Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Abigail and Sarah.



My daughter has two soft dolls named Abigail and Sarah. Her brother picked them out for her in a shop in France when he was aged 6 and she was just 6 months old. He insisted that she had to have them both and he named them.

Since then Abigail and Sarah have always been my daughter's most prized possessions. They have gradually gone from their original soft lilac and pink colours respectively, to being covered in patches of pinks, purples, flowers and hearts. Abigail used to rattle but, having been crushed at some point, an operation at the Teddy Bear hospital only restored a faint sound. Sarah used to have a loud squeak but, after being run over by a car, now only squeaks quietly. They have both been lost, (the anguish), and then found, (the joy), more than once. They now stay in the safe haven of my daughter's bedroom and are still hugged every night and loved more than ever. In spite of being far from their original glory, to my daughter they are the most beautiful things in the world.

You may have been crushed in your life. You may have lost your squeak or rattle. You may feel that your original colours have faded. I wonder though have you patched yourself up or been patched up? Do you feel loved? Can you see that whatever life has thrown at you that you are still here, in all your glory. You are the most beautiful being in the world.

Sending you love today.

Jane SG 
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/abigail-and-sarah

Monday, 21 August 2017

Feeling my feelings.

A phrase from A Course in Miracles is: "In my Defencelessness my Safety lies."

I had been thinking this meant a sort of "turn the other cheek" way of behaving towards others – not reacting, not attacking back – and I think it does mean this. Today I understood also that "defencelessness" is about being undefended to my own feelings, letting myself feel my sadness or my fear/anxiety or whatever it is, leaning into it, welcoming it, really feeling it and even if at that moment there is no relief, shortly after, as I go about my daily business, there is indeed relief.

Listening to Mike Robbins in a 2017 Hayhouse summit talk yesterday - he was talking about his mentor encouraging him to give himself permission to feel powerless. He did not want to do this, however he started to do a meditation using such words as "I give myself permission to feel powerless - it does not mean I am powerless."

So I can say (for example): "I give myself permission to feel left out - it does not mean I AM left out." "I give myself permission to feel anxious. It does not mean I AM anxious." A big one for me – for I avoid situations where I might feel jealous as much as I can: "I give myself permission to feel jealous. It does not mean I AM jealous. It is just a feeling." Another one: "I give myself permission to feel lonely. It does not mean I AM lonely."

Another 2017 Hayhouse summit talk was by Andy Newbigging. He had the phrase: "I am willing to experience...." So it goes like this: "I am willing to experience the human emotion of loneliness". How relaxing is that!

What Andy says is that we are all resisting life - either resisting something or attached to its opposite, often both. Once we stop resisting we become free - both to experience it and to experience its opposite. In my defencelessness my safety lies. If I am willing to experience unhappiness then the option of happiness also opens up to me.

I would love to hear your experiences and how this resonates or not with you.

Melanie
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/feeling-my-feelings

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Comfort zone stay or leave?

My neighbour was telling us how good she felt venturing out of her comfort zone, travelling for a few days by herself to a big city to go to visit an art gallery. She rarely goes away by herself as it makes her anxious so she was so pleased that she made the effort and had a good time.

A friend who heard this story, said to me later that she often hears and reads the term 'comfort zone' and how it appears we are constantly pressured to move out of our 'comfort zone.' She then confessed, against popular thought, that she likes the term comfort zone and has no wish to leave it.

She explained it took her a long time and many years of depression and sickness and struggle to reach a Comfort Zone. She wondered when did 'comfort' become a negative word?

I agree that Comfort is good, and feels warm, snuggly and healing.

While it is a great place to be in when the depression, insecurity, self doubts hits hard, it can be a place of retreat, where just being may be the best thing one can do at that time.

That does not mean that I always want to stay in that safe place. There are times for me when I need to experience something different. I know I always have soft place to land.

I wonder if part of liking ourselves is knowing when it is okay to be in our comfort zone, and to have the strength and ability to experience a new activity.

For some, staying in the comfort zone may mean that they are preventing themselves from growing or experiencing life. Maybe we can still do that from our comfort zone.

There is no point in pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to do public speaking, dancing or mountain climbing if you have no interest in those activities.

Once we feel better we can venture to try things which fit with our values or we would like to try.

So, are you someone who feels he/she has struggled so hard to have a comfort zone that leaving it is not an option?

Do you want to give three cheers for your comfort zone and say don't pressure me to leave as I took so long to get here?

What you have done when you moved out of your comfort zone and how did it feel?

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/comfort-zone-stay-or-leave

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Terrible at accepting help.

Today, I went to a social gathering outside in a garden with a lovely lunch buffet. Not usually much of a problem for me, but I've recently acquired a hindrance: a crawling baby. Everything she sees, she wants, and she wants to put it in her mouth, from grass to glasses, handbags to shoes, and even very occasionally her toys. Added to that she's at the stage where a parent has to be in sight at all times and everyone else is a scary monster (unless their toes are tasty or they are a useful climbing frame). Suddenly acquiring food at a buffet seemed an impossible task.

Now there were plenty of offers of help to be had but I spent most of the lunch trying to do things on my own. Why? Sometimes it's an understandable impracticality: I'm a fussy eater, so "Can I get you a plate of food", the most common refrain, was never going to work for me. Sometimes it's fear of inconveniencing someone: I don't want to leave a baby who will probably scream her head off as soon as I'm out of sight, I don't want to inflict that on them. (And then I start to worry that if I carry on that way she'll never get used to strangers, but parental anxiety is a story for another day.) Sometimes it's purely lack of trust.

But often it's a case of wanting to do it all myself, of being seen to be independent and capable. My brain is telling me that I should be able to do it all by myself. There's two flaws I can see in that thinking. Firstly, accepting help doesn't necessarily imply that I can't do a thing, simply that it's easier with someone along side me. And secondly, why "should" I be able to do everything? How absurd. If my skill set in life doesn't include being able to juggle a baby, a plate, and those things you use to serve up salad then it doesn't make me a failure as a human, just normal.

My pride was getting in the way and making life that little bit more difficult. As with a lunch buffet, so with the bigger things in life. There are days where I can get through by myself, but a chat with a friend or a hug make it that much easier. And there are times when I can't get through the day without help from others, and that's alright too.

As I was going, a friend offered to pack some things away. Could I have done it myself?  Sure. But it was a lot easier with help.


Lucy
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/terrible-at-accepting-help

Friday, 18 August 2017

When the rain stops pouring.

I've always found friendships a little tough. I'm a very loyal person and have often felt disappointed in loyalty not being returned. At the same time, I can easily feel suffocated and far too watched and minded in friendships. Throughout my life I've found my friendships ebb and flow, mainly ebb. I lost friends when they had children and I didn't. I lost friends when I had three children very close in age and they didn't. I lost many friends when my marriage ended. It has made me become choosy about who I trust and how I trust, but perhaps I've always been like that.

This is not a sad story. I really like where I am now. I have a small circle of general friends and a very tiny group who don't know each other but who are trusted implicitly. I'm lucky to have my brothers and parents. We're close in that if we don't all see each other for months we don't take offence and when something big happens we are tight. Few people know of my depression. Only one knows how far it took me. I don't have, and never will have, long term friends who have been with me always and who might combine to form a 'Friends' style TV moment. But as I say, this is not a sad story.

Nowadays, I tend to go about life making the most diverse and intense connections which can continue to make me smile and feel good months, even years, after we've met and un-met. Let me just clarify, I'm not up alleyways having clandestine encounters!

Most recently I met a gorgeous Taxi driver, comfortably aged with a comfortable aura. A youngish grandfather of nearly four, trousers pressed, shirt fresh, tie, cab spread with obligatory travel rug and a conversation to die for. I confess I have more than a soft spot for the older generation. I could have travelled around the town twice and not tired of his words. He had the art of conversation, not talking too long on himself before bouncing the conversation to me. Always more comfortable investigating others lives, I filled in the blanks and returned the ball. At the end of our half hour journey, he rounded down my fare and I tipped. I told him I'd had a lovely time talking with him and he said "and I enjoyed it very much too". After we parted, and he turned his cab, he leant forward to find me in the crowd and smiled and waved. I was already there to return it. His wave lifted me on to a wave which I'm still enjoying more than a month on.

What is my message today? That depression is occasionally a great thing. That the searing, soul despairing ache and physical pain can sometimes bring with it an ability to find true contentment in the smallest of things. And I wish everyone could have that.

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/when-the-rain-stops-pouring

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Panic Attacks.

I suffered my first panic attack when I was coming up for 21 years old. This was my worst one I think, because I didn't know what the hell was happening to me.

I was in a night club. I remember standing on the edge of the dance floor watching everyone enjoying themselves. There were a lot of flashing lights and I felt peculiar.

All of a sudden, I knew I had to get out of there. I was so scared. I asked a girl standing next to me if she would come outside with me as I felt unwell. I did not even know her, but she was the first person I could see.

She helped me down the stairs, as I felt like I was going to collapse and I very nearly asked the staff to call an ambulance. However, I managed to get outside and sit on a wall. I felt sick and I started to shake and to cry.

Then it passed, I felt better, but shaken and shocked. I thanked my helper and got myself home. I was so upset, I remember telling the cab driver what had happened to me.

I was lucky enough not to experience another panic attack again for many years... I mean, yes, I had times of feeling anxious and nervous, even to the extent where (for example) I could not hold a drink in my hand (rather annoying when you want a sip of your tea or a sip of wine).

Then in my forties, they came back with a vengeance.

I found myself questioning why, but I cannot see much logic in it. I went through enough stress in those twenty years whilst I was free of a panic attack.

Shops became the worst culprit. I had to leave them very quickly and once I literally collapsed in a supermarket. I have experienced one on a plane (after which I actually wrote most of this blog), in a car, in a theatre, at a funeral service (I had to leave in the middle of it, slightly embarrassing) but I once even had one at home.

Thankfully, they seem to have left me again now and it has been a while since my last one.  Hopefully another twenty years...

Has anyone else experienced full blown panic attacks?

The only way I can describe them is the feeling that I was going to die. They actually only last a few minutes and I had to learn to breathe, by taking small sharp breaths and by sipping water. If I have to leave the house now (rare) I always take water.

I'm not saying this is the answer (far from it), but I read a book called 'Making friends with Anxiety' and the last time I thought I was going to have a panic attack, I told myself "it is ok, this beast is not going to harm you, it is just popping by to say hello".

It actually helped and the feeling passed...

A doctor once questioned me on whether I knew what a panic attack was. I went rather blank. He liked to maintain that he knew a lot about mental health but he didn't know much at all. He went on to tell me that a panic attack was something that happened when being confronted with a lion or a tiger. Silly man!

He has retired now and I sometimes wonder if it was on his bucket list to visit a zoo.

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/panic-attacks

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Strongly Anthemic.

[To listen to an audio version of this blog, please click here: http://bit.ly/2vXd2X8]

Ellie hears her husband's feet on the stairs. He has come in from work, scooped up the cat and gone straight to shower and shave before he even greets her with a kiss. He wants to wash his job away before he comes to her. He wants to greet her as the man he is, instead of the man he has to be at work.

But he is happy: he is singing. Tonight, from The Mikado. "Defer, defer to the Lord High Executioner," he sings to the ragged-eared bundle in his arms. Ellie doesn't think Mundungus defers to anyone. He is a cat and thinks everyone should defer to him.

It's not always Gilbert and Sullivan. Sometimes Jeremy sings songs from the musicals, sometimes rousing hymns, but always something with a strong tune; something he can get his fine baritone behind.

When he is unhappy, he is silent, and then Ellie is unhappy too, because a happy marriage is only as happy as the unhappiest partner.

You won't meet Jeremy and Ellie in real life: they are characters in one of my novels, but Jeremy's habit of singing when he is happy comes from a school friend of my daughter. Peter changed schools in his fourth year. His mother said that she had not realised how miserable he had been until he began to sing again. She had not realised that his music had stopped.

If we sing when we are happy, then can we make ourselves happy by singing?

At a recent meeting of my bi-polar support group, we discussed ways of coping, of lifting our spirits when depressed. Singing came up several times. I like the discipline of church choral music, my neighbour likes singing with the rock choir. The leader of our group likes singing along to eighties pop music.

At the funeral of my favourite aunt last week, we sang to music supplied by guitars and drums. The hymns, although traditional, were played in a way that made your feet tap and your body sway and, if you are of the Pentecostal tradition, wave your hands in the air. (I am an Anglican: my hands stayed firmly anchored to the service sheet!) Afterwards, my cousin asked me if I had enjoyed the hymns.

"Very much," I replied.

"We thought we'd like some hymns that, even if you couldn't sing, you could shout along," she said. "Mum couldn't sing a note, but she did rather like to shout!"

That funeral was not sad, but a joyous celebration of a life well lived.

Singing doesn't work for me when I am sunk into the deepest depression, swallowed whole by the dirty grey Leviathan, but it does cheer me up when I am feeling glum. Even if I start with something gentle, like Abide with Me, I can gradually work up to Vivaldi's Gloria. And sometimes, my latest rock favourite, Whatever it Takes, by Imagine Dragons.

So, what do you sing along to, when you do?

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/strongly-anthemic

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Where shall I start?

The past twenty years have involved a lot of hard work, trying to work out why I got very ill with postnatal depression after the birth of my third baby but not before.

I was working hard as a probation officer looking after other people and helping to solve their problems but I couldn't solve my own. I tried the stiff upper lip, medication, herbal remedies, other antidepressant medication and all different types of vitamins.

I handed my notice in and was persuaded to stay and changed my working hours to better suit my children and my family. I got pregnant again and suffered a miscarriage and then, after five years of trying to sort myself out, I admitted defeat.

I spent years reading self help books, trying to change the way I think about people and stuff and trying to change myself because I felt like a failure. The result of this is that I feel like I know myself inside out and upside down.

Has it helped?

Well I am not mentally ill any more but really was I ever? Or was I just a hormonally challenged, overworked mother of three lacking in support and trying to cope?

So next time you feel low and and depressed before you label yourself a failure just consider whether you are in fact just surrounded by people who, although they love you, have no idea what you are going through or how to support you, through no fault of their own and then find your tribe whether it be other Moodscopers or someone else who is not afraid of emotions.

It will make all the difference to how long you will travel down the lonely road of depression before turning the corner.

Wishing everyone good luck in their mental health ventures.

Romy
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/where-shall-i-start

Monday, 14 August 2017

How You See People Changes What Happens Next.

If you'd like to see my first reaction to the main video I'd love to share today, here's me in the car: https://youtu.be/L3cIzpqKByM

If you don't have the time or the access to YouTube, it won't spoil the 'Aha!' moment.

I'd like to share an experiment run by Canon Cameras in Australia.

I began to think about this in the context of every single relationship I have: the way you and I 'see' others prejudices and affects where our relationships go next! Thus, if you want different results, change the way you see everything!

I really hope you can get to watch this video. I'm going to explain what it shows anyway, but much better for you to see it for yourself. It's stunning.

https://youtu.be/F-TyPfYMDK8

In the video, six different photographers are asked to take portrait photographs of the same model. The catch is that they are each told a different story about the model's background. One is told he saved someone's life, another is briefed on the model being a psychic, a third is told that the subject is a multi-millionaire, another that he is a recovered alcoholic, and, finally, that he is an ex-offender.

The result, if you didn't get to watch the video, is that each photographer portrayed the portrait in a different way. The results looked like six different people.

As a Father, I see my sons differently to the way you will see them. As a partner, I see Penelope in a totally different light to what others see in her. We all see "through a lens".  Now, given that changing the lens changes the results we get, I wonder if it is time for you, just like me, to change the way we see some people?

Hit pause on your day right now and list the 3 most significant people in your life:

Their name................................................

Their name................................................

Their name................................................

Great! Now for each one, answer this question:

"If I was to see them in a more favourable fashion, in what way would I see them now?"

That photography video really touched me.

So, my 'Moodscope Monday' thought is:

"How do I see myself?"

"How do you see yourself?"

...because the way we see ourselves will have the most profound impact on how today will unfold. May you see yourself in the best light, and find the best lens through which to see all those you engage with today.

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/how-you-see-people-changes-what-happens-next

Sunday, 13 August 2017

At Sea Without a Compass.

Members that regularly comment on the blog will have seen that I had a funeral for my youngest daughter this week. We do not know the cause of death and have to wait weeks for the post mortem results.

She had lived in the antipodes for the past eight and a half years and at some point was diagnosed with BPD/Emotional instability. She never understood how beautiful and talented she was.

She was at times a self harmer and to escape her mental problems she turned to drugs.

Earlier this year she returned home to the UK, as she was too ill to look after herself and her partner could not cope any more.

She had two older sisters. One of my other daughters also had some health issues and she too had to return home when her mental health deteriorated.

It was a very difficult time and I wrote this poem:

At Sea without a Compass

Fred and I are cast adrift, at sea without a compass
When I heard of my child, in the clinic again
My emotions shut down, cos I can't take the pain
My younger child too, in pain and unable
To even share a meal with us at the table.
I feel strange and estranged, sometimes deranged
To whom can I go, when we all hurt so?
Coda:
But now she is gone and we still go on
I can take heart at least, that now she's at peace

When I wrote to ask for hugs I had a wonderful response from the regular contributors. Thank you for all the hugs that helped my tears to flow. It is so heartening to feel the love and support of an online community, who have some experience of the vagaries of mental health.

Thank you for listening.

Another Sally
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/at-sea-without-a-compass