There’s an app I found called iMood Journal that I installed on my phone. I’ve had other mood trackers in the past, but I like the features this one has. You can pick your mood throughout the day as many times as you want. There are ten moods to choose from, and you can customize what they are. Also, you can make as many entries, thoughts, or notes as you like, as often as you like. Your moods will show up as a daily graph, so you can see how they are fluctuating.
The feature that I really think is cool though, is you can highlight anything in your notes by putting a hashtag symbol in front of the word(s). You might suspect that alcohol is a trigger, so #alcohol or #gotdrunk. You may have certain stressors like, #inlaws, or #exams. The app will keep up with all of the hashtagged words. In my case, if I have a headache or migraine on a particular day, I type #headache in my daily notes. Then, when I look at my summary or history later on, I’ll be able to see if there are any cycles or patterns that are related to headaches. This helps me determine whether or not headaches are a trigger! Brilliant! #Startedperiod is a hashtag that I’m trying to keep track of. I’m hashtagging all kinds of stuff to see if I can detect any triggers that I wasn’t aware of. The other mood tracking apps that I’ve used didn’t have this feature, and I think it’s a great idea.
I was thinking about why it is so important to me to do things like this. This is my third mood tracking app for my phone. Not too long ago, I typed a big list of all of my moods, and wrote detailed descriptions of each one. Then I listed them in their usual order of what usually comes first, then next, etc. I don’t know about ya’ll, but my moods don’t just consist of happy to sad, manic to depressed, and just the varying levels of intensity of these moods in between. I labeled one of my moods in the app as “Bitch”. When I’m at work, my dear friends and coworkers piss me off constantly. Normally, the little things they do don’t bother me in the slightest. Then, one day, they make me so mad I want to punch them in the face. When I look at them, I feel resentment and anger. I almost closed my business one time when I was in this phase.
There’s also, “Little Bit Down”. This usually comes before Bitch. This is where I’m unmotivated to do anything whatsoever. I want to lay on the couch all day every day. I’m not necessarily sad, but I’m definitely not happy. I beat myself up during this mood, because I feel guilty for being so unproductive and lazy. It sneaks up on me, and I don’t really recognize it as a mood, and part of a bipolar mood cycle.
I think that tracking my moods and trying to figure out patterns and triggers helps me to feel like I have some sort of control over what is happening to me emotionally. Obviously, I can’t actually control whether or not a mood cycle starts, but being even slightly aware of what is happening to me, when it’s happening, makes me feel less helpless. And less hopeless. If I can recognize that usually my “Little Bit Down” cycle lasts about three days, and it’s my bipolar disorder that is causing it, then I know what to expect. I feel less “crazy”, out of control, and guilty. I can say to myself, “Hold on, only a little bit longer. It’s not your fault.” I’ve talked to my husband about this, and explained to him that I needed him to remind me that I’m in a cycle, and it’s only temporary. I need to hear that I’m not lazy, and it’s not my fault. If I want to lay on the couch for a couple of days, then lay on the couch! It’s not the end of the world! Sometimes when you’re in the middle of your cycle, you don’t identify it as being in your cycle. You just think you suck.
Hopefully tracking my moods and triggers this way will help me manage my disorder a little better. Not surprisingly, I’m also a list maker and obsessive organizer. I could just be trying to neatly organize my cycles into neat little categories and lists because I’m just weird! If that’s the case, so be it. But I think I speak for a lot of people when I say I’ll do anything to feel better.