So... now that we've gotten that big fat scary first blog post out of the way, I think I can do this. So let me jump right on out and say this. I have Bipolar Disorder. That's right. I said it. I have Bipolar Disorder and I'm not ashamed of it.
Actually, getting the correct diagnosis and treatment was the biggest breath of fresh air. Knowing the "problem" meant that I could solve it. It meant that it could be treated with medication, and managed.
One day, I'll write about how I was diagnosed, symptoms, and all that. But for now I want to talk about planners because.... well, because planners make me happy and they keep me in check with this Bipolar stuff.
I know you're probably wondering how I use planners to manage my mental health. Well, let me tell you a few ways that I do.
Mood Tracking - Tracking my moods is extremely helpful because I can see if I'm moving towards episodes of depression or mania before they happen. I'm able to use coping skills to prevent those episodes before they happen. When I use mood trackers, I'm also able to recognize specific triggers. For example, I've learned that large social events trigger a lot of anxiety and self-doubt, which can easily take an ugly turn. I've had to learn ways to mentally prepare myself for those events, find ways to cope during them, and ways to de-stress and re-center myself afterwards. If it weren't for mood trackers, I might not have recognized that I generally only have those specific feelings when I have to be a social butterfly at an event.
Journaling - I also love to use my planners to journal. I use one horizontal planner specifically as a Gratitude Journal. Every morning, I write something that I'm grateful for. Starting my day focusing on how blessed I am helps me to have much better days. I also use journaling cards in my planner to write down quick encouraging thoughts. Then there's my overall randomness that I just need to get out of my head. I like to "brain dump" right into my planner. Whether it's good or bad, I love to write it out.
Creative Outlet - Most people probably don't realize it, but decorative planning is art. It flexes the creative muscle in my brain and gives me something to occupy my mind (as my mom would say). Planning for me is what music, painting, or any other hobby may be for someone else. It's very soothing and therapeutic for me.
Keeping My Life In Order - Living with mental illness, or even simply stress, can cause you to have brain fog and forget things. I use my planner to keep track of everything.... what my family and I are doing, places we need to be and when we need to be there, what we're going to eat, chores that need to be done, when bills are due, self-care, and so much more. This way, I have everything I need in one place, which helps me maintain a sense of control. It lets me know that I have a reason to get out of bed, something to look forward to, and it's not that overwhelming.
Keeping Up With My Physical Health - But.... I thought we were talking about mental health?? We are. But physical health is vital to mental health. The brain is a physical body part. It needs the nutrients provided by a good diet. It needs to stay hydrated. It also needs good blood flow, which is provided by exercise. And yes, I use my planners to track all of these things. Okay, well not all the time, but I do try and I'm being more intentional about it now than I've ever been before.
These are only a few of the ways I use my planner to track my mental health. Stay tuned because I'll be sharing a lot more on each of these and more.
I've also done a video on this which you can check out on my YouTube channel. By the way, if you haven't visited my channel and subscribed, please do that now.