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!