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Tracking Bad Stuff (Part 5)

Tracking Bad Stuff

This is part 5 of the tutorial on how to use the Better Mood Tracker. The major part of why I developed the app is to help avoid stuff that this article is talking about. Bad stuff. Stuff that can make life miserable, or even end it alltogether…

Spending Sprees

Have you ever noticed how you may feel very light about money or stuff? While generosity is great, spending sprees and “don’t care” attitude towards money is very bad, especially when you don’t have money, or are already in debt. More debt means more time having to be stuck at a job that you might hate or having to tolerate tyrannical bosses or coworkers.

  • Are you pulling out your credit card? Why not get your phone and mark this occasion with the “Spending $” sign? It wouldn’t hurt!
  • Thinking of how a shiny new car will make you feel? Are you already talking to a dealer? Mark it!
  • Thinking of starting a new hobby? Already shopping for it? Add an event with Better Mood Tracker!
  • Casually browsing Amazon.com or endgadget? Use your phone to mark this event when you tap the “Place order”.
  • Keep track of your sleep to notice any abnormalities

If you have money, this may not be a problem, but spending sprees sometimes accompany Hypomania or Mania. Keeping track of your spending with Better Mood Tracker, alongside tracking sleep may help your doctor, psychiatrist or social worker better understand your condition.

Grumpy, resentful thoughts.

Consider these ideas:

Have you ever felt how the world is just so crappy, but so unfair? Take Apple for example, and their “new” iPhone and iPad. Not only do developers have to buy all new devices to continue developing, but they have to buy all new cables and accessories too. And for what? A few more inches of screen space.

Have you heard about the new iPad? Now iOS developers have to deal with different screen sizes as well…

On and on and on. It doesn’t matter if there’s any truth to the these ideas. What is important is that these thoughts are looping, negative and self- perpetuating. Yet they have the capacity to take over the thought process if not observed in time. If they can be observed, they can be tracked:

  • Whenever you catch yourself in a “negative loop”, thinking about the world’s troubles that you cannot fix
  • Start Better Mood Tracker and use the “Thoughts” or “Sadface” icon.
  • Check how you slept the night before – particularly what are your Small Body Movements and Major Body Movements number
  • How do the numbers compare with yesterday?
  • How long since you last ate, and what did you eat?
  • Open “My Day” tab and wait for the app to update weather. Is it gloomy outside ?
  • Is the barometric pressure low (thus indicating upcoming change in weather)?
  • When is your next meal?

These thoughts not only distract you from the insolvable world problem, but may also help you find the source of such thoughts either in your sleep, or food intake. Personally, I noticed that thoughts like these are a side effect of looking at gloomy sky or feeling hungry for myself. Eating a good meal and watching a short inspirational video on ted.com makes such thoughts disappear for me.

Angry Thoughts and ideas of violence.

Someone sometime has angered you. Or maybe they treated you bad. Or maybe at one point in your life you had enemies. But suddenly, thoughts about these things arise in your head and start circling around. Over and over. What they did, and what you would’ve done. Fantasies of revenge. Thoughts of violence.

Such thoughts are self-perpetuating, but can be recognized as such and thus tracked:

  • Do thoughts of old enemies creep back into your mind? Pull out a phone and tap the violence icon. This will show them!
  • Thoughts of sweet, sweet revenge? Tap the violence icon, this will show them!

I first became aware of anger and violence as a state of mind by watching the movie “Waking life”. There’s an especially red skinned guy in a prison cell, just ranting and ranting about how he would torture and burn his enemies and they would scream. And this is just a state of mind. Once it is recognized as such, it is no longer so enveloping, so alluring and self perpetuating. Thus it can be tracked, it’s causes understood and resolved.

Suicidal Ideation

Yes, Suicidal Ideation. It is one of those things that visits depressed people time and again and is notoriously difficult to get out of one’s head. The brain may chase itself in circles with dates, pledges, promises and bargains, but one thing is for certain – once the suicidal ideation appears, you really need to start tracking what’s happening and how to get out of this.

You see, regardless what mood you pick on such days, suicidal ideation is a life-threatening condition that may end your life at any moment. For me, it is the hallmark of depression.

To track suicidal ideation, pick an icon within the app and stick with it. Whenever the thoughts of death arise, use this marker and investigate what has happened earlier that day or on the preceeding days. Chances are you will find the cause, and it makes it a lot easier to deal with these thoughts. After all, it is not that the life sucks but that your brain is responding in a pre-determined way to some event earlier in your life. I do not know what causes it, but I know that suicidal ideation is a mental state  and can be tracked.