In January 2018 I began using a mood tracker on my phone. My mental health was slipping and I was on a new anti depressant for the first time in years after experiencing some extreme mood swings over the Christmas holidays.
Tracking my mood seemed like a sensible move, but it actually ended up teaching me a lot more about myself.
I Can Have A Routine
I don’t know if it’s me or my borderline personality disorder but I’m terrible with routines. Everything starts out great for the first few days, but then my enthusiasm for whatever is going on slowly dwindles until the routine becomes non-existent. I can’t follow a meal plan for more than a day or so and I’m terrible with remembering to take my medication – so I didn’t really have high hopes for this at first.
However, I quickly became pleasantly surprised. It turns out that tracking my mood became incredibly important to me. It was like having a secret little journal, documenting what was going on in my life and how I felt about it. And if I missed a day that was no big deal, I could just go back a day and put the entry in. This meant I didn’t lose interest or motivation, and after a while the frequency of forgetting to track my mood became less and less.
And so here I am over a year later with the complete picture of my mood over the last 13 months.
I’m Not A Negative Person
Everyone who’s ever struggled with their mental health will understand the feeling that it’s all your fault. You think maybe it’s just you, you’re just a negative person with a negative outlook on life and that’s why you’re struggling so much.
Having this mood tracker has made me realise that I feel good just as often, if not more often, than I feel down. It’s right there to see in little green smiley faces that I am capable of happiness, my brain is capable of happiness.
So it turns out I’m not always that dark and brooding misunderstood tortured soul writer I’ve spent so many years convincing myself I was.
I’ve Come So Far
Having a visual representation of every breakdown has been incredibly helpful. It’s made me able to see the growing space of time between one episode and the next. I’ve been able to track when I’ve gone outside and when I’ve stayed indoors, and I wouldn’t have thought that my efforts to go outside would’ve increased as much as they have if I didn’t have the record to prove it.
I am incredibly proud of myself.
My Medication Is Helping
As I track my activities along with my mood, I’m able to see when I have and haven’t taken my medication, and how that affects my mood. This is something I’ve never kept a record of before, despite being on several types of antidepressants in the past. Even more strange is that I’ve never been prompted by a GP to track my moods while on antidepressants.
But mood tracking has helped me to see that when I’m on a good streak of remembering to take my meds, my mood does improve greatly.
Bad Days Aren’t My Fault
I was always under the impression that if I felt down it was because I had done something wrong. Maybe I hadn’t tried hard enough to be happy that day, maybe it’s because I didn’t go outside or maybe it was because I didn’t text that friend back right away. And then those sneaky little voices would tell me that if I really wanted to be happy then I just would be. But I wasn’t trying. I felt down. And it was my fault.
Having this mood tracker has actually taught me that sometimes it doesn’t matter what I’ve done that day or what anybody else has done that day, sometimes if you’re going to feel depressed then you’re going to feel depressed. It’s not a choice and it’s not up to you. That’s the point of mental illness.
Now with all of this new information, I’m more determined than ever to keep pushing with my recovery. Now that I can clearly see the results and the victories of the last year, I know that I need to give myself way more credit than I have been.
Thanks mood tracker.
(The tracker I use is a free app called Daylio)