Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Reconciliation and Restoration.

Family can be wonderful. I love my family, I value my family; but, oh, I how cherish my friends.

There are many levels of friendship of course, and many reasons for friendship. My friend of longest standing (we do not use the term "oldest friend" for obvious reasons) has known me for 42 years. We see each other only every month or so, but inside ten minutes will be finishing each other's sentences. A friend who was once my neighbour moved to the States seven years ago but we text nearly every day. Another friend is my eagle-eyed Moodscope buddy who regularly comments on my score and supports me through my down times. I love them all.

2016 was a bad year for many of us. It was particularly tough on my family. We had broken bones, surgical operations, a serious car crash, the stress of demolishing and rebuilding our house and things going disastrously wrong for my son Tom and his partner. Oh, and a worse than usual bipolar cycle for me.

In the middle of this, I nearly lost a very dear friend.

Oh, it was entirely my fault; not that that made it any easier.

I had known Raz for only a year. Although I had told him about my bipolar he had not lived through my cycles of mania and depression. And I had not told him what to expect, for there always seemed to be other things to talk about. Many, many other things: that's friendship.

So, when my mania arrived it was a shock. Who was this unreasonable, demanding, jealous, raging creature? Who was this person who abandoned him just when he really needed a friend? I wrote my blog "Bipolar Exploding Hedgehog" (26th October 2016) and cut myself off.

I regretted it of course. I regretted it within 48 hours, but the damage had been done. After an exchange of bitter and angry emails Raz retreated into silence. My texts went unanswered and even unread.

"Let him go, Mum," said Tom. "Some friendships are not meant to last forever."

But I couldn't let go. Friendship is too valuable to just – let go. Especially in hurt and anger.

On Christmas Day I tried reaching out yet again over that chasm of pain and betrayal. And this time Raz replied. Perhaps it helped that we share a Christian faith and Christmas is a time of peace and reconciliation.

It's taken a while. We have had to feel our way into something that is not quite the same. To trust each other with silly jokes and to share our creativity together; to lean on each other again. We are mutually fearful of further misunderstanding. The flip side of love is pain.

But it is worth it. It was worth reaching out again and again. I don't know if I could have done it for years rather than the two months it took. I do know it would still be worth it.

Friendship is a most precious gift.

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/reconciliation-and-restoration

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

One sided.

Prompted by Jane, in my last blog, about things sometimes appearing 'one sided' and also talk of parents recently, I thought I would share my relationship with my dad, or lack of!  He is still with us, but I rarely see him.

He left us when I was a child, he fell in love with another woman, who he had been having an affair with for some time. I didn't really hold it against him, you cannot help who you fall in love with. He saw my sister and I on a regular basis when we were children and some of my best memories are with him.

When we got older, contact became less and less, like he didn't know how to relate to us anymore. He wasn't there for us anymore, refused invites, made excuses if we asked for anything and didn't bother with his grandchildren (my sister's kids).

We tried and tried in different ways but eventually it was time to give up. We were not getting anywhere and as Pennie-Lynn said in her response to my last blog, you have to accept the way things are...

His wife died of cancer some years ago now, she was only 49 (10 years younger than him) so this was a massive shock. It was quick and unpleasant and my dad turned to me, ringing me at every given opportunity. I was there for him of course, my sister however, had a completely different attitude. "He hasn't been there for us, so why should we be there for him".

When my step mum was moved to a hospice, with only days to live, I moved in with my dad to support him. I put my whole life on hold and would not leave him alone at any given time.  I was there when he received the dreaded phone call, I was there to arrange the funeral, to help him with all of the paperwork, I stayed with him for a good few months. How could I leave my father to cope alone?

It wasn't an easy time, as others must have thought, "He's ok, his daughter is with him" so we had little support.

I also foolishly believed our relationship had been rekindled and that we would become close again. We had conversations we had never had before.

But my dad couldn't bear being alone, as in not in a relationship, he often told me this, I was no substitute for a partner or wife. "Better than nobody", I would reply.

He met someone else very quickly, through one of the support groups he attended.

And I was dumped! He had no interest in anything but her, to the point of obsession, which may have been his way of coping, I understand that.

But I felt used.

I didn't get my dad back.

I don't regret it, I would probably do it all over again...

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/one-sided

Monday, 20 February 2017

Alice or Malice in Wonderland?

We all live in a wonderful land. Sometimes, what happens is less than wonderful but the potential is always there for wonder. Our biggest and most prevalent wonder is:

I wonder what this means?

Humankind's quest for meaning haunts us every day. We may go deep and seek the very meaning of life itself, or we may just try to get through the day wondering what the meaning is behind the actions and words of our colleagues, customers, friends, and family.We may even question the meaning behind our own actions as in,

Why did I do that? What was I thinking?!

Our answer to, "I wonder what this means?" can easily lead to the positive adventure of Alice in Wonderland, or it can just as easily lead to the nightmare of Malice in Wonderland. This was brought home to me recently when a third-party informed me of how a
friend had allegedly criticised me behind my back. I had no evidence - just what the third party had shared. The 'witness' was a credible one, as was the criticism, so I began to wonder...

On this occasion I chose Malice in Wonderland. I was hurt, offended, and I lashed out. A better path to choose would have been one where I either ignored the unsubstantiated report, or spoke directly with the alleged critic, or even better, asked a better question. This one:

"What else could this mean?"

As soon as we ask, "What else could this mean?" we open the door (or the looking glass) to Wonderland. It is the question of the philosopher and the scientist - that leads to deep discoveries, but it is also the question of the expert in relationships. By settling
on not one but multiple meanings, we can soften the blow of Malice.

When a loved one says or does something that grates against our emotions, asking this magical question can help us think twice, or multiple times before jumping to conclusions and making harmful assumptions. It can give us pause for thought, and even help us
become wiser.

Whether my friend criticised me behind my back or not, I know he has my well-being at heart. Who hasn't ever said something about someone else behind their back? Isn't gossip the tastiest delicacy - especially in delicate matters? Asking instead, "What else could this mean?" could well save a friendship, avoid conflict, and open positive possibilities to rival Alice's Adventures in Wonderland!

If you're having a tough time at the moment, it may not mean that the Universe is out to get you! Ask yourself, "What else could this mean?" and let healing thoughts flow bringing comfort.

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/alice-or-malice-in-wonderland

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Can't sleep.

Can't sleep. Not unusual at all since I got the news about my brother passing. I feel so tired, I think I'm going to be able sleep then I can't. Then the tiredness is like a vicious circle and I feel worse.

I'm not sure how to grieve, if there is a wrong way or a right way? Knowing it is better for him doesn't make it feel better for me.

Some days I can pretend it's not happened. Like on Christmas Day so the kids could have a great time, and even New Year when there was a good reason not to sleep and I felt almost happy and positive and ready to make changes. But resuming work felt meaningless and like wading through mud. All my passion was gone. And I'm missing my humour as I rely on my humour so much, for so many things, including to hide my insecurities.

My Mum taught me to always find humour in everything, I miss her so much, the Mum she was. She is blissfully unaware, as she has forgotten already, but she kept asking for my brother when I stayed with her on Boxing Day. I felt so angry at the world at that point. I guess it's down to Time. And right now I'm staring at the clock on the wall, Time is driving me nuts.

No need to reply. I just needed a very safe place to voice this without feeling like I'm burdening anyone. I feel indulgent talking about it but I know I can trust you. Hopefully now I can sleep. I know I will feel better again.

Possibly even in the morning.

Jane
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/cant-sleep

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Today I was amazing.

Well, to be more accurate, it was last Sunday.

Many Moodscope blogs and comments advocate self-kindness. Yet many of us are all too familiar with the inner critic which taunts and heckles; that dismisses hope and diminishes enthusiasm and achievements. My own head voice tells me regularly and firmly how completely rubbish I am. And I believe it unconditionally.

So what caused this turnaround in thinking, in someone who is highly resistant to the notion that thoughts can be challenged and up-ended in a CBT kind of a way?

I've been frightened of flying for all of my adult life. And not just scared, but filled with absolute terror about the 'being trapped in so high up' issue to the point of wanting to escape and feel safe. Which really isn't helpful at 30,000 feet.

But there's a great big, beautiful world out there which, someday, somehow, I'd like to see and experience more of.

So on Sunday I joined about 100 other fearful flyers on a course which was designed to help us tackle our fears.

The day was filled with information, advice and the greatest support, but was also intense and quite emotional for me. Yet with much trepidation and a couple of false starts I boarded the plane that afternoon. We took to the skies and, instead of being filled with sheer terror, I thought how amazing it was to be high above fluffy white clouds infused with a golden glow from the winter sun. And how amazing we all were for being on that flight.

I don't think I've conquered my fears, but I've faced them head on and given them warning of my intentions. And maybe, just maybe, this new-found self-belief will filter its way into other areas of my thinking and my life.

But amazing doesn't just come in big, scary packages. Amazing is the blog which offers advice or insight into hard-earned experience when the writer might be going through the toughest of times. Amazing can be the comments which offer support, humour and understanding from afar. And most amazing of all, is everyone in the Moodscope community for simply hanging on in there.

With love

Dragonfly
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/today-i-was-amazing

Friday, 17 February 2017

Why don't you smile?

I was reading some catalogues in my shop when a customer said to me , "It can't be that bad, smile". I tend to have a serious face when I am reading or thinking but why does a complete stranger feel they have the right to comment on my facial gestures.

For all they know a friend may have died, I may have found out I have a serious illness or maybe that I am just thinking and don't see a need to smile.

If this was the only time someone had said this that might be ok but I do get people commenting quite regularly. If you want me to smile do not tell me to, as this will make me frown!

In case you think I am Oscar the grouch's cousin or am grumpy - I do smile and laugh when I feel it is appropriate. I just don't like someone, especially a stranger telling me when I should smile.

I wonder why in the last ten to twenty years people feel they have right to ask strangers to smile. Is it part of the "Everyone must be happy' movement?

I do think a lot and I don't smile while I am thinking.

A young friend was dancing at a family gathering when a friend of the family  came up and told her she would look much more attractive if she smiled! My friend was so surprised she did not reply. What would you do if someone said that to you?

Have you ever had anyone ask you to smile?

How did that make you feel?

Are you someone that comments to another about their lack of a smile?

Can you explain why you do that and if it helps?

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/why-dont-you-smile

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Bottling Life's Pleasures.

This week I was looking through a cardboard box of books and CDs which has remained undisturbed since I moved some years ago.

I have been feeling ok recently. The mid-February days in my village are a little brighter and I hear the beginnings of the year's birdsong. From now until May/June our british birds will be ramping up their chorus which is something to look forward to.

These sounds, when I am well and can hear them, make me happy. Sometimes I listen to spring birdsong recordings in the middle of December, a bit like using a daylight lamp to help with SAD.

As I flipped through the contents of this box I was thinking about noise associations or triggers. Sights, sounds and smells can all evoke emotionally charged memories, sometimes in the background, below the surface. I started to make a mental list of good noise and bad, of sounds to bottle or to avoid. For instance I love the descending scale of the chaffinch but hate the ring ring of the telephone. I have never been relaxed about telephones but that's another story.

I threw out most of the CDs but 'Sounds of the Rainforest' caught my eye, originally free with a weekend paper! I speed-listened through various macaws, howlers and horned screamers until I came upon track 26, the most beautiful unnamed exotic birdsong!

Now, smartphones have many uses... but shrill, jangling ringtones that break the peace, harbingers of unwanted calls or worse, hmm!

After a little research on the internet I managed to install this one track as... yes you guessed... a ringtone! Now when I get a call it starts with a whisper of dripping trees, the distant rumbles of a receding storm, frogs and the evening song of the amazonian mystery bird. For the time being I am happy to be contacted by phone.

Incidentally I looked into the ethical and permitted usage of this recording and that seems ok too.

Terence x
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/bottling-lifes-pleasures

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

When I'm Cleaning Windows.

[If you'd like to listen to an audio version of this blog, please click here: https://soundcloud.com/user-231831520/sets/when-im-cleaning-windows]

When my elder daughter started senior school four years ago, she was given what seemed, at the time, some very good advice: "Stay well clear of the "popular gang.""

If she had gone to one of the local schools (it was local people giving the advice) no doubt those words would have been wise, but at the school she attends it turns out that the "popular gang" consists of hardworking, intelligent and kind girls. Girls just like her in fact. Oops!

So it's taken her a few years to find her friendship group.

Yesterday was the first time she felt confident enough to invite a group of friends home. Five of them turned up for a Lord of the Rings movie marathon.

I took the position that, being teenagers, they would be happy if well fed and watered and they wouldn't be too concerned about the tidiness or cleanliness of the house. My husband disagreed. Out came the hoover. Out came the duster. Then he started on the windows...

Now, we don't have a window cleaner and I will be the first to admit that my windows do not have that crystal clear sparkle in which a housewife might take a proper pride, so I watched him with affectionate tolerance as he wielded a soapy rag and squeegee in the cold outside.

The problem was that, once he had cleaned the outside, the grime on the inside became glaringly obvious. Well, there was no glare; just grime!

So I set about cleaning the inside of the windows...

Which revealed the inadequacies of his outside cleaning...

Once that had been addressed, the remaining smears on the inside became visible...

By the time we had finished yesterday I was convinced that our windows would have passed the most stringent sunshine test.

Until this morning, when the sun shone in from a different angle... Big sigh...

It occurred to me that the analogy of the windows could fit our lives and our efforts in the direction of self-improvement.

Whether we start on our inside or our outside, we need to work on both, for both need work. We can take decisions and actions which affect our circumstances (the outside), but until we change our way of thinking and being, we cannot fully benefit from those decisions. That change in our thinking often results in further decisions and changes and so it goes on.

I have experienced this most recently with my marriage. A resolve to communicate more honestly has resulted in some hard conversations. This has cleared up a lot of things, but highlighted those areas where we needed to change our actions. Taking those actions has in turn revealed further scope for personal change.

All this has meant that our marriage is healthier now than it has been for a long time, perhaps than it has ever been.

Of course, there is still room for improvement. But, after all, perfection is so boring, isn't it?

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/when-im-cleaning-windows


Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Simple Pleasures.

You could say that there's a lot to be depressed about. Depending on your political persuasion (and bear with me if you are not of the same ilk), 2016 was not a good one with Brexit, the election of Trump, not to mention the deaths of Bowie, Victoria Wood, Prince and George Michael.

I used to be very political. As a member of CND as a school girl I have been on the odd march in my time. As a teenager I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. I now have a friend who like me is a depressive but unlike me remains so sensitive to political events she seems so angry all the time.

So what has changed for me? Don't get me wrong we need campaigners, activists and people to be agents of change. But I am also more aware of what I can do and what I can take personal responsibility for and what I can't. I don't have American citizenship so should not feel responsible for what happens there but did have the vote here and used it!

The difference in my outlook is that, in a scary world, I now know that I need to take heart from the simple pleasures in life. This week's simple pleasure was espied during a dog walk one drizzly day. I caught sight of a flash of vivid blue, blinked and looked again. To my delight there was a kingfisher perched on a branch overhanging the stream in our local park. Not bad for the second city, urban Birmingham. (I am now waiting for Outraged of Manchester to respond).

In this crazy, scary world I have discovered it's the little things that make the difference. This afternoon it's the luxury of reading the paper in bed.

What helps you gain a different perspective when all seems bleak?

Brum Mum
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/simple-pleasures-1

Monday, 13 February 2017

Your Story, My Story, History.

"I wanna tell you a story..."

Mike Yarwood, the famous TV impersonator, is credited with associating the all-round entertainer, Max Bygraves, with that phrase. Max actually said, "I want to tell you a joke." Funny how stories change...

Winston Churchill said that, "History is written by the victors," - changing the story too.

Is It Time To Change Your Story?

If you've ever wondered why the bookshelves of the world are largely filled with stories - with 'invented reality' - it is because we live our lives by stories. We tell ourselves stories every minute of every day. We do this when we are awake, and we do this in our dreams. We invent stuff.

Max Bygraves' original saying, "I want to tell you a joke," may be more relevant than we may at first think. Why? Well, because many of our stories are a joke... and not a funny one.

We tell ourselves stories about the person who is too old to start something.

We tell ourselves stories about the person who is too tired to do what they intended.

We tell ourselves stories about the person who said it is time to quit, to give up, to resign, to walk away.

We tell ourselves stories about what other people think about that person.

And that 'person' is us.

There's one outstanding piece of good news, though:

You are the story-teller.
Your history is written by you.
You can change the story, anytime, any place, anywhere, anyhow.
Tell yourself better stories 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/your-story-my-story-history