Thursday, May 26, 2011

Keeping Track of Sick Days: An Alternative to Mood Charts

I have rapid-cycling bipolar disorder. My moods change throughout the day. I can wake up depressed and go to bed hypomanic. I can feel normal for part of the day, and then anxious for a couple of hours.

I haven't kept a mood chart in years. Every time I try to keep one, I freeze up, because I don't know what to fill out. Should I count that hour of craziness as hypomania? How about that episode of unusual tearfulness - was that depression?

So this month I have tried something different. I only write down my sick days. And by sick, I mean sick enough that I would have stayed home from school/work and/or went to see the doctor. A runny nose or a few sneezes doesn't qualify as sick. That's just normal life.

And guess what? Writing down sick days is really turning out to be helpful! It helps to put a depressed day in perspective. It also will help me to know whether my amount of sick time is normal or not for me.

So I started keeping track at the beginning of May. This is a good month. This is what my sick days list looks like:

5/3/11 - Depression
5/10/11 - Anxiety, took phenibut, then felt good. Not a full sick day, since I solved the problem.
5/21/11 - Depressed, took: Ginseng, Piracetam, 2 Choline & Inositols, Aniracetam (started to feel more normal, but not completely better), Coffee... around 11pm, getting back to normal
5/22/11 - Half sick day, depressed in morning, took 2 Choline & Inositols, and Aniracetam, felt better.

As you can see, I also wrote down if I did anything for the sickness. I was also somewhat hypomanic on 5/24 and 5/25, but not to the point that it interfered with my life, so I didn't write it down. On 5/24, I simply found myself stating “What a wonderful day it is today!” and I then thought, “I don't really have any reason for thinking that...” so I was really positive, but it didn't mess me up. I was also a bit more talkative than usual on 5/25, but again, nothing bad came of it, and I was able to control myself fine.

But looking back over the month, this tells me a lot. I went for about a week with no symptoms, and if you ignore the anxiety episode (which could have been triggered by a specific event), I went for over 2 weeks with no depression. I did have mild PMS a few days, but it wasn't strong enough to qualify as a sick day - I was still able to function as normal.

I'm going to try to keep writing down my sick days. It really is giving me insight!   


  1. you're so much more disciplined than I. If I'm shopping I know I'm in hypomania/mania. If I'm sleeping and thinking about divorce I'm depressed. Lately things have been stable. It's kind of a weird, unknown feeling.

  2. This would be a good way to get a wide-angle perspective on the illness. You say you rapid cycle within a day, but I wonder if you'll discover a larger pattern in that, week by week or month by month. Let us know how it goes!