Wednesday, 31 May 2017

The Frenemy in the Passenger Seat.

[To listen to an audio version of this blog, please click here: http://bit.ly/2qCPKiu]

It seems to happen most when I'm driving. Just recently at the traffic lights, by my daughter's school. I'm sitting there, watching the red light, aware of my left indicator ticking, the trees coming into leaf on the other side of the junction...

"Wouldn't it be nice to end it all?"

I turned in shock to the figure next to me.

"Hey! I thought the drugs had got rid of you!"

He smiles, showing every tooth. "Think again."

The lights turn green and I turn left, driving at a moderate thirty miles per hour towards home, conscious of the chill emanating from the nebulous figure in rusty black beside me. He hums, and his white phalanges move in a sedate sarabande on one bony knee.

It was a fleeting visit this time. He was gone, without taking formal leave, by the time I reached home. But it had been a nasty shock. Surely, if I'm no longer depressed, I should not be troubled by thoughts of suicide.

He turned up again, a few days later, at a family barbeque, and again yesterday.

The medication has not banished my friendly enemy.

The mania and depression are still there, just as they have always been, but now I have the counterweight to those extremes, or perhaps a padded cocoon in which to endure that nightmare fun ride. I have my steady 40watt bulb to cast a soft golden glow, but the alternate flashing strobes and pitch darkness are still there, beyond that small radius of light. I'm still bipolar; but now the drugs ameliorate the worst of it.

My companion lacks much of the power he used to have. When he first visited me at seventeen, he was a passionate and importunate lover, urgently pleading me to leave all and come away with him. I desperately wanted to go, but just didn't know how. I'm clear that if the internet had been around in 1980, I would not be here now.

Over the years I have grown stronger, and can resist his blandishments. Less frequently now, does he suggest ways in which the thing might be done. Most of the time it's easy to laugh at him; dismiss him. But the very fact he's there at all, worries me.

I don't have any moral objection to suicide, despite my faith. The violence of it, the presumed pain, is off-putting of course, but if one could, as Thomas Hardy puts it, pass into "some nocturnal blackness, mothy and warm", how desirable would that be?

I won't. Love and duty keep me here. Love for family, for friends. Duty to that family, those friends, and to you whom I serve.

I'm not depressed. I'm enjoying life. That life is rich and full. I have everything.

But I want nothing. Nothing; nothing at all.

Am I alone in feeling this way?

I don't want any of you to suffer this too, but - please tell me I'm not alone.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/the-frenemy-in-the-passenger-seat

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Being Grateful.

It is hard to feel grateful, when we feel so low.
As anyone with a mental illness
Will well and truly know...

It is often mentioned that physical illnesses are recognised more and many have said on occasion, that mental illness is so cruel and the worst it can get. In my darkest moments, I truly believe that.

Then I think about my husband. He has lost use of his legs and his arms are becoming weaker. He drops things, spills things, and on several occasions he has collapsed and cannot get up. He is only 58.

He has had to give up his job and his social life and he feels utterly useless.

I am trying to cope with my own difficulties and support him too.

My heart goes out to him, but I am not good at showing it. I worry about his every move and whether he will fall. I worry that he may be diagnosed with something sinister and how I will cope.

I want to be strong but it is not always a choice.

I have to remind myself every day, that it will all be okay?

I want to be grateful, but I feel so low.
Only those that suffer
Will ever really know...

Molly
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/being-grateful

Monday, 29 May 2017

Moodscope in not one but 153 words.

Thank you for all your descriptive words for Moodscope last Monday.

The clear winner is, "Supportive" – a reassuring result!

An audio-visual representation of the results, in the order they were shared, is here: https://youtu.be/LPs24ouBC5w

It's not exactly Eurovision but it is our United Vision, and it's a vision I'm proud to be a part of.

"Helpful" and "Community" were big themes.  With "Reassuring," "Comfort," and "Comforting," also big winners, I think we can have an accurate sense of how most of us feel about and view Moodscope at this moment in time.

Moodscope is the Community that offers Support, Comfort, and Reassurance as we Help one another on this journey together. Other themes in themselves backed this up with a strong emphasis on the diagnostic assessment, and even having Moodscope as our Emotional Sat-Nav – keeping us Grounded whilst offering Hope.

If you were to give suggestions for what Moodscope can do with this wellspring of support and gratitude, what would you suggest?

I'm certain I speak for the majority when I say a huge "thank you!" for continuing the supportive work of Moodscope.

Onwards and upwards!

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/moodscope-in-not-one-but-153-words

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Mirror, Mirror.

Years ago,when I was a mere slip of a girl (around 50 say) I vowed that if I reached a certain age, I would Let Myself Go. I would stop having my roots done, go out without a face full of slap, stop squirting on a bit of perfume to go shopping.

Most of my planned surrender was based around food. Having once been very fat, I have maintained a slim, some say skinny, body by exercising iron self-control, and walking a lot. I've served my time for many years.

I decided I would continue with the walking, as I enjoy it. But the new diet-oh boy! Instead of spending many of my waking hours thinking about food, I would be stuffing my face with forbidden treats. This would be potent self-medication for anxiety and depression. Instead of gloomy ruminations, I would be busy planning the next feast.

The Gods have dealt me a cruel hand, very greedy, but self-conscious about my looks. Rich puddings, toast dripping with butter, and chocolate would join the daily Prozac. Instead of waking each morning with that vague sense of dread, dragging downstairs to breakfast on fresh fruit, I would spring out of bed, celebrate my Celtic roots, and get the pan out. After all, who cares if an old lady is rather portly. I could save a fortune on fillers and Botox, my own lardy padding would fill out the wrinkles very nicely, nature's own dermafiller.

When I ceased to care about appearances, became invisible, stopped getting the occasional glad eye from the opposite sex, I would feel liberated. My partner once failed to notice when I had a foot of hair cut off, so no problems there. He might moan that there was less room on the sofa, and  wonder who this big grey-haired woman was who had moved in, and why his stash of biscuits had vanished, but he would soon adjust.

Then I reached the deadline, and found that even if nobody else cared, I did. Give it a few more years, perhaps I could stretch it out a bit longer. I blame mirrors, you can't get away from them. I blame Helen Mirren too, but mostly I blame mirrors. Years passed.
I gave myself an extension, no need to be too hasty. Just another year, then Wahay!!

So,forward to the present day. Off to get the highlights done, cursing the huge mirror at the hairdressers, composing my face before I look up. My neighbour is gardening in shorts, absorbed in the pleasure of her plants, varicose veins galore, bingo wings flapping. I am  avidly reading the beauty blogs, counting calories, combing my hair and putting on blusher before signing for a parcel. I just can't let this wretched woman go.

Valerie
A Moodscope user.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/mirror-mirror

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Sing a new song, Chiquitita.

It's been an interesting week for me. Thoughts turned to suicide far more often than usual (and worry not, they were just thoughts). Such sadness in the news, coupled with family and friend issues (mostly imagined) took their toll. Mix in a portion of tiredness and stir the mix vigorously with negative imagination... well, most of us know all about this... the results were pretty predictable. A deep low.

So, on my way to yet another meeting, I decided to take some ABBA in the car to lift my spirit.  Except, ABBA's lyrics are full of sadness too, if you really listen. And really listen, I did!

The result is that I have a new personal theme song!  Chiquitita!

I'll have to change the Spanish to the male equivalent, but the message remains sound.

Chiquitita, tell me what's wrong
You're enchained by your own sorrow
In your eyes there is no hope for tomorrow
How I hate to see you like this
There is no way you can deny it
I can see that you're oh so sad, so quiet...

[So far, that's a perfect description of both how I feel and what I do when I feel like that. So what can we do?]

Chiquitita, tell me the truth
I'm a shoulder you can cry on
Your best friend, I'm the one you must rely on
You were always sure of yourself
Now I see you've broken a feather
I hope we can patch it up together

[First thing is to find Moodscope-friendly, friends! Thankfully, you're here. And then comes the breakthrough...]

Chiquitita, you and I know
How the heartaches come and they go and the scars they're leaving
You'll be dancing once again and the pain will end
You will have no time for grieving

Chiquitita, you and I cry
But the sun is still in the sky and shining above you
Let me hear you sing once more like you did before
Sing a new song, Chiquitita
Try once more like you did before
Sing a new song, Chiquitita

Sadness will pass and I will find a New Song to sing.

I hope you will too.

And then, I'll be more sure of myself again, but doubly-sure of those friends who are that shoulder to cry on, and that catalyst for hope.

Thank you... you know who you are x

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/sing-a-new-song-chiquitita

Friday, 26 May 2017

Show me the menu.

When depression chooses you it can feel like someone is holding a blade to your throat.  You might feel you have very little on the menu to get you well. But if you stay open minded there is a never-ending list of things to try. I'm going to list some and it'd be great if you could add what I've missed on to the blog spot. For those who have just found themselves held hostage this could be the start of something good. For those who need a change this could be the start of something good.

Medication
Counselling

There, both top of the list. They are valuable and there are heaps of other things out there which may enhance them, or replace them:

Volunteering
Painting with or without an art group
Singing with or without a choir
Running. Cycling. Any exercise. With a group or solo. Even better with a trainer (I made huge progress this way and boxing was a revolution inside my head!)
Writing a blog or even just writing for nobody to see
Sitting at the beach with or without people (the sea is full of energy you can borrow)
Reading
Learning
Cooking
Sleeping
Overhauling your diet
Overhauling your alcohol intake
Meditation ('Headspace' is far from the frumpy misconception)
Returning to the thing you dreamt of when asked the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
Being alone
Not being alone
Looking back at photographs (if they bring tears then perhaps you need it!)
Music. All. Any.
Silence
Overhauling your friends, family, colleagues. Do you still wear the shoes you wore thirty years ago?
Taking the type of break that can bring perspective and clarity.
Trusting someone with yourself. But be choosy, you are vulnerable.
Committing to something you know you need and is good for you, however small, and doing it... Every... Single... Day.

Perhaps you can add more to the blogspot, otherwise known as the Centre of Excellence.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/show-me-the-menu

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Labels, traits, illness, syndrome - whats in a name?

Recently I commented on a blog about HSP, highly sensitive person, that I saw it as another label. The writer, AVFTFS, explained that she didn't see HSP as a label but rather as a trait... She sees it as a trait she was born with, like having blue eyes. Something that is neither positive or negative in itself but just is.

I found this fascinating and wondered what is the difference between a label, a trait, a characteristic, a personality type, an illness, a temperament, a disorder, a syndrome, and what difference each word makes or if each word is treated the same by individuals or society.

"This notion - that mental illnesses are largely inborn personality traits that get pushed into extreme territory by life experience - has just gotten some high-tech confirmation from researchers." Melissa Healy

I think the above research that mental illnesses start as personality traits may remove the stigma that a mental illness has. I have noticed people seem to be saying more often they have a depressive trait, a personality type, a unique character rather than using the word mental or syndrome or disorder or illness.

So if you a have a characteristic, trait or any personality quirk not described as an illness, it seems there is less stigma as people have more confidence in gaining help  even if the help would be similar if it was labelled as an illness.

Does it matter what we name things as long as we get help? I think that it does. I am sure if I had been told I had a personality trait that meant I had big mood swings I think my life would have been different. Would it have been better, who knows? I think I would have suffered less stigma and sought help much sooner than I did.

What do you think?

Does it make a difference having a medical label rather than a personality type?

Should we treat people's symptoms and not label them at all?

What do you see as the difference between the different words - illness, trait, syndrome, characteristic, personality type etc?

Leah 
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/labels-traits-illness-syndrome-whats-in-a-name

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Courage, mes braves!

[To listen to an audio version of this blog please click here: http://bit.ly/2rNwFft]

When I was at school, my favourite hymn (I have never sung it since), went like this:

When a knight won his spurs in the stories of old
He was gentle and brave he was gallant and bold
With a shield on his arm and a lance in his hand
For God and for valour he rode through the land

No charger have I, and no sword by my side
Yet still to adventure and battle I ride
Though back into storyland giants have fled
And the knights are no more and the dragons are dead

Let faith be my shield and let joy be my steed
Against the dragons of anger the ogres of greed
And let me set free with the sword of my youth
From the castle of darkness the power of the truth

In my mind, I could see clearly that young knight galloping through the sunlit and verdant countryside, in search of giants to kill and dragons to slay. I pictured his white horse gaily caparisoned with a scalloped harness in scarlet and gold, his armour polished to a platinum gleam. In my imagination, he galloped blithely on forever; he never actually came across those giants and all the dragons stayed safely hidden from his sight.

So, the words of that third verse held for me no more reality than the first. If I did think about them, the dragons and ogres were something external – separate from myself – easily slain and with no blood spilled to sully my shining view of my own immaculate ego.

Real-life isn’t quite like that, of course, because the monsters live inside us, and they’re jolly difficult to kill.

So, my idea of courage, valour, bravery – all that, has changed. Courage is no longer charging over the barricades, or even steeling yourself to perform that single difficult act. Courage is demanded and found every single day.

Courage is finding the strength to get out of bed, to shower and to dress. Courage is getting the children’s breakfast, seeing them off to school with a smile and a wave. Courage is stepping outside your front door, to work or to shop; to meet people and face the world. Courage is seizing every drop of joy in that darkness and treasuring it as if a diamond found in a coalmine. Courage is just - keeping on keeping on.

I know many of you Moodscope users are housebound; not because of physical infirmity, but because of mental ill health. For you, the dragon guarding the door is ever watchful; opening one glinting eye and rattling his scales if you even get near. If you get past him, the ogres just beyond your garden path are legion. Just because they exist only in your mind, does not mean they are not real.

I want you all to award yourself for your bravery. You may not be that charging knight; but you are infinitely more courageous: you fight your dragons every day.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/courage-mes-braves

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

No regrets.

No, no regrets (apologies to Piaf)

Our UK vet, recently deceased, said 'If you don't learn something new every day you have not lived'. He was passionate about Percheron horses and the local Agricultural Show, but had acquired a wide knowledge of the most esoteric subjects. He always admired my articles for the local 'Rag' and the local church, so I miss him.

Another friend, said, often 'I wish I had done so and so (piano playing among them). She had time, money and opportunity, and although she worked diligently for the church I don't think she ever attained any 'personal' objective.

With my husband we went to a 'Commune' for a course on 'Technique for solving difficulties'. I've never met such a discontented lot – all women (except Mr G, who could not wait to go down the pub). Half were married, and convinced that their husbands and kids had deprived them from being financial wizards, great artists etc. The other half were single professionals who bemoaned the prospects of old age without children. A local farmer's wife (in UK) said if she had her life over again she would never have married him.

So, am I content?

I would not mind having a little less hassle at the moment. I would have liked my books to have been read by a wider audience – they are liked (in English and French) but cannot face the trauma of marketing them.

I have been much inspired today (19th May) by Radio 4 'Book of the Week', Henry Marsh, a famous neuro-surgeon, whose enthusiasm for life encompasses still doing operations unpaid, keeping bees, walking 25 miles a week, trying to keep dementia and Alzheimer's at bay (even he does not have the answer, just follows perceived wisdom).

And, I have a dream. The unit where Mr G goes daily is light, bright, and well-staffed. It is built round a courtyard, full of weeds. I want to build a 'garden of peace'. What do I need? More years, money, volunteers, permission, generous plant growers.

My 'fame' is in the photo – colours changed every year, photos world-wide, but I can't sign a wall of flowers, so will go un-sung.

Is there anything you regret?

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/no-regrets

Monday, 22 May 2017

Moodscope in One Word. Up for a challenge?

[To watch a video of this blog please click here: https://youtu.be/5E6LeyvXRZk]

How excellent are you at responding to a challenge? For this research to work, I need to ask you a favour. The favour is to decide on your answer before you read what anybody else has written. So, what's the question?

The question is: if you were to describe Moodscope in one word, what would that word be?

Of course, Moodscope is founded upon 20 key words.

Here they are in the order they were randomly presented to me when I wrote this blog"

Jittery
Excited
Irritable
Attentive
Upset
Inspired
Scared
Alert
Afraid
Strong
Ashamed
Determined
Nervous
Interested
Hostile
Enthusiastic
Guilty
Proud
Distressed
Active

These are all powerful words when scoping our moods and how they shift day-to-day. None of them, however, are what I associate with what Moodscope means to me personally.

I can't really say any more, can I, until we all start to share?!

So, if I may echo the question again, what does 'Moodscope' mean to you?

Can't wait to read your responses!

(And in case you're wondering why I'm asking for your response, the answer is simple.  Moodscope is an important part of all our lives, and it would be great to spread the word.  In order to spread the word, it would help to understand what Moodscope Users like you and I think and feel and value about Moodscope. This could then influence how Moodscope is promoted to new audiences.)

I'll share my word about 7pm UK time...

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/moodscope-in-one-word-up-for-a-challenge

Sunday, 21 May 2017

It's the Only Thing to Make Sense.

I admit it: my family life is in chaos!

I won't bore you with details; the details are too distressing, but – things are, shall we politely say, challenging.

I didn't send a Christmas letter last year. When all that could be said was that: nobody had died (it was close); my steadfast rock of a husband and I were still together; we were not financially destitute: well, there didn't seem much point.

2017, I thought, could only get better.

And it has.

Mostly.

I think...

Of most personal note (you could hardly have missed this), my terrifyingly violent mood-swings of the latter half of 2016 sent me back to the Mental Health Team and the wonderful Dr Samar (not his real name, which has 101 syllables and challenges even the most cosmopolitan of linguists). Dr Samar asked all the right questions, listened in the most proactive way and involved me, as an intelligent individual, in the prescription of the medication I now take. This medication has resulted in me becoming really rather boring in respect to the mania and depression (so far: it's early days yet). I now understand why many people with bi-polar stop taking the tablets... (Don't worry – I won't stop. I love and care for my family and friends too much to stop being sane).

Tom, my adopted son, moved out. This was upsetting for me. It was a relief to my husband, and a mixed blessing to the girls. While they loved having their big brother around, they hated the friction between him and their father – even when they considered Daddy was being dictatorial, unreasonable and altogether WRONG!!!

The challenges of 2016 made my husband and I talk as never before. I was shocked at some of the things he was thinking. He was challenged by some of my ideas. A full and frank exchange of ideas/opinions resulted in a stronger foundation for going forward. This was good.

Mostly.

But life, always challenging, moves on.

Life sometimes presents itself as shifting sands, where things and people you thought you could trust prove to be false, or at least, unreliable; where people you never noticed much step forward, take centre stage, and star in the soap-opera that is your life.

As I look around, there seems to be no logic; no basis on which to anchor the lives of my family and me. I love my husband and biological daughters. I love my adopted son no less. I love my darling friends Richard (another son) and Raz (a relationship far too complicated for me to even understand, let alone explain). I love my Moodscope buddies and I love you, the wonderful Moodscope Readers, to whom I write but never meet.

But unless I have some higher faith, we all are but flotsam and jetsam on the stormy oceans of life.

Forgive me if I cling to faith.

When nothing makes logical sense, it's the only thing to make ineffable sense.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/its-the-only-thing-to-make-sense

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Learning from comments.

I know Moodscope is best known for its test and charting of moods, but the thing I find most helpful is listening and learning from others through comments.

There is such a diverse range of experiences and ideas so I am always eager to read what people have written. I have been so touched by the honesty in comments and the raw emotions, I have been in tears as I read them. I am also touched by the kindness and compassion for others.

Some people have commented that they don't know what to write because they feel it has already been said and they don't feel confident about expressing their ideas or worry no-one is listening or interested in their ideas.

It is our inner critic trying to undermine our confidence. Everyone can express their thoughts and share their ideas with others.

I see blogs as just the springboard for so many ideas and sharing of so many stories I know many people are happy to read and that is great.

I am always curious as to why someone who has never commented or rarely comments decides to reply. It so good to hear from new voices.

I wonder how we can encourage more people to comment - if they want to of course. Also, what makes people want to comment a lot. I know I like to give feedback to the blogger because I know I appreciate it.

Do you have any ideas of how to encourage someone who wants to comment but is unsure and worried?

What do you find helpful about comments?

Leah 
A Moodscope member

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/learning-from-comments

Friday, 19 May 2017

Recovery Colleges - a new concept in mental health care.

Recovery in mental health terms is not seen in the same way as physical health. There, staff think of it in terms of a cure. For mental health staff, recovery is a concept of a journey through life not a 'cure'.

Health education is being seen as the way forward in mental health care and being provided by Recovery Colleges. (These colleges are only available in the UK - if you know of any similar services in other countries, please add a comment to this blog.)

Recovery Colleges provide courses about all aspects of health and well-being with a mental health slant in the community. You do not have to have a diagnosis or even be under the care of mental health care teams or other Doctors to access. Family members and carers are also eligible. It's self referral and provided free by the NHS.

Courses cover living skills like confidence and self esteem as well as specific mental health conditions. As the number of courses grow they will cover health topics from birth to death and address mental health issues of physical illness.

I'm a volunteer tutor for my local Recovery College, I am that 'Someone with Lived experience' with nearly 40 years of experience to comment on, what's worked – or didn't and why, for me.

The philosophy behind these courses is radical in health care terms, as they are being             co-developed and delivered by a 'Professional' and equally by 'Someone with Lived experience". That uniqueness of 'equal but joint' reflects a slow acceptance that we, the 'Persons with Lived Experience' have a lot to share and teach each other.

Moodscope is a great example of this. Developed as a result Jon's 'lived experience' he developed a beneficial tool to track mood, it helped to raise mood. Yet in class, I've not meet another 'Moodscoper' but I know it helped me gain insight. Professionals I meet say they've heard of it but haven't used it. I advocate it strongly, every opportunity I get. Hoping my experience gives students another tool to gain insight.

My Recovery College is less than two years old. I have co-facilitated and been a student. Combining theory with reality, it's often the sharing 'this has worked for me' ideas that I have learnt most from.

Maslow's theory - Hierarchy of Needs, discusses how to get 'added value' from life. To achieve a good life, you need to strive for the top of the pyramid (self actualisation). Recently I heard a colleague talk passionately of his own experience - that he can only live well when he concentrates, on the often over looked base of the pyramid - sleep, food, exercise etc. It was for me a 'lightbulb moment' - the relevancy of theory and reality.

Insight empowers, helping you on your journey of recovery. Education is one route, it's the balance of theory with reality is what is empowering about Recovery College courses.

For more information about your local Recovery College search your Mental Health Services Trust website, if they don't have one, email their PALS office and request one.

Karen
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/recovery-colleges-a-new-concept-in-mental-health-care

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Living the Life..!

I just received an email asking: 'Are you living the life you love?'

I laughed. Out loud. Of course I'm not. I am living though. I get up and fight every day. The moment my eyes open, I battle the voices in my head that tell me I can't do this. That I am not a great mother. That I am not good at my job. That I am not organised. That I am not a house-owner. That my kids will leave and I will be alone. That my friends tolerate me. That my ex-husband is relieved to be free of me. I battle those voices.

My therapist suggests I say a mantra each morning. I can't decide on the wording so she tells me hers. I like its simplicity. I ask if I can borrow it. She smiles. She smiles a lot. And laughs. And cries too. She is real.

Her mantra is: 'I am happy and healthy.'

Of course, it is not the truth. I have happy moments but I am not happy. Thankfully, I am mostly healthy. But mantras need to be positive or it sort of defeats the purpose! I add my kids in because it feels disloyal not to. My therapist says that's okay - as long as I put myself first.

So, that's what I do each morning now. I wake. I suppress the demons. I say:

'I am happy and healthy.

My kids are happy and healthy'.

It steadies my mind. I wake my warm, sleepy son (who wanders into my bed most nights). I call my daughter, go downstairs, am greeted by the bonkers puppy who tries to eat my slippers. I turn off the house alarm (on every night since the horrible robbery), switch on the radio, stick on the kettle, run back up to get dressed and call them for the eleventh time. Once breakfast is eaten and lunches made and packed, it's out the door, drive to school, wave them off, get stuck in traffic on the way home.

Clear the breakfast things and put on a wash. Start work. Twelve work emails, a big and a medium deadline looming and a meeting to prepare for. A form to be filled in about my son's football registration and fees required for my daughter's dance class. I notice the date -  it's my dad's birthday, he'd be 86 if he was alive. I'll ring mum, see how she is. An email from the school - is it about the parent-teacher meeting? No... the primary school is riddled with head lice. Please de-louse your children tonight.

And it's only 9.10 in the morning.

So, no, I am not living the life I love. I am anxious, sad, frustrated and yes, angry a lot of the time. I am also kind, funny, clever and doing my bloomin' best. But I struggle. Daily.

'I am happy and healthy.

My kids are happy and healthy.'

Salt Water Mum
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/living-the-life

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

There's Probably a Word for It.

Oh, I've known I'm a bibliophile for some years now. I blame a long series of illnesses I had as a child. Stuck in bed for weeks, months at a time, can very easily drive a sensitive (and, dare I say, intelligent) youngster into this kind of escape.

I must be honest and say that it has caused problems. There are times this addiction makes me late, leave tasks undone, drives me away from company to seek solace in solitude.

Well, not exactly solitude. I saw a blanket the other day with the words, "Bibliophiles never go to bed alone."

Yes, my pile of unread books on my bedside table regularly gets snow on its upper levels!

But, I didn't realise I was also a logophile until just the other day. That's a lover of words. Well, I knew I loved words, I just didn't know there was a word for it.

Turns out there are words for a lot of things.

We know words have power. In fact, the mere act of defining something into language enables it to be understood. Understanding is knowledge and knowledge is power.

I've always prided myself on my vocabulary (it comes from all those books) and so, yes, I know wonderful words like crepuscular (active at or relating to twilight) and serendipity (happy accident), and tarradiddle (a story based around an untruth or lie). But what about a word for that sharp scent of rain falling on dry earth? It's petrichor. That strange wistful feeling you get inside a good second hand book shop (especially if one has inadvertently stepped into L-Space*)? Vellichor. The sense of time speeding up as we get older? That's zenosyne.

You won't find these words in the Oxford Dictionary. At least, not yet – because they are not real words. They have been imagined by one John Koenig and published in his Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.

The wonderful thing about the English language however, is that it is infinitely elastic and flexible. It grows by theft from other languages, by acronyms, by the conversion of proper names to common nouns and yes, by the adoption of entirely new words. Shakespeare was particularly good at this. It is from him we get the word addiction I used above, for instance.

So now you can use these words to describe your emotions:

Clinomania – the excessive desire to stay in bed.
Monochopsis – the subtle persistent feeling of being out of place.
Nodus Tolens – the realisation that the plot of your life makes no sense.
Altschmerz – the weariness of dealing with persistent problems and unwanted emotions.

Or – you can make up your own words. After all, if you've got a word for it, that's the beginning of power over it.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

*Terry Pratchett defined L-Space thus: Books = Knowledge = Power = Mass x Distance²/Time³ - such that, essentially, all bookstores are potentially infinite in extent; gateways into literary hyperspace: "[a] good bookshop is just a genteel blackhole that knows how to read."

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/theres-probably-a-word-for-it

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Honestly Ungrateful.

Some days it's damn hard to be grateful. To be truly grateful for small things is life changing, it is scientifically proven. Think of three good things right now:

1. A good thing that has happened today, no matter how small.
2. Something that is going well in your life.
3. Notice something you really appreciated recently.

Go on, I challenge you to.

If you have done that, there is a shift in your brain that has occurred and you have become part of the positive psychology revolution. If you carry on doing this over several days it becomes a 'Happiness Habit'. The frontal cortex of your brain actually changes shape, the muscles become stronger and you are literally training yourself to be more aware of the good things in your life.

I know all this. I believe it. I live it. I study it. But. Some days I am so flat I cannot stand. Even the word grateful is too heavy to hold. On those days, shutting my eyes can make my head spin on it's internal roller coaster. So I stare at my discarded books, sweat stained washing and try to find the small voice under it all. Buried under successful Facebook statuses, or triumphant Twitter announcements. A persistent tapping of: 'I'm tired.'

Gratitude has to be authentic. It needs to come from a place of connecting with what is happening in my real life and not my life in comparison with others. I know I should be on my knees grateful for every damn day I live. I live in a city free from war. I have opportunities at every street corner. I do not worry about having food on my plate, or in my children's mouths. I know I live in a society that is materially rich.

On the days my mind is taken apart by my body's inability to move, it's important to remember to listen to the hidden voice, amidst the should, could and must.

The smell of a perfume that brings me into the present moment. The time I took to savour the drink I was able to swallow before beginning my day. An authentic moment to connect to the freedom I have to think my own thoughts. These are the things I am grateful for.

On the days when I truly cannot bear to acknowledge these things, it's time to rest. Delegate. Get help. Notice. Trust there is a difference between giving up and knowing when I've had enough. I'm not a rule follower, I'm not always grateful. Trust me though, it's essential to pack a working torch when you go on an adventure into the dark.

Anita
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/honestly-ungrateful

Monday, 15 May 2017

Daisy and the Lawnmower Man.

I love to mow our lawns. Given half a chance, I'll mow the neighbour's too! The results are so clear, so tangible, so satisfying.

Except for the guilt.

I hate to mow the daisies.

Daisies are such cheerful, robust, happy, smiley plants. They are Sun-worshipers, folding up their petals when it's night or cloudy, and opening up in delight when the Sun shines again. I hate chopping their heads off.

I've just mown the lawns.

I've just decapitated the daisies.

Except for some.

Some survived.

Do you know which ones survived?

They were the ones that I crushed with my feet as I walked with the mower. They are still smiling, heads intact. They'll be back again tomorrow, as if nothing happened. Stronger than before.

The other daisies will grow back too, but not their original heads.

This struck a chord with me. If you're suffering at the moment, if you feel down-trodden by life, if you feel in danger of being cut-down by circumstances - maybe it'll be a Daisy-Day for you. Being down-trodden, you'll miss the blades that catch those who stand tall and arrogantly expect these things just to happen to other people. Stuff happens. If you're bowed down, you will rise again. The Sun will shine again on you, and...

...you will live to see another day

...you will live to love another day

...and all this will have passed.

You'll be OK.

Lex
A Moodcope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/daisy-and-the-lawnmower-man

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Spring - Coming out of the Shadows.

Don't you think that coming out of a bout of depression is very like the transition from Winter to Spring? Do you ever feel like a new Spring flower bursting with startling colour?

I've always liked snowdrops best, they're so graceful, a lovely nod towards Spring with the subtle white of the previous season's snow. But sometimes I feel like the crocus or aconite, startling myself with a new brightness. Of course there are times when the bout doesn't lift so easily and I'd rather stay under the depths of snow.

When the darkness is lifting from my mind and body I can be taken by surprise by a feeling of love or happiness. It floods my body and reassures me that I'm feeling well and that some better times are on the way. Starting to feel something again, some days better than others, a creeping back into brighter times and a leaving behind of the numbness of Winter cold and blank mood. Like the weather, a string of good days can be broken by a sudden dark day too.

Last weekend, we had two days of sunshine and warmth. We could feel Winter creeping away and start to look forward to better weather and longer days. Myself and my family were pottering in the garden, spring cleaning the garage and the shed, the children were reacquainting themselves with their forgotten outdoor toys and their bodies, stretching out and running around the garden like Spring lambs.

I took myself off for a little run as the afternoon was coming to an end. Men were out in their gardens, clearing up hedge cuttings, washing their cars; re-marking their territory. Some were lighting their BBQs (a bit premature I thought as the wind was starting to pick up and the temperature dropping rapidly!) to send smoke signals out to their neighbourhood, bringing friends together. Washing hung out on lines like flags to show people are home and up and out and I felt the hopefulness of a new season taking over me.

As I start to feel better, I too come out of hibernation and start to signal to friends that I'm coming back, it's a new season, the darkness is lifting and I'm looking forward to some better days. The days too will feel longer and maybe I'll accomplish more each new day. And what comes after Spring? Summer. There is always hope of even brighter days.

Lizzie
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/spring-coming-out-of-the-shadows

Saturday, 13 May 2017

How do you ride the wave?

I rang my son recently because he had blocked me on Facebook messenger.

I was surprised, but soon discovered this was just the tip of the iceberg as far as his fury and frustration was concerned.

He said, if I don't take my mental health seriously, I would never be invited to his home, or to see his as yet hypothetical children. He said everyone could see I am bipolar, including the people who stopped to speak to him or his sister in the street about it, everyone in my little town, and even the guests who come through my Airbnb and leave such glowing reports about their stay.

I came off the phone furious, and hurt. The conversation has replayed itself endlessly in my mind and I have reevaluated my whole summer in light of his comments. I have become withdrawn, mortified, and wonder seriously about the future.

This is not unusual. I charge on in my life, sometimes saying and doing absurd things, acting impulsively, busy with a myriad of unspoken thoughts and beliefs until a blast from a loved one brings me up sharp.

This is the end of what I suppose is a manic ride, and the beginning of a depressive one.

Now I hide. I sleep, I rise, I shower. I eat just enough to get by. I down pills and watch my hair getting thinner and whiter. I worry about the state of my house. I feel lonely, frightened and old.

Have I always been "bipolar"?

I remember as a child the delicious wave of creativity coming over me on cold winters days. The fire would be lit early and I would feel a sudden urge to make. Drawing, writing, painting, making scrapbooks or dolls house furniture from match boxes, cardboard and beads. I loved this moment.

As a documentary maker I became comfortably familiar with the ebb and flow of creative inspiration. At times the world was bleak and dull, and I would slog away in the editing studio. At others there was a story at every turn and I collected, planned and went out gathering audio. I learned to ride the wave.

Now the job is gone and the children don't need their mother. It is too easy to overbalance.

How do you ride the wave?

Deb
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/how-do-you-ride-the-wave

Friday, 12 May 2017

Let the bakers bake and the butchers butch.

I live in a big house that has never been without a problem. The last eight years has seen a steady and constant stream of all the trades all lending their hand to this beautiful but troublesome place. Today a wall needs to be built and it is the turn of a joiner and an electrician. Finally, I think I have a little team who are masters of their craft and do a job in a traditional and learned way. I still hear how this or that has not been done the way it is meant but I also know I have trusted people who can help and push us another step forward.

As I boiled a kettle and set a tea tray (I strongly believe in keeping the workers happy) it came to me that we must approach this illness in the same way. Would I have a go at the electrical work needed in the new stud wall? I believe I could learn but I would not touch that job on my own. Electric shock? Nah. One hideous perm in the eighties was more than enough thank you much!

Please do not think of having one more day struggling onwards alone. Take advice. Trust someone. Take recommendations. Learn about different ways of approaching recovery. I've had to work through a few tradesmen. None were awful but plenty were more interested in doing a job rather than doing a good job. This is true too in our search for help with our mental health. Just because someone is qualified in their field does not mean that field is the right one for you. You can be choosy. It's just that when we are low we are both vulnerable and have far less energy to be choosy.

Having a trusted someone who is neutral can be the scales you need to help you get to the treatment most suited to you. In my opinion that is the hardest bit. Once you have taken that leap of faith, learned (sometimes the hard way!) and found something that works for you, it simply becomes a battle of keeping going at the times you least feel like it.

No home perms please. Learn from an electrician.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/let-the-bakers-bake-and-the-butchers-butch

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Listen to me.

I went to a conference on Patient Experience recently where people told their patient stories. The main message was that people wanted to be heard, they wanted to feel someone had listened to them.

It seems such a simple thing - listening, we do it from the womb to the tomb yet it is often very difficult.

How many times a day do you say or hear someone say: "Just listen to me" or "What do I have to do to make you listen" or "I feel no one ever really listens to me."

It seems so easy, you just stop talking and listen. Then why does it seem so difficult?

Why do so many people feel that no one listens to them.

Why do so many people feel so alone because there is no one who listens.

Some researchers say that that the average person actually remembers a fraction of what is said to them. So much time is spent mastering other skills, but little time is spent practicing essential interpersonal skills. Listening is one of them.

What does it take to become a good listener? A lot of hard work. You need to make a conscious effort to listen to a speaker.

Listening is not easy. You're constantly trying to stay focused. When you take the effort to really concentrate and listen you maybe surprised what you learn.

I admit I had a tendency to interrupt, but I saw it as enthusiastically joining the conversation. I try very hard to focus on the talker.

Has there been a time when being listened to was very important to you?

Do you have tips of how to be a better listener?

Do you feel frustrated you are not listened to by your friends and family?

Leah 
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/listen-to-me

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Out and Aloud, If Not Proud.

[To listen to an audio version of this blog please click here: http://bit.ly/2pwN9a1]

Hands up: who's out?

No, darlings, I couldn't care less about your sexual orientation. I mean, are you out regarding our mutual black dog? What's his name now: Rex, Fido, Hades?

And where is he now? Is he sitting by the back door, waiting to be taken for a walk, just when you need to go out to work? Is he importuning you right at your feet, drooling on your slippers? Is he sitting on your chest, all eight stone of him (50kg), breathing and drooling into your face? Or – has he disappeared for one of his expeditions: you are so glad he has left you for a while, you never ask where he has gone?

(And – all the above with apologies to those of you who own Newfoundland or St Bernard or Pyrenean Mountain dogs and know intimately the wonder of such glorious doggy delights).

My real question is, does your family know about him? Do your work colleagues ask about his health? Does your boss factor him into your work plan?

Yup, thought so. You do your best to hide him away, don't you? Because you are ashamed.

Just consider for a moment, if that black dog were tangible...

Let's consider he has his teeth clamped around your intestines (or, in extreme circumstances, your throat). Let's consider if everyone could see him...

Do you not then consider you might be due some additional consideration? A little more understanding?

As it's #Mental Health Awareness Week, are you making people around you more aware?

Do you make them aware of Moodscope?

I mean, if you are reading this, you must find it useful, right?

But, do you tell anyone?

I am frequently shocked by the number of health professionals I come across who have not heard of Moodscope. I sometimes feel I am on a one-woman mission to educate the whole country. I tell everyone (when appropriate, of course). I wax eloquent; I tell them about the daily twenty questions. I show them my graph. I tell them I write the Wednesday blog. I tell them about my buddies and the way buddying works. I tell them the basic Moodscope is absolutely free!

(Okay, so that's when I'm well. When my own black dog sits on me I can't tell anyone about anything.)

Without exception, everyone I speak with is intrigued and enthusiastic. They can immediately see how it could help their patients, their friend, their Uncle Trevor.

And nobody looks at me with that condescending pity we all fear.

It's taken time, but gradually the world is beginning to see that depression is an illness, not a moral weakness.

I won't say it's your duty to come out; it must be your own choice, and you may have your own reasons for staying so far in that closet, you pay your taxes in Narnia.

But to help all those suffering, who do not know about Moodscope, please get the word out.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/out-and-aloud-if-not-proud

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Surviving or Thriving?

That's the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week, 8-14 May.

What a comfort to see it 'trending' on Twitter yesterday morning: #MHAW17

Alongside: #MondayMotivation

Having just sent another email to my manager informing her I will not be coming into work until at least the end of May, my Monday motivation is slightly different to the pantheon of hard-workers, contributors to society, bread-winners, go-getters, all with their stories of success and starting the week right with Starbucks, spirit and sass.

My motivation today: survive.

I am currently in a state of limbo, waiting to be seen by a psychiatrist (end of May), having had a referral made the first week of February... it's been a long few months. I have gone from a severe depressive episode with serious thoughts of suicide to being back at work (albeit on less hours) with an output above and beyond my normal full-time level (but then what's 'normal' to us Moodscopers...) With over 10 years' worth of highs and lows, there is a possibility of a bipolar diagnosis and in the mean-time I find myself questioning everything, still unable to stop or slow down yet beyond exhausted, seduced by self-harm and comfort eating.

I am not afraid of labels; I am open and willing to receive whatever course of treatment is right for me. The on and offs and altered dosages of citalopram and sertraline might have helped with low episodes, but they don't seem to have prevented them nor helped achieve balance in my life. Even on good days, thoughts out of nowhere arrive and say "If you died today, at least you'd die happy."

Right now, all my energies are focused on surviving; a new one for me as most of the time they are equally spread across work, relationships, friendships, supporting others ("sharing is caring" as we say). But now I have pressed pause no matter what the cost to the above. I have had to remind myself that if I don't stop now, I won't even be here to do a job that I love. So if I lose my job is that really the worst that could happen? Perhaps we shouldn't ask ourselves that question – I'm sure most of us could come up with an array of catastrophic answers.

I count myself extremely lucky that I have family and friends to support me, who want me to both survive AND thrive.

Thriving will come – that I truly believe – but for now, let's simply survive. And be kind to ourselves for doing so; depressives are so often told to be compassionate with themselves. This comes in many different forms for all of us but what bigger act of compassion than choosing life? What better Monday motivation than: "I will survive." ?

As long as I know how to love, I know I'll stay alive...

Sending light, love and disco diva strength to all you survivors and thrivers.

Sylvia
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/surviving-or-thriving

Monday, 8 May 2017

From possible to Impossible to I'm possible.

Hope dawns with a sense of what is possible.

POSSIBLE

Then experience and naysayers work their dark arts, and often two simple letters are added to that possibility: I and m:

IMPOSSIBLE

This is where most people stall and stop.

But there is magic in movement and in punctuation.

Keep the lessons learned from impossibility thinking - it's a phase we all go through - but move your perspective.

"It's just a jump to the left!"

Move your I and m a couple of spaces to the left, and a new kind of possibility emerges.

Add an apostrophe and you'll avert a catastrophe:

I'M POSSIBLE

Shift Happens!

Shift happens, folks! It happens first between our ears in that marvellous muscle called your brain. And it takes some muscle to move the I and m to the left, and then to pull in that apostrophe that averts the catastrophe.

Here's a muscle building question for you:

"I know what you want is impossible, but if it was possible, how could you make this work for you?"

Now, go!

Work miracles!!

Everything is possible for those who believe!!!

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/from-possible-to-impossible-to-im-possible

Sunday, 7 May 2017

A year living with .....a rescue dog!

A year ago, at the end of last May, Ruby Skittles bounded into our lives. We knew very little about her, being a rescue dog from Birmingham Dogs' Home.

This was a big gamble. I nor my kids had ever lived with a dog, nor did we know much about Ruby Skittles' history other than she was a stray.

A year on we have had some adventures, involving escapades, chasing other animals including catching a goose (I rescued it in time), trying to 'play' with bullocks and generally chewing her way through a number of household items including the remote control. There have been some highs and lows, but I certainly wouldn't be without her.

As I did my second dog walk today in the verdant, blossoming park behind my house, it occurred to me that there were some similarities with my illness.

It's 26 years ago when my first bout of depression hit. It was unknown, unrecognised and scary and resulted in hospitalisation. As I have grown, I have learnt to recognise, know and accept it.

I still have that forbidding feeling when I know another bout is going to descend... but I also know it's nature. I know that it's unwanted but also I know I will survive and get through. I have found ways of living with it, drugs, exercise, sleep and positive thinking, just as Ruby Skittles needed routine, food, exercise, love and a lot of patience.

I don't want to stretch the black dog analogy too much. Whereas Ruby's presence is generally positive, living with depression has presented multiple challenges and has been really painful.

It was a brave decision to take on Ruby and a brave decision to face my illness head on with the full enormity of it staring me in the face.

I wish for all Moodscopers today courage, strength and humour... now there must be time for a joke from Hopeful One!!

BrumMum
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/a-year-living-with-a-rescue-dog

Saturday, 6 May 2017

"It is what it is."

How many times have you heard this saying? I hear it all the time and usually it's a throwaway comment about trivial things like the weather. Yet it has become so much more than a throwaway comment for me. It has developed into a bit of a mantra. I realised that this simple yet, powerful statement of only five small words can really stop me in my tracks when negative thoughts start flooding in or if I'm wishing I had a different... life, job, body, bank balance, relationship (delete as appropriate).

Saying "It is what it is" to myself can ground me within seconds. It allows me some space between my thoughts and my feelings and immediately gives me some much needed perspective if I start dwelling on painful memories or worrying about things that may or may not happen in the future. I find it calming if I'm feeling mentally out of control or more practically if I'm stuck in traffic or when I find the TV remote in the fridge (as happened recently when I wasn't feeling completely together - but that's another story!).

Whenever my negative thoughts are working against me and I'm on a downward spiral of toxic thoughts, saying this out loud helps me remember that things are what they are, right now, this very second. It's not to say it can't and won't be different in five minutes or longer term, but right now, in this present moment I am experiencing what I'm meant to be experiencing.

It is true that when things get particularly bleak, even these five little words can so easily be forgotten, lost in the fog that is depression, but hanging onto something as simple as "It is what it is" can help give you a little head space - until the next thought comes along anyway. So I invite you to make these five little words your mantra. Give it a try because... "It is what it is".

Sue
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/it-is-what-it-is

Friday, 5 May 2017

Invisible.

I wish depression had an obvious physical symptom - large bright blue blobs all over your face for instance. I am fed up with people assuming that I am introverted and lazy, with a negative attitude. The reality is the opposite - I am an extrovert, full of energy, very hard working and my glass isn't just half full, it is completely full!

However, I suffer from two illnesses, both of which are invisible and both of which mean that my real self is hidden behind what they impose on me (I have ME/CFS and depression).  Unfortunately neither of them have obvious physical signs that everyone can see and therefore unless I tell people, they go unnoticed, with people presuming that what they see is me rather than the illness (we are NOT our illnesses!)

I think that depression would be much more easily accepted and people would see how widespread it is if there was a clear physical sign, hence my big blue blobs suggestion. The first time a child saw someone with these on their face they would say, "What's wrong with them?" and they would be told, "That poor person has depression, so be gentle and kind to them."

There are still so many misunderstandings about depression. I read with annoyance what a doctor called Ellie Cannon wrote in the Mail on Sunday in February. Fearne Cotton has gone public with her depression and this doctor wrote: "Considering her beauty, bubbly persona, huge success, gorgeous family and seemingly shatter-proof confidence, it was a surprise."  Implying that good looks, a family and success mean that you won't get depression.

I hate to tell a doctor this, but depression is an illness - anybody can have it, no matter how beautiful! It is attitudes like this that make those of us who have this illness sometimes feel that we should hide it from the world ("What reason do I have to feel unhappy?") and it encourages us to feel guilty ("I must be really ungrateful because I have x, y and z and yet I still feel dreadful...") So not only is it an invisible illness but we try to hide it as well!

With most illnesses you get sympathy and support but I tend to get "What have YOU got to be depressed about?"! Obviously big blue blobs are not going to appear on my face, but I still can't help wishing that they would, along with something to show when the ME/CFS is bad (mind you, I tend to be house-bound by that and nobody sees me so the symptom would have to be that I start involuntarily emitting some weird noise that would make the neighbours come round - how about really ear-piercing whale sounds?!)

What do you think? Do you wish your mental health had a straightforward visible sign to it?

Whatever you think, I hope you are as well as you can be today.

Marmaladegirl
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/invisible-1

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Remember the feeling.

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."  Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou's words speak to me through their simplicity and truth.

We all know people who don't talk to their family, their cousins, their neighbours because of a disagreement that started many years ago, so long ago that nobody remembers how it started. What they do tell you is that their side was hurt, offended, felt betrayed etc.

Feelings are so strong that successive generations will keep the animosity going long after the people who started it have died. A friend discovered she had long lost cousins in England and wanted to meet them. At the reunion was a side of her family that had not talked to the other side since late 1800's!!!

She was curious as to how it started but everyone was vague. What they did know was how horribly their ancestors had been treated by the other side.

There are good feelings that we can share with others. Funny how I immediately thought of negative feelings. I knew this family who had a child with a severe disability. Every time I visited them they made me feel like a queen. Words and actions have faded but that feeling of being welcomed and valued, has stayed with me forever.

There is common theory now that says as we think so shall we feel. If we change our thinking then other people can't make us feel bad. That is the theory and sometimes I am sure it works but in dealing with close family with fragile emotions involved it can be difficult to think logically.

If we change our thoughts we can change our feelings?

Can you relate to the quotation?

Do you remember how someone made you feel but have forgotten other details?

Do you have any ideas that worked for you to stop others from hurting your feelings?

Leah 
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/remember-the-feeling

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Pride Comes After a Fall.

[To listen to an audio version of this blog please click here: http://bit.ly/2pEfQVA]

I was wondering what to write this morning. Not so much grasping into thin air, but choosing from the myriad of confused ideas in my mind, wondering which one to take in hand, untangle, and wrestle with my trusty keyboard into some kind of coherent shape.

But reading the Librarian's excellent post today has decided me: today needs to be about pride.

Yesterday, the Librarian recommended being compassionate with ourselves, recognising that we have done our best and saying "well done" to ourselves at the end of each day.

Well, until recently, I could never do that. Even when flying high; impatient with everyone around me because they were just so stupid, so slow, so unimaginative; I could never mark that "pride" card at more than a measly 1. As for the bad times, pride was the first to drop to zero, and the very last to come up again.

I would berate myself for not having done more, achieved better, obtained higher. I would look at my (perceived) potential and castigate myself for not having fulfilled even half of it.

I was never, but never, proud of myself.

What changed? The medication: simply the medication. Oh, what a difference the right drug makes!

It took a while for me to notice it, because I was consistently scoring a "good for me" number. But eventually, it dawned that there were never any 3s. So, if there were no 3s, what else had changed to bring the score up?

Well, there was nothing on jittery, irritable or hostile – that was one thing. But the most significant change was the pride score.

It seems, every morning, I can look back on the previous day and find at least one thing I am proud of. Today I look back and I am proud of myself for saying no to someone. Saying no was incredibly difficult for a people pleaser like me, but absolutely the right thing to do in those circumstances.

I don't think I am doing anything differently, but I am viewing it differently. And it's most unexpected.

The drive and ambition has not disappeared; I am not inhabiting some mental island of lotus-eaters, but I am much more relaxed about almost everything.

It's much nicer for the family. Rather than having a wife and mother who is upset because the cake is slightly burned on one side (because it's got to be perfect), I'm pleased I managed to bake a cake at all. Rather than having to cope with someone who is stressed at not having finished her "to do" list, they have a family member who is happy at having achieved at least something with her day. I deep-cleaned the bathroom on Sunday; I was dead chuffed with myself for that!

So, if you find you're beating yourself up over something, just take a moment to consider – is it you, or is it the depression talking?

That black dog is a miserable cur. I bet he's only proud of having dragged you down.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/pride-comes-after-a-fall

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Self-congratulation.

Being self-congratulatory is an unattractive characteristic, huh?
To excess, perhaps, but I have a theory...

A reminder on my phone at the end of every day says "Well done, you've done your best all day."

I was asked "But what if you haven't?"

Not able to articulate it at that point, these are the thoughts I've had since.

Ten years ago, I had intensive psychoanalytic psychotherapy – three sessions a week with a blank screen (ugh!). Wondering what on earth was going on, I used my librarianly skills and, with the resources of a university at my disposal, I read a lot of articles from psychotherapy and psychoanalytic journals and books.

Four lever-arch-files-worth printed, many more read; a head full of confusion, a heart full of terror.

But one idea has stuck with me.

A good-enough mother encourages her baby and congratulates him/her for every tiny thing; a smile, a sneeze, a kick of the legs, a burp, a word, a wobbly step.

Wouldn't it be a good thing to give congratulations to ourselves? Even when we're not managing very much? Who are we comparing ourselves with? And who is judging what is 'much' and 'best' anyway?

For me, it's my inner critic/saboteur who judges me and she can be the harshest person I know.

Surely we all have different capacities and limits. For example, a man in group therapy was able to get to the session each week – it was often the only time he left the house or spoke. Or a lady at church, who has five children, two of whom are twins, when asked how she managed when they were little, said she used to tell herself "If I get nothing done today, I've done well."

More recently, I've been listening to Kristin Neff's fantastic self-compassion CDs. On the final track on the final CD, she talks about setting intentions. She suggests starting the day by lighting a candle and, in effect, planting a seed and asking for what we need.

I'm trying this by saying "May I be my most self-compassionate, wisest, most assertive and decisive self."

And by congratulating myself for doing my best at the end of every day, it sets the intention to do my best. It encourages me and the hope is that that the seed will grow, that it will spur me on..

Self-compassion isn't letting oneself off the hook, or letting oneself do things that are unhealthy or not for one's own good, but it accepts the reality that sometimes just getting through the day is doing one's best.

Being human can be tough – why not encourage and congratulate oneself for those little things? Why not set intentions to do our best, dangling a carrot rather than threatening with a stick? Who knows how much it will amount to in the end?

And hopefully this theory hasn't turned into a lecture – that most certainly isn't my intention!

The Librarian
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/self-congratulation

Monday, 1 May 2017

How do we keep going?

Hope.

The magic word.

When there is little left, there is hope.

Does it matter that each night I fall into bed exhausted?  No.

Does it matter that each morning I feel there is a new chance?  Yes.

The last minute is now history and the next minute may not arrive, so all we have is now, this very moment. And in that place, there is all manner of hope.

Dare you dream a little?

Dare you imagine what if...?

I think depressed people can stop dreaming and stop imagining since that part of the mind is simply shut down. But we must see if we can, from time to time, peer through, as in there lies the nectar of our growth.

Each holiday time takes me a couple of weeks to unwind and just as I am about to start dreaming and wishing and imagining, life snaps back on at full pelt. But for some moments there has been time to bring back some hopes and wishes. It is enough. For even if I can't action them at present, they are newly brought to the surface. It's not unlike putting out a bowl of carrot sticks in front of a young child. They may believe they can only eat biscuits, but if that bowl is sitting there, and it's in their line of vision, those carrots will be crunched!

There is always hope. There is always possibility. Place your hopes into your line of vision and you will gravitate there. It doesn't matter how long it takes. It is how to keep going.

Go forth, dangle your carrot! (Word of the day: dangle)

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/how-do-we-keep-going