Therapists are useful in helping a consumer understand how one is feeling and thinking, this is also known as talk therapy. Many issues are discussed and it has been proven useful to help with stability and managing symptoms. But what do you do when you’re struggling to describe your feelings with your psychiatrist and therapist? Once a therapist gets to know a client, they are able to give an outside perspective and can monitor symptoms. Different situations evoke different reactions and feelings. So where do we go from here to reach for the fullest potential of enabling your ability to describe how you are feeling?
Personally, unless I write these thoughts down daily, from appointment to appointment, my ability to describe how I’m feeling is difficult. I have Bipolar 1 disorder, with rapid cycling and mixed mania. So looking at my mood from morning until night for just one day is difficult to recall!
One thing that I’ve found helpful is to keep a journal and a mood chart. While medication is a small piece of the puzzle, conveying exactly how you’re feeling is as well. Mood charting has been shown to help your prescribing physician or psychiatrist, and yourself, track your ups and downs. Think about it do you really remember how your mood was two days ago? If I think back two days, without charting, I would think, “I remember a little depression, and then a little mania, then another time depressed, etc.” I usually try to track my mood at the end of the day, right before I go to sleep. In the end, it helps provide me with insight, and allows me to make sure that my symptoms of mania and depression are not in the early stages of destabilizing me. In addition, it helps my psychiatrist as well, and he can adjust medications accordingly if needed.
On the other hand, what about keeping a journal, are you able to consistently accomplish this? Journaling is also a great way to track feelings, moods, and sleep patterns, and helps you to be self-aware as well as provide insight. Bringing your journal with you to your appointments allows you to discuss important issues with your therapist or psychiatrist.
With the combination of a mood journal and feelings journal tracking your thoughts and moods are a very useful tool in staying on track with mood stabilization. If you don’t feel up to doing it daily try and make a conscious effort to aim for every other day. There are many sites on the internet that can help you to accomplish this by providing you with feeling words and mood charts that you can print out. Research shows that if a person diagnosed with a mental illness is medicated for their symptoms, the odds of psychotherapy working are high. Also discuss with your treatment team ways in which it would be most helpful to them to understand how you’re feeling. You are both working towards the same goal, which is helping you manage your symptoms and stability.