Thoughts on Building a Mood Tracker

I don’t have a mood tracker to post this week. Not sure why I haven’t bothered with it since the new year started.

I wonder if part of the reason I’ve been feeling the way I have been feeling is due to the fact I haven’t had the self accountability that the mood tracker provides. I feel restricted. I feel on hold. I’m not moving forward.

Normally what happens is I set up a template for the mood tracker and schedule it to go live a week later. Knowing that by not filling it out day by day means a blank template would go live is quite the motivator for me. I know this.

So I’d thought that today I would talk about what the purpose of a mood tracker is and how they help.

The best mood trackers are the ones that help you identify patterns in behavior/environment that influence/trigger your mood cycles. As I’ve said many times before, this system works incredibly well for migraines too.

I think those of us with Bipolar need to track more than whether we have depression/mania since it’s not always immediately obvious as to which state we’re in. As I said before in a previous post, my therapist said it’s completely okay to use the tracker to determine which mood state you’re in retroactively based upon behaviors and symptoms.

So the first thing you need to do is decide on which symptoms you want to focus on and track. Symptoms like irritability, anxiety, distractibility, insomnia (the inability to sleep as desired – I originally thought it was the inability to sleep at all, but I stand corrected), migraine auras, pain, energy levels, etc. The list goes on. The point is, you track the symptoms you want to manage and mitigate. Your mood tracker needs to be relevant to you if it’s going to be helpful at all.

Clinical scoring scales go from 1-10 (or 0-10) with the smallest number being non-existent symptom to the highest number being the worst its ever been. Personally, this is too many numbers for me to work with so I operate on a scale of 0-3. Doesn’t matter what system you use so long as it’s consistent and easily understood. Use colors if you’d like.

Now that you have the symptoms listed, you need to decide on which behaviors to track. Look up the individual symptoms and see what’s suggested to do to make it better. Decide on what you’re willing to work on and track. The most common suggestions center around sleep, exercise, diet, and medications. If you work, track that too.

As for me, environmental factors go in my notes section but you can decide to track those as well – such as changes in weather triggering migraines. If you suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affect Disorder) then you may need to track this. I’ll point out here that people with PTSD can also suffer from a form of SAD if their trauma is strongly associated with a certain time of year. If anniversary blues is something you struggle with, track it. Figure out what helps and what doesn’t.

Environmental factors aren’t just weather and season. It’s people and events as well. Basically anything outside of you, and often outside of your control, falls into this category. You can’t control the weather. You can’t control traffic. You can’t control what other people do either. You CAN control how you respond to it. Sometimes you can limit your exposure to it. Sometimes you can do things ahead of time to reduce the impact.

Finally, you need to decide how you’re going to track your moods. In my experience, I seldom have any one emotion dominate my moods. For me it’s a question of intensity. During mania EVERYTHING I feel is more extreme. Everything. Depression tends to blunt all of that for me, even though I might experience the full range of emotions. More often than not, I tend to rely on my energy levels, appetite, and sleep patterns to tell me which mood I’m in rather than my emotions.

A quick search on the internet will produce a wide array of premade mood trackers. Almost all of them track the manic-depression scale, but few track the stuff behind those cycles. So even though I call mine a mood tracker, I actually think of it as a wellness tracker. A quick search shows me that those exist too.

None of them look like mine. And they shouldn’t look like yours either. Your tracker should be based on you and your needs to be well.

28 thoughts on “Thoughts on Building a Mood Tracker

  1. I find it almost impossible to keep a mood tracker. They confuse me. I feel like putting one emotion in for one day is almost impossible. My friend has one, but instead of specific feelings she has specific feelings and more loose ones such as ‘meh’. Maybe I should try tracking my mood, I’m not sure how beneficial It could be

    • I don’t try to track feelings with mine. Instead I focus on symptoms, what I’m doing, and what’s happening around me. Feelings aren’t the illness after all, but rather a response to what’s going on inside and outside of ourselves.

      • I’ve never really thought of it that way. I’m ruled by my emotions. It was terrible in primary school. If somebody was rude I’d just slap them. (I don’t do that now) But that actually really makes sense!

      • The key is learning how to control what we do with those emotions. Whatever it is we feel is valid, but what we choose to do about it is another matter altogether different. At least this is what I try to teach my boys.

      • I don’t know. I do think it’s good for holding yourself accountable for your own behavior. One of two things happen: either you lie/omit stuff from the tracker or you start changing some of the things you do. I’m more likely to make an effort to eat while on meds when keeping the mood tracker. I’m also better about not letting my sleep get too wonky. Without the tracker things go out of whack pretty quick.

  2. I think the feelings add to what you are experiencing, but this dialogue has given me a lot to think about. (Our response and behaviors. Got it). What I wanted to say about the post, yeah I liked this and suggested using it, or started using it, but then I was told to track, for instance, anxiety from 1-10. That is too stressful for me too! I like the 3point system, but I think I’ve made a few tweaks as well. Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this!

    • My son feels the same way as you do regarding feelings, but prefers the 10 point system. This is a great example as to why customizing the mood tracker is important. We all have different needs and we should be willing to experiment in finding what works for us.

      • So, funny thing! I actually changed my scale pretty much after we had discussed this, to a sortof combo of the two. It’s a 10point scale, but 5 is in the middle (normal) and the lower numbers are for lower moods and higher for higher. On the thought of emotions, I’ve been kinda using that for now, and then just saying it’s mixed if I’ve had both ups and downs, and furthermore distinguish if it’s up and down at the same time (literal mixed) or if it’s up and down throughout the day (which is more emotionally based). Since there are other things at play, I do need to consider “emotions”, but I know there are also periods of a majority higher or agitated mood and other periods of the low mood. But…

        all that said, lol, I came here to say I stopped by and tried to like some posts but it wouldn’t let me! hmmmmm

      • maybe it was a glitch, because I seemed to have been able to like that. hey Toadie, I’m going to start a new blog right now. Be on the lookout for an invite, because it’s going to be private, for now. K? See ya!

      • Ok, I sent artofchaos an invite. I hope that was you. Could you please let me know if it was you that received it? Thank you!
        p.s. I might have to message you on Nano if I need more help. Take care!

      • My user name on WordPress is ToadieOdie. I have never sent anyone an invite on here so I’m not sure how it works, but I haven’t received any messages about one.

      • Check your email. I don’t know what your email is (didn’t see any info), but you should get the message there I believe. Let me know. Thanks!
        Fyi, I’m reusing an old blog, but wanted a different blog/different domain name, so question-do you know, do you have to pay for all new WP blogs now??!! If so, that’s crazy!!

      • I keep my email address private. As I said before, my username here on WordPress is ToadieOdie – not the name of my blog. I haven’t seen anything in my email yet.

      • Hmm, I tried it and it didn’t work. Maybe I can send you the site link and you can try to follow it that way. I’ll send it and if you didn’t get an email, I will remove that request, because it’s probably someone else then. Brb

      • It did. You should be able to view now. Can I just say though that toadieodie is not your “username”. I’m sure you can check this for yourself, but if you want, I can Nano message what it told me. Anyway, yes, brand spanking new blog, only one intro post, but I’ll be back. πŸ˜‰

      • Oh, you’re right. I made my WordPress account back in 2012. I haven’t used the handle sabakiyang in so long that I had forgotten about it.

      • No worries, you need to do you. When I commented on the angry posts getting more views what I was trying to express is that it’s disheartening to know that as a society, we’re drawn to negatives and drama in spite of the fact we bemoan it. We keep saying we want positive things, but we gravitate in the other direction. I’m just as guilty. If I need to rant, I’m going to but while doing it I’ll try to find solutions like I always have. It’s just I feel my blog needs to be about more than just ranting. When I got started, I wanted to help people but this blog became more than that. It’s begun to grow a community. I want people to feel safe here to discuss and explore solutions in finding the balance within the chaos we call life. I can’t do that if all I do is rant. I guess what I was trying to say is that my rants aren’t gone, but they’re not my focus.

  3. i came back because I thought I might have responded to the wrong thing or went back to an old topic. (i didn’t tho! heh) But while I’m here, yeah, well, my response to the other post got a bit jumbled since the original draft got lost and I had to rush my thoughts together (kinda doing it now, but focus, focus! πŸ˜‰ ). My “I feel ya” was to your whole post, and that included the rant on how people tend to draw to drama. Thing is though, well, as you’ve said here, this has become something else, well, even in keeping to the big picture, I think deep down (and you can tell me if I’m wrong) that this blog is for you foremost, as is mine, and in that sense, we need to be true to ourselves, worry less about the numbers, and the genuine viewers will stick around. I could be totally offbase here, and believe me, I still worry about my viewership, but, I try to remember that I’m writing for me and even if there are only a few viewers, that they are there for me and my interests. Right?? That was the point I was eluding to, but it’s all well and good what you’ve said and as long as you’ll have me, I’ll keep reading through the “boring” and the “exciting”, because that’s life…or our life, right? πŸ˜‰

    • You’re right. I create the things I create because my heart and soul drives me to do so – whether it’s an factual article, random ramblings, a piece of fiction, or video. My therapist once commented that I seem happiest when I’m in the middle of creating something. So I’ll keep doing it, but I’d be lying if I didn’t worry about it being crap, annoying, or a waste of time for others.

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