On the big stage….

Very interesting dream last night. I dreamt that I was umpiring a game of county cricket at Lord’s, the world renowned cricket ground in the centre of London.

The dream consisted of me being very nervous before I went out to umpire (no change there), as I was taking charge of professional players for the first time. I had a former county player turned umpire at the other end to help me through, and I in fact helped him in making a decision. 

The attitude of the players was different, the game seemed a whole new step up. But once I was out there for a while, I was ok. It was a really surreal dream.

And back to reality. There was a remote possibility that I could have progressed a long way in cricket umpiring years ago. The dream probably serves as a reminder that I do still have the ability, but not the confidence, as anxiety plays a major part. Perhaps the dream is telling me that there is nothing to worry about, though consciously, there’s always plenty to worry about. That’s why I do a few games per season, and then stop. The anxiety and low self esteem returns. 

So I was on the big stage for a brief while, but only in my subconscious. My anxiety would have told me to get off the stage, because of the possibility of being judged. That’s the reality. 

Allen Brooks xx

Sharp and Satirical…Living with ADHD

This is British comedian and impressionist Rory Bremner. Rory has sharp and witty insight into the mad political world around us, and provides clever impressions of the big hitters of the modern political scene, such as Boris Johnson and Donald Trump.

He also has a mild form of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). This is a disorder that children have, where they have an inability to concentrate or to obey commands. Their concentration is easily distracted.

Bremner has spoken out about ADHD, and likens it to several TV screens broadcasting at once, with the brain flicking between each one. There’s approximately 500,000 children in the UK that have ADHD.

Now I don’t pretend I know much about this developmental disability, but having autism, I can recognise that it is a learning disability that is there from birth, virtually. It’s the neurological make up that determines whether a child has ADHD, Autism, Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Aspergers, etc. Years ago, people wouldn’t have given two hoots whether their own child had any of these conditions, it would have been put down to inattention or naughtiness. Now, with the work of so many psychologists and so much practical ways of diagnosing such conditions, the understanding is improving all the time.

Rory Bremner does a lot of work around ADHD and is also a patron of a national mental health charity. Just to be clear, ADHD is a mental health condition. It should be treated the same as autism, depression or bipolar. Just because we are all so different doesn’t mean that we should be treated differently, all these mental illnesses should be treated with the same empathy and understanding, not put down to laziness or insolence. 

Have a listen to Rory Bremner talking about his experiences on ADHD on YouTube. It’s a fascinating listen and tells about how an adult deals with such an issue. But it also adds to Rory’s superb intelligence and wit in his main role as a comedian and impressionist. It enhances the man, rather than detracts from. 

Allen Brooks xx

Belting out those hits….

For sheer uninhibited fun, you cannot beat the music bingo night at my local. 

I must say that it was a quiet start, but gradually more people got the word and flocked in to the best show in the local area.

The host makes it fun, inclusive and enjoyable and easy to play. If you know your music, then so much the better. I must say that I struggled a little tonight, as some of the modern hits totally stumped me. I’m more of your 70s and 80s kind of music lover.

There’s also that mistress called superstition. She played a fantastic hand tonight, with something called the “Winners Table”. It’s a table that has seemed to produce a big full house winner, every fortnight I’ve been down there. And tonight was no different. Two ladies parked themselves at said table, and 2 and a half hours later, rake in £150. Not bad eh? 

I managed to win too. But it was only a free shot from the bar. It was red in colour and quite foul tasting. But I downed it in one, as you do, and got back to business.

Tiredness was taking over towards the end. I think five vodka and tonics may have something to do with it. But it was a stonking night. The communal singing was something to behold, as well as a pub regular dancing to the song Proud Mary, one of which I have never heard in my life. She went down a storm with the punters. But I still don’t know what the song’s about. Sheltered life I suppose!

A truly great night, and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

Allen Brooks xx

More Four…

Is the name of a UK TV channel. But also that applies to the Peer Support group this morning. There were only four of us. Due to various reasons, the twelve that adorned the room so well last week was reduced in size.

But no matter. We chatted away about various things, like family history, our own current mental health status, and about medication. So, despite the paucity of numbers, we found plenty to occupy the two hours. 

The weather has changed today too, for the better in my view. It’s still warm, but with more than a hint of freshness in the air. The oppressive humidity and airless conditions of the last few days is a thing of the past. A few people I’ve spoken to have complained of the heat being a little too much. I like the day we have today. Warm, but fresh, not sweating like a pig. Perfect.

How’s my anxiety today? Ok, as it goes. Not a hint of it. But as I said in other posts, it comes and goes in fits and starts. Off now to see a friend for the day.


Allen Brooks xx

Downhill run..

Hello. 21st June today. The longest day of the year. The day that marks the downhill run to 21st December, meaning it gets gradually darker in the evenings. Joy! 

Today is the hottest June day since that glorious summer of 1976. It’s been about 35 degrees C, 95 degrees F in old money. Hot enough. Having ventured out earlier, I was then regretting leaving the cool of indoors to sample the oven like conditions outside.

A few people are not happy with this hot spell. Then again, we English are never happy. It’s either too wet, too dry, too cold or too hot. Personally, I prefer it to be less humid and oven like. Next time I’ll squash myself in the oven and turn on the heat to regulo 8. Not a pretty sight, I’m sure you’ll agree.

What about me and anxiety? It’s been a little better. I even ventured out to a meeting yesterday without too much trouble. But there was a warning shot fired across the bows today. Someone wanted me to go and umpire a match tonight. I had to decline. Even thinking about the possibility of umpiring makes me anxious at the moment. I don’t know why. The enthusiasm and zest for cricket that was there for 8-10 weeks has disappeared, hopefully temporarily. The prospect of standing there and making a fool of myself plays on the mind to such an extent that the negativity is overbearing. 

Of course, I don’t make a fool of myself at cricket, but try telling that to my fertile mind that sets off on a voyage that leaves me ready to hit another iceberg. The wrestling that goes on with my mind is something I’ll never be able to come to terms with. 

Bizarre. But that’s me. Utterly bizarre.

Allen Brooks xx

A mad dog Englishman….

And guess what all mad dogs and Englishmen do? Go out in the midday sun. Yet another roasting day in the big city today, temperatures hitting 90F or so. The only down side of the heat for me is the puffy eyes, streaming nose and endless sneezing. But you can’t win em all.

Off out to a meeting today. A meeting revolving around the cafe that I volunteer at. What’s the future going to be? Will I end up serving in a burger van on the A12 in Essex? Nothing like setting the bar high! 

Seriously though, the meeting will discuss how long we’ll be able to stay open, amongst other things. The staff within the hospital must like us and the affordable prices, otherwise we wouldn’t do so well. Hopefully this time, the stays of execution that the cafe seems to get might be a thing of the past and that something more permanent is in the offing. May be longer opening hours and more days of the week. We shall see, nothing lasts forever. The drivers on the A12 may be spared my wit and repartee for a few months longer….but I digress.

On a train, no air conditioning. 21st century technology haven’t reached some of London’s trains. So the passengers have to sit in a sweat box. It’s lucky that it’s midday rather than morning or evening, where it’s standing room only, and the whiff of smelly armpits pervades the carriage. Not mine, I hasten to add. My personal hygiene is reasonable, before anyone asks.

That’s enough for now. 

Allen Brooks xx

Wise counselling….

Afternoon. Today saw a return to seeing my CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) counsellor. I felt a need to offload a lot of stuff that has been troubling me the last 3 or so weeks.

The place I went today was the place where I was born, back in 1972. It looks vastly different today, with a hotch potch of buildings dotted everywhere. The main local mental health team are based here. Today, as I stood outside in the blistering June heat, I couldn’t help but notice that the whole site is being redeveloped. The building works look unsightly and doesn’t pay tribute to the hospital’s former life as a maternity unit. 

I went into the room and was down, unsettled and not feeling 100%. By the end of the hour, I felt a bit better, having offloaded a lot of troubling information to the counsellor. As always, she was insightful and sympathetic. The summing up of what has been going on recently is namely this:- I am going through a depressive episode, of a mild to moderate nature.

To qualify that, I must say that I have had no dark or suicidal thoughts. Not in the least. But I have stopped enjoying, for the most part, some of the activities that I usually enjoy, such as cricket and going out in the nice weather, something that I haven’t done. 

There’s been a whole mixture of tiredness, fatigue, subconscious thoughts, lack of enjoyment, anxiety and a mild to moderate depression. There’s also been a feeling of loss and grief thrown in. I feel ready to burst into tears at any moment. My mind is like a food blender. Throw in all the ingredients and you don’t have a good result. 

This will take time to resolve. I go through these spells. Autism is the underlying cause. Sometimes there’s an obvious trigger, other times it’s not so obvious. It’s all fairly inexplicable. But I feel slightly easier in offloading to someone I know will listen and offer sympathy and some good ways to move forward.

I’ll try not to isolate myself completely, but at times, it’s the only answer. Not facing up to people is the only way to deal with the problem. But even just going to the shop, escaping from the self imposed exile just for a while, helps a little. I can have a walk and try and forget things.

But it isn’t easy. None of this is. I’m stuck with autism now for the rest of my life. Coping on a daily basis is a big battle. One I’ve fought before, and one I’ll fight again. 

Allen Brooks xx