Active Journaling and Your Mental Health Treatment

Too frequently throughout life we find ourselves at the mercy of others’ ideas and suggestions, and one of these, for those with mood disorders, is in accepting a treatment plan that we weren’t part of creating, or finding that we are just along for the ride. Yet, we can–and should-–play an enormous part in our own treatment and healing process by being aware of ourselves, and sharpening our insights into our mental states and learning what internal and external factors contribute to these mental states.

At eMoods we firmly believe that tracking your Bipolar and mental health-related symptoms is part of the healing and coping process. Tracking (anything at all!) empowers you to gain independence, think originally, and to effectively advocate for yourself. Flexing this mental muscle of awareness also increases neuroplasticity in your brain and can lead to creating new positive mental pathways. Tracking things in your life leads to more self-awareness, mindfulness, and greater perspective.

Studies have shown that patients with chronic conditions who are more engaged in their treatment plans have better outcomes and have lower financial costs in the long run than those who are less engaged. Patients who ask lots of questions, do research, and are generally bigger, insistent pains-in-the-asses can expect healthier outcomes than those who passively accept and follow a treatment plan. (Our sincere apologies to your doctors for saying it, but it’s true!) Your custom tailored treatment plan needs YOU to be aware of yourself, your mind, and what’s going on in your world. Your life, your data.

Training yourself to be aware of your mental states, recording them, and discussing them with a HUMAN doctor or other caregiver, is incredibly helpful in predicting and minimizing future setbacks or eliminating them altogether. Your medical professionals provide crucial alternative perspective and pattern recognition.

It’s not only this interchange of ideas with a trained human expert stemming from documented data that will empower you to work towards your true healing and improving your life- but it’s also the simple act of you doing it, and being aware of what you’re recording- getting to know your own mental states.

Why emphasize the human connection? Well, we’ve seen many apps and other software that try to do things like passively listen to your voice throughout the day and let you know if you’re about to have a manic episode (via automation and artificial intelligence). Setting aside the fact that this is a HUGE invasion of your privacy and even acknowledging that this kind of monitoring may prevent a bad episode once or twice, it can only be reactionary and not a permanent solution!

The actual act of you trying to be aware of your own mental states by recording them yourself, and not being told what your mental states are by a computer– even if the computer is right(!)– is the mechanism that leads to more awareness of your symptoms and triggers. Further, a computer can only calculate what it’s been programmed to; it takes a human to look at the dots and make unusual, enlightening observations between cause and effect based on empathy and experiential knowledge.

So while future features in eMoods will allow you to configure alerts and provide visualizations that may be able to warn of potential trouble- based on your own reported tracking points- these will be most effective when configured and monitored alongside your medical healthcare professional. These visualizations may give deeper insight into your symptom patterns that you or your doctor may not have noticed before. Be a pain-in-the-ass. Involve yourself, involve your doctors in your monitoring and your treatment planning. Expect a better outcome from your treatment.

Happy tracking!