How I Use Facebook's 'On This Day' Feature to Track My Mental Health
I never planned it this way, but I’ve just realized I can track my moods (roughly) by looking back at my Facebook posts.
When I joined Facebook, I must have been in a hypomanic phase. Thanks to Facebook’s “On This Day” feature, I can see that I posted numerous things going on in my life and assorted weirdness I’d encountered, usually about language or science or feminism. Here are some select posts:
Plenty of food in the freezer. (Spare freezer outdoors.) Plenty of food in the fridge. (Spare fridge downstairs.) Plenty of seasoned firewood. Plenty of sweaters. Plenty of cat food. Plenty of cats. We’re ready.
Little to no snow here. But bring your brass monkeys inside tonight, folks! Weird Non-Word of the Day:bang (a fine word, except when it purportedly means the singular of bangs, the hairstyle)
I also posted an ongoing series of amusing or silly headlines I saw on the Internet:
“Oh, Who the Hell Cares?” Headline of the Day: “Is 2014 the year of the biscuit?” Unless you’re a dog. Dogs care deeply about this.
Those were all from January 2014. And from 2013:
Just so you know – do not put a whole summer squash in the microwave. It will explode. This tip courtesy of someone who prefers his name not be mentioned. Thank you. You may now go back to whatever you were doing.
I was engaged. I was communicative. I was — dare I say it? — buoyant.
I was hypomanic, or at least on a level playing field.
This year, I have taken two breaks from Facebook for my sanity’s sake, in reaction to all the negativity and bad news appearing there. When I do post, it’s always pass-along memes or cartoons. (I’m glad I can still find some things funny). Occasionally I make comments or ask questions about my friends’ posts — but not damn often. I instant message with one or two close friends, and that seems the most “productive” thing I do, some days. A series of days or months like that are a pretty clear indication that I’m on the downswing.
I understand that now Facebook’s memories feature will let you weed out bad memories, instead of reminding you of them and offering to repost them for all to see. (If only I could do the same for my brain!) The problem is, right now, you can only have them block references to certain people and certain dates. Birthdays and holidays are tough for me, as I know they are for many of you, but, anymore at least, they are not so traumatic that I have to expunge them from my life. I can always choose not to repost them. Just as I can choose not to repost things I said that were about depressing topics — not getting a job, being angry about political bullshit, the death of a pet. The people I would block are already on my blocked list, or are ones I never “friended” in the first place.
Facebook also reminds me what I posted on my blogs in various years, and that gives me some idea of what I was thinking or feeling at the same time in various years. If I wanted or needed to, I could look through my Facebook and plot a graph of how my moods fluctuated from month to month, year to year. Yes, I know that there are software apps that will do this for you and that I could keep a mood journal or even a paper-and-pencil graph.
Instead I check my Facebook memories and re-repost things I still think are funny.
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Getty Images photo via Blackzheep