Fun With Mood Charts

Like a lot of people with a science background, I’m a bit of a geek who has an enduring fascination with charts and graphs. I can understand almost anything that’s presented to me in such forms, so if you want me to grasp a difficult concept, just make a pie chart out of it and watch the light bulb come on over my head. I may not understand all the nuances, but I’ll definitely capture the basics.

Accordingly, I enjoy studying my own mood charts and have actually derived a good deal of information from them over time. I may have mentioned that I have two of them, one online and the other a simple paper form that allows me to plot my moods on a graph and jot notes as to what’s happening on a given day. I do one in the morning and the other at night. What’s fun is putting together several months’ worth and seeing the effect the events in my life are having on my moods, as well as what (if anything) my various med changes are doing.

I did this tonight with my February-May charts, and I’m happy to report that the line of dots from late March to the present day is almost completely flat and in the normal range. I am not kidding. It doesn’t get any better than this, not in my bipolar life anyway. I knew things were going well and have been for some time, even with losing my job and dealing with some pretty hairy financial issues, but those charts are the visible evidence that adding the Zyprexa in mid-March was the turning point in my current recovery. It took me about a week to settle down, but I’ve been stable ever since, and those poor little manic stirrings underneath the shield of medications just don’t have anywhere to go.

Oh, it’s not that I can’t feel it. I know it’s there, and the recent spate of good weather has made it want to come out and play. But the lid is on firmly and it can’t escape, so what I’ve ended up with is a generally sunny, optimistic mood without the crazy. Like I said: it just doesn’t get any better than this.

However, I am under no illusions that this is the end of it. I read something yesterday from my friend Sarah at bi [polar] curious which absolutely floored me… was about a phenomenon called the Denial Relapse, and I immediately recognized myself in the discussion of what people like us do, especially in the area of ambition and setting limits for ourselves. (Yeah, I know—what limits??) Denial Relapse is what happened to me last fall when I suddenly got it into my head that I wasn’t really BP, I’d merely been in an existential crisis for a few years and I finally snapped out of it.

But while denial really isn’t just a river in Egypt, it’s all too tempting to indulge in it, particularly when you read another article on Highly Sensitive Persons and see yourself all over the place in it. It’s much too easy to think, “Hey, maybe THAT’S all that’s wrong with me”. Then you go back and read some of your own blog entries from back when you weren’t making a lot of sense, and maybe take a gander at your medication list, and it tends to straighten you out really, really fast.

And if that doesn’t do it, you can always go back over those mood charts you’ve kept so faithfully over the years and see the pattern of peaks and valleys interspersed with flat lines. Even when you think you’ve got it all together for good, there will always be another high…..another low…..and sometimes both at the same time. You can count on it. I do.


Published by bpnurse

I'm a retired registered nurse and writer who also happens to be street-rat crazy, if the DSM-IV.....oops, 5---is to be believed. I was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder at the age of 55, and am still sorting through the ashes of the flaming garbage pile that my life had become. Here, I'll share the lumps and bumps of a late-life journey toward sanity.... along with some rants, gripes, sour grapes and good old-fashioned whining from time to time. It's not easy being bipolar in a unipolar world; let's figure it out together.

One thought on “Fun With Mood Charts

  1. I always got bored with mood-charting. Now I rely on sleep patterns. The trends are quickly noted and don’t have to be in writing. There’s no benefit for me in long-term mood charting because a trigger can blow my cycle all to hell anyway. I guess I’m not as scientific as I once thought!


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