Monday, 28 April 2014

Big picture learning.

I've been thinking about submitting a blog since my one year Moodscope anniversary. Julia's invitation made me take the plunge. I find I'm a bit intimidated by the articulate, wise words of the regulars with all those superior British idioms. Across the pond here we don't dip digestives in a cuppa, we dip cookies in our coffee or milk, which just doesn't quite express the sweet comfort that a cuppa evokes. Ah well, here goes, in my American twang.

I do a lot of backwards, big picture learning with Moodscope. When I first started, it looked like my mood went up and down dramatically every day. After about 3 months, I saw my first low period clearly in the graph. By 6 months I had a view of several mood cycles and could start to answer some questions about warning signs. Now with 18 months to view, the shaky up/down strokes of the days recede and a single fuzzy line tells a story of ten major mood swings.

Because I've filled in the comment box almost every day, I can scan for the antecedents of my mood cycles. I've learned from my Moodscope graph that I'm very susceptible to the inevitable ups and downs of searching for a job. I've been unemployed for most of the past two years. Every time I had a good job prospect I saw a huge jump in mood. Hope held my mood high for weeks as I waited to hear, then gradually dropped when I didn't hear. Then my mood tanked while I processed the reality that the job hadn't panned out. Then another job looked promising and up I would go again.

I also scan entries to see if there was any effect on my mood due to changes in medications. Now I can tell my doctor that before I started taking a med for bipolar symptoms, I had 3 month mood cycles: high for about two months, then low for one month. After starting that med, my cycles have been smoother, with longer periods of hovering near my average score. I would never know this from remembering back or from my sense of how I was doing based only on a written record.

I'm very grateful for Moodscope as a tracking tool. The more I learn about myself from the graph, the more committed I am to recording my score and comments (nearly) daily.

I'm also deeply grateful for the community that has emerged through blogging. I especially appreciate those who have shared uncomfortable truths about themselves, allowing the rest of us to breath a sigh of relief that we're not the only ones. Maybe if I get up the courage, I'll write again and risk making myself vulnerable by sharing how I deal with some personal struggles. Meanwhile, I hope more of you will take up the call to contribute to the blog, and know that you don't have to be brilliant, you just have to be you.

A Moodscope user.