Daily Archives: June 18, 2017

Tracking Your Moods: Low-Tech, High-Tech, and In Between

Many therapists and people with bipolar disorder recommend journaling as a practice that allows you to track your moods and figure out what your triggers are. And many individuals do well with journaling.

I didn’t, however. I tried starting a journal of what I was doing and what I accomplished daily. It rapidly turned boring and whiny. My entries looked like this:


  1. Paid cell phone.
  2. Forced myself to finish work assignment.
  3. Finally got off that stupid level of that horrible Candy Crush.

Writing is what I do, but journaling, especially when depressed, was an unrelenting series of pitiful nothing. Instead, I started this blog (on 1/7/14). In my blog, I could write about anything. Still, it wasn’t much good as a way to track my daily moods.

Technology is starting to address that problem. Recently some inventions have come on the market that promise to help you track your moods not just daily, but hourly (or even more often). Most of these devices resemble what would happen if a Fitbit and a mood ring had a child.

Most of them claim to monitor your moods by tracking your heart rate and/or your breathing. (One notes that it tracks your steps too, so you don’t need an extra device to do that. Another promises to monitor galvanic skin response, pulse, and skin temperature, which sounds more like a lie detector than mood tracking.) Then you take that data and compare them with what you were doing at the time and voilà – a mood journal.

Of course, these devices make certain assumptions – for example, that when your heart rate is elevated, you are anxious or tense. Needless to say, there are plenty of other things that can raise your heart rate and breathing. Sex, for one. Or running. Neither one of which is necessarily a source of anxiety for everyone. There is, as far as I can see, no way for the device to tell when you are depressed. They appear to assume that everything except anxiety is normal.

Then there’s the fact that you still have to journal. The devices work on the theory that you can look for patterns in your breathing and respiration, then figure out what you were doing when that happened. Upgraded devices and apps are planned that will add calendar and location functions to make this easier. But if you’re in your house the whole time the moods are happening, it won’t tell you much.

(One brand of these devices is available only from an employer, health plan, or EAP, which, if you ask me, is pretty creepy. If there’s anyone I don’t want to have information about my moods, it’s my employer.)

My friend Mike came up with an in-between solution that uses both higher-tech and lower-tech approaches to monitoring his moods. Over a period of several months, Mike had been on four different drug regimens for depression. Not all of them worked, and he was unsure which did the most good.

His idea was to go to his social media and chat apps and take a look at when he was the most active, engaged, and responsive. Then he looked at what medication he was on at the time. He noticed, for example, that in the first few weeks of April, he was posting more about accomplishments and responding to others’ posts and chat messages. A quick check of his pharmacy records and he had a pretty good idea of which medications were working best. No journaling involved – the evidence of his increased energy was right there in front of him, already recorded. And no $150 expense for an emotional tracking device.

Maybe journaling is right for you. Maybe a wearable mood tracker is the thing that will help. But don’t overlook the tools you already have. Think about them in new ways and you may already have a handle on understanding your moods and meds.





Filed under: Mental Health Tagged: anxiety, bipolar disorder, coping mechanisms, depression, emotions, journaling, mental health, mood tracking, moods, my experiences, support systems

Happy Father’s Day

Today I am celebrating still having a Dad.  The past year has been full of turmoil, with Dad visiting the brink of death multiple times.  He was so sick with C-Diff and Pneumonia and Sepsis, and I spent multiple nights at the hospital, wanting to be there with him if he died.  It’s kind of incredible to me that he didn’t die.  The whole family was prepared.  Lots of tears were shed, believe me.  But, Dad is a fighter and he loves his family like crazy and he doesn’t want to leave us!  So, amazingly enough, we have made it to another Father’s Day.  Each holiday and birthday is bittersweet, because I wonder if it’s Dad’s last.  Maybe I don’t need to think that way, but I do.

Because I’m such a good daughter, I bought Dad a flashlight for Father’s Day.  Wooooo!!!  He should be overwhelmed.  I’m so tired of trying to figure out what to buy him!  He doesn’t need anything!  He has enough shirts.  But his flashlight is broken so boom!  I saw something I could get him.  I broke the bank at $6.97.  I got cards for Dad and my brother at the dollar store, spent $1.14.  The cards aren’t as good for sure but dammit I can’t spend six bucks on a card any more.  My money is tight!!  I’ll try to write something sweet to make up for the so-so card.

Because I am now a Crazy Bird Lady, I just have to include a tidbit about Peaches and Herb!  Peaches laid a fourth egg today.  She is staggering them in a weird way!  She’s supposed to lay one egg per day and then start incubating them when the whole clutch is laid.  Well, she started incubating two days ago.  So I guess she is gonna have a train of babies born over the course of a week or some strange shit.  Herb is super-excited to be a father.  (Ya see how I tied that in to the post?  Snazzy huh).

To all you fathers out there:  Happy Father’s Day.  I hope you can enjoy the day with loved ones and feel appreciated and cared for.


Filed under: Bipolar, Bipolar Crazy Bird Lady, Psychology Shmyshmology Tagged: Bipolar, Bipolar Disorder, Blogging, Happy Father's Day, Hope, Humor, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Psychology, Reader

One Shutterbug: Point of View – A Poetic Blog, for Father’s Day

Shutterbug’s delight: Doncaster, 2016ish

This poem was written for my father. I hope he likes it. In its own way, this is one of the most personal things I’ve ever posted.

One Shutterbug: Point of View

shutterbug (n) – “an amateur photographer, especially one who is greatly devoted to the hobby” First recorded in 1940 – 1945

Picture the shutterbug.

For certainly, he’ll picture you:

in a group, in a crowd,

singing out loud,

in chapel, in temple,

in church and up steeple,

on dunes, and on hills,

after bicycle spills,

in the piney, reminiscing,

quite possibly, kissing.

Up steeple – St George’s, Doncaster

And the trumpet does sound

from a blue stereo.

Where to begin?

After taking it

on the chin,

a glider disaster,

international plasters,

that first picture:

why, it’s him!

The gift of an uncle:

a “unchi” says,

Johnny, Ionel,

here, take this:

may it give you

great joy, it is more

than a toy: it’s an eye,

a way of looking,

a history book,

for each picture took

tells a story, or three.

And a white flower blooms

from a blue stereo.

A puff of fresh smoke

from a trusty old pipe,

a friend in common,

and indeed, a first

dazzling meeting

with the beauty

with the smile:

they chat

for awhile.

No points for guessing

how these things proceed.

And a September song croons

from a blue stereo.

A wedding in white,

two different families,

polite, where next

from here?

There’s no chance

of a beer, a dance,

or some wine, til

after the cake, why,

it’s honeymoon time.

And the hammiest voice

in all Michigan

speaks of a brave steamshovel.

Family times

are the shutterbug’s dream:

like a cat with some cream,

the albums fill quickly

with children crying,

and crawling,

laughing, and bawling:

it’s slide shows, and sodas,

pancakes, and stew,

colac, corn bread, too.

And the hammiest voice

in all Christendom

tells of bunnies: flopsy, and true.

The shutterbug’s collection

grows with those kids

who he packs into a car

10 days each year: going

there, travelling here,

in a brown Meteor

with toys, books galore,

the beauty she reads

as the shutterbug drives,

whilst the youngest melts crayons

on the the back of the car,

and America unfurls,

like a flag filled with stars.

Sorry about the crayons – 1960s

And the hammiest voice

in all Michigan

goes down a Hobbit hole.

Come Appalachians,

come DC, come Boston,

and Nashville! Summon

crowds of great aunties,

and uncles, with photos,

through crick, hill

and churches, and always,

reminiscing, with y’alls,

and kissing.

Come Smokey bears

begging, early morning

petrol stations, with the kids,

and the wife, waiting.

On return, the shutterbug’s

sorting, collating, a bin

by his side, once the vacation

has ended,

but never the journey:

with all America,

waiting, always

still waiting.

And black-red-and-white dances

on an old stereo.

He once crossed an ocean:

the skies, the ship’s motion,

ending with the Lady

his parents saw before him.

Now travelling in mind,

in photos, and time,

he’s weathered the longest.

The last leaf,

or the strongest?

And the tenderest voice

in all Christendom

reads through her Bible,

and sings their old hymns.

With his lady – 1970s

I love you, Daddy.

June 2017

Tagged: America, children’s books, family, Father’s Day, Frank Sinatra, Handel, music, nostalgia, photography, Romania

Is Bipolar Disorder for Everyone?

people picI have two main points to make.

The first one is the one that aggravates me and I will tell you that sometimes it upsets people when I talk about it.  I think bipolar disorder is way over diagnosed and glamorized.   When I hear people have bipolar disorder and they once in awhile experience mild depression, I feel that the doctor should not have called it that.  There is bipolar 1 and bipolar 2, but I am not talking about that. I am talking about how there is a difference between someone who gets depressed occasionally and someone who has extreme mood swings where the manias land them in psychiatric wards and the depressions are so low that they often end up in suicide.

What goes along with this and I think diminishes what people with bipolar disorder really endure is how famous people think it is “cool” or say it to draw attention to themselves by saying they have bipolar disorder.  I am not saying that some of them really do have bipolar disorder. I am talking about those who are clueless as to what it really means to have bipolar disorder and basically just say they have it so their names end up in search engines online.  I think this is sad and they should be ashamed of themselves. If they have been actually diagnosed then like I already stated, so many of them probably should not have been.

The second point I want to make in this blog is:  Bipolar Disorder is NOT for everyone.  It takes a special, strong person to live the life of someone with bipolar disorder.  It takes endurance and passion.  It takes a willingness (not chosen) to live a hellish life.  The stigma of the serious mental illness of bipolar disorder makes it even harder and those who are open and honest about it are brave!

50% of those with bipolar disorder have attempted suicide.  Ref1 Bipolar disorder results in 9.2 years reduction in expected life span, and as many as one in five patients with bipolar disorder completes suicide. Ref2   This goes to prove that living life with bipolar disorder is not easy. It is not only difficult, but oftentimes leads to death.

I hope that if you are struggling with bipolar disorder, that you get the help that you need and don’t end up being a statistic. I also hope that you know that you are brave, courageous, strong, and deserve a pat on the back for living this long with this horrible disease.  If you think you might have bipolar disorder, please see a doctor as soon as possible and get the help that you need so that you don’t end up being taken from this world too soon.

So, Is Bipolar Disorder for everyone? NOPE


Two posts, one day, what a flood poster I am. Oh, well, venting is needed.

Since my kid smashed the tablet and has continually lied, she’s been grounded. Throw in the head lice, and I am STILL finding nits, which means another treatment and all bedding washed and floors vacuumed…

She never ever stops talking. MOM MOM MOMMY MUM MUM MORGUE MOM MOM MUM MUM. She’s a non cartoon version of Family Guy’s Stewie. And much as I love her and hard as I try…I can’t change who I am, who I was before she was born.

Too much noise, especially incessant noise, is a trigger. It sets off the worst of my anxiety and panic, it upsets my equilibrium, and I get headaches and my patience is nil. It would be better if the child would ever listen to me and mind. I’ve explained my noise sensitivity over and over, explained that mom asking for ten or twenty minutes of peace and quiet is not neglect or abuse…She just doesn’t get it. Unless it’s someone else bugging her while she is watching a show or playing with friends, then it’s a national tragedy.

It’s not been a month yet school has been out and even without her revolving door of friends…I feel like my brain is climbing out of my skull, desperate to flee the scene of all the noise. Mind you, it’s not exclusive to her. I have this issue with traffic, crowded stores, even cookouts with more than 5 people present. Noise just lands me face down in the anxiety gutter. I’ve tried to explain it to her, to my family, to friends…No one gets it. And I’ve read enough of others’ blogs to know that I am not alone in my noise sensitivity. It’s hellish to not be able to handle standard issue white noise life delivers. The McMuggles think I am a wimp, putting on an act, being a crybaby.

Oddly, these are the same people with their own triggers. For R it’s heights and he avoids them but for whatever reason, that’s okay. My sister is scared of storms and hordes up in the basement with her cats every time there’s thunder or lightning. My stepmonster hates snakes and fears them. My kid has a phobia of being alone and not having friends, it scares her. WE ALL HAVE OUR ISSUES.

My question is….WHY IS IT OKAY FOR THEM TO CLING TO THEIR ISSUES/PHOBIAS WHICH REALLY DON’T AFFECT THEM LIVING A NORMAL LIFE…Yet I have physical reactions to my triggers but I am supposed to suck it up, snap out of it, get over it, grow up. ???WTF is that?

So, yeah, her never ending chatter and refusal to even give me ten minutes’ peace has me on edge. I think it’s legitimate and well explained. Though 9 more weeks of it is daunting. Still, after the tablet smash and all the lies (she kept lying to me today about stupid shit)…I am sticking to her grounding even if it punishes me as much as it attempts to discipline her. Her added lies earned her 2 more days grounding and if she keeps it up…it will keep adding up. She claims to be “scared” to tell the truth. I haven’t so much as swatted her butt in a year. I may raise my voice after telling her to do/not do something multiple times and being ignored…I may ground her from her bike or friends…But I am not abusive. She is manipulative. And it stems from the way my stepmonster basically yells at her but no amount of trying to reason with that woman works. So I end up looking like the monster. Yay.

Dad asked Spook today if she wants to come stay 4 days with them in July for their church’s summer camp and the minute he said ‘you can play with other kids’ she was all about it. Which has to make you wonder just how scared she is of her step grandma if she wants to spend 4 days there with them. My kid is a conundrum. Then, aren’t we all.

Aside from the rampaging nerve ending devouring anxiety due to too much noise…My mood held up pretty well today. I spent hours texting my sister. Of course, since I am normally introverted and don’t text, no doubt her and mom will think I am drunk. Dumbasses can’t grasp bipolar to save their lives. Some days…most days…I am stuck inside my own head thanks to the depression. Occasionally I have a good day where I kind of want to talk to others, even if by text. Nature of the bipolar beast.

Okay, that’s all she wrote. Feel free to leave feedback in the comments, let me know how excessive or loud noise impacts your life and mental health. I know I’m not alone, but occasionally, it’s nice to have it confirmed. And even if noise isn’t your trigger…feel free to chime in, too.

Love hearing from anyone who cares enough to comment. No, it’s not ego or being a ‘like button’ whore. I just like knowing my writing resonates. If it didn’t, during my black depressions, I’d probably kill this blog and delete it. It’s YOU guys who keep me writing when you let me know my writing has struck a chord.

Two sporks of fortitude for anyone who read this entire post. I do babble but it comes from a good place..Ok, nothing good about depression or anxiety but it comes from a genuine place. Being real and telling the truth about myself are all I have to offer.

That and wicked sarcasm.