Influence/ Sometimes we need proof

I became very inspired once I started to teach my “Creative Writing For The Mind, Body & Soul” book as a course. Especially when I started to teach it for different mental health and addiction agencies. I started to really think about the different influences that were in my life and in all our lives. I wanted to dig deeper, learn more because I feel that learning more about what shapes us and moulds us into who we are can also be the key to helping us change who we are, helping us reach our full potential.

Influence in my life didn’t seem like it was there for a very long time. But when I look back at my behaviours, how I was always wanting to fit in somewhere, somehow, influence was always there pushing me, poking me and prodding me in directions that I really never wanted to go in, but I never really noticed, but it was there and in major ways.

Over the last 7 years since starting therapy for depression I had to admit that there were lots of things influencing me. I never thought that I fit into a box where nothing influenced me at all, I was a total original, I was my own man. But then when I started learning how to change my life and my way of living and thinking, I had no choice but to look at myself and all the influences in my life. They had all put me where I was. In therapy I was given tools to use, to change myself and the way I looked at the world and it truly exposed just how influenced I was. It was scary!

Influence is such a strong word and it has many meanings to everyone! But the truth is that influence does play a major part in all our lives whether we like it or not. We are influenced everyday and learning to see that is very important because sometimes we need to let go of some influences and embrace others! I found that by looking back through my life, really paying attention to what my thoughts were and how they were directing me and influencing me was a hard task. It meant I had to be completely honest, seeing things the way they were, accepting all of it and not colouring things the way I wanted it to be coloured. This lead me to some very, very eye opening realizations.

Some Times We Need Proof

I remember when I started therapy, I was about 1 or 2 months in seeing Mastora once or even 2 times a week. But nothing was working at all. I was not grasping any of the tools, I was still having downward spirals and was in desperate need of help! The help was there but I wasn’t ready to accept it, I wasn’t ready to make changes in my life and admit to the things that were stopping me from moving forward. It was at this time that she asked me to do a mood monitoring exercise.

Sometimes in our lives we need proof that things need to change. We crave cold hard proof seeing it right in front of us. Seeing what is pushing us and then understanding that change needs to be made to influence us to make the right choices in our lives. Yes, influence isn’t always bad and I was about to learn that first hand.

Mastora (my Therapist) asked me to do the mood monitoring exercise. I was to go out and buy a stack of cue cards, little cards that people sometimes use when they are writing speeches. I was to pick 3 colours that represented my moods/emotional state for each day. I was to colour these cards and write on the back why I was feeling the way I was feeling. I was to be honest and truthful or this would never work. So I went out and I got those cards and I picked my colours!

Red- was a bad day

Blue- was an okay day, where I wasn’t total down

Yellow- was a good day where I felt good about myself

I was to colour and write on the back of each card every day for a month. I didn’t really get what I was doing until the day I had to bring the cards in and give them to Mastora. She took the cards and she laid them out on the table and it was mind blowing what was revealed

This is what my month looked like and it was scary! One good day a week that was it. Each week the same and the reasons were very shocking to me as I read each card and saw what was happening!

· Thursday was a RED day. I was coming home from work and then either going out and drinking, playing in a band and drinking, or I was at home drinking because I knew what was coming: the weekend when I was going to be in bars playing music.

· Friday was a RED day because now I was hungover and feeling guilty about Thursday night, and then I was in a bar that night playing music and drinking for sure. I was a musician and that is what I did! I drank and played music and got paid for it!

· Saturday was a RED day as well because I was now even more hung over, feeling more guilt and humiliation for Friday night’s actions. I was most definitely back in the bar playing music, I was drinking again because that is what I did.

· Sunday was a RED day because I am getting home at 5am, still drunk, feeling horrible, my wife gets up at 7am and leaves for work so I am looking after my son and he doesn’t care what time dad got home at. He is just a little boy waking up and wanting to play. So I am up as well, drinking a pot of coffee, playing cars, playing Lego, I am still drunk, or hungover and barely coping with my own thoughts, never mind looking after my son.

· Monday was a RED day, I am back to work, guilt covering me, thinking about all I had done over the last week and the weekend. Plus still feeling the affects of drinking, my body is weak and beat up and so is my mind and soul.

· Tuesday was a Blue day. I was coming out of the hung over haze I put myself in and my thoughts were clearing.

· Wednesday was a yellow day! Yes a good day, with the effects of drinking completely worn off! I survived Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday so hell, time to start all over again!

This is what my weeks looked like. Mastora pulled no punches when she looked at me and said “Darcy what are you going to do? You are investing all this money into therapy and you are stuck in this rut! You have to make changes in order to get better, so what are you going to do?”

I look back at this and I know that Mastora knew all along what I had to do but I needed proof. Well it was there on the table, it was real and it was a gift. This gift was given to me at the right time, a gift that I had to accept and act on. This was a chance to change and it was going to be hard. I had to once again use radical acceptance, forgiveness, and change my perspective, then set a boundary.

I used Radical Acceptance

I had to use radical acceptance and realize that if I was going to get better that I had to stop pouring a depressant into my depression, I had to stop drinking.

1) Drinking was causing bad days and not just here and there but for extended periods. Days without a break and the cards were physical proof that I needed to change.

2) Nothing good was going to happen or get better unless I stopped drinking. I had to stop. I was raised in a musician lifestyle where drinking and doing drugs were just what you did. I was lucky I did not fall into the drug use part but I was drinking 4 nights a week, never mind the odd beers at dinner or before bed as well.

3) I also had to take myself out of the situations that were causing me to drink: I had to stop playing in bands! I had started playing and gigging in bands when I was 14 so this was my life. It was my normal and it was not good for me at all, and those cards proved it.

4) The thoughts I had on gigs were horrible. Negative self talk, negative self image, hate, anger all clouded my mind while I was playing my bass, and it only got worse as the night progressed and I drank more and more.

5) The stress leading up to every gig was huge. The thoughts that clouded my mind would drag me down before I even picked up a bass or got to a gig.