I wake up every morning mentally dreading the dozen or so mood swings that will inevitably turn my day into a tornado. Unlike our fellow friend, bipolar disorder, our BPD mood swings cycle through within hours. We feel the ecstasy of no-drugs-needed highs and from the flick of a switch, drown ourselves in the depths of depression. Unpredictable and exhausting, these mood swings make borderlines seem unreliable and inconsistent. Is it any wonder that most of us suck at keeping friends, jobs, and relationships?
These mood swings often feel like being sentenced with terminal misery. Despite the emotional turmoil and constant weariness, there is a way that borderlines can reclaim control over BPD mood swings.
The technique below is something that my therapist suggested to me because it worked for her bipolar patients. I was skeptical.
Track your moods. Identify the pattern.
I was wholly convinced that borderline mood swings were unpredictable and moved to its own beat, with complete disregard for how my day was going. There was no such thing as a “good day,” when at any moment, my mood could switch on me. My therapist suggested that I download a mood tracker app.
To my surprise, I learned that there was indeed a pattern to my up and downs. My random spurts of anger or depression had similar triggers. My mood tracker was showing that I usually have 5 days of “up” followed by 2 days of passive suicidal ideation. There were also downward spirals on days where I was fighting with my significant other, leading to explosive anger.
I took this a step further and tracked my moods three times a day. After a few months, I learned that going to bed late or poor sleep contributed to intense mood swings and fights throughout the next day, whereas going to bed around 10pm led to me waking up to a forgiving and productive mood.
While the bigger picture feels like, “Wow, my life is shit,” there are little aspects that can be tracked and analyzed so we can relieve ourselves of unnecessary pain. Mood tracking is one of the first ways that genuinely helped me finally understand the patterns of my instability and emotional outbursts.
Take advantage of the good days.
After learning about how your emotions work, you can use that knowledge as power. This can help you establish control over the events that happen in your life. For example, I know that after 5 days, I am due for a massive downward mood swing where I want to do nothing but sulk and eat carbs.
So on the days where I experience my “ups,” I work. I research and create blog posts for The Fractured Light. When my friends want to hang out, I take advantage of the good days and commit.
And when I know the bad days are coming, I let myself slack off. I binge watch my favorite tv shows (I save my shows for sick days) and stock my fridge with healthier foods to binge on (like a good ol’ Caesar salad kit from Walmart). Knowing that bad days make me confrontational and angry, I stay away from social media or anywhere that could spark controversial thoughts in me, but I hang out in my support groups.
Tracking and scheduling around your moods sound like a lot of work, but it pays off. Building a new habit is going to be a struggle at first, but once it becomes part of your daily routine, it becomes second nature. It does get easier. For me, I no longer need to track my moods because I’ve grown accustomed to when my body is going to go up or down. I’ve also learned my anger triggers and do my best to avoid them, so it can’t destroy the rest of my day (or week… if you’re like me and like to hold grudges.)
Give mood tracking a try. You might be pleasantly surprised that there’s a system or routine to how your moods behave.