Wednesday, 31 January 2018

What Have You Done To Make You Feel Proud?

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

With my professional hat on, I belong to a couple of networking groups. One of them is quite male dominated, extremely structured and meets at 6.30am...

The other is a women's networking group. We meet for a monthly lunch and I've been a member for some years now. The benefits are obvious; those women know my business and I know theirs. I know where to go for legal advice, coaching and upholstery. They come to me for Style advice.

More than this, these women have become friends. I have gone to meetings in mania and in the depths of depression. It has always been a safe and supporting place.

Last week though, it was pretty special.

We have an education slot – just ten minutes - run by our education officer, Kate, who happened to be sitting to my left. Kate knows me well.

This education slot was different. We were asked to think of two things we had done in our life of which we were proud. These could be business things, they could be personal. They could be huge things or they could be small. The important thing was, that we felt proud of ourselves.

We thought for a moment and then scribbled on our bits of paper.

Kate could see what I'd written. She gave me a nod and started at her other side. We went around the table and everyone shared what made them feel proud. Some were small business satisfactions: our HR and Temps member shared how she had managed, just in her car on the way to the meeting, to fill three new vacancies with suitable people. Some were big successes, like going into a big company and reducing the time spent on a process from 61 days to just 9.

But many of our triumphs were personal. Two of our members have survived cancer; they are proud. Three women have upped and moved continents, often with small children. One member broke down in tears as she recalled leaving Zimbabwe – where her family had a huge farm – and arriving in the UK with just the clothes on her back and £2,000. Her children had asked when were they going to get a big garden with a tree in it again, like they had back home. She was proud of having created a new life here, and of having been able to give them that tree.

I was last. I said I was proud that, last Saturday, nine people had enjoyed themselves hugely at a murder mystery dinner party that I had written (and that nobody had guessed the murderer – even though I had played fair and given them all the clues)! My second thing? I said I was proud to be alive.

Very proud. You people all know why.

I'd love it if you would think of two things you have done which make you feel proud, and if you would share them in the comments.

A Moodscope member.

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

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Do you really think it is better to give than receive?

My mother used to say the saying above and recently I have wondered what it really means especially with regards to mental health.

I am learning to accept help or kindness but it means my friends feel able to ask me for help as well. My friendships have become closer because we are there for each other when things in the good and the bad times.

One day when I was 16 I was sitting on a seat outside school and reluctant to go into school. I was very depressed, and my dad had driven me to school every day for nearly 2 weeks, but I would not get out of the car. This day he said go to the seat and see if you can go inside. I was mad at my dad and I feared going into school as I had been away for so long. A teacher not mine, smiled and said lets hurry up so we won't be late. At the time I was mad at her but years later I remembered her kindness. I am not sure she ever knew how much she helped me.

I wonder is it better to give than receive? The receiver may feel under some obligation to repay their benefactor and so undo much of the benefits of the gift.

Is this our culture speaking, that says manage your own life, never ask for help? On Moodscope we give the sum of our experiences of our lives offering something of use and value. We do not know who will read our words. Hopefully it's a good outcome, but it may have no effect.

I have a friend who has been supporting her neighbour for several years. She is beginning to stand alone, her neighbor has no idea how to help someone else and has said to my friend on the few occasions she has wanted to chat, that the neighbour doesn't know how to help.

Rather than deciding who gains more from an interaction, why not simply do what comes next without deciding who owes what to whom.

I think we all win when someone receives a helping hand. It shows our compassion to other humans and recognizes we are all in this together.

I feel if everyone is giving, who is left to receive. I think it is important to be able to accept help when you need to and why is accepting help seen as such a bad thing?

I would like to hear your views.

Is it better to give than receive or do both actions play an equally important role in being healthy?

 A Moodscope member.

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

Monday, 29 January 2018

Not Now Nagatha!

"Nagatha," is the name I have given my inner nag. "Nagatha Scritchy," to be more precise.  I was thinking about her as a result of nights of mental anguish and lost sleep over some challenges I'm facing. She's not very nice, but does seem to be the dominant voice in my thoughts when I'm under pressure.

This puts me in mind of two excellent resources - both for children. The first is the original film, "Inside Out." The film follows the role of five personalised emotions inside the main character's head. The emotions are joy, fear, disgust, sadness, and anger.  Each directs the actions of the girl, Riley, as she navigates through the complexities of life's relationships and experiences. Recognised for its excellence, I would suggest the film is a 'must see' for all of us interested in what makes us tick.

In my life, at the moment, Nagatha seems to be at the helm far too often!

I'd prefer Joy instead.

The second resource is a wonderful book about parental neglect called, "Not Now, Bernard!" by David McKee. Spoiler alert - I'm about to reveal the plot! Bernard wants the attention of his parents but they are too busy with life's other activities (such as watching television). His life itself is in peril from a monster in his bedroom - and, unfortunately for Bernard, the monster prevails - gobbling him up. The monster then seeks to intimidate the parents, but they pay it just as little attention as they did to Bernard. The result is that the monster is disempowered and ends up simply going to bed - ignored.

"Not now, Nagatha!"

I wondered if this is a strategy that could work for you and me, when there is an unhelpful emotion or 'state' seemingly at the controls in our head. I have started to say, privately of course, "Not now, Nagatha!" and the humour is working... a bit.

I remember being shocked by a phrase in the Gospels - where Jesus couldn't work many miracles in one location because people just didn't believe in Him. (Mark 6:5) Flipping this, it would be great to develop an equally impactful lack-of-faith in Nagatha!  Wouldn't it be great if she couldn't work her damage because of my lack of faith in her?  Why do we give the voice of worry such credence?

What strategies do you use to ignore, negate, dis-empower, or otherwise deal with unhelpful states-of-mind and negative thinking?

A Moodscope member.

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

Sunday, 28 January 2018

The Miner.

KVELL (a Yiddish word meaning to be extraordinarily pleased)

Poor old Moodscope I use you like I use my friends :-(
When I'm down your always there,
When I'm up your always there,
When I'm low I do my score.

But when the Dementers come or I fall down that mine hole, I use you my dear Moodscope like I use my friends, even the feathered ones.

I stare out the window, looking at my feathered friends pecking on the food that I can't really afford to buy, but I do it because I want to give something back to this world and be remembered to be a better person.

I can hear the vicar at my funeral, who knows nothing about me saying "The Miner... she liked to feed Gods birds."

When I visit the mine, I use you my tiny feathered friends I don't feed you, or clean your water trough, it's full of sludge. I am the Zombie staring out into the garden.

The little feathered friends bathe in the two stone troughs by the tree with the fancy bark, one trough bought by a piece of my heart, the other bought my someone who took a large chunk of my heart... that's if the water is clean.

Am I in the mine or am I in the garden?

To see God's nature flapping their wings & swinging on those food stations, it gladdens my heart & I feel KVELL! This replaces a tiny piece of my heart.

(I'm not religious, I use god down the mine, like I use poor Moodscope.)

I heard of this Yiddish saying at work - KVELL it means to be extraordinarily pleased. This was issued by my company on an email as a thank you to its staff, it's a company in the US, one of the richest top ten companies to work for; you may have read that email too?

If not, before you get envious of my job... hold that thought, I'm just a temp, on a low hour's contract going down the mine. It suits me to temp even though I'd love a permanent role, am I fit enough to give up mining?

KVELL, it made my heart glow to learn a new word, I could use it in a book that I always wanted to write, but never did.

Staring just staring, caring just caring, I am The Miner constantly climbing out of the mine.

Do you use people?

How do you want to be remembered?

RATG challenged me to write a blog...this is my first one.

The Miner
A Moodscope member.

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

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Judgemental, Moi?

This blog has been fermenting for two days – usually it's 20 minutes from idea to keyboard. As I mull over the 'antics' of these women I know, I blame myself for intolerance - the parable of the 'Prodigal Son' comes to mind. Now next day (19th January) and LillyPet's blog on being 'nice' has added fuel to the fire. Here are three 'case histories' and how they affect my feelings.

They all have the ability to annoy, starting with sympathy and ending with blame. The first woman I have actually banned the house. She is 'cliquey', given to rowing, is always right, and tells you forcefully. Her husband died of cancer before he was fifty. So, due for pity. Apparently 'she did her own thing' and was not exactly dutiful or faithful. She is said to have received a very large insurance payment. She's done three cruises since he died, and is always at 'girlie' lunches. I have had an invitation to the latest boyfriend's birthday party – it says 'please bring food and drink for the table!' She's English, boyfriend (he's 80 actually) has lived here 12 years and hardly speaks a work of French.

The next, a peculiar set up – French man separated from wife and four sons, English woman who lives with him, and whose husband lives in the next village. The 'couple' are trying to be declared bankrupt as they are seriously in debt. They both have professional training, neither stayed in any job long enough to get a pension, so they only have state pension. The husband was a teacher until acute ill-health stopped him, he has the only money, it seems. She complains of extreme bad health, arthritis – can't walk, but insists on having two huge dogs. Doesn't obey her doctors, takes powerful pain-killers, and I've seen her drink a litre of red wine at a lunch party. She insults her 'partner' in public. She is mercurial, all over you one minute, cut you dead the next. She has alienated her partner's sons, they can't stand her.

Number three is the wife of a great friend – she has been very welcoming to us. She is a reasonable cook, if very heavy on calories. She eats her own portion in a third of the time of the rest of us, often with mayonnaise or ketchup. She is always snacking, and drinks a lot – she is up with acute indigestion most nights. She had a knee operation – then, on holiday, insisted on driving on a Mediterranean island, loads of gear changes and wrecked the knee, provoking dangerous side effects, blood clots etc.

Perhaps because I now spend so much time among acute suffering I look at these woman, who have brought ALL their ills on themselves, and I cannot have any sympathy for them. Now, I have to live with this tendency to say 'Serve you right'.

Can you be seen as 'judgemental'?

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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

Friday, 26 January 2018

I can feel a light inside.

After a three week break from our school term I am now beginning to feel normal. I had a virus which lurked over me for two of the weeks but it did me good as it forced me to slow down a little. My mind is now budding with the promise of flowers. I have ideas, as if I am a painter who is sketching images to revisit, and layer watercolours or oils upon, later.

I know I am about to enter a wind tunnel as the routine life begins again and so I know this creative mind will, at some point soon, be shoved to one side, trampled upon and left in a heap. But each time I get to this point I give it a nod and am thankful that it is still there. For anyone like me who is trying and trying, it doesn't matter if you eat the wrong food, drink the wrong drink, allow anger to bubble over or eclipse exercise with a remote control. The important part is making the return.

Just keep returning to the direction you need to go in. One day we'll find we don't leave it.

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:

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Best things in life are not things...

Once upon a lifetime ago, I learned some valuable life lessons while working as a home care aide.

In that profession, I travelled from home to home in my resilient Pontiac Sunfire and met a vast variety of clients. Although coupled in theory and title both that I was indeed the giver in the equation between patients and myself, on many occasions I noticed that I received also. Unintentionally so.

From an M.S. survivor who sometimes yelled at me I learned to quell my hurt feelings in lieu of the bigger picture: a disease hovering over his life that dwarfed us both. An incurable disease so large and invincible, nay, INVISIBLE that one couldn't throw a shoe at to scare off. Hence he yelled at me and I stood in for the Sclerosis, even apologizing by proxy once in a while. Other times I suggested: "we're in this together. Help me help you. Just wait - I will get it right." He'd calm down and we silently worked out the knots of his personal care.

I have been educated by a mental health patient not to give up on a rough start to our relationship - any connection can improve as surely as they can break down. "Mrytle" misplaced her personal hygiene items and then shouted at me when she couldn't find them. The day she nearly brushed her teeth with hemorrhoid cream we laughed uproariously and she accepted my offer to help organize her tiny apartment. We agreed on a phenomenon of elves foraging for goods in her low end apartment, and if they struck previous to my visit; missing items simply meant missed personal chores. No hairbrush equated no hair brushed. It became our turning point. Articles began showing up simultaneously with reasons to laugh. Mrytle's volatile behavior proved to be an insufficient mask for severe anxiety. She involuntarily taught me that life in all its unfairness possesses hidden gems in situations that sometimes balanced out a portion of the injustice; a bad day was exchanged for a good day, misunderstanding transformed into understanding. The ebb and flow of positive and negative decreases the ridges on life's ragged shoreline. The trick is to watch for it like the sunrise.

The happiest people I met were often the ones with the least tangible positives; meagre incomes, miserly furnishings, poor health, fading memory and few luxuries. Those clients bring me to a level three shame in the mood cards over my own "perception dysfunction," in thinking I have to have things/friendships/circumstances in order to experience contentment. When "Hazel" tried calling her son rather unsuccessfully from the keypad on her vintage microwave due to level two Alzheimer's... I thanked God silently for my mind, such as it may be at times. She unknowingly taught me gratitude on that sad/comical Thursday.

When a paraplegic sat in discomfort awaiting my snow riddled arrival much later than anticipated and still greeted me cheerfully when most individuals would have snapped, I wondered his secret. And coveted his graciousness and serenity. It was a review of the lesson that the best things in life are not things; but people with a happy giving spirit who chose to be so inspite of the world not because of it.

A Moodscope member.

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

Wednesday, 24 January 2018


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

Almost exactly eleven months; that's how long it lasted.

For eleven glorious months, I was emotionally stable. No wild swings into mania. No plunges into the darkness of despair. My brother said he had never known me so level-headed. My friends all commented.

The drugs, the glorious drugs! Thank you, pharmacists! Thank you, NHS (National Health Service for those of you not in the UK), for allowing me these expensive drugs for a fraction of their market price. Thank you.

I almost thought I was cured.

Then – a few weeks ago, something happened.

It was the kind of thing – well, it was the kind of thing you can't talk about to just anyone, you know? In fact, it was the kind of thing I felt I could talk to just one person about – and he was incommunicado.

I have other friends, but I couldn't go to them with this. I felt isolated, with no escape and the ultimate darkness hit.

What do you do when you get to that place? When you're standing on the edge with that charnel reek in your nose and throat?

Before you all leap in with suggestions, may I just say that first – you must recognise the edge of the crevasse as being an illusion. You must accept that, in that moment, you are not sane and you need help. Fortunately, I did recognise that.

There's the Samaritans, of course. There is nothing the Samaritans have not heard before; they do not judge.

But I did not want the Samaritans, I wanted my friend who was not there for me. I wanted my human comfort blanket, my personal blanket fort. I wanted the words only he could give.

And – my friend was not there.

So – I went online.

I went online to those illusory friends; the ones which live in your computer or your phone; the ones who may be anyone – as my family are always so ready to tell me.

I belong to a couple of Facebook groups. I went to one of them and – without talking about the issue – told them about standing on the edge.

The messages of support were wonderful and a dozen people sent me personal messages and asked to "friend me" that they might provide more private support.

Out of that, I've become close to a couple more people I can talk to. They don't know me personally; they don't know my family or my situation. I can be honest with them.

Another Facebook friend reminded me he's a priest these days. His "flock", he says, includes lost woolly ones beyond the bounds of his geographical parish. I know I can talk to him too.

So, I've expanded my support network. I've had to.

Who is your current support, and to whom can you look beyond?

A Moodscope member.

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

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

A Breakthrough!

This week I thought about hanging myself. There. I said it. Actually I thought about lots of different ways to end it all. Driving myself out to a remote part of the woods and taking an over-dose. Taking an overdose in my bedroom, but first dropping my daughter off with a neighbor, ala Juliana Moore in The Hours. That is where my brain went this week. I am not proud of it.

The thing that stopped me was my daughter. My sweet, beautiful, sensitive 9 yr old daughter, who kept coming in my dark room to ask me what was wrong or where did I hurt or could she get me a glass of wine... so many "I love you's" and hugs from my darling, perceptive girl... One night she broke down crying, and we talked about her anxiety - in third grade! All because she thinks she cannot finish her projects on time in art (she is an advanced level student, taking two languages and excels in Math and Reading Comprehension. She is a wonderful artist too).

I was shocked that my sweet happy girl had anxiety. She told me that she often pulls her hair and wrings her wrists under the table when she sees others finish a quiz and jump from the table to do a "special activity" before she is done. (Later when speaking with her teacher about this she told me that my girl usually has the right answers after thoughtful consideration, whereas many others finish quick with wrong answers just so they can get extra play time. She is now reconsidering this approach. Smart teacher.)

The more I sat in the black mucky water of my well listening to my daughter, the more I quickly realized there is no way in hell I was leaving this girl without her mother to hold her hand. And somewhere in my brain I was able to ask myself: Why now? Why the drowning now? My depression had come out of nowhere...or had it? I did research. And I was shocked to realize that between my Moodscope scores and my menstruation cycles I was able to connect the dots and discover that I have PMDD - Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.

It has been there, for years. (Sorry men for the female bluntness, but if I can help save another woman - mother, wife, daughter, friend - from suicide due to the severe depression brought on by PMDD I'm gonna try). It's a hormonal imbalance causing extreme thoughts of suicide, anxiety and anger.

My therapist had prescribed me Lexapro years ago after a recent suicidal episode and I stupidly stopped taking it two months ago, thinking that I was fine. I'm back on it now, and will probably remain so. I am not saying that all of my depression and anxiety is caused by this one thing. But for women who are already susceptible to anxiety and depression, PMDD can be deadly. And it's hereditary. My mother was abusive and her anger was definitely cyclical. Looking back on her life, I realize she probably had it too. My sister shows signs of it as well.

No therapist or doctor has ever talked to me about it. When the time comes, I will watch for signs of it in my daughter. Three million women a year suffer from it. If you'd like more information on the condition I recommend that you look up the Gia Allemand Foundation Lots of great information and resources on there.

A Moodscope member.

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

Monday, 22 January 2018

Please tell us what you think?

Moodscope is nine years old and has grown from one user trying to get a handle on his mood to many thousands of users making a unique Moodscope community today. It is still the only one of its kind, based on a validated psychological test and with users openly exchanging their experiences, insights and ideas around a shared issue who genuinely want to help each other and spread a bit of light.

We know from independent Populus research that there is a real need out there for exactly this service. Literally millions of people would benefit. We are keen to improve Moodscope and take it to the next level. You are key to this and your views will shape our next steps.

Please help us get started by completing this survey. The link is

It will only take a few minutes of your time.

Thank you in advance.

Kind regards.

Caroline Ashcroft

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Ping! Dinner is Served.

My two children like to remind me from time to time about how I always (yes always they say!) used to serve them microwavable ready meals when I got back from work.

So imagine my delight on seeing a metal hanging picture for the kitchen featuring a microwave with the caption underneath saying Ping! Dinner is served.

I bought three and gave one each to them and kept one.

The other day Oli wrote something very true about the un-usefulness of ruminating. Going over stuff in our minds constantly that we said or did the night before. I printed it out and have kept it to remind me.

So bearing in mind that I ruminate a lot, and believing every sensible word Oli said, I have devised a strategy for stopping myself.

If I find myself going over and over something I said which I thought was stupid and embarrassing, I say "Ping! Present and Future"

For me this stops me in my tracks and I immediately focus on the present. It has the effect of relaxing my body too.

So a big thank you to Oli and to my wonderful children and the metal hanger.

I wonder... do you think of words to bring you into the present when the past gets too much?

(Let me know if you would like a reminder of Oli's words)

A Moodscope member

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

Saturday, 20 January 2018

I spied upon a New Year party.

I had a phone call to make at 6.15am. My slumber was broken from 5.30am as my mind checked in, annoyingly eager to stand to attention. I could hear the birds chattering a little as the day broke.

My call took a while, it grew arms and legs, and it was 7.20am before I was finished. The lure of the kettle wasn't enough. It was school holidays and I had slumbering teenagers...  too much temptation for me and I attempted to sneak in a little more sleep. An hour later I realised I would have been better rising at 5.30am. The attempt at sleep lead only to a jumble of light dozing and crazy dreams.

Anyway. The party came after that. Drawing back the curtains it was a grey day outside.  The hills over the back were missing in action due to cloud. Gardens dreary. Paths quiet. I am lucky that I have a fantastic tree in my back garden. She looks flimsy but is as strong as an ox. She is so laden with red berries during the winter that she resembles someone who has gone shopping and bought more than they can carry. All the other trees around paled into the grey and this girl shone like a West End leading lady dripping in rubies.

The birds. My feathered friends were leading by example and lining up in an orderly manner in all the other trees around. They took it in turns to exchange trees, swooping into Ruby Tuesday for a pause. Sometimes a berry was picked and sometimes they just sat for a moment. This time no chattering. Just fun! They were actually taking turns. No more than one cradled into her arms at any time. Their antics were hilarious and kept me amused. I am so glad I spent a little time spying on their party. I'm no longer keen on parties but it was good to learn there are many ways to celebrate. Another lesson learned.

I don't really have a message today. It was just to say hello.

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:

Friday, 19 January 2018

The Power of Nice.

I was introduced to a book called The Power of Now, which for me, revolutionised the notion of meditation, introducing instead the more accessible concept of Mindfulness.

This blog isn't about any of that though! I just like how the title must have inspired me.

The Power of Nice has a great ring to it. It's for those of us, who are dismissed as being weak because we are often described as "nice'.

Well for all the haters out there ( joking guys!) don't underestimate the power of nice!

Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that a different way of being is any better or worse. Some people are very direct and have a no frills way of communicating. I'm not judging, It's all good!

During a recent event, a group of us were asked "Think of a positive comment about you that has stayed with you". I struggled. All I could think of was "nice". I didn't feel good.  I know that I have strengths and a lot more to offer, but I also know how easy it is to be labelled and pigeonhole people until we get to know them. C'est la vie!

The number of times I hear people put others down at work with the comment, "She's very "nice" but...". The but is what they really think. It's left hanging, for one to fill in the gap. Weak? Clueless?

Its SO interesting how easy it would be to list a string of put downs! How about some put ups? Wouldn't it be great to be able to come up with a list of positive words as easily? I think it goes deeper than just having a limited vocabulary!

People who struggle with self image or self esteem may find it difficult to think of any to describe themselves. I have always worried about how I am perceived. It just happens. It seems engrained. So I have started to tackle it head on. Carrying a low self image is a weight that can be lifted.

I once went on a workshop that suggested that at the core of the inner self is a shining star, our essence they called it. I imagine it would already be there at birth, untainted by life. For some it is nurtured, for others, not. Whatever happens, it is always still there. Who we really are. All unconditionally loveable for being our unique and beautiful selves. Equal to (and equally deserving as) anyone else. Life may have clouded it, maybe illness makes it harder to tap into, but it is there. Our Essence. Interesting workshop. I left glowing.

So if the clouds could be lifted, what might be revealed is an easy flow of positive words to describe ourselves. I would have been able to think of more than just "nice". Why the "just" though? Maybe I wouldn't feel disappointed about the word nice.

Nice can be strong.
Nice can be about putting others at ease.
Nice can be quiet and really hearing.
Nice can be practical.
Nice can be trusted.
Nice can save lives.

Are there any other words for Nice?

A Moodscope member.

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

Thursday, 18 January 2018


When I was a child if an adult or teacher told me, they were disappointed in me I would feel so small and start to cry. It was the one criticism that I dreaded and really wounded me. As a people pleaser the thought I had disappointed an adult because I said something a bit rude or when a teacher said I disappointed her because I had left my homework at home, was too overwhelming for me to understand. People expected me to be good - when I slipped a bit they were disappointed. My upper lip would tremble, and I would say as many sorrys as I could before curling up like a misshapen rock sobbing softly and getting cross with myself.

What is it about disappointing others that many like me find so hard to bear? Is it because we have set ourselves such high standards or that others have too high expectations. When you are well behaved it is only a matter of time before you have a minor fall from grace. If you are always diligent there will be a time when you are not. You can't please everyone all the time so you are bound sooner or later not to please someone. I know the theory but the practice is harder.

I found when I first had my mood swing I was so disappointed in myself because I thought I was destined to go smooth sailing through my life and then when it didn't happen I blamed myself for being such a mess.

I think disappointing myself has always upset me more than disappointing others. I am not sure when I realized I was not going to be a world famous academic or writer and that I needed to lower my expectation and be content with what I have. Well to be honest, while I realize those things aren't going to happen I secretly imagine they may.

Does it worry you if someone says you disappoint them?

Do you find yourself a disappointment? Why or why not?

A Moodscope member.

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

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Why Worry?

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

I think we all have a special seminal album in our lives. Sometimes we have one for each decade. For me, the seventies produced A Night at the Opera by Queen; the eighties The Joshua Tree by U2; the nineties, Gorecki's Symphony of Sorrowful Songs and the noughties, Lady Gaga's The Fame (tied with Karl Jenkin's The Armed Man). We're not out of the teens yet, but so far Night Visions by Imagine Dragons is looking good for it.

There are other albums which hold a special place in my heart; albums I return to again and again. One of them nearly pipped U2 in the nineties: Dire Straits' Brothers in Arms.

Not only does it contain the eponymous track, but also the wonderful 'Why Worry?' Follow this link for eight and a half minutes of utter bliss:

I was recently sent an email with some of the most beautiful advice I have ever received. It contains two sections on worry.

'Never borrow from the future. If you worry about what may happen tomorrow and it doesn't happen, you have worried in vain. Even if it does happen, you have to worry twice.'

I think we can all acknowledge the wisdom of this, but it's not always easy, is it, to just – stop – worrying?

But there is more advice.

'Separate worries from concerns. If a situation is a concern, find out what you can do and let go of the anxiety. If you can't do anything about a situation, forget it.'

Sometimes it takes a real effort of will to forget something we can't do anything about. If the situation is out of our control; if we have done everything we possibly can; if the problem belongs absolutely to another person, we can stop worrying.

Two nights ago, I was texting with a friend. "I feel like giving up," he said. "I may as well just kill myself..." then he went quiet. And I had to consider my options.

This friend lives a hundred miles away and it was 2am. If he lived in the same town I could have popped round, banged on his door and sat up with him. Could I reasonably do more, in this situation, than tell him he was loved and cared for? And that things would probably look better in the morning – when he wasn't drunk!

I turned over and went back to sleep. Because lying awake wasn't going to help anyone. But it did take an effort of will to dismiss him from my thoughts.

And – yes – he's still with us; still depressed, but here.

Worry helps no one.

And – from a favourite hero of my childhood:

Biggles's Philosophy

When you are flying, everything is all right or it is not all right.

If it is all right there is no need to worry. If it is not all right one of two things will happen. Either you will crash or you will not crash.

If you do not crash there is no need to worry. If you do crash one of two things is certain. Either you will be injured or you will not be injured.

If you are not injured there is no need to worry. If you are injured one of two things is certain. Either you will recover or you will not recover.

If you recover there is no need to worry. If you don't recover you can't worry.

From Spitfire Parade, by Capt. W.E. Johns, Oxford University Press, 1941

A Moodscope member.

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Tuesday, 16 January 2018

The Root of all Evil?

The actual quotation is "For the love of money is the root of all evil".  It is not money  that is evil, but the greed and dishonesty it can inspire.

A few things prompted this blog. I watched a T.V. programme about the emergency services. It focused on the  rise in calls involving panic attacks, and suicide attempts. Money problems, zero- hour contracts and unemployment were a common feature. A distraught woman  reported that her husband, a successful businessman employing a large workforce, was missing. His company was in trouble, he felt responsible for 150 mortgages. Tragically he was found hanged.

Last weekend I watched The Florida Project. It is the story of the cheap rundown motels surrounding Disneyland, home to a large moving population of people scratching a living, fighting to maintain some dignity, and often failing.

Then I watched a Ted Talk by a pair of young Americans calling themselves The Minimalists. Their philosophy is that we have more than is good for us.

I am now financially comfortable, although I have an irrational fear of poverty. This is a hangover from a couple of periods in the past, when I truly did not know where the next meal was coming from. I recall one dinner, Weetabix, a dented tin of pears from the back of the pantry, strawberry blancmange. Surprisingly tasty, but most importantly, filling.

I was doing 3 jobs to pay the bills. Around the same time a friend suggested we meet for lunch. It was at a local wine bar, not too expensive. I worked out that if I lived on baked potatoes and toast for a couple of weeks, and cut my own hair, I could split the bill.

She was the daughter of titled parents, living rent-free in a lovely house owned by the family. She was just off to Los Angeles; plane tickets a gift from friends over there. She spent the lunch bemoaning her poverty, she could not afford facials and leg waxing before the trip. I heard myself say, "Let me get this" and she did not argue. I walked away, the meal turned to lead in my stomach. My idea of being broke was not quite the same as hers.

To this day I cannot put my card in the cash machine without a small lurch in my guts - will it get swallowed up, am I overdrawn?

I have had the usual bad times in my life, but next to serious illness or death of loved-ones, I can think of nothing that is as depressing and debilitating as long-term money worry.

A saying of my mother's - "When money goes out the door, love flies out the window". A therapist told me that more marriages break up over money than sex or infidelity. Money clearly represents something pretty powerful in our relationships.

It's not just marriage. How many siblings seem fine with each other, until a parent's will is read? Then all the grudges and resentments from the past come out.

I would be interested to know if money, or lack of it, has played a part in your mental health problems?  On a lighter note, what has been the most "creative" dinner you have conjured up when strapped for cash-your penny-pinching signature dish.

A Moodscope member.

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Monday, 15 January 2018

Healed by Music.

On two occasions already this year, classical music has had a soothing effect upon my soul. Those of us who experience and understand depression, will resonate with the sense of torment that so often pervades everything and every day. Music can heal this torment.

Yesterday, in the dark before dawn, I stood on the platform at Dorking station and reflected on the fact that I would rather be under the train that was arriving than on the train. My day went OK and then the journey back was worse than the journey to London. I was not in my happy place!

My sister, bless her, gave me her ticket to see and listen to the London Philharmonic Orchestra at Dorking Halls. I sat with my Dad, who was well enough at last to go out, listening to the magic of Mozart, Brahms, and Schubert. What we saw was as exciting as what we heard – animated and enthusiastic musicians putting their heart and soul into creating a collaborative work of beauty. Dad said he had 'woken up' for the first time in weeks. The music was healing him too.

This, for me, was the climax of Civilisation – the highest expression of what it was to be human and part of a tribe or team. Whilst I am sure there are politics in any orchestra, we were blissfully unaware of any disharmony. All we saw and heard was harmony, unity, symphony. And, God, was it good!

The Orchestra offers us hope – hope that there are models of working together for common good that require no win-lose scenario. There were no losers last night, just winners. No teams fighting for supremacy, just one team.

Is it time for you and me to bring our own orchestra together to orchestrate a better future? The Double Bass section was close to the Cellos but they played a different yet complementary role. I can't go on like this alone – I need a team to perform with – I need to belong to something bigger than myself where my 'flow' supports other people in their talents. I need a team to create something of beauty with my life... and I'm certain you do too.

I've picked you already for my team – my orchestra. Your support and understanding often plays the key role in keeping me moving forward. For that, I thank you all. Now, I wonder what beauty we could create if we put our minds together?

A Moodscope member.

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Sunday, 14 January 2018

In The Hole.

I feel as if I have fallen into a hole, and I've left all the tools that I need to get myself out up on the surface.

I can try to figure out another way to get myself out. I can ask friends to throw some tools in to help me. Or I can sit in my hole and patiently wait it out.

I do know what I need to do and I have got better at being kind to myself, I'll eventually get around to using those tools again too. Some are easier, like drink enough water, get to bed early, get out for some fresh air. Some are harder when they collide with other daily duties of work and family care.

I bet we are all familiar with the frustration of finding yourself in the hole and knowing the tools are just out of reach to us at that moment. What do you do? What strategies do you have that are easiest to employ?

A Moodscope member.

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Saturday, 13 January 2018


This is my first blog.

I've been reading the others for a while now and never felt able or indeed competent enough to contribute. The blogs are all incisive and thought provoking. Not sure I can match that. At the back of my mind, well, at the forefront really, I don't want to come across as a whiny self absorbed individual.

I'm feeling pretty low at the moment.

Work isn't going too well. An incident two weeks ago has left me feeling very shaken. Being shouted at by a member of staff openly in front of colleagues in the presence of my manager was humiliating to say the least. The incident was bad enough but then when the manager ignored it I felt completely unsupported. When I asked her she said 'leave it...that's the way she gets on.

I'm just shocked and stunned. Undermined once again by my manager who has her favourites and will always support them regardless. I did tell her in an attempt to stick up for myself that I disagreed with her indifference and felt unsupported. That honest approach just backfired. More senior staff were drafted in and I ended up being firmly told I was in the wrong.

Bullies best not to speak up.

Well that's my tale of woe.

How do I cope with this overwhelming sense of negativity. How do I move on. Any ideas, coping strategies...any advice would be welcome. I need some of your ideas to get back on track.

A Moodscope member.

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Friday, 12 January 2018

Your Comfort Blanket.

I am addicted to 'Charlie Brown' cartoons. There is a character called Linus, who sucks his thumb and carries a blanket around. Everybody tries to 'wean' him from it, particularly his grouchy sister Lucy. Then, a challenge is offered, if Grandma gives up smoking, will Linus part with his blanket? He agrees with utter confidence, Grandma will never give up her fags. She does. Consternation, Linus pictured with hair standing on end.

I am writing this on Christmas Eve 2017, having the blog today on 'Parties'. At our age Christmas cards/letters/e-mails are usually fairly predictable. Aches and pains, deaths (if not notified at the time) and the achievements of grand-children. But one floored me completely, from very good friends in Adelaide, Australia. One of their daughters had bouts of depression, quite seriously – but she seemed cured enough to finish her doctoral thesis. Now I hear she is hospitalised with profound depression, which must be pretty serious. Their other daughter (two sons as well) is a GP.

With her husband they struggled for 11 years with infertility treatments, until finally giving up and adopting two Indian brothers (wee bit of influence from us). Now, we hear he has early onset dementia, and, at 55, is in a worse state than my husband at 87. Their life is wrecked; she has had to stop work. At that age you are usually at the pinnacle of your profession, saving for your retirement and educating your children. Not only is the present grim for the whole family but the future 'mortgaged' to this dreadful illness. I read this e-mail having left Mr G's care home, where at least sufferers are usually in their late 80's. I looked for comfort, and found it.

I keep my own blogs in my inbox – quick reference to the subject matter, try not to repeat myself. I read the posts to many – particularly to 'I never promised you a rose garden'. The replies, now over three years of blogging, are a 'comfort blanket'. My subjects can be something arising from a previous blog or post, something silly that has happened, a distant memory.

Moodscope was 'conceived' for depressives. But 'all human life is there'. We are, naturally, obsessed with our own problems – usually what drove us to Moodscope in the first place. But throughout there are word pictures of people's lives, loves, environments, problems. Also, favourite books, music, humour, information (on helpful therapies, medication etc). A comfort blanket indeed.

The picture is of yet another Christmas in India. I had made individual shawls for the children in the convent, and we'd gathered masks and hats. People might ask 'Shawls, in India?' But the children, in a Catholic convent, got up early for mass, they also got fevers. They had few personal possessions; those pretty shawls were personal, all very pretty, vital for an Indian girl.

I do hope you have a 'comfort blanket', real or metaphorical.

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien.

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

It was a lime green gobstopper, about the size of the circle you make when you place the tips of your thumb and middle finger together. It cost tuppence in old money and I had already spent my weekly sixpence.

I stole that green gobstopper when I was nine years old and it still haunts me.

You only regret the things you don't do.

At first this seems like a stupid thing to say. After all, I bet we've all done some idiotic things in the past which seemed like a good idea at the time and then had to deal with the resulting mess, whether physical or emotional.

I know I have acted out of anger, out of pain, out of exhaustion. I have done some things which, on balanced judgement, I would never have considered: things which were against my moral code; things which broke the law; things which were dangerous. Things that hurt other people.

And I've also done some good things which turned out really badly.

But I don't regret any of them.

I don't regret going on that horse-trekking adventure which resulted in my smashed ankle. I don't regret taking Tom into our lives (and no – sadly, that hasn't worked out; I'll write about it one day) and I don't regret taking the job which turned out to be a disaster. I don't even regret that lime green gobstopper, because it taught me something valuable.

I do regret not studying for my exams, I regret not going on medication for my bi-polar condition earlier, I regret not going to America with my friend Raz when he asked me.

But, if I twist it around, then – do I regret all the books I read, all the writing I did, while I could have been studying? Do I regret the years spent working through the highs and lows of mania and depression and the lessons learned from that? Do I regret prioritising the needs of my family over the desires of my friend?

When I change the negatives to positives my perception changes.

It's very easy to find ourselves in a vortex of negative thinking. When things go wrong, we start a vicious circle of self-blame and castigation. It doesn't help anyone.

We mostly do the best we can with the resources we have available. When we fail to do what we know or believe to be right, then it's because we do not have sufficient resources to bolster our resolution or to support us against anger, pain or physical weakness.

Sometimes we don't do things because we don't have the knowledge.

But we always did something else.

The trick is not to regret the something else.

A Moodscope member.

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Sunday, 7 January 2018

Have you ever tried running in wellies?

No... well, I have and it's not easy. So wellies may be great for keeping your feet dry but I can assure you they are not designed for running in. So picture this, I have let the dog off the lead, but suddenly realise that she has run ahead to chase the geese, and there am I, trying to move as fast as I can, in a pair of wellies, skippering and sliding, across the slopes of our local park. There is nothing gracious about this middle-aged, slightly overweight lady waddling her way through the muddy banks.

What can I do?

In life, when we are depressed, we often feel slowed down, not able to keep up, operating on a different level to the rest of the world. At times like these it's not easy to pull the wellies off. (Even in real life, getting the wellies off at times poses a challenge).

So what can we do? Wellies are not designed for running. Get your trainers on if that's your thing. When in wellies all we can do is slow down... and why run at life?

So the reality is the dog is going to chase the geese in any case, there is no way I can outrun her. And sometimes accept you are running in mud. It's a slow, ungaily walk which doesn't get easier walking. And maybe someone's trying to tell you something... now's not the time for running. It's time to slow down, allow yourself some breathing space, allow the mind to heal... there will be other days for sprinting.

A Moodscope member.

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Saturday, 6 January 2018


When my loved ones are asked what is my biggest flaw, they say in unison 'impatience". I find this perplexing because if you asked me what is my greatest strength I would say patience.

What is happening here, are my loved ones misreading my behaviour or do I have little insight into my behaviour. Maybe it is a matter of interpretation and context.

People say I am impatient when I see myself as eager and encouraging. When people talk I wait and listen but sometimes I may ask a question, which to me shows how interested I am, yet others see me as being impulsive and impatient. I see myself as being patient as I wait without complaining, I try to be patient with people who are having problems and to be tolerant of others behaviour.

I see patience as enduring difficult situations such as waiting calmly if things are delayed and it is also having provocation without responding in negative annoyance/anger.

Patience is the level of tolerance one can have before negativity in the form of comments and or behaviour but do we all have the same level of patience or does it vary from person to person and within the individual. I know when I feel low I am much more impatient and when I was manic I had virtually no patience with anyone else.

It occurred to me that I have always viewed patience in terms of degrees. As in common phrases like, "You just need to be a bit more patient" or "Developing patience." Or "Don't be so impatient."

Maybe the divide between impatience and patience is not along a scale. The change from impatience to patience is rather having a different attitude rather than an effort.  Instead of being patient, maybe another way is to become patient.

When you are stressed how do you stay patient?

Do you have degrees of patience depending on your mood or the situation?

Do you think your friends/family see your level of patience different from your own?

A Moodscope member

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Friday, 5 January 2018


Fridays are great. No work for me. I have a yoga class first thing. I wake up knowing I can put on easy comfortable clothes and make my way to our tiny studio and class of just 4 of us. We're all a bit needy and our teacher oozes 'acceptance'. She easily assesses our moods/needs and we work through it, emerging from the class an hour later, re-energised with our heads up, almost cleansed.

This week I followed yoga with the last lesson in a course on meditation. With my fellow yogis we trooped across town to the meditation teachers beautiful, peaceful, coach house. I'm new to meditation and it's been really interesting reading other Moodscopers recent experiences. This week I was feeling low, and couldn't manage to get my mouth around the chants, I couldn't tell the class how my practice had been going because tears came before words could. Then our teacher played her most stunning and grand Chinese gong and I was terrified. The noise and vibration was there to excite, relax, focus..... I just wanted to run away. Thank goodness we finished the class with some soothing music and lying under a cosy rug. I tried to keep my focus on my breathe and mantra 'Hong Sau' and I did, finally, relax.

I then had an hour of Counselling scheduled. I'd got my tears out of the way earlier, I felt relaxed and it was a good hour, a positive hour. I was able to say some nice things about myself which had never come naturally in the past.

Fridays used to be about rushing to the end of the week, making weekend plans, meeting for drinks after work, assessing the kids activities. Now they're about me. Just about staying on track and slowing down. Do you have time just for you? Or even a day?

A Moodscope member.

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Thursday, 4 January 2018

2017. What a year...

After 6 months of nursing my dear, much loved Mum, she passed away in January.

My world had felt unstable and surreal when I realised my Mum, my best friend, was going to die. Plus, I was going to be responsible for my ageing Dad who was showing signs of early dementia.

Only a week later I was given the devastating news that my ex husband (of 32 years) had passed away. He was 61.

This second loss shook me to the core. The two people who knew me better than anybody in the world were gone within a week of each other.

I felt abandoned and isolated. But, I had to be strong for my kids and my Dad who had lost his life partner of 60 years.

I have suffered from depression since I was 17 years old. My parents were always supportive. My husband too. I had bouts when my kids were little when I really didn't want to live. Although I manage it well, it's always there in the background of my thoughts that at any moment I could begin the downhill descent into darkness.

My eldest son is an ordained Buddhist of The Western Buddhist Order. He encouraged me to meditate and practice mindfulness, and to remember that the more we push negative feelings away, the stronger they become. If we embrace a difficult feeling, it weakens and diminishes. We are able to manage our feelings more easily and accept reality.

It took me several months to learn to contain the sad thoughts and accept them without falling apart. To accept that life is not perfect. That everything changes and nothing stays the same. That we all suffer from the challenges of life. Everyone suffers. While it's not much comfort when we are in the depths of despair to know that there are others worse off than ourselves, it IS comforting to know that we are not alone.

I know that life will never be the same. I will, however, endeavor to make the best of it because I know there will be many more challenges along the way. It is our perception of them and the way we decide to respond and react to them that will affect our happiness.

If you're having a low day, it's ok. It will pass. Accept that it is part of who you are. Let it be. Allow it in.

My Mum always used to say to me, "Tomorrow is another day".

A Moodscoper who should take the test more often and not just read the blogs!

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Wednesday, 3 January 2018

"Standards Must Be Maintained!"

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

I sometimes think this is my husband's favourite expression. Along with, "You just can't get the staff…"

To be honest, it is usually used in a humorous way, such as when I thank him for doing some little service for me, like washing my car, or vacuuming.

But I was thinking about this phrase and the way it makes me feel.

You see, his standards are not my standards, and I have only just realised the difference.

We live in a world where the qualities of the left brain are valued more highly than those of the right. Left brain dominated people value order and structure in their lives. They are analytical and logical, gravitating more to the sciences than to the arts.  The qualities of the right brain are admired, but not valued. A self-employed accountant tends to earn more than a self-employed potter.

In our household, we are equally split. My husband and elder daughter prefer a firm structure for family life. They like to know what they are doing and when; the family diary is meticulously scheduled. They prefer a clean and tidy house with no pets to track in mud and leave fur on the sofa. My younger daughter and I, with our love of spontaneity and our forgetfulness (and our need for furry friends), feel constantly inadequate as we fail to live up to their standards. Yet my elder daughter loves going to the home of her friend, where chaos reigns, the furniture is unmatched and the four cats sleep anywhere and everywhere.

So, over the holiday period, we talked. I started to stand up for my own standards. Do we really have to have every meal at a scheduled time, all sitting round the table, valuable though that is? Could we not have it on our knees in front of the TV, from time to time?  I pointed out the joy in saying, out of nowhere, "Let's all go and see a film!"

I could see the panic on my husband's face; the "but what ifs" forming on his lips. For him, a visit to the cinema needs to be planned; the film carefully chosen and the tickets booked in advance.

But, bless him, he took the idea away and chewed on it, and he came up with a solution: scheduled spontaneity. "How about having one evening of the week which is deliberately left free for spontaneous activity? We don't plan anything, but just do whatever seems right on the night."

I laughed, but we have agreed to give it a shot and see how it works out. And, hopefully, it's just the start of a campaign by my youngest and me to have our own values recognised and valued.

Where in your life do you find yourself living by the values of others, and what if you could live by your own?

Of course, first, you have to know what your own values are.

Please share, in the comments.

A Moodscope member.

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Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Letting My Compass Be My Guide.

My mind is often drawn to thoughts about what's wrong and how to deal with it. If only these same things didn't spoil everything! They can consume me if I let them. They don't go away. They are what they are. There's just no point in immersing myself in them.

They are not my whole life though! In fact they are really quite a small fraction of it which tend to seem bigger because of the amount of attention I give them. It doesn't feel good. So I try to keep them in their place.

Does it help anyone to look back at what has moved forward, in a good way from 2017?

For me, looking back at how I have achieved a change in my home, that gives me a feeling of space and a new fresh feeling, amazes me! Something which if I'd thought too much about, wouldn't have seemed possible! I had help of course, but I've done it and it's good.

It's enabled me to tackle the clutter and that feels good too. That's all boxed up. Box by box I'm going to do it. Not so impossible now!

The New Year will just be the start of more moving forward. No pressure and no effort that doesn't feel natural. A fresh start, allowing my inner compass to guide me through. I have no plan or any resolutions. I'm just going with my trust in knowing that with the rubbish firmly in its place, where it belongs, (there will always be rubbish! ;) and support when it's needed for the hard stuff, (there will always be hard stuff), the start of 2018 will be the beginning of more moving forward. It just happens.

It's a great feeling to stand up and look back at how far I've come. That one thing that has improved for me has sprung to mind. I think if I were to make a list, it'd be longer than I expected!

Are there good things from 2017 for you? Either one, or maybe more? They might remind others of things they have achieved or feel good about. You might have simply been true to yourself, which was difficult in a certain situation. It might spring to mind straight away or may occur to you later.

For now my very best wishes to you all. I'll be going gently, allowing that inner compass to be my guide.

Love and light from

Lillypet x
A Moodscope member.

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