Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Feeling the Pain

"He'll be coming and going," Mr Beaver says, in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. "One day you'll see him and another you won't. He doesn't like being tied down… Only you mustn't press him. He's wild, you know. Not like a tame lion."

My friend Raz, short for Raziel – which is not his real name but should be (look up that archangel and his powers) - is not in the least the godlike figure of Aslan. He's brilliant, touchy, focussed on his work to the exclusion of all else, unapologetically selfish with his time and a self-confessed "bastard". When he's with me, he's the most delightful company in the world – even if my poor intellect stumbles, halt and lame, several miles behind his leaping and curvetting brain. When he's somewhere else, then he will not waste his time even on common courtesies. He comes and he goes. But this time he's been gone for months, and today he cut himself off from all communication.

It hurts. It hurts a lot.

On Thursday there was a disappointment. The scales did not move when I stepped on them at the Slimming Group. I had faithfully followed the eating plan and was confident of seeing a loss. I had hoped for my 2-stone award and my sticker (how motivating is the thought of that shiny sticker). But the numbers sat exactly where they had been the week before and smirked into my fallen face.

Another worry. The head of my daughter's year at school phoned. No – she wasn't in trouble – exactly – but they were concerned...

Deep breath...

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about giving up alcohol. This struck a chord with many of you. The situations above have something in common: they all made me want to reach for the wine. The wine and the easy carbohydrates of toast and chocolate. But mostly, the wine.

The wine blocks out the pain for a while. The wine is a hug in a glass. Unlike the giver of a hug, the wine does not ask you to tell it what's wrong and then give you solutions or try to make you feel better or point out that some friends are just not worth having. The wine just numbs the pain.

For a while.

Fortunately, I now have another option. A couple of you were kind enough to form a support group with me. Instead of reaching for the wine, I sent an email. I sent an email to someone who understands. "Stay strong," they emailed back. An emailed hug. No questions, no solutions – just support.

And I realised that allowing ourselves to feel the pain, is okay.

I am still hurt by Raz's behaviour. I'm still bitterly disappointed by the scales. I am still worried and concerned for my daughter.

But trying to escape the pain is counterproductive, and causes more pain in the end.

I'll take the emailed hug. And give one back when it's needed in turn.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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Do I know you?

I have been thinking about deception recently. It started with an American documentary "The Staircase", about a domestic murder. Can you ever really know another person, do we see what we choose to see? Are there predators out there who are so convincing they deserve an Oscar?

Two people have recently said to me "I can't believe this has happened"

One woman and her siblings rallied round their father, giving him every support when his second wife died. He left when they were very young, but they forgave him, and adored his new wife. After a year of grieving he suddenly announced he was starting a new life in Africa, never having visited the place.

Within a few years numerous girlfriends, all much younger, came on the scene.

The latest one is expecting his baby, due soon. He is 83, she 25. Unable to comprehend why his children are not celebrating the news, he has changed his will, everything goes to his partner. Furthermore, he says they no longer exist, he never wants to hear from them again. He is fully compos mentis.

Another woman, married to a respected local tradesman, is reeling with shock. After 25 years of marriage, the discovery of his 3 year affair was bad enough. The other woman just happens to be her best friend from childhood, a midwife who delivered and was godmother to her babies. Both families holidayed together every year. Neither of the lovers has expressed any remorse, nor have they stayed together. All that hurt and damage, and they don't even love each other.

The husband has done work for me. I would see him, an open-faced friendly chap, collecting his kids, now teenagers, from school, giving piggybacks. We walked past him yesterday "Don't look at him" I hissed to my other half. "Oh, the sisterhood's closing ranks!" he laughed. Yes, true, but I also felt a bit cheated personally. Mr. Nice Guy Family Man who I recommended to many friends, turns out to be a love rat.

Do we project what we want to see onto people, unconsciously editing out anything that jars with our creation? Take Grieving Dad - is he simply the same selfish man who dumped his wife and kids in the past? Thinking back to times when I have been well and truly betrayed, I can see loads of clues. You invest something of yourself, whether it's money, love, loyalty, hard work. Are you really prepared to see that fall apart, or is it just easier to stifle those thoughts, cling onto the shared make-believe?

I suppose it also begs the question, do we also choose to dislike and distrust some people, never allowing positive impressions to register with us,scared we might find out something good about them?

I used to think I was a good judge of character, not any more. How about you?

Val
A Moodscope member.

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Monday, 30 July 2018

3 2 1 Change

Are you content with your life at the moment? Given that we are all part of the Moodscope community, I'm hoping not! "Hoping not, Lex?" Yes, I hope we are not content. I hope we are hungry and thirsty for something better. That's what drives humans to excellence.

Of course, we know that depression usually acts as a brake on the journey to transformation, not an accelerator. Perhaps, it tries to protect us? Whatever the reasons, I want change, I'm hungry for change, I'm thirsty for change, I have an appetite for change.

But where to start?

I'm using a business technique taught to me by Paul Avins. It's so simple. You draw a triangle and you put the area you want to focus on in the middle. This needs to be a time-based action or event such as 'shopping'.

Let's suppose you've got yourself to the place where you dread going out to do the shopping. Put 'shopping' in the middle and write these three words on the three sides of the triangle: before, during, afterwards.

Your mission is to come up with ideas and ways to improve your shopping experience by changing or adjusting some of what you do before, during, and afterwards.

'Afterwards' comes easy to me, I might have a treat like having a cup of tea somewhere in town. Or, if funds are too tight for that, a sit by the pond to enjoy the ducks. 'During' - if 'people' are too much for me, I might wear my headphones and listen to some calming or uplifting music – creating a world-within-a-world, a safe-sanctuary, a Lex-bubble. 'Before' - I might go a little crazy and think about getting dressed-up to go shopping!  This would make it a special event! Changing clothes changes everything!

What you change will make a difference, but the most important factor is the act of changing something - anything. As soon as we change just one element, everything else is affected. When we change three elements – one from before, one from during, and one from after – surprisingly big positive shifts can occur.

1, 2, 3, change!

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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Sunday, 29 July 2018

Do you have a story to tell?

Moodscope is currently looking for members who would like to write a blog for the Moodscope web site.

If you have a story to tell, some advice to give or an experience to share, start writing! Please send your contribution to support@moodscope.com.

We don't have many rules, but we do ask that your blog is 500 words or less and we prefer to steer clear of political or religious blogs.

If you have an idea and are not sure whether it's suitable for the web site, just ask us to take a look and we'll let you know.

All contributions will be reviewed and may be edited if necessary before publishing.

We'll let you know when we're sending your blog out so that you can reply to member's comments if you wish.

In the meantime, to cheer everyone up on this beautiful Sunday morning, please can you leave a joke in the comments section below. HO cheers us up most days with his joke, now it's your chance to cheer everyone else up!

Enjoy your Sunday everyone.

Kind regards.

Caroline Ashcroft
The Moodscope Team

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Saturday, 28 July 2018

Cherry Picking

I love the summer.

This will be one of those summers like 1976 that will be reminisced about for decades to come.

Long warm days, reliable and relaxing. Motivating and mood lifting.

The warm heat gently resting on my arms healing and life giving.

I literally blossom in the summer. Some plants flower in the spring. Some in midsummer.
Fruit are in season in this month or that. Me? Perfect June to July!

I saw crates of beautifully ripe cherries for sale last month, they must have been in season. A feeling of the beautiful abundance of their being just right.

Right here and now, as I sit in the warm sun, sharing some rare bliss with you, I feel just right. I can smell fresh mint. Hear flip flops and snipping. Little pairs of white butterflies dancing on the summer breeze. A fluffy white dandelion seed drifting peacefully along. Tips of branches softly bobbing, a bee sipping silently from a sunflower, water trickling in the distance. The tiniest fly I have ever seen settles on my finger...

My skin is glowing, nails healthy and strong, the recent spell of real summertime, offering the perfect conditions for early morning walks, picking back up on a little gentle daily yoga, stretching out those aches. Eating better, hydrating, resting, mindful.
Everything coming together perfectly in a beautiful abundance of gratitude for what is, right now.

So if it's beautifully natural for cherries and sunflowers to flourish when they do, why can't I? No guilt about it. No doubt about it. Just revel in it. Some of us must need these conditions, just as others need others, that's it. Nature.

There isn't always this abundance for sure, but that's when I start cherry picking! ;)

Lillipet
A Moodscope member

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Friday, 27 July 2018

Are you afflicted with endoftermitis? Not heard of it before?

It's afflicting parents and children across the UK who have a few more days of school to go. Its symptoms include fatigue, shortness of temper and a general desire for the craziness to be over. It's similar to Christmas... too many sports days, school fayres and school discos. No-one wants to work anymore so lessons are interspersed with extra curricular activities. Lots of school trips out... karate and yoga have all been included this week.

We have established already that BrumMum should be nicknamed Grumpy Mum. Actually sports day was an hour from a very stressful working week. The very hot and sticky fayre last week was an excuse to eat very sticky but yummy rocky road.

These are challenges that we all face in different ways... recent blogs have covered when to stop (see Ready, Steady, STOP) and when to say no (Just, no).

So although my take is quite specific in context, the message is the same. Many of us have incredibly busy lives which lead or have led to exhaustion. We all need to find ways to stop, take pleasure and relax. The Gardener and I love to prune roses. My third David Austin rose was given as a birthday gift. Dog walking has enabled me to calm down when siblings fight or clients irritate.

We can also indulge in relaxation techniques that are not so helpful... Mary's blog on drinking made me go 'ouch'. Not having real coffee yesterday led to a blinding headache and realization my taste for Lavazza was more an addiction (albeit not that bad).

What is your way of relaxing? What are the good and positive habits you have developed to counter the stresses and strains of everyday life? And privately what are the habits that are not so helpful? The coping mechanisms that don't actually help you cope.....liking reaching for the third packet of crisps!!

Wishing you a good morning.

BrumMum
A Moodscope member.

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Thursday, 26 July 2018

Lots of 'D's' and too many 'buts'


Crossword clue? No. Today's (19th July) blog was a message of hope, and moving on with the help of Moodscope after hitting rock-bottom. The letter 'D' seems to start a lot of negative words – and I am always using 'but' as a rider. Listening to a programme on Radio 4 today one of the 'panel' used as many 'buts' as I do, but she used a synonym 'however'. This means that you agree with the other speaker then refute everything they say. To my shame, I do it too much nowadays.

The last few months I have been becoming convinced that I was heading for a serious clinical depression. All the elements as described by many on Moodscope, and my own memory, were present. I did not want to get up in the morning – I had plans, but it mattered to nobody whether I carried them out or not. I DID get up, coffee would revive me. I'd embark on something, no enthusiasm or energy, and give up – deluded, disappointed, and disgusted with myself. I'd got dreadfully tired, battling with an overload, extreme heat and lots of worries.

The Tour de France today was in an area my husband and I know well. I went to the care home, took him to the TV in his wheel chair, and tried to interest him, slowly and carefully, in what was going on. He called me a 'b****y awful person', and, totally distraught, I fled.

His state is distressing in the extreme (he has dementia), and I try to carry on, with kindness, and making a life for myself. A son who has had lots of emotional problems was here last week-end – one treads very warily with him, his state is 'delicate' but he is hyper-critical of me, especially if I try to talk to him of the future. We actually had a super week-end, mainly, I think, because it was so socially busy we did not spend much time together. (He no longer does Moodscope, so I'm safe).

So, via shopping which I loathe, but my cupboards would make Mother Hubbard look like Fortnum and Mason, I endeavoured to be 'positive'.

It turned cool, so I mowed the weed heads on what used to be a lawn. I watered everything, and, although it's tough, August and September are to come, if I give up now no flowers for the 'busy' time in our town. Then the 'but' came in because I was planning on what to do when (and if) it rains. Therefore, I might fear depression, BUT I'm planning ahead, which one does not do when depressed, getting up and cleaning teeth major achievements.

Then, the picture is 'meaningful' as a message of hope – I intend to buy bulbs to fill all containers for next spring. Life's tough now, I hate winter, BUT, if I have plans for next spring I have to get through next winter, another 'D', decisions and determination.

The Gardener
A Moodscope member

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Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Poetry as Therapy

Yes, yes, I know! Poetry is a complete drag and bore, isn't it? All that, "Shall I compare thee to a host of dancing daffodils" and all that? Oh, Yawn...

But – bear with me for a moment?

(And – full disclosure – yes, I do have a degree in English Literature and I am myself a poet.)

Reading can be a great comfort. But I find, when depressed, I cannot cope with great literature. I cannot read more than a page or so of anything. Most books are more than that.

But a poem is small (usually – we'll ignore the epic poems for now), and they can speak on a deep level. A good poem will pack a heavy emotional punch for all its brevity.

I forget the number of times I have quoted the poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins. His desolation sonnets, describing so exactly how I feel in the dark times, give an odd kind of comfort. After all – the best friends do not always bring light into your darkness, for sometimes you cannot bear the light. The best friends come and sit with you in that darkness.

I do not feel it is a coincidence that many poets have themselves written about depression.

My dear Kafka,
When you have had five years of it, not five months,
Five years of an irresistible force meeting an
immovable object right in your belly,
Then you'll know about depression.
Philip Larkin

Many have written of the horrors that are the harbingers of depression. I am reading now, the poems of the first world war. So many fine poets wrote of that agony and futility. The poems are hard to read, yet cathartic.

Then there are the beautiful, uplifting Haikus,

'Ah!' I said, 'Ah!'
It was all that I could say -
the cherry flowers of Mt Yoshino!
Teishitsu

And do not forget the poems you yourself can write – even if you do not consider yourself a poet. Here's one my friend Mykael wrote: a gesture of defiance we probably all recognise and wish we could emulate.

The big black dog
Is scratching at my door.
I really don't want to let him in
But the door is getting paper-thin.
The bastard's claws need a trim,
This time, I must win.
A rolled up newspaper waits for him
A whack to the nose and boot to the chin
And there's more of that if he gets in!
The big black dog
Is sitting at my door
With watering eyes, and whimpering.

And another one about a dog. One to make you smile.

She invents angles at full tilt.
She is Einstein to my Euclid
with ears that say 'Eureka'.
Today, again, we look at the world
for the first time.
Nigel Ford

I do not expect to have converted you to poetry in these five hundred words, but maybe to have shown you a little of why poetry means so much to many of us.

Try it again, and see if you like it.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Why volunteer?

A few weeks ago I was talking to a friend who had retired and I asked did she do any volunteering as most retired people I know enjoy volunteering.

My friend explained how she was busy with her hobbies and her grandchildren and had not time or desire to volunteer and had never volunteered in her life and so wanted to know why she should start now.

I know there has been research that volunteering can help people feel better about themselves. As well as helping others research shows that volunteering can help others  and also can help you reduce stress, combat depression, keep you mentally stimulated, and provide a sense of purpose.

Some people find volunteering to be stressful and not helpful. I volunteered for one organisation years ago and while I liked  what I was doing, the way I was treated by the organisation upset me. As I was unpaid I was not treated with respect and I was never shown any appreciation for what I did.

I was surprised when my friend said she was not volunteering because in my family I was encouraged to volunteer and give and raise money for charity from when I was a very young age. So volunteering has always been part of my life but it has not always been a pleasant experience.

I want to know what moodscopers think about volunteering?

Is it part of your life if so does it help you or has it been difficult?

I would like to hear from people who do not volunteer and have they felt pressure to volunteer.

Leah
A Moodscope member

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Monday, 23 July 2018

I Am

I listen to a lot of motivational recordings – watch 'em too. They energise me.

Walking or standing in my local vineyard – when I'm there alone at dawn or dusk – energises me too.

Then there's the shower – my hotspot for inspiration and renewal. The joy of living water revitalises my soul.

Where you do you go, and what do you do to get revitalised, re-energised, recreated?

One of my motivational presenters suggested that the life we are living today is the life we spoke about yesterday. He wasn't being nice. He was having a go. But it was a good go. It was tough love. He drew my attention to language like, "I'm afraid."

His examples resonated with me. A simple question like, "Can you come to the meeting on Thursday?" would formerly produce a response from me such as, "I'm afraid not." What's there to be afraid of? Let's break that one down into its components: "I Am Afraid Not."

Not making it to a meeting is not an appropriate cause for fear. A hungry tiger about to pounce on us is.

He mentioned other strange phrases we accept without challenge, for example:

"Killer" – as in, "That was a killer message you shared."

"Scared me to death" – or, if you're lucky, "Half scared me to death!"

"Wicked" – used to mean "Good"!

"Tired" and "Knackered" and "Exhausted"...

Hey, I can feel my energy dropping just writing those sapping words.

His point? Speak words full of life, not words of fear and death, and the lively words will give you energy AND a better future. It's what he believes, and I like it.

So, I'm positively watching what comes out of my mouth, ESPECIALLY after the words, "I am..."

Here's a dare.

Write 17 positive "I Am..." statements and share three of them in the comments.

3 examples from me:

I am becoming wiser with every new lesson learned.

I am increasingly open to new opportunities.

I am deeply committed to encouraging everyone I meet.

I made the number 17 up, or at least that was the number that came into my head.

But who knows, perhaps the Universe is trying to help us here? I am confident that is the case!

Can't wait to read three of yours!

Go on... I dare you!

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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Saturday, 21 July 2018

What trips off your tongue?

Ask bawheid. Ben the room. It's a sair fecht. You've a right sair hand. Whit a numpty.  He's rab ha'.  Have ye a drooth?  Aye right.

All colloquialisms. And all loved by me. I'm proud of my Scottish roots, I love my homeland with my whole heart, I was born here and I have no intention of dying anywhere else. Our Aberdonians can tell a tale a million miles away from the same tale you'd hear in other parts. Our East tongue is to the West tongue what waltz is to samba. We're all Scottish and we can understand each other but we don't always use the same words.

Well now ain't that a thing! We may use different words but if you are reading this then its most likely that you sometimes feel similar things to the things I feel. Torment. Panic. Anxiousness. Disaster. Failure. Sorrow. Loneliness. Confusion. Perhaps there is more to unite us than separate us.

We may describe our pains in different ways. We may wear them in different ways. But pain is pain. And today, I wish that you have a little break, however tiny, from your pain. A little break to breathe in and remember I'm here and you're here, and breathe out and remember we share this thing. We are not alone.

If you have a colloquialism of your own you'd like to share then I would truly enjoy hearing it. Go on. Tell me on the blogspot and give us all something to distract us this day.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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https://www.moodscope.com/blog/what-trips-off-your-tongue


The Harvest Is In.

Autumn has come early in my world. I see bright colours everywhere, the air I breathe feels refreshing, and I'm finding what I need in abundance.  It has been ten years since my mental health took a sudden and devastating blow but I finally feel like I'm there. I'm in A Good Place. That's not to say that things are perfect: every day has its challenges and frustrations, and my coping mechanisms are still more destructive than constructive. But life right now does feel good.

Of course I'm still thinking... How did I get here? How do I stay here? How can I store the harvest from this time of plenty so when winter comes I'm prepared and more resilient?

Part of my journey here has been to find something that inspires me. My whole life I have dabbled in different hobbies, trying to find one which really gets me going. And I finally have. It's a wonderful distraction from day-to-day mundanity. But right now it's new and exciting. At some point the initial gloss and enthusiasm will give way to routine and frustration from the perfectionist in me. How to keep the positivity then?

There's a virtuous cycle here too. It's easier to get up in the morning when I'm excited about the day ahead. It's easier to look after myself when I know I need to have energy. It's easier to socialise when I feel like I have something interesting to talk about, even when it doesn't actually come up in conversion.

But... how to bottle this feeling so I can drink from it when my stores are running low?

Knowing that the season of plenty will come round again is helpful. Being kind of myself on a daily basis and trying to keep a good balance so I'm not depleted. Continuing with the techniques and coping mechanisms that I've learned along my journey so far. But is there more?

I'd love to hear others ideas for how to keep bathing in the sunny periods and fighting off the rains.

Wishing you all inspiration and love.

Shizzle
A Moodscope member.

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Friday, 20 July 2018

Why do things always happen to you?

We go on holidays. A week away in the sun with my kids. Great excitement. There will be lots to visit, much to do and fun to be had. We are meeting friends over there. The cases get packed. The dog gets minded. We get to the airport. Travel sickness tablets taken. We are off!

When we arrive, I pay the exorbitant price for the taxi and out we get at our apartment. It's 10 o'clock at night but there is no one on reception, there is no one at all in fact except a phone number and a safe for residents' keys. But there is none for us. The phone number goes to answering machine. We have nowhere to stay.

A lovely couple invite us into their apartment. I think they are the kindest strangers I have ever met. Worst case scenario they say my children and I can sleep on their couch. The kids are hungry and thirsty and the couple feed and water them and we all manage to have a laugh.

I secure us a night in a hotel at 1am. Another taxi and dragging bags and keeping the kids upbeat despite the upset. The hotel is grim, gloomy and smelling of body odour. The only photo we take there is the view from our window the next morning - a corrugated shed in a car park. The kids climb into the double bed (no one is chancing the dodgy looking camp bed). We three will sleep together. While protesting they are not tired, they fall asleep. I go into the grimy bathroom and have a little cry.

At 6am the next morning, I book us a bright, cheerful apartment that turns out to be a gem. We can't move in until that evening though. We go for breakfast. Sitting in the sun with the most delicious croissants and juice and coffee, I take a breath. Everything is going to be alright. Our holiday can begin.

Not for the first time, a friend asked me 'Why do things always happen to you?' It is true that life rarely seems straight forward. However, it does mean I meet some fascinating people along the way. There is always a story to tell. When we meet up with our holiday friends, it is the imagined adventures in the seedy hotel that amuse all the kids most!

For me, the anxiety can kick in after the event. I am in complete control in an emergency. But many days after, it can hit me. Something small, an item carelessly broken, a dinner not eaten or a sarcastic comment and I feel it deeply and overreact hugely - appearing like a crazy woman! Is that delayed anxiety? Hyper-sensitivity? Motherhood?! All of the above? Perhaps it's also a touch of the holiday blues - because despite the dramatic beginning, we had a super time...

Salt Water Mum
A Moodscope member.

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Thursday, 19 July 2018

A message of hope

I first started recording my scores on Moodscope at the beginning of 2015 and when I look back at the early comments I can't quite believe I'm the same person. This morning I read this:

"Don't see the point of anything anymore, just don't care. Can't see how, after four years of this anything is going to make a difference. If I could go I would."

It's taken a long time and progress has been gradual, but my life is unrecognisable from where it was in early 2015. I still have occasional dips (mostly menopausal I think!) but mainly things are on an even keel. I love my life, I love my little boy in a way I didn't think possible, and boy have I learnt some big lessons about life.

This blog is very short because all I really want to say is hang in there. Whatever you are facing, whatever you are feeling, whatever space you're in, it will get better. I never thought, when I was lying face-down on the bathroom floor crying and begging not to be here anymore, that things would get better and I would love life again and want to live it. But they did and I do, and I don't just want to live it but I want to live it for a long time.

Never ever give up because you just don't know what's coming next. It might not feel like that right now but trust me, it will change.

Love to you all and much love and gratitude to Moodscope for being with me in the darkest moments of life, you helped carry me through.

Debs xxxx
A Moodscope member.

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Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Are Your Friends Normal?

"Oh, one of your weird friends, again!" said my daughter, dismissively.

She was speaking of someone I wished to invite to visit us over the summer. And her words made me think.

I suppose, by some standards, many of my friends are a bit weird. Some of them dress as Goths, even into their fifties. In fact, one of my Goth friends is an Anglican vicar - just to buck convention! Many of the men have long hair and often obscurely technical jobs. The women tend to be creative souls who have forgotten that fashion has moved on since the tie-die era of the seventies. A couple of my friends are autistic (albeit high-functioning). They are spiritual but not necessarily religious (even the vicar), intellectual but not always academic. Their ranks include an actor, an ex-Para, a Diocesan Spiritual Director and a professor of Chemical and Theoretical Physics.

Is that weird? My children seem to think so.

Equally, I have friends who are accountants and solicitors and successful businessmen and women. They wear professional clothes and lead conventional lives of work during the week, with gardening and sport at the weekend.

Is this more normal? And why?

If you look at my family from the outside, you would think that we are "normal". Certainly, my husband and second daughter feel, like Mr and Mrs Dursley, "Proud to be perfectly normal, thank you very much." They are more comfortable with people they feel are also "normal".

My elder daughter however, though not an outcast herself, has found friends in a set of congenial outcasts: her local Explorer Scout group. Apparently, it's deeply uncool to stay in the Scout movement beyond, well, Scouts. In this group are the geeks and the nerds; the people not quite sure of their sexuality, but assured of a safe place to be while they work it out; the people who don't quite fit into "normal" life. They are happy to accept being "Weirdos". At the same time, they rival Bear Grylls in woodcraft and survival techniques. They walk and kayak and build rafts and dens. It all sounds like the best fun to me – but at 55, I don't think I could keep up. And, does that makes me a weirdo too?

But – going back to friends – it is the first group of friends I go to when I need a deeper connection. Many of that first group have experienced depression. They are happy to talk about emotions, or just to sit in silence with me. They don't try to jolly me along or cheer me up; they understand. They are my tribe. I feel comfortable and totally accepted by them.

In the end, people are individuals. Each of us is unique and no-one is ever totally "normal". But it's an interesting exercise to look at your closest and most trusted friends and to see the connection between them.

(And – it's alright – I don't think you lot are weird at all!)

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Why do I feel this way?

Sometimes when I am upset over what someone has said to me, people quote the following:

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." That is a quotation attributed the Eleanor Roosevelt.

What does it mean? Does it mean that if we feel bad about ourselves that is the only time someone's thoughtless heartless mean comment can have an effect. I do not know. It never seemed to make sense to me.

When people say critical things to me I often fall to pieces. Maybe I am giving them power, maybe I am giving them consent to upset me. It is so hard, especially when I am trying so hard to do something when everyone is criticising me.

I think one of the hardest things is when I have felt criticised in my role as a mother. Whether it is by a loved one or a stranger, I find I am very sensitive to negative feedback. Does that mean I have given consent to these people to make feel inferior?

I was not one of those mothers that made amazing birthday cakes out of a book or someone who had an immaculate house, no that was not me, that is not how I judge a mother. I loved my children dearly, I had a house full of books and we did many creative activities and went on long walks in the bush. So why if I know this do I let others' words and judgment affect me.

It is not just as my role as a mother that I am sensitive to feedback, I just find it hard not to take it personally where other people tell me the words were not meant in a negative way. So, what is wrong with me?

I have been told I am too sensitive and even if someone comes in to my shop and tells me I have a lot of stuff, which I do, I used to get upset.

Why can't I accept what people say without getting teary?

How do I stop giving people the power to make me feel awful?

I don't know how to do it.

Do you know how to stop giving people consent to make your feel inferior or the power to make you feel awful or to put you down.

Maybe you can help me with some tips?

Leah
A Moodscope member

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Monday, 16 July 2018

An unintended gift from my Dad...

I grew up on a farm in the west of Ireland with four brothers and one sister. I am number 5 out of 6! It was a happy childhood, but fair to say my relationship with my Dad was never close. He was a fine upstanding Victorian farmer and sure we had conversations about issues of the day or about the farm or football or cricket. But we never talked about how we felt about each other. Feelings were hidden and their were no hugs or physical contact.

I seemed to pick up on this and went through my teenage years and young adulthood trying to hide my feelings and be a young alpha male focused on other things.

So when he died it hit me as a shock that I really never knew him. We never said we loved each other. I never heard him say he was proud of me. I would never hear some of the things I most wanted to hear from him. By then I was becoming more sensitive to better human communication and had developed the skills to have those conversations. But it was too late and I was struck by regret and disappointment.

But slowly I began to see this differently. Perhaps this was his unintended gift to me to use my time to communicate more openly and more effectively. I started to make up for lost time in my relationships especially with my Mum and family. His gift led to greater happiness and more fulfillment. And it keeps on giving.

Is there some unintended gift that you benefit from? Could there be if you re-framed something that gets to you?

Best

Adrian x
The Moodscope Team

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Sunday, 15 July 2018

Working on the chain gang

I pound pavements, woodland, beaches or parks as one of my weapons in this battle to stay well.  I rarely (never) want to go but I do it because I know I need to or perhaps because I know I have to. I always, without exception, end up having enjoyed it.

Today I walked with my eldest daughter. She is on the final leg of exams and we've had a little more time together. The air was warm even early. It was laden with life. Bees, butterflies, flies, all manner of tiny bodies with wings floating around. The pavement carried dogs and walkers, elderly folks and there were nursery children out for a walk, like little prisoners on the chain gang, harnessed together, some happy, some unhappy, some wearing the runny nose 'number 11' with their sun cream and hat.

Life was abundant. And I was aware of my mood going the same way. I think more of us may be more seasonally driven than we give credit to. I don't just mean that on sunny days we dose up on Vitamin D and the brightness should lift us – I have frequently felt worse on sunny days – I mean that coming out of and into a different time of year can take time and adjustment.

As always, go small. Try open windows. Try drinking that tea outside. Just listen. Creep slowly back into the world if you have to but do it. Even if you only stretch your neck out the window for one wee peek, stay there until you have some thoughts, you may find a new perspective out there. And remind yourself that, as nature teaches us, we have our times to hibernate and we have our times to unfurl. Both serve us, deny neither.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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Saturday, 14 July 2018

To Cuff or not to Cuff...

I recently bought a lovely jumpsuit from a well known beauty catalogue. I've decided it's going to be my "relaxing" playsuit instead... and I am taking the cuffs off the bottom of the legs. Maybe it's an association thing but when I think of cuffs I think of restriction and sometimes, formality. Shirt cuffs, sewn on cuffs.... you name it. For me a shirt can be casual but often in a work sense, it's usually smart. When I see cuffs on more casual clothes, I think of tracksuit bottoms. I'm the sort of person who rarely wears sports gear for other than its purpose. But other people re-purpose the sports wear and make it what they want and that's okay too. My husband said I looked like MC Hammer in it. If it makes me dance as energetically as him, I don't mind... I could dance in it, lie on the sofa in it or even take the dogs out in it!

I think you can re-purpose anything you want if you set your mind to it. Whether it's a jumpsuit, your life, your work, your garden. If you have a job you hate, visualise yourself actually walking out the door one day... going to something better. I did and still do if things aren't quite working to plan and I set myself goals in place to work towards that. I had one job that I hated (a council contract job working in social services) and the person I was answerable looked down on everyone. Her name was Amanda. Every time she got me down or feeling stupid (which was frequently) I thought about escaping... and I wrote a silly poem about her called "Queen Bee" which I have shown to other people and it made me (and them) laugh. There must be something about restriction though that I keep coming back to as I used to feel so very trapped there... there were locks, and codes to remember – some of which I didn't have... making my anxiety so much worse and the clock-watching a crippling reminder of my unhappiness... why do those hands take SOOO long to go round to five o clock. Boom! I'm out the door.. and one day eventually forever ;0)

My husband and I moved 500 miles away from everything we knew and loved... into the wild unknown... re-purposing our life for a for a better one but with consequences that we had to adjust to and, certainly not without its challenges.

As always, with a bit of positivity for everyone who reads this and gentle encouragement I say, go for it... de-cuff that jumpsuit, leave that job for something better, re-purpose what you love if it needs it, re-purpose you if you feel you need to, be brave, you can do it. In the words of another well-used slogan you might know... JUST DO IT! You know you can. Feel it and go for it :0)

Liz
A Moodscope member

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Friday, 13 July 2018

Relational Frame Theory 101

A few years back I came across the intriguing notion that language is responsible for rather a lot of our problems. In 487 words I'll be honest: it's not an area of expertise so this is just my dim understanding and I'd welcome any thoughts. I also suspect some might be thinking, "My wretched childhood/relationships/brain chemicals/genetics etc. are responsible — not language!" Some of those at least might be significant in how personal language rules developed.

No other animal does language to the extent we do. Furthermore, humans have a repertoire of self-destructive behaviour which is extensive. There may be a link. Language is more than just words. It's the entire symbolic system that allows thought to be created internally.

A lot of observable behaviour is rule-governed. You see this clearly with animals. Rats will press levers for food and learn to avoid pain. Rats are clever and they learn rules quickly. They assess situations too: is this situation like that other situation where the rule applied?  (Maybe it's a trap?) We also learn fast, e.g. If I do this then he won't love me. Is this situation the same or different? Rule following is really quick: you judge the situation and you follow the rule. If it's different, you might slow down and evaluate or quickly apply another rule. If you can't tell then you will have to deal with uncertainty (which is uncomfortable).

The connecting thought is that language follows deep rules and therefore is part of our behaviour. These are not rules of grammar that we were taught in school. These are simple relationships between concepts which allow infinite combinations of ideas. Take the relationship of "opposition" for example. Say a child gets placed with a foster family because his mum is having problems with addiction. His real mum and foster mum are radically different in some obvious ways so the child frames the relationship between his mum and foster mum primarily in terms of opposition. Because he loves his real mum he rejects the kindness of the foster mum.  He's applying the rule of opposition which frames how he behaves with them.

Language/ thinking is far from transparent and the relationships and categorisations which we think with are more like the operating system of a computer — you can't see it but it's how the machine works. Similarly, our operating systems drive a lot of our behaviours.  Some operating systems are buggier than others! (Windows 95 anyone?)

The basic thought is that rule-following behaviour is quick and efficient but by definition it is inflexible. Inflexible behaviour/ thinking/ rumination drives a fair share of our problems.

I know this may be fairly esoteric, or seem like nonsense, (or poorly explained/understood!), but there are some nice studies on it and I thought I'd share this notion of a small number of relationships within our language that drive rule-based behaviour.

Oli
A Moodscope member

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Thursday, 12 July 2018

Just, No

A Sunday morning after a long week of bottled/postponed emotions and nothing going to plan and even simple tasks seem overwhelming. Even this morning getting washed and dressed and ready in time was a struggle. (A failed one, I was late).

I sit here with family and friends listening to people talk and it comes to me. "Just, No."

No to sitting here and having to be social when being around people is the last thing I want.

No to the BBQ later of the girl who has invited me over for the first time during the eighteen months I've tried unsuccessfully to make myself available for friendship just because I now feel obligated; privileged to have been asked.

No to beating myself up about the cake I ate yesterday and the workout I missed in the week.

No to tiring myself out driving to see a friend who has also had a rough week this evening - although I desperately want to - I must accept it's not within my personal resources today.

No to holding in the 'I feel...' chat with my boyfriend because I'm waiting to ask for what I need at a time that's not stressful for him.

No to worrying about not feeling beach 'ready' for holiday next week.

No to checking the work group chat on the weekend because they might 'need' me.

No to thinking 'What could I have done' for the old school friend that died a couple of weeks ago and the 'Why didn't I find the information sooner' because I missed the funeral.

No to having to know right this minute what is wrong and not being able to allow/accept an emotion.

So I ask for the keys. Almost make it to the car. Family friend spots me. Cuddles. Appreciated. Questions. Still appreciated but difficult. Here come the tears. More cuddles. Kind Words. Empathy. Much appreciated, but bring more tears. Take care.

I make it into the car. Tears still coming.

Dad comes. Talks. Do I want to talk? No. Am I 'just' emotional? Yes. Awkward but well meaning 'Dad talk' about periods. (Not the issue today). Do I want water? Yes. Water. Thankyou. Windows open, keys there if I want to come back in. Thankyou. Don't want.

My Boyfriend comes. Know what's up? No. There's always something. True. Maybe you're just not ready to say it yet. Maybe, or maybe I'm past ready and now it's too difficult. Cuddles, smiles, tries to make me laugh. I'll leave you to it, see you in a bit. Thankyou.

So I sit and think, why don't I write it out then maybe it will make sense. At the very least it will finally give me something to share to Moodscope. (No to 'not having time' to record my score or contribute).

So I vow to myself I'll keep saying no to whatever won't make me feel better until I feel better.

How long will it last?

Lolo
A Moodscope member.

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Wednesday, 11 July 2018

The Demon Drink.

All my blogs are honest. This is particularly so. It's taken some heart-searching, but I'm writing it because it might ring true for you too.

I became teetotal at eighteen, after three years of underage drinking. Not serious drinking: more for the look of it than anything, but my soon-to-be husband was teetotal. It was an easy decision and – for as long as the marriage lasted - alcohol was not a part of my life.

Single again, in my early thirties, there was no reason to be teetotal. I enjoyed drinks with my friends. I got a little tiddly and suffered the occasional hangover; but drinking was only ever a social activity.

Motherhood changed that.

Some women love being mothers and enjoy every moment. I found coping with my daughter, and then two daughters, the most difficult thing I have ever had to do. It didn't help that my episodes of depression were becoming more frequent and more severe.

I started to have a glass of wine in the evening, just before their bath time, to get me through that nightly routine. And then another while I cooked dinner. And then another with dinner. And then another during the evening.

At one point the thought of drinking a bottle of wine a day would have horrified me. It's frighteningly easy how soon it becomes the norm. How soon, to salvage your self-respect, you switch to spirits, because it doesn't seem like you're drinking quite so much. Then you find yourself getting up from your computer late at night and stumbling up to bed, drunk. You find waking up in the morning with a thick and muzzy head is your new normal.

As my bi-polar became worse and worse, I drank more and more. I started hiding alcohol in my office. I would sometimes drink during the day.

I found I was having to lie on medical forms because my weekly consumption of alcohol was about five times the recommended maximum.

And – at some point - I realised I had a problem.

I enrolled with the Alcohol Counselling service provided by my GP, and that helped me cut down – temporarily. But they work to get you to give it up completely, and I still wanted to drink. Just not as much.

Now that medication is controlling my bi-polar rollercoaster, I can't use it as an excuse to drink.

I started to work on the reasons why I drank to excess, and to put those right, and to stop drinking completely for a while.

So far, I have only made it for a week at a time, but thankfully, my blips have been small ones. I had one such blip last night. Waking up this morning tired, lethargic, unmotivated and generally "meh", made me realise how much better I have been feeling without the alcohol.

The price for drinking is too high. I don't want to pay it anymore.

I guess that means I'm teetotal again.

Well, that's the plan anyway.

Mary
A Moodscope member

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Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Parenting

"Lord, why did I ever have children?", I said silently to myself as I attempted to be UN negotiator. My two were tearing chunks out of each other and the air was blue.

Parenting can involve enormous highs and lows. I am just experiencing the start of parenting teenagers who are going through their own emotional rollercoaster. Add into the mix a sporty, lively alpha male 10 year old and it doesn't take much to imagine that it's quite a potent combination.

Parenting when also suffering from mental health problems has additional challenges. Tonight felt like an epic fail... I lost my tether and ended up screaming in frustration. I've had two challenging days at work, the uncertainty of a restructure and with my first Fathers' Day looming without my Dad, it all seems overwhelming.

So what can I tell myself that makes me feel better? Both children do well at school, and behave. They save misbehaviour for me!! We managed two family events at the weekend with both myself and their Dad, despite not being together.

So one sidled up to me on the sofa later and gave me a cuddle when I had a cry about missing Dad. They have a lot of emotional intelligence. They have had to and I try to teach resilience, although not my own personal strength.

As for me I took some spare medication, picked some red currants and made a cup of tea....

So to those who are parents or grandparents, what are your tips for dealing with kids when you are having an 'off' day or your mental health is not at its best?

BrumMum
A Moodscope member.

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Monday, 9 July 2018

"Let it Go!" Sing, "Let it Be!"

The cows laid on the grass, and they chewed the cud for hours – ruminating. They looked at peace.

You are not a cow.

I am not a cow.

Ruminating on the same old thoughts for hours ain't that helpful. In fact, when we are feeling low, it is down-right hurtful.

Resisting negative ruminating – the equivalent of trying to repulse and repel negative thoughts – may be seen as the equivalent of singing Disney's "Let it Go!' However, the truth is that what we resist, persists, and gets stronger. Like "Frozen" – it will just lead to brain freeze and a stronger darkness.

So, what shall we do?

Let's sing instead with the Beatles, "Let it Be!"

Unwelcome thoughts are like unwelcome guests at the social gathering you are hosting. (Yes, I know, I don't do that either – but stay with the story...)

A great host won't make a fuss when these numpties arrive. A great host will let them be, but will actively choose to invest their time with the more interesting people at the party who are worthy of their attention. The host won't get the numpties a drink, won't introduce them to other guests, won't spend time with them, won't feed them.

Great hosts will shift their attention to the good guests.

Paying active and mindful attention to interesting and worthy thoughts activates the Task-Positive-Network – and that's a GOOD thing. The negative cannot be reinforced at the same time as a positive focus is actively pursued and strengthened. It seems we have a one track mind. So let's play a new song.

Thus, next time the numpties come, don't make a fuss, and don't give them any attention at all. Find a fascinating thought instead, and get that thought a drink and nibbles in the party of your mind. Play that new song... and sing along!

I rest with the Beatles: https://youtu.be/2xDzVZcqtYI

Lex 
A Moodscope member.

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