Monday, 22 January 2018

Please tell us what you think?

Moodscope is nine years old and has grown from one user trying to get a handle on his mood to many thousands of users making a unique Moodscope community today. It is still the only one of its kind, based on a validated psychological test and with users openly exchanging their experiences, insights and ideas around a shared issue who genuinely want to help each other and spread a bit of light.

We know from independent Populus research that there is a real need out there for exactly this service. Literally millions of people would benefit. We are keen to improve Moodscope and take it to the next level. You are key to this and your views will shape our next steps.

Please help us get started by completing this survey. The link is

It will only take a few minutes of your time.

Thank you in advance.

Kind regards.

Caroline Ashcroft

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Ping! Dinner is Served.

My two children like to remind me from time to time about how I always (yes always they say!) used to serve them microwavable ready meals when I got back from work.

So imagine my delight on seeing a metal hanging picture for the kitchen featuring a microwave with the caption underneath saying Ping! Dinner is served.

I bought three and gave one each to them and kept one.

The other day Oli wrote something very true about the un-usefulness of ruminating. Going over stuff in our minds constantly that we said or did the night before. I printed it out and have kept it to remind me.

So bearing in mind that I ruminate a lot, and believing every sensible word Oli said, I have devised a strategy for stopping myself.

If I find myself going over and over something I said which I thought was stupid and embarrassing, I say "Ping! Present and Future"

For me this stops me in my tracks and I immediately focus on the present. It has the effect of relaxing my body too.

So a big thank you to Oli and to my wonderful children and the metal hanger.

I wonder... do you think of words to bring you into the present when the past gets too much?

(Let me know if you would like a reminder of Oli's words)

A Moodscope member

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Saturday, 20 January 2018

I spied upon a New Year party.

I had a phone call to make at 6.15am. My slumber was broken from 5.30am as my mind checked in, annoyingly eager to stand to attention. I could hear the birds chattering a little as the day broke.

My call took a while, it grew arms and legs, and it was 7.20am before I was finished. The lure of the kettle wasn't enough. It was school holidays and I had slumbering teenagers...  too much temptation for me and I attempted to sneak in a little more sleep. An hour later I realised I would have been better rising at 5.30am. The attempt at sleep lead only to a jumble of light dozing and crazy dreams.

Anyway. The party came after that. Drawing back the curtains it was a grey day outside.  The hills over the back were missing in action due to cloud. Gardens dreary. Paths quiet. I am lucky that I have a fantastic tree in my back garden. She looks flimsy but is as strong as an ox. She is so laden with red berries during the winter that she resembles someone who has gone shopping and bought more than they can carry. All the other trees around paled into the grey and this girl shone like a West End leading lady dripping in rubies.

The birds. My feathered friends were leading by example and lining up in an orderly manner in all the other trees around. They took it in turns to exchange trees, swooping into Ruby Tuesday for a pause. Sometimes a berry was picked and sometimes they just sat for a moment. This time no chattering. Just fun! They were actually taking turns. No more than one cradled into her arms at any time. Their antics were hilarious and kept me amused. I am so glad I spent a little time spying on their party. I'm no longer keen on parties but it was good to learn there are many ways to celebrate. Another lesson learned.

I don't really have a message today. It was just to say hello.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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Friday, 19 January 2018

The Power of Nice.

I was introduced to a book called The Power of Now, which for me, revolutionised the notion of meditation, introducing instead the more accessible concept of Mindfulness.

This blog isn't about any of that though! I just like how the title must have inspired me.

The Power of Nice has a great ring to it. It's for those of us, who are dismissed as being weak because we are often described as "nice'.

Well for all the haters out there ( joking guys!) don't underestimate the power of nice!

Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that a different way of being is any better or worse. Some people are very direct and have a no frills way of communicating. I'm not judging, It's all good!

During a recent event, a group of us were asked "Think of a positive comment about you that has stayed with you". I struggled. All I could think of was "nice". I didn't feel good.  I know that I have strengths and a lot more to offer, but I also know how easy it is to be labelled and pigeonhole people until we get to know them. C'est la vie!

The number of times I hear people put others down at work with the comment, "She's very "nice" but...". The but is what they really think. It's left hanging, for one to fill in the gap. Weak? Clueless?

Its SO interesting how easy it would be to list a string of put downs! How about some put ups? Wouldn't it be great to be able to come up with a list of positive words as easily? I think it goes deeper than just having a limited vocabulary!

People who struggle with self image or self esteem may find it difficult to think of any to describe themselves. I have always worried about how I am perceived. It just happens. It seems engrained. So I have started to tackle it head on. Carrying a low self image is a weight that can be lifted.

I once went on a workshop that suggested that at the core of the inner self is a shining star, our essence they called it. I imagine it would already be there at birth, untainted by life. For some it is nurtured, for others, not. Whatever happens, it is always still there. Who we really are. All unconditionally loveable for being our unique and beautiful selves. Equal to (and equally deserving as) anyone else. Life may have clouded it, maybe illness makes it harder to tap into, but it is there. Our Essence. Interesting workshop. I left glowing.

So if the clouds could be lifted, what might be revealed is an easy flow of positive words to describe ourselves. I would have been able to think of more than just "nice". Why the "just" though? Maybe I wouldn't feel disappointed about the word nice.

Nice can be strong.
Nice can be about putting others at ease.
Nice can be quiet and really hearing.
Nice can be practical.
Nice can be trusted.
Nice can save lives.

Are there any other words for Nice?

A Moodscope member.

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Thursday, 18 January 2018


When I was a child if an adult or teacher told me, they were disappointed in me I would feel so small and start to cry. It was the one criticism that I dreaded and really wounded me. As a people pleaser the thought I had disappointed an adult because I said something a bit rude or when a teacher said I disappointed her because I had left my homework at home, was too overwhelming for me to understand. People expected me to be good - when I slipped a bit they were disappointed. My upper lip would tremble, and I would say as many sorrys as I could before curling up like a misshapen rock sobbing softly and getting cross with myself.

What is it about disappointing others that many like me find so hard to bear? Is it because we have set ourselves such high standards or that others have too high expectations. When you are well behaved it is only a matter of time before you have a minor fall from grace. If you are always diligent there will be a time when you are not. You can't please everyone all the time so you are bound sooner or later not to please someone. I know the theory but the practice is harder.

I found when I first had my mood swing I was so disappointed in myself because I thought I was destined to go smooth sailing through my life and then when it didn't happen I blamed myself for being such a mess.

I think disappointing myself has always upset me more than disappointing others. I am not sure when I realized I was not going to be a world famous academic or writer and that I needed to lower my expectation and be content with what I have. Well to be honest, while I realize those things aren't going to happen I secretly imagine they may.

Does it worry you if someone says you disappoint them?

Do you find yourself a disappointment? Why or why not?

A Moodscope member.

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Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Why Worry?

[To listen to an audio version of this blog, please click here:]

I think we all have a special seminal album in our lives. Sometimes we have one for each decade. For me, the seventies produced A Night at the Opera by Queen; the eighties The Joshua Tree by U2; the nineties, Gorecki's Symphony of Sorrowful Songs and the noughties, Lady Gaga's The Fame (tied with Karl Jenkin's The Armed Man). We're not out of the teens yet, but so far Night Visions by Imagine Dragons is looking good for it.

There are other albums which hold a special place in my heart; albums I return to again and again. One of them nearly pipped U2 in the nineties: Dire Straits' Brothers in Arms.

Not only does it contain the eponymous track, but also the wonderful 'Why Worry?' Follow this link for eight and a half minutes of utter bliss:

I was recently sent an email with some of the most beautiful advice I have ever received. It contains two sections on worry.

'Never borrow from the future. If you worry about what may happen tomorrow and it doesn't happen, you have worried in vain. Even if it does happen, you have to worry twice.'

I think we can all acknowledge the wisdom of this, but it's not always easy, is it, to just – stop – worrying?

But there is more advice.

'Separate worries from concerns. If a situation is a concern, find out what you can do and let go of the anxiety. If you can't do anything about a situation, forget it.'

Sometimes it takes a real effort of will to forget something we can't do anything about. If the situation is out of our control; if we have done everything we possibly can; if the problem belongs absolutely to another person, we can stop worrying.

Two nights ago, I was texting with a friend. "I feel like giving up," he said. "I may as well just kill myself..." then he went quiet. And I had to consider my options.

This friend lives a hundred miles away and it was 2am. If he lived in the same town I could have popped round, banged on his door and sat up with him. Could I reasonably do more, in this situation, than tell him he was loved and cared for? And that things would probably look better in the morning – when he wasn't drunk!

I turned over and went back to sleep. Because lying awake wasn't going to help anyone. But it did take an effort of will to dismiss him from my thoughts.

And – yes – he's still with us; still depressed, but here.

Worry helps no one.

And – from a favourite hero of my childhood:

Biggles's Philosophy

When you are flying, everything is all right or it is not all right.

If it is all right there is no need to worry. If it is not all right one of two things will happen. Either you will crash or you will not crash.

If you do not crash there is no need to worry. If you do crash one of two things is certain. Either you will be injured or you will not be injured.

If you are not injured there is no need to worry. If you are injured one of two things is certain. Either you will recover or you will not recover.

If you recover there is no need to worry. If you don't recover you can't worry.

From Spitfire Parade, by Capt. W.E. Johns, Oxford University Press, 1941

A Moodscope member.

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Tuesday, 16 January 2018

The Root of all Evil?

The actual quotation is "For the love of money is the root of all evil".  It is not money  that is evil, but the greed and dishonesty it can inspire.

A few things prompted this blog. I watched a T.V. programme about the emergency services. It focused on the  rise in calls involving panic attacks, and suicide attempts. Money problems, zero- hour contracts and unemployment were a common feature. A distraught woman  reported that her husband, a successful businessman employing a large workforce, was missing. His company was in trouble, he felt responsible for 150 mortgages. Tragically he was found hanged.

Last weekend I watched The Florida Project. It is the story of the cheap rundown motels surrounding Disneyland, home to a large moving population of people scratching a living, fighting to maintain some dignity, and often failing.

Then I watched a Ted Talk by a pair of young Americans calling themselves The Minimalists. Their philosophy is that we have more than is good for us.

I am now financially comfortable, although I have an irrational fear of poverty. This is a hangover from a couple of periods in the past, when I truly did not know where the next meal was coming from. I recall one dinner, Weetabix, a dented tin of pears from the back of the pantry, strawberry blancmange. Surprisingly tasty, but most importantly, filling.

I was doing 3 jobs to pay the bills. Around the same time a friend suggested we meet for lunch. It was at a local wine bar, not too expensive. I worked out that if I lived on baked potatoes and toast for a couple of weeks, and cut my own hair, I could split the bill.

She was the daughter of titled parents, living rent-free in a lovely house owned by the family. She was just off to Los Angeles; plane tickets a gift from friends over there. She spent the lunch bemoaning her poverty, she could not afford facials and leg waxing before the trip. I heard myself say, "Let me get this" and she did not argue. I walked away, the meal turned to lead in my stomach. My idea of being broke was not quite the same as hers.

To this day I cannot put my card in the cash machine without a small lurch in my guts - will it get swallowed up, am I overdrawn?

I have had the usual bad times in my life, but next to serious illness or death of loved-ones, I can think of nothing that is as depressing and debilitating as long-term money worry.

A saying of my mother's - "When money goes out the door, love flies out the window". A therapist told me that more marriages break up over money than sex or infidelity. Money clearly represents something pretty powerful in our relationships.

It's not just marriage. How many siblings seem fine with each other, until a parent's will is read? Then all the grudges and resentments from the past come out.

I would be interested to know if money, or lack of it, has played a part in your mental health problems?  On a lighter note, what has been the most "creative" dinner you have conjured up when strapped for cash-your penny-pinching signature dish.

A Moodscope member.

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

Monday, 15 January 2018

Healed by Music.

On two occasions already this year, classical music has had a soothing effect upon my soul. Those of us who experience and understand depression, will resonate with the sense of torment that so often pervades everything and every day. Music can heal this torment.

Yesterday, in the dark before dawn, I stood on the platform at Dorking station and reflected on the fact that I would rather be under the train that was arriving than on the train. My day went OK and then the journey back was worse than the journey to London. I was not in my happy place!

My sister, bless her, gave me her ticket to see and listen to the London Philharmonic Orchestra at Dorking Halls. I sat with my Dad, who was well enough at last to go out, listening to the magic of Mozart, Brahms, and Schubert. What we saw was as exciting as what we heard – animated and enthusiastic musicians putting their heart and soul into creating a collaborative work of beauty. Dad said he had 'woken up' for the first time in weeks. The music was healing him too.

This, for me, was the climax of Civilisation – the highest expression of what it was to be human and part of a tribe or team. Whilst I am sure there are politics in any orchestra, we were blissfully unaware of any disharmony. All we saw and heard was harmony, unity, symphony. And, God, was it good!

The Orchestra offers us hope – hope that there are models of working together for common good that require no win-lose scenario. There were no losers last night, just winners. No teams fighting for supremacy, just one team.

Is it time for you and me to bring our own orchestra together to orchestrate a better future? The Double Bass section was close to the Cellos but they played a different yet complementary role. I can't go on like this alone – I need a team to perform with – I need to belong to something bigger than myself where my 'flow' supports other people in their talents. I need a team to create something of beauty with my life... and I'm certain you do too.

I've picked you already for my team – my orchestra. Your support and understanding often plays the key role in keeping me moving forward. For that, I thank you all. Now, I wonder what beauty we could create if we put our minds together?

A Moodscope member.

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Sunday, 14 January 2018

In The Hole.

I feel as if I have fallen into a hole, and I've left all the tools that I need to get myself out up on the surface.

I can try to figure out another way to get myself out. I can ask friends to throw some tools in to help me. Or I can sit in my hole and patiently wait it out.

I do know what I need to do and I have got better at being kind to myself, I'll eventually get around to using those tools again too. Some are easier, like drink enough water, get to bed early, get out for some fresh air. Some are harder when they collide with other daily duties of work and family care.

I bet we are all familiar with the frustration of finding yourself in the hole and knowing the tools are just out of reach to us at that moment. What do you do? What strategies do you have that are easiest to employ?

A Moodscope member.

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

Saturday, 13 January 2018


This is my first blog.

I've been reading the others for a while now and never felt able or indeed competent enough to contribute. The blogs are all incisive and thought provoking. Not sure I can match that. At the back of my mind, well, at the forefront really, I don't want to come across as a whiny self absorbed individual.

I'm feeling pretty low at the moment.

Work isn't going too well. An incident two weeks ago has left me feeling very shaken. Being shouted at by a member of staff openly in front of colleagues in the presence of my manager was humiliating to say the least. The incident was bad enough but then when the manager ignored it I felt completely unsupported. When I asked her she said 'leave it...that's the way she gets on.

I'm just shocked and stunned. Undermined once again by my manager who has her favourites and will always support them regardless. I did tell her in an attempt to stick up for myself that I disagreed with her indifference and felt unsupported. That honest approach just backfired. More senior staff were drafted in and I ended up being firmly told I was in the wrong.

Bullies best not to speak up.

Well that's my tale of woe.

How do I cope with this overwhelming sense of negativity. How do I move on. Any ideas, coping strategies...any advice would be welcome. I need some of your ideas to get back on track.

A Moodscope member.

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