BP Naturally

My Drug-Free Journey of Managing Bipolar Disorder


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Bipolar Mood & Health Management Chart

Bipolar Health & Mood Management Tracking Chart

Bipolar Health & Mood Management Tracking Chart

Well, those who know me, know I make dry-erase charts as a profession. I had been planning a chart especially for mood management for a long time and now that I’m finally taking my treatment more seriously, I finally got around to it and I must say, the results are pretty awesome! I asked around in various BP Support Groups and dug around on the web for ideas and inspiration and this is the final products. I should probably create and instruction/suggested use sheet and I will when I get around to it, but in the meantime, I’ll explain each section here and you can print it out if you’d like.

I am making the chart available as a PDF free of charge (probably for a limited time)  and for those who want it already printed and laminated professionally with dry-erase marker included, it will be available in my Etsy Shop for $14.99 + shipping. Its the only product of its kind in my shop (I primarily make and  sell children’s educational products, lol) and as far as Ive seen, the only product of its kind available, so I hope it will help lots of you get your lives in order and on-track!

How it Works:

Section: Supplements, Vitamins, Medications & Dietary Requirements
Use the Medium Green Squares at the top of each column (in the “Items” row) to write down the name of your medication, vitamin, etc.
Use the Light Green Squares below those to record the Recommend Dosage & Frequency
Each column has 5 sections that can be used as individual dosage markers (up to 5 doses per day) and can be checked off as you take each dose, or you can use the space to record side effects (nausea), timing (taken late), effectiveness (less depression) or length of time taking (4 days), etc. Whatever fit your needs best.

Section: Water Intake
Use the light blue square (in the “dosage” row) to record how much water you need to drink per day (lets say 80 ounces)
Use the alternating white and blue squares to record separate instances of water intake, i.e. you could say “16oz, “8oz,” etc. OR if you have a set amount that you drink in (say a 16oz water bottle) you can just check off each time you finish one bottle. I included water intake because dehydration has a very powerful effect on mood stability. Read my other posts on water intake and the water intake challenge.

Section: Meals
There’s a lot of room for flexibility here, so be creative. I included this area because I very often forget to eat and I know others complain about overeating when depressed, so use it in the way that works best for you. In my case, I use the “dosage” square to write a letter above each little column below, so I have “B” for breakfast, then “S” for snack, “L” for Lunch and so on. Then I simply check off whether I had that meal today. Very simple. For others you could write in a calorie count to maintain, then record the calories for each meal, or even use the 2 orange columns to record things you want to avoid (caffeine, sugar, etc) and the white columns for your regular meals or things you want to eat more of  (lets say veggies, whole grains and protein) and just record how many servings you had each day.

Sleep, Exercise & Misc. Tracking
Use the Sleep rows to record the # hours and quality of sleep each day, the Exercise rows to record the # minutes exercising and the quality/rigorousness of the exercise each day, and the blank areas are to customize a tracking element that’s important to your treatment plan. For example,  personally, 
Im using that  as an “outdoors” tracker, meaning how often I get out of the house and get fresh air/sun, its a real challenge for me… and hopefully Ill be able to see how it relates to my moods. But I figured not everyone has that problem, so you could use it for “socializing,” “journal writing,” “relaxation time,” “prayers/religious devotion,” etc Whatever is important for you personally. 

Mood Tracking
Use this area to track your moods throughout the day/each weekIm a rapid cycler and my moods can change drastically within a single day/week, I havent found any charts that allow you to track varying moods through out the day, so I figured “morning, afternoon, evening” ought to be sufficient for rapid cyclers like me, and you can easily look and notice patterns [like Im always manic at night, etc] and hopefully make lifestyle/nutritional/med changes to normalize a bit. So the “M, A, E” stands for Morning, afternoon and evening, and the squares get progressively darker as the day progresses. There is a little key, which you may or may not need, that I’m using allowing me to record whether the mood occurred naturally, was triggered by an event (like an argument) or by my environment (like the kids are home and being wild or I went to a party, etc). You can also use the key to add in whether youre experiencing irritability or anxiety along with the mood. The color chart portion allows you to mark where you fall on the depression/mania scale… that’s pretty self-explanatory… however, if you are feeling a sense of numbness/apathy, you may want to create a special symbol for that and mark that in the green “normal” row, as there’s no special area for a lack of emotion/feeling.

The nice thing about this chart is that its flexible… you can place your mark in between moods if your not quite feeling it at the level described and when you step back and look at the end of the week, you’ll see if any pattern emerge.

So I think that’s about it. Let me know if you have any questions. Hope that helps! 

Available for PURCHASE here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/153285627/mood-health-management-tracking-chart

PDF Available for FREE Download Here: BP-Tracking-Chart (Note: This is designed to fit on 11×17″ Tabloid/Ledger Sized Paper, ideally you would have it printed and laminated so that it can be used as a dry-erase chart)

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JOURNAL ENTRY #4

IGNORANCE IS BLISS… BUT IT’LL GET YOU HIT BY A BUS

or: The Hesitant Spouse… and if He Really Knew Me  He’d Leave Me


Let me begin with…. FUCK. Oh yeah, blah blah blah, bad Muslim. Whatever. I am not in the mood tonight. We all get pissed, we all say fuck, so fuckety fuck fuck. What a fucking time I’m having. And…. breeeeeaaaathe… There, let’s pretend it’s out of my system.

I want to fall in a hole right now. I want to put my head through a sheet of glass. I want to cry cry cry. Weep, wail, roll on the floor, claw at the walls, cry cry cry.  I want to take back this cup of caffeinated coffee so I can sleep the next two days away. I want to disappear, and if I believed dying would make everything stop, I’d say I want to die. I want the comfort of the dark… I want an endless night. I want no more shrills and cries of children, no more uncertain spouses, no more erratic swaying of my mind. No more wild words, no more fistless fights. FUCK FUCK FUCK. I want to cry.

Tonight, I tried to talk to my husband. I asked him when he’d be picking up that book again (Loving Someone With Bipolar Disorder). It’s going on two weeks and he’s only read two chapters. He’s hesitant, but BP rages on with no restraint. He basically said he doesn’t know and ended the conversation. I carried on. It then came down to, “I don’t know if I want to go on (reading the book), I don’t know if I want to question our relationship.” Avoidance. The quintessential head in the sand. I was upset. Where is your commitment to this relationship? This isn’t going away! If you’re going to leave me, then God knows, do it now, not five years from now when we’re in too deep (we’ve been married 3 years). We can’t pretend everything is OK and then when the shit hits the fan, you never saw it coming and you leave me locked up in a hospital, utterly alone. God only knows what would happen to my children.

This is a bad strategy, but fear leaves him immobilized.

He wants to avoid reading the book because he’s scared of really understanding what this illness is. Really, he’s doing it because he loves me and if he reads it and can’t handle it, he’ll be forced into the very real possibility of deciding to leave, of breaking up our family, of starting again. I understand that. He thinks I’m pushing him to read the book because I want him to see the monster and I want him to leave me; that I don’t really want to be with him and want him to be the one to leave. 

I don’t know how much more wrong he could be.

I hate this illness. I can’t win for losing. 

So, I’m left in a state of limbo. The constant fear that one day, I’ll snap, I’ll really snap, and he’ll be ill-prepared (having not read this book) and he’ll leave me when I’m most alone, most in need. I’ll walk in front of a bus or jump off a building, because God knows, if HE can’t love me, who in the hell can? How unlovable we BP people are. How fucking unlovable are we?  So, I find myself here: 

If he reads the book, he’ll see this monstrous illness for all it really is and he’ll leave me. 

versus

If he DOESN’T read this book, he’ll be unable to support me in managing this illness, I’ll go fucking berserk, he’ll be utterly horrified and, once again, he’ll leave me.

Let’s try some hackneyed expressions here… I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t; stuck between a rock and hard place; dealing with a double-edged sword… well, fuck, indeed, what a predicament you’re in, my dear. I hate this illness. It’s killing us. It’s killing me. Limbo is an understatement.

So, I give him an ultimatum. Read the book by the end of the month or we can initiate a divorce. At the time, this made sense to me. I’m deathly afraid of being locked up in a hospital and abandoned. DEATHLY AFRAID. I need to know NOW. I need to know if you’re willing to do this with me. So it all made sense… now I’m locked up in my office, actually considering climbing out the window to get out. To get away from the echo of my own words. God, help me. I don’t want him to leave me. And it’s not even that I don’t want to be alone. I specifically don’t want to be without him. You must understand, it’s not you’re typical BP obsession. It’s been three years and a lot of bumps, fuck bumps, MOUNTAINS, and I still feel safe with him, still love him, still want him. My frustration has grown, my insecurities, my doubts, but never my desire to be with him. I want him to read the book because I want to be better and I want to feel secure. I want to know we’re in this thing together. I don’t want to live in constant fear anymore, I don’t want to live in the ever-lurking shadow of BP… I want to be in control of my life. That’s what this book is about. Finding strategies and working with your spouse to manage your condition. I need him to understand it fully, I need his support. 

So after a bit, I storm out. I’m so flustered, so angry, so disappointed, so afraid. He emails later and ends his email with, ” I do feel i need to look at this more seriously and make the necessary preparations for the future, whatever it may bring. i love you. never forget that no matter what happens.” 

No matter what happens.

And those words echo in my mind, prod at my heart, wring those delicate tendons of my being. It is a pain they bring, a very physical and psychological pain, that’s indescribable. The very real possibility that “what happens” may very well be, I am left alone. And it’s my fault I made him read the book, or my fault I din’t make him read it sooner. And what’s more? I am unlovable. And it’s moments like these that say to me, perhaps you should be locked up and lobotomized. And what of my children? They are better off without me. And now I understand why so many BP sufferers drink. I just want the pain to stop, the flood of emotions to end. I want the fear and anxiety to come to a screeching halt. I don’t want to think, to analyze, to exist. I want to be numb from the inside out. 

I fucking hate this illness. It’s torturing me and dangling death before me like a god damned carrot. I am so tired of being sick. God, help me. Heal me. 

[The STATUS of things: I have been battling depression this past week. I have hardly bathed, eaten, prayed, or slept properly. I have not been following a treatment plan. Been immersing myself in stressful situations again and again and been feeling beaten down, overwhelmed and exhausted. My diet has mostly consisted of hostess cakes, soda, and shit I can’t think of much else. My irritation level has been high, my heart heavy, my mind unfocused, my thoughts confused. I’ve been angry, confrontation, impatient. I’ve buried myself in minor obsessions with projects, I’ve had progress and failures. I’ve done next to nothing to de-stress, relax, or attend to my own needs. I’ve tried to smile through it all. I haven’t journalled or blogged. It has all been bad. I know. So we can see. I know how to pull myself out. I do. And I must. So let’s pray for a better next week.]


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JOURNAL ENTRY #1

Recognizing Triggers

Yesterday started out great, I woke up in time to pray fajr (morning prayer before dawn), had a light breakfast, took a shower. Then as I lay on my bed, all dressed and ready to go make myself brunch, I debated between taking a nap or going outdoors for a bit (sunlight is therapeutic). But I felt sleepy, so I laid down for a nap. The nap went too long (1.5-2 hours) then the baby woke up and I had to run down and start her day. I had a headache from the poor quality-too long nap, but it passed and my good mood returned. Note to self: Naps that are TOO LONG or of poor quality (uncomfortable, too much light in the room, etc) cause me to have headaches and feel irritable. Then my husband came home and all was still well. We went to pick up the kids and it was uncomfortably hot outside, so I was a little irritated, but not too much. Then I got into a very small spat with my husband.  I tried to tell him it was silly to argue about, but he felt that convincing me to his side would somehow help me calm down and see why my getting upset in the first place wasn’t necessary. Ah… the road to hell is paved with good intentions, lol. So we argued and immediately after depression set in. Just that quick. Arguing with my husband is a huge trigger for me. No matter how small the argument, it causes my mood to drop almost instantaneously. I hate that I feel so dependent on him in regulating  my moods, but there it is. 

Later, the kids were off task, being loud and wild and this sent my irritation level waaaay up. Which led to me snapping. I mean, really snapping. I had to walk outside to the backyard to gather myself. Making wudu crossed my mind, but I was too angry. (I know, that’s the point) But I went outside into the sunlight, sat down, breathed deeply and calmed down. When I came back in I talked to my husband about it… took him through my day so that he could see how quickly my mood can flip from something so small. It was a good talk, masha’Allah, and he had been cognizant of it and just wasn’t sure how to handle it right. That’s progress for us. His awareness of my potential mood swing is a big deal.

He then teased and joked until he got me to laugh and took me to make wudu and pray. That helped and by the end of the day the depression had lightened a bit. Today is a new day. Im not in the same bright mood as yesterday, I didn’t sleep well, woke up late, and am on this comp instead of in the shower (being off schedule is all bad). But I’m gonna go ahead and start my day, even if it’s late and see if I can recover some balance today, insha’Allah.

Mood Tracking:

September 5th, 2012
Happy –> Sleepy –> Irritable –> Angry –> Depressed –> Irate –> Depressed –> Sad –> Neutral

Lessons Learned:

  • Oversleeping and poor quality sleep cause headaches and irritability.
  • Sleeping in rooms with too much light cause poor quality sleep.
  • Arguments with my husband lead to depression.
  • Temperature discomfort (too hot outside) lead to irritability.
  • Chaos & noise/kids being off task leads to intense irritability.