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3 Reasons Tracking My Moods Doesn't Help Me as Someone With OCD

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I am going through a phase of a bit of depression, along with anxiety. This is all part of the roller coaster of a sensitive and deeply affected mind. At this point in my life, I am just used to these emotions taking over my being, and quite frankly, I just live with them. With the help of medication and a lot of brain tricks (things I won’t get into fully here), it’s all manageable. Or, better put, something I can weather through and let be.

Ever since I was a young person with mental health issues, I’ve been told in a variety of forms to write down my moods. To log my moods. To place my moods on a calendar. To somehow put down a record of where my brain is at in the past.

As someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), you would think this would be completely natural to me. This would be a default action I’d take as moods inside my brain change. I’m constantly putting things in spreadsheets, this is true. However, tracking my moods has never been something I’ve found useful. I’ve tried for maybe a few days at most. These are the reasons this exercise doesn’t work for me.

1. I don’t trust the past to help me with the future.

I already have major issues with trust that extend beyond the people around me. I don’t trust data to be solid and then able to be applied to something else. I feel there is far too much randomness with mental issues. Being in a seven-out-of-10 mood on some scale would take removing a ton of noise occurring around this mood to find some way of replicating the score of seven when I am down near a two-out-of-10 mood. Because that would be the endgame of the exercise — to change my future mood through ways I’ve come into better moods before. I don’t see it. I just see my past moods as complex structures that are now meaningless.

2. I don’t know how to extrapolate anything useful with past mental data.

Beyond just applying past mood data to the future, just reading past moods and extrapolating something useful from them seems impossible. What am I to take out of being 80% obsessive with something part of my brain thinks is irrational? I feel this way at this time. I can’t change it, I can only let it pass. If I just let it pass, what use is taking down the data?

3. I can’t summarize my mood into something simple that would track relevantly.

I do not view my moods on a scale of one to 10. Or one to 100. Rather, the more I think about my moods, the more dimensions I observe. And each of these dimensions would need to be rated from one-to-something. This added work doesn’t seem too difficult, other than the actual labels of the dimensions changing depending on how I observe them. For example, I could start with “happiness.” But from that, I may add a dimension of “strength.” This is separate because I could be 90% happy, but only be feeling “happiness or not” at low strength. As in, my happiness matters more at different times. Another dimension may be — at times, but not relevant all the time — my social awkwardness. This is an ingredient into something like “happiness” that would act on said “happiness” on its scale of one-to-something.

So, those are the three reasons I don’t write down my past moods. I have so much information that I naturally write down about how I feel so I can eventually communicate it to people around me. But other than to get the words right (an obsession I do have), the data are not relevant or able to be used for the future.

How I feel right now is extremely complex and in two days will be mostly useless data as my feelings and mood will be a completely different structure.

So, I just keep going, letting things pass, hopefully knowing good and bad will go in waves, regardless of my documentation of such.

Unsplash image by Marco Lastella

Originally published: March 9, 2020
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