Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mood Charts (Part 3)

As I said in response to someone's comment, the moods charts I kept for six years were so detailed that I truly learned about my illness with the hope that this information would help me and my doctors "cure" me. Unfortunately, they never treated my hard work with the respect it deserved. But, after six years, this is what I learned:

1. I knew what medications I had taken in what amounts and what dosages. When I changed doctors (I saw five psychiatrists over a ten-year period), I could provide them with a list of what medications I had taken. So, when someone said, "Do you want to try Depakote again?" I could say, "I tried it for a year in 1995 and I had such-and-such side effects and it had no effect on my hypomanias, and I tried it again in 2000 and it had such-and-such side effects and still didn't work.

2. I could look back on the years and try to see if there were patterns in terms of the months when I felt hypomanic and the months when I felt depressed. While I knew that for 25-years, I had experienced my depressive episodes in April and October, after I began taking medication, the depression extended for a full year. But later, there were good and bad months--and for years, I was depressed from Thanksgiving through New Years.

My questions were: Did the depressions have a seasonal element or were they partially caused by family dynamics around holidays? What were the other triggers? (Unfortunately, no one ever bothered to help me answer these questions, but I finally answered them myself.)

3. For years, I kept track of my sleeping patterns. In my case, this wasn't a component part of my illness because I made sure that I got eight to nine hours of sleep a night. However, later I figured out that the Ativan (at one time I was on 7 mg. per night) was causing a residual depression in the morning. Why didn't my doctor figure that out? Now that's a good question.

4. I also kept track of what I was eating. For the most part, my diet has always been good. However, because I was depressed for many years, I did develop some bad habits, and found comfort foods that weren't that healthy. But, all things considered, I ate well.

5. I could look back on exercise patterns to see if exercise made a difference. It didn't, but I wonder how much of that was psychological. The psychiatrist I saw for four years was so sure that exercise wouldn't make a difference that I wonder if his negative outlook on this subject had a deleterious effect.

(to be continued)


katie said...

i've been catching up on your blog and find your posts about tracking your moods fascinating. i've done it sporatically, wish i would have done it consistently over the years. it's not too late to start!

Jazz said...

This is all good surprises me (, it doesn't!) that your doctors weren't interested. This is where I think psychiatry really falls down, in denying that lifestyle can have an impact on the illness.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Katie,
I agree. It's never too late to start anything that will help you in your path towards wellness.


Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

I so agree. What their lack of interest also does--although not to someone like me who marches to my own drummer--is that it doesn't encourage anyone to think outside the box.

Personally, if day after day I saw patient after patient who wasn't getting well, I would have been thrilled to find a patient like me who was so focused and determined. A little positive enforcement might have gone a long way.

But, as far as I could tell, my doctors saw me as just another BIP, albeit a highly functioning one--most of the the time--except when their medication was making me so sick. (But, of course, no one ever admitted that.)


Annie said...

Susan, Great use of mood charts. I can see how tracking for years can be helpful in working with pdoc. It always concerns me when a pdoc does not support healthy activities like exercise. I know for sure it is good for us and helps prevent depression.
Thanks for checking on me. I have been sick but feel better now,just a little weak from intestinal problems.Annie

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Annie,
Glad to hear that you're better. I kept my mood charts from 1993--when I was diagnosed--to 2000. At the time, nothing I suggested
--exercise, diet, sunlight, meditation--was considered to work.

So when I did it and was still hit hard by depression, I gave up on it as a wellness activity.

I have since learned that everything I did would have been effective--if I had persevered when I was sick. It's always difficult to start something new when you're depressed, or to continue an activity when you receive no support from your so-called healers.

Ultimately, the way I'm healing myself is to do all my wellness activities, believe that I'm right, and add neural path therapy to the mix.


Rob Johnson said...

I've been keeping my own mood chart for some time. I have a very good relationship with my psychiatrist and it helps us evaluate where I've been and where I should be.

I realize that there are some who don't have many options when it comes to pdocs. For those who do and who have an insensitive boob for a pdoc, run - do not walk - to another pdoc. No one, especially someone who is paying for their care, needs that kind of abuse.

Thanks. I enjoy reading.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Thanks for your comment. Welcome to my blog. I'm so sorry about your friend. I dropped by your blog, but couldn't leave a comment.

I'm really happy when I learn about someone who has a doctor they like. I believe it makes all the difference.


Mary said...

Susan: Keeping track of everything is great, You dont have to rely on anyone else for information on your meds or how you feel, you have everything right there, I wish Ihad started one years ago also. I know my dr. told me that exercise was so good for depression, instead of taking meds all the time, he is so right..Mary

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Mary,
It's never too late to start keeping mood charts. And, of course, your doctor is right about exercise. There are now dozens of studies that support its value.