May is Mental Health Awareness Month and I wanted to share a tool that helped me better communicate with my doctor about my mood swings and how I was doing in between appointments.
Cleaned up repost from 2014
When I started seeing my Psychopharmacologist almost 16 years ago he intimidated me. He’s not a chipper guy and it took years to see through his shell. I was in a very dark place and spiraling down. I didn’t think he understood how depressed I was.
Psychiatrists are different from therapists in that, they only provide medication management, and appointments are 20 minutes at most. So we had a couple of frustrating meetings. I didn’t know how to reach him, I didn’t know doctor talk. He is one of the best in Texas and finding a Psychopharmacologist is difficult, I wasn’t walking away.
During another frustrating meeting, he left the room to talk to a therapist he worked with. He did me the biggest favor and no doubt saved my life. He suggested I sit down with a therapist to see if she could help me better communicate what was going on. They had worked together for 13 years, and she provided some insight into his personality and how best to communicate with him.
She drew a chart and we talked about how depressed I was. She repeated back to make sure she was on track and then gave me the chart. At that time I was rapid cycling, and adjusting to meds, and didn’t think I was improving. The Mood Chart brought our communication on the same page. I liked the log because it gave me an opportunity to show how I was cycling or any other significant change. I took out a journal and started keeping a daily log of the chart and any info about my state of mind. It gave me an opportunity to see exactly what was happening at any given time or day and look for trends, triggers, and side effect notes.
I want to share the chart for those struggling with their mental illness or who have trouble communicating with their doctor.
Once we were on the same page, he was able to give me the help I needed. I would suggest a larger sheet of paper to give room for notes.
My chart may look different than yours since I discovered my normal was actually below the normal line. You basically draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper. The line is normal mood. Then you track 1-10 above the line or below the line. Mine is not the best example but it’s the only one I kept.
I would track 1-10 below the line if I was depressed and 1-10 above the line if I was feeling good or high. I would also write some notes in there to help describe the mood or feelings at the time. There are some mood charts online that you can print off that might help.
Tracking my moods gave me a way to spell out exactly what I was going thru with documentation that helped me answer questions from the doctor that I may not have remembered otherwise.