Can We Save Our Friends With the Aid of an Acronym and Some Mood Mapping?

When someone suicides and there’s a half written note, someone is sure to be asking, “Why?”

When I was teaching Mental Health First Aid there was a fellow facilitator who was a policeman. He brought along, by far the best (that I have seen), mnemonic for explaining how people reach a point where they will suicide. It is a shame this has been forgotten rather than SHAREd.

If I had help going through the papers I stored, from those days, I could perhaps find what that policeman gave me. I could have thousands printed. People could keep one with their phone, laptop or even on a wall in their kitchen. Misery seems to be causing suicides, so here I will share thoughts on reducing that…

I can say with certainty why people become miserable and with equal certainty what it is that allows people to be happy again. I have worked with the most amazing health professionals, so these are not my ideas. Here, I am using what they have said in ways that are more likely to be remembered.

Here are 5 things we all need. These have had many different names over the years and you may call them what you want. It is still true though that everything we need for wellbeing fits into these categories:

Surroundings: What is around us from; clean air, water and food to having enough money, appropriate clothing and somewhere we can sleep without fear… Surroundings continue to be ignored by doctors and psychiatrists who can afford to buy in pleasant neighbourhoods. Being in poor housing is often a consequence of lack of some of what is below…

Physical health: Not everyone who is in pain is miserable, some are. Resorting to prescription drugs to ease pain is so often a path towards deteriorating health and a downward spiral of more pain and more ‘pain-killers’. I know that sitting too long at this laptop is damaging my health and that moving more helps almost everyone. The saying, “You are what you eat” is as relevant now as it has ever been. “EAT REAL FOOD” is, I believe, the best 3 word starting point for a healthy life. Help with this is free from PHC.

Ability to choose: People who believe, “We always have a choice” are fortunate. Sometimes what we are choosing between seems too limited. Worse than this is; a) when the options seem too numerous to choose between and b) when we become fixated on one very hard choice, such as, “Do I do nothing or end my life now.” The ability to choose can be said to be autonomy and linked to freedom. Many become slaves to; the ones they love, their work, their addictions and so become less free. Not so common today is having too much freedom. Example: After a divorce – with possibly more options than one’s brain can cope with.

Communication: We all have roles and all need some kind of relationships. Both depend on our ability to communicate. Being able to distinguish between our wants and needs helps, as does recognizing what is essential to say and what is non-essential/trivial. We need to be able to ask questions, say what we need and communicate important facts. More than all of this, how accurately can we convey our feelings and mood?

I have found no better way to communicate feelings and moods than with the use of a mood-grid. It is sad that communicating using paper and pen has been going out of fashion. Please do learn to ‘mood map’. With a mood-grid we can see (yes, I mean visually on paper) how our friend/relative is feeling. We can see what their words are not conveying and what we may have missed in their body language. Knowledge of the grid helps to know whether there is deep depression (that you will learn, almost never equates to suicidal risk at that moment) of if your friend/relative is in the danger-zone on the grid, needing immediate/urgent help.

Enthusiasm: This goes with having appropriate energy as well as occasional excitement and enjoyment, Enthusiasm for life tends to wane when we lack energy. Example: In response to, “We are going to walk our dog, it’s a lovely day, do come with us.” what might a reply of, “Not today” mean. If the only reason for not walking is a lack of energy that person needs help.



Minimum Energy / Minimum Enthusiasm and It Feels Like a Global Extinction Event

I’ve just come out of an hour or so of Mood at 1,1…. From which I am reminded that when we do not have energy to stand or even energy enough to turn over in bed then, as what the world describes as a bipolar personality, enthusiasm for life can go missing.

It is one thing to choose to be in a lower energy state and rest calmly… very different when that energy is all gone at 3pm and one can no longer stand or move.

I am hearing that it is happening to more people more often, with some of the highest energy people… here I was going to say, on their knees… it is way lower than that though… nutrition and out of date ways of thinking will be part of the cause, yet… I sense the world we live in has changed and is changing more rapidly than any time since an asteroid wiped out a lot of dinosaurs.

There may be questions of without and within yet maybe this will all need to be in the context of how we either react or respond to a global extinction event.

Right now, most in the UK are still well-buffered but our security blankets may soon be ripped away.


How to Mood Map #MoodMapping

I created ‘How to Mood Map’ as part of a project for the NHS in Lincolnshire, UK in 2014.

If you click on the fuzzy photo below, a link will take you to a printable pdf.

Please let me know if you find this useful.

Also, please get in touch if you feel you can help me make this site even more useful.

Mood Mapping – Dr Liz Miller – About the Mood Map grid

Dr Liz Miller’s book, Mood Mapping – Plot Your Way to Emotional Health, has two main themes:

    1. The Mood Map grid
    2. The Five Keys to Mood

The Mood Map grid is a simple, visual way to understand and record the way you feel.

It can be used to explain why some of us can be convinced we are ‘bipolar’ and how many of us are coming to realise we never were that ‘bipolar’ at all.

If you want to understand your moods or think your bipolar diagnosis may not be right then the Mood Map grid is the place to start in understanding what is going on with your feelings and moods and how to live a life without being so ‘bipolar’.

Marian Moore says, “Mood can change in an instant or gradually over time. Some people are ‘morning people’, others more nocturnal. Some days are better than others. Mapping your mood helps you see when you are at your best, your worst, and even when it might be better just to stay at home!”

Mood Mapping allows us to increase our self-awareness by allowing us to know more about how we feel and gives insights into why we do the things we do. It develops our observing-self, enabling us to see moods or emotions for what they are, and not being caught up and overwhelmed by them.

Why map our moods?

Stress, anxiety, exhaustion, and depression have always been difficult to quantify and many people find it difficult to say which of these they are experiencing. Yet without measuring these, it can be difficult to know whether things are changing much at all.

Music may help you feel better, but how much better? Is quiet meditation more effective for you? Can this effectiveness be measured and described to others? Which foods improve your mood? Without an effective way of measuring mood it is difficult to know what is affecting your mood most.

By knowing and being able to accurately describe our moods we can become better at helping ourselves and finding the help we need when we need it.

Mood Map grid

Mood Map grid

The Mood Map grid as originally developed by Dr Liz Miller:

Mood is said to have two main components:

ENERGY – shown as up and down on the map

POSITIVITY – Essentially how you feel, shown as left and right on the map

The two axes divide the map into four quarters which describe the four basic moods;

  1. Tired (which can include good reflective moods as well as normal exhaustion and abnormal depressive states)
  2. Anxiety
  3. Action
  4. Calm

Moods affect not just how a person feels but also how they behave

For example, a small child runs towards a busy road;

–       a person who is very TIRED may think “How awful, that child may die, I wish I could do something”

–       a person who is already in a mood of high ANXIETY may panic and scream.

–       a person in the ACTION mood – runs to the child and whisks them away from danger.

–       a person who is CALM can think how to avert the danger without unnecessarily alarming people.

In this example the positive moods of ACTION and CALM seem great. The reality is that there are no good or bad moods. There is a time and a place for every type of mood. As we learn from Mood Mapping, it is the ability to change to the mood we need at any particular moment that allows us to be healthiest and work well with those around us.

A Scientific Perspective

Mood most likely comes from the deepest part of the brain, where the sympathetic (flight and fight) and parasympathetic (housekeeping) part of our nervous system join. Thus when we wake up, we immediately become aware of how we feel, and then the rest of the brain can gradually work out why we feel that way, and what we are to do next.

Mood Mapping is a simple technique that is easy to learn and easy to teach.

The first step is to plot your mood at this moment by estimating how much energy you have and putting a mark on the vertical axis.

Plotting on mood map

Plotting on mood map

Then estimate how good or positive they feel and plot that on the horizontal axis. The Mood point is where vertical and horizontal marks on the graph cross.

The Mood Point can be labelled with the time and perhaps a quick note why you feel the way you do. If you feel this is not the right mood for you at this time then maybe think what you have done in the past that has helped you get the mood you want now.

Plot another point later, to see if your choice has been effective.


Thanks to Marian and Liz for allowing me to adapt their article from

This is just the start of Mood Mapping. Next article: The Five Keys to Mood

MILLER, LIZ Dr., (2009), Mood Mapping: Plot your way to emotional health and happiness, pub. London, Rodale

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