Is This All There Is?
Do you ever wake up in the morning and you’re not really depressed, but you are not particularly happy either? Just “meh”? It happens to me all the time, and I wondered if it was my illness talking to me, or if it happens to everyone. I asked my 80-year-old father if he ever gets depressed or feels like that. He replied that the only time he feels depressed is when his stomach is upset or he’s sick and can’t go outside to spend time with his gardening.
I decided I really wanted to keep track of my “meh” days and see just what is up with that. Here are some of the ways I track myself so I can tell my pdoc just what has been happening with me recently when I go in to see him.
- Mood Score – I belong to a online support group started by Theresa Borchard called Beyond Blue. One of the participants developed a Likert scale for determining where we are in the day on a scale of 1 – 10 with 10 being absolutely fantastic and one being suicidal. I started giving myself a mood score when I date my journal. I tend to hover between a 6.5 and 7 with a few 6’s and 8’s thrown in here and there. I strive for an 8 and usually, when I do get there, it’s rather fleeting. If you’d like a copy, just respond to this post and I’ll email it to you.
- Take Inventory – I use an online scale for determining happiness and grit designed by Martin Seligman and the folks at The Pursuit of happiness who have developed a “Happiness Quiz” and you can also visit Angela Duckworth’s similar work and take a “Grit Scale” at the University of Pennsylvania site. Both are just for information and not to be used as a diagnostic, but it gives you a place to start a discussion.
Review Journal entries – I like to take a look back at the few weeks’ worth of journal entries before my pdoc visit to get a more realistic view of how I have been feeling. I can write down some key words or phrases I have been using and take a list in to share with him. Again, this is a starting place for a conversation over whether my meds or something else needs to be adjusted.
- Check the Scale – I hate doing this one, but it really is a good indicator on whether something is up. If I’ve gained more than 5 lbs., then I know I’m probably under too much stress. If I’ve lost more than 5 lbs. and I’m not on a “diet of the month” then I may be more depressed than is average for me.
- Sleep Diary – I could add one more rating to my journal entry, but instead I wear a fitbit – a bracelet that tracks my steps and my sleep/wake periods. At about 100 bucks, it syncs with my laptop or iphone to tell me how long I slept, how many times I awoke or got up during the night and tracks it for weeks so I have a graph I can look at. It also encourages me to walk more during my day, as I tend to be very sedentary.
These are just a few suggestions for checking in with yourself each week and especially before your pdoc visit. What are some of the ways you check in with yourself that I didn’t mention? I’d be most interested to read how you do it and if you use any kind of system to rate yourself at all. Perhaps you don’t need or want to do that – and why? Share out!