One of the tools we, BD’s, can use is keeping a journal of our moods.
I have an ‘official’ Life Chart Method Journal. It contains two times 2 pages for each month, divided in days.
The first set chronicles which meds you are taking, including the dosage, on a daily basis. The other side deals with how many hours you slept each night, chronicles your weight and in graph style shows your mood. There is a special line, separate from the chart, where you indicate a mixed mood.
The second set of two pages is for recording the main things that happened that day, you can give it a number saying how much an event influenced you for better or worse. You can also chart the times your mood changed during the day. Finally you are supposed to give a percentage from zero being totally depressed to 100 being absolutely manic for each day.
When I first came back to the Netherlands I charted pretty consistently over a period of 4 months. After that it got sketchy and then I stopped. I am trying to pick it up again.
Why mood charting?
- It’s easier to see how a change in dosage/meds influences you, and how a med is affecting you
- It shows clearly what meds do to your weight
- It’s easier to see what happens with your sleeping pattern and how that reflects back on your moods
- You get an eye for the influence of certain events in your daily life
- It chronicles all the different meds and dosages you have been taking and after a certain amount of time it will show you how well (or not) you are doing with certain meds.
Of course, in order for mood charting to be helpful, one has to do it consistently. Something that is not easy to do – at least for me!
The hardest part for me is to fill out the graph. I find it real hard to figure out where I am on the pendulum of high and low. When I am pretty depressed (nice combination of words :) ), or clearly hypomanic, it’s easy enough. But all those times in between… I struggle where to put myself.
The space to relate life’s daily events is not enough – I have developed my own short hand I think! How those events influence me is not too difficult to indicate (+4/-4). But often there are uppers and downers during the day – so to record the overall state of my daily mood still remains a challenge. Also, indicating the percentage is an issue for me.
Overall I would say it’s been helpful to me to gain more insight in my BD. I have started again because I am considering a med change together with my p-doc. It’s good to have a sort of ‘base-line’ if you will, even though it’s a line that goes up and down a lot!
Have you experience with keeping a mood chart? How was it helpful to you?
Here is a list by Jim Phelps, M.D. of online mood charts.
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