At every talk I do I am asked If I still play music? Do I still play in bands? I always respond with yes of course, But! I play for my self now. I have over 2 ½ hours of bass chord melodies that I have arranged and I love to play. Music is now a wonderful thing I love to do much like Yoga, meditation, writing, and running. I have learned over the last 5 years to do things I love with out guilt. I would like to share a missing puzzle piece that I did not share when I wrote “Why I Run” but I share openly when I do my talks.
This puzzle piece is a mood monitoring exercise I was given to do over a month’s time when I had started therapy. At the time I was given this exercise I was having long bouts of bad days.
This exercise was very simple I had to pick 3 colours, get some small que cards, colour on the back of each card everyday and write how I felt and why. The colours I chose were
Red- For a bad day
Blue- For an okay day
Yellow- for a good day
The purpose of this exercise was to physically show me where my bad days were happening and the patterns that occurred each week. So I coloured and wrote on each card for a month. Then I sat down with my therapist and laid the cards out on the table with the colours facing up. This gave a true map of what my life was like in living colour. Were my bad days always occurred and descriptions on the opposite side of each card stating my feelings and emotions.
I knew for a fact that Mastora (my therapist) knew all along what this exercise was going to tell me, but she also knew that I needed prof in order to see why my moods and how my depression was affecting me in the ways it was. Only then after I saw it with my own eyes I would be able to come up with a game plan to change what I needed to changed. Apply my tools and learn…
My weeks looked like this
In a nut shell I was having one good day a week before I started my cycle again. This cycle started with anxiety on Thursday because I was going to be drinking and gigging on the weekend or even worse gigging on a Thursday. Once Friday came there was no stopping what was going to happen next I was going to be in a bar and I was going to be playing music.. I was going to be pouring a depressant into my body. On most gigs it was 3 to 4 sometimes 5 pints of beer, as well as what ever shots were sent up to the band. I would happily drink with out a 2nd thought and soon I would be an emotional mess, thoughts racing and mind just going to dark places. Every Gig I did was a nightmare but on the outside it was a full out façade of smiling and acting.
Saturday would be a replay of Friday night. Sunday would be a write off for many reasons. Shame for drinking as much as I did. Guilt for physically being a total waste that day as my head pounded and my thoughts of the last 2 nights hunted me and still being a little drunk.
Monday I would still be feeling the effects from the stress, anxiety, and the amount of depressants I had so freely drank. Tuesday would be a day where I would think “hey the weekend wasn’t that bad” I would start to feel good. Wednesday I may or may not have come out of the haze I was in, then Thursday was right back in my face again.
After seeing these cards that were laid out in front of me I looked up at Mastora and said I have to stop playing music and stop drinking. It was terrifying to me to say that. But the prof was right there and the truth was that playing music in bands and in bars was one of the many factors that was stopping my recovery from depression, in fact it was propelling it.
I always kind of knew that what I was doing wasn’t good for me but I needed the prof, because we as humans want to see what is happening and then we either choose to change our ways or we just keep caring on and not believing that we are doing is hurting us.
I chose to make the change and stopped drinking completely close to 4 years now with out a drink. I had to stop pouring a depressant into my depressed body, mind & soul because it didn’t make any sense to keep doing what I was doing if I wanted to fight my depression and feel good about myself.
Also the stress and the environment that music was putting me in was working against me, not helping me what so ever. I ended my 28 year run of playing in bands and being a professional musician. It felt like the biggest weight was taken off my shoulders because I was giving myself the opportunity to better my life and feel good about myself and take away a major trigger. It felt amazing to finally be free.
I now play for myself and no one else, gone are the days of playing music I dislike so I can pay bills. Gone are the hung-over mornings, the guilt, the shame and the dislike for music I had when I was gigging. I now I enjoy playing my bass, it has become part of my therapy, part of my life in ways it never was when I was playing in bars and bands. I enjoy playing my bass and I enjoy being happy!
I am not sure why I left this part of the puzzle out of “Why I Run” maybe because it was such a personal experience. But I am more then happy to talk about it now because…..
“Only with open conversation can we break the stigma behind depression, let’s start talking and do it together”