Mood planning is an activity that is closely aligned with the goal of this website: helping people to live creatively with moods.
Having a plan in place ahead to time for when you notice warning signs or full symptoms of mania can minimize the negative impact a mood episode can have on your life. I often work with patients in my practice to help them identify their mood episode signs (e.g., early warning to higher risk signs) and come up with an intervention action plan, appropriate for whatever stage they are experiencing. We use a tool called the WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan), which is incredibly helpful in outlining the various signs, coping plans, and support contacts to help offer support and guidance when symptoms arise, to promote wellness and the prevention of episodes from occurring.
Having a WRAP in place ahead of time can be important for many reasons. Often times when someone starts to experience an elevation in mood, insight can decrease, impulsivity can increase, and a desire to want to reduce symptoms of hypomania can dissipate. By not taking action, your mood may continue to escalate and you may increase engagement in risky activities or behaviors that might result in negative consequences and for some, hospitalization.
Creating a plan ahead of time, allows me to assist patients to reflect in the moment on what they want to do if and when these warning signs were present, not leaving until the mood decides for them! Working according to their plan, can help promote agency and motivation, which are great feels for all of us!
Julie Fast, an author and blogger who writes regularly about her own experiences with bipolar disorder notes how she built motivation to act according to her plan:
“I had to teach myself that the incredible feeling of invincibility and sexiness—of the ability to do ANYTHING I wanted—and I do mean anything—was not a positive. I had to teach myself—train myself, to STOP behaviors that felt like a better high than any drug; a better feeling than being drunk; often a better feeling than actual sex. That is hard, but I did it and I got my life back. I am willing to say no to mania even when I’m feeling good.” (http://www.bphope.com/blog/how-do-i-get-a-grip-when-i-know-im-manic/)
As Julie described, having a plan in place ahead of time helps illuminate steps to take based on what someone is experiencing. For example, someone can ask themselves, based on my current symptoms, what is my most effective next step of my plan, to engage in calming activities, seek support from my family, or reach out to my psychiatrist? By acting in line with this plan, we increase the likelihood that we can stabilize a mood.
To learn more specifically about how Julie uses her own plan check out her book, “Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder”.
For more on creating a wellness plan, check out this link here: http://www.bipolar-lives.com/bipolar-wellness-plan.html
For More Information
The Wrap App Can Help You Get Started
Fast, J. (18 May 2017). “How to Get a Grip When You KNOW You’re Manic”. Retrieved from: http://www.bphope.com/blog/how-do-i-get-a-grip-when-i-know-im-manic/
Unknown Author (16 Jan 2016). Wellness Plan. Retrieved from: http://www.bipolar-lives.com/bipolar-wellness-plan.html