The Moodscope Blog

6

June

A Kingdom United

Monday June 6, 2022

Imagine tables set for 600 guests, surrounded by celebratory events to cater for the tastes of thousands of visitors and residents. Such was Swanage – a seaside town in Dorset, UK – on the 3rd June. It was the biggest Street Party I’d ever seen, and whilst I wasn’t a table guest (there was a waiting list of over 200 people showing how popular it was), I was able to share in the excitement.

Here was a throng of people united in celebration. Covid was largely forgotten for a few hours, as were the many troubles of our world. We took time out to celebrate 70 years of Queen Elizabeth’s commitment to the Commonwealth. I don’t think I’m naïve – I know that many people had come merely to share the mood rather than to celebrate the Monarch – but the mood was a good one to share.

Reading the blogs sharing so much wisdom over so long a period, we have much to celebrate too. We are as much Moodscapers as Moodscopers. A bit like a Gardeners’ World for landscaping and cultivating and nurturing the mind. We are a Kingdom United in the desire and determination to build good mental health, and the support structure needed to catch us when we fall back from our dream. Every blog day is a street party for those who share this mutual understanding.

Coincidently, the celebrations this week have overlapped with Purbeck Art Weeks, where local artists open their studios to share not only their art but also their heart. I have had seven conversations with artists so far, and it is clear that many have found creating art a wonderful way to nurture good mental health. This is no surprise to us here at Moodscope, for we’ve mentioned this in many a blog.

Let us then take the opportunity to celebrate and to say, “Thank you,” for our ‘kingdom’ united in a common cause, “Thank you,” for the wisdom and support, and, “Thank you,” for the years that Caroline and Adrian and Jon have provided a forum and structure for us to share. Perhaps you would provide a toast to Moodscope?

Lex
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above, please leave a message below.


5

June


My son had some bad news last week. He is, like many men, a little quieter with his thoughts and feelings than, say, many women are.  
 
He tried to hold it in and deal with the weight alone. And then he trusted me. He had to, he burst. And for the first time in a long time, I held tight onto his shoulders, let his head curl in and just held on to him as he wept. When my daughters have cried, I’ve allowed some tears and then I’ve soothed with words “Let it out”, “Its good to cry”, “Cry it away”.  But for my son, I had to read between the lines. He had held onto his bad news and tried to make sense of it himself. Only when he couldn’t hold it had he shared it.  A much more private response. So I said absolutely nothing.  I just held on to him. Stroked his hair. Let it be. Let it happen. 
 
Later I thanked him for trusting me and I did share from my own pot of memories. I don’t know why men and women approach things slightly differently and I do wish that, in general, people would not expect that sharing comes easily. It doesn’t. It’s complex. I’m learning.   
 
The only suggestion I have here is that when you are 5 foot 5 and your son is 6 foot something, its best to hug them on the couch so you can support them properly. I hope his grey sky soon turns back to blue, and in the meantime, it was lovely to be leant on again. 
 
Love from

The room above the garage 
A Moodscope member.

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


4

June

In an earlier post I recommended James Withey’s book “How to Tell Depression to P*ss Off” and passed on a couple of his hints. Here are another couple:
 
“Do the opposite” (chapter 3). I sometimes picture depression as an ugly gargoyle I call “Mr D”, and in low moods ask myself what Mr D would advise me to do – then don’t do it, or do the complete opposite. Example: I’m working away from home, I’ve had a tough day at work, and staying in a dingy hotel. Mr D tells me to slob out, drink a bottle of wine and stuff myself with comfort food. So I don’t. I google local restaurants and find a healthy vegetarian restaurant which doesn’t serve booze, and is a good 20 mins walk away (it’s a nice evening, the exercise will do me good). I come back feeling better, then ask the hotel manager if she could do me a cup of hot milk to help me sleep. The hotel is dingy, but she’s very nice, and serves me my hot milk with a smile (and no charge).
 
“Cut down on the booze” (chapter 26) – this is a terrific short chapter, and sound advice. Those of you who’ve seen Michael Yapko’s videos may recall him taking a much stronger line, i.e. don’t drink alcohol at all, but for many of us in Britain, where drinking is often such an ingrained part of social life, that’s a tall order. I’m sure many of you will share my experiences of being at social events where only a few drinks make it bearable; work events where “having fun” is mandatory are an obvious example. For a bit more inspiration on cutting down, I recommend David Nutt’s videos on YouTube,
 
Does this help anyone?

Garry
A Moodscope member.

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


3

June

It is no big deal

Friday June 3, 2022


Those five words annoy me when I have told someone something that concerns me, and they brush it off as nothing. They imply what I feel, what I am worried about is really of no consequence.

They say “Why do you always make a mountain out of a mole hill?”

Why do they dismiss or belittle our experiences? Our feelings are valid.

Is it asking too much for another to see that it is a big deal for me and respect my feelings?

I once told a friend that I don’t like people talking behind my back. If she has a problem with me, tell me to my face. She looked at me sighed and said “It is not a big thing, you worry too much and you should relax more.”

I not only felt she did not listen, I felt I was being patronised.

Someone told me that it must be part of my condition to worry about things that do not matter.

Of course, sometimes it is not a big deal in the whole scheme of things but to me it is. I suppose if someone listens, I can often realise it is not worth letting it upset me.

I am wondering if anyone else feels like this or has had others say the same thing?

Do the words ‘It is no big deal’ annoy you or do you just let it go?

Leah
A Moodscope member.

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


2

June

A blog for all Moodscopers

Thursday June 2, 2022


There must be many many people who read the blog every day but who never comment or haven’t so far.

This really doesn’t matter at all. If you are one of those who have never commented, I am sure you benefit from just reading the daily blogs.

I can imagine many reasons why you don’t comment.

But today if you would like to, can I suggest you just say “Hi”. I mean say exactly what you like but “Hi” is enough!

You need never comment again although we would love to hear from you again that’s for sure.

And also I look froward to hearing from regular friends. I can count quite a few who I regard as friends and who are an enormous support on a daily basis. I would miss you if ever you dropped off the radar.

For those who want to comment more (my friends but also those who might want to say more than “Hi”) I am interested in what you think started your depression or mental health issues. Or perhaps you don’t know. Perhaps it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly. Perhaps you have always been prone to low moods and anxiety or shyness.

As for me I think I’ve always had this shy personality but in latter years I’ve had days when I feel high. This high feeling is something I think has been caused by stress (although I love the “world is my oyster” feeling).

All my life I’ve tried to overcome my natural personality and be one of them, be the face that fits. I’m actually in quite a muddle as to why I’m like I am today but I do have some theories. I just wish I knew for sure.

So.. Hi to lots of you who are out there reading this. We send you support and encouragement to get through the day and life’s troubles.

And if you are in the mood for a comment, please let me know where you think your issues stemmed from or when they started. If you can!!

Jul
A Moodscope member

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


1

June

Pareidolia

Wednesday June 1, 2022


Do you have pareidolia? I know I do and I suspect quite a few of you reading this blog have it too! Pareidolia (pronounced pari-DOH-lee-a) is a psychological phenomenon that causes us to see patterns in a random stimulus, for example seeing a face in objects where there isn’t one. I have always seen a face on the front or back of a car.  Once you start thinking of the headlights or brake lights as the eyes, maybe it will become easier to see what I mean .
 
As an aside, having this ability has led to a few problems when trying to buy a new family car in the past. My husband would do all the research beforehand and know the size of the engine, the fuel consumption and all the safety features before we went to look at cars. I however would look at the front and back of each car and, if I could see an angry or unhappy face, would declare the car as totally unacceptable!
 
As the human brain is wired to recognise faces, it will often interpret even a slight suggestion of facial features as a face. Research done over the years monitoring brain activity with MRI scans has added evidence to the theory that facial pareidolia emerged from an evolutionary need to recognise friends or foes from their faces. Sending text messages and e-mails have their uses but they cannot ever replace a face-to-face meeting in my opinion.
 
The English language is rich with expressions using the word “face”; we can describe people as “two faced”, we “face up” to our responsibilities or to the future, we put a” brave face on” in times of trouble and we can talk to someone until we’re “blue in the face” and get nowhere. I have lost count of the number of times I have had “egg on my face” and have tried to “save face” in many an embarrassing situation! Whenever I go out, I am aware I “put a face on” and show the world a version of myself. Perhaps we all need different faces for different places?
 
So, what about you? Are you showing your face today?

Welsh Girl
A Moodscope member.

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


31

May

Your Energy Account

Tuesday May 31, 2022


I originally started open water swimming: `OWS’ in December 2020! I had wanted to do it for years as I kept reading about the benefits and I did actually feel energised after each swim. I swam from December, to April last year, but then because we were moving, I never kept it up.

My energy account is topped up at the moment, partly because the weather has improved, but I’ve found a community of OWS’s, and by a chance comment, I found a swimbud in my village. We have swum eleven or twelve times since 1st May this year. I realise that many of us have been OWS as children, at beaches etc., but it’s come to more prominence recently for the mental and physical health benefits.

The temperatures in the rivers and lakes we swim in, have climbed from 9C on 1st May to a ‘heady’ 19C in the rivers and 21C in the lake yesterday, whoop, whoop! There are triathletes, swimblers, plodders - many do it for their mental health. Some swimmers wear wetsuits and they marvel at us swimbling along in our cozzies, neoprene gloves and socks (we’ve ditched the woolly hats now it’s warmer - so brave, so fearless!)

The river swims take us passed beautiful gardens or country walks where people encourage or laugh with/at us as they stride along, often with a dog in tow…the dogs looking longingly at us! The scenery at the lakes is stunning and we both feel privileged to share these places - often with a moorhen, a duck, families of geese and goslings and the odd carp (oh yes!)

There are Facebook communities where swimmers offer advice on where to swim; warn of danger and help so much. There’s nearly always somewhere within a short distance where you can paddle, dip, dunk or swim!

During Mental Health Week, many people wrote how the friendships within the swimming community, provided stimulus and help with loneliness, as well as other mental and physical health benefits and I have to tell you lovely Moodscopers, it’s great when meeting fellow swimmers - we greet each other, have a chat or sometimes just give a knowing nod! There’s a great kindred spirit of a can-do attitude!! The feelings and thrills (endorphins not and-dolphins!) last for a couple of days, right up to the excitement of the next swimble!

I’m looking forward to swimbling in the sea soon and also hoping my swimbud and I can keep this going all year round.

What’s going to help you top up your energy account or fill up your tank - do share!

Love and Bear hugs x x x

Bearofliddlebrain
A Moodscope member.


30

May

First the… then the…

Monday May 30, 2022


Cyclamen
Snowdrops
Celandines
Aconites
Iris reticulata
Hellebores
Daffodils
Camellias
Wild Garlic
Primrose
Violets
Wood Anemones
Crocuses
Bluebells
Grape Hyacinths
Rhododendrons
Tulips
Red Campion
Foxgloves
Yellow Flag
Roses
Sweet Peas
with Dahlias yet to come

…writing this list cheers me up. They are the flowers we’ve seen this year in a very approximate order of their appearance.

There’s deeper magic in this for me. This is the wonder and awe that many of these blooms come out of the same patch of soil. I’m exaggerating to make the point but it is true that the same patch of woodland soil can sustain Snowdrops, and then Wild Garlic, and also Daffodils, and Wood Anemones, and then Bluebells. Some species overlap but it is clear that there is a season in which each one thrives and then seems to vanish. The soil must be crammed with the various bulbs and rhizomes. Packed with potential.

Most of the year, there is no indication of the wealth within the soil after each species’ moments of fame. Are we like the soil? We are certainly capable of supporting different phases where there are variations in what blooms in our lives. These seasons come and then they go. Some of our moments of delight are like the perennials of the plant kingdom in that they can come year after year, but most are here for one season only.

As I get older, I’ve found myself grieving for blooms that will not come again. This is fruitless, but understandable. However, I take enormous comfort from the soil. The soil itself can sustain a diversity of plant life as long as the species don’t all grow at once. The Daffodils of my younger years won’t come again, nor the Bluebells, but we may have many, many years left in us, ample time to support the growth of an entirely different crop. This crop will be new to me and may or may not bear a resemblance to what has come before. It is certain that it will be the right crop for the right season – for everything has its season and time. Here’s to the magic and the mystery which lies before us!

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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


29

May

All the young dudes 

Sunday May 29, 2022


Like me, I would imagine you have the ‘help’ of technology in your daily life. Sometimes, it's so helpful it’s confusing – my email tries to predict the sentence I’ve just begun. How can it hope to emulate my fuzzy mind when my fuzzy mind is still untangling its own fuzz?!  Sometimes technology is very useful. When trying to help my parents, even though we don’t live far apart, it's so great to just be able to send them a link to what they need (a form for example). 
 
And then there is autocorrect! 
 
I have lost count of the number of times I have typed “screenshot” and it has been autocorrected to “screens**t”.  Still I laugh. Occasionally, in a hurry, I tut, but mostly I still laugh. Then, this week, I typed “side by side” and my laptop corrected this to “dude by dude”.  I nearly never noticed!!  And when I did, I laughed much longer and louder than needed. It was magic. It tickled me. 
 
Just for fun, for something light, let’s indulge, what are your favourite accidental moments? 
 
Love from

The room above the garage 
A Moodscope member.

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


28

May

Making sense of it all

Saturday May 28, 2022


Do you stop sometimes and think “Can I make sense of it all?” All this stuff about MH. The various types of conditions, the psycho terminology, the best self treatment, the best things to do and avoid etc.
 
There is so much information out there and here on the Moodscope blog.
 
Sometimes it makes your Mind ache, right? Information overload.
 
We all have different MH challenges. These depend on symptoms, diagnoses , our environment, living conditions, financial constraints etc.
 
What do we have in common? I suggest we are all trying to live with (manage) our MH so that we can have a “normal enjoyable life”. This will mean different things to different people.
 
So what will help to give us the best chance of living the life we want? Do we need a plan? Any plan needs to be kept simple (beware information overload).
 
I suggest concentrating on how we are feeling. This is random, variable and to some extent out of our control.  How do we know what our feelings will be when we wake tomorrow?
 
What we need is a certain level of self awareness. If we have been living with the same or similar feelings for a long time this should not be difficult.
 
If you are feeling bad, what can you do to improve your mood? How can you begin to move out of low gear?

Do you have a plan? Drawing on my own experience a simple plan may be:
 
      Mood                        Action                     Notes
 
     Anxiety                      1.  Walk
                                       2.  Listen to music
                                       3.   Converse
 
     Depression                1.   Read
                                       2.  Garden
                                       3.  Write
 
 
    Anger                          1.   Meditation
                                       2.   Deep Breathing
                                       3.   Bowling
 
You can devise your own plan selecting various actions you wish to try for a given feeling/mood.
 
The plan is really a permanent draft as it will need to be modified as time goes by. The “notes” space is for optional use but can be used to record information such as; How effective was each action in changing your mood? and Were there any unusual circumstances causing the mood?  
 
You can keep the plan personal or discuss it with others (buddies?).

Teg
A Moodscope member.

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


27

May

Do you self-sabotage?

Friday May 27, 2022


Many years ago, when I was single after many unhappy relationships, I met a kind man. For six weeks we got on well, but I kept feeling it would end so when an old bad boy contacted me, I decided to meet him as I rationalised that things always end badly so why wait, I will mess things up myself.  I would stop the worrying by self-sabotaging. 

I was high at the time, so it affected my thinking. I have self-sabotaged since when I was stable. Of course, the relationship ended and I felt guilty, but at least that sense of not knowing was over.
 
We can sabotage relationships, work, decisions, friendships, career and education.

Why do we do this, is it lack self-esteem, is it fear of things ending badly so we make sure they do?

Is it because we are high, low, anxious or in another mood or mindset that affects our ability to think?

For me, especially in relationships I do not feel I deserve to be happy and if I were happy, I would worry all the time as I know it would not last.
 
If you have ever self-sabotaged, how did you do it, and how did it make you feel?

Leah
A Moodscope member.

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


26

May

Pick Your Own Playlist

Thursday May 26, 2022


Most mornings I catch the slot where air time is handed to the listeners and at the end of the three songs the presenter announces that so and so has texted in to say what marvellous choices they have been or how the theme has touched them, the vibe has boosted their mood or that it could have been the song track to their life.  Then the request goes out to encourage others to have their turn – send yours in and they could be played tomorrow.  I toy with the possibility and then don’t do anything about it.
 
I’ve been with Moodscope from the beginning when I read about Jon Cousins and his deck of cards.  Back then the weighing and turning was part of my early morning routine at a time when I had no plan other than to survive until the next day.  I was in turmoil following a suicide attempt and hospitalisation. Every spoon of energy was spent on groping my way through a slow and very heavily medicated pathway back to my life – a life I’d decided I was done with.  I was looked upon differently (has a mental health condition and wanted to leave us).  Until recently I saw those long years of discovery – I never use the word recovery - as wasted, but now I embrace them knowing all those experiences are relevant.  I’m finally realising that I can be me.
 
I’ve had periods of shuffling and logging, times of reflection where I’d look back on my scores and acknowledge that I’d been here before and that everything changes and I’m really no exception to that rule.  It’s been a long stretch since I used the cards but I always read my Moodscope email and marvel at the members who put themselves out there.  I’ve thought about writing a blog so many times and that is the thing, planning to do something is very different from an action.  We kid ourselves that it’s because we’re thinking and ironing out the topic or honing the idea.  Then so much procrastination allows it to magically fall away and we’re tucked away safely again in our comfort zone, far from the possibility of putting ourselves out there (until the next time). Phew, breathe a sigh of relief.  Is that a familiar feeling to any one out there?
 
Yet here I am at the keyboard and this is it.  What has made the difference this time?  I don’t know and I’m trying not to question it.  I’m here and doing.  It may be sparse and not very profound but it’s my first attempt and I’m grateful for the chance to speak to my fellow Moodscopers and to thank each and every one of you for being part of my day, every day.  Now let’s get on to that playlist!
 
The hidden writer
A Moodscope member.

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


25

May

Effortless Perfection

Wednesday May 25, 2022


“I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.” This is the opening sentence of Dodie Smith’s novel “I Capture the Castle,” a poignant coming of age book. And, yes, that is the Dodie Smith who also wrote “101 Dalmatians.”

I can’t quite claim that. Instead, I write this sitting on a stepladder, with my laptop balanced on a window-sill, in my parents-in-law’s almost empty house. In the background I can hear the house clearance agents loading the last of the crockery and cooking utensils into big cardboard boxes, ready to take away.

As they have cleared, my husband and I have followed in their steps, with the vacuum cleaner, bowls of soapy water, cleaning rags and bleach. The house may be shabby, but at least it will be clean for our buyers.

We mentioned this to the estate agent, in passing, when we were discussing Completion dates. “Oh, we weren’t expecting that,” said our buyer, in return - and through the medium of the agent. Please don’t go to any effort!

Well, that’s kind of them, but I cannot rid my mind of the idea they nevertheless expect absolute cleanliness.

I’m sure we’ve all heard, when we have a friend coming round, “Oh, don’t trouble yourself. Don’t put yourself out for me!” Yet we do.

My clients must walk through my house to reach my studio, and I swear this is sometimes all that keeps things from descending into an untidy and dusty chaos. I clean thoroughly every time. I have the – probably unwarranted – assumption that each one of my clients lives in an immaculate home and that they must look around mine with horror, even when it’s clean and tidy. I’m sure that any evidence of their hobbies or sports are kept out of sight, not draped over the dining room table like the wetsuits and sailing gear of my family. They don’t have a guinea-pig cage in the lounge. And here I must explain that Ruby is now elderly and frail and cannot live outside as she used to. Oh, and spot the apology there!

It’s not just our houses, but with many things in life, we feel we must produce perfection. Effortlessly. And even near perfection is never effortless. We hear the message from all around about taking it easy and pacing ourselves, and we listen with frustration because that’s simply not possible.

Yet, if we think about it, do any of us expect perfection from others? If we visit a friend, are we horrified by dust and untidiness, or do we simply not notice?

When my mother, newly delivered of me, was visited by an elderly woman from the village, she apologised for the state of the house. “My dear,” said the woman, “I’ve come to see you, not your house.”

Mind you, I also have friends, who when they visit, and knowing I am in a depressed state, simply roll up their sleeves and start on my washing up.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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


24

May


Someone said to me my posts make them feel less alone, it’s quite hard to put your thoughts out in public being seen to be hurting, sometimes seen as a ploy for sympathy or drama, even weakness.

Not at all in my case! I don’t need sympathy. In lots of ways I'm really really lucky, family and friends support from all angles, being able to walk on my mangled foot is a small miracle in itself.

Living with my favourite canine pals in a home that still makes me proud to see the work on it to make it lovely. I'm not living in a war torn country, fearful of death at any moment and I've commitments abroad to be looking forward to.

The thing is that the feelings that overwhelm us are often best described as fear, like the first day back at school after a long holiday when we were children. I remember it well, and in the evening on the way home wondering what I was worried about !

It’s quite a clever way to think of it. I missed my husband most when pressure built up in aftermath of Crufts, because although we didn't share the same views of everything, we sat for hours discussing the media, and the problems being piled on our breed. We tossed thoughts back and forth like a tennis match… but I knew I could always fall in the door and say to him, 'Now look what's happening !!' I could always feel his wisdom and his take on life illness and even people.

Life’s been a very big learning curve for the last 2 years - a weaker person would be wheel chair bound and not dreaming of going travelling. I'm not weak but I loved deeply and without end, an unlikely couple we may have seemed, but I'm missing my right arm, so bear with...

Regards

Vicky
A Moodscope member.

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


23

May

The Evil Chilli

Monday May 23, 2022


One of my favourite wisdom sayings comes from Ancient China. “If someone strikes you on the cheek, shame on them! If they strike you on the cheek a second time, shame on you!”

This saying has always been an encouragement to take responsibility. Today, I’ve seen it in a new light, adding another dimension. Let me explain by telling you about The Evil Chilli.

I love the initial experience of hot chillies and onions. Physiologically, they don’t agree with me. If I each a hot chilli, I will suffer the consequences. It would be understandable for me to ‘blame’ the chilli for my discomfort… even pain. Understandable, but not strictly accurate. The chilli would be one element of the cause of the pain, but another more significant element would be my choice to eat the chilli. After all, I wasn’t being force-fed chillies.

The really insane choice is to eat another chilli and then another…

This is a path I have often taken.

Much pain I have experienced in life is a hangover… utterly self-inflicted – like a hangover. That’s, weirdly, good news. Good news? Yes, because if it is self-inflicted, I can also do something about it. I’m not the victim; I’m the perpetrator!

And the more I reflect on Life, the more I realise The Evil Chillies had accomplices. My childhood was not (entirely) to blame for whatever excuses I’ve been making. It wasn’t my education, nor my teachers – they had help from me. It wasn’t the company I kept. You get the idea…

For today, at least, I have decided to stop blaming The Evil Chilli for my pain. When I stop playing the blame-game, it’s amazing how fast I can recover from the pain-game too. The Game of Choice is one that is far more empowering even if it takes a lot of effort and feeling ‘responsible’ is rarely fun. However, taking responsibility is taking back control.

The next time someone goes to strike me on the cheek, I’m going to get out of the way.

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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


22

May

A little goes a long way

Sunday May 22, 2022


What does that title make you think of?  Perhaps the advert for Fairy liquid? Or cream, or cooking oil? For me, this week a little something went a very long way indeed. 
 
A really lovely friend died 2 weeks ago and her funeral was this week. She was young, not even 40, and died in incredibly sad circumstances leaving a very young daughter to be raised by granny. As you can imagine, all the emotions popped up for this. 
 
On the day of the funeral, I expected to be steadfast and to do my crumbling once home and in private. (I think this stems from years ago, being held down by depression and feeling that, if I let out any tears, then I might not be able to stop and may drown.) But I woke on the day with an inner tremble and feared tears might not just weep out but pour. And then… 
 
I’d booked a taxi and allowed double the time I needed. A white haired, softly spoken man with a gentle lilting accent came to meet me - his entire demeanour was calming. We chatted about a mix up of address and he saw me into the cab. He asked, “What’s it today then, a nice lunch?” (just to clarify, I’m rarely in a taxi and we don’t know each other!)  I said it was sadly a sad occasion, a funeral. I had to take a quick breath then and clamp my teeth to hold myself in… too soon in the day to fall apart! I said I’d over-allowed time and there was no hurry. From then on, I was under his wing and he said “Well then we’ll just take our time”. 
 
He drove and talked me through his lucky day the day before, we laughed about it, he told me about his friend who had died young, we talked about his early starts, his typical days and his daughter who started her nursing career as Covid burst out and of how proud he is of her. He asked me a little about my friend and I told him some of the stunning achievements she’d had in her very short life. 
 
When we pulled up at my destination, he calmly walked around to see me off. He smiled and said “I’d like to say have a good time but…” and shrugged. He’d been amazing, he didn’t really do all that much, but how he did it was huge and it meant the world to me. He’d given me solidity and strength that would see me over the next hour or two. I thanked him for keeping me calm and told him he’d been wonderful. And then I headed in, and he headed on. 
 
I wasn’t without tears during the service, but I had enough in the tank to be sure they could be weeping ones and not bursting ones. Never underestimate what little acts of support do for others, even simply just a smile. I won’t forget him. 
 
I hope a little goes a long way for you today. 
 
Love from

The room above the garage 
A Moodscope member.

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


21

May

Mind Gears

Saturday May 21, 2022


You may be thinking I have chosen the wrong word. It should be “games” instead of “gears”. However, it is correct but it comes with a health warning.
 
Hopefully there is nothing offensive but it does contain some silliness. If you are averse to a bit of daftness read no more.
 
I realise I am indulging myself but please stay with me. There are two serious messages I want to discuss.
 
All this started early one morning a few weeks ago. The sun was up, I roused from my sleep (this tends to happen most days!) and looked at the clock. It was 7.45 my usual getting up time. However I felt tired so my eyes closed again. The next time they opened it was 8.30! I was still drowsy but stumbled out of bed. I went through my usual routine on “automatic pilot”. No thinking involved just got myself quickly into a sufficient state to be outside ready for the early morning walk.
 
I was still yawning when I returned! I started to arrange breakfast things but even after a shower I was still not consciously thinking. In fact it was a couple of hours before I really felt I was connected to the world.
 
During this 2 hours I did not feel bad in any way. I was not depressed or anxious. My mind seemed happy to accept that it had no big decisions to make. It was contented to be in “neutral gear”.
 
Later in the day when conversations started with my wife about a mixture of issues my mind had to work harder and went from “neutral gear” to “high gear”.
 
This is in stark contrast to what happens when I am in a bad place with negative thoughts intruding. Then my mind feels as if it is in “low gear” having to work hard to achieve anything. (see footnote) 
 
So the main message I am trying to convey is that as well as high gear, neutral gear is okay too. You do not have to be in high gear all the time. Does your Mind spend much time in neutral? 
 
At the start I mentioned two serious messages and you may have guessed the other one. It is simply that it is fine to be silly. When recently walking on a lovely sunny morning I stopped briefly to talk to a stranger:
                        
Me:     “Lovely day for the race”
Stranger:  “What race?
Me :   “The human race”!

Teg
A Moodscope member.

PS. Ideas for moving from low to neutral /high gears will be covered in my next Post.

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


20

May


I went to a workshop recently and we looked at how mental health can affect your life in three ways:

Ability to look after oneself
Ability to get an education/work
Ability to have relationships
 
When people have a physical illness, it is often easy to see how their life is affected.
 
At first, I thought really my bipolar has not affected my life much and I am lucky I have a good quality of life.
 
Then I thought about since I started having serious bipolar symptoms at age 14 and then diagnosed at 16, that my ability to form romantic relationships was affected. In late teens most of my friends were dating, having boy or girlfriends while I was either alone in my bedroom or going out and ruining my reputation. Even in my 60s I find that because I did not have the experience of relationship in my late teens and early twenties, I have had difficulty with long term relationships.
 
I was wondering if you would be able to look at the 3 areas that mental illness/health may have affected your life. It may be something very small, something obvious or something you had not thought about.

Everyone has different experiences, and I am fortunate I can lead a full life.
 
So how has mental health affected your own life or those in your family? Have you been able minimise the affect your illness has on your life in some way?
 
Leah
A Moodscope member.

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19

May

Radiators and Drains

Thursday May 19, 2022


It would seem fairly obvious to state what both of these are in terms of the actual physical objects. One radiates and the other drains. But in terms of personality in a human?

I know that in my time on earth I have been both – someone who drains other people (as well as myself so much!) and also someone who radiates a (hopefully) positive energy that is conductive to others as well as to myself. It is also perversely draining to be like a radiator all the time too and I become like an armadillo, coiling into myself, to preserve energy and for protection too. This is a skill I have only recently just learnt – to pace myself in interactions with others, probably aided somewhat by a pandemic which forcibly reduced real time interactions with others but it also has reduced my social skills and capabilities and I am building back to that.

It's a skill to identify in other people which one they might be because sometimes what is presented in front of you is not all it might seem.

Sometimes you might get a collective of lovely people (as I did recently on holiday) who drain you, more because of their sheer numbers, and other factors, rather than them being that specific way. I think as you get older you get to identify more acutely who will be good for you in your life and the polar opposite. The nearer I get to middle age and the inevitable creaks and groans that happen have made me realise who is there for me and who isn't. That kind of seasonality in friendship – are they there for a lifetime or for a season or a reason?

For a while, it felt very emotional to realise that certain people that you thought would be there for you are not what they seem, until you see that it doesn't matter. I have become so much more philosophical of late, letting go of relationships that really didn't suit the me I am now, rather than the me I was then. You can give yourself permission to let go of people that no longer bring anything to you (and you may not bring anything more to them), or behaviours in yourself that no longer serve you. It is so freeing to acknowledge this and make peace with it.

I think the best feeling in life is being a radiator not only to other people but to yourself but it can take a lifetime to learn, especially if you have fragile self-esteem. You can also work on draining away elements of yourself that you don't like so much – but it's not always easy to eliminate that negativity which then re-presents itself in so many aspects of our lives (but again we can choose to let go of these or massively reduce them) such as television, social media and general interactions with the public.

I was gifted a book from a friend which is all about self care and it's been great to read this and take tips from. Perhaps at its core, this book is about being a radiator to oneself in times of need and not waiting until you hit the floor but being prepared and actively thinking about what will heal you. Let me know your thoughts.

Liz
A Moodscope member.

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


18

May

Write it Out, Get it Out

Wednesday May 18, 2022


These days, I’m sober – you can read about my journey to sobriety in my blog of 2nd February this year – but I still belong to a Facebook group for those who want to quit. I hope I can give those struggling hope and some helpful advice from one year, three months and 15 days of sobriety.

Last night, one woman wrote a very long post. She has a stressful job, and everything had gone wrong yesterday; she is in the middle of construction on her house and came home to find the contractors had made a big mistake in the work; the hardest thing was dealing with the news from her husband’s doctor: her husband has a serious heart condition and could suffer a fatal heart attack at any time.

She wrote that she has no support group and that, newly sober, she was fighting the desire to drink – to make it all go away for a while.

I saw her post just a few minutes after it went up. She had already received several supporting comments. Her reply to the first was illuminating. She said, “Thank you so much; I already feel better for just getting it all out.”

They say a trouble shared is a trouble halved. I’m not quite sure about that, but certainly women in particular process emotion by talking about it. I process emotion by writing. Either way, it is putting into words our feelings. Once defined by words, the feelings seem to have less power to distress us.

When I attended a recent workshop entitled “Overwhelm,” we were encouraged to get the overwhelm out of our heads on onto paper. Once all our concerns are written down, they become much easier to manage.

As I write this, I am sitting at the kitchen counter in my parents-in-law’s house, which we are selling. I’m at the kitchen counter because there is nowhere else to sit: all the tables have been taken away by a charity. The men from the charity are here now, loading up the white goods and the rest of the furniture they think they can sell. Now begins the mammoth task of cleaning. The only way to deal with this immense project is by writing down all the tasks and creating lists. And lists. And – sigh – more lists.

Once everything is down on paper, it suddenly seems more manageable. Once all the stresses of one’s day and life are written out, they stop churning around in one’s mind like squirrels in a cage.

Most of you already know that I live my life by lists; it’s the only way I can cope.

Do you find it helps to get it all out, or do the thoughts, emotions and overwhelm plague you even more for being written down in black and white?

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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


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