“Um, I don’t know.” You’re walking to your car and you could kick yourself for saying that. But it was true. You sigh and think, “I waited two months for that appointment, and I blew it.”
Whether it’s an initial or follow-up appointment with a therapist or psychiatrist, you have to be prepared.
Psychotherapy and meds can do great things. But they’re worthless if you’re blind to your symptoms, their influences, and their patterns.
The Power of Symptoms
Symptoms are hell…
If you’re depressed, it’s rock-bottom motivation, fatigue, feeling worthless, and suicidal thoughts.
Bipolar? In addition to depressive symptoms, it’s racing thoughts, no need for sleep, rapid speech, and behavior that flirts with disaster.
Anxiety? Let’s go with panic attacks, obsessions, hyperventilation, and agoraphobia.
Who would want to experience any of them? But if you’re the lucky one, at least make them work for you! Believe it or not, each and every symptom you experience opens the door to relief and healing.
How? By being observable and chartable. It’s a charted course that leads to freedom from symptom-hell. And you can’t chart your way to your home-port if you don’t know the character of the seas.
You may say, “Don’t know the seas? I sail them every day!” Of course you do; however, it’s so easy to become overwhelmed and lost. And when that happens, need-to-know information sinks to the bottom.
If you’re a regular chipur reader, or have read my newsletters, you know how strongly I feel about self-observation and making notes. Of course, follow-up and practice are huge, as well.
Charting symptoms is a great way to do this. But it’s a mindset, not just a matter of going through the motions.
So many factors influence symptoms – meds, diet, exercise, meditation, stress, substance use, sleep, medical issues, and more. They all need to be accounted for, along with the symptoms that coincide. That’s how you connect the dots.
I want to make charting as easy as possible for you to implement. So I’ve provided some charting resources. Interestingly, the fee resources, along with Dr. Jim Phelps’ psycheducation.org, bring you electronic charting. Just click on the links…
The Bipolar Clinic and Research Center at The Massachusetts General Hospital Links to instructions for mood charting, an example of a completed mood chart, and a blank mood chart.
National Institute of Mental Health Mood Chart
Dr. Jim Phelps’ psycheducation.org Mood Charts
The Anxiety Zone: Anxiety Diary v1.0 free software download (scroll to bottom on their site to read the details)
Well, this time around you’re driving home with a smile on your face. “That was one productive appointment,” you say to yourself. And it was. You can thank yourself because it was you that made it happen.
You used the power of symptoms, observation, and charting. You came prepared.