Soon after I began this blog, I wrote about ways I have kept depression at bay for years. I thought people might be interested in ways to treat depression besides meds, although for some cases of depression, drugs are needed.
Then I deleted the post. Like many people, I feared that if I talked about past mental health struggles, people might judge me or think less of me. I’m a positive and happy person today, and don’t want to be perceived as otherwise.
But I realize that if none of us talk about mental health issues, the stigma will never go away.
The truth is, I’ve had terrible struggles with depression that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
And for the past five years, I’ve not only avoided depression, but I’ve been actually happy, just about every day. Although I was on Prozac for most of my adult life, I don’t take any medications now, and I’ve never felt better.
One thing that helps is my cheesy morning ritual. A fanatical dedication to positive thinking and getting enough sleep have also helped. ASMR videos have been useful for me as well.
But one of the biggest reasons I can stay happy is a smartphone app.
I’m sure there are several mood tracker apps out there, and there are other ways that you can keep a mood log too, such as in a journal. I just think this one is really easy.
Overview of iMoodJournal
With this app, you record your mood level a few times a day. (I do it four times a day, and set alarms to remind myself.)
It’s basically a scale of 1 to 10, from “couldn’t be worse” to “insanely great.” (Perversely, I enjoy having the word “insane” in an app I use to maintain my mental health.)
When you record your mood level, you can put in a couple of hashtags about what’s making you feel how you feel.
Here are some of my positive hashtags, for instance.
Here are some of my negative ones. (“Pirates” refers to book piracy — I haven’t encountered the other kind of pirates.)
And uh… that’s it.
When I started using it, my mood swings were drastic but low on the average, like this:
I had a really hard time pinpointing what was contributing to my mood. If I sat and thought about it for a minute, though, I could figure out something for the hashtag.
As time went on, my mood started to level out a little.
Gradually, it got higher. On most days now, “Good” and “Very Good” are my default level. But good or bad, I always know immediately just what is making me feel that way.
Why It Works For Me
When I identified negative triggers through the hashtags, it made me more aware of them — and more resistant to them.
For instance, I am usually punctual, and whenever I was late for something, it would hit me hard. I had a lot of shame about tardiness. I just wanted to die. Now, because of the app, when something has made me late, I immediately tell myself, “It’s okay. Don’t freak out about it.”
When I encounter many of my negative triggers now, I have these reassuring thoughts that kick in immediately, like white blood cells fighting off an infection.
Because of the app, I’ve also gotten better at avoiding certain things that are pretty much guaranteed to destroy my mood.
Identifying the positive hashtags was at least as important. Some of the things that never fail to put me in a good mood are frivolous and embarrassing. But hey — they make me happy, so I seek them out more often!
Annoyingly, I always logged a good mood following a workout, so I have to admit that exercise is important to my mental health.
The main reason the app works for me is that I use it consistently. It takes discipline. I doubt it will be helpful unless you use it a few times every day.
Different things work for different people, so I can’t guarantee the app will work for you. I am not recommending it for someone in real crisis — that requires immediate medical attention.
But if you struggle with depression, or would just like to elevate your already-okay mood and learn a little more about yourself, you might want to give the app a try.
Have you ever done mood tracking, or are there other apps that have helped you feel better? I’d love to hear! Thanks for reading!