Bipolar Disorder and Mood Self-Monitoring
I’ve talked about mood tracking before but, really, mood tracking starts with mood self-monitoring. In other words, there is nothing to track if you don’t know what’s going on in the first place. If you can’t say that you’re anxious, for example, then how are you going to track how anxious you are? But mood self-monitoring sucks because it’s a 24-hour-a day, seven-days-a-week kind-of-a-thing. With bipolar disorder, you never get a break from mood self-monitoring.
Bipolar Disorder Mood Self-Monitoring This Morning
I wake up this morning feeling “okay.” Lately, “okay” means a bit of energy, a foggy head, a desire not to get out of bed, and, later, a nasty headache. These things are normal for me.
But then, about six hours after I got up, I found myself with a major earworm, dancing around my kitchen to the music in my head and with extra, bouncy energy and I thought to myself, “Ah, hypomania.”
And this hypomania is an overlay to depressive symptoms. In other words, it’s indicative of a mixed mood.
And bouncing around, doing poorly-executed dance moves, and incorrectly singing a pop song wouldn’t exactly be a big deal for most people. But I have to pay careful attention to it in case it signals something worse (which it generally does).
Self-Monitoring Your Bipolar Moods Sucks
And that’s the thing – I can’t possibly enjoy extra, bouncy energy or spontaneous dancing because they mean something is brewing. For other people with bipolar disorder, the signs may be more or less noticeable, but for me, I know what they are and this is some of them. So I can’t enjoy them. I have to watch them. Be vigilant. Be on guard.
Normal people do not have this feeling or feel this pressure. Normal people don’t know what it’s like to watch the signals coming out of their brain all day, every day. Normal people just feel stuff and do stuff and never thinking of what it might mean. Because to them, it means nothing.
And I was thinking this morning how much watching my brain and then interpreting its signals sucks. The experience of being is less like being and it’s more like watching someone else be. And then grading them on it.
The Importance of Self-Monitoring Bipolar Disorder Moods
All this said, of course, it’s important to self-monitor bipolar moods. This is called insight. You need insight to fight the disorder. If you don’t know what you’re fighting, if you can’t see it, then you can’t possibly ever win.
Of course, now that I know there is a mixed mood present – possibly to get worse as the day progresses – I need to take steps to calm the hypomania/mixed mood down. I need to rest. I need to take a break from work. I need to de-stress, and all that stuff. So all my glorious insight just, really, interrupts my day. It interrupts in an important way. It interrupts with purpose. But interrupt it does.
So I guess this is just a complaint – a complaint to bipolar disorder:
Dear bipolar disorder,
Could we possibly schedule the times when insight is needed and other times when I get to take a break? That would be smashing.
About Natasha Tracy
Natasha Tracy is an award-winning writer, speaker and consultant from the Pacific Northwest. She has been living with bipolar disorder for 18 years and has written more than 1000 articles on the subject.