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I tracked a breakup in a database

hiway profile image Harshad Sharma ・2 min read

This πŸ‘†πŸ‘† post reminded me of one particular breakup years ago that took a long while to come to its conclusion and in the meantime had me convinced that I would soon need help. I observed myself being very hopeful one moment and seemingly devastated the other with sometimes just an unanswered phone call as the transition point. It was stupid and silly, but it was also painful and I didn't know what was going on in my head and how to stop it.

As the clichΓ© with geeks goes, in the hour of desperation I turned to code. Over a weekend, I decided to get some metrics on my issue, because y'know… you can't fix what you don't measure. I was working with Django, so I used it to serve a form that let me store a questionnaire to database.

MoodLog:

  • Timestamp
  • Mood (-9 to +9) [devastated, shaken, …, blah, okay, …, happy, excited]
  • Trigger [thought, event, person]
  • Describe what caused/ triggered the good or bad mood?
  • Why is this significant? implications?

Now just the MoodLog would have sufficed to produce and look at a graph that goes up in steps to a good mood and crashes all the way down with little reason. Enough to satisfy a curiosity, but not enough to fix my emotional upheaval.

There's no fixing a problem until the facing-the-problem part is sorted out first. I made another table that would add follow-ups to my data-points. I kept going back to every data-point to update it if new information was available about it.

FollowUp:

  • MoodLog.id
  • Was this reaction valid/ warranted?
  • What did I get right?
  • What did I get wrong? By what margin?

I needed to show to myself that my fears and reactions were either valid - in which case I had bigger problems, or that they were another fantastic creation of my own mind - something I could possibly tackle myself.

It took me two weeks of meticulous logging before the patterns were undeniable as I stared at the graph page that I had added in the weekend in between. Crazy ups and downs in a single day! More interesting were my follow-up logs, I had to eat my words (the implications I expected) so many times… it was humbling. Then something funny happened. As I kept going back and writing the follow-ups regularly, the graph began to smooth out slowly. The deviations from current mood became less volatile, almost bounded to three-four point drop, not more.

As I went from being utterly confused about my own emotional state to having metrics, my mind knew what to expect better than panicking with new imagination every time. The relation soon ended, it had run its course and we both moved on well. For sake of privacy, I destroyed that code and database hence no screenshots, sorry! But I'm glad to this day that the hack worked!

Have a story like this of your own? Share? :D

P.S. Lurker for a while but first time posting… am I doing this right?

Discussion

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Thanks for the shout out! This is such a fantastic post and I wish I could see the graphs of your results! So question: do you think the stabilization of your mood happened as a consequence of actively tracking your mood and following up on daily events? Looking forward to seeing more from you!

 

Thank you for your inspiring post!

To answer your question in short, yes. It seems like a necessary but not sufficient cause, at least in my experience. Long answer continues...

I desperately wanted stability and was willing to go to great lengths for it, this I believe helped me to log mood changes especially when I felt defeated or low.

The change came by in bursts of often humbling realizations of how I reacted instead of taking my time to respond, the logs showed my fears were consistently inflated. I learned to jokingly appreciate my strong imagination instead of giving it the entire stage and fearing it as a result.

I remember pausing before typing into the 'implications' after a few days of follow-ups. I had seen how my fears had played out in the past days (nothing came of them) and I made it a point to go back and read the notes again and again. As the evidence against my fears and reactions mounted, and since I was the one collecting it - I did not become defensive when accepting my mistakes and required changes. I suppose that's an important part as well.

I ran the experiment for several weeks, even after the breakup until my mood sort-of stabilized in the positive range. Watching the graph stabilize in itself was another boost, a clear feedback that I was on the correct path.

Hope this response helps!

 

Wow, that's awesome! Learning how to re-frame your perspective can be such a valuable tool. I'm gonna keep this bookmarked and come back to it

 

P.S. Lurker for a while but first time posting… am I doing this right?

You're doing this awesome. I think this is a great use pattern for the site. This could have just been a comment, but it stands out wonderfully as it's own post and we definitely encourage this sort of thing. I made a couple small mod edits, you'll see the way to share a rich link if you check the source. Hope you don't mind.

 

Thank you! I started writing a comment but it grew too large so moved to a post, have previously shied away because a comment would be too long.

Also, thank you for your work :D

 

It's the perfect use case. Great post.