maybe not yet?

A Moodscope member.

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Thursday, 20 April 2017

Hello gorgeous.

He made it through.

He has shivered in the cold. He has been battered by harsh winds. He has held my gaze throughout and told me we were in it together.

This winter has been more gentle on me than any before and, although I have had a few harsh bumps lately, I have been rewarded by knowing it has been different. I'd hate to add up how many years depression has been snapping at me but I take great inspiration from small changes. The possibility brings possibility!

My beautiful friend the tree who never moves from my side, and often sits with me as I eat breakfast, is growing again. Spring has winked at him. He is putting on tiny undergarments of green. He remains a very large half a tree, having only grown on one side, but each year he develops a little more and I wonder if one day his half-ness will be unrecognisable?

He's back. And his courage, his strength, his solidity, his beauty and his charm has won me over all over again. I swoon into his shadow and I bat my eyelashes as cartoon love hearts pour from my eyes towards him. Ah he is my prince!

Love from

The room above the garage with a beating heart.
A Moodscope member.

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Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Alternative Reality.

Imaginary Friend.

My imaginary friend
has an imaginary friend
whose imaginary friend
isn't real.

That imaginary friend
has an imaginary friend
whose imaginary friend
is me.

Suzanne Elvidge 1997

"You realise, Mummy," said my elder daughter, in scathing tones, "there comes an age at which most people grow out of having imaginary friends. That age is about eight."

My second daughter would never say that; my second daughter understands.

It sometimes seems as if there are two definite sides of our family, with a deep chasm between us. On one side my husband and elder daughter, on the other side, my younger daughter and me. They are doers, achievers, organisers and "people-people". My second daughter and I are the dreamers.

It's rare we take time to talk. Even when my husband and number one are away sailing and it is just she and I alone, we don't talk much. We "hang out" together, which mostly means we are in our separate rooms, doing our own separate creative activities and each allowing the other space to do so. We have a lovely time together apart. But we don't tend to talk.

Last night, however, coming back from an Easter weekend at the coast, with just her and me and the guinea-pigs in the car, while Daddy and number one came on later with the trailer full of boats, we did talk.

She started by telling me about the detention she got (for not paying attention in class). She enjoyed it. "You have to sit in the English classroom so you're inside in the warm with no beef and banter (gossip and bitchiness) to deal with. And you can't look at anyone and you just sit there in silence for half an hour. It's lovely. I just go into a world inside my head. I wish I could have detention every day, but without having to get into trouble."

She paused. "Mummy, when you were my age, did you have worlds inside your head?"

Well, of course I did. Many creative people do. In my favourite world, I was a flying princess with lots of horses. I still have worlds inside my head, but now I write books about them. I still have the horses, though.

Our imaginary worlds are far more than daydreams. Our worlds are fully developed. They have their own immutable laws; they are populated and, while nominally under our control, they develop lives of their own.

I do not think these worlds are the property of writers only, but they are not given to everyone. If you have one (or many), please treasure it, spend time in it and tend to it.

The "real" world demands our attention of course: our bodies require housing and feeding; our relationships with "real" people require maintenance; but the worlds inside our heads are essential to our mental health. They are our solace and our escape.

And who is to say which is the real world and which imaginary?

A Moodscope member.

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

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Harry - Thank you!

I think we need to give some attention to this.

Prince Harry decided to give an insight into his past problems dealing with the death of his mother, in the hope it will encourage people to break the stigma surrounding mental health issues.

He did a great interview with Bryony Gordon who has suffered with bulimia and OCD. You may have seen it but if not:

It's brilliant he has talked about his issues because it's just elevated mental health problems by a million miles!

I do wish we had a royal advocate to bring some attention to the good Moodscope has done over the last 10 years, but we don't. So we must support everyone who does bring mental health problems to the fore.

Bryony Gordon is running the Virgin London Marathon run in aid of the Heads Together campaign - spearheaded by Prince William, The Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

Perhaps you could sponsor her:

Thank you.

In the meantime, I'd be really interested in what you thought of Harry's interview?.

The Moodscope Team

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

Monday, 17 April 2017

Who's your hero?

The cult of celebrity is alive and well. Do you admire the skills and strengths of anyone in particular? I'm not sure that the rich and famous are all that different to me and you - the living creature that I have found most inspiring in the last decade or so is Bob, Bob the goldfish.

When I first moved in with my ex, Bob was already there - almost invisible in the pea-soup water of his spherical goldfish bowl. Years and years we had Bob. It was his stoicism I really admired. No matter what, he would carry on, through opaque water or through clear.  Never giving up - he truly was an inspiration!

Celebrities - pah! Sure, they have talents (don't we all?) I'm sure they work hard (don't we all?) They have got lucky, been recognised and praised for their talents. Good for them.

The people I really admire are those battling on when the odds are stacked against them.

There was an addict on the television the other day, not yet fully recovered, still having to battle every single day, now HIM I do admire. And then there's US, all the people that log on to Moodscope to measure our state of mind or read/comment on the blogs and support each other. I admire US, the unseen, unsung heroes.

Maybe we admire what we need the most? And I just need to keep going. My greatest achievement is that I am still here. I have nothing to show for myself but I am so proud of what I have achieved (still here!)

So who's your hero? If mine is Bob and all the unseen "ordinary" folk out there, who do YOU admire and why?  Is it because they display strengths and skills that YOU really need and would like (or have!)?

You may not have achieved fame and fortune, but I admire YOU for your tenacity, day after day.  Keep it up.  Well done!

A Moodscope member.

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

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Hang On...

Why am I stuck inside when it's such a sunny day out?
Why do I draw the curtains to block out the light?

Light that is so vital to me, Light in all rays of glory.
If I block out Light do I block out Love? My essence is muted yet present.

Now is the time to stoke the embers. Now is the time to Love.
Now is the time to Love myself first. Love myself first?! Love the worst?!

I am unworthy. I have no hope. Darkness prevails. Blinds sight.
Menacing thoughts run amok heedlessly ignoring my pleas for order.

Circling the drain, I peer down the deep dark tunnel.
That tunnel will suck you right down. Away Forever.

Terror jolts my very core, shock waves ripple forth.
Tsunami barrels down on me. I need a life preserver! How will I survive?

Curl up, bracing for the blow. Curl inside, deep inside.
Not too far... not too far... don't go too far. Come up for air.

It's okay to talk. How can I talk? Remember to talk. I need to talk!
Struggling, stuttering, I must persevere. Must Persevere. What Must Persevere?!

Love. Intrinsic Love. Love is my answer. I must act out of Love.
Love protects me and I inflict no harm. No heartache. No gut wrenching agony as the finality sinks in.

The final demise that causes such grief. The tortuous loss you've experienced but you must never cause.

Such anguish must not be repeated. Absolutely never be repeated... You vowed you would never repeat it... NEVER.

Break the cycle. Be strong. Hang on.
Because of Love, I hang on.

What strengthens your grasp as you hang on?

A Moodscope member

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

Saturday, 15 April 2017

It Will Pass.

When you're low everything seems to conspire to keep you there.

You know the fresh air will do you good but you'd rather stay under your duvet.

You know drinking water will help but you have a glass of wine or endless cups of tea and coffee.

You know you need some company but you can't bear the thought of socialising.

Going for a run might help but your legs feel like lead and are not going to budge.

You need to eat a healthy diet but it's easier to grab whatever is there from the fridge or cupboard, or not eat at all.

You know social media is bad for you but you trawl through everyone else's perfect lives.

You know you should distract yourself but you let the bad thoughts accumulate and fester.

You know some mindfulness or meditation, or simple deep breaths will calm you but you don't let yourself stop and try it.

You know you're not alone but your mind tells you no-one else wants to know you now.

You know you're ill and it's the illness keeping you in this place and it'll pass. This is the best bit of the knowing.

It will pass.

A Moodscope member.

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

Friday, 14 April 2017

No, you can't have a 3.

How do you go about scoring the different cards on the Moodscope test? I've been wondering about this a lot recently. Last year was a really difficult year. I loved my job, even when challenging. I loved the team I worked with even though they could be difficult too.  But it all came to an end and we were made redundant. Inevitable, and we had plenty of notice, but it didn't fail to feel like the end of the world.

I was back on the job hunt after many years in the same job. I was well known in the area I worked and people came to me for advice. I'd built a network of support and spent time reaching out to new people coming in. I felt strong and in control. All that was taken away. I needed to prove that I could do my job.

Fast forward to now and I'm in a new job. It's easier in many respects, harder in others.   I've found a team that are great and I feel like I fit right in. So, I ask myself, having managed to overcome another bout of darkness and actually managing to get myself through it, why do I not score a 3 on the red cards? In particular, I rarely give myself a 3 for Strong and especially not for Proud. I mean pride comes before a fall, right? Strong people are often stubborn? Oh, and I'm rarely Alert as I'm always tired (the joys of a co-sleeping toddler).

Then one day I noticed something. A tiny detail. It was quickly sorted whilst I was on my way to deal with something else. I realised at that moment that if I wasn't alert then I wouldn't have noticed this detail. So surely then I wouldn't have dealt with it? I started to question what each of these different words mean. How I am attributing characteristics to them based on my own personal experience. So, I looked differently.

Yes, I am proud. In the past 6 years, I've qualified in my field of work with a Masters.  During that time, I had 2 children and 2 losses. I've changed jobs. I've run a small business on the side. We've kept a house going whilst working full time and with a young family. I've said it before, I feel this makes me privileged and sometimes when I'm sipping red wine whilst sitting in bed I still feel like a fraud for feeling depressed. But I also am starting to see how this makes me strong. And I'm proud to be who I am.

How can you look at things differently today?

A Moodscope member.

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

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Tired from dreams.

Do you ever wake up in the morning emotionally and or physically fatigued after a complex dream. I am not talking nightmares just long detailed dreams that can mean you feel depressed or angry for no reason other than the dream.

When you are depressed do you dream more than usual, are your dreams different to other moods? Depressed patients recall dreams with more negative mood and emotion than a control group, also depressed people dream about more misfortunes.

A study of bipolar disorder discovered that changes from neutral or negative dreams (as in depression) towards more unusual and unrealistic dreams can predict between depressive and manic moods.

Do you ever wonder if you something really happened or you actually dreamed it?

My dreams can be so real that even when I wake in the morning I need to check that I wasn't rude to a relative. I don't like confrontation so I am always patient and kind to others, but sometimes I dream I spoke my mind and was sarcastic. In the morning I feel really guilty even when I realise it was a dream.

Feeling so weary in the morning when everyone else seems so full of energy and smiling to start the day is so frustrating. It is due to my complicated dreams that often involve physical activities including childbirth, that I would be tired in the morning. However to many others I just look lazy.

Lets have a discussion about dreams so I can understand and learn how moodscopers cope.

Have you noticed your dreams change when you are depressed or manic?

Can you relate to waking up in the morning emotionally and or physically exhausted?

A Moodscope member

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

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Life is a Bowl of Cherries.

I can’t remember which writer it was who said he was rather proud to live in a country where the highest expression of contentment was the phrase, “Mustn’t grumble.”

I rather like that comfortable understatement.

It compares very well to other, more caustic replies to, “How are you?”; the, “Peachy, Jim – just peachy,” or “Livin’ the dream,” said in a flat-toned voice. My favourite is the tee-shirt phrase, “I’m up. I’m dressed. What more do you want?”

We can’t be happy all the time; it’s unrealistic.

Life grows on you though – just like fungus. Hah! Not mushroom for joy in that phrase, is there?

Because Life is a bitch and then you die. If the blue bird of happiness lands on your shoulder, then chances are, he’ll defecate all down your back.

I’ve been reading Mark Mason recently; he wrote “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.” More specifically, I’ve been reading his “Life is a Video Game – These are the Cheat Codes.” Manson points out that life presents us with a never-ending stream of challenges. Our job is not to try to control the challenges (that way madness lies), but to control our reactions to those challenges and to complete the levels of life (staying alive, creating relationship, enjoying satisfying work and leaving a legacy). Of course, the one who reaches the highest level in the game gets to have the best funeral. Because that’s the thing about life: it’s inevitably fatal.

If all this sounds a bit grim, then please bear with me.

Most of you reading this will face the particular challenge of depression or bipolar disorder. Regardless of any other challenges in our lives, this illness shadows everything. One of the reasons I like that tee-shirt phrase above is that, at times, just getting out of bed and putting clothes on is a victory. If you manage a shower too, then you’re a real hero!

The real victory however, is not in the getting up, getting dressed, getting to work or feeding the children and getting them off to school. The real victory is in our attitude to this challenge of depression.

Like any illness, none of us asked for it. I think all of us would love to be free of it. But, even with medication, that’s rarely possible.

But what we cannot do is embrace victimhood. What will not win us the video game is grumbling and negativity. Maybe we can’t be little rays of bright sunshine through the blackness of depression, but if we can take the smallest glint of humour and express the least bit of gratitude for something, then it’s a start.

So, I’m off to play the game of life, as happily, dreamily and peachily as possible, even through challenges. And, if life grows on me mushroomily, then – I always did like fried mushrooms for breakfast!

Mustn’t grumble, and all that.

A Moodscope member.

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

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Giant Haystacks.

When I was young, for our birthdays, my granny bought a small black and white TV for me and my brother to share in our bedroom. I was overjoyed! There was nothing to watch but wrestling on that Saturday afternoon and so I watched Giant Haystacks or Big Daddy cavorting around the ring and I reported back to everyone with ears.

I've been doing that wrestle. Feeling like I'd stepped out of a dark cave into sunshine, a toddler learning to walk, I looked at January and February with a stunned awe. It was wonderful! I'd never seen them before. Not like this. I'd only seen the 'hunker down, nuclear attack' version of those months. Then, somewhere along the way, I realised an elephant was kneeling on my throat and that nuclear attack was imminent.

I've decided it's not fair. And I won't have it. I'm angry. I'm scared when I'm outside, I'm avoiding the wind, sun, rain, the beautiful blue skies hurt to see. So, I'm wrestling. I'm working with windows wide. Wide so the wind whips the curtains and brings the outdoors in to me. I am going to bite off a large project, long been put off, because I know I am strong enough and I know the achievement will be a body smash to this attack. Giant Haystacks and Big Daddy had much to teach. The art of putting on a show and scaring off the enemy. I know better is possible and so I'm taking my inspiration from the wrestling world. Off to seek out a shiny gold unitard. Join me?

Love from

The room above the garage.
A Moodscope member.

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Monday, 10 April 2017

Piling is NOT filing.

I looked at my desk this morning and wondered if it was eligible for the office equivalent of Disaster Relief from The United Nations.

With no relief at hand, I set to the Herculean task of recovering my desk... and yes, the irony of the fact that I teach this stuff was not lost on me. An hour later, I could get finally get down to work without being intimidated by piles of clutter.

"Hey, don't you teach the importance of a clear desk and systematic filing?"

The reason I teach many of the techniques championed by David Allen in, 'Getting Things Done,' is that I am an addict. There - I've said it.

I think I'm addicted to clutter and to mess and to chaos. I produce it naturally, skilfully, and organically. It takes no effort at all. It is one of my Unique Abilities - I create chaos.

I need help. I need reminding. I need a system... And, in my experience, the best people to teach 'stuff' are those who have wrestled with the issue themselves, and conquered.

I'd forgotten that I was a conquerer.

It's good to remember that piling is not filing. I have lived for years with the wonderful "Really Useful Box" brand. They have become my extended 'In Box' system for life, but I need to remember that getting everything into an 'In Box' is only the first part of David Allen's system. Next I need to process the 'stuff' - and I need to do this on a daily basis, not leave it until it's time to call in the UN.

I share my pain (and my triumph) with you today, because I know I am not alone...

By the way, I like Dan Sullivan's solution: don't have an office! Don't give yourself the opportunity to stack and store. I can dream...

A Moodscope member.

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Sunday, 9 April 2017

Memories are made of this.

"I remember the time I knew what happiness was, Let the memory live again" (From Cats)

At the moment the present is scary (and not just my life, writing this after the London terrorist attack), and the future even scarier, so I live in the past. This is through hundreds of photos loaded on to a big computer screen, and accessible through Screen Saver.

Much more has emerged than 'snaps' of happy kids. The earliest dates from 1900, because our children's' paternal great-grandfather had the genes of a technology genius. So, there is Granny, aged 9, in a sailor hat, in Andorra.

As our great-grand-son (our eldest) is also a gifted technician he has managed to take those images, all on slides, and load them on the computer. Since 2008, everything has been loaded direct. Pre that time, we had them printed, then scanned in the very best way possible.

For our golden wedding one of our daughters said 'I want all your history, business, family, travel, to decorate the walls of the village hall'. A tall order – bringing out my hat fetish, three pages of them.

Now I sit next to my O/H, who cannot be left, with my knitting, and watch our life go by.

First bike, current Shire horses, temples in India, Cambodia and Viet-nam. Rain forests, beaches, party after party, gardens and flower collections (of course), cats (masses) local events, hot-air balloons, floods, stained glass windows (a passion) 'all human life is there'. We find visitors are fascinated, and grand-children delighted.

But, and a big but – this has not been achieved without application. Many hours have been spent sorting, cataloguing, jettisoning (pictures of beach scenes which could be anywhere), scanning, labelling.

One son, and my brother-in-law, are much more widely travelled than us. When we ask to see, for instance, pictures of the remnants of Krakatoa (two ton molten rocks) going up into the air – a vague reply 'they're in a box somewhere'. It is very unlikely that anybody will have the time, energy and enthusiasm to get them out of that box. A house will be cleared, and that history with them.

How important are family memories to you?

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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Saturday, 8 April 2017

Seven days of sanity.

Trying to keep myself active when I'm feeling low is a battle, but I have a mantra in my head 'It's a walk, not a sprint' and I remember that every little helps. If I can build some exercise into my daily routine, whether it's an organised event or class or a meet up with a friend, I get up in the morning that little bit easier. These are some of the activities that give me 'Seven Days of Sanity':

• Go for a run
• Play tennis
• Take a walk
• Join an exercise class
• Do yoga
• Try a bike ride
• Dive in for a swim
• Trainers on. Don't hide under the covers. Don't stay in.
• Breath the fresh air, feel your lungs expanding, fire the endorphins.
• Do it with a friend, join a group, find your 'we'.
• Clear the mind, fight the noise and distract your thoughts.
• Aim for steps, burn the calories, take deep breaths.
• Feel the weather, smell the sweat, hear the beat of a different tune.
• Relax, no fight or flight.

You'll get there soon.

A Moodscope member.

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Friday, 7 April 2017


I love ironing.

While working on a sheet just now, it brought back a memory and I've realised something...

Even though it hurts to iron these days (what with my dodgy right arm), the smell of freshly ironed bedlinen and the smoothness of a well-ironed sheet is such a pleasure when I go to bed, it is absolutely worth the pain.

When I had a broken hand (unrelated to the dodgy right arm), I remember a friend, while helping me make my bed making a derogatory comment about the effort I put into perfect hospital corners.

Although I've conceded to fitted sheets these days in an attempt to conserve energy, I still put a lot into ironing them. I will ask others for help with anything else, but the sheets are my job!

And do you know why?

It's the way I show myself love and care.

And a lot of my self-care centres around bedtime – a fragile time, I find.

I've always had a lot of difficulty sleeping. I didn't sleep well as a baby and, as a young child, I often heard 'Sailing By' when Radio 4 closed down for the night. If I tried to stay at friend's houses or invited them to stay with me, I wouldn't sleep a wink even when all went quiet.

I had a lot of nightmares, very vivid and odd, and – something I am still deeply ashamed about – I tried to share my parent's or, when chucked out, my sister's beds until I was eight.

It's not even that I'm a night-owl – I am very definitely a lark.

These days, I go to bed at the un-adult hour of 9.30pm, read, then turn the light off at 10pm. If I miss this, and the quiet hour beforehand, a bad night will usually result. My body is so programmed, I can do the whole routine without looking at a clock. And every morning, no matter what time I've gone to bed, no matter how little sleep I've had, I will always wake up at 6am.

Is my depression caused by sleeping badly? Or is my difficulty sleeping caused by depression? I think they go hand in hand.

I used to work in theatre – ha! At one point, I was an Assistant Wardobe Mistress and got to do the ironing every day – such joy* – but it wasn't the profession for someone who needs to go to bed at 9.30pm...

When I sadly stopped, I realised that early nights and a routine of regular meals, regular sleep and regular exercise, and a good wind-down at the end of the day were what kept me on the rails.

It can be utterly frustrating, and it makes me feel as if I was still a toddler, but if it's what works and what shows me I am caring for myself, isn't it worth it?

How do you show yourself love and care? What keeps you on the rails?

The Librarian
A Moodscope member.

*The best bit; the smell of ironing even sparked off a chapter in my novel!

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Thursday, 6 April 2017

Silencing the Expert.

Would you like to write a blog for Moodscope? Who me? Why yes, absolutely!  I'd love too.  But hang on, I can't. I mean who am I kidding? What have I possibly got to say of interest? Sitting here in my house with my wonderful husband and 2 beautiful children.  Seriously? What was I thinking...

Does anyone else get this kind of conversation going around in their heads on loop?  Intrusive thoughts from the inner voice that thinks it's the expert. It's always there, always going on, always semi-taunting. It has taken me a long time to learn how to quiet it. It's never truly going to go away but I needed to regain at least some control.

True, it is an expert. An expert at catastrophising. At reminding me of the worse possible scenario that could happen right at the moment when it is least necessary. You know, like the first time I'd ventured out in the world with my long time wanted baby. There he was, the expert. Remember that news report when... What would happen if... Surely you're not good enough to...  And suddenly there I am, finding every reason not to leave the house lest my bundle of joy is harmed, snatched or worse. Then follows days, weeks, months of feeling like a fake, a fraud, a failure.

But this is not my point. It happened. It was a dark time and here I am, six years later with two children both of whom are living, breathing and doing quite well thank you very much. I appear to have managed quite well actually.

What happened to that so-called expert on my life? Well, I met a man who changed my life. To be exact I met a counsellor and he helped me change my view on life. For me the ability to take control of my own thoughts and actions through CBT was a real turning point. Realising that I was having problems and that although I live a reasonably privileged existence a lot of that was due to my own hard work and willingness to learn. I realised that not only was I a mother but I was a good mother. I was also a mother with anxiety and depression. This was no surprise. I've been down the dark road before many times, but it was the recognition that I seem predisposed to these episodes and actually that's ok. I can seek help, I can take control and I can ask someone else to take control if I'm not able to.

Anyway, back to this voice. It was simple really. I asked him to stop. That's it. Just stop. In my head, I see that enormous stop sign that you find at the end of a lane. You must not pass. Halt. If he wants to start, if I notice him nudging back in, I simply hold it up. Stop. It's taken practise and it wasn't an instant success but now it's one of my main tools. I'm in control. And it feels great!

What tools work for you to silence that inner voice?

A Moodscope member.

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

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Desirable Punishment.

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

"Get out, you horrible little fourth years!" would come the stentorian tones of the lordly prefects, as my friends and I huddled around the cast iron radiator in the corridor. "No hanging about at break. Out you go, or it's 200 words on the inside of a ping-pong ball by tomorrow!"

So out we would troop, miserably, into the dank air of the winter grounds. I often wanted to say to the prefects, "I'll willingly write 200 words on the inside of a ping-pong ball, if only you'll let me stay in," but I never had the courage.

But now I can. So – please bear with me, there is a point to this.

White. Or at least I think it's white. I have no terms of reference here. I am trapped inside this sphere with no way out. Oh, I've tried, believe me, I've tried. Sometimes the white is luminous, inescapably bright. Sometimes it is dark. There seems little pattern to it.

Sometimes my prison rocks gently, so I feel sick. Then my world lifts, explodes like a cannon ball, to bounce and be struck and hurled into flight once more. I can only roll into a ball and endure.

When everything goes quiet, I can breathe. I can reach out and touch the walls of my cell; the smooth, white, curving walls, like the inside of an egg. If only they were fragile like an egg. If only I were a chick, growing strong, ready to peck at those walls with my sharp beak, ready to take on whatever is out there.

I long to be free, yet freedom scares me. Inside this continuous, curving white wall I am safe. Even when my shell is battered, even when I am hurt and bruised by the tumult of whatever plays out there, I am safe. It scares me most, that sometimes, I don't want to be free.

Do you recognise that feeling? Sometimes we talk about depression being a black dog. My friends say either that they are taking their black dog for long walks or that it is sitting on them. For me it is sometimes an abyss, a fascinating abyss that invites me to just throw myself in. But sometimes it is that feeling of utter isolation, of being trapped in nothingness, with no communication with the world. A feeling like being inside a ping-pong ball. The world is there, but I can neither see it nor touch it, and it makes no sense.

Sometimes the depression lifts by itself; the walls of the ping-pong ball dissolve like the mist of a summer morning. Sometimes chemicals can melt the white plastic shell, or at least help to make it transparent so I can begin to relate to the world once more.

So, if you're trapped in your own spherical cell, with no way out, then I don't have a magic answer, but, all the other ping-pong balls out there, we know how you feel.

A Moodscope member.

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Tuesday, 4 April 2017

What do you think?

"I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what its like to feel absolutely worthless and they don't want anyone else to feel like that." Robin Williams

I am not trying to make people happy, I never have and never will but I relate to the latter part of the quotation. I will never hurt someone who has hurt me as I know what it feels like. I never want someone feel they amount to nothing and have no value.

I think you can try never to make someone feel worthless without having to make them happy.

"The loneliest people are the kindest. The saddest people smile the brightest. The most damaged people are the wisest. All because they do not wish to see anyone else suffer the way they do." Anon.

What does this mean? Do you have to be lonely to be the kindest? I know many very kind people who are not lonely. Do you have to be the saddest to smile the brightest?

I suppose I feel this quotation by anon goes further than Robin Williams one. After looking at both are they over romanticising what it is like to be the saddest, the loneliest, the most damaged?

I feel when you have experienced extreme sadness or loneliness you may have some empathy but sometimes you are so exhausted and fragile to think about others.

In a way I think these quotations put extra pressure on people who are at their lowest that they should be smiling and kind and wise.

Do you think by portraying sad, lonely and or damaged as being the brightest the wisest or the kindest it puts more pressure on people who are already struggling?

Do generalisations take away people's individuality?

Can you relate to either or both quotations?

Do you find them helpful?

A Moodscope member.

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

Monday, 3 April 2017

"Don't Worry, Be Crappy!"

So said Daniel Wagner on a recording I was listening to yesterday. Have to confess - I burst out laughing!

This is typical of Daniel's humour and the skill he has with getting your attention! It worked! Daniel was using the power of humour linked to the power of association and emotion - a powerful cord of three strands. Like most people from my age group, the song, "Don't Worry, Be Happy!" has positive emotional resonance. Here is it for your delight...

Daniel effectively used what I call a 'Remora Strategy' to hitch a lift on those positive emotional highs, and then did an elegant Lateral Thinking twist like a linguistic Fosbury Flop to reframe it to land a very powerful point...

...and the point is?


I rarely use CAPITAL letters in any form of messaging - after all, it's a kind of textural SHOUTING! In this case, however, the message Daniel was sharing is worthy of a SHOUT OUT!

Way too many people are waiting...

...waiting for their work to reach some invented standard that matches the story in their head that it is finally good enough. Well, this simply isn't good enough!

No! It's time to


There, I've said it again!

Daniel's comment was particularly powerful for me because I really didn't agree and I really did agree at the same time!

I agreed with his assertion that, when it comes to Internet Marketing, it is better to get your message out there working for you, even if the audio and your website is a bit crappy. How many gems are hidden in people's heads because they are afraid or unwilling to 'ship' their 'art'? I don't want to die with my best work left unsaid, unpainted, unpublished!

If you ask Neil Gaiman or Seth Godin about writing, they will say,


...and Karen Carpenter sang,

"Sing, sing a song... don't worry if it's not good enough for anyone else to hear, just sing..."

Write, sing, dance, paint, but above all things PUBLISH! Ship your art! Neil and Seth emphasise the importance of writing a lot before you can really expect to find your flow. There is no shortcut to this discovery, you must take massive, consistent action. And Karen's point is that there is value in the singing itself, whether or not it is good enough in anybody else's opinion - you sing for yourself first and foremost!

So what part of Daniel's, "Don't Worry, Be Crappy!" don't I agree with? Simply that compromise is not necessary anymore. Producing professional audio and a professional website is no longer prohibitively expensive or technically difficult. I don't think there is any excuse for amateur looking or sounding work. The key is to release that work, so ship that art, to publish that genius that, today, is still trapped inside you.


A Moodscope member.

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Sunday, 2 April 2017

I Will Love Again.

The signs were there. I ignored them. The comfort of being loved was overwhelmingly sought by me. Now, I must deal with the loss. Feel it. Experience it. Allow it.

Forgiveness is important. It takes less energy and allows me to reclaim my own power. To resent or hate or withhold forgiveness is giving away our power to the other person.

Additionally, it is important to recognize the small eruptions of signs and to learn from them. What lessons are shaping? Well, for one, I found I was becoming smaller in my character when around someone refusing to grow. Two, I found I did not feel safe. (This is a really big deal to me and is not necessarily based on logic.) And three, I did not feel as though my voice was being heard. Many times I was ignored or passed over. My dear sister, sweetly mentioned that the feeling of having no voice seems to be prevalent in our generation and that males simply don't have that sensitivity embedded. Hmmm...

And just now, a new awareness just came to visit my weary brain. This is the second time I have experienced this particular phenomenon in the last twelve months. How can this be? I have been on my own now for 13 years after four serial marriages. What on earth am I doing? Why?

Okay. Time to stop beating the self-pity drum and feel the pain, own whatever part I played with my behavior, and grow. I walk on.

A Moodscope member.

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Saturday, 1 April 2017

My score is down – so what?

You know the pattern, do the test, see your score, read that message that says something like "This is the way it is... feeling worse than you were the last time you took the test... better than your worst ever... below your average"

It would be great if we all had that special someone we could turn to when that score drops relentlessly down – I haven't, I thought I had but it didn't turn out like that.
I'm not saying that for anyone to be sorry for me, just simply a rather sad statement of fact.

So today my score was down – again!

So what?

I know I'm vulnerable: Moodscope confirmed how I felt, but I was maybe reluctant to admit to myself.

I know that I must avoid people who are negative
I know that I should keep active, ideally take some exercise
I know that I should try to understand why

These actions are easy to understand and two of them pretty simple to do. That final one's much more tricky.

I can't speak for you, but my mind's sometimes a deep dark place. It's hard to understand something that you can't see, find hard to describe, can only feel. A feeling that you are being eaten up from the inside, going numb, looking inwards inside yourself. Being sucked down and down into the heart of a vortex of desperation.

Sometimes my understanding of why comes easily: some events that have triggered my feeling down. These times it is sometimes a case of getting the events in perspective.

It sounds defeatist, but most times I really can't fathom out why, so the best I can manage is to summon up all my strength, do those first two actions and wait...

For me exercise is often the best defence I have. It doesn't have to be a frantic run, just a gentle walk will often be enough. I've tried very hard for over a year now to do things that will make me happier with myself – maybe you have as well – losing weight, going to the gym, starting a running programme.

The problem is that it takes very little for all that effort to be squandered, procrastination to set in and all my horrible little inner gremlins to take my mind over.

Then I don't run, don't go to the gym, eat like a pig. That's today we are talking about.

That's where my Moodscope comes in, because when I do that test again tomorrow morning (I personally always try to do the test when I first get up) I get a measure of how I'm getting on beating those gremlins.

So today my score was down again.

I have written this blog hoping it may help someone else as well as (by writing it) helping myself. I'm going to the gym now – well I think I am, if procrastination doesn't win.

Moodscope shows me I can be much better, it's one day at a time. Wish me luck for tomorrow!

A Moodscope Member.

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