This blog and bullet journal was specially created to help me with my tendency to have suicidal ideation, depressive, and manic episodes related to my bipolar. If you are currently in a crisis, please seek help from a mental health professional or find a hotline to call on this page to call and seek help immediately. Otherwise please continue reading so you can read why I find this bullet journal beneficial in helping with this. Additional mental health resources can be found at the link here.
I’ve written a few posts over time about my struggles with mental health and have a presentation about mental health. I’ve talked on a couple of podcasts about it. This year for suicide prevention week I decide I wrote a blog post about the newest tool I just developed to help me prevent from getting to point of having suicidal ideas or at least I hope to be able to go back and figure out what pattern may have caused them. Now Jen McCown (t | b) loves bullet journals (love may be an understatement) and is a bullet journal wizard. Jen has helped me a lot with perfecting the science of creating a bullet journal for my volunteer work. And by attending a bullet journal hour each week with her and a few other folks I accumulated some ideas and of course using Google for this mental health journal. But if you want to create a bullet journal for anything else I’m sure Jen (t | b) would love to talk to you. If you would like help with customizing a mental health bullet journal for yourself, feel free to reach out to me via Twitter or email.
If you are not familiar with bullet journals, they are a way to make your planner or journal track anything you want. The great part about them is you can tweak them to exactly what you need, if you don’t like something, scratch it to recreate it the way you want, and you aren’t hardcoded (yes, a computer nerdy term) into someone’s way of thinking. A great resource for getting started in understanding is the free video at BulletJournal.com. So, take a look use what you like, ditch what you don’t like, and change it to what fits what you need.
Now, I’m using this journal because I like having a pen holder and like grid paper. But you can use any journal. I do recommend gird paper for this because a lot of pages utilize checkboxes. I have these markers that someone sent me. But again, you can use any markers just look for some that are made with a fine tip or made for bullet journaling.
This is my weapon to prevent me from getting suicidal or at least try to keep from being in a hospital from having bad suicidal ideation.
Now for my purposes, I’ve got some of the basic pages the first page in a bullet journal is always the Index Page. On this page, you write the different types of other pages or other things you may want to find easily and put the page number to go find it.
Next, I got a page to set some goals related to maintaining or helping my mental help. These can be simple things like making time to put together the puzzles that my friends got for my birthday to hard ones like things you are working on in therapy. This is just a bullet list. I can write a due on the end and a date I completed it and put a checkmark at the beginning when I complete it.
Common Setup on the Monthly Pages
On monthly pages, you will set this up each month, and down the left-hand side are the numbers for the days of the month and the columns are the different things I’m tracking. You would create a monthly page at the beginning of each month because after all, you might tweak it more.
Habit Tracker – Monthly
Next, I’m trying to instill certain habits like eating meals, exercising, and making sure I take a shower every day (depression sucks). So those are my columns on here. Due to some high blood pressure issues, I need to diet and exercise and lose weight, so I draw green squares around all my healthy meals and snacks (snacks are not habits but it was the best place to put them).
Mood/Energy Levels – Monthly
For this page, I’m doing a very basic chart of my mood and energy levels. Since I have bipolar, I need to measure highs and lows. But since sometimes I can’t tell the difference between I high mood and just having a tad bit of big of an energy boost I decided to map those separately. So, I’m just tracking down, neutral, and up. Then I’ve added columns for me that indicate things I might do that are related to moods or could cause moods/energy levels or could be symptoms of those moods or energy levels.
Time Tracker – Monthly
Now, this has turned out to be my prized page. It started as just a sleep tracker but proved to be not as useful that way. So, I slowly tweaked it to be what I needed. Something to tell me if I am taking on too many activities. I can use different colors for all my volunteer and overtime work to determine what would be draining my energy and compare it to sleep to see if maybe it is causing me too much stress to where I’m not sleeping well. I also added self-care since after doing all that it looked like skewed data. So, each column is an hour of the day that I start at 5 AM (my start of the day with my alarm clock) and go to 4 AM and I color in half it for a half hour. I don’t track anything that doesn’t fall in my categories define. Then I also drew a black box around working hours since I can’t control that time. And if I take lunch away from my desk it counts as self-care.
Sleep Chart – Monthly
With bipolar sleep sometimes ends up all over the place. So, I’ve got a chart-to-chart difference between sleeping more normal sleeping hours 9 PM to 5 AM, and those hours + naps. It’s very revealing when I’m manic or depressed.
Medication Tracker – Monthly
So, this is a list of the meds I’m on I check each day which ones I took. Now, my anxiety meds and migraine meds are as needed so I have colored those columns yellow to indicate so it doesn’t look like I’m skipping meds. I also have two meds I only take a few times I month, so I have colored those boxes in blue when I’m not supposed to take them for the same reason. I also keep up with supplements I take so it looks like a long list.
Weight Tracker – Monthly
Given I needed to lose weight before I went to the doctor about my blood pressure, I had decided to weigh myself every day and record the data that synced to my Garmin watch. Then after seeing the doctor, I added taking my blood pressure every day.
Water Consumption – Monthly
As part of my losing weight campaign, I was going to reduce my soda intake and drink more water, so each square I color in is 8 oz of water and then I added a column to tell me how many sodas I drink since the doctor found out how many I drink. Now, I can show her the improvement next month.
Next, I have a group of pages where you write types of thoughts. I set aside 2 pages each for this. When they get full, I can grab another give at the end of what is being used in the journal. Each one of these looks like the Goals page and is just for you to write out notes. I date the doctor and therapy notes pages to the date I will be meeting the doctor or therapist next, so I know to cover those items then. I put a checkmark beside the items we discussed.
- Gratitude Log – Don’t just write random things. Write about something you are thankful for using feelings it makes you feel when you think about it. Like how much it makes you feel loved by your cat when she snuggles with you, so you are thankful for her.
- Rants – Something makes you made, don’t hold it got to write it all down and get it out of your system.
- Brain Dump – Free for all, write anything at all that is just clogging up the gears in your head.
- Doctor Notes – Now if you see a doctor for medication, it’s a good idea since you see them less frequently to develop a separate list of things that would be important to tell them in between visits and accumulate your questions. You will have to decide what the criteria are for things that go on this page. My doctor likes to get a snapshot of my life since the last time she has seen me. So, to me this means I add a summary each week, then I can sum that up by when I’m trying to relay the info if it gets long. And track the side effects of meds.
- Therapy Notes – Probably the most important. Take daily notes of things that are important to tell your therapist that happening in your life. I tend to talk to my support system about things that bother me in life and then forget because we aren’t working on therapy to talk to my therapist about so he is missing info about why my state of mind is not where it should be sometimes because I forget all the details. You may not have something daily but it’s worth looking at this page every day and reflecting to see if you do. I put these last because well if you are in therapy, you will be writing on these the most.
- Tools Page – Newest edition, I was having a bit of a freak-out yesterday. One of my friends ask me what my tools were to use, and my brain was blank. So, I need to have a list of those things. This is at the very end of the journal.
- Selfcare Plan – The newest, newest, edition, I recently renew my certification as Mental Health First Aider and it occurred to me during this training the were encouraging the first aide people that might help people with mental health issues have a self care plan, that I should have one as part of my journal. The eight domains they suggest having a plan for things you can do things in are: intellectual, emotional, occupational, environment, community, physical, financial, and spiritual. I’ll post more details on mine once I complete it.
- Safety Plan – Then it occurred to me I didn’t have my own crisis plan written out anywhere anymore so that’s my newest, newest, newest, edition. You can find a template for a crisis plan here. This link here will walk you through filling it out and you can then just staple to the back of your planner or tuck into the pocket or rewrite the contents into the planner.
Bullet journals are cool, and you can use them for just about anything in life. This is going to help me maintain my mental health at some point it will find out what causes my tip in one direction or the other by spotting something in the data. Mark your bullet journal. Google and see if there are something I’m not using that might be useful for you.
The post Mental Health Bullet Journal – Collect Data to Help Your Mental Health first appeared on Tracy Boggiano's Blog.