We’re told to keep a mood chart and we’re told to keep a journal, but how many of us really do these things on a consistent basis? I’m one of those who don’t keep a mood chart. Since there are days when my moods go up and down several times in one day, the chart just wasn’t helpful…well that and I kept forgetting. So I use my journal to record significant mood changes as well as what most people use journals for. I keep a somewhat plain spiral notebook on my desk with a pen on it and write throughout the day so I don’t have to sit down at night and remember whatever was important to me. It’s an easier way to record my mixed episodes/rapid cycling (I always get those confused) with words instead of little dots on a chart.
I also use my journal to record med changes and how I’m feeling during the initial stages of those changes. And then of course there’s the usual rants and raves throughout the day that get noted in there as well. Sometimes I just scribble, doodle and draw. I print out blog posts that seemed important to me at the time and paste them in there, and I tape in all the four-leaf clovers (really!) Greg’s mom finds for me on his property. I glue, tape and staple anything in there that I can’t write down and that makes me smile, comic strips are a favorite.
And then there’s the actual point to this post. I have a Moleskine, weekly planner/notebook that I carry with me…my brain. Aside from writing every appointment or important event, I use it for everything else normal people might use a working memory for. When I’m not at home and something comes up, I jot it down. When I write something in my journal that I think is significant for my therapist or psych, I note what day it was so I can refer to it when I bring my journal to an appointment. When I have questions for my health team, I write it down so I don’t forget anything, and I write the answers to the questions as well. I also make note of med directions even though my doctor always says “I’ll write it on the script.” It’s so important to be prepared whenever one sees any type of doctor or professional. Especially someone like me who gets intimidated and overwhelmed by these types of people.
I keep a list of meds, procedures and doctor info as well as emergency numbers in the front, and a list of important names, addresses and phone numbers in the back. When I have a new appointment, I write down the address and phone number along with the time of the appointment. This little notebook is an invaluable tool in managing my disordered life. I may not always write in my journal, but if it’s something vital to my health/mental health it goes in my mini-brain.
When dealing with a mental illness, or any type of illness for that matter, it’s vital to use whatever tools we have at our disposal to get the most out of our care. I’m interested in knowing what works for you, feel free to let me know.