Saturday, 31 March 2018

The struggle to get started.

So, I should clean my teeth, wash my face and measure my mood – except I know what it will be – flat-lining. It always is first thing in the morning.

But going through the motions has provided me with some insight. My mood is low whatever time I surface. Taking longer to break through the fatigue doesn't help, being 'kind' to myself and 'treating' myself to an extra five minutes, half hour or two hours of 'rest' does not bring any extra energy or drive.

So now I think the thing to do is to have something to get started on, to grit my teeth and take the plunge - and leave the mood for later.  It's always so much better, cleaning my teeth, washing my face and measuring my mood looking back on what I have started – however small.

A Moodscope member.

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

Friday, 30 March 2018

Feeling depressed or depressed?

There is a world of difference in feeling depressed and being depressed.  It's something I was only able to recognise a good number of years in to accepting I had mental health which needed a harness.

The breakdown of my relationship was not helped by my partner not understanding the difference. Or rather, at the time, I did not know there was a difference and neither did he. I was ill and he did not understand or perhaps did not want to understand.

But there is a difference. I had, and still have, times of feeling depressed and I have times of being depressed. This will not be news to some. But to others, and it is particularly you I speak to today, I encourage you to spend a little time thinking about that difference.

Both can render you unable to want to do, think, feel, be. One can be manhandled, by ourselves if need be, and the other needs us to get brave and imaginative and accept more is needed to help us rise and conquer.

Think of it like a drunk. If you have a drunk friend you may be able to manhandle them home, into and out of that taxi, in through their front door and into bed on their side.  If you had a couple of drunks, well I'd say you'd need some extra hands, eyes and ears.

Which are you today?  Are you able to grasp the nettle or do you need more support? Either one is a great starting point.

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 our Moodscope web site:

Thursday, 29 March 2018

A talent to amuse?

Are you one of those dynamic women who are surrounded at cocktail parties by a crowd transported by your wit and beauty? Or is it your notoriety: disastrous cooking, getting names wrong, forgetting appointments, where you left the car etc.

The lady in the picture obviously had not read books on 'Taming the Toddler'. Even writing this is an excellent example of my ham-handedness – the space bar would not work – so I got a bit of kitchen roll with a drop of olive oil – result sticky space bar. Then I remembered daughter-in-law advice, turn it upside down and shake it – once the sandwich crumbs were out all was well.

My best is the longest – from my father's mirth when I was 6 and my best friend's here now I am 82. It's not my fault; tools have a mind of their own. I claim the steak is tough in the restaurant, a co-diner suggests that I hold the knife the right way up.

My father acceded to my aim to be a carpenter – provided with tools and wood he then had hysterics. I still cannot saw straight, hammer a nail in at all - they bounce,  putty rolls off in a ball, and screwdrivers go backwards. 'Best friend' above arrived to find me hammering in a picture hook with a club hammer, plaster coming off wall.

Next, a flooded kitchen and near floods of tears from me. We have a pump for waste water, to clean it you have to pull the electric plug out, fill sinks with special cleanser, and leave for two hours. I did that, then plugged the hoover in instead, and turned the washing up machine on with no drainage except the kitchen.

If I do anything in the least dangerous, I send an e-mail 'sensible girl wanted'. Any electrical gadget is a no-no.

I also have a reputation as an arsonist. I have only had the fire brigade out twice. I burned a collapsed shed – flames could be seen from the road and firemen called. I had taken all precautions, hose laid out etc. What I did not know was that there was half a ton of fertilizer in the shed, which made the most spectacular firework display.

Then it seemed simpler to burn the brambles in the ditch, not realising the flammability of the dried grass. It did stop before it reached the road. I nearly have to sign in for matches.

Second son and a French mate took all the cones round some road works on the main road and directed all the traffic down a cul-de-sac. Police were called (luckily the Inspector worked for us as a student). The boys were talked to sternly – but I was regarded as the culprit. One of the boys had my genes, what else could you expect?

What are you, 'Some mothers do 'ave 'em' or a Shirley Conran 'Wonder Woman' (males not debarred from this discussion)?

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Rats in the Cellar.

Do any of you remember Billy Smart's Christmas Circus? Forget watching The Sound of Music for the third time, the circus was the thing I loved.

My sister liked the high wire act and my brother laughed at the clowns with their big feet and the car which fell spectacularly apart as they drove off at the end, but I loved the animals.

I loved the glossy black horses as they cantered in slow formation, precise as any dressage Olympian, the plumes on their heads dipping in time to the music. I loved the madcap antics of the dogs as they jumped through hoops and balanced on balls, tongues lolling and a twinkle in every eye. I even liked the ponderous grace of the elephants. But I never liked the big cats.

The lions and tigers never seemed to enjoy themselves. They did their tricks and were rewarded with a bit of meat on a stick, but they always seemed grudging. They would snarl at their trainer and each other and one always got the impression his whip was for real. And any show which needed a cage to protect the audience didn't feel right for me.

Times have changed now. Performing animals are not accepted now in the way they were. It won't be long before it is illegal to use them in circuses. That may be for the best.

I remembered the circus yesterday when I made an unthinking comment and found myself transported to an arena with several angry tigers!

Not real tigers of course. People I thought I knew. But they might as well have been tigers.

Oh, I knew they all held opinions different from mine, but I had not expected the venom, the vitriol and the outrage my comment caused. People were caught unexpectedly on the raw, and they reacted.

There was much ill-feeling as my friends fought among themselves. Some of them attacked me. But my comment was innocuous; it just opened the door on previously unsuspected resentments and bitter passions. Resentments and passions which were then vociferously justified, while other views were viscously attacked.

C S Lewis used the analogy of rats in the cellar. He points out that this ill-temper and bile is always present, like rats in the cellar, and the sudden opening of the door will reveal them. "The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light." I just happened to switch on the light unexpectedly.

I have my own rats. They hid from the tigers yesterday, but they resent them. Maybe my rats are tigers too.

Maybe I need to go into my own cellar with a whip and a chair and tame those rats.

But I'd far rather find those tiger-striped rats, trap them, and let them go far, far away from me.

Because I don't want rats in my cellar at all.

A Moodscope member.

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

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Where Do I Start?

I've read other peoples accounts of depression, here on Moodscope, in books, magazines and online. I'm familiar with the scenario of not being able to get out of bed, not having the will to start the day, but I'd never experienced it myself, until this weekend.

It was a Sunday morning and the kids football matches were cancelled owing to snow and ice, the mini Beast from the East. So we could lie in, take it easy, stay in our pyjamas.

My husband and I had been out for dinner the night before, home by 9.30pm due to him having a cold and me feeling tired and disconnected on new antidepressants. He couldn't taste his meal and I couldn't get through a conversation but we congratulated ourselves on making it out and just having time together. On arriving home I went straight to bed, absolutely shattered, out for the count and relaxed at the prospect of a lie in.

Sunday morning and the children got up, downstairs in pjs, TV on, helping themselves to breakfast, husband already up and on his bike despite the cold. I just laid there. But I wasn't relaxed, I felt confusion, I didn't want to get up, I didn't want to make a decision. I didn't know where to start. I couldn't face the day, I couldn't face my family. The day lay ahead of me, and I couldn't meet it. This was not just a not wanting to get out of bed because it's warm and cosy and I'm still a bit tired. This was a full on 'If I get out of this bed I'll have to face things that I have no idea how to deal with'. So I stayed put.

Husband arrived back and came up to find me. One look at me told him I wasn't meeting the day with any of my usual greetings. 'Just get up and go and make a cup of tea then come back to bed.' I did it. 'Now go and have a shower, use some nice body wash.' I did that. 'Get dressed and come downstairs when you're ready.' Getting dressed is hard, I'd rather wear the same leggings and loose jumper, I can so I did. And so the day did progress.

A friend messaged to say did we want to go for a family walk? I let them make the decision of when and where and we went. I did make it. I snuck back to bed for a sleep before the walk, I returned to my bed after the walk and I was in bed early, totally wrung out by 9pm, but I got through the day and the next day was better.

If/when it happens again... It'll be one step at a time again.

A Moodscope member.

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

Monday, 26 March 2018

Urma Upset Gets A Surprise.

Urma Upset, the Fruit Bat, was not happy – in fact she was feeling sad and troubled about things. Urma just hung around and moped. And this is how Sandy the Sloth found her, one rainy day, as Sandy slung her way through the Rainforest canopy.

"Wassup' Urma?" lisped Sandy s-l-o-w-l-y... after all, there was no rush.

"Everyone – except you – seems to see the jungle a different way, Sandy. No one gets me like you do. I'm out of sorts with the World!"

"That's because you've not yet met your sisters!" said Sandy, with a wink.

"My sisters?"

"Yes, Urma Upset, you need to meet your sisters: Skillset and Mindset! It's easy to get separated from them in this forest, and you've been lost to one another from before you can remember. But as luck would have it, I bumped into them last evening. Follow me..."

And off they slothed!

Soon enough they came to where Skillset and Mindset were just hanging together.

"Setup!" they cried together at the joy of seeing their sister.

"My name is Upset!" said Urma.

"Yeah, to everyone else," they replied. They seemed to think and speak at the same time.

"To us, you'll always be 'Sister Setup for Success'!"

Urma smiled at this, but she didn't really understand.

The other sisters seemed to read her confusion and so went on to explain.

"Skillset," said Skillset pointing to herself, "without Mindset," pointing to her sister, "Leads to Upset! But Skillset WITH Mindset leads to Setup for Success!! You've been hanging with the wrong kinda folks, and seeing things the wrong way up! What you've missed is a bit of Skillset and Mindset!!!"

Urma grinned. They were right. She'd just been focusing on the wrong company, thinking about all the things she couldn't do, and, of course, feeling down. What she needed, she now knew, was to throw herself into learning a new skill, and to combine this with thoughts of what was possible so that she could have a more empowering and energising Mindset.

"Every time I feel sad and troubled in future," Urma said, "I'll find something new to learn, and adopt a Mindset where I believe in myself to see myself through the difficult time as I always have done. I know that I've always found a way out of every upsetting situation in life so far, so I guess that sets me up to be stronger and ever-more resilient! I feel well and truly Setup for a great day ahead!"

What new skill could you learn today to get yourself Setup for future success?

A Moodscope member.

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

Sunday, 25 March 2018

The black dog.

I have the urge to write in verse,
Life is good, it could be worse.
At times my eyes just fill with tears
I am beset with irrational fears.
With all I have to make me glad,
How is it that I feel so sad.
I feel detached and life is blurred.
The notions I have are quite absurd.
Of blessings I know I have many to count,
But it is the dread inside that I have to surmount.
Unravel the knots, wipe the slate clean,
But how to do that remains to be seen.
It has grown late, time for my bed,
Lay to rest my weary head.
Tomorrow is another day,
Look for hope, find a way...

There are still too many days that I feel like that.

How do you, my merry Moodscopers, deal with the idea that life isn't so bad, yet the black dog sits by your side and sucks the joy out of things?

Take care one and all,

Another Sally xx
A Moodscope member.

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

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Demise of the Whack-a-Mole.

So I've had my heart broken. Again. I hung in there for a very long time. Far too long. My conscious reasons? Well he's wonderful, kind, funny, smart etc, etc, etc... He really is. My sub/unconscious reasons? My beliefs about myself. Lack of self love, self esteem, that there will always be someone better than me whom the other person will want more.

I'm a Whack-a-Mole. I keep popping my head up in the same place with the same guy expecting different results. Instead I get whacked on the head with a hammer! Ouch! Each time the bump grows and it hurts more. Ouch, ouch, OUCH.

However today I have the power to stay down in the hole and gradually dig a new way out. Maybe find an opening with a bit of sunshine, fun, relaxation, and more of my favourite things. Julie Andrews anyone? 'When the bees sting...'

I can find a new way out because I have spent the last 2-3 years 'working' hard on myself. Identifying past traumas, understanding my patterns of behaviour and working on change. I have to find self love and self validation.

Stopping any addiction, mine being loving an unavailable person who reinforced my feelings of not being good enough (not his fault, I take full responsibility for my choices), is hard and incredibly painful. As whilst addictions themselves bring pain, they are used to cover up traumas and intense pain so deep that it is very scary to stand still and face them. Will it be worth it? I hope so, but it feels horrid. It's the hardest thing I've ever had to do.

'I have confidence...' (thank you Julie Andrews). I'm feeling scared but no going back now.

No more Whack-a-Mole.

Jane SG
A Moodscope member.

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

Friday, 23 March 2018

I'm so busy my head is spinning.

"I'm so busy my head is spinning; like a whirlpool that never ends!"  OK so that may not be exactly how Tommy Rae sang it, but that's so often how I feel.

I have always been a busy person. As a child and teen I did a different activity each day after school. As a student and in early adulthood this was taken over by socialising: I'd be out every evening and still up and going early at the weekend. These days, my busyness comes from running the household, raising our children and just trying to keep afloat.

Regardless of the activity, my reason for keeping going has always been the same: to justify my existence, my value. When I feel so worthless, being able to point to the friends who have chosen to spend time with me or the jobs I have ticked off my list provides external validation for my existence. It shows my family and friends that I'm worthy of their love, even if I can't bring myself to love me. Or at least that's how it feels.

I was recently talking to my mum about this. She is the busiest person I know and similarly justifies herself by giving huge amounts of her time and energy to others. The combination of nature and nurture will have and largely set me up to be the same. But then mum said something that changed everything: her mum wasn't a busy person at all. My gran was a wonderful and well-loved lady with many friends and a devoted husband. She also loved to spend her evenings on the sofa reading or sewing. No one thought any less of her because she put her feet up after a long day.

And just like that, I burst into tears. A huge wave I emotion (relief? compassion?) washed over me.

I don't have to be this way. I don't have to run myself ragged to prove myself.

It was a huge realisation, and one that I've had to keep coming back to, and keep reaffirming. Yes I still need to do the dishes and the washing, but when I've finished those I'll try not to look for the next "to do" and instead give myself the break and rest I need. It won't make me less worth of love, or less valuable. In fact I might just become a better person for it.

So come and join me on the sofa, put your feet up and let's build our reserves together.  We will need them for whatever tomorrow brings. And we are definitely all worth it.

With love

A Moodscope member.

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

Thursday, 22 March 2018

You are here.

I was born without a sense of direction. In fact my parents used to joke it was amazing that I found my way out of the womb.

I never learnt my right from my left, let alone other people's right and left. When I was a student teacher I told my students to move to the right, which they all did except me - I moved the left. My supervisor was unimpressed!

North South East and West confuse me and you may as well be talking in another language if you say go in a northerly direction.

When people try to give me directions at they say, You can't possibly get lost, or this way is foolproof or my directions are perfect. None of these help me.

If I had another ailment people would be sympathetic but having no sense of direction just makes people think I am vey slow.

One thing that does help me when I am lost is to find those maps that say You are here.
I can see where I am and where I am going, well sometimes, and I feel more confident.

I also have been lost in life.

While others have a definite plan since they were children, a map that they follow all through life I am still going round in circles directionless as ever as I reach my senior years.

I think having someone say you are here and then being able to see where I want to go would help me. There is something so reassuring for me with hearing the words You are here when one feels that one has lost their way.

Sometimes when one is lost one does not know where one is going, but seeing a plan with you as the centre with these wonderful words You are here, I think may give you confidence to move on and you may see the options of where you want to go.

Does anyone else lack a sense of direction?

Do you find the words 'You are here' on a map or in life comforting and helpful or do you find them patronising and unhelpful?

A Moodscope member

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

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Permission Granted.

I've been throwing things out.

Yes – I've really taken it on. I promised I would. But it's been terrifying.

I've thought about it and the reason it's so scary is that I think I will make a mistake; I will throw something out and then regret it.

You see, I have done it before. I've had big chucking out sessions when I was in the grip of mania.  I once threw out my children's "Red Books". Now, for those of you who are not UK based parents, the "Red Book" contains a record of your child's development and, (vitally) the record of their vaccinations. You need this information when they start school...

Guess who had to go back to their GP surgery and ask for that information again?

I once cleared a filing cabinet at work which contained some vital documents my boss then needed six months later.

I threw out some photos which were the only record of a fabulous project – my dragon cake. This cake was Smaug on his hoard, with iridescent wings outstretched and 273 individual scales, each one painted with rings of shimmering gold, bronze and metallic green. I am devastated to have lost those photographs.

But life is as much about our mistakes as our successes. They say the man who never made a mistake never made anything.

I find I delay the beginning of a project because I am waiting for some kind of permission. But no one can give me that permission except, well, me.

So, I've decided to give myself permission to make mistakes. After all, if I have no idea what is in that cupboard. If I have not used anything from that cupboard in two years, surely I can be pretty radical?

So, I've started.

There's my legal contract with the company; I suppose I'd better keep that... Some financial records – I'm supposed to keep those for seven years... And – oh, what a treasure: some drafts for murder mystery dinner parties! I thought I hadn't kept them. Oh, wonderful! Those I will keep.

But the notes from old training courses, instructions for equipment I no longer use, clothing catalogues, records from events I held three years ago – they can all go. What can go especially, are the things that make me feel guilty because I haven't done anything with them.

There are books on audio cassette to which I will never listen again. All my audio books are downloaded from Amazon now. I've replaced most of them already. Other favourites I will replace as funds allow. Cassettes are too cumbersome: we've all moved on.

Yes – I may regret throwing the odd thing away. But these objects and pieces of paper are all from my past. Only memories live there now.

And you know what?  That dragon cake is more perfect in my memory and in my description to you just now, than it ever was in the photographs.

A Moodscope member.

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

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

What did the Moodscope Research say?

You recently received a survey asking for your views of Moodscope. We thought you might like to know what the findings were. We had a great response, so thank you.

The results told us that our members are very loyal once they find us, with the vast majority staying for over 2 years and most never leaving. Growth has been slow and steady with the biggest number joining following personal recommendations.

Users value three aspects of Moodscope highly and equally - getting a handle on their mood, the daily messages and being part of our community. Over 25% take the test regularly with others taking it occasionally and most glad it is there when needed.

Moodscope seems to genuinely help people in many positive ways - a few of which are captured in italics below. The biggest improvements requested were to make Moodscope available as a phone App (61%) and to list other user ideas, advice, tips, experiences in different catagories (42%).

Recognising that Moodscope cannot always be free, some people said they would be prepared to pay a small fee and 52% of people thought it was a good idea to start a crowdfunding campaign so that other people in need could be offered the improved service.

We know that around 25% of the population suffer from anxiety and depression and we know from our findings that Moodscope can make a big difference to their world. We are determined to help, but running Moodscope on a voluntary basis and on our savings cannot be sustained.

It will take time and money to run a successful crowdfunding campaign. So we are appealing for contributions to help us plan and develop the campaign. If you'd like to make a contribution, please click here:

Any contributions will really help, but the greatest ongoing help would be if MoodscopeLite members upgraded to MoodscopePlus. To find out more about the benefits and extra features of MoodscopePlus, please click here:

It became clear from the research that many members, because of their mental health issues, have times when they can't work and therefore can't afford to pay for Moodscope, so if you are in a position to subscribe you will be helping us to help them and please be reassured that we will invest all funds we receive in to providing the service to those who currently can't afford it.

Many thanks for your continued support.

Kind regards.

The Moodscope team.

'It's an anchor. I can begin to anchor the fluctuating state of my mind, notice and understand it, including some of the triggers for the fluctuations. I also value the wisdom and warm support of the people who write and comment on the blog posts.'

'I think it's a resource that makes people feel less powerless. I recommend it to people all the time and am constantly amazed at what a difference it makes to people (a friend of mine is using it to help her survive the low mood that comes with giving up smoking!). The blogs are really helpful'

'The score can make me take some action instead of sinking even lower. It is also good to see my score rising. The daily blog is interesting and keeps me in touch with others like me. This is so important as depression is an isolating condition and it reminds me that I am not alone.'

'The card system helps me stop and "listen" and "feel" how I have been feeling inside over the day. It let's me evaluate and rationalise better where I am on my mood continuum. I have felt so alone for so much of my life. In Moodscope I have met a whole city of people who I can fit in amongst. It doesn't cure the problems I live with, but it makes them a lot easier to live with, cope with and accept.'

'It's been a lifeline - analysing my moods, giving me a routine to get me through the day on the low days and also confirming my emotional state on my better days. I can track how far I have travelled and, importantly, I am not on my own now thanks to Moodscope.'

'Moodscope has actually allowed me to recover (for now at least).'

'Invaluable lifeline. Imperial evidence for health professionals. A platform of understanding my condition. Feeling not alone anymore.'

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

Monday, 19 March 2018

Margot the Meerkat Stands to Attention.

[Part 3 in our series of characters inspired by Moodscope's 20 Cards!]

Alice the Aardvark and Margot the Meerkat are the BEST of friends. Alice is very down to earth, keeping herself to herself, and Margot always seems to have her head in the clouds.

"Why do you always stand so tall?" said Alice one day, "I'm curious. Did you go to finishing school?"

Margot laughed, "No, it's my crazy Grandma and Grandpa – they were both in the military – and they make all the grandchildren stand to attention as soon as they can hold themselves up. They say it's 'cos we notice things that other animals miss! I've kept doing it because I not only see amazing things every day, I FEEL amazing when I stand tall!"

"I wish you could find some fresh termites, I'm really hungry!" said Alice.

"Well, why don't you try standing to attention, like me?" said Margot.

"I'll get dizzy, silly!" said Alice, and then thought twice. "Actually, I'll be OK if I rest against something tall."

The two friends walked to the nearest Baobab Tree and Alice stretched up as high as she could.

"Attention!" commanded Margot and they both burst into fits of giggles, falling to the ground again.

Once they'd got a grip on themselves, they both stood to attention again, and Alice saw the world as if for the first time. There were termite castles everywhere – as far as her eyes could see.

"So THIS is what it is like to be attentive," said Alice.

"Yes!" agreed Margot, "There are so many possibilities when we stand tall and look outwards, as far as the eye can see. The world can be an amazing place."

"I feel strangely happy," smiled Alice – her face flushed with pleasure.

"That's because you're seeing possibilities that were invisible to you before," said Margot, "And that gives us more hope. Be attentive and notice new things today, and tomorrow you'll be living in a new world – a bigger, wider, grander world!"

Of course, it would only be right if the two friends rode off into the Sunset, wouldn't it?  Well, they didn't exactly 'ride' but they did stroll off, content, side-by-side, occasionally standing attentively to attention, and chatting about all manner of treasures they discovered on their way back home...

That night, before she went to sleep, Alice said dreamily, "Every day, I'm going to stand to attention at least once, and look for things I couldn't see before..." and then she snored her way deep into happy dreams of a bigger, brighter world.

A Moodscope member.

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

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Something in my brain went 'ping'.

Something in my brain went 'ping!' It happened overnight. Unbelievable. But good! I went from negative to positive. From despondent to hopeful. From having no ideas, to overflowing with ideas. From not wanting to see friends, to wanting to see them.

It is a fact of my life that I have never fully understood, this light bulb effect. Even though it happens every year, sooner or later. In February or March, or even April.

It is very, very good to have strength back, my mojo, laughter, the ability to see and think clearly, and to enjoy.

But I am cautious too. I don't want this euphoria to boil over like a pan of milk on the hob, to drench me in stress and undue pressure. Because it can. The reverse of the coin to feeling flat and uninteresting - and uninterested - is that I want to skip, hop, and jump, and do all the things that have been outstanding, repair, patch up, make up for lost time.

So I must make a conscious effort to calm down, to tread carefully, to communicate with others effectively, and,crucially, to listen to what they have to say. Because I value the opinions of my loved ones, and they can see what I sometimes cannot.

I am a born survivor, the driver of my own car, metaphorically speaking, but it still has huge L plates on! What lies round the bend? I am really looking forward to the drive!

Does this ring any bells with you? I would be interested to hear your views and experiences.

A Moodscope member.

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

Saturday, 17 March 2018


"I have had an insight into the world of The Gardener and many others this month. Sadly my Dad died this week after falling and my Mum then caught flu from visiting him and ended up in hospital herself.

Caring is hard and often thankless work. I have been left with the impression of intensive care nurses who did not manage to sit down for their twelve hour shift. My Mum overdid things and then got dangerously ill herself.

Today after three weeks of rushing to juggle work, hospital visits, parenting, supervising homework, walking the dog, I have had a day to myself. The kids off to their Dad's, I walked the dog and allowed her the indulgence of getting disgustingly muddy, I put a beef stew in the slow cooker, and listened to the Clash with a cup of tea and the dog in bed (after she had a bath...I do have some standards, you know).

I have not endured years of care giving like others have. However, it has given me an insight into the hell, the exhaustion, the emotional ups and downs but also the humour of staff, the universality of a free health service and the community of friends that both I and my family are receiving so much from.

And the impact on mood....? We faced a few days thinking my Dad would be brain damaged and live a very different life. We are grateful that he was spared this. I need to remember that my mood is affected by sadness and grief, and then hopefully not by depression. But time will tell....

A Moodscope member.

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

Friday, 16 March 2018

See-saw Margery daw.

(It's a line from an English nursery rhyme, apologies to all those not familiar.)

If you have anxiety, planning is essential. First identify the challenge. Then decide how you want to feel (realistically) and see what you can do to paint on that exterior and run with it. Use language not limited to:

I will
I now
I can
I have

"I find entering the meeting really tough and I will walk in early and go straight to pour some water to give me purpose." (this is popular, watch how many people do this!)

"Going to the doctor makes me squirm, I now write down my list of what I need and I don't leave without addressing each one."

"Today I am broken. I can do small stuff and that is good enough."

"This is hard and I have done it before therefore I know it is possible."

It's like a see-saw. Problem-solution. Problem-solution. It only takes a minute change in our thinking to make some things possible. Today anxiety, tomorrow anxiety-smasher.

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, 15 March 2018

Invisible pain.

A few years back I suffered a neck injury - which resulted in 7 months of non-stop intense pain. It wasn't fun; but the thought that kept occurring to me during this time was "It's nowhere near as bad as a bout of depression!" It became so clear to me that whilst physical pain can be acutely debilitating and life-changing, you can still be happy in parallel with the pain. I was, at the time, very happy, enjoying a new scene, a relationship and had started writing. Everything was fresh and new and I felt alive despite the physical pains. The opposite cannot be said. A bout of depression (for me at least) means a total blackout of the soul, and prohibits any happiness.

A few years later and the neck injury reoccured, but this time I was in London. It made me ponder again. With a huge ugly neck brace my injury was manifestly visible to all. And during those months commuting to work, I was struck time and time again by the sheer number of people jumping up to give me their seat and asking me how I was. I never once had to ask for help. (So much for selfish, busy Londoners!). The willingness with which people wanted to help, knowing that something was wrong, and knowing how they could help, was humbling. It saddened and comforted me at the same time. It saddened me because my neck injury (and me!) would have survived without those acts of kindness. We were getting on with it (and funnily enough standing was easier than sitting). Whereas when we're mentally ill, when we desperately need every last act of kindness and connection, strangers can't help. They probably don't even know that we're ill, they often don't know how to help, and would likely feel embarrassed to try.

Could you imagine if Transport for London created another 'Baby on Board' badge: a "Feeling Blue" one instead? Could you imagine people spotting it and immediately giving you a smile or a hug, or  words of encouragement to help you through your day? How wonderful that would be! And yet, what I saw did give me precisely that same sense of comfort. Knowing that people would rush to your aid if only they knew, gave me a strange feeling of consolation - I felt the swell of good wishes and kind vibes from total strangers.

I now secretly believe that if my inward pain were outwardly manifest, flocks of people would help in any way they could which comforts me. People basically wish others well. It took me those months commuting to fully realise this. Until that Feeling Blue badge appears though, there is Moodscope. A lovely band of strangers who write, wish each other well, and possibly do know what to say. So for this blog, I wanted to thank all the Moodscopers, for being the kind strangers on my painful commute. It helps.

The Travelling Girl
A Moodscope member.

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

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Mother Knows Best.

One of the lessons I have taken from the immense bravery of my mother as she has moved, at the age of 81, into a much smaller home, is giving oneself permission to change.

She has had the courage to let go of so many things she has lovingly collected over the years. She has shed most of the possessions which defined who she is. She has scraped down her protective shell of "stuff" to the essentials.

I admire her so much.

Yes – even as I am taping up the fifty-second box of china (and you think I'm joking), I am amazed that she is letting go and moving on.

It is not painless. She says that she was sorry to see all her lovely woollen skirts and cardigans go. But she didn't have room for them, and somebody else will take pleasure in wearing them. She loved that china, but it's time to let it go. Somebody else will love her coffee cups, her plates, her china swans.

She has given herself permission to change her style of living.

I came home, thinking that this is yet another area in which I can learn from her.

My own style of living is not what I want.

I live with clutter because I have too many things. When I stay in hotel rooms, with the minimum of kit, the room stays tidy. At home, everything is a mess.

At home I cannot have a place for everything and everything in its place, because there is too much everything and too few places.

I must give myself permission to let things go: especially those things I do not love.

I have probably written about the Marie Kondo method of tidying and clutter-clearing. She echoes William Morris in his statement, "Keep nothing in your home which you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." She rephrases it as, keep nothing which does not "Spark joy" in you.

Anything in your home, or indeed in your life, which produces feelings of guilt or despair or distaste, you can let go.

The clothes in your wardrobe you never wear, but couldn't throw out because you paid good money for them and one day they will fit/come back into fashion/stop itching? They don't make you feel good, so let them go. The spices in your kitchen which berate you for having used them only once in that exotic dish that no-one much liked? Let them go. The books you will never read again, the games you will never play, that little table you always trip over? Let them all go.

Breathe in the space and freedom their absence brings. You are creating space; you are letting light into your life and home.

Just as you would clear a tangled garden, you are clearing your life.

And into that space and light, you can plant beauty and joy.

My mother is happy in her new home.

She always knows best.

A Moodscope member.

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

Tuesday, 13 March 2018


It started off as lovely walk along a beach I had never discovered before. The winter sun was welcoming and the the waves and the sparkling sand made me feel peaceful.

I sat on a concrete block and started chatting to my partner. I was laughing and smiing and I felt very relaxed.

On minute I am on sitting down and the next I am flat on the sand with my leg stuck under the concrete block. All I could think of was those movies where the actor had a leg or arm  stuck under rock and the only way out was by cutting off the limb that was stuck. I worried I would dehydrate and die of starvation.

Have I mentioned how I tend to catastrophise situations?

So there I am with my leg hurting and stuck under a concrete block.

Partner has a hernia so can't lift the block and we scream out hoping someone understands English. It felt like it was hours and I was faint but I was told that in a few minutes a man came over and lifted the block. I was free. I was hoping there would be scars or at least an enormous bruise but there was nothing.

I did need to limp to gain sympathy for a few hours.

I thought about what happens when we are emotionally stuck. There is no one to lift up the block and set us free. No, we often stay stuck for a long time as we can't move on. We keep repeating the same behaviours. We find ourselves with a concrete block on our thoughts, our emotions, our past and we can not move so we are stuck.

How do we move that block? Often we will need help - it maybe through Moodscope by getting an idea from a comment or a blog, from talking to friends or a counsellor, doctor etc.
These things can help us to move on but we must be ready to let them help us.

Having a heavy concrete block on my foot was scary and painful, but being stuck with unhealthy behaviours or destructive thoughts can seem more overwhelming.

Are you stuck with your thoughts or behaviour - feel you have tried everything but still can't go forward?

Have you been stuck and then worked your way out?

A Moodscope member.

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

Monday, 12 March 2018

When Ratty Met Shelley.

In the second instalment of the Moodscope Men ('Men' in homage to 'The Mr Men' – no other gender bias intended), we meet Mr Irritable – first name 'Ratty'!

Ratty was not a happy chappy.

Everything got under his skin.

It didn't even have to be big stuff.

On some days, it was tons of little things that got him huffing and puffing and blowing his joy away.

That was until he met Shelley Oyster at a networking meeting.

Shelley said, "I really like seeing you at these meetings, you've got such a great sense of humour, and yet you seem really bothered about so many irritations. How can I help?"

Ratty said, "Oh, I'd love some help, I've always been like this though – and so have my parents. It seems to run in my family... like noses!"

They both laughed. Then Shelley shared, "We have a different approach in our family – it's been passed down from generation to generation. In fact, I can remember the day my Gran took me on her knee and told me about the family magic."

Ratty was fascinated, and asked, "Will you share this magic with me?"

"Yes! I'd be delighted," said Shelley. "We wrap every irritation in a magic potion. It's called possibility thinking..."

Ratty interrupted with a big huff. "I'm not into that tree-hugging positive thinking – it's just not realistic!"

"I agree!" said Shelley. "This isn't positive thinking, it's 'possibility' thinking. With possibility thinking you take the irritation and flow around it with the thoughts of how this could possibly turn out for the good. You might be making stuff up but it gives you enough time to stop being huffy before it's too late and you spoil your day."

"OK, that sounds doable – can you give me an example?"

"Yes! You miss your flight and you think to yourself, 'Maybe I'll meet someone whom I otherwise wouldn't have met.' I know people who have met their soul-mates and even life-partners through missing a flight!"

"I wish you'd be my life-partner!" declared Ratty – in a most uncharacteristic moment of impulsive joy. He was so attracted to Shelley's possibility thinking... and to the possibility of spending the rest of his life with someone so radiantly joyful.

"I was secretly hoping you'd ask!" Shelley said. "My answer is 'Yes!' – if you're proposing!"

And so our story has a happy ending. Shelley and Ratty got married, and I'm delighted to say Shelley's possibility thinking rubbed off on old Ratty! (It can so often be the other way around, can't it?) Instead of getting irritable all the time, Shelley helped him to 'pause for possibilities' – to reflect just long enough to see each situation in a new light.

And, in due season, they had a beautiful daughter, who they called 'Pearl'. I'd like to imagine that this is where we get the phrase, "Irritation is the beginning of a pearl," it's a possibility, isn't it?

A Moodscope member.

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

Sunday, 11 March 2018

I'm forever blowing bubbles.

I'm forever blowing bubbles
Pretty bubbles in the air
They fly so high, nearly reach the sky
Then like my dreams they fade and die...

But I keep on blowing bubbles...

Can you pick yourself up after life's knocks and continue to dream?

Do share your dreams today, I would love to hear them.

My dream? No more worrying! Unrealistic I know! Now where did I put the bubbles...

Jane SG
A Moodscope member.

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

Saturday, 10 March 2018

More than Meatballs and Malm.

How did IKEA become so successful? One reason is that its founder was obsessed with failure. His belief was that you learn more from failure than success.

Well it's a good job I don't work for IKEA! I don't cope well with failure, or even the prospect of things not going perfectly. I'd rather not play the game than risk giving my inner critic more ammunition.

But recently I've had a new perspective. I've been potty training my twins which has been exceptionally challenging. Despite this, fear of failure has kept me getting up each morning and trying again. And again. "I'm teaching my girls perseverance, commitment and practice" I think. But at what cost? The household is more fraught; with higher tensions and more tears than normal. Would it be better for us all to accept that now isn't the time and to try again later, armed with the knowledge and experience that this first attempt has given us? I think so.

Except... the idea of failure still sits uncomfortably with me. For me, it's the black and white label that the word "failure" itself presents; worn like a badge of dishonour which opens my self-esteem up for further battering. So I set about finding an alternative. gives an amusing array of synonyms for the word "failure", including "lemon" and "turkey" but my favourite is "misadventure". That sounds much more fun to me. I could have a few misadventures!

So, no more failure in my world. Only adventures (and nappies for a little bit longer).  Some adventures might be great, and some might be misadventures, but we will see and learn a lot along the way. Who's coming with me?

With love

A Moodscope member.

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

Friday, 9 March 2018

Been there, done that.

I am well up for trying anything that helps keep the decrepitude of old age at bay a bit longer. Like most baby boomers, I see it as my solemn duty to keep fit, walk, get my 5 a day and try to keep the old grey cells active.

"Use it or lose it" so they say. However, a new fad has come along, and I refuse to get caught up in it.

I'm talking about sex. Or, to use the fashionable term, libido.

It's not that I haven't had a libido. I was an early adopter in that department. A local ska band, The Specials, had a hit with "Too Much Too Young". That was me. I had a libido alright and it got me into a fair few pickles I can tell you.

When it died, I did think I ought to do something about getting another one, but then I though Nah, there's too much to catch up with on Netflix. As well as the effects of age, the anti-depressant I have taken for years is another factor. It is apparently one of the reasons why some people won't try medication. I just don't get the logic, surely nothing can be a bigger passion-killer than depression?

Lately, you can't pick up a paper or magazine without reading an article by some old dear,  who says sex has never been better. Who are you kidding love? We all know the editor asked you to knock out a few thousand words to that effect, but in a few months you'll be writing about the joys of celibacy.

Apparently, as an older woman, I should be begging my doctor for testosterone patches. Even if I could feel romantic sporting a beard and a face full of acne, what would I do with this libido?

My other half and I have been together for so long we are more like brother and sister. There have been phases in the past when we have made half-hearted attempts to liven things up a bit. "Romantic" European city breaks for instance. The problem was we were always more keen to find good places to eat.

"Tell your partner what gives you pleasure" is another piece of advice. I do this all the time. Just this morning I said to him "It would really please me if you cleaned the windows".

I am trying to imagine how I might break the news to him that a bit of "How's yer father" was back on the menu. Not when he comes in tired and stressed from work. The first thing he has on his mind is to open up the dishwasher, tutting at my lack of system. Maybe at the weekend, when he's in his shed examining bits of wood. The image that comes to mind is that of a rabbit caught in the headlights.

I don't want to get a lover either, thank you very much. It always involves taking your clothes off, or at least some of them, and I can't be doing with it.

For those of us who suffer from depression and anxiety, the pressure to keep sexually active is just one more thing to fail at. The holy grail for me at such times is a good nights' sleep, preferably alone. A kindly word, a hug, can express love more effectively than any amount of sex, at this point in my life.

It is quite enlightening when your hormones go away. You realise how much of your reaction to the opposite sex has just been mother nature urging you to procreate. I enjoy the company of men so much more now that I am not assessing them, and they are not assessing me. Of course, I'll still keep taking the vitamins and slapping on the creams, but when it comes to libido, I think Mother Nature knows best.

A Moodscope member.

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

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Gifts with Strings Attached.

I've probably mentioned that my mother is moving –

Oh, four and a half times? Are you sure? Right.

So, she has now moved out of her large house into a small one-bedroom apartment. She moved last Wednesday, in thick snow; the removal men slipping and sliding as they brought in boxes and furniture.

There's not much room in my mother's new home. Certainly not enough room for all the things she wants to keep.

She was going through one of her drawers to find more space. "I can't give that away," she said. "Muriel gave it to me. You remember Muriel, don't you? We went to see her when you were a little girl. She kept wire-haired fox terriers and had a son a little younger than you."

No, I don't remember Muriel, but I stay quiet.

"And Juliet gave me this and Pamela gave me that."

She keeps these things as reminders of her friendships in the past and as an anchorage to her now.

I went back to my own home determined never to do this to my children; determined to rid myself of all emotional clutter; those physical things which have no meaning to anyone but me, but which, one day, they will be forced to go through.

But I too keep gifts. I keep gifts because I am afraid the giver will come back to me and say, "Have you read that book I gave you?", "Where did you put that little glass dish?"; "Have you done that craft project yet?" I couldn't possibly cause hurt by saying, "I didn't want your gift, so I threw it away."

I fear they will feel rejected along with that gift.

A friend of mine is wise. When she gives something, it is without strings. Once it has left her possession it ceases to have anything to do with her; it is the property of the recipient to do with exactly as they choose. She said, "If I care what becomes of it then I should keep it, or at least ensure that it goes to someone who will honestly treasure it. The gift is in the exchange. After that, the item stands on its own merits."

In her family, they only give consumables. Flowers, edibles, toiletries.

But some people see it differently. They wish to retain a sense of ownership over the gifts they a have given; they surround the gift with expectations and those expectations can metamorphose into guilt. Gifts can be a way of controlling the recipient.

When a romantic relationship ends, there is a good reason why you should return all the gifts you were given. It cuts you free. Those gifts contain hooks and traps to draw you back. They hold memories like cobwebs to snare you, catch you and hold you fast, so you cannot escape and move on.

Gifts can be a terrible thing.

So, let's give without strings, and rid ourselves of any gifts containing guilt.

A Moodscope member.

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

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

What I have, not what I am.

In trying to do my part to reduce stigma, I am openly talking to others about the fact that I have bipolar 1 disorder. Typically, I will get to know someone a little before disclosing my condition but sometimes it happens spontaneously.

Don't get me wrong... I'm not running around saying "Hi, I'm Maria and I'm bipolar".  I think people would look at me strangely and perhaps run away. However, more importantly, I AM NOT bipolar. I am a person who happens to have a bipolar disorder. I have never heard anyone say I am cancer, so why should I promote my illness as my identity. I am so much more than that. In fact, I will make the distinction very clear to someone to whom I'm speaking to for the first time. I will straightforwardly ask them if they noticed that I said I have bipolar 1 disorder not that I am bipolar. I want them to be clear on the difference.

A lot of times I get the remark that I don't look like someone who has bipolar disorder... Clearly, they haven't seen me when the black dog is sitting so heavily on me that I'm suffocating. Or when my spending almost catches up with my rushing thoughts, but it presents me an opportunity to educate others, just by talking. I think that it is especially important here in America where the news is populated by mass killings.

Unfortunately, people with pre-existing mental health conditions here have access to firearms but not health care. That's a tragedy but I digress... I really want to stress that having a mental health condition does not define us. I have bipolar 1 disorder but I AM:

I know it's easier for me to reveal my condition being that I don't work outside my home. I also select where and when I talk to others about my condition. However, I was recently asked if I would mind being interviewed by our local paper about having bipolar 1 disorder. I responded yes but was very anxious that all who read the paper would know what I have... even some people I would rather they not know. This prompted some soul searching and I have come to grips with a public disclosure, and I'm now comfortable with anybody/everybody knowing about this one aspect of my life.

I'm curious, do you talk to others about your mental health condition(s)? How would you describe yourself when saying I AM...?

Wishing All love and peace,

A Moodscope member.

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

Monday, 5 March 2018

The Moodscope Men - Dr Interested.

Dr Interested (part 1 of 20 in a series called, "The Moodscope Men.")

I answered the loud knock at the door to find a beaming Dr Interested on my doorstep!

"You rang?" she said, her eyes twinkling with good humour.

My relief was tangible – I'd had a tough time getting interested in anything these last few weeks, and my Moodscope scores had fallen accordingly.

"Yes, Dr," I said, "I need a cure for my lack of interest."

"I have just the prescription that'll fix that," she said, opening her Gladstone Bag.

She took out six cards, handed them to me, and said, "Meet the Kipling Boys!"

I said, "'Kipling' as in 'cake'?" (a cake manufacturer in England).

"No!" the good Dr laughed, "'Kipling' as in 'Rudyard'!"

She continued, "Whenever I need to strengthen my interest, I remember this favourite poem of mine..."

[Let me share the full poem here from Kipling's work, "The Elephant's Child."]

I KEEP six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.

I let them rest from nine till five,
For I am busy then,
As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea,
For they are hungry men.
But different folk have different views;
I know a person small—
She keeps ten million serving-men,
Who get no rest at all!

She sends 'em abroad on her own affairs,
From the second she opens her eyes—
One million Hows, two million Wheres,
And seven million Whys!

The Dr and I laughed out loud together – both understanding a child's use of seven million Whys to dig deeper into any subject – usually to get something they want. This is how children stay interested and engaged.

On the cards, the Dr handed me, were six words.

"This is the cure that works for me," said Dr Interested. "Whenever I need to become more interested I ask questions beginning with what? why? when? how? where? and who?

Thanking the good Dr as she departed, I welcomed Kipling's Boys into my day, and I have to say that we had a very interesting day indeed!

A Moodscope member.

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

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Four little words.

"Just you ignore them"

"We see it all"

"It's how it is"

These phrases have been given to me over the years by my granny, my mum and my dad. It dawned on me lately that far from being 'just' words, they are in fact so much more. They are laden with resilience, strength, humour, acceptance and allowance. Such power in just four words each!

I could talk on about what and why and how but I think I'm going to leave these words with you and let you decide whether they have a place with you and what tone you place with each one. And in a good old fashioned trade, if you have a short phrase, given to you by someone great, I'd love to hear it. I'll keep you a chair on the blogspot.

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:

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Is it complicated to keep it simple?

If I had a dollar for every time someone told me I should stop over complicating everything and keep things simple, I would be a rich woman.

I tend to make everything complex and build mountains out of nothing. Lets face it I am a drama queen.

I do try to keep things simple but I am so sensitive, I can overthink everything.

I try to keep things uncomplicated, to keep things so simple to not be distracted by my thoughts but somehow I can turn something simple like meeting for a coffee into a complicated army manoeuvre.

I have so many questions - Where will we meet, what time, what if no one turns up? What if they don't like the cafe I have chosen? What if the cafe is closed, what if the coffee is awful and the cakes stale?  What if it is too expensive or too busy?

Why can't I just relax and know everything will be fine and if it is not, it is only coffee not the end of the world.

I have a friend who can make organising a party for a 100 people look simple and I can make a lunch date seem harder than a spy mission!

I like doing simple things, like blowing bubbles and waking in the rain, but when I plan anything I overthink and feel guilty that I can't keep things simple.

I wonder if being uncomplicated can be learnt or is it in my nature not to be and I can't change.

What about you, do you tend to over complicate things or have you worked out how to keep things simple?

When you are low do you over complicate things more or less than when you are well?

Any tips for keeping things simple?

A Moodscope member.

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

Friday, 2 March 2018

A little kindness goes a long way.

I recently changed jobs after eight and a half years. I didn't particularly want to leave, I loved my job and my work 'family.' Unfortunately an unfavourable work restructure resulted in me feeling that my best option was to move.

I found it traumatic. I went from being very knowledgable in my field to starting from scratch. I didn't know the London borough I had moved to and I had to meet a whole new set of people, not easy for a shy person at heart.

Three weeks in I felt the panic rising. Sitting at my desk one day I wondered how best to escape. Just as I was about to run out of the door a new colleague came and spoke to me with kindness and interest. It turned out that I used to work with her husband years ago and she had made the link. She saved me from a big panic attack that day. A few weeks later I plucked up the courage to tell her how her kindness had helped me and she cried!

Remember a kind word can make all the difference to someone's day. I hope that you can give or receive a kind word today.

Jane SG
A Moodscope member.

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

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Anger Management.

Some of you will have read the books by John E.Sarno. They are based on his work over many years, helping people with chronic muscular-skeletal pain and disability. Back pain is at epidemic levels in the USA.

In a nutshell, his belief was that our brains are capable of producing very real pain in order to divert our attention away from what is really hurting.

The first step he advises is to open our minds to the possibility that we are not suffering from some serious disorder - regardless of what may show up on an MRI scan - and that we can challenge our brains to stop playing nasty tricks. He is not talking about malingering, many of his patients have been very high-achievers, perfectionists. On the face of it, their back pains have been nothing but a huge hindrance, serving no useful purpose.

According to his theory, it all boils down to anger, narcissistic injury, usually going back into childhood. The demands of society to show "goodism" as he calls it. Not surprisingly, the teachings of Sigmund Freud are a cornerstone of his prescription for recovery. Happily for those of us who do not have the money or time to enter into longterm psychoanalysis, there is a lot we can do to help ourselves. You can also watch some of Sarno's lectures and interviews on You Tube.

Several things happened to cause me much anxiety over Christmas and new Year, and I think they are the cause of recent agonising muscular spasms in my low back and legs on both sides. In all cases, the behaviour of certain people left me feeling impotent and victimised. I have had sciatica for years, and mild arthritis. Thinking back, I can link bad acute episodes to times of depression and insomnia in my life. These latest pains are a new departure, and I was starting to fear some real injury. Then I reread Sarno's books, and the pains literally eased as I sat there.

Some people are deeply offended to be told something is all in the mind. Not me! I would far rather think this is my crazy brain causing me hell, than be told I have a condition that requires doctors or surgery.

It is so easy to start acting and thinking like an invalid. You become lazy, scared to make it flare up. A twinge and you are in panic mode, catastrophizing, you fear another bout of agony. Now I am telling myself it is just a twinge, get on with it.

I can't do much about the many things that have caused me to repress anger over the years and in the present day. My Northern Irish/Scottish background often makes the thought of fisticuffs seem very attractive. Only my age, small stature and the threat of being locked up stops me.

Spa pampering sessions have never appealed to me. I don't want hot stones or foot massages. I want to detox the part of my brain that has had to repress the fury, enabling me to live as a responsible law-abiding citizen.

I would seriously love a soundproof padded room (it may yet come to that of course) wherein I could let rip, punching, kicking, effing and blinding until I am hoarse. Some  personalised effigies would be nice too, preferably attached to a punchbag. I am seeing a potential business here, any Dragons reading this?

Has your mind caused your body to suffer, and can you pinpoint what might have caused it? Are you in pain as you read this? If there is no obvious cause, could it be coming from inside your head?

A Moodscope member.

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