Posts Tagged ‘psychology’

I read about Moodscope in the most recent issue of Newsweek and loved the idea immediately. It’s an online service that asks you to rate your mood based on twenty feelings each day and issues a score to rate your overall happiness that day. It lets you chart your daily mood fluctuations and add notes on the scores to explain what happened in your life that could have caused your mood to increase or decrease that day. You’re supposed to take the test as a part of your morning routine, before your day really begins, so that you can see your mood baseline before your life alters it that day. It helps to weed out results caused by acute situational changes, making the data more useful for the user.

It also lets you choose a “buddy”, a trusted person in your life that gets an email each day of your scores. If your score drops your buddy can contact you to see what’s going on or offer to talk. The site founder discovered that the simple knowledge that someone was informed about your moods led to an increase in mood. The Hawthorne Effect, a phenomenon where people who know that they are being studied change their behavior or the outcome of an experiment, is actually encouraged on the Moodscope site. It also can save someone’s life. Everyone has heard the story of how a man planning to commit suicide one day changed his mind after a stranger showed an interest in his life; Moodscope can do the same thing. If you’re feeling really low and your daily score reflects that, a simple email from a friend can help pull you out of your funk because you know that someone cares about what happens to you.

I’ve been using Moodscope for less than a week, but I can already see a benefit for me. The numeric score takes my confusing feelings and lets me see them logically. It’s easier to think objectively about how I’m feeling when I have a number to focus on. It also makes me aware of where I’m at emotionally before my mood boils over into my life. This morning I received my lowest score yet, a 34% out of 100. Because I knew that my mood wasn’t very good, I did as many errands as I could on my way home from school rather than wait. If I do errands later in the day I become really irritable and grumpy, so I finished what I could early to make my life easier today.

Check it out if you think it could be useful for you! I’m really excited about the possibilities that Moodscope has and look forward to utilizing it to the fullest.



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I have never gone Christmas shopping in my life, unless you count middle school where my mom gave me $20 and I gave my friends notebooks and lipgloss. I’m sure that this year will be similar to those times as I’m pretty broke, but this will be the first time I’ve gotten gifts for my whole family.

I hate Christmas; I’ll get that out of the way right now. Part of it is because I’ve always felt that it was such a thinly-veiled excuse to get people to buy things as well as a chance for people to pretend that they care about homeless people and family members that they hate during the rest of the year. However, most of my disdain for Christmas comes from the fact that I feel guilty for receiving gifts.

One of the worst bipolar symptoms for me is the unrelenting guilt that plagues my every move. If I hurt someone or threw a tantrum as a child I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. My brain would run through the memory of what I did and I would feel so much guilt about acting that way, as well as shame and embarrassment. I still have attacks of guilt like that at 20 years old .

Even as a little kid I hated opening Christmas presents. I always wondered what I did to deserve them. Why should I get presents because someone was born a long time ago? What about the people in the streets who couldn’t even afford to eat while I opened my fourth Barbie doll? I didn’t understand why family members that I never saw for most of the year would shell out money to buy me something when I had no way of reciprocating. I always saw gifts as a burden of my debt to the person giving them to me. Why would they give me something unless they wanted something in return?

I’ve gotten a bit better at accepting gifts over the years, but I still feel the guilt on some level. I’m hoping that my shopping trip with my friend T will let me flip the tables. If I’m participating in the exchange of presents, will I still feel guilt? I love giving people gifts throughout the rest of the year; will I start to understand the joy of giving during this season after this Christmas?

I’m not certain. But I’m hoping that by taking on the role of giver that I will be able to enjoy more of this damnable season.


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When I look back at my life I see so many people that used to be important to me, but now have faded from my life. Almost all of these ex-friends were pushed away thanks to my bipolar disorder, but the loss that hurts the most was my first best friend. I knew her from elementary school, and even Em was a victim of my irrational reactions to intimacy and friendship even though we were only 11 when our friendship dissolved. Em was my best friend for years. I still cherish the memories that I have of being with her, playing “Blind Man’s Bluff” and making a fort in the forest behind her house, staying up late watching music videos and telling scary stories about a local woman who claimed to talk to ghosts.We would also do this thing where we tried to communicate telepathically with each other. For an entire summer one of us would pull out a random card from a full deck and “think” it to the other one at 7PM. Five minutes later we would call each other to see if the receiver of our “message” could guess which card the other had picked. I were weird kids, most definitely. But we were like sisters to each other.

I started a stupid argument with Em over something inconsequential and unfair for reasons that were deeper than I realized at the time. She had a hamster that was dying from a tumor on his neck. He kept getting more and more sluggish, stopped eating, and slowly went deaf. I couldn’t believe (thanks to some fucked up line of logic) that she wouldn’t mercy-kill her favorite pet to spare him the pain of dying slowly and miserably. Looking back on it now, I can’t believe that I had the balls to tell her how she should handle her dying pet. The last thing that she needed was my scorn while her first and favorite pet was sick and dying. Friends should be there for each other, not pull stupid shit like that. It’s hard not to beat myself up about it, even know. I was so out of line, but after a week or two we became friends again.

The death blow was when Em hadn’t called me for a few days and wouldn’t answer my calls a few weeks after our reconciliation. I still remember the feeling of clarity and numbness when I picked up the phone and called her to tell her that I never wanted to see her again. I told her that she was a horrible friend and that she shouldn’t call me anymore.

I didn’t know why I did it for years, until I started seeing the same pattern. I would try to push people away when they got too emotionally close to me or when I became too dependent on them. I was afraid that they would see my “craziness”, that they would know about my suicidal tendencies, or that they’d be repulsed by my mood swings and turn away from me. I didn’t know that I had bipolar at that time, but I knew that everyone else pretended to be really happy and that I couldn’t do that with someone who knew me so well. I didn’t want to need anyone in my life because I thought that they would eventually leave me once they saw what I was really like. So I cut them out of my life before they could do the same to me. Bipolar made me paranoid about being hurt and abandoned; every small rejection seemed like it would shatter me for some reason. I don’t know why I didn’t see what I was doing for too many years after it started. It was so obvious.

Almost every time I cut away a friendship, it was coupled with this weird moral-superiority argument or judgment on my part. It helped bury the real reason that I was doing these things and worked as a smoke screen to fill in the blanks of my baseless emotional reactions to these people. I just wished that I had worked my head around my actions before I was left with almost no one.

I still miss them. Except for a rare few, I honestly wish that they all were still in my life, but I understand that I made my choices. Most of my ex-friends were just caught up in my own mind games and the need to protect myself by shutting everyone out; they weren’t to blame. I’m now friends with Em on Facebook. I’m glad that she was able to forgive me, even though we have obviously drifted a lot in the last 9 years. I don’t have the courage to try to call up any of my other ex-friends to try to repair those bridges. Some things are meant to stay dead. The memories of them are very effective warnings against falling back into old patterns.


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