Sunday, 20 August 2017

Comfort zone stay or leave?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leah 
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/comfort-zone-stay-or-leave

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Terrible at accepting help.

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

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

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

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

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


Lucy
A Moodscope member

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/terrible-at-accepting-help

Friday, 18 August 2017

When the rain stops pouring.

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

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

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

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

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

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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

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

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Panic Attacks.

I suffered my first panic attack when I was coming up for 21 years old. This was my worst one I think, because I didn't know what the hell was happening to me.

I was in a night club. I remember standing on the edge of the dance floor watching everyone enjoying themselves. There were a lot of flashing lights and I felt peculiar.

All of a sudden, I knew I had to get out of there. I was so scared. I asked a girl standing next to me if she would come outside with me as I felt unwell. I did not even know her, but she was the first person I could see.

She helped me down the stairs, as I felt like I was going to collapse and I very nearly asked the staff to call an ambulance. However, I managed to get outside and sit on a wall. I felt sick and I started to shake and to cry.

Then it passed, I felt better, but shaken and shocked. I thanked my helper and got myself home. I was so upset, I remember telling the cab driver what had happened to me.

I was lucky enough not to experience another panic attack again for many years... I mean, yes, I had times of feeling anxious and nervous, even to the extent where (for example) I could not hold a drink in my hand (rather annoying when you want a sip of your tea or a sip of wine).

Then in my forties, they came back with a vengeance.

I found myself questioning why, but I cannot see much logic in it. I went through enough stress in those twenty years whilst I was free of a panic attack.

Shops became the worst culprit. I had to leave them very quickly and once I literally collapsed in a supermarket. I have experienced one on a plane (after which I actually wrote most of this blog), in a car, in a theatre, at a funeral service (I had to leave in the middle of it, slightly embarrassing) but I once even had one at home.

Thankfully, they seem to have left me again now and it has been a while since my last one.  Hopefully another twenty years...

Has anyone else experienced full blown panic attacks?

The only way I can describe them is the feeling that I was going to die. They actually only last a few minutes and I had to learn to breathe, by taking small sharp breaths and by sipping water. If I have to leave the house now (rare) I always take water.

I'm not saying this is the answer (far from it), but I read a book called 'Making friends with Anxiety' and the last time I thought I was going to have a panic attack, I told myself "it is ok, this beast is not going to harm you, it is just popping by to say hello".

It actually helped and the feeling passed...

A doctor once questioned me on whether I knew what a panic attack was. I went rather blank. He liked to maintain that he knew a lot about mental health but he didn't know much at all. He went on to tell me that a panic attack was something that happened when being confronted with a lion or a tiger. Silly man!

He has retired now and I sometimes wonder if it was on his bucket list to visit a zoo.

Molly
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/panic-attacks

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Strongly Anthemic.

[To listen to an audio version of this blog, please click here: http://bit.ly/2vXd2X8]

Ellie hears her husband's feet on the stairs. He has come in from work, scooped up the cat and gone straight to shower and shave before he even greets her with a kiss. He wants to wash his job away before he comes to her. He wants to greet her as the man he is, instead of the man he has to be at work.

But he is happy: he is singing. Tonight, from The Mikado. "Defer, defer to the Lord High Executioner," he sings to the ragged-eared bundle in his arms. Ellie doesn't think Mundungus defers to anyone. He is a cat and thinks everyone should defer to him.

It's not always Gilbert and Sullivan. Sometimes Jeremy sings songs from the musicals, sometimes rousing hymns, but always something with a strong tune; something he can get his fine baritone behind.

When he is unhappy, he is silent, and then Ellie is unhappy too, because a happy marriage is only as happy as the unhappiest partner.

You won't meet Jeremy and Ellie in real life: they are characters in one of my novels, but Jeremy's habit of singing when he is happy comes from a school friend of my daughter. Peter changed schools in his fourth year. His mother said that she had not realised how miserable he had been until he began to sing again. She had not realised that his music had stopped.

If we sing when we are happy, then can we make ourselves happy by singing?

At a recent meeting of my bi-polar support group, we discussed ways of coping, of lifting our spirits when depressed. Singing came up several times. I like the discipline of church choral music, my neighbour likes singing with the rock choir. The leader of our group likes singing along to eighties pop music.

At the funeral of my favourite aunt last week, we sang to music supplied by guitars and drums. The hymns, although traditional, were played in a way that made your feet tap and your body sway and, if you are of the Pentecostal tradition, wave your hands in the air. (I am an Anglican: my hands stayed firmly anchored to the service sheet!) Afterwards, my cousin asked me if I had enjoyed the hymns.

"Very much," I replied.

"We thought we'd like some hymns that, even if you couldn't sing, you could shout along," she said. "Mum couldn't sing a note, but she did rather like to shout!"

That funeral was not sad, but a joyous celebration of a life well lived.

Singing doesn't work for me when I am sunk into the deepest depression, swallowed whole by the dirty grey Leviathan, but it does cheer me up when I am feeling glum. Even if I start with something gentle, like Abide with Me, I can gradually work up to Vivaldi's Gloria. And sometimes, my latest rock favourite, Whatever it Takes, by Imagine Dragons.

So, what do you sing along to, when you do?

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/strongly-anthemic

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Where shall I start?

The past twenty years have involved a lot of hard work, trying to work out why I got very ill with postnatal depression after the birth of my third baby but not before.

I was working hard as a probation officer looking after other people and helping to solve their problems but I couldn't solve my own. I tried the stiff upper lip, medication, herbal remedies, other antidepressant medication and all different types of vitamins.

I handed my notice in and was persuaded to stay and changed my working hours to better suit my children and my family. I got pregnant again and suffered a miscarriage and then, after five years of trying to sort myself out, I admitted defeat.

I spent years reading self help books, trying to change the way I think about people and stuff and trying to change myself because I felt like a failure. The result of this is that I feel like I know myself inside out and upside down.

Has it helped?

Well I am not mentally ill any more but really was I ever? Or was I just a hormonally challenged, overworked mother of three lacking in support and trying to cope?

So next time you feel low and and depressed before you label yourself a failure just consider whether you are in fact just surrounded by people who, although they love you, have no idea what you are going through or how to support you, through no fault of their own and then find your tribe whether it be other Moodscopers or someone else who is not afraid of emotions.

It will make all the difference to how long you will travel down the lonely road of depression before turning the corner.

Wishing everyone good luck in their mental health ventures.

Romy
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/where-shall-i-start

Monday, 14 August 2017

How You See People Changes What Happens Next.

If you'd like to see my first reaction to the main video I'd love to share today, here's me in the car: https://youtu.be/L3cIzpqKByM

If you don't have the time or the access to YouTube, it won't spoil the 'Aha!' moment.

I'd like to share an experiment run by Canon Cameras in Australia.

I began to think about this in the context of every single relationship I have: the way you and I 'see' others prejudices and affects where our relationships go next! Thus, if you want different results, change the way you see everything!

I really hope you can get to watch this video. I'm going to explain what it shows anyway, but much better for you to see it for yourself. It's stunning.

https://youtu.be/F-TyPfYMDK8

In the video, six different photographers are asked to take portrait photographs of the same model. The catch is that they are each told a different story about the model's background. One is told he saved someone's life, another is briefed on the model being a psychic, a third is told that the subject is a multi-millionaire, another that he is a recovered alcoholic, and, finally, that he is an ex-offender.

The result, if you didn't get to watch the video, is that each photographer portrayed the portrait in a different way. The results looked like six different people.

As a Father, I see my sons differently to the way you will see them. As a partner, I see Penelope in a totally different light to what others see in her. We all see "through a lens".  Now, given that changing the lens changes the results we get, I wonder if it is time for you, just like me, to change the way we see some people?

Hit pause on your day right now and list the 3 most significant people in your life:

Their name................................................

Their name................................................

Their name................................................

Great! Now for each one, answer this question:

"If I was to see them in a more favourable fashion, in what way would I see them now?"

That photography video really touched me.

So, my 'Moodscope Monday' thought is:

"How do I see myself?"

"How do you see yourself?"

...because the way we see ourselves will have the most profound impact on how today will unfold. May you see yourself in the best light, and find the best lens through which to see all those you engage with today.

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/how-you-see-people-changes-what-happens-next

Sunday, 13 August 2017

At Sea Without a Compass.

Members that regularly comment on the blog will have seen that I had a funeral for my youngest daughter this week. We do not know the cause of death and have to wait weeks for the post mortem results.

She had lived in the antipodes for the past eight and a half years and at some point was diagnosed with BPD/Emotional instability. She never understood how beautiful and talented she was.

She was at times a self harmer and to escape her mental problems she turned to drugs.

Earlier this year she returned home to the UK, as she was too ill to look after herself and her partner could not cope any more.

She had two older sisters. One of my other daughters also had some health issues and she too had to return home when her mental health deteriorated.

It was a very difficult time and I wrote this poem:

At Sea without a Compass

Fred and I are cast adrift, at sea without a compass
When I heard of my child, in the clinic again
My emotions shut down, cos I can't take the pain
My younger child too, in pain and unable
To even share a meal with us at the table.
I feel strange and estranged, sometimes deranged
To whom can I go, when we all hurt so?
Coda:
But now she is gone and we still go on
I can take heart at least, that now she's at peace

When I wrote to ask for hugs I had a wonderful response from the regular contributors. Thank you for all the hugs that helped my tears to flow. It is so heartening to feel the love and support of an online community, who have some experience of the vagaries of mental health.

Thank you for listening.

Another Sally
A Moodscope member

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/at-sea-without-a-compass

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Finding my home.

Are you worried that books and bookshops are an endangered species?" asked a customer, clutching a Kindle.

I knew a place where books were treasured not threatened.

Books had always been a love of mine, I was always reading at least one and had one in my bag. As a 21st birthday present, I was given a beautifully illustrated book about books, bookshops and book collectors. The story that fascinated me the most was about a town in Wales, Hay-on-Wye, that was full of bookshops.

The more I learned about the man and the town, the more I wanted to go and visit the place, but life happened – marriage, three children, divorce, elderly parents, and small business. It wasn't until a hot summer's day in July a few years ago this year that I finally made it to Hay-on-Wye.

As soon as saw all the bookshops on my arrival, I felt at home. I had never really felt like I fitted in anywhere but in this town, smelling of old books and knowledge I felt wrapped in a comforting welcome blanket.

The first place I visited was the shop Richard Booth opened in 1962 but no longer owns, the Cinema Bookshop, which is by far the biggest bookshop I have ever seen with close to 200,000 books.

There was a book centre with 20 different dealers selling a wide variety of books, including many antiquarian ones. Old leather books inhabited the shelves, their famous and lesser known writers beckoning me to examine forgotten works.

It was hard to know where to start. After perusing the abundant shelves, I sat down with a stack of books, smelling the beauty of the knowledge surrounding me.

"Kindles banned in this shop," a banner proudly proclaimed. This was my town, a place where books were honoured and respected, not vulnerable and disappearing.

"Books are not an endangered species, I have 40kg worth of books to prove it," I answered, smiling at the memory of my trip to Hay-on-Wye.

Have you found a place, or a group of people, that you feel at home with. A place or a community where you can be yourself?

If you have not found this place or community yet, can you describe what it would be like?

Is there something you always wanted to do, always wanted to visit, always wanted to experience and you finally achieved that plan?

What was it like - did it leave up to your expectations?

Leah 
A Moodscope member

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/finding-my-home

Friday, 11 August 2017

Get a Life.

[To hear an audio version of this blog please click here: http://bit.ly/2utFkbH]

I think it was Sir Terry Pratchett who said (although it might not be, because I can't find this quote with Google, which must mean it can't exist – right?), when challenged to "get a life", that he felt he was living six lives already.

Those of us who have seen that image of him writing, surrounded by his six monitors; who have read his Disc World Series, or are writers themselves, understand.

But, just recently, I was challenged to "get a life."

Oh, not as bluntly as that: it was posed as a question and addressed it to many of us. A question which is utterly valid, even if it did make me (and others) say "Ouch!" at the time.

That question is, do we spend so much time concentrating on our own symptoms, our own condition, that we fail to live life as fully as we might?

I am deeply ashamed to say that I reacted violently. I promptly retaliated in the comments (see what you miss out on if you don't click through to the comments!) with a full run-down of my life and commitments; because I'm quite a busy girl – most of the time – when I'm not sitting shaking on the sofa in the darkness, that is.

But then I started to think.

Before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, mental health had no relevance and was of no interest to me. Now it is one of the few areas of health about which I am passionate.

If it were not for Moodscope however, I think I would still feel rather embarrassed about my condition. I would not want to talk about it; I would not want to think about it. I would still take my tablets and be grateful, but I would probably still want to hide my condition under a cloak of "normality." Because I would feel ashamed.

Moodscope has allowed me to see that I am not alone and that I have no reason to be ashamed. Further, it has given me a platform on which to stand, to take understanding forward, to send the light of knowledge and compassion further into the world.

We've all heard the saying, "It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness." Well, for me, Moodscope is that candle. I am proud to hold that candle high and to be seen by everyone to hold that candle.

It doesn't mean it's the only candle I hold, or even the brightest candle. But – just maybe – it's the most important candle, because I believe Moodscope can give hope to many more people than other areas of my busy life.

So, in answer to the question, should I stop thinking about my condition and get a life? The answer is, by thinking about it, by writing about it, by supporting Moodscope; I hope I am helping many other sufferers with this condition to "get a life".

Which is what it's all about, really.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/get-a-life

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Friendship with self.

Being a friend to oneself is so important and so often forgotten in a crisis. We look to other people to provide company and encouragement and solutions and often allow our inner selves to keep up a barrage of criticism that undermines and withers our enjoyment of being who we are, right now, in this place.

Sometimes this constant commentary is so familiar we don't consciously know it's there but when you tune in to it the realisation of the self-condemnation and the language used to express it, can be shocking. The antidote is to develop the inner companion; the one who doesn't berate you for lying in bed too long but gently suggests that now may be a good time to rise and make some plans, who encourages and recognises steps, however small, as a continual part of a journey to change. The one who is alongside, with you, rather than sitting in judgement.

I am battling with alcohol at the moment; not a dramatic, technicolour, falling in the gutter kind of battle, but the habit of drinking more wine each evening than is good for me. My aim is to have more evenings without alcohol than with. Sometimes I win and wake the next morning feeling still tired but pleased with my strength of will. However, when I fail and down a bottle, my tendency is to veer towards self-hatred, despair and an over-arching idea of my life as failure. That can take hold and perpetuate depression and a paralysis.

My current approach is to be kinder and gentler as I would towards a friend and, without being permissive, to say to myself " Ok. That happened, but it doesn't have to keep happening and the overall trajectory is better than it was. Well done for that and we'll keep trying.". To hold on to progress and to be compassionate about the opposite. To pick myself up, as one would help and hug a miserable toddler and move towards a different state of mind. This takes regular conscious practice as does learning any new skill.

Real friends are great but not always available and not always up to date with our own script. The person best placed to give one what one needs, in terms of understanding and will power, is often living inside us. Then we can enjoy other people in all their glorious array, without the expectation that they can complete or rescue us. Or us them.

Hilary
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/friendship-with-self

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Lions and Bears, Wolves and Dolphins.

I sometimes think that every bad decision I have ever made has been after 10pm.

It's as if a switch has been clicked. Before ten o'clock I am (mostly) reasonable and level-headed, disciplined and responsible. At one minute past, that all changes.

I have sent far too many long and emotional texts to friends after midnight. I have drunk too much wine and eaten junk food by the cartload. True, I have written reams, but in the clear light of morning much of it needed heavy editing.

But just recently, I have discovered why this is. It is because I am a lion.

The Power of When, by Dr Michael Breus, has been an illumination. He is a "sleep doctor" and he divides people into the four types in the title of this blog. Lions wake up early and switch off early. Bears are the lucky ones who follow a normal sleep pattern. Wolves sleep late (very late) but are at their most productive after midnight. Dolphins are the hardcore insomniacs who will swear they have not slept a wink all night.

Discovering I am a lion has been a revelation. The need for a snooze function on the alarm always used to puzzle me. I've never understood this "waking up slow" business: lions come instantly awake, usually before 6am, raring to go and hungry for a big cooked breakfast. Lions do their best work before lunch, and certainly all their left brain work then. So, I am now making sure my day reflects this: analytical business work in the morning, writing in the afternoon, bed at ten sharp. It's helping my weight, saving my liver and I'm sleeping better too.

It's otherwise for Wolves. My son Tom is an extreme wolf. He likes to go to bed at 6am and get up at 4pm. When he lived with us recently, it was not unusual for him to share breakfast with us at 6.30am. Only for him, it was a snack before bedtime. It drove my poor husband (a very disciplined bear) crazy! Wolves work best in jobs where they don't have to clock in earlier than noon.

A close friend of mine is a dolphin. Dr Breus calls these people dolphins because (apparently) real dolphins only sleep with half their brain at once. The other half stays alert to watch out for danger and to deal with all that business of swimming and coming up into the air to breathe. Celia has never slept well, even when I knew her as a child, and now she understands why, and more importantly, has some techniques which help.

Lack of sleep or sleep dysfunction is a large part of depression, so anything which helps us understand it and to get more restful sleep is to be embraced.

You can take the test online here https://thepowerofwhenquiz.com/ to find out which animal you are, and you can find the book in all good bookshops. I'd recommend it.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/lions-and-bears-wolves-and-dolphins

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Day Release.

It happened last Friday. It was a revelation, a single day.

Friday was a day with no pain and a day when I had no depression or anxiety. I cannot remember being able to function so well, to be able to think clearly and have mental acuity, to wake up rested and without pain in my body and my mind.

I was able to move from task to task without drowning in the muddy glue pit of indecision and inability to concentrate, without the constant neck and skull pain being dulled by medication but leaving me dithering. This is what it must be like to have a healthy brain, to be able to rise each day and complete tasks.

I felt relaxed, contented and happy.

I then realised how depressed I am, how bad my fibromyalgia is and that my smiles are but a mask where I valiantly strain to keep going. I see why my relationships (marriages and partners) have collapsed, partly due to my being unable to make decisions or tolerate irritations.
 
I have no special other in my life at present. It feels like too much to ask of another being to be with me. Yet I have so much love to give, so many talents as my distant family and friends tell me. My brain can't harness them it seems, and I have kept trying too hard, at once mourning the loss of potential and never quite accepting that I am too ill to manage by myself.

Those who loved me and cared for me saw my inner beauty and torment and wanted to give me a life of love. I insisted on battling. This illness and my feeling of disquiet and discontent have robbed me of times of ease. Like most of us, all I seek is inner peace and contentedness.

I had one day of peace, one day and then the pain restarted and the brain became deluged by noise. Twenty five years of pain and fluctuating depression and anxiety. I have had my probation at work extended because I am failing at tasks. I have to support myself so have to work.

Why did I have that amazing day? I meditate, have been having Reiki healing from my housemate every other day and had ear acupuncture the evening before.

Each time I have the acupuncture I do feel better. Does anyone else have acupuncture for depression? Does anyone else have significant pain with their depression and anxiety?

So what do I take from this? I see that my body and mind can heal, even if it is temporary. Perhaps I can negotiate work (I do two jobs) to reduce to four days a week. My finances will suffer, and I live quite frugally as it is, but my health is worth this and who knows there may be someone out there willing to be with a kind, gentle, loving, quirky woman who, at last, realises she is not to blame for being unwell.

Lesley
A Moodscope member

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/day-release

Monday, 7 August 2017

Framing FOR Complaining.

Do you find it easier to whinge than to find and suggest a solution?

Perhaps it's time to find a better way?

Frame to Complain!

Mother Teresa was committed to 'For' rather than 'Against'. She was allegedly asked once to join a protest march, raising awareness of a specific conflict. Surprisingly, she declined. When asked why she said that she would join the protestors when they marched for peace, but not when they were marching against war. Whether this ever happened or not, it's the perfect illustration.

The outcome is arguably the same: against war for peace, or for peace (and thus, by default, against war!) The frame, however, is completely different - as is the state of mind that then drives the supporting behaviour.

I've recently had a protracted experience with a rather famous Telecoms company. And, any experience is a gift to a writer!

Over the many weeks this has taken to resolve, I have encountered many excellent staff members from the Telecom's giant. Individuals who (mainly) sincerely sought to represent the much larger entity in a way they could be proud of.

Whilst I am sure they have been trained, at a senior level, to deliver excellence in service, I also am going to fairly and squarely claim that I played my part! Why? Well, because I wasn't interested in conflict, or in getting my pound of flesh. I was for a solution - so much so that I challenged several of the staff members when they consistently used the label of a 'complaint'. When we ring up to 'complain' - it's not surprising people get defensive, is it?

Was I complaining? You bet! Did I want my grievance wrapped in the language of complaint? No way! I wanted the Telecom company to live up to my positive expectations - and they got there in the end.

In Life you and I are going to have a lot of disappointments. In business, stuff is going to go wrong. Learning to address these issues in the positive frame of what you are 'for' rather than what you are against, really helps develop a solutions focus.

Oh, and you'll feel better too!

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/framing-for-complaining

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Stormy bears.

My son is emotionally up and down at the best of times. He is early teenage but his anger at feeling the world has conspired to be against his every move is something I could see from just after he arrived bottom-first into this world! Sometimes (most times) I have energy and patience to pick apart the problem and talk it out with him. He is so sensitive and the upside of his sensitivity is that he hugs like a bear saying goodbye forever and says "thanks for talking to me". But other times I have neither energy nor patience to search for the needle within the messy haystack. That's when we fall out. Shout. Scowl. Storm.

At those times its healthy to let it lie. Last night I lay in bed listening to him in his bed, in the dark, shouting about his problem. (It was a last-minute thing he wanted to do the next day and I'd said it was not possible.) When he stormed through from his room to mine, I started breathing heavier to pretend I was asleep. He ranted as he came in to my room, then noticed I'd signed out and grumped "I'll just tuck myself in then" as he stormed back out. Sure enough, within moments he was quiet in his bed, in the dark, making peace with the day. It was far more beneficial that for that time, we let it lie.

This is also true with ourselves.

Another way of being 'kind to yourself' (a phrase often lauded) is simply to realise when it is a good time to encourage yourself and when it is not. I know that might seem very basic but how often do you push yourself to do something only to do it in such a way that it is of no benefit at all? Gym? Diet? Sleep? Work longer?

Sometimes we need to let it lie.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/stormy-bears

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Peter and Penelope.

Peter and Penelope are great friends, they think alike, have their own language which often does not require words, and they are often mistaken for each other as they look so similar.

Like Twins in fact.

This may sound strange as one is male and the other is female, but they both share a wonderful golden sheen and beautiful posture as they stand in their gardens elegant serene and all knowing.

Yes they are peacocks, formed from metal and paint and yet they seem somehow alive.
Peter lives with me in my beautiful colourful garden and Penelope lives with my friend whom I call the Old Bean, she also calls me the Old Bean! And we are also very similar.

Like twins in fact.

Same sense of humour, same way of communicating without words, same sense of sometimes living in a happy pinkness then finding oneself in a black bubble that cannot be burst.
We are true friends and as CS Lewis once said 'Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! you too? I thought I was the only one!'

Peter has helped me through many upsets, and I have often sat beneath his caring feathers just alongside the white hydrangeas on the top step of the path, with tears or feelings of deep sadness inside, and felt the calmness of his silence.

Slowly coming to understand how to go forward.

It was this that inspired me to buy Penelope for the Old Beans birthday as she has been feeling very low and I could not seem to jolly her along, her life is fraught with difficulties as she has a wayward teenage son and an elderly mother to care for.

She works hard and yet seems to be on a roller coaster, one minute calm and caring and really quite the funniest person you could ever want to know.

Then life suddenly whips the roller coaster upside down and she finds herself clinging on trying desperately not to just let go and fall to the floor.

All I can do is to shout up to her hang on Oldest Bean, it will be alright you know.

The tears fall from her beautiful green eyes and she cannot speak.

Then Penelope came along and I placed her in her garden near the door so they could see each other and watch each other carefully.

I told the Old Bean Penelope was there to look after her, comfort her and give her the inspiration to see beauty and hope when the clouds were grey, the roller coaster was warming up faintly in the distance, and the tears were close by.

Peter and Penelope together have formed a bond to look after us two Old Beans and keep us together, safe and protected when we find it all too much.

Last night I heard Peter flapping his feathers and imagined him sleek and luminescent in the moonlight returning from his nightly visit to Penelope.

I knew all was calm and right as I felt the most serene deepness of sleep take hold of me and I silently wished the Old Bean goodnight, and sweet dreams.

Old Bean we are heading for the pinkness once more.

Peter can feel it in his gorgeous feathers.

Audrey
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/peter-and-penelope

Friday, 4 August 2017

This will pass.

It's been ages since I last wrote for Moodscope. In fact these past few months I haven't been reading the blog every day... that's a change for me.

So my moodscope score this week is 31.

I could have guessed it would be low, but 31 is one of my lowest ever scores.

Things are different for me just now. I feel exhausted in the mornings. Despite having sufficient sleep, my body is heavy, my head foggy and I drag myself around for most of the day.

I have taken two days off work to focus on my mental health. Yesterday, a glorious day of weather (rare for us in Scotland) I wasn't able to relax. My busy head not slowing down.  It's hard even to catch the thoughts. Do you know what I mean?

A constant churning in my head and my stomach. Sometimes my head whirring so much that when speaking to people - I have to really focus to listen because there's a constant something going on inside.

I just feel rubbish.

But you know what...

Somewhere buried inside my head there is faith that this will pass. I will make it easier, if I accept that it is ok not to be ok and if I work through this.

* Do the deep breathing. Slow things down.
* Keep my days really simple - accomplish one thing.
* Be in nature.
* Don't lie in bed - as soon as my eyes open - get UP. Get showered.
* That doesn't mean I need to be running doing errands, I can make a nice space to sit or 'be'.
* Flick through magazines - doesn't matter that I can't concentrate on any articles.
* Write down a list of what's circulating in my head - it's hard to catch the thoughts - but that's ok... but it's better out than in.
* Lastly, when I get overwhelmed... NOTICE. What 5 things can I see, hear, smell, feel.

So my message is... It's ok not to be ok. We have the tools and we have to push through these uncomfortable days to find the brighter, lighter days.

Carol Anne
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/this-will-pass

Thursday, 3 August 2017

A Day at a Time.

I find myself in a situation I thought I'd never be in. Living alone having left my husband of 20 years. I moved out of the family home last year and only now really finding my feet.

For most of my marriage I was depressed, triggered by the sudden death of my father 2 years in. Panic, anxiety and depression all set in soon after, I was worried about myself.

After numerous good and bad phases, in and out of jobs and looking after my family best I could, it finally hit me that I should never have married the person I did. I saw various doctors, counsellors, psychiatrists over the years who all had the same opinion - I needed out of my marriage. My husband made my decision easy in the end, I couldn't take any more criticism, put downs, no support. His drinking was out of control and behaviour, well say no more... I figured it's him or me and I chose me!!

So I'm going it alone. I rent a flat, have a job I enjoy and have been in for a year now. It's been far from easy so depression is still lingering but I'm dealing with that and I'm starting to actually feel some happiness. Something I've not felt in a long time. So much so, that I have booked a holiday on my own for a week. I'm a bit nervous must say, but I seem to enjoy being by myself for now - I've found that I love peace and quiet but also have the ability to meet people and make new friends - something my husband always said I was incapable of.

I don't think that I'll be on my own for ever but for now it's what I want and need. It feels strange putting myself first now but it's definitely something I'm getting used to.

It's not been an easy road and it's far from over but I'm getting there a day at a time.

Take care,

El x
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/a-day-at-a-time

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Twos and Zeros.

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

I tell everyone about Moodscope.

Well, okay, it hasn't got quite as far as me hunting down perfect strangers and holding them down while I expostulate on the therapeutic benefits of this wonderful app and how it's helped me feel totally sane...

I'm not quite sure that would have the right effect, somehow.

But I do tell a lot of people. In fact, I wrote a blog about it (Out and Aloud, if not Proud – 10th May 2017). Most especially, I show them my graph. When people comment on how well I look these days; how settled; how steady; I whip out my phone and show them my graph.

Because it's really rather dramatic: I've gone from looking like a cut-through diagram of the Alps to something more closely resembling the Fen Country where I live. Yes, from 6th February, when the therapeutic dose of my medication kicked in, things have been – well, really rather boring.

In a good way, I hasten to add. Oh yes – in a good way. Let me remind you of that Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times." Give me boredom any day of the week.

But – I do kind of – miss the 3s. Because now – all the red cards get a 2. Every single time. (Well, occasionally a couple of them might slip down to 1s if I'm tired or stressed).

The creativity is there. The drive is there – in fact my business has taken off in a way I haven't seen for nearly ten years and I can now tend and nurture it properly.

What isn't there, is the urgency; the single-minded focus that would galvanise that creativity so I could write fifty thousand words in a month or go from nowhere to being number two in a sales team of 80 inside six months.

What isn't there now is that sense of flying, of invincibility, of god-like immortality.

On the other hand, what also isn't there is the price paid by friends and family when I was off on one of my highs. It was they who suffered the selfishness, the arrogance, the intolerable rudeness and insensitivity... I am not a nice person in my mania phase.

So, I miss the feelings and, to be honest, the results – plugging away at my novel a thousand words at a time is not as exciting as writing a chapter every night; going as fast as my characters could keep up. Slow and steady is not as thrilling as the awe I generated when I shot through the roof with my sales.

But those feelings were like those (I imagine) generated by cocaine. They were illusory and destructive, and the unsustainable productivity was inevitably followed by a crashing loss. I was playing snakes and ladders where the snakes were longer than the ladders and the serpents always won.

So, I'll take the 2s and be grateful. And the zeros on the blues. This is one case where flat-lining is best.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/twos-and-zeros

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

The Down Side of the High Side.

It was party time and I was the life of my very own party. I considered my highs to be normal, as I loved this outgoing, fun loving person.

The exciting confidence embraced me so tightly that I could not resist the temptation of experiencing just one more high. When I was manic I became convinced I was invincible, incredible and irresistible. I knew I could be anything or do anything. I loved everyone and everyone seemed to love me. I had abundant ideas, enthusiasm and passion.

This was the late 1970s when risk taking behaviour, partying all night and spending sprees were considered normal behaviours of students. That is the deceptive nature of mania, it mimics 'normal' behaviour in many ways.

It is natural for people to be happy and it is hard to equate happiness with illness. The trouble is mania isn't happiness - it is a very exaggerated over the top state that seduces a person into believing this is normal and so addictive that one keeps wanting more despite the havoc one leaves behind.

I was enjoying the highs, having so much fun, ignoring the chaos I caused and convincing myself it was only the depression that was a problem.

This was a mental illness that made me believe it had an upside, but in reality there was a dark and destructive side. It was so enticing I did not see my highs as a problem, even after I had experienced financial debts, broken relationships, and disrupted studies.

Each individual handles the mania differently. For me it took over a decade of destructive highs and debilitating lows till I finally and begrudgingly decided to take medication. The party was definitely over and it was time to face reality.

I think the key to my managing bipolar was acceptance of my limitations and acknowledgement of my strengths. I also had to live in the present and not wallow in self pity. I gradually realised if my highs were not so high my lows would not be so low.

Every person will experience the illness in a different way so there is no one plan that will suit everyone. I kept a journal as I found this helpful in keeping track of my moods. A sense of humour is useful as well as an ability to laugh at oneself. I used to be ashamed of some of my past behaviours but I decided to take responsibility for them.

People fear if they give up their highs they will give up their creativity. I have been able to stabilise since I have been taking medication. When I gave up the extreme highs and lows I discovered the another part of myself.

Everyone has ups and downs, so if you dont have bipolar, how do you cope with mood swings?
If you have bipolar, or unipolar, how do you cope with your highs, are they your best friend or your best enemy?

Leah 
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/the-down-side-of-the-high-side