Posted in coping, mental health

Tracking Mental Health

Tracking your mental health can be very important. You can learn your triggers, understand possible reasons for a depressive or suicidal episode, heck, you can study patterns to predict your mental health more effectively. Today I’m going to take you through a couple of ways that I track my mental health.Screenshot_2017-04-25-15-36-37

Apps. There is a myriad of apps in the app store that offer ways to track mental health, physical health, diet, blood pressure, medications, mood, fitness… the list goes on. Throughout the years I’ve tried many of them. Daylio (play store, iTunes) is the main app that I use to track my mental health. To the right, you can see a screen shot of what my last few days looked like. You can choose between 5 different moods (the default are rad, good, meh, fugly and awful, but you can customize them to whatever you’d like). Then you select from a customizable list of activities, thoughts, chores, etc. based on what you did that day. I added many of my own tasks, including manic/ depressed so I can track my bipolar cycles, whether or not I had self-harm or suicidal urges, if I cleaned my pet cages, etc. At any time you can go to the statistics page and there are a number of unique ways that you can view the data in whatever way suits you best. You can set reminders for you to fill it out each night, and there’s a space to add your own personal notes. Everything can be backed up onto google drive and it’ll tell you how many days in a row you’ve filled out a diary entry!

I take a handful of medication every night, as well as having a few “as needed” medications for times where I need extra help getting to sleep or to help with my anxiety, I use Medsafe (play store, iTunes) to keep track of my meds. I love this app because you can customize pretty much everything. You can even pick what the medication looks like so you can see it in your digital pillbox just like it appears in real life. There are lots of great apps for tracking your medication, this is just my personal favorite.IMG_20170425_151115.jpg

I have yet to find an app that I like for tracking what I eat, without it getting too technical, like counting calories. Instead, I track what I eat in my Bullet Journal. It’s quick and simple, without me having to feel guilty about eating so many calories and having that trigger something with my eating disorder. I also track how many glasses of water I drink every day, to make sure I’m staying hydrated. I draw one little water droplet for each glass of eight or more ounces of water that I drink. You can also see that I track how many words I write a day because my monthly writing goal is 10,000 words a month, I also use an app on my phone to track this, so I’m still ironing out the kinks of how to track it on paper. I like this layout because it’s quick and easy to use. Do you use an app to track your food or water intake? I’m always looking for suggestions! Let me know in the comments below, or go to my Contact Us page for more ways to get in touch with me.

As I mentioned in the paragraph above, I have a bullet journal that I use to keep my life somewhat organized. Below is an overview of what a week looks like in my bullet journal:IMG_20170425_151233

I played with a number of layouts before I settled on this one. You can check out all the pins I saved for inspiration on my Pinterest board that is full of artsy ideas. It gives me space to write down my schedule for the week, track my sleep, meals, water intake, and a boatload of other things. As you can see, I have a system of different colored pens, as well as different symbols to keep track of various appointments, chores, due dates, and a daily gratitude. I have a graph that lets me quickly and easily track my sleep. The bottom right photo is a small graph where I track things like if I took my medication, which days I did a variety of chores like cleaning my pet cages or laundry. I track if I’ve done yoga, or if I’ve used laxatives (which is a harmful behavior that I’m trying to stop).

IMG_20170425_151255.jpg

There are a few other ways I track my mental health that I’d like to share. Being someone who has rapid cycling bipolar, It can be very devastating to have my quickly changing mood affect my plans and daily routine. So this year, I’ve been tracking when I’m manic and when I’m depressed so I can start to see a pattern, and be able to plan accordingly. It’s very east to do, all it takes is highlighting the date with either pink to signify that I’m manic, or orange to signify that I’m depressed. You can already see that there’s an emerging pattern that I use to help me know when to make plans with friends, and when to know that I’m going to be stuck in bed with depression and might need to increase treatment frequency.IMG_20170425_151318

I also use the Daylio app that I talked about earlier to create a big-picture idea of what my mood (NOT linked to my bipolar phases) looks like throughout the year. I take the same five moods/ type of day (rad, good, meh, fugly, awful) and simply fill out a square on the graph accordingly. At the end of 2017, I’ll have my entire year in pixels! It’s fun to look and see the different moods I felt during the same time frame over the past few months.

Tracking mental health can be very important. It allows you to better understand what can seem like a chaotic and random illness. You can better answer questions that doctors and therapists might ask you during an appointment or hospital stay. I find it gives me peace of mind to have a tangible documentation of what is otherwise a very difficult thing to understand and track. Do you track your mental health or have an app that helps you when things get chaotic? Let me know in the comments below!

Author:

Certified Crisis Counselor --- Borderline Personality Disorder, rapid-cycling Bipolar 1, C-PTSD, Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, Severe Anxiety Disorder, Binge Eating Disorder, OCD --- Mental Health. Writer. Ravenclaw. Thespian. Dancer. Libra. Poet. ASL. Whovian.

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