Junk In, Junk Out

Bar graph chart
Bar graph chart (Photo credit: RambergMediaImages)

I’ve just returned from seeing my Nurse Practitioner, and told her I am most likely her worst patient, ever.  I have the free diary the practice gave me 1.5 years ago (in pristine condition). I have multiple applications installed on my smartphone. I’m beyond spreadsheet savvy. And God knows I have enough pads and pens floating around my house to choke a medium-sized pony.  There is no excuse why I do not track my moods.  But, I don’t.  If I’m depressed, I have zero motivation to do so.  If I’m stable or manic, I just don’t have time for that sh**.

 

After a bit more discussion on this stale topic, the conversation did take an unexpected turn.  Based on the description of how I’ve handled life in the six weeks since I last saw her, the NP believes I may be rapid cycling.

 

Just when I thought my disease couldn’t get any more interesting.

 

After I came home, I did what every good, IT nerd would do.  Scour the internet for  an Android smartphone mood tracking application that will allow multiple mood data points to be recorded for a single day.

 

After an hour of searching, I can find no such application.  Even those BP-ers out there who are rapid cyclers are endorsing apps that allow only one mood entry per day.

 

Well, junk in, junk out.  (The database aficionados know what I’m talking about.)  I need an app that’s pretty robust to determine if A) there is any ultra rapid cycling going on, and B) if the changes in mood are precipitated by certain types of events.

 

So, Dear Readers, I would love to hear from anyone who has found an Android smartphone app that allows the user to record their mood multiple times per day. Anyone?  Please say there is something.  Pen and paper is for wusses and I’m not up to devising an app from scratch (or begging my husband to create one).

 

I continue to use the old timey pen on paper method. Even if it becomes a series of emoticon face doodles.
It’s simple, quick and child like. Maybe thats why it works.

Count me in the wuss camp, because I used pen-and-paper years ago — tracking my symptoms long before the advent of smartphones — and still would today, if I needed to. You can individualize it for your needs, and it allows for you to write more comprehensive notes about symptoms and/or events precipitating mood changed.

Incidentally, you can go through periods of ultradian cycling over the course of a lifetime with bipolar, that doesn’t mean it’s the new normal in the grand scheme of things. Hang in there.

How to track your mood over the course of the day: For you I would recommend self-rating and describing through notes your mood over the course of 8 hour intervals. Note in particular any precipitants that occur prior to a change in mood. You do not have rapid cycling bipolar disorder. Please search definition. Rather, you are having mood instability or lability. There is a difference. You also may be experiencing a mixed mood.

Rapid cycling is a very often over-used term, often when professionals need to name your disorder when it is one that is difficult to treat and very distresssing to you. I am a professional.

I applaud your efforts and the good you are doing with your blog. Would be glad to help anytime.

Thanks so much for reading! I’m happy you like the blog.

I’m afraid I am being a bad patient…I’ve had a lot of instability the last five days but am not carrying around my pen and paper everywhere I go. I have an appt with my psychiatrist next week and will discuss the cycling vs instability issue with her. [After a forge a mood log 10 minutes before I set off for the appointment – (bad patient!).]

Ha! I love this. I can’t bother with flow charts and graphs either. That’s why I just journal every day. That keeps track of my moods and symptoms just fine.

You do such a great job with journaling/blogging, too. Five days in and I am just hopeless at carrying around a pen and paper. I think I actually left Sunday’s paper in my back pocket and it went through the laundry this morning… 🙂

Thank God my psychiatrist doesn’t make me spent time on this meaningless task. I have Rapid Cycling Bipolar and I know when I am manic and when I am depressed. Life is too short, and bipolar is too invasive to spend one more minute on it. And I have too many other illnesses to focus on. Enough said,I just tell him to up the meds when it is unlivable. Dark chocolate, wine and coffee are the best cures anyway. 🙂

Im pretty self aware of when I am one or the other, and what triggers it, so maybe he gives me a break! I cant imagine anyone being faithful to this very long. I am a pediatric dialysis nurse, and we were asked once to follow our dialysis kiddo’s diet and medication plan. We all miserably failed! Your log reminds me of this.

Hello very late to post I know but I have just discovered your wonderfully helpful blog. I too live in NL although I am originally from the UK and am struggling with my recent diagnosis of bipolar. Have you considered trying a period app? I use one to track all my moods through my cycle and certain patterns of behaviour appear each month without fail. But I can see how bad they are depending on the dosage I’m given. There are many good and simple ones out there to use. If you are still interested in tracking moods this is an easy one to try out. Good luck 🙂

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