Lizzie discusses the importance of tracking your mood if you have bipolar disorder and the benefits of starting a mood tracking journal to help you predict your mood episodes and triggers.
My therapist told me recently that the purpose of therapy and the way to live a peaceful life with bipolar is to be able to track ahead of your mood episodes, to be able almost to predict what your triggers are, and to know whether or not you are going up into a more manic state or down into depression.
Self-awareness is one of the hardest parts of bipolar disorder.
It's why a lot of people deny that they have bipolar and continually go off medicine because they're absorbed, surrounded and immersed within the mood episode that they don't even realize that anything is atypical or different.
When you're not aware of what is going on that's when your symptoms will manifest into doing things that you don't necessarily want to do – causing destruction and hurting yourself.
I personally have found that the mood charts (that you can Google and print out) just do not work for bipolar, because it is so multi-faceted and complicated. It's constantly changing and adapting, the way your depression and mania even manifests.
Instead, try bullet journaling.
What to Write in Your Bipolar Mood Tracking Journal
I have a blank journal, and I do bullet journaling, which helps, in general, for me to have my life together, to be productive in depression and to be focused when I'm more hypomanic.
Every day I have my to-do list of everything I need to get done and then on the right side.
What time I went to bed
What time I woke up
What my dreams were like
How I felt right when I woke up, like whether or not my sleep was revitalizing or if I felt exhausted when I woke up
Then at the very end of the day, I'll write about what my symptoms were like during the day.
If I ever felt really happy
If I was talking a lot
If I felt more hypersexual
If it was so difficult to motivate myself to do something
If I wasn't able to think of words to say in a conversation
If I was at the gym and I ran three miles
Just stuff like that. Anything that is related to a mood episode.
I think that with depression or anxiety, maybe you can track your mood as a simple:
Do you feel sad?
Do you feel anxious?
However, with bipolar, it's primarily an energy problem.
When I start going into depression or start going manic, I'll notice because of the quality of my sleep, and how much my body will need to sleep.
So, by tracking:
How much I'm sleeping
What my dreams were like
How I felt when I woke up
That's the number one way to see whether or not you're going manic or going into a depression.
Keep An Eye On Your Sleep, Dreams, and Your Mood When You Wake Up
Sleeping is one of the most important things for people with bipolar, besides taking medicine.
So, I find when I write down when I went to bed, when I woke up, how many hours of sleep I got – it's extra motivation and accountability to make sure that I'm sleeping well.
I always write down a couple words about how my dreams were, because if your dreams are really monotonous, and just about things like:
Cooking a meal
Talking to your friend
Checking your emails
Writing a paper
So, if your dreams were super monotonous, that means you're going to have more of a depression type day.
However, if your dreams were super intense, scary, like disturbing images, terror type dreams, then that means, you're going more manic. Vivid dreams are extremely common in bipolar and if you start to assess your dreams, just write a couple of words about what your dreams were like, you can begin tracking your mood based upon your dreams.
Another thing to write down and to think about with tracking your mood is how much you're talking to other people and how much you're socializing.
Pressured speech and pressured thoughts, where you're always fast talking or thinking so quickly – like so many ideas – are signs associated with being more manic.
Personalize Your Bipolar Mood Journal
So with everything I've been explaining, write down your mood at the very end of the day and reflect on what happened to you that day.
This doesn't at all have to be a big deal. You don't have to write paragraphs or anything. I literally will write a couple of sentences or just a few words.
If you make it into having to do like, a diary entry at the end of the day, you're going to stop doing it, because it's going to be too exhausting. When you're doing this mood tracking, you'll have epiphanies at the end of so many days.
You'll be like:
"Oh, that's why I was so excited!"
"That's why I was talking so much."
"I'm probably going more manic."
You'll become so much more self-aware from tracking your mood, writing it down, that even at the moment, you'll know exactly what mood episode you're in.
Self-awareness is the key to living a successful, happy, and chill life while having bipolar.