The Moodscope Blog

6

July

Let it Be

Wednesday July 6, 2022


I’m sure many of you, like me, were blown away by Paul McCartney, at 80, playing a full set at Glastonbury. No, he didn’t do Let it Be, but I found myself singing it a couple of days ago and thought it was apt for where I am now in my bipolar cycle.

I went down at lunchtime on 8th June, which means, as you are reading this, it’s day 29. The average length of these low periods is 42 days, so I’m probably looking at another two weeks of exhaustion, shimmering and unreliable reality, brain-fog and anhedonia.

Yes, it’s grim. The medication means the worst of the darkness is kept away, I’m not suicidal and I’m in charge of the negative thoughts. But life goes on without me, and life gets away from me.

My business suffers during these times as I can neither work a full schedule of consultations nor do the marketing required to book in more clients. The house suffers as I don’t have the energy to clean, the garden resembles a jungle, and my friends are neglected.

A wise woman once said to me, “Life repeats the lessons until you learn them.” As I was looking out over my garden, where the nettles are as high as an elephant’s eye – or, at least, my eye – which would be a fairly small elephant, I tried to think what lessons I am supposed to be learning from these repeating bouts of depression.

Then it came to me. A lesson I had been taught during lockdown and practised while getting sober, and which I now need to learn thoroughly, is to let things be.

I’ll explain.

During lockdown, our directors held regular meetings with all the company consultants. Emotions of frustration, anger and fear were running high. We were encouraged to acknowledge these emotions, face them, validate them, and then – just allow them to be. Of course we were frustrated, angry and fearful: it was only to be expected. It was okay to feel all these emotions, and counterproductive to fight them or invalidate them.

What happens when you say, “I am afraid, and it’s natural to feel afraid, and it’s okay to feel afraid,” is you make peace with fear. It doesn’t mean you stop being afraid, but the power of fear over you diminishes.

While I was in the early days of sobriety, I learned to face the emotions I drank to avoid. Facing loneliness, fear, inadequacy, failure and accepting them, made it easier to be with the cravings for alcohol. The cravings were normal and expected – and I could go through them.

Now, as I look out over the piece of darkest Africa in what used to be my garden, I can accept my grief and frustration and let it be.

And, instead of weeds, see habitat for butterflies, unintentional flowers, the delicate pink and white bugling of the bindweed and, triumphant over all, the joyful shout of my roses.

I can let it be.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.


5

July


Yesterday, the country in which I now live celebrated its independence from the country in which I used to live. And as my Californian friends fired up their 4th of July barbecue, they seemed to find it hilarious that they were hosting a Brit for dinner.

Hello, it’s Jon C. here, with huge thanks to Caroline for allowing me to drop into your inbox just for today, with a couple of pleas for your help.

Of course, if you were American in 1776, you couldn’t wait to declare your independence from Great Britain. Independence can certainly be a good thing, both for countries and individuals. However, for you and me there’s always the danger that freedom from others could slither into feelings of isolation, often a bad thing in terms of emotional well-being.

This week I’ll put the finishing touches to a proposal for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (the V.A.), the federal agency that supports over 17 million former members of the Armed Forces of the United States. For understandable reasons, many U.S. veterans struggle with mental health challenges, so my proposal suggests introducing a mood-tracking-based buddy system, where veterans can support and “be there” for each other.

We’ve seen just how effective this can be with Moodscope. Back in 2010, we charted the progress of 83 Moodscopers who’d recorded scores at least five times a week for six months. People without a buddy (someone who automatically receives a user’s daily scores so they can support them) experienced an average mood-lift of 19%, which is in itself great. But adding a buddy increased this improvement to 23%, which is both statistically significant and, frankly, exciting.

As Caroline and I exchanged transatlantic text messages, though, we realised we’ve never compiled a resource of tips for would-be (and existing) buddies. What makes a good buddy? We agreed a list might be useful for Moodscopers. I’d also love to include it in my V.A. proposal.

So if you’re buddying someone in Moodscope, are being buddied – or perhaps both – what two or three tips might you have for a positive experience? What works well for you? How would you advise someone new to the role to play it? Please let us know in the Comments, then we’ll compile and share a top tips list.

One quick caveat. We know that buddying is not for everyone. Some are uncomfortable with the very idea. But let’s stick to the positives today if possible, please.

I’m really looking forward to reading your reflections, as is Caroline. Perhaps today’s thread of comments will also be one that many Moodscopers will find helpful.

I said I had a couple of requests for your help. The second is that you might please complete a short, anonymous survey form for me. Its questions will allow me to compare responses to a new measure of emotional wellbeing with responses to another tried-and-tested questionnaire. Do answers to one test correlate with answers to the other? You’ll find both sets of questions combined in one online form here:

https://emostrong.typeform.com/to/MIjp0ScS

Thank you so much having me back today, and also I hope for participating.

One last thing. You’ll be pleased to hear that I reassured my American friends we really didn’t take their declaration personally.

Jon
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.


4

July

Memories drawn with light

Monday July 4, 2022


What are your favourite photographs of? People? Places? Plants? Animals? Events? I hope you’ll share some in the comments.

Photographs are essential aids for memory recall for people like me. I don’t have a naturally good memory when left unaided. “Do you remember when…?” is a question I’m often asked by others who seem to have far more accessible recall. My answer is usually, “No, I don’t remember.” But a photograph can paint a thousand words - and retrigger emotions too, and these, in a moment, almost in a flash.

I was once told ‘photography’ meant ‘painting with light’ but ‘drawing’ or ‘writing with light’ is closer to the etymology of the word. It is thought to be coined by Sir John Herschel, a British Scientist, in 1839. Reviewing my photos throws light on to my past and allows me to retrace the thoughts, drawing the threads of memory together.

Thus, I consider curated photographic collections to be great friends of good mental health. I’ve used a site called Flickr for years. ‘Serious’ photographers use it to showcase their best work, and they often have over a hundred ‘likes’. I use Flickr for a different purpose. It’s my memory back-up! I don’t get many ‘likes’ but then the pictures are really there for me.

Scrolling back in time, I’ve reviewed 7 years in as many minutes. The flavour of some of the memories have shifted - especially where friends or family have gone through changes of circumstances or are no longer with us. On the whole, however, it’s been a joyous journey to the past.

It is clear that ‘favourite places’ are a major feature of my library – especially the National Trust gardens and house at Kingston Lacy. It’s been good to be reminded of it throughout many seasons. Let me ask you to share which photographs do you the most good to review? Would you share some memories with us all today? I ask this with the explicit intention of helping you to feel good about some of the highpoints on your life’s journey.
Finally, we may all go out and create some more excellent memories this week.

Lex
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.


3

July

Lend me your eyes

Sunday July 3, 2022


As much as my two youngest children are great kids, they’re still just 17 and can be as frustrating as a week old mosquito bite.  At times, it can be lonely living with them as I’m no longer what they need but needed for what they want.  (This is not a complaint, they are on track for their years and for development of the prefrontal cortex, and I’m sure I was exactly the same!)

Tired and jaded, after dinner I rebelled. Left the responsibility downstairs and took a tray to my bedroom. I’m very lucky to have double doors in my room and I opened them wide to the warm airs of summer and the sounds. The sounds!

The straight-on view from my bed is un-amazing. There is my lovely garden below but, from this floor, I mainly see a bit of a wall belonging to a house one street over. And then… I skootch over and look to the horizon. Now that is something. The hills are bathed in sunshine still. The trees up there are having sundowners and doing a gentle tipsy dance.  

It’s all ok. Maybe not always in my timeline but in that one. And that is enough. Perspective. My favourite word. It fixes most things.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.


2

July

Poetry in Motion (Nearly)

Saturday July 2, 2022


Okay, brain in gear, thinking cap on, I need to write another Post. What about?
 
I love sixties music and I adore the natural world outside. But I have done those already. Okay how about a poem. I never liked ‘serious’ poetry at school, I found it boring. But it is something different so I will give it a try.
 
“Flowers for each of the four seasons
Loving thoughts for all the right reasons”
 
Oh dear, a grinding halt. Is that my fault?
 
I obviously need a lot more time to compose some poetry so I will concentrate on just the two lines I have written:
 
The first line (flowers) seems fairly easy:
 
Spring: The golden daffodil (can’t compete with Wordsworth)
   
Summer: The majestic form and colour of a rose.

Autumn: The brightness of the long lasting dahlia

Winter: The snowdrop, all green and white, I suppose.
 
The second line (loving thoughts) is not so straightforward. There are so many different types of loving thoughts.

The title of this Post is of course an old sixties record by Johnny Tillotson. It contains many examples of loving thoughts such as this verse:
 
Poetry In Motion
Dancing close to me
A flower of devotion
A swaying gracefully  
 
A bit ‘corny’ but it conveys the loving message.
 
Perhaps the most difficult love is to love yourself. Simply being kind to yourself can be difficult. Why are we so hard on ourselves? Is it simply a case of learning some self compassion? 
 
Perhaps we need to cultivate and sometimes prioritise the relationship we have with ourselves. Here are some ideas of how we may go about that;
 
- Say “no” a lot more.
 
- Realise we have flaws and embrace them whilst acknowledging we are human.
 
- Refuse to allow our shame narratives that tell us we are not good enough.
 
- Regularly show self gratitude.
 
- Laugh at ourselves.
 
- Ask for help.

- Practice what we preach.
 
Raychelle Cassada Lohmann a Mental Health Counsellor studied self care/love and came up with ways of starting to live a compassionate life of self care. Here are a few of her ideas:
 
1. Do what you love and love what you do. Identify some talents or activities you enjoy and do them. Even a short time is good.
 
2. Embrace the special moments. Place the noise of   everyday living in the background and focus on the present moment.
 
3. Celebrate your victories. When you have finished a task give yourself a few moments to appreciate your achievement.
 
So there you have it
Not very poetic
But the best I could do
Another Post
From me to you.

Teg
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.


1

July


Friends and family have said to me that I am not spontaneous at all, even going on a picnic needs to be planned. I tell them I can be spontaneous, but I need to plan!
 
When I was manic, I would show many impulsive and spontaneous behaviours, but most were financially risky or dangerous or socially inappropriate or maybe illegal and sometimes all of them at once.

Now I am medicated I am afraid of being impulsive again, but the stability often means I miss the fun.

I am interested what sort of fun spontaneous things Moodscopers do and why they are enjoyable. I wonder if there are people like me who find it hard to be spontaneous. Maybe there is a reason or maybe innately people just like to plan.

What spontaneous thing have you done recently?

Do you like doing things on the spur of the moment?

Are you a bit cautious about being impulsive for a reason or just because you do not like to?

Leah
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.


30

June

The blurring of boundaries

Thursday June 30, 2022

I've noticed a lot of blurring of boundaries these past few years. It must be me getting old(er), but some things, like bad manners annoy and frustrate me very much!

We live in a cul-de-sac where parking can be a problem. Our house is down a side access path, tarmacked, which is constantly obstructed by next door's or next door's visitors cars. We cannot get out.

Now you would have thought that one or two knocks on their door and the penny would drop. But no. No apology. No shift in habit. A new neighbour on the far side has also been on the receiving end of this antisocial behaviour and had a word with us about it last week. She is fairly incredulous that neighbours can use and abuse her drive without so much as a by-your-leave.

Now if all this sounds rather petty, it is. But the impact on people is huge. It smacks of lack of personal respect for your neighbour.

What do you think and advise?  

Sally
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.


29

June


“We’re all mad here,” said the Cheshire cat. “I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”

If you’re reading this, then you have a reason. Perhaps you are living in the darkness of depression, with the Black Dog as your only companion – and I’ll come to dogs in a moment – or you experience the disorienting cycles of bipolar disorder. Perhaps you support someone who has depression or bipolar, and this blog helps you understand them a little better.

When I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, sixteen years ago, my husband found it difficult. “I don’t want a mad wife,” he said, and I could understand his devastation. He didn’t understand bipolar disorder; nor did I. He was dismayed, while I was relieved. Finally, I knew what was wrong; finally, I knew why I became depressed and lethargic twice a year for no reason. At last, I knew why there were times when I was full of energy, highly competitive and felt twice as alive as other people, and why there were times I resembled the Dormouse and would sleep for seventeen hours a day. I started to research bipolar disorder and find ways to manage it. I knew I was not “mad:” I was ill, and it made all the difference.

I am relieved to say my husband no longer fears bipolar; nor does he think I’m mad. I’m responsible about taking my medication and do my Moodscope score each day. When I am in the low point of my cycle, as I am now, the whole family picks up as much of the slack as they can. I’m fortunate the medication takes care of the highs; while the best bits felt like flying, the toll on relationships was severe.

Rereading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has been interesting; I recognise so much of her experience in my own.  The sensations/hallucinations of being large/small and short/tall; the feelings of dissociation/acceptance, where all this seems perfectly normal; the unreasonable demands of the Red Queen and her extreme reactions; the somnolent habits of the dormouse: all these are familiar.

There is a general acceptance that Lewis Carroll used drugs, and the story’s fantastical elements are a result of these. In fact, there is no evidence at all that he took anything but the occasional glass of sherry. Nobody knows where he got his ideas.

“To begin with,” said the Cat, “a dog’s not mad. You grant that?”
“I suppose so,” said Alice.
“Well, then,” the Cat went on, “you see, a dog growls when it’s angry, and wags its tail when it’s pleased. Now, I growl when I’m pleased, and wag my tail when I’m angry. Therefore, I’m mad.”

That reasoning is obviously nonsensical. So too, is our reasoning about our own Black Dog. We believe it’s normal to be happy, and we are different and “less than” because we have depression.

But, what if, just as he says, our Dog is normal, and it’s the grinning Cat people who are “mad?”

Mary
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.


28

June

Enemy camp

Tuesday June 28, 2022


Growing Up Mennonite, as my-not-yet- published trilogy is called; meant being beaten as a child and told to shut up. We were not allowed to cry. Yet in the same culture, the german word for weeping is "healing." I always feel better after a big cry, as if I am making up for lost time and fixing the inner child who still needs to bawl. I have also confronted my father and although no acknowledgment or apology was made for the abuse; it was also helpful to stand up to him. I took back my power. 

As a trained counsellor; I have read that to get rid of pain and trauma you have to sit with it. Not to be confused with wallowing or getting stuck in our own suffering, but processing it. 

Lately I have been considering trying to help others by counselling them (gasp). And the negative response from a now former "friend," was:”You have all these problems- who would go to you?" Nice. Really nice. (Not). 

Most people would agree that the best person to help an addict is one who has battled addiction themselves. So how is counselling any different?! My mantra is:"I have been helped- now let me help you." This myth of perfection and flawlessness being the only way to helping others is lost on me. Who better to relate to another but someone who has been there and done that?! 

There is a song in which a line goes:

"Well I went into the enemies camp and I took back what he stole from me..." and then the triumphant: "he's under my feet- he's under my feet-"

Recently my father called me on a holiday to tell me I was a not good enough in some religious aspect, according to him. I hung up the phone. Message not received - access denied. A "gift that is not received stays with the giver," after all. Gift indeed!

General medical practitioners have said the best excercise for the heart is literally reaching down and helping someone else to their feet. Perhaps that is the same way to reclaim our own mental and emotional health. 

I just told a hurting soul:”You will be a bigger mess for a while when you are in the midst of healing." It is not the absence of progress, even if it feels that way. A road over a gas leak has to be torn up to be fixed. I think humans are the same, so bless the mess that is me - and you. It"s still a "take back."

Bailey 
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.


27

June

Inconvenience and Bliss

Monday June 27, 2022


Often the cost of a bit of bliss is a time of inconvenience. One of my favourite sayings is, “Where no oxen are, the crib is clean, but much increase is by the strength of the ox.” Any dairy farmer knows that cattle are messy, but also profitable. When that saying was written, it was oxen that pulled the plough. The hassle of mucking out the cattle was worth it for their strength harnessed to plough the fields. I’m sure, in modern times, tractors bring their own costs and hassle, but they get great results.

I want to encourage you today to push through a little bit of inconvenience in order to enjoy the reward. This thought was triggered by my last day of housesitting last Wednesday. Near the house is an isolated stretch of beach. It’s an effort to get to but well worth it. When I was down on the beach, I really fancied taking my sandals off to enjoy the sensation of the sand, but this was my early morning walk before work. I seriously debated whether I wanted the hassle of getting my feet dirty in order to enjoy the experience of walking at the edge of the incoming tide. After all, it would take time and effort to clean them afterwards!

Thankfully, I overcame the resistance to paying the very small price of the inconvenience incurred. My last early morning on the beach was worth it. As well as my walk, I stood facing the ocean with my eyes closed, feeling depressed but with my senses alive. The surrounding sounds of the ocean were magnificent. The touch of the breeze on my cheek, soothing. The feeling of the wet sand beneath my feet, freeing.

When we’re depressed, everything can be too much hassle. I get that. But sometimes it’s good to put up with a little inconvenience in order to enjoy an experience. For you, it may the hassle of the journey to get somewhere lovely. It may be the effort expended to prepare a good meal. It may be the strength required to do your hair, weed the garden, mow the lawn. If the effort is worth the result, may I encourage you to give it a bash today?

Lex
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please leave a comment below.


26

June

Crisps for tea 

Sunday June 26, 2022


This week, in our house, we have been skidding into the end of term. End of school in fact. My two youngest children are children no more and school is almost out forever!
 
I’m carrying slow to shift Covid symptoms (steadily improving) and depression still feels like I’m being sat on by a ten-tonne grizzly bear, but I think I’m beginning to head into better health all round. 
 
This week called for that much bandied about phrase – ‘be kind to yourself’.  There have been concerts and celebrations, late finishes and very early starts (I’m writing this at 4.10am as I wait to taxi) and so taking care of myself has been hard to schedule and yet essential. 
 
Too often we are tied in knots trying to practice all the things we know we need to keep some semblance.  So I did what I could and thereafter I settled for ‘good enough with a dollop of forgiveness’.  Each day I’ve had a big nutritious breakfast, at the time of day I’ve had most energy to prepare and cook.  And for dinner, two nights on the trot, I had crisps for tea. A bag of cheese and onion and a bag of salt and vinegar. You know something, they were bl**dy great!  I sat up in bed with a mug of tea and my picnic dinner just before lights out and thought to myself that I am living my childhood dream. 
 
There really are no rules in this journey. Maybe that is what saves us. 
 
Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.


25

June


Many people mention self-help books on Mental Health here. I have read (or ‘grazed’ through some) but get a bit cynical. Written by self-styled ‘life-changers’, experienced doctors and psychiatrists, many ‘fashionable’ for a few years till a new ‘star’ appears or they are debunked. Maybe I am a ‘know-all’. I find many patronising. There is no measuring if their advice is good, or works, coping with Mental Health really starts with ‘self’ using every sort of help/support available, and reading what you should do in a book I do not find helpful.

I have no idea why I bought it, probably to help my French: it is a translation of ‘Happiness for Dummies’ by an American psychologist, W. Doyle Gentry. The USA has a great out-pouring of this sort of book, therapy a thriving industry, Stage 1 gives a ‘starter’ list, interesting if anybody here has such a ‘list’ and finds it helpful. ‘Write poetry – play football – organise social events or join associations – write (fiction or non) go fly fishing – collect objets d’art or stamps – go to political meetings – paint – garden – hand crafts, pottery, basket work, making jewels – cook – play cards. Hm, quite a challenge, does not state if you have to do them all at once – it does say that if nothing of this grabs your interest you will become apathetic and discontented. The ‘presumption’ in this particular book is that you have access to all these possibilities.

Today has been crazy, like the whole week, endless talking, first half strangers, in French, now English. This morning friends from Moodscope, off the boat, two hours lovely conversation. Afternoon alarming – people my mother-in-law would have disapproved of, her ‘band’ of acceptable friends was very narrow. They had rented the B and B next door, they have a dog, there is no garden. We sat in mine; they are drinkers – hot afternoon, TWO bottles so-so red wine between three, crisps and biscuits, not my taste. They were pleasant, she very over weight, hip and knee trouble, can hardly walk, what WILL that wine do to her? (and my head, idea of going out to dinner scotched).

Done loads Future Learn courses, many very good on Mindfulness, CBT, Care work. Now two diametrically opposite – on ‘Humanists’ do not take to it, seem another range of people whose ideas are the ‘right’ ones. Then one on the future of the Luxury Trade, out of my comfort zone.  Back to pure selfishness, ‘Carpe diem’, seize the day. My garden a joy; arum lilies, white rambling rose, sky-blue iris, all colours of leaves, a black-bird, giving pleasure to the wine drinkers, and re-reading my second novel in French. It IS good, people say so, and achieved marriage of character, dialogue, actual history and miles of research. So, self? Four for the ‘proud card’, something they can’t take away from you? Bit of showing off? Got a book, ‘I think, therefore I am’. Philosophy. Totter between stoicism, hedonism, Epicureanism, and a list of ‘metas, isms and ologoies!!’

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.


24

June

Is it meant to be hard?

Friday June 24, 2022


I find it hard to write very personal blogs as others do as I am not anonymous.

I think there may be other people stuck in relationships that have some enjoyable times, but they feel trapped and feel guilty that another relationship maybe be ending. So, against my better judgement I am putting my heart on my sleeve to hopefully learn from others.

When I think of most of couples I know who have been happily married for 40 years or more, I feel envious and feel like I must be failing relationships 101.

I am nearly a decade into my relationship after two others that did not work out. I have been told by every partner there is something deeply flawed in me, and I am impossible to live with due to my ‘condition.”

I fear this may be true.

I have told myself I pick the wrong partner and rush into relationships, but the only thing that is in common with all three relationships is me.

Some say relationships can be challenging, but should it be this hard? Is it possible I am always in the wrong, that I always say the wrong thing.? Other people with bipolar have long lasting marriages so what is wrong with me.?
 
I do not want this blog to focus on me but rather to be a starting point for wonderful moodscopers to share their insights.
 
So here comes some questions that may give me insight into others experience:

Do you feel your mental health has affected your relationship?

Have you ever been told your mental health is causing problems in your relationship?

Has anyone learnt to live with a controlling partner who is sometimes verbally critical?

Has anyone felt they were the problem in the relationship?

Leah
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.


23

June

Sex is a pain

Thursday June 23, 2022


I wrote a blog some years ago about my libido.To be precise, my lack of libido. Having been quite an affectionate lady in my time, I found myself regarding the thought of a bit of slap and tickle with dismay. I don’t mean I find it repugnant as such, just deeply boring. Until your hormones wither away you don’t realise how much of our romantic attractions are down to Mother Nature urging us to breed. I found every time we did it, I would think that was me off the hook for a while. The intervals in between get longer, then with a bit of luck it fizzles out altogether - Result!
 
Once upon a time, it was perfectly acceptable for older women to find sex irritating. Not just older women either. I can recall hearing people say that after having babies women would not be so keen.
 
Today, in the same way that we are urged to keep fit, look good for our age, keep the brain active, we are being told to keep going sexually. Now I also keep reading articles about reviving sex after a long time.   
 
Even after years of increased apathy, it is apparently possible to rediscover the excitement and lust of those early days. The advice given is just cringe-making. Stroke each others hair (Spock is bald as a coot) Touch each other in a non-sexual way while naked, tell each other what your secret fantasies are. Dear God, what a horrific idea, can you imagine how that could end up?
 
There was an article the other day, another woman journalist blathering on about the best sex ever since she reached 60. In the same paper a survey showed that 25% of people in the UK have severe chronic pain. It is reasonable to suppose that the percentage gets higher with the passing years. Picture it, two people sitting nervously waiting for the Viagra/Neurofen/wine to kick in. How erotic.
 
People are also not allowed to be bored with sex with the same person, year in year out. Spock and I  have been together so long we are more like a very argumentative brother and sister. Once you start to think of yourselves that way it becomes just a little bit off doesn’t it? Just saying.
 
Obviously some people decide to cheat on their partner to get round this problem. This rarely ends well. Better by far to find something that keeps you both happy and takes the place of sex. For us this has been Netflix, for others it could be golf, tennis, bird watching.
 
Speaking of birds, we have a thick hedge with Dunnocks nesting in it. I don’t know much about them, so was surprised to see so many of them going back and forth. Last week I was in the kitchen when I saw what appeared to be one Dunnock attacking another, violently stabbing at the rear end. I was about to go out to intervene when they both shot into the hedge.
 
Fascinated I Googled. Oh dear, I am so glad I did not go out. The females are polyandrous, but because each male wants to pass on his genes they do this thing with their beaks to try to er.. remove all traces of the chap who was there before them. All the males feed the female, each hoping  the babies are his. Isn’t she one crafty little minx? Bless her, no menopause for her, two flipping years of this then she dies.
 
Now, what’s new on Netflix?

Val
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.


22

June

Curiouser and Curiouser

Wednesday June 22, 2022


You are fascinating; did you know that?

You might have any number of responses to that. You might preen a little, run a hand through your hair and say, smugly, “Well, of course!” You might blush, look at the floor and mutter, “Glad you think so.” But you most probably will give a nervous laugh and say, “Me? No: dull as ditch water, me.”

Which only goes to show you have never gone pond-dipping with a net and a jam-jar and a magnifying glass. Because ditch water is crammed full of the most intriguing plants and creatures, all worthy of study.

Although as humans, we share 99.9% of our DNA, it is the make-up of that 0.1% which makes each of us unique.

We are unique and we have things in common. You are here reading this because you either have experience of depression or bipolar disorder, or because you are supporting someone who does.

But your experience and symptoms will be unique to you.

To understand and manage our condition, we need to get curious about it. I know I keep on about keeping records and analysing data, but it’s essential. Learning and understanding our general condition is also vital.

Ever since I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, in 2004, I have tried to learn as much as I can about it. By now I certainly know more than most GPs! A comment on my post last week, however, expressing sympathy for the misbehaviour of my brain chemicals, made me realise I was not absolutely sure which chemicals, and just how they are misbehaving. The commenter mentioned dopamine and serotonin, and these are certainly two of the main culprits, but there is a third, and this one may be the ring-leader.

Norepinephrine, AKA Noradrenaline, works mainly as a neurotransmitter, but moonlights as a hormone on the side. As a neurotransmitter, it carries messages from one nerve cell to another nerve, muscle or gland cell. As a hormone, it is released from the adrenal glands and stimulates the fight or flight response.

Norepinephrine affects alertness, arousal, attention, energy, mood, sleep patterns and memory. Very high levels mean high energy, jitteriness, severe headaches and disrupted sleep patterns.  Low levels of norepinephrine result in depression, lethargy, anxiety, headaches and memory loss. There are other symptoms too; I have just pulled out some relevant ones.

Well, it’s all circumstantial, but norepinephrine is looking good for it.

But wait, norepinephrine is made from dopamine, so I need to find out about dopamine. And I still don’t know what causes norepinephrine levels to vary.
It’s important to find out as much as we can, but it’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole of research and get lost there.

Back to the point. I encourage you to get curious about yourself. Find out all you can about your condition, your triggers, what helps, and what doesn’t.

Make yourself into your own science project, and aim to get an A.

That’s an A for Alice.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.


21

June

Help from a Nobel Prize Winner

Tuesday June 21, 2022


Many of you will have heard of Daniel Kahneman, an American-Israeli psychologist who won the Nobel Prize a few years ago. I heard an interview with him in which the interviewer asked him for a few practical ways in which most people could improve their mental wellbeing. He gave two: firstly, set yourself achievable goals and secondly, spend time with friends.

The first of these made me smile ruefully as I thought of some of the targets I set myself in younger years, mainly at work but also in sports – and I regularly see people do this now, for example a golf enthusiast stressing himself out about not reducing his handicap by so many stokes each year, instead of just going out and enjoying playing as most golfers do. Or a couple taking on a wildly unrealistic project of renovating an old house within a year, with very little money, by working at weekends and holidays – their marriage broke down at least partly as a result of their project (and they didn’t finish the house renovation either.)

The second may seem obvious. We have evolved as social animals, but how many of us get so tied up in trying to achieve things – both in work and outside – that we spend far too little time with the people we most need to be with? Or spend all day on PC screens rather than actually meeting with people?

Good tips from Danny K, I think. And you don’t need to have a brain the size of a Nobel Prize Winner to follow them.

Oldie but Goldie
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.


20

June

Inner Child

Monday June 20, 2022


I wonder if your Inner Child would accept an invitation to come out and play today?
 
On Saturday, my youngest son and his daughter ‘Facetimed’ me (I’m sure that’s a verb now!) While we were Facetiming, he did something without telling me. He popped some filters onto the feed, much to my 4 year old granddaughter’s delight… and much to mine too! A gorgeous cat appeared and then ‘played’ with us, putting its paws on our heads and then its tail up our noses, and then continued ‘Cat-bombing’ the call. When Penny joined us, she was delighted too.
 
The cat was followed by more filters - a Pug Dog, and a Unicorn – the latter having the power to shower us with glitter. I know for certain that my granddaughter’s favourite was the unicorn and the glitter. Penny and I are in our 60s. My granddaughter is 4. That’s more than a 55-year gap and yet we all accessed our ‘Inner Child’ and had fun together sharing the same pleasure. Of course, my granddaughter is a child, so that was easy for her.
 
Following the lovely video call, Penny and I went to Hobbycraft – an arts and crafts superstore – and a gateway to the world of imagination. I was so excited at being surrounded by so many possibilities to ‘play’. Art gives me permission to play.
 
Tonight (Sunday Night), I’ve filmed the Purbeck Village Quire – a specialist group that keeps West Gallery Music alive (think Thomas Hardy). What joy there was in their performance! Most of the Quire were mature in years too but I could see the child-like joy in their passion for history and what it meant to them all.
 
All this has got me thinking. We still have the capacity to access the child-like thrill in taking pleasure in what sparks our sense of fun or imagination. Sometimes we simply need a little nudge to remember to have fun. It may even be the secret to staying youthful.
 
Thus, I have two questions for you today. Firstly, would you let your inner child come out to play today? Secondly, what would that mean for you? What simple (or complex) pleasures would release joy?

Lex
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.


19

June


Last week I wrote to say I had plummeted. It felt that a huge foot had appeared over my head and proceeded to slowly press down until I was squashed. That is if I was in a comic strip!  It’s far from funny but it is how I’ve been viewing my current and thoroughly unexpected episode of depression. I haven’t had this type of feeling for a long while, years in fact. You sent such encouraging notes on the blogspot. I really do thank you. I had no spare energy to reply and I have no spare energy to be able to be much of a support to anybody else right now (outwith parenting), but I hope it won’t be long before I can return the favour. I read and wept and sent out thanks into the ether. 
 
So here is the good, the bad and the warty. 
 
The Good – after avoiding it for 2.5 years, Covid caught me. (Firstly, thank you vaccines!)  Why is this good? Because it has made me feel terrible. Really yucky. And I think this is good because, whilst it is not fun, I have a theory that as my body wages war on this virus it will also wage war on my depression. I am feeling a little better today as I write (but exhausted from not even a quarter of the effort I would usually exert) and I will wait to see. 
 
The Bad – the greyness. You will know it. The feeling of being inside a bubble and seeing everything going on outside but being unable to hear it, touch it, taste it, smell it or even see it in the way you would normally. 
 
The Warty – I discovered I have a verruca on the sole of my foot. I’m ok with this. I’m reminded that these are caused by a virus lying dormant and then raising its head. So it is another physical reminder that something is awry and can be fixed. I needed the validation. 
 
Oh for a reset button. How magical would that be? For now, I hope you are all ok, keep plodding and I send out my best to you. 
 
Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member. 

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.


18

June

Acceptance

Saturday June 18, 2022


Several months ago (9 October 2021 to be precise) I wrote a Post about contentment. At it’s conclusion I wrote my own equation:  Gratitude + Acceptance = Contentment.
 
Today I want to expand on the meaning of “Acceptance” in the MH sense.
 
When you have a “bad” mood there are several ways you may react to it:
 
1.  Dismiss it. Try to ignore.
 2. Resist it. Battle against.
 3. Argue with it. Try to replace with better thoughts.
 4. Submit to it. Let it overwhelm.
 5. Accept it. Acknowledge and manage.
 
Which one do you normally adopt?
 
I suggest you could try the ‘Accept’ option. You are probably thinking. “Even if I acknowledge how do I manage?” The simple answer is by using management techniques! There is positive research to support this approach.
 
The psychologist Stephen Hayes wrote that acceptance is “taking a stance of non judgemental awareness and actively embracing the experience of thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations as they occur.”
 
How do you cultivate more self awareness? Mindfulness can help particularly using meditation. Through awareness and practice you have opportunity to use acceptance and reap the benefits.
 
During my research I found an article written by Vincent Price a psychotherapist. “Why is acceptance good for our mental health”. It is published on the ‘my mind’ website. If you are interested in learning more this may be a good starting point.
 
The acceptance concept might not be for you right now. However if you have tried the other four approaches I have listed it may be worth a try.
 
I have recently adapted this philosophy and I am beginning to think it may help.
 
I hope you find this Post acceptable! 

Teg
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below


17

June

We don’t talk about Bruno

Friday June 17, 2022


We don't talk about Bruno is a phrase from the movie iEncanto that I mentioned last week because my granddaughter likes the movie.

I think everyone has a Bruno in their family they don't talk about. Maybe it is a person, a place, an event or an experience that can be controversial in the family, or brought so much shame or brought fear or full of sadness and grief that their name is never mentioned again .

My family had so many Bruno's that we didn't talk about, that it seemed there was very little to talk about besides the weather and our health because every topic had the potential of reaction and of upsetting someone - or entering a huge argument, so we just avoided all these arguments by never talking about our Bruno.

Are there any ‘We don’t talk about Bruno’ moments in your life?

Do you avoid the topics or do you talk about them openly?

Leah
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.


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