Friday, 30 June 2017

To me, to you, to me.

My son suffers anxiety. I'm trying to help him smash that wall. I suffer anxiety. I have built a life around it. I have, rightly or wrongly, built a life to accommodate it. When my three caterpillars have grown fully (and they are almost there) and spread their butterfly wings and fly, I will confront some of it but until then, I am ok with having built my life around it.

In my life, nobody knows. I act. First thing today when my boy was hurting so much, after we parted, I sent him a text message. He loves to stay in touch. After I sent it, I realised I needed to heed my own advice. Here's what I sent:

"It is an intense time right now. You've not got much time to process everything and that is what you need to stay healthy inside your head. Processing time will come, and we must take it in little bites when we can. You've done it before and you'll do it again. What is for you doesn't go by you. If it's meant, it happens anyway, just at a different time. I'm here for you."

He came home better and made choices in his day which could put me to shame! It's time I take my own advice. This is a good example of being kind to yourself, a phrase I have long not understood. I can be kind to myself by hearing my own words and applying them to myself.

Inspired by our lovely Leah, I will leave you with a question. What might you say to my son that might also apply to yourself? Absorbing your own message is being kind to yourself. I'm learning.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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Thursday, 29 June 2017

Not guilty.

Like many Moodscopers, I am no stranger to guilt. I am hard on myself, sometimes with good reason.

I have gathered a pick and mix of spiritual ideas over the years, and pray every night. I don't know or care if anyone listens. Whatever else, I always ask for the strength to do the right thing.

Recently I betrayed the trust of one of my oldest and dearest friends. I did so quite deliberately, weighing up the consequences, and I have not had one moment of guilt.

P and I have been friends for 25 years. We are in many ways quite opposites. There are things about her that get on my nerves, actions that appal me, political views that grate. She has also been a good and loyal friend, and I know she would never do what I have done to her.

I don't drive. My brain is not wired that way, I can't tell left from right, anxiety makes me freeze and lorries terrify me. I would be a danger to others. I do understand how important the ability to drive is to many though.

My friend adores cars and driving. In her younger days she had a canary yellow E-type, customised by her with painting of Elvis on the roof.  
P became even more contrary and bloody-minded than usual a few years ago. She was leaving the supermarket when a concerned couple tried to take her keys off her, offered to call a cab or drive her home. She refused, outraged, drove home in a haze and ended up in A&E. She discharged herself and refused to see her GP as instructed. The upshot was a brain scan a year ago, showing vascular dementia in the moderate to severe range.

She refused medications and therapies. She can't make a cup of tea, dress without help, watch T.V, barely read or write. Yet still she drives. Her GP told her to inform DVLA and insurers, but she refused. For months I avoided meeting, she was so vile. All her good qualities have been eroded by this disease. Feeling ashamed, I took some presents and photos from the past. There was the car, still used daily. She barely recalls my name, nor those of her dogs, and can't speak full sentences.

When I asked how she would feel if she caused death or injury to others, she said she was not bothered. If stopped from driving, threatens to take the car and crash into a tree. Her husband just shrugs, says he's past caring.

This is why I wrote to the DVLA, reporting her. The day the form arrived from them she was screaming on the phone, I just acted dumb. I still care for the friend I knew, but this is no time for sentiment. P has already died, this is not about her. She says she will cut her wrists rather than stop driving, and I feel no guilt, I just don't want to hear she has injured another. To me, doing nothing would have added to the list of things I feel ashamed of.

What's your verdict Moodscopers-should my conscience be troubling me?

A Moodscope member. 

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Tuesday, 27 June 2017

We All Matter.

I have always been more self conscious than I would like. I had one very judgemental parent. The other always wanting to please others. Both wanting to impress.

It feels a little boring for me to keep "blaming" my parents, but boring is good. Better than painful. Boring leads to finding something better!

Coming back to the point though, I've had the feeling that what others thought of how we were brought up, was MORE important than we were. That My happiness didn't matter.

I get the same feeling at work. Nothing is ever good enough. Never doing enough. More and more new things being piled onto an already full workload. In fact it really seems as if you're happy something must be wrong! You're obviously not working hard enough. "You are not good enough value for money and we can demand more out of you."

Well guess what? My emotional wellbeing does matter.
My happiness is important.
It's ok to enjoy my life, whether I am being paid or not!
This is MY life.
All of my time is my own. Whether I am being paid or not.
I can decide how to spend it.
I can trust myself to do what I need AND want to do.
AND I can take the time I need to do it!

It's no wonder that people go through long periods of time finding it hard to feel any enjoyment or happiness, but that doesn't mean that it is a done deal.

I would like to worry less about what people think of me.

Step one (making this up now guys!)
Turn it into a positive... I want to relax about things a bit more, I deserve to.

Step two
Notice an old pattern or worry as it starts and gently let it pass. What self care would make you feel a little better? Do that.

Step three
Notice an opportunity to try a little of what you want. For me, I can relax about and even enjoy what I'm doing. I matter. If others are on the same page, wonderful. If they're not, they matter less.

Is there something that you would like?

A Moodscope member.

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Monday, 26 June 2017

Pearl Fisher or Pearl Crusher?

In the last century, I learned a beautiful concept from Time Manager International (TMI): to choose to be a Pearl Fisher! The inspirational Claus Møller, founder of TMI, teaches two choices in life: to be a Pearl Fisher or to be a Pearl Crusher.

Will You Choose to Fish for Pearls, or to Crush Pearls?

The beauty of natural pearls hides their unpleasant beginnings. A pearl is formed in response to adversity and irritation.

Pearls are formed more often in response to a parasite rather than the proverbial grain of sand. This fits the message even better than a grain of sand. The pearl secretes a fluid called 'nacre' around the foreign body, as a defence mechanism. Layer of layer builds up until a beautiful pearl is discernible.

When we manufacture pearls, a beautiful description is used: a 'Cultured' Pearl. I feel we're being rather posh today, aren't we? It takes three years for a cultured pearl to reach a sufficient size for it to be harvested.

I'm sure the moral of the story is clear: an irritant, even a parasite in our lives, can act as a catalyst to create something of beauty, if we have a creative response.

Is there an 'irritant' in your life? Perhaps this irritant is a person, a person who is so demanding that they might even, on a bad day, be described as a 'parasite'!

Let's learn from the Wisdom of the Oyster's creative response. Let's cover the irritant in our own 'nacre' and give it time. It takes at least three years to see the value emerge.

Ask yourself, "How can I turn this relationship into a thing of beauty?"

...the Pearl Crusher

A Pearl Fisher, then, is someone who creates a pearl out of every irritant and parasitological relationship! A Pearl Fisher creates value out of trouble.

But what of the Pearl Crusher? The Pearl Crusher does the opposite. The Pearl Crusher finds adversity and irritation in every pearl.

No matter how wonderful the day or experience, the person who has chosen to be a Pearl Crusher, will find a problem with it.

I suspect we have all indulged in pearl-crushing behaviour from time to time. Some people, however, are professional pearl-crushers. Some have a black-belt in the marital art of pearl-crushing! You know the type... whatever you try to do for them, they find fault. No matter how brilliant your idea, they'll find ways to suggest how it will fail.

In other blogs, I've suggested these people should be removed from our lives. But what if we cannot 'remove' them (legally, at least!)? With those parasites and irritants who are here to stay, let's get nacred! I'm pretty sure I've just made that word up, but it tickled me!

There are many actions we can take in response to these thoughts. The first is to catch ourselves quickly when we indulge in pearl-crushing thoughts and behaviours. Stop it!

Another is to learn to become a Pearl Fisher - to find value in every irritation.

There is a better way.

Get Nacred!

A Moodscope member.

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Sunday, 25 June 2017

Nothing new under the sun.

"Originality is the art of concealing your source."

Attributed to Benjamin Franklin or Franklin P. Jones or Thomas Edison.

The fact the quotation has three possible authors begs the question what is originality and does it matter?

When I write I want to be original and I am sure many people are the same. When I write a blog I want be very original and unique. In reality it is nearly impossible to be original as most ideas have already been used in some way.

Shakespeare used Roman sources Plutarch and Ovid so writers were using earlier sources for a long time. Most people would say Shakespeare was original.

If a book has a similar theme but each writer uses an idea in a different way, does that show some originality? Why is there this need to be original? Why don't we just try to be captivating and engaging in our words?

"Only those with no memory insist on their originality" Coco Chanel

Many people in the creative arts would agree with Coco because they realise people prefer the comfort familiar themes to unknown territory of new ideas.

This  is why many movies have a happy ending, and have sequels and there are many version of the same film, eg. The three Musketeers has had approximately 24 versions made of it. Books are the same, people love to read about the same characters, the same familiar story.

So where does the desire to be original come from. Is because we want to stand out to be better than others?

Edith Wharton said "True originality consists not in a new manner but in a new vision."

So is it about not coming up with new ideas but with a new way of using them or seeing them?

Remember not many can recall who made up a joke but everyone laughs if it is told well.

I am still confused about originality and the way it is interpreted in many ways today.

Are we all original because we experience our lives individually?

Does it really matter if we get ideas from others and use them in our own way.

Is being original very important to you or doesn't it matter?

A Moodscope member

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Saturday, 24 June 2017

I am NOT worthless.

I find the book "Feeling Good" by David D Burns, MD, extremely helpful. I was dipping in today and came across the following, written by one of his clients.

Feeling worthless is a symptom of depression but just because you FEEL worthless does NOT mean that you are correct! If, dear Moodscoper, you are feeling worthless today, I hope that reading this helps you to realise that actually, you are eminently worthwhile!

"As long as I have something to contribute to the well-being of myself and others, I am not worthless.

As long as what I do can have a positive effect, I am not worthless.

As long as my being alive makes a difference to even one person, I am not worthless (and this one person can be me if necessary).

If giving love, understanding, companionship, encouragement, sociability, counsel, solace means anything, I am not worthless.

If I can respect my opinions, my intelligence, I am not worthless. If others also respect me, that is a bonus."

Can you add to this or make your own list? Put your list somewhere so that you read it every day.

Thinking of you, especially if you are suffering today and sending calm, healing, positive thoughts.

A Moodscope member.

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

Friday, 23 June 2017

Time to fess up.

I was horrified the other day when I inadvertently let slip to my 11 year old son I was having counselling.

Dashing out of the school gates one afternoon. "Come on," I said. "I'm going to be late for my counselling session."

"What's counselling?" he said.

For the past few months I have been sneaking off on a Wednesday to 'go to the supermarket' or 'nip to the doctors' I'd never told him where I was really going.

I didn't want him to think I was weak, failing as an adult or a bad mother for not coping.
So cue conversation about counselling.

"Mum sometimes worries about things too much and it makes me a bit poorly. It started when your Grandma died long before you were born. "I speak to someone and he helps me sort it out in my head and that makes me feel better."

A simplified explanation that satisfied him and he quickly returned to discussing more important issues in his life - Star Wars and Lego.

In hindsight I should have had this conversation long ago. I should have made mental health issues something freely discussed within our family unit without judgement.

The fact is discussing mental health issues with children is much easier than with adults. It does need simplifying but they do not get embarrassed and do not judge – they just accept.

I plan to keep this conversation going as he approaches his pre-teens. I hope by sharing some of my experiences he won't feel uncomfortable or embarrassed if he has a mental health issue and he will have the confidence to seek help.

There is lots in the media about the importance of discussing mental health issues. Surely it's crucial these conversations also take place with the children in our lives so if they hit difficult times, as children or as adults, it becomes as easy to talk about as... Star Wars or Lego.

A Moodscope member.

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Thursday, 22 June 2017

Choose your words.

Our choice of words to others says so much more about us than we realise. An entitlement air opinions can be confused as an opportunity to open and flutter the peacock's tail-feathers and have ones own ego stroked, or put someone down in an attempt to dress-up 'honesty' with being just plain rude and spiteful.

Respect is not a given in life, it can be lost but it can also be gained. Given if received. How we make others feel with our words speaks volumes as to where we are with ourselves. Some words are transparent enough that they are the windows to ones own struggle.

Thoughts don't always have to be vocalised. Opinions can be overrated and unwarranted. Less is sometimes more and usually it is the unspoken that lingers the loudest.

"The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right place but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment." Dorothy Nevill.

Why spit arrows when taking a step back allows silence to speak for itself?

The Trusty-Yogi
A Moodscope member.

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Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Mr Fixit.

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

Just round the corner from the house by the sea where we spend our summers, lived – until his death last year – Bob.

Bob was a real character: everyone knew Bob. He had lived in the area all his life and in that house for most of it. When the big floods came a few autumns ago he refused to evacuate as ordered. "I didn't move for Hitler," he grunted. "I ain't moving for some jumped up snotty nosed council official. That tide won't come over the wall, I tell you!" He was proved correct in this forecast and he stayed dry that night.

Bob could do anything and fix everything and he always had the right tools. Your drains were blocked? Bob had the drain-rods and he'd help you with that smelly job. That funny shaped and rusty bolt that needed to come out? Bob would have, not only the right size spanner, but the grinder to cut it off when the bolt proved too rusty to shift. The electricians who delivered your new oven refused to connect it because the electricity supply was somehow inadequate? Bob would remind you he was a qualified electrician and connect it all up for you. Bob is very much missed indeed.

They say a bad workman always blames his tools. Well, Bob always had the right tools for the job, and was always willing to lend them out. He always had the right spare part – or a spare part he could fiddle with until it was a clone for the right part.

He suffered with depression after his wife died. I asked him how he had dealt with it. He thought for a moment and then lifted his glass to me. "Long walks by the sea," he said. "Long talks with my sons and my sister. Long evenings with a bottle of wine."

I'm not sure about that last one, but I was remembering Bob today and thinking about all the tools we can use when our soul's dwelling is attacked by those terrible twins Anxiety and Depression.

Exercise should probably be the first tool we reach for. A brisk walk in the open air is good medicine for nearly everything (except possibly pneumonia). Some people find team sports lift their spirits (I can't think of anything more calculated to depress mine, but each to their own). Some like solitary running or swimming.

If we can't take exercise for any reason we must look at other tools. Meditation can calm things down and buoy things up. Mindfulness can quieten the screaming squirrels in your brain.

EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and TAT (Look up Tapas Fleming on You Tube) can help some.

A support network (family and friends) is vital - if maybe difficult to maintain.

Gardening, craftwork and pets can all help.

You will have your own tools and it would be great if you would share them with us in the comments.

We too can be Mr or Ms Fixit.

A Moodscope member.

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Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Love Is In The Air.

It's been a harrowing few weeks for the people of London and Manchester. The recent terrorists attacks and the Grenfell Tower fire has rocked Britain to the core. There is so much pain, anguish, confusion and anger. My heart aches for all those affected. I've cried so many tears. I've hugged my family and friends just that little bit tighter and I've tried very hard not to moan about trivial things in life.

Throughout all these tragic and heartbreaking events though one thing has stood out. Love. I have worked in London for 8 years now and I cannot remember a time when I felt so much love and a sense of community spirit as I have during these past few weeks. Love is very much in the air, from friends to families and from neighbours to strangers. It reaches out across all religions, cultures and beliefs. It makes me feel so proud to work there and now, on every day that I commute to work, I walk a little bit taller. I'm proud of London and proud to be a tiny part of it.

So wherever you are today, and however you are feeling, I hope you can feel love in the air. Because I'm sending love your way today.

Jane SG
A Moodscope member.

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Monday, 19 June 2017

Contagious Stories.

Like a good joke told by the next person, or the second person who picks up a Mexican Wave, a great story goes viral when someone else catches it and retells it.

Here's the exciting creative challenge then: to tell true stories that capture the imagination, but that are easy enough to remember for other people to retell.

I train trainers and teach teachers Accelerated Learning (well, that's part of what I do.) When enthusing teachers and trainers about teaching and training being a vocation, way more than just a job, I tell the story of my first chemistry lesson vs my first physics lesson. Those first lessons changed my preferences and my personal history.

The important thing to me is that the story is easy to relate to and easy to tell-on. So, once upon a time...

My chemistry teacher was well over 6 feet tall when we were tiny students going to the BIG school for the first time. We'd walk up the stairs, one-step-at-a-time, whereas he would stride past, one-flight-at-a-time! He was awesome, and his name will be remembered fondly forever: Mr Hill.

Mr Hill had only one eye. The other had been blinded in a chemical accident. He told us this in our first lesson. When we heard this, he had our attention!

The first lesson included a command to go to the back of the room and gather around the bench. On the bench was a galvanised bucked full of water...

When we could bear it no longer, he took some tongs and placed a piece of Sodium into the bucket.

Ker Boom!!!

Mr Hill's experiment peppered the ceiling as the Sodium reacted fiercely with the water and blew up.

"Cool!" we all thought, "We like Chemistry!"

Nobody was hurt, everybody was impressed! Chemistry was 'sold'!

By way of stark contrast, our first Physics lesson began with us all being asked to form a circle around the room and hold hands! Picture a group of young men in their first lesson. Holding hands was not 'cool' at the best of times. The nameless Physics master then powered up the Van de Graaff Generator and sent a charge through the whole group.

...He electrocuted us!

Shocking, I know! But the shock had a powerful effect. I wasn't the only student that day to decide: Chemistry = cool; Physics = uncool!

Now, do you think you could retell that story?

And what about the moral of the story?

My intended meaning is that teachers and trainers need to give their students and participants engaging experiences. The Physics Master meant well. He meant to be interactive and engaging. However, he only engaged pain and fear! We were unharmed but cautious and therefore 'Physics Adverse'! Our Chemistry Master was a warning in himself. Warning out of the way, it was time to play... and play we did.

The result? I took 'A' Level Chemistry... and we all lived happily ever after.

Go, tell good stories... stories that others can catch and tell-on.

A Moodscope member.

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Sunday, 18 June 2017

I lost my mind.

But not in the way you might have initially thought. I've been losing my mind very happily over the last 6 months or so...

Like many of us, I have a constant chatter pecking away in my head. Mostly I am so familiar with it that its presence does not even register. I use meditation to not only help me deal with the chatter but also to simply become aware of it. The chatter has been damaging me for too long, just another aspect of this hideous ill, and I am calling time on it.

However, even after committing to regular meditation (with regular pauses and no apologies, its life) I still found myself at times fretting, having whole conversations in my head, replaying problems of my own as well as age-related and very normal problems my children were having. Not helpful. Upsetting and damaging.

Then I fell into territory I hadn't realised was such a gift. I fell into paradise! I fell into Desert Island Discs (A BBC TV programme in the UK: There are parts of my working day when I need to be with people, be quiet, still and concentrate. And there are other parts when I can turn up sound and be more free as I work. In those times, I started listening to Desert Island Discs.

Not only have I heard some songs that I adore. Not only have I heard new songs to adore.  Not only have I been enchanted by the host and her skilful, tip-of-a-pin precision interviews. I have also heard from people from all manner of walks of life and parts of the world, heard bits of their joy, their work, their sorrows, their history, their future, their honesty, their guilt, their life, their hopes and regrets. And for 30 minutes (which is a godsend to those of us who struggle with concentration due to this ill) I can do practical tasks which can run alongside audio well and I can listen, learn and lose my mind to the life of someone else. It has been a godsend.

Chatter silenced. Happy ears on. Peace becomes me. For a little holiday, I urge you to try it. Podcasts are available for historical episodes or you can tune in weekly. And I will be extremely interested to receive your 8 chosen tracks, your book and your luxury.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member

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Saturday, 17 June 2017

Do I sound like that?

It seemed like a simple task. I was asked to record some stories for a woman who is losing her sight. I like reading, I like talking, what could be easier. I thought I would find a cassette recorder (now those who are technologically advanced will see my first problem.) How did I know that the digital recorders were so tiny that my chubby fingers could not operate the delicate dials?

So, I finally got the recorder working and then tried to play it back. All I heard was this screeching voice nagging at my partner - who could that be? Not me? I had no idea of how awful I sounded - in my defence I was trying to explain to him what to do.

I have never liked hearing my recorded voice as I sound like a cross between a patronising kindergarten teacher and a bossy prison guard.

There is that saying about seeing us as others see us but I heard myself as others hear me and it was not pretty!!

I know I can nag a bit well maybe a lot at times but I never knew how horrible I sounded.

It really was a wake up call. I would like to say that I have never nagged my partner again but that would be less than truth.

I try to catch myself and remember how awful I sound. I still hate the sound of my voice but before I start complaining/nagging I try to remember how really awful I sound.

Do you ever see/hear how others see or hear you? Are you ever surprised?

Has it changed your behaviour?

A Moodscope member

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Friday, 16 June 2017

Post 'pain body'.

Some time ago I wrote a blog about the 'pain body' (around 2015).

'Pain body" is a term coined by Eckhart Tolle – it is what comes alive when we are triggered by some event, or atmosphere, or place, or person – particularly any disappointment. We are then literally in pain of some sort – whether fear, anger, sadness – some overwhelming emotion. I had been reading a book by M Rafat (Inside the Pain Body) - he said to transmute this pain body "Observe it – be centred – have one foot in one's centredness and one foot in the pain."

Two years later – I realise I have come a long way from those days of being completely taken over by the pain body. After two years of study and practice to become a coach of Katherine Woodward Thomas' Calling in the One and Conscious Uncoupling processes – I have learned a new way to deal with all the triggers of daily life:

I ask myself what am I feeling and list the feelings that I hear myself say (eg sad, scared, worried etc) and I mirror these back to myself "I can see you are feeling... sad etc".  I ask myself where in my body I feel this. How old is this part of myself. What does that part have to say to me – "I am... (perhaps alone, abandoned, not good enough)", "Others are... (perhaps untrustworthy, hostile, unreachable)" and "Life is... (perhaps not there, dangerous, a lonely place".

I can then imagine myself as a mature wise adult speaking to this younger self – perhaps she was 7 or 4 or even a baby. I say "Of course that is not true – eg. You are not alone, you are deeply connected to others and all of life – it is just that your parents were so busy at that time." And I tell my younger self the truth about others "They appreciate your presence" and "Life has always been on your side bringing to you what you need when you need it."

Even half way through this process – the big triggered emotion – that scary "pain body" will have disappeared and I am back relatively in balance in the more peaceful middle fulcrum of the see saw of my feelings. Now I also know to do this when I am over-excited about something – so long as I remember!

A Moodscope member.

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Thursday, 15 June 2017

The Internet.

The Internet, what a wonderful creation! The list is endless, I run my whole life from it...

Shopping, banking, news and weather updates, research, communication, music, videos, games. Moodscope of course!! I am sure you could add a few more to the list.

Whatever did we do without it?

Thing is, I find it is a real distraction. I must spend most of my days on it! Okay, when I was working, it was a godsend at times. If I didn't understand something, good old Google!! If I didn't want to ring someone, email! Sending documents through instead of relying on the post. Instant!

Skype! I can talk to my brother and actually see him, when he is in a different country, for free – wow!!

Social Media, another great invention. Or is it? I have recently come off Facebook as it was really not doing my mental health any good at all.

I miss it a little. I liked to be nosey. But did I really want to see that my ex had got married? That all my old friends were having such a great time of it? The 'selfies' from self obsessed (or insecure) people. The annoying comments... The times I had a rant on there and wish I hadn't!!  Hours spent reading things for the sake of reading them. Should I not have better things to do with my time!

Oh yes, the wonderful internet.

Yes such a creation. In fact, absolutely amazing! I wouldn't be without it now...

But 20 years ago, I sat comfortably with a book or a magazine. I actually went to the shops and to the Post Office and to the Bank. I had a dictionary to look up words I didn't understand! I watched the news or listened to the radio if I wanted an update on current affairs. I have about 200 CDs (I won't mention the vinyl) but they never get used now.

Oh and if the phone rang, I was full of excitement as to who it might be. That was if I was at home of course. If I was out, then I was enjoying my time out and about without distraction! A hand written letter landing on the door mat was just bliss!

Does anyone else miss those days?

Apologies to the younger audience on here, older people can be very annoying!! Although hats off to the older generation having to master this wonderful internet, that has certainly taken over our lives... in some cases, whether you wanted it to, or not...

A Moodscope member.

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Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Deep Space and Calcutta.

"You'll be fine, Mummy," said my eldest. "You can do it. I believe in you."

"Take the "Kalms" and you'll float above it all," said my friend. (Kalms is a herbal remedy for stress and anxiety).

"You can stay behind if you want to," said my husband, in that voice which meant I would lose serious wife points if I chose that option.

And, "Mummy, why does Daddy want us all to go, anyway?" said my youngest. She has the anxiety thing too.

It was half term and we were all going to Madame Tussauds, in London. I was apprehensive; for although the depression is now managed very nicely by the pills, her nasty little sister Anxiety, is still very much around.

So, I did take the Kalms. I did practise mindfulness, I did do the tapping (EFT), and I did manage. I even enjoyed some of it. My youngest struggled, but the joy of seeing Zoella and Alfie on the iconic bed, quite made up for it.

It was a useful exercise however. For the first time, I could analyse just what sets off my anxiety in crowded spaces; that clammy handed, choked throat and panicked flutter in the heart; the feeling that one must get out, get away, find a quiet place in which to just - breathe.

The train is fine. Everyone is calmly sitting down. It gets bad if the train is overcrowded, of course, but I think everyone gets a bit claustrophobic when a perfect stranger is almost sitting on your lap, or checking your armpit for BO. The train station is fine; everyone is walking with a purpose. Queuing is fine; everyone is in an ordered line, moving towards a destination in an organised fashion. Where it all goes horribly wrong is where those crowds start to mill like a flock of woolly-minded sheep, especially in an enclosed space; especially with a plethora of sensations – lights, music, smells… Even though the ceiling is high and the crowds were not too bad for half term, it felt like the Black Hole of Calcutta. Without the Kalms, the mindfulness, the EFT – I think I would have taken a sharp right at Jonny Depp, walked straight past the Queen without even a curtsey, charged past all the men who were President, dodged the Incredible Hulk and got out – out into the relatively fresh air of central London; heart pounding and longing for a brown paper bag – into which I could either breathe or be sick!

People who do not have anxiety, cannot understand. They are quite happy to join the flock and baa contentedly (and that's not meant to be an insult – I envy them). They cannot understand the feeling of being sucked into a black hole of madness, where you feel as if you will implode.

But, anchoring with mindfulness, tapping on meridian points and yes, the Kalms; they all help. You too, can get through it. I believe in you!

A Moodscope member.

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

Tuesday, 13 June 2017


I have worked as a volunteer with rescue dogs for many years. Times have changed a lot. At one time it was all about basic care, feeding, bathing, walking, kennel cleaning.

Then came the importance of helping dogs, who were often traumatised by abuse, to relax with people, play, learn some commands. Volunteers were encouraged to get the dogs to socialise.

I find they fall into a few groups. Some come bounding out, totally engrossed in the sights sounds and smells around them, never give me a glance. I could be anyone, it's just great to be out and about. They hate being taken back to their kennel.

Others cower, refuse to come out at all, pee themselves, refuse treats. They will need one to one help, often for weeks, before they venture out.

Then there are the ones who are rather reluctant at first, but get into the swing of it, maybe chase a ball, give me a kiss, have a little romp. Then, next thing they are at the gate, scratching frantically. On goes the lead, and they pull me at great speed back to the kennel, joyfully curling up in their blankie.

Guess which one I relate to?

When invitations arrive, I don't feel a rush of pleasurable anticipation, on the other hand I don't actually pee myself. Sometimes I get irritated by the sheer persistence of some people, annual inviations to gatherings I have never attended. It is hard not to think they do it deliberately, some passive aggressive thing, forcing my excuses to become increasingly bizarre.

Even when I really like the people involved, as the day approaches I feel apprehensive. Sometimes I wish they will have to cancel, so I can get out of it without feeling guilty.

This does not mean I am a shrinking violet though. Once I get there, I can work a room with the best of them, especially with a few drinks inside me. People seek me out, I have been described as the life and soul, which probably means I have opened my big gob and said outrageous things. I feel I have done my bit, turned up, brought wine and flowers, and genuinely enjoyed myself.until...

I picture my kennel, my blankie waiting for me. Then come the consequences - a couple of days of feeling drained and disorientated. Conversations will be replayed, the moods of those I have met will have left a mark on me. A few days later I will usually have a crashing migraine.

"Experts" tell us that friends and relatives, a social network, are as essential to good physical and mental health as a good diet. It is now being said that dementia can be brought on by living an introverted life style. What about those of us who like to keep a bit of distance, dislike crowds, noise, cope with company in small doses? Or when most of your family have died, and you weren't too keen on them when they were still alive?

When you rarely make the effort to see old friends, why seek new ones?

What type of doggie are you when it's time to socialise?

A Moodscope member.

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

Monday, 12 June 2017

Are You Into Shelf-Development?


"Osmosis," is the word for me! Somehow, I imagine that being in the proximity of books will enable their wisdom to transfer across the semi-permeable membrane of my brain so that I can become smarter without physically reading them!


Now, of course I know that's ridiculous but the truth is I'd still rather live in a house full of books even if I never get round to reading them. I feel good around books. I even post pictures of libraries and bookshelves on Pinterest!

Recently, a couple of good friends, John and Bronwen have mentioned 'Shelf-Development' - and the play on words tickled my imagination (can you hear it giggling?) Most people don't read beyond the first chapter of any self-development book they read, they leave them on the shelf - hence being into 'Shelf-Development'! Those who do read their books, rarely take the action they'll need to to get the same results the author is promoting.

Getting great results is R.A.R.E.

Read + Act + Repeat + Excel

The path to excellence can often begin with reading, and then just listen to the beautiful definition of 'Excel'

"To be exceptionally good at or proficient in an activity or subject"

I've got a gentle and easy challenge for you: take a look at your books - the ones you have promised yourself you're going to get around to reading - and just choose one!

Done that? Excellent!

Now, stage two, if you're up for it, is to just read one chapter today!

That'll move you from Shelf-Development to Self-Development!

My requests are like busses, they come in threes! Stage three is very dear to me and the community of Moodscope Users. Over the years, many of you have shared titles of books that have made a difference to you. I'd like to gather a list of those titles below. Would you share yours?

A Moodscope member.

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

Sunday, 11 June 2017


If all there is, is now,
There'd be no sun or sky.
No rivers, sea,
No grass beneath,
No people walking by.

If all there is, is now,
There'd be no newborn babes,
No wisdom from our elders
and no sea beneath the waves.

If all there is, is now my friend,
We'll never venture out,
Be locked up in this tower,
no new tales to talk about.

If all there is, is now you see,
No thing would really matter,
So learn from life,
Live in the now,
Hold hopes for your tomorrow.

A Moodscope member.

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

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Can there be too many questions?

I have always liked asking questions. Would you ever have guessed?

When I was a child my question asking was encouraged and even admired, but as I grew older
the pride of parents grew to tiredness then embarrassment.

I never meant to make people feel uncomfortable by my questions but I always seem to have so many in my head.

I thought that by asking questions I could learn more but as I grew older my questions were either ignored by teachers or I was a nuisance. (Can you imagine that?).

At university, I used to ask questions in tutorials and sometimes a tutor would ridicule me before answering the question. Afterwards people would come up and tell me they did not understand the concept either and thanked me.

I am not sure why people see questions as annoying. Or is it me that people find annoying? Do I really want to know the answer?

When I first started taking medication I asked the doctor many questions but he just smiled and said just take the tables and be a good girl, I was in my 30s at the time. I changed doctors.

I hope now people are encouraged to ask doctors questions but I do know many health professional get frustrated because people ask questions based on Dr google.

As consumers how will we get answers if we can't ask questions?

I have read when you first meet someone that is possible to ask so many questions that the person feels like they are being interviewed or worse interrogated.

A shy friend says she asks lots of questions in social situations so she does not have to answer any.

Now I did have several, well four, questions to end my blog, but I have decided to give everyone a chance to ask your own question? You can ask to me or the whole of the Moodscope community.

Or you can answer the title of this blog. What will you do?

A Moodscope member

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

Friday, 9 June 2017

Market Research – pigeon holing.

I re-read my blog on 'The Empty' chair, and was again overwhelmed by the response. Another blog was on 'labelling' mental illness. I looked back over recent blogs and found the subject matter so wide, despite the basic premise of a system to help with depression. Shelley might have covered the subject: 'Lift not the painted veil which those who live call 'Life'.

The 'easiest' to name are those actually diagnosed as 'bi-polar', it IS recognised, there ARE treatments, the choice is stark – level yourself out with strong medication and forego the 'highs and lows'.

Then there is 'just' depression. Coming unannounced, debilitating, risking relationships, making any normal life a challenge – being taken for malingering, just a plain misery – difficult to treat, time-consuming, expensive, holding down a job and trying to keep a 'normal' face, exhausting. The worst hurdle seems to be getting anybody to listen at all, and then hope treatment, any treatment, will be available.

Self-esteem, being beholden, grateful, feeling of no worth, that your input, in family, work, voluntary work, does not really matter, or get noticed. Retirement, being on the 'scrap heap'. Yesterday's blog (8th June) is on 'boundaries' and people struggling with a wide range of emotions and relationships.

Only recently the Moodscope team has accepted blogs which deal with suicide – previously un-published, regarded as depressive in itself, but the fact that many depressed people will have these 'black ideas' (French description) means it needs airing.

'Treatments' get a good airing: the 'meds', counselling, mindfulness, yoga, psychotherapy – and always, the challenge of being listened to, and appointments with doctors.

Then there are 'one off' people – or, of course, they may have chosen another pseudonym to broach another subject.

And, for me, a weird sort of 'stress' generated by bloggers and posters when they 'disappear', Bear currently.  We are free agents, Moodscope is a forum, we do not have to report in. But I don't think I am alone in hoping they are OK, that Moodscope has done its job, and not that they have gone 'downhill' and cannot even ask for support and comfort here?

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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Thursday, 8 June 2017


Boundaries confuse me. I constantly struggle to set the boundaries that I feel I need to enable me to look after myself well, whilst still maintaining relations with friends and family.

If I don't have some boundaries in place I end up feeling burnt out, taken for granted, insecure and then low. So low that the black hole then comes calling.

People pleasing is my 'problem,' and trying to get everything perfectly right all the time along with perfect manners, perfect interactions etc, etc... Phew! I feel exhausted just writing that last sentence!

How can I really know where a healthy boundary should be? What does it look like? What does it feel like?

Are you able to set 'healthy' boundaries which allow you to care for yourself?

Jane SG
A Moodscope member.

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

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Mea Culpa.

A disclaimer, before I start. This is not a religious blog, although I will be quoting the Book of Common Prayer. Neither is it anti-religious. This is a blog about being human, and feeling guilty.

Maybe you have escaped the curse, if so – then be thankful, because you are one of the lucky ones. Unless you are a sociopath of course; then, maybe not so much.

In my experience, everyone I meet feels guilty.

I'll go first; this is mine. Hands up if you feel guilty for not being a better mother. Ah, yes – that's twenty-three thousand, five hundred and fifty-seven I can see – and that's just those of you on the front row. Um – Sir? Yes, it's okay for you to have your hand up for that one too.

Let's try another. How many of you feel guilty for not being better at your job? So, that's the other half of you, then (plus two thirds of the guilty mothers).

Carrying on then: guilty for not having the house and garden tidy, guilty for not being a better friend, guilty for not having reached your potential and succeeded better in life, guilty for being ill with depression in the first place, guilty for not being able to solve the problems of the world, guilty for...?

The Anglican Prayer of Penitence says simply, "We have left undone those things that we ought to have done and we have done those things that we ought not to have done."

Another form continues, "through negligence, through weakness, through our own deliberate fault."

Well, that's simple enough, isn't it? Except that it isn't.

I didn't take my daughter to Scouts last week – I let her father do it, even though I knew he was tired; because I had a prior commitment: guilty whichever choice I made.

I ate the cake she made, though I am slimming. Guilty for letting myself down or guilty for hurting her feelings?

I didn't reply to that email last week; it slipped my mind and I lost the sale. Oops – guilty again.

The lawn needs mowing, the ironing isn't done, the bathrooms are dirty and I haven't read that book for my book club meeting this Tuesday...

So, let's just go back to those simple words. The things undone. Are there any of them things that I ought to have done - really? Maybe the email. That was a shame. My forgetfulness; a weakness, I confess.

The rest? There is no "ought" when there is no time. There are only choices. I choose to write and to spend time with my family. The payment for this is an untidy house and a messy garden.

We feel guilty because we are guilty of being human, of being imperfect. But we do the best we can; all of us. We cannot repent of being human, but we can repent of feeling guilty.

Guilt is a venomous serpent which ruins lives. Don't be guilty of letting it ruin yours.

A Moodscope member.

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

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

The Librarian and The Critic.

"Some people don't know how to give feedback!" declared my friend, Ginette.

We laughed about how feedback is usually 'criticism' wrapped up in what may indelicately be labelled a, "sh*t sandwich!" With equal fervour, I declared, "I never want feedback!"

Ginette's point was serious: don't ask for feedback if you don't want it. But I seriously don't want it. Why? Because I'm getting feedback all the time, every day, 24/7 from the critic in my head. My own Internal Critic does a far fiercer hatchet job than any numpty out there in the other world! I'm feedbacked-out!

Enter The Librarian...

Yes, I know that should be something dynamic like, "Enter The Dragon!"  However, books, bookshelves, and libraries are dynamic places for me - packed with power. I realised just now that, just as I love these in the other world outside, I also have them in my inner world. My brain must be racked with bookshelves full of tomes bursting at the seams with what I've learned.

The solution to my internal critic seems clear: I need to install a librarian - a bossy one.

There are few rules in a library - after all, we are all looking for different subjects to study, and we all learn in our own way. But one rule is shared by all libraries: silence!

So my librarian has taken up residence and she (it's a she) has a habit I love. When my Internal, pompous, up-himself Critic makes the slightest noise in my mind, she says:


She looks over the top of her glasses, and she is very firm!

It's working so far... and making me smile.

It might work for you too!

(If you've got one of those annoying critics!)

A Moodscope member.

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

Monday, 5 June 2017

Collective Grief.

I write this watching the Manchester Benefit Concert. Ariana Grande is singing with one of the girls from Little Mix.

Honesty time here: until tonight I had not heard of Little Mix. Until a week ago I had not heard of Ariana Grande. Now, of course, I will never forget that name. I don't think you will either.

My twelve-year-old daughter had of course. She seems to know everything about these "stars". She knows that Ariana Grande likes cats although she is allergic to them. She knows who is her manager, her boyfriend. I know nothing of these things.

But I am a mother. When I put myself in the place of those mothers who have lost children to the actions of a man lost to reason and humanity, then – in the interests of sanity – I must immediately take myself away from that place; it is too painful.

And, this morning. Waking up to the news that yet more people, this time in London, have been killed and viciously injured, apparently "In the name of Allah". There are feelings of desperate sorrow, confusion and uselessness.

This violence has nothing to do with true religion. The reasons why anyone would choose to wittingly take the lives of other human beings in this way are beyond understanding for most of us.

How do we react?

The people singing in this benefit concert are doing what they can. The fund set up enables the rest of us to feel a little better by donating money, but we know nothing we can do makes any real difference. Violence is still out there. It never goes away for long. Those of us over a certain age remember those nervous times in the 1970s when it was IRA bombs we feared.

But we personally, cannot take on the grief of the world. Our own personal griefs will come to us and we must deal with them. We owe the world strong and loving thoughts. If we have faith, then we owe the world our prayers. That is doing what we can. We cannot personally comfort those who grieve unless we know them. We cannot personally help to bring to justice those who commit those acts, unless we are part of the immediately involved justice system.

It feels unfeeling, to emotionally walk away. For many of us we take on the emotion of the world and it hurts us. It drains us and rips us open.

But, who does that help? Not those hurt and killed, or their families. Not us. Not our own families or employers or our friends. We must remember them.

A good friend of mine texted me today, "The news is so bad I am shutting myself away and crafting." She is wise.

We can think strong thoughts. We can pray. But then we move on. If we do anything else, we allow violence and terror win.

I don't know about you, but I choose to let love, peace and health win.

A Moodscope member.

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

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Mix and match.

Can you relate to the following story?

I used to have a kitchen cupboard full of plastic containers which always had more tops than bottoms. Many of the tops didn't fit the bottoms, so it meant that in a whole cupboard full of over 50 items there would only be half a dozen that fit.

One day I saw a great new system advertised that had colour co-ordinated containers so I threw out all the old pieces. I was so proud of my new neat cupboard. I showed my partner, I showed my friends and family, I could be neat and organised. Ok it was one small cupboard but it was a start.

This new plan worked well for a month or two with all the containers matched with their colourful lids, then gradually there were less lids, until I has less complete containers than I had before I bought the new ones! Please explain this phenomena! How can the cupboard be full of matching containers and a month later have hardly any lids. Where do they go? Why wasn't the colour co-ordination working as the man in the advertisement promised?

I wondered how hard is it to match up lids to bottoms. Obviously very difficult for me.

In life do we try to match things exactly or do we mix and match?

Sometimes it is not possible to get an exact match with our treatment, our medication, our therapy, our counselling. I think we need to be flexible and try and work out what suits us best.

I know humans are not plastic containers but there is a pressure sometimes to make everything an exact fit.

Do you try for an exact fit in life or do you try mix and match?

A Moodscope member

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

Saturday, 3 June 2017


I like writing and when I'm writing to clear my head I'm sometimes surprised at what comes from my fingertips and appears on the screen in front of me. I can read back the prose I have just written, only ten minutes after and it's like reading something for the first time. That was what happened when I wrote this piece. It was a moment of recognising the physical affects that depression and anxiety have on my body. It has been reassuring to hear other people feel the same sometimes, mental illness doesn't just affect your mind does it?


And Noise is back, it crept into Head in the night and on waking this morning it was there. It wasn't a surprise, I knew it was coming. It's polite enough to give some warning.

That creeping Unease is it's first contact. Unease takes residence in Chest, blocking breath and blood to Heart.

Heart palpitates like a knocking at the door 'Here I am! I'm still in here and I'm a little bit afraid!'.

Chest is so full that Breath is obstructed and Mouth and Nose can't provide their usual service, the doors are shut.

Meanwhile Noise is in Head having a good rattle around, getting into thoughts, causing disarray and obstructing the usual routines.

Eyes impart what is going on inside, the curtains have been drawn and the windows reflect back, startled at the change of residence.

How long will it stay?

I'd like myself back now.

While Noise and Unease are here, unwelcome guests in my house, I will be kind to Chest and Heart and Head.

I will try to nourish them and give them some peace and rest.

I won't make too many demands on them.

We'll try to keep to our routine and encourage Breath to help out a bit more. They won't stay forever.

A Moodscope member.

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

Friday, 2 June 2017

To see ourselves as others see us.

In "To a Louse" (that is not a predictive text error) Robert Burns pleaded "for some Power to give us the gift to see ourselves as others see us" (apologies to the purist).

Whilst he was pointing out that the lady would lose her airs and poise if she knew there was a louse on her bonnet, for many Moodscope members it may have the opposite effect. So often guilty of denying positives and concentrating on negatives I am surely not alone in ignoring, or at least discounting, praise.

As I turned over in bed my wife said "I know you probably won't believe me but you are wonderful ... thoughtful, considerate, kind, generous and amazing."

An hour earlier I had been lying awake after another poor night's sleep pondering Leah's article a few days earlier that asked "Is your job worthwhile?"

For most of my life the answer would have been a swift "Yes." Managing a team in an important support department of the local NHS Trust - I loved the job and the people I worked with.

Since retirement the answer would be no. After numerous attempts to find voluntary work have come to nothing and my self confidence and self esteem, heavily dented during my final two years at work, have slowly sunk to near zero I feel aimless, worthless and without any purpose. Many of you will be able to understand the impact this has had on my nearest and dearest.

My normal response when my wife says something like this is to pretend she hasn't. Mostly it makes me feel uncomfortable and self-conscious; I am just an ordinary man and have never liked praise beyond a simple "Thank you" or "Well done" on rare occasions. This time though was a bit different.

During my earlier thoughts I had realized that much of what I do is for other people. That's not quite as altruistic as it sounds, I see something that is easy for me while the other person would find difficult. Consequently, it doesn't feel special or extraordinary in any way and I tend to dismiss it. However, for some reason it occurred to me that if I threw a life buoy to a drowning man it's more than throwing a bit of plastic into the water and easy to understand how others would see it as lifesaving.

Perhaps, occasionally, we should examine why other people say good things to, or about us, and not just assume they don't understand the situation.

A Moodscope member.

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

Thursday, 1 June 2017

No self-pity and no shame.

Today I noticed something new in me.

I was with the community at the stables where my mare lives. She has had an operation and has to live in a stable for 3 weeks. I take her out to graze morning and evening. I do not know what made me feel sad – maybe it was a certain abruptness of others asking me not to bring her out while they brought the stallion in – or maybe it is that when I took her out her behaviour was so wild that I had to bring her back in. (Her wild behaviour was the reason for the operation as she had ovaries with a tumour which causes extra testosterone and stallion like behaviour in a mare.)

Anyway I grew sad and quiet and did nothing about it but felt it.

Everyone was there and invited me for a cup of tea – which I accepted saying "I am in a grumpy mood". My presence added little – I was quiet – however I appreciated the conversation and the laughter and was able to laugh myself at the funny stories told so well. I felt others' kindness here an there asking gently if I was ok but not probing.

I did not ask for anything – I did not pull on anyone for commiseration or pity. I did not try to fake happiness nor feel uncomfortable that I contributed little. I was present to what was going on. I felt close to everyone and enjoyed their company.

Later I went to the shops and bought a few things and I was myself and I made an effort to engage with everyone I met - except for the Big Issue seller who I walked around the other side of the potted plant stand to avoid! I made a decision not to feel ashamed of myself about this.

I realised that I was not indulging in self-pity nor in shame – or at least only to a very minor extent. I was not asking "why do I feel like this?", not saying "I am wrong to feel like this". At the shop where I bought some organic salmon, I spent time with the assistant choosing a piece which was cheaper and I had no shame about that either.

Progress rather than perfection. I am happy with my progress. I wonder if you relate to this and what your relationship is with your own self-talk?

A Moodscope member.

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