I took the Moodscope test this morning and wasn't overly surprised to see a decline in my score. A myriad of reasons, none of them significant in themselves but undoubtedly having a cumulative effect. I wasn't overly concerned, this is a temporary dip, a minor blip and one from which I felt confident I could recover.
But then, in the narrative underneath was a phrase that caught my eye – "don't lose sight of the fact that you have the power to decide how you'll feel". I have to admit it stopped me in my tracks. It's a sentiment I've heard bandied about so often in discussions around depression and my immediate reaction was to take it as a judgement. The devil on my shoulder saw that phrase and felt utterly validated and in that split second I felt my scores drop another 10, 20 points.
What power do we have in the face of mental health challenges? Do I choose to suffer from depression or PTSD? Absolutely not, and yet I recognise that I do have choices in front of me. Some will be restorative, others will deplete. That devil on my shoulder is steering me towards the wrong ones. Run and hide. Withdraw and listen to that well-worn record of self-judgement that tells me I'm just not good enough and never will be.
But if I listen really carefully there is another, much quieter, voice. This voice is reminding me that I've been here before and that I do have other choices. That I can be kind to myself. It reminds me that if I am kind to myself, that hard inner critic will soften. It reminds me that when I judge and berate myself, that judgement spills over and I begin to judge others but that if I am kind to myself, then it will be kindness that eventually spills over.
Having choices can feel daunting, and exhausting. There are times when I simply can't see any other path but the familiar one that inevitably leads me back into the grip of depression. Today I do have choices. I can choose to hear that phrase "you have the power to decide how you'll feel" through my little devil's filter – that I am weak and am choosing to surrender to depression. Or I can recognise my reaction as a red flag and choose to try a different track.
So, I'm choosing to contact my GP to discuss tweaking my medication. I'm choosing to be honest with my therapist this week and I'm choosing to reach out to a couple of cherished friends – not to burden them with this heaviness, but to surround myself with their kindness. It's the harder path, but the better one.
I'd love to hear whether others would have a similar knee jerk reaction to that phrase and whether having that power, that choice, feels empowering or overwhelming.
A Moodscope member.