Technology can sometimes spot things we miss. One reason Simply Broken promotes self care and using support tools comes from personal experience. Anneli, our founder, has been diagnosed with depression three times during her life, and decided in 2017 to start using a mood tracker. She’s been using iMood since July 2017. Three times a day she’s prompted to rate out of ten how she’s feeling based on a scale she built that made sense for what was happening in her life.
It was in autumn last year she realized that there is a two week window in October every year where her mood plummets.
“I get really unstable. Small things feel like a catastrophe, everything is hopeless, my relationships are a disaster, and it’s an emotional mess.” she says.
What she realised was that during that point of the year in Denmark, where she lives, is when the daylight shift happens more noticeably. It’s getting darker on your way home from work, it’s starting to be dark when you wake up in the morning, and that impacts the rhythm of her mood.
“When we first moved to Denmark, I had seasonal affective disorder really badly. I needed to use a SAD light, I took extra vitamin D, and was given anxiety medication the first year, because my mood went haywire. Each year it’s gotten better and now we’ve been here a decade and I’m pretty synced up with the light, but there are these two weeks where my brain seems to register how big a light change has happened and it needs to go temporarily crazy until it resets itself.”
How to use mental health tracker insights
Having that insight, and knowing it is likely to happen, has given Anneli a chance to mark it in her calendar, start taking extra vitamin D leading up to October, use SAD light glasses during September – November all to manage the difficult transition time.
“What has been most helpful, has been to agree with myself that during those weeks, no matter what happens and how bad I feel, don’t make any big decisions or actions based on emotion. If it’s serious enough, it will still be a problem two weeks later. But, if it wasn’t actually a big problem, it just felt like it during that time, I haven’t hurt my relationship, risked my work, or done something that will be really hard to fix after the fact.
So far none of the disasters I’ve felt were happening turned out to be real when I waited it out, so I’m glad I know in advance this will likely be an issue for me. It gives me a better sense of control over a situation where I can’t control my own mind and emotions completely.”
If you want to see whether there are any cycles or patterns in the way you are feeling it can be useful to find a mood tracker app for yourself. It requires a commitment since it takes time to see the patterns recurring, but if your mood has impact points like Anneli’s, it could be worth getting sight of the connection to when it happens and if there is a trigger that you are able to account for in your own life.