A good place to start is here: What’s My M3. It is a short online test that can give you a starting place on determining what the likelihood of you having problems with bipolar, anxiety, and/or depression might be. It is no substitute for a diagnosis, but it might give you some insight to take to a doctor.
Mood journals help you to track triggers, patterns and explain your overall mental states to loved ones and professionals. They are also a key resource to help explain yourself to yourself – memory alone isn’t very reliable when it comes to recalling how you felt. Mood journals are quick, easy to summarize snapshots of mood that you can more easily track as an “up and down” graph so to speak. They differ from “journaling” by their lack of specificity and their quantifiable nature. A note for the ladies who still visit Aunt Flo: Make sure whatever mood tracker you use has notes for your menstrual cycles as well or add them.
I have made my own Mood Journals using the criteria I find most helpful but used these links as a jumping off point.
Mood Calendar – Pretty detailed, not very customizable
Moodtracker.com – Customizable but requires free account
PDF Mood Diary – Printable for offline use
Online Support and Information
NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness.
The Big Guy. Start here for general information/resources on mental illness writ large. I’d go to Support and Programs first to narrow down if you are looking for information on more specific topics.
APA American Psychiatric Association The link is to their section on Bipolar. Their information is pretty general but the search feature at the top of the navigation is interesting (you can search by mental illness then by other demographic info).
Bipolar Support Forums I’ve had mixed experiences with this site – forums… what can you do? But it can be a great place to get specific information. I don’t recommend going there for actual “support” though, for the most part the comments back don’t seem terribly helpful or insightful (though you may have a different experience). I found this site most useful when asking specific questions about state/local healthcare resources and experiences with medication.
I will be honest, I find this site heavy and clunky to navigate but it does have some good resources. The downloads section has information and a mood journal and the information section has a few helpful articles when it comes to explaining to others what you go through and what they might go through with you.
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance : I linked to their list of Low Cost or No Cost things that you can do to help cope, many of them are obvious (get enough sleep) but there are lists of foods and other not so common resources there too. The site overall seems less equipped to deal with Bipolar as a whole than with depression or anxiety but it’s worth a run through.
Crazy Good Parent: A site intended as a hub for ‘crazy’ parents to find resources and share experiences.
Patient: An award-winning online resource for both patients and health professionals around the world.
Bipolar Disorder for Dummies
I have NOT read this book personally but found the “for Dummies” series helpful at times. It also amused me to see it.
An Unquiet Mind – Kay R Jameson
I have read this book and when I was first diagnosed it also helped me explain myself to my family. I put little “flags” on passages that resonated with me, that explained me in a way I felt was accesible. It’s also good for how much of her experience didn’t mesh with mine- it’s too easy to forget that BP is a spectrum, like anything else, and we all experience it in different ways with different symptomatic ingredients.