This is the internet weblog of Bix Frankonis.

I’ve Been Tracking My Mood

Toward the end of February, five months into a job placement via Vocational Rehabilitation that had so degraded my mental state that for the first time in my life I was suffering what my psychotherapist deemed “depressive episodes” (excepting two minor incidents more than twenty years ago), I started tracking my mood several times a day in an app called Daylio.

I wanted to share here some comparisons between the full month of March (my six and final month on the job) and the first half of April.

First, some explanations of the two graphics I’ve included here. In both the calendar view (above) and chart view (below), Daylio is listing the average mood experienced on each day. Over the course of March, I very much did had a number of Awful moods (I reserved Awful for when I experienced my outright emotional breakdowns, or depressive episodes, but left near-misses under Bad), but since Daylio averages each day, not a single day gets listed as Awful overall. Typically, days with Awful incident have a signficant amount of Bad moments as well as some Meh, which together tend to average those days into being “merely” Bad.

It’s important to note, then, that these averages shouldn’t suggest that I didn’t have any Awful moments. Typically, my breakdowns have lasted no more than half an hour, and usually they’ve lasted “only” for maybe fifteen minutes, with the rest of day then passing as a string of Bad moods across the various remaining activities of that day. (I don’t depict it here, but Daylio lets you tag each mood update with the activities you were engaged in at the time, which I assume, over the long term, is aimed at helping you peg harmful activities from helpful ones.)

Still, the daily averages are instructive, as both the calendar and chart views show pretty clearly.

My primary mood remains Meh, but I don’t really consider that a problem, at least for now. The important bit is that Bad moods have dropped significantly, and Good ones risen noticably (six Good days for all of March but already seven for the first half of April). Since I begin using the app, I’ve never listed a Great moment, but that doesn’t concern me as long as I’m avoiding Awful moments. (I think, in the end, I’m more after a middling stability than some sort of intermittent joy.)

I find the chart view more easily-illustrative of the differences. You have to imagine narrowing the April x-axis to the width of half of that of March in order to compare just the first two weeks, but it’s evident, so far, that April on average is much more stable, and far less dramatic in its fluctuations. Smoother, overall. Maybe it’s because I just finished watching an episode of One Strange Rock, but let’s call it a kind of Goldilocks Zone.

The next couple of months, however, will prove instructive, as a number of fairly disruptive and therefore potentially stressful transitions will be happening at once: my nonprofit will undergo a major relocation; I myself might be moving to accommodate that relocation; and I’ll need to be making some decisions about applying for Social Security Disability Insurance versus returning to Vocational Rehabilitation to try again.

Just thinking about that puts me dangerously close to having to register this particular moment as Bad instead of just Meh.