Definitely Keep a Mood Chart!
Most of the self-help books suggest that you keep a mood chart. And it is a good idea to keep one. No, it's a GREAT idea to keep one.
- A Mood Chart allows you to monitor the cycles of your moods. Each day you, twice a day, you write down how you are feeling. Not sure what to write - no worries - this page and the next one show you how.
- As you chart a week to two months of your mood charts, you'll generate data about how you have been feeling and how you have been acting.
- So instead of guessing how you felt or what you did last week or last month, you'll have it written down. This matters, because I've found out that I can't remember very well how I was feeling a week ago or a month ago. People's memories just aren't that good, and ours are probably a little worse than average. Besides, we often remember what we wanted to have happened, not what actually happened. If you got a record that was written the day it happened, you get more accurate information.
What Do I do with the Mood Chart Data?
- You can check to see if your mood swings are regular. Not everybody's is, so don't assume yours will be. But if your data shows that you have regular mood swings (I'll show you how to check for that too), you'll be able to figure out how long your depression and manic periods are. And that's handy because, you can use them to predict when you are likely to be depressed or functional, and make tentative plans accordingly (the most useful scale is the E scale - see below for details)
- I have used the charts to show my family that when they thought I was normal (i.e. functional), I wasn't emotionally stable. It came as quite a shock to them because they often couldn't detect that anything wrong with me.
- The charts are also very useful for showing spouses, parents, etc. that you are not making this all up. If you can say to them "Remember last month when I was being superwoman, well, that's because I was manic. And remember last week when I was moody and didn't want to get out of bed, that's because I was depressed. Here's the data." This is actually a different point from the one above - this one allows you to show people who don't believe you have mood swings that you DO.
- The Mood Chart data allows you to see if the medications you are taking are working. If you start a new medication (or adjust dosage), you can see how your moods react over time. Determining if medication is working can get complicated (check "How Drugs Affect Us" for more info) and the mood chart is a valuable tool in finding out. combination of E scale and medications
- The Mood Chart data can also be useful to show to your psych so that they can have an idea on how well (or not) you are doing, as well as offering them a reason why you want to change drugs or drug dosages.
Mood Charts and Mood Chart Scales
While I think that a Mood Chart is necessary, I wasn't satisfied with any of the ones I found, particularly since the Charts did not distinguish between when I was feeling emotionally unstable and and when I was being functional.
As I found out, it is possible to be quite manic and still be fully functional. Or mildly depressed and functional enough to hide the depression from others.
I've generally used the two scales (Emotionality and Functionality) that are probably the most handy. Check these and the other scales that I've used that are appropriate to different situations.
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