Thursday, July 9, 2009

Keeping A Mood Chart and Journal (Part 1)

For those of you who have read my blog for some time, you know how important I feel mood charts are, and you can read my series about it. But, what I realized this year was that perhaps I didn't explain the importance of keeping a journal as well.

For more than 25 years, I have used the Day-Timer system to track my life. When I was first diagnosed, I spent six years keeping a daily account of the medication I took, the dosage, how it made me feel, what the side effects where, how much sleep I got, and sometimes what I ate. I also kept track of all my activities, and my freelance writing career.

In those days, I used the 2-Page-Per-Day system. What that meant for me was that I had an extra page that I used as a journal. While it was a great way to organize things and to chart my illness, none of my psychiatrists were ever interested in the system I established. And even though I would come to therapy sessions with a typed page of how things progressed between sessions, they always asked me to read it aloud rather than reviewing it so we could analyze the larger picture.

The only psychiatrist who asked me if I kept a mood chart wanted me to switch over to a system he preferred. And I was furious at his inability to recognize the importance of my system, which was far better than the one he had taken from another shrink.

In fact, as I look back on all this, I am incredulous. First of all, let me state for the record that I feel these records were more valuable than any of the treatment I received (aside from the Adderall, which I actually believe saved my life, and which I'm now trying to wean myself off entirely), and the work I'm doing with a therapist whom I truly believe might help me achieve wellness.

Second, what I didn't realize all those years ago was the importance of the journal. A number of years later when I was no longer very busy each day because I was so ill, I switched to the 1-Page-Per-Day system, and despite its expense, there were years when I barely entered any information. I guess I just didn't see the point anymore.

And when I started blogging five days a week, I mistakenly thought that my blog was fulfilling the same function as my journal had. But it didn't.

Because this is a really important topic, I'm going to continue this series tomorrow. But, I need to let you know that today I am also going to see a psychotherapist who does transformational healing, and hypnosis. I'm reading her book, which I think is terrific, and it's something I'll share with you at a later date.

As always, I welcome your comments. But I'm leaving the house at 10:00 my time and won't be home until about 3:00. So, bear with me if it takes a long time to moderate your comments. I will respond to them after I return home and rest a bit. I hope everyone's day will be as "transformational" as I anticipate mine will be.


mmaaggnnaa said...

Hi, Susan -

I, too, am a believer in keeping track of things like mood, food, exercise, sleep, key events . . . it is a great diagnostic tool.

I too, have experienced the same disregard for this type of tracking by mental and physical health professionals. I have been told repeatedly that it is a manifestation of my perfectionism and my need for extraordinary organization and that I should stop it.

I'm sure there is a grain of truth to it being related to self-destructive behaviors, but it seems that, of all the forms of manifestation my negative behaviors could take, this would be a preferable one, LOL.

At any rate, I gave up trying to get the professionals to look at my charts and I just analyze them myself and share my conclusions with the professionals.

- Marie (Coming Out of the Trees)

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Marie,
I am constantly amazed by the bad advice we are given by the so-called professionals. If they were truly "professionals" they would see it's a wonderful diagnostic tool.

And, if you're going to be a perfectionist, I can't think of a more healthy arena in which to exhibit this skill, can you?

Thanks for commenting on this Marie. I really appreciate it.


Emma said...

Oh I have enjoyed reading this! It is so refreshing to discover others use and share similar coping strategies. I know how useful the lists and journal writing have been as records of both my illness and recovery. One forgets, and it so helpful to have documentation to consult. How wonderful it is to discover that a week contained more positives than negatives! I confess there may be more than a little 'perfectionism' and even a smidge of compulsiveness, but I have to agree and chuckle at Marie's fabulous observation.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Emma,
I always feel so good to learn that others do what I do as a coping mechanism too. And, I would agree about the "smidge of compulsiveness," but a smidge of anything can't be bad, can it?