Saturday, 22 July 2017

Walk a mile in my shoes.

Can you really understand me after walking a 1.60 kilometres (one mile) in my shoes?

When I was a child my parents said you shouldn't judge someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes. This prompted questions, what if they don't have shoes, what if their shoes are too big or too small for me? I used to look at people's shoes and wonder what it would be like to wear big clown shoes or dainty ballerina shoes.

As I grew older I understood the metaphor but have wondered how much understanding and empathy we get when walk in another's shoes.

Lately there have been reality TV shows and fundraising challenges that involve trying to understand another's plight. There is a television show where rich people spend ten days living like a homeless person. I think while these programs give people a chance to see how other people experience life, do people really know what being homeless is like after one night spent outside or 7 days on the street. Reality programs rarely have anything to do with reality. For a rich person to spend 7 days roughing it, when they know they will soon be home in their mansion with indoor heating a heated pool and housekeepers.

These experiences may give us some insights but that is all.

People have said to me they know all about bipolar because a close relative/ friend has bipolar.

There was a week challenge for fundraising where people had to eat the rations given to united nations refugees for one week. A woman told me she now knew what it was like to feel hunger and she understood what the refugees experienced. In one week, is it possible to know what a person living on these rations really feels and experiences?

I am now rethinking how useful is the statement walk a mile in my shoes.

Is it arrogant or even patronising to think we can know what another person's experiences in a short time?

Do you think that is possible to walk a mile in someone's shoes to understand them?

Or does it take much more than a mile or a realty tv show to really empathise with another human?

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/can-you-really-understand-me-after-walking-a-1-60-kilometres-one-mile-in-my-shoes

Friday, 21 July 2017

The title is a Woody Allen quote.

So, Brains - Here's what I know about Brains:

1)  Brains love patterns. "Oooh, that's familiar," thinks Brain. "I know how to make things easier for myself - I will learn this pattern and repeat it at every opportunity."   Very useful when you are learning to drive. Not so useful if you want to NOT be depressed.  I, for example, have a habit of feeling sorry for myself, seeing myself as a victim. This validates my depression ("Oh poor me, my life is so hard, no wonder I feel depressed") thereby giving myself permission to keep on being depressed... Pretty dumb, eh? Brain doesn't think so - Brain thinks it's the smart, helpful thing to do...

2)  It's not just patterns and habits that Brain is good at. It's good at SPOTTING things too. Good if you are a hunter-gatherer and want to see all the small red berries on the bush; less helpful if you wake up and think, "Hmmm, how do I feel today?  I ache; I'm dizzy; nauseous; exhausted; feel really low..." Brain is good at spotting all those things. Try this: Ask Brain to look out for all the people wearing blue tops and suddenly, my goodness, nearly everybody seems to be wearing a blue top. What you focus on, you will see lots of - that is the power of Brain!

3)  Telling Brain NOT to think about something, means that Brain will be constantly thinking about it. We all know that feeling. The more we say "I will NOT think about...", the more we think about it. Which, of course, also feeds into the patterns mentioned in point 1 and the 'spotting all the bad things' in point 2.

So are we all doomed to repetitive, negative thoughts? NO!

Firstly, I have come to accept that the state of the inside of my head is MY responsibility. I can rant and rail and blame the Fates, the Government, my ex, the weather... but ultimately the only person choosing what I am thinking about is me.

If I want to experience periods of contentment, I have to prepare the ground for that. I have to recognise the patterns Brain tries to make me follow and shout "STOP!" I have to think about GOOD stuff, because then Brain gets good at spotting it and does it as a pattern.

Unlike Woody Allen, my Brain is actually my FAVOURITE organ. I know three things about the Brain. Remember those things. Apply them to your life - reject the patterns that are not helpful; look for the Good (it's everywhere once you start looking); don't say "Don't...." (ha ha) just notice all the good things, fill your Brain with them. And then keep at it...

At first my depression was a black, cold prison made of rough, grey breeze blocks; no windows, no doors; totally dark in there. "Looking for the good" created a tiny chink of light. With persistence that chink grew to be a crack, and recently several bricks actually fell out and I have a glimpse of freedom! (It's very colourful and light out there!)

I am not belittling the seriousness or severity of our various states of mental health, nor am I denying the impact that they have on our lives, I am just offering something to the Moodscope community that has helped me. Please try it and see. Look around you now - what can you see, taste, smell, hear, feel or even just remember that is GOOD?

Marmalade Girl
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/my-brain-its-my-second-favorite-organ

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Never alone.

This is my first attempt at writing. I've always wanted to but never had the courage. So here goes...

I'm actually a qualified therapist. I've been following Moodscope for some time, partly for professional reasons, and also for personal support. I particularly enjoy reading other people's blogs – the thoughts, perceptions and struggles are so amazingly unique and yet so common to many. I find the creative words, articles and insights a real encouragement and inspiration.

Recently I've felt overwhelmed – some issues in life have felt like huge injustices, in worldly terms, and also in personal terms, and in facing my responses to these, I've hit a real low.

I've had to face my own feelings head on – why do I struggle so much with being heard, with having a voice, with feelings of 'What's the point' and of feeling so alone? One evening, I even felt like I wanted to die. No, I wasn't really wanting to die; I just wanted the internal struggle with myself and my feelings to end – they just felt too overwhelming. I had nothing left and I felt so useless and empty.

All I could do that evening was cry. My loving husband so kindly just held me. I had no words.

I shared honestly the next day with my supervisor about where I was at, and she empathically shared how it felt like chunks were being taken out of me in some way. I broke and cried deeply again. I felt heard, emotionally held and understood, and this in turn helped to lift my mood and my heart. I've since gathered my thoughts and decided I will give myself some time to tend to my heart, put in some healthier boundaries, respect myself more, and hold my head up high. Life will go on. All will be well.

I'm being very brave in sharing this – firstly, because I struggle so much to speak up and speak out, and secondly, because as a therapist, maybe I shouldn't feel like this and expose my struggle so publicly.

However, I do this to give myself an opportunity to share my voice, to be heard in (what I perceive to be) a supportive community, and to show that therapists are human too. We all struggle with different things at different times of life.

What I love about Moodscope is - it's 'Ok' to be real and it's ok to be honest. And there are others that care. It's comforting to know that I am never alone.

Thank you for all being there.

Maggie 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/never-alone

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Just Like Herding Cats

[To hear an audio version of this blog please click here: http://bit.ly/2u5vew4]

There is a wonderful advertisement that can be found on Youtube, http://bit.ly/2usTpVI featuring a team of cowboys (or possibly catboys) driving a herd of cats across the American Plains. Of course, it's ridiculous and amusing, but the more times you watch it, the more you admire the people who put it together. There is the sneezing catboy with the allergies, the one rerolling a large ball of yarn, the one with a lint roller...

It has been a bit like that for my daughter as she (and her long-suffering father) attempt to organise fifty (no – forty-eight, make that fifty-one, fifty-three – no, we're back at forty-nine) sailing cadets for a week into twenty-five or so yachts and dinghies ensuring each boat has a competent helm and nobody sails too many times with someone they detest.

You may remember that she is the cadet commodore for the yacht club, and organising the activity week for the cadets is her primary duty for the year. It's quite a task for a fifteen-year-old.

The cadets range in age from suspiciously small "eight-year olds" to the hulking sixteen year olds who are more interested in looking cool than in helping the littlies. The sailing craft range from an Oyster Smack which could take almost any number of cadets to the little Toppers which are single-handed dinghies.

Then there are the adults.

There must be sufficient safety boats to ensure all sailing cadets are looked after. The owners of the yachts who have kindly volunteered their craft and sailing expertise for the week must be managed and mollified and made to feel appreciated. The mothers of the cadets must be made to feel useful.

Because everyone "just wants to help" and it's driving my poor daughter to screaming point. They all want to help in their own way, doing things they think need doing in the way they think things should be done. She's organised it already and they are disrupting it all!

Herding cats would be easier. But she's learning the subtle art of delegation. And stress-management.

I will have this to a lesser extent. I am merely feeding the eleven cadets who are on our side of the river. I have sorted out a menu, created a shopping list and budget and I will know exactly what to do and at what time to have a hot meal on the table at exactly five o'clock each day, so they can eat, turn around and head back over the river for the evening activities.

But I know I will be inundated with offers of "help". Because people like to help. People like to feel useful.

So, rather than growl at them to go away and let me get on with it, I am thinking up tasks which can be usefully delegated. I can ask my "helpers" to prepare salads, to peel potatoes, to roll seventy-two meatballs.

I am trying to decide if it's fair to ask them to peel onions.

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-down-side-of-the-high-side

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

When is a house a home?



Our children were born in this house – we would probably be there still, but it's under the M25.

In 2003 (in UK) I wrote an article entitled 'Home, Sweet Home' in response to an excellent sermon given by our priest, a New Zealander.

We were about to leave our country of birth, England, our country of adoption, France, to go to a country of poverty and much homelessness, India.

A daughter was in Qatar, among strangers, at some danger then. Another son and family lived in Australia. So where IS the gathering place for our family? Has to be the one with the biggest house in reasonably easy reach of road, boat or plane.

Many emigrants to the Antipodes talked of going 'home' to the UK, even second generations born there. My mother used to talk of dying as 'going home', and one's final resting place is subject to much debate.

Our roots are well spread; we are not a family with a claim to fame, so that our graves would not be visited by strangers. By common consent in the family the parish where we were married, five children baptised, one daughter married, and where my mother lies under an ancient oak seemed the likeliest place, so we are 'booked in' via a faculty from the diocese.

But as people are more mobile, and live longer, to get ourselves carted expensively from one country to another to be buried next to Mum is not really practical. Lots of ex-pats are cremated then their ashes returned to whatever passes as the family plot, or where they were born. But we don't like cremation. Morbid thoughts, maybe, but like wills somebody has to do them so not to leave a mess.

In England, sadly, because of wild property fluctuations, a 'home' is less a centre of family love and comfort than a way of making money. In the sermon our priest said his reminder of home was people and atmosphere. To me, it is warmth, a beautiful cat, loads of books, and an ever open door to friends and strangers alike. The French call it 'a corner to cry in'.

How do YOU see 'home'?

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/when-is-a-house-a-home

Monday, 17 July 2017

What If Life Was A Computer Game?

Fret not if you're not into computer games! I've only dabbled at a distance myself but I get the whole 'Levels' thing – the need to see if you can beat your personal best time after time. It can be utterly compelling... almost addictive!

I once introduced the New Age Guru, Deepak Chopra, at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development's conference. He made us all laugh with a post-lunch witticism. His quip was, "Good afternoon, and, for those of you who believe in reincarnation, welcome back!"

Whilst I don't believe in reincarnation, I love the idea of it. The chance to learn, and grow, and evolve over multiple lifetimes. A longer time-frame to get it right.

Personally, I find Life far too complicated. Sometimes, I just have to simplify the way I approach it.

With this in mind, I applied the 'Levels' concept to the skill levels I wanted to master before moving on to a higher stage in my life. This gives me focus.

As soon as I thought about it like a computer game, with levels ascending to completion, the first three levels became clear. I want to begin with mastering hope, then faith, and then love.

Hope, because it gives us a bright future – something to move towards. There have been many times in my life when I felt devoid of hope. I never want to go there again! To begin with, then, I focus on creating a positive vision of the future – every day. And, if I can instil this in others too, I would consider that as completing that level, allowing me to move up to Level 2!

Level 2 is to do with belief in myself, in the best in others, and in a friendly and abundant Universe. That's a tough level!

Level 3 is to move only in love – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

I'm still on Level 1!

Now, over to you. What levels would you like to master in your own life?

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/what-if-life-was-a-computer-game

Sunday, 16 July 2017

What colour are you?

I am blue. Blue is often used to describe mood. The implication is that you feel low and despondent. (I have felt like that recently).

I am a navy blue, which is what a British navy officer's uniform would be. French navy is a different shade of blue. It isn't a wispy-washy faded blue, but darker. Sometimes the sea is this colour, a rich, dark hue.

The pop-group, The Moody Blues, used the colour to give an impression of the moody music they created. A classification of popular music is The Blues, a type of jazz-rock?

Navy blue eyes are rarely spoken of, but perhaps it denotes a deep blue colour, which could turn grey under certain mood changes.

I am contented to have been made this deep, rich blue. Contentment and self-acceptance go together. I am always aiming at the latter as it is a good springing-board towards energy and growth.

I am already beginning to feel the upsurge of energy as I reflect on these thoughts.

Zareen
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/what-colour-are-you

Friday, 14 July 2017

Masterpiece in Progress:




What do you see in this painting? A woman half finished or half complete?

Her hair shiny and curling around her nearly complete face. Pretty features in contrast with her blurred eye. The bodice of her dress sculpted around her body, highlights her unfinished arms behind her back.

With no art expertise, but, perhaps Dali was meant to leave this painting unfinished?

It's a fine example how masterpiece and work in progress can exist simultaneously. It doesn't matter that this was once a blank canvas or how this painting was first thought of or started. It's past is of no consequence to what we see now. Dali is long gone, this work will never be completed and does it matter? Right now the incompleteness is just as beautiful and relevant as the areas that we see painted.

Life might feel incomplete sometimes and that we have our hands tied behind our back. That we still have a lot of work to do and things to achieve before we feel whole.

But before the judgement and critique, take a step back and look. Observe the muse you see: that was, that is and that will be all at the same time. See the beauty in your own defined areas of experience and appreciate the mystery and wonder of the areas that are less clear. Each influence and inform one another and work together to create your whole picture.

Accept and embrace your own knowing and unknown because nobody is the finished article until they leave this earth. Seal off the cynicism of the outside world that defines time and ideas of when and how life should happen.

If Dali succumbed to outside pressures we'd be looking at a different painting, perhaps a far less interesting one.

You are your own creator and artist. The masterpiece is you and where you are now, this minute, this hour, this day. We are all works in progress and masterpiece at the same time. Even our undiscovered, undefined areas matter because they contribute to the intrigue to the creation that is you.

Choose tools and brushstrokes carefully. Step back and observe the whole of you. Note how to develop and change the technique if the desired tools and effect are not working. Persevere and progress with the masterpiece because it is not finished, until the final brush stroke.

The trusty-yogi
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/masterpiece-in-progress

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Rumination.

My favourite thing - ruminating. Did I say the right thing? Did I say the wrong thing? Was that person a bit 'off' with me today? Does that other person not care about me anymore? Do people like me? Or maybe they just tolerate me? Why hasn't he/she texted me back? Have I upset them? Should I have done this? Should I have done that? Blah blah blah my mind goes, all day long...

Stop! Enough already!

I read somewhere that 'We should try to wear the world as a loose cloak.' I'm not sure where I read this, or who penned it first, but I like this quote. I try very hard sometimes to visualise a colourful cloak billowing behind me. It works for a very short while then the anxiety, worry and yes, rumination, all come flooding back. At this point I feel safer donning Harry Potter's cloak of invisibility.

Around 99 per cent of what I worry about never happens and is purely in my imagination. So how do I stop? Do you ruminate often? How will you stop yourself from ruminating 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/rumination

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Do it Your Way.

I have heard, from some source or another, that Frank Sinatra's "I Did It My Way" is the most popular choice of song for funerals; especially those funerals not held in church. Apparently, it beats, by a short head, Monty Python's "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life."

But this is not a blog about funerals, but about life and how to make it better.

We were all sitting around the table, as we do every first Wednesday of the month; the bipolar group to which I belong.

We had just finished a spirited discussion on medication. As most of us hold to the opinion that bipolar disorder is a physical condition with mental symptoms, most of us are on medication of one sort or another.

"But we cannot rely just on medication, can we?" said the leader of our group, in his velvety and deliciously accented voice (I could listen to that man talk all day, I tell you). "What do we do on those days when we wake up but do not want to get up and face the day? What do we do to help us stay healthy?"

Of course, there were as many answers as folk around the table, multiplied many times. Some of our answers were duplicated and no doubt we just touched the tip of the possible answers out there.

"I write a list," said Shelley. "When I've done anything – even just had a shower – I tick it off my list, and draw little flowers around it. That makes me feel I have achieved something."

"I go out into the garden," said Peter. "I walk round and see what's growing. I do some weeding and make it tidy. That makes me feel better."

"I sing," said Lynne. "I sing with a choir when I am well enough. But when I am not well enough to go and join my choir, then I sing in my living room. I turn the music up loud and I dance and I sing – and to hell with the neighbours!"

"I like my 80's rock music," said Ash, in that voice. "The louder the better."

"And Wagner for me," I said, in my turn. "I agree, loud is good."

"I paint."

"I make birdboxes in my shed."

"I write."

"I go for long walks, whatever the weather."

What was clear is that there is no one size fits all method of coping with the black dog. Each of us responds differently to his presence and each of us has a different method of coping. But each of us gained much from listening to the ideas of others.

So, my invitation to you today, is please, even if you do not normally comment, click through with your suggestions or experiences. What works for you, if anything? Because sometimes we know it gets so bad that all you can do is to hang on.

But if you can water your hanging baskets while there, that's great.

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/do-it-your-way