I do my daily Moodscope test on my phone. Turning the cards over and upside down is easier on the phone app but the annotations for the cards are missing. On the web version, the Proud card is defined as having “A sense of achievement.” The Nervous card is “Worried something unpleasant may happen.” Even though I know these cards intimately, when I’m using the phone app, I still miss the reassurance of those definitions.
I also find it difficult to distinguish between being Scared and being Afraid; between feeling Guilty and feeling Ashamed.
But perhaps that doesn’t matter. For each of us the daily card game is unique and we each have our own individual definitions and measures. What does matter is that we are consistent in the way that we score those cards.
I have a definite scale for my cards. The Active card, for instance, scores 1 if I have managed to get out of bed, shower and get dressed. It scores a 2 if I feel I can take a walk or go for a swim. If I have a ten-mile hike planned and I am raring to get at it, then I might – very occasionally – score a 3.
The Hostile card scores 0 when I am feeling peaceful and loving towards the world, 1 if I am feeling “itchy” but can control my tongue, 2 if I am feeling spiky and have snapped at my family. If ever it rates a 3, I think there may be blood on the floor!
Thanks to medication, much of the time I feel the same every day: calm, peaceful, with energy and stamina. I don’t really have to think about the cards; I know the red cards will score a 2 and the blue cards each get 0.
But no-one can feel the same every day. Even when the bipolar beast is lying quiescent in his cave inside my brain, things happen which affect my mood. Life happens – and it would be unnatural, whatever the stoics say, to react to all events with equal calm.
On challenging days, the test needs a little more thought; the cards need consideration. I need to go inside and ask, “Given my definition of the emotion named on this card, how strongly am I feeling it?”
The more accurately and consistently we can score these cards, the more reliable the data we can use when taking decisions and actions to manage our depression or bipolar disorder. This is why I encourage you to do the test every day – and why I am grateful to the Moodscope buddy who unfailingly reminds me if I have not done mine.
We make better decisions when we have complete and reliable data. I know I don’t like doing the test when I’m feeling bad, but I know it’s the best thing I can do. Looking back, I spot patterns and that helps me do better the next time.
Because there is always a next time.
A Moodscope member.