Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mood Charts (Part 4)

This is a continuation of yesterday's post in which I discuss the value of keeping mood charts, and discuss how I used them, and what I learned from keeping a detailed record for six years.

6. At one point, I was so sick I thought I was going to die from psychic pain. My current psychiatrist had prescribed a bunch of new medications that were far more toxic than what I'd been taking. The side-effects were terrible. And I truly was at a loss.

What I decided to do was to take all of my mood charts from the previous months, and do poster board charts with all the medications and a one line description of how I felt. My hope was to see if anything had really helped, and if I had ever felt better.

My own feeling is that without charts, most people have no memory of how they feel. We all know that when we're terribly depressed it's almost impossible to remember when we felt well. And, at least for me, when I'm terribly well, I can't imagine that I ever felt awful beyond belief.

It turned out that my experiment was a failure, but it still served a purpose. The point is that I truly believe that a computerized version of our mood charts could work. And think of this...what if...everyone who's bipolar and has mood charts could feed their info into a database. And what if...we would go online and see what combination of medications and/or alternative methods of healing like exercise, meditation, neural path therapy etc. work for people like us.

What I mean by this is...if I'm categorized as atypical bipolar II, and if I believe that my illness is truly clinical depression and that my mood swings were caused by medication, where can I find a list of people like me who have healed themselves? How did they do it? What treatments did they use?

If they're taking medications, which ones and in what dosages? If they're exercising, what specific exercises are they doing? If they employ other methods of healing, specifically what are they doing?

(more to come)


Tony C said...

Hi Susan,

Since i have found out I cant take meds, my charts have become even more important. Looking back over the months I can see patterns of wellness and illness. It helps remind me when I am down that I will come out of it.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Tony,
So good to hear from you. Knowing that you'll come out of this is perhaps the most important wellness activity there is. All my best for a summer of flowers and home-grown vegetables and health and wellness!


Tony C said...

Hi Susan,

Just the realisation that a down cycle isnt forever has made such a difference to my life. Its all part of staying positive about whats going on in my head. I dont have an illness I'm just different!

Im still battling with the garden pests - I hope I get to eat the vegetables before they do!
Stay well, dear freind. I hope you have a peacefull sunny and happy summer.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Tony,
So glad to hear about your positive slant on all this. It makes all the difference. I think our fear about depressions worsens them considerably.

Now that I've got a digital camera, I've got to remember to send you photos of my neighbor's garden. She's planted it in her front yard, and you won't believe it! But since a picture's worth a thousand words, I'll have to show you!

You take care too, dear friend!


Jazz said...

What a neat idea, a detailed database that might give people a bit more insight into what they can do to help themselves. I agree, it is very difficult remember how one felt at a given time. My journals are somewhat helpful for this, but as I've said before, it's an awful lot of material to wade through!

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

That is the beauty of the Day-Timer system. You can only use two pages per day, and the page limitation works in this case because shorter and more focused is better.


naturalgal said...

Hi Susan,
This would be a good idea if I trusted the people putting the whole thing together.

I like Tony's comments too. He knows it is not forever because of his charts.

I also think an organized person like you would add validity to the claim of people like us...meds are doing more harm than good. You have the documented proof.

Rob Johnson said...


I love your "what if" ideas. If only the medical community would think the same way.

I use an Excel spreadsheet to maintain my daily chart. I rate my day (0 to 5), the time I get to bed, and how long I slept. I also mark any days where there were signs of mania.

Some have told me that keeping such a chart is a double-edged sword. Thay say that if I see a downward trend, there's the possibility that my expectations could cause the depression to worsen or remain. I think the benefit far outweighs the potential negative.

Thanks for writing,


Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Rob,
Sounds like a really good system too. I totally agree with you about the benefits outweighing the negatives. As far as I'm concerned, if you're a positive person (and I can tell you are), understanding this illness is the key to wellness.

If you don't understand the symptoms of mania, there's no way to lessen its impact other than medication.

But, over time, I have learned how to identify the symptoms, and now I'm so much better about reducing its impact--and that's made a huge difference in my life.