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Early warning signs from Finding Optimism mood tracker

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This is a really useful extract from the FindingOptimism mood tracker (https://www.optimismonline.com) to help plan your early warning signs and prevent an episode. I just hoped it might be useful for someone. I have provided a worked example.




There are two approaches and both are worth pursuing.


1.  List strategies that will help lessen each of your triggers and symptoms.


2.  Describe an overall lifestyle that you will follow to remain healthy

e.g. weight, diet.



Maintaining some regular exercise: Either swimming, walking, yoga or whatever is enjoyable. Healthy eating: fruit, vegetable soup, junk food in moderation. Relaxation: yoga nidra & guided relaxation tracks for sleep, herbal teas to de-stress, bath with arnica salts to relax muscles. Education: finish reading Bipolar Survival Guide. Personal growth: maintain a gratitude diary where I note small victories. Socialise: see friends regularly. Work: have work goals in place. Study goals: have study goals in place. Chores: help with shopping and chores.




Triggers are the things that can spark a new episode of illness.


Your most common triggers should be included below. They might include conflict with people, stress, lack of sleep or not taking medication.



Not having enough me time, having too busy a schedule. Not having a routine, having too little to do. Sleeping too little. Sleeping too long. Work-related stressors. Home-related stressors. Study-related stressors. Accidentally skipped doses of meds.



Symptoms are simply the signs that something is wrong. They are the mental and physical reactions in you to the triggers that you've experienced. By recording your symptoms here, and remaining alert to them, you are more likely to recognize them at an early stage of a new episode.


Hypomanic or mixed state activity. Energy levels not stable, too high or low or bouts of energy. Unfounded feelings of euphoria, exhuberance & enthusiasm. Anxiety becoming unchecked to the point that daily functioning is impaired. Labile and/or dysphoric mood to the point that daily functioning is impaired. Having intrusive thoughts. Allowing self-care to slip. Not prioritising self-care.




It is important to make a line in the sand, indicating the point at which your mental health is out of hand and you need external, professional help.


Examples could include extreme sadness, an inability to get out of bed, or irrational arguments with a family member or partner.



Impaired functioning because of mood symptoms:. Not able to maintain a sufficient self-care (brush teeth/hair, showering). Lack or loss of routine, unable to maintain regular sleeping patterns. Isolating myself & not wanting to keep company with friends or others. Stuggling to maintain routine in my day and cope with work/home responsibilities. Irritability towards parents and/or health care professionals.



You are unlikely to be well enough to seek help just at the time that you need it most. Consider giving a friend, partner or family member permission to get the ball rolling for you.


Write clear steps in the box below that should be taken in the event that you fall very ill (include names of people you should contact).



1. Talk to mum and dad. 2. Talk to nurse/counsellor/key worker or other support worker. 3. Talk to crisis team. Pack hospital clothes, toiletries and other personal items if hospitalisation is required. Ask for help to take these steps if you are too unwell to face making these decisions yourself.



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