I recently got a set of ‘Mood Cards’. These are a thought-provoking way of having fun, whilst looking at our moods and emotions analytically.. The idea is to go through the cards and choose one that strikes a cord with you. on the front of each card is a smiley face and a ‘mood’ word (such as anger, depression, joy, etc); on the flip side there are three questions to think about and answer (it works best if you write them down), and an affirmation related to the mood. We decided to have a try at using them to work with emotions and moods that we frequently have experienced, or still do. ~ Marc
1) Can you think of a time when you overcame a challenge?
Yes, when I sought help for my feelings of isolation and agoraphobia.
2) How did you do it and what motivated you?
I went to my GP who referred me to a psychiatrist who suggested I attend weekly therapy sessions at PSS, the Umbrella Centre. My key motivation was that I wanted to get well again. Afterwards I realised that I actually enjoyed the feeling of being connected.
3) What did you learn about yourself from this and how can this help you to make real, positive changes for yourself?
It makes me realise that I am stronger and more resilient than I give myself credit for. It is a confidence builder and boost to my self esteem.
1) What are you mindfully aware of?
I’m aware of being in the moment and living in the present. Trying to take each day as it comes.
2) How often do you take the time to relax and meditate?
In an ideal world I would relax and meditate twice daily. However personal responsibilities and commitments plus time constraints make this impossible to achieve, and I’m lucky if I manage to do it daily.
3) How can being mindful help you in your life?
Practising Mindfulness is a good way to live your life for the benefits it induces by promoting a sense of harmony and positivity. The techniques it recommends such as breathing exercises, meditation and taking time out help with managing both physical and mental health – contributing to a sense of well being.
1) What brings you joy?
My family and friends bring me a deep sense of joy. I love being around them and enjoying their company. Even when I am not physically with them just knowing they are a presence in my life is a source of comfort to me.
2) What are your beliefs on life?
I believe in being kind to and respecting others, I value all that is good, fair and just. I try to follow these values in my day to day life.
3) How does joy touch your life?
Joy touches my life in many ways.
It’s being able to laugh and cry with my husband.
The pride I take in my grown up children.
Working in and relaxing in my garden.
Listening to birdsong.
Watching the sun rise and set.
Walking in the rain.
Gosh, I could go on, it’s only sitting here, thinking and blogging that I realise how very fortunate and blessed I am to have so many wonderful sources of joy in my life.
1) What are your regrets? What were your reasons for your actions?
I regret that my late partner, Helen, never got to see the progress that I made in overcoming mental illness since she passed away. At the time leading up to her death, I was in depression, not only over Helen’s illness, but also over issues surrounding my mother’s declining health and the loss of my first wife.
2) What are the consequences for you now?
Since she passed away, I have tackled my issues. Whilst I firmly believe that you can never say you are fully recovered from depression, I would have liked her to have seen the way I learned to cope with it to the extent that I built the confidence to go into self-employment.
I am very wary of not being seen to do the best I can by the people that matter to me.
3) What can you do differently next time?
Don’t waste a moment on regrets and loss – live my life with meaning and purpose.
1) What are the specific thoughts you are having?
I’m worried that I won’t get enough work, and also worried that last year’s bereavement will send me back into the downward spiral of depression.
2) How much do you believe your thoughts? Is there any evidence to support your belief?
There is evidence that I can get work, but equally, there’s evidence that it can dry up rapidly. So yes that is a prominent belief.
The evidence around the bereavement is more on the positive side. I have suffered bereavements before and got through. I know what to expect – so I know how to deal, even if it won’t be easy at times.
3) Are there other options or possibilities?
I think that the anxiety about getting enough work has grown in a period of inactivity through depression and other physical issues. If I throw myself back into the work, I can probably counter the anxiety on both counts.
And to end with another positive mood:
1) What do you feel proud about?
This is one of the ‘alternative modes of thinking’ that I have to refer to when I do mindfulness and CBT based work on myself. In the depths of depression it is so easy to say ‘nothing’, and that becomes a habit that is hard to break.
Overall, my usual answer is that I am proud that I have turned my life around from a long period of mind-stifling depression, and not only that, but have emerged that bit stronger, and, I like to think, wiser. When I started the process of recovery back in 2013, my proud affirmation was:
“I am taking back my life!”
2) What are your greatest achievements?
When I think about this, I realize how surprised the younger me would be – that person always assumed that my greatest achievements would be somehow related to music. I showed promise for sure; but circumstances changed.
My greatest achievements are in learning to deal with my mind in all its elements – from the darkest and most serious, to the more flippant. Understanding that spectrum and working flexibly with it is an achievement that my younger self, would under-value.
From that going on to start a business, which I hope will be of use to other people who have been through similar struggles, is probably one of my greatest achievements – especially at an age that I thought I would be all washed up by.
I think, in the end, my affirmation brought about change and I am proud that I did, indeed, take back my life.
3) What can you learn about yourself from your examples?
That I have inner strength I never imagined I had. And that I am not quite as self-centred as I used to think I was.
Elsa and I had a lot of fun doing this brainstorming exercise. During the session, Elsa said that writing the answers down was great because it made us think more about the answers. And to me, thinking about the answers was very revealing. I think we both came away from the session a tad more positive – I know I certainly did!