Sunday, April 7, 2013

My merry-go-round

I've been keeping a mood log since sometime last May, or maybe June. I've done it on the OpenOffice software similar to Excel. This means I can do cool stuff like make charts and graphs to see how my mood has swooped around over the last year. This last week, I found that you can also put in a trend line over your chart. This was neat, but disturbing. I used it over charts made from week averages for the last 10 or 11 months. I learned that:
  • My depression at its best (each day, then averaged per week) is getting better.
  • My depression at its worst (each day, then averaged per week) is getting worse.
  • My anxiety is getting worse.
  • My sleep time is increasing.
  • My exercise time is decreasing.
Or, in short, my worst is getting worse. So then I wonder if I'm using the same standards to judge my mood as I was using in May last year. After all, the mood ratings are subjective, done each day, or occasionally every few days. But what if anxiety that I called a 5 in May would be called a 6 in my current rating system? And guess what, I don't think I can answer that question.

So then I'm left with feeling low about how my mood is getting worse over all instead of better. That isn't right! I should be feeling better. I don't have as much suicidal ideation as I did prior to my current medication selection (which started over a year ago, though with some dosage change). But stress keeps coming up. I wonder if I just always push myself to my stress limit (and when I don't, circumstances come in to help me stress more). For example, this winter. Stress at work, stress starting a new semester. Stress about one group project part A. Stress about the other group project. Stress about the first group project part B. Stress about needing a new job. Stress about... Well, I've tabled the new job issue. I'm scheduled for 4 days a week right now, and really, three day weekends are helpful (except for the lack of income). So that issue is off. So why am I blue now? Oh, the clouds and my sad charting discovery. And my messy house. And the fact that it feels like work to exist again. No, now I'm talking about depression, not outside stressors. Change, change, change. Oh, family time. That can be a stressor, even when things go well.

Now, I'm actually hungry, because I didn't eat enough for lunch. So my thinking is a little extra clouded. And the sky is cloudy, so I need to go home and sit by my therapy light. Maybe that will help.

Anyway, I see my psychiatrist Wednesday, so I get extra introspective leading up to that because I want to be able to give him an accurate picture of how I'm doing (and yes, I know OCD may see that as an open invitation to apply perfectionistic doubts to my brain).

I feel frustrated, too, because my mood is all over the place. I get some good news and I'm SO, SO, SO relieved. A little later, something bothers me, and the worse depressed thinking pops in for a quick moment. But I might be happy a little later and sad a little later, and blah a little later, and confused a little later. Welcome to my merry-go-round.

Oh, and my charting mentioned up above? My mood also does this scalloped thing where it rises to a peak, swoops down and then rises again, like a sketch of the ocean. That is one reason that I don't feel like I'm that depressed. The worst stuff doesn't last forever. None-the-less, according to my charts, the ocean is crooked, with an over-all trend going up for my worse depression and anxiety, down for my better depression, and I already told you that information.

Well, happy Sunday. Really. I think mine will be okay, too, because I plan to go home and sit on my couch and watch dvds. I think I can handle that and even enjoy it.


  1. Abigail, it is so hard to track change when it's a subjective scale, as you say. This cycle has got to be frustrating.

    I hope the appt with your psychiatrist goes really well.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I really appreciate it.

  2. Abigail, I know it must be so difficult to have the mood changes. Will you show the scale to your psychiatrist? He/she may be able to see things in it that you can't.

    1. Thanks, Tina. The psychiatrist seemed to see less than I did. Go figure.

  3. I understand your frustration.

    I used to try to track my mood and my OCD (what kind of a given day, how bad etc.) but I too found that my ratings were not always consistent. My mood played a lot into how badly I'd feel my OCD was on a given day.

    1. Thanks, Elizabeth.

      I figure a worse rating of OCD due to mood is still expressive. But I guess comparison is still hard.

  4. Sorry it's hard for you Abigail. But you know, these charts are only supposed to be a helpful tool. They are not exact. I agree, it's a good thing to talk about with your therapist/psychiatrist. I do hope you feel better soon.

    1. Thanks, Sunny,
      I'm looking forward to discussing all this with my therapist.

  5. Hey Abigail.
    As everyone here, saddened to hear you're blue about the results, but have a couple of questions.

    First, you said that you were feeling low because you "should" be feeling better and you also mentioned, you couldn't tell if the standards you've been using to score have been consistent over time. So, the first question is: ARE you feeling better? Overall? When you think back over the year, there have been challenges, there have been successes, in general, though, do you feel an improvement?

    Secondly, it sounds as though you're tracking several times throughout the day. I know that this is a common method of psychiatrists. I personally find that once a day, at the same-ish time every day, gives me a better sense of my overall mood trend. This way there's less focus on the ups and downs and the all-over-the-places, but rather, a snapshot of right now. A moment to check in and see how I'm feeling, and then get on with my day no matter what the results.

    I use a service called which I find is a perfect amount of tracking and data, without too much that I get obsessed (ha! says the OC!). I actually found that my trends didn't improve until about a year after I started getting better, even though I was FEELING better. And to think about it, even those closest to me felt that I wasn't improving so much as I felt I was inside, so maybe it takes a while for all the pieces to catch up with one another.

    Regardless, I hope you have a great chat with your doc and get some insight. This road be a curvy one, but it's doable, to be sure!

    1. Thanks for your comment!

      My Dr. appt did give me insight, whether accurate or not. :)

      I'm better than I was when I was really bad.

      I'm glad you found a tracking system that works for you. I think outside people think I'm doing better before I feel so much better, so maybe it is a little backward for me. I'm glad you are feeling better now.