The Portal

My daughter, who is a sophomore in high school, introduced me to this great app for my iPhone. It’s called the “Infinite Campus Portal” and it’s basically a tool for parents to use to spy on their kids at school.

The app is awesome. It allows me to see if she gets to school on time or skips out early. I can use it to check attendance or to see what her homework assignments are going to be. Additionally, it sends me these text notifications telling me her scores on tests or recent homework assignments. She’s been back in school for less than a week, and already this app is my new best friend. It allows me to monitor her activities and comings and goings at high school, and provides me with a way to keep tabs on her without nagging.

It also got me thinking: what if my family had a nifty little “portal” into my mentally ill world?  Wouldn’t it be great if my family members could download an app onto their smart phones or tablets that allowed them to see how I’m doing during the day?  For example, if I forget to take my meds, a little text message would come across the screen informing the viewer so he or she could call and remind me.  Or if I skipped an appointment with my psychiatrist or counselor, the app would rat me out.  And if I was feeling particularly depressed or manic?  The portal app would send a quick notification to all interested parties so they knew to steer clear or intervene.  “Big Brother” for the mentally ill?  Maybe.

I wondered why my daughter would share her campus portal app with me.  What teenager wants her parents to know everything she does?  Doesn’t it seem like too much information?   Isn’t she afraid that if she skips a class and I get a message, she’ll get in trouble?  Or if she receives a bad grade or misses an assignment, will I be upset?  She doesn’t have a chance to make amends before the notifications come flashing across my screen – she doesn’t get the chance to make up the assingment before I’m alerted that she did poorly the first time around.  Why would a 15-year old girl ask me to put this app on my phone?  Why would she want me to know everything she’s doing during her school day?

Because she wants accountability.  She wants to feel secure.  She wants me to know that she’s doing OK or not.  She wants me to see what she’s up to during the day when she’s not home with me.  She wants to know that I care, and she wants me to be involved.  And I love that.

Maybe that’s all I want, as well.  Accountability.  Maybe I want my family to have an app, a portal, that allows them to see into my world.  Something that lets them know when I’m down, even when the mask I wear pretends otherwise.  Perhaps I just want to know that someone cares enough to check in on me, to spy on my emotions, without nagging me.  I think I simply want my family to have a head’s up so they know what they can expect from my moods on a daily basis.  I want them to know that I’ve not taken my meds or cancelled a therapy appointment, because those things don’t happen accidentally.  It’s a cry for help without having to reach out to someone.  They would just look at the portal and they would know without asking.  Because I hate communicating with my family about my illness.  I despise discussing my bipolar disorder because it makes me feel weak and unstable.  It makes me feel needy.  And I hate asking for help.

With my daughter, I also know that because she’s an excellent student and a responsible young woman, I will only receive positive messages through the portal.  And she knows that, too.  She realizes that I will be proud when I receive those messages, and that I can then tell her “great job” or “nice work” without her having to feel like she’s soliciting compliments.  She wants to know that I care enough to look for those notifications every day, to verify that she’s doing well and that she’s where she’s supposed to be.

And that’s all I really need, as well.  To know that someone cares enough to check in once in a while to make sure I’m still here and still moving forward, even if I’m moving forward slowly.

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3 thoughts on “The Portal

  1. Wow, an app that allows my family to track my bipolar. If only it had a way for them to experience my mania and depression. I would love to have that kind of accountability to hopefully motivate me not to make the bad choices I make when manic. I would love for them to experience the depths of my depression that scream for me to kill myself. I would just love for them to understand.

    • I have a great way for your family to track your bipolar: invite them to read your blog. You can use the blog as a way to release yourself of your feelings, and it gives you a way to communicate “silently” with your family. They can see into your “portal” and reach out to you without feeling like they’re nagging at you. And you can tell them of your troubles without feeling like you are complaining. A blog is a great outlet. I find myself being much more honest online that I ever would to my friends and family in person. Maybe “honest” isn’t the right word; rather, I find myself not withholding info in my writing like I might do if I was having a face-to-face conversation with them. Maybe this would be helpful?

      Another suggestion? I wrote a post earlier this summer about “Moodscope”, which is a tool I use to track my moods online. There are a series of 20 cards that have different emotions on them. Each emotion rates 0-3, with “0” meaning you don’t feel it at all, and “3” meaning it is a very strong emotion for you. For example, one of the cards is “anxiety” and another is “motivated” and another is “scared”. Your results, whether you take the test daily or weekly, are posted on a personal graph that allows you to look at where you’re at, emotionally, and where you’ve been. And the portal part? You can “invite” friends and family to view your results. I have listed one family member as my “Moodscope Buddy” and he receives email updates every time I track my moods. It allows him to see if I’m having a bad day, or a great day. He’s used it in the past to track my slow progression up to a manic episode, or a week of deep depression. And he then confronts me about what he sees, or congratulates me on a week of stability. Maybe you would be willing to try it? You can invite as many “buddies” as you want to follow you on “Moodscope”. It gives me great accountability, and it’s kind of nice to know that my family member is keeping tabs on me.

      Good luck, and thanks for your reply. Please be strong.

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