Yesterday I gave a brief, if somewhat slapdash, introduction into bullet journalling. That was really just groundwork for this post, because I really believe that bullet journalling can be incredibly useful to people with endometriosis. It can perform the function of a normal journal in helping us keep on top of all our various appointments. However, thanks to the fact that a bullet journal is totally customisable and the addition of the ever popular tracking spreads, you can also keep on top of every other aspect for it.
I’ve considered starting a totally separate journal for endo. This would include a brief chronology of important dates, such as surgeries, when I started on new medications, appointments with different specialists etc. Then I’d have pages with information about the meds I’m on, the side effects etc, and dates relevant to that med (such as dates I noted particular side effects and their severity). After that I’d have trackers dedicated to different symptoms; gastric pain, uterine pain, backache, gastritis, misc., and line them up with particular triggers, if any. I’d also keep a mood/mental health page. Finally I think I’d have a journal section where I could write anything I wanted – reviews of doctors, rants about pain, a diary of my hopes and fears, and little pictures and quotes that feel relevant.
Damn, now I really want to do that. I’m going to need another Leuchtturm.
Right now, however, I just have two trackers. Trackers are super useful because not only do they record information your treating team may need later, they also help you identify patterns. I started with one but kind of abandoned that partway through February because it turns out I am not very good at checking in with things at the beginning of my diary, only in the section I’m actually in.
As you can see, this tracker covered the whole year (optimistic) and relies on colour codes. Each day has a rectangle made of two squares On one half I record my symptoms (if any), and on the other my triggers (if any). It was a good idea but I’ve found it has some draw backs. It doesn’t record the severity of the pain, it’s a little smaller than I’d like, and I didn’t choose my colours particularly well, so it can be hard to tell what’s what.
This month I’ve been using a pain level tracker each week instead.
The red line is the maximum pain I experience that day, and the black line is how I felt the pain was in general (not including the moments of extreme pain unless that is a significant portion of the day). Whilst this does a great job of recording my pain levels, of course, it lacks what my other tracker had in terms of symptoms, triggers etc. This one can’t specify between the different types of pain, either, so I need to note that down in my daily log.
This month I’ve also started keeping two separate habit trackers. One is for habits that are just good personal development, such as practising my German and wearing perfume so my massive collection doesn’t just moulder ignored in a drawer somewhere. It also tracks which days I’m too sick to go to work.
The other is for habits that are vital to my self care – brushing my teeth twice a day, washing my face, brushing my hair, getting sunshine – all the little things that shouldn’t present a challenge but are usually the first things to go when I start to struggle. This has definitely been super useful and I’m going to keep it up for the rest of the year.
I don’t currently have a period tracker, but I don’t have periods, so there isn’t much point. However, many people do, and you can get really fun with them
So far this tracker only tracks flow rate, but you could also mark pill usage, ovulation, the beginning of pain etc by using other symbols or colours.
Other people like to track their moods in detail. That can be important as it shows whether a pattern of negative moods is developing in your life, which may suggest that it is time to seek professional assistance with it. However, I know that some people say they don’t find mood trackers helpful as it leads them to obsess over their state of mind and make it worse.
I’ve never tried a mood tracker, but I like the idea of something like this:
In this spread Sheylara takes the space and time to chronicle her negative thoughts and her struggle, but also her wins for the day. I think this a great holistic way of approaching it.
Do you use your journal to track your endometriosis or other chronic health conditions? How about mental heath? Or do you prefer simply to journal about it? Whatever you do, please drop a picture or instagram link in the comments!