Pretty much every therapist out there for pretty much any condition will tell you that an effective tool to managing your condition is writing in a journal. They will go on and on about the benefits of getting your thoughts down on paper, and catharsis, and something to use in therapy.
What they won’t tell you in that they have no idea why this is an effective tool in treating your disease.
You get to see your ups and downs, ebbs and flows, and try to match it up to the star positions and the lunar calendar I guess.
It can help you identify triggers. Write down a thing that made you feel bad and 15 days later when you don’t remember where this started; there it is in your journal. But just identifying your triggers doesn’t really do anything, in my experience. I get anxiety in large groups of people, I know it, I work on it constantly, but nothing is changing. Springtime puts me into a deep depression. I know this, I work on it, but same result every year.
So what is the point?
Don’t get me completely wrong, I journal. But mental health issues are only a small portion of why I journal.
I find that thoughts that normally get forgotten can provide great insight into who you are as a person. My insights are normally into how much shittier of a person I really am than I thought. It’s not a bad thing; I don’t mind the dark underbelly of my existence.
I used to use an iphone app called iMoodjournal for a long time. It keeps track of my mood swings. It doesn’t show me anything I don’t already know but I guess it is nice to have a record of it for no reason at all, whenever my doctors happen to ask. It is something my therapist wants me to do, so it gets done.
It is only a matter of time before all of this ends, the journaling, the tracking. That is how Bipolar works. Stick with something until you abandon it for no reason at all. I was really giving the process my all for about four months. I haven’t touched a journal or a mood tracker since my ECT. Probably mostly because I haven’t had very many mood swings. The biggest problem that I see is that despite the fact that I was very diligent in tracking and trying to understand my day to day life, it did nothing to slow down or prevent what would become my third suicidal episode and hospitalization.
So, at least I’ll have a record of the day I stopped.
My therapist is practically begging me to start at it again, but I just refuse. I tend to write these postings almost every day, I usually write between 5-10 a week, sometimes more, sometimes less, depends if I’m inspired that week I guess. And not only are these dated as to when I wrote them, but they are also categorized numerically based on when I wrote them. Going through my folder of almost 175 postings can provide me with an interesting window into my past.
I find it even more interesting when I am able to accomplish what I have done with this post. I initially wrote this posting on February 22 of this year. I added to it on May 17th. And here I am finishing it and posting it on the same day (extremely rare), which is August 8th. For whatever reason I continued to find value in this piece but never enough to post it ahead of whatever else was available to me on the day I was uploading essays.
But today, here it is.
I guess that is a lot like going through your old journals and understanding how you relate to your past self as well as how you no longer remember being that person.