As someone who places a lot of importance on spirituality in the healing process, I was reluctant to utilise the support of technology in my own recovery. However, after discovering an incredibly refreshing app, I was enlightened in understanding how technological thinking doesn’t always have to have an ulterior motive.
I first began to sense that things were not going so well for me, when I became familiar with the dooming sensation associated with anxiety attacks. The crushing feeling progressively surfaced during work meetings, when I was commuting, whilst in places I couldn’t leave without other people noticing, social situations or simply before I fell asleep at night. The drive for my job promptly depleted and I couldn’t seem to see through the vague cloud of fog encompassing my thoughts and whole existence. Everything that made up my judgements, appeared to be empty, soulless and meaningless.
The utterance of burnout seemed ridiculous at first. From what I’d experienced around me, burnouts were serious and considerably more debilitating then what I was going through. However, when I made the decision to inform my employer that I wasn’t doing too well and I was going to take some time off as a result, it solidified the fact that I needed proper support. What surprised me, was the fact that I wasn’t even able to worry about the shame that I had preempted myself to feel, when asking for this help – frankly put: I could not feel. One thing that was clear: my brain begged for a mental check out. My own capability of understanding mental illness was frozen and I needed help.
During this time, I came across an article that shared ‘the best apps to aid mental illness’. The article suggested an app known as Stigma, to gently aid users throughout their mental health struggles.
Stigma, allows you to record your mood every day via a simple, clean cut app. The user-friendly, basic interface allows you to rate your feelings using a list of descriptive words i.e. anxious, sad, ok, calm, happy (which is then colour coded in your monthly overview). If the ratings are too simplistic, you can add your diary entry below. Stigma, also offers a community of peers who may be suffering from mental illness and silently searching for someone to share with. This peer group helps to empahsise that you are never alone in the struggle. As mental health sufferers will know, at times, encouragement and discussion from others who have suffered or are suffering, can be significantly more relatable then talking to friends or family.
The wonderful thing about stigma is the fact that it essentially provides you with an illuminating overview of your moods from the previous days, weeks and months. The app encouraged me to take a step back from my naturally negative or destructive thinking patterns. I became motivated when I saw the green boxes increasing (signifying ‘good mood’ days) and when I noticed the red boxes returning (‘bad mood’ days), I would rationally asses that day at another date, trying to avoid disappointment or placing judgment on myself.
Often, when you are having a dip and your mood only allows for heaviness and darkness, it becomes increasingly more challenging to remember the enjoyable times – and if you are succeptible, this can effect your entire outlook on life. It becomes almost impossible to remind yourself of the great Friday night you had with your friends where you laughed once – making you feel alive, or the Sunday morning when you awoke feeling less heavy – giving you a moment to catch your breath or the lovely book which took you out of this world for a short while. It is important to remind yourself of the little accomplishments, especially when you are going through something testing and unknown. Stigma enables you to do that – it brings you back to the present and this feels incredibly rewarding.
Tracking and reflecting on your moods and behaviors can be highly productive on your own path towards mental healing. I highly encourage it if you desire a more present and meaningful life – especially one in which you wish to take charge of your own moods.
The greatest reward: seeing your first month filled with only green blocks and clicking through each day, gently reminding yourself of some mentally strong and fulfilling days that did occur – eventually, allowing you to gradually turn your back on the darkness, inviting the light into your life.