The weirdness of mental illness….

The strangeness of my moods and well being continues today. Now for most of last week, it was hot, sunny and dry. Did I go out much to take advantage of the good weather? Not really. 

Today in London, it’s positively horrible. Dark skies, heavy rain and it’s just miserable. But I don’t feel too bad, strangely enough. I felt able to talk to my sister for 15 minutes on the phone after I didn’t want to speak to her when she contacted me over the last two days. That must be an indication that I do feel better, talking to someone that I should be talking to on a regular basis. She does realise that I have these spells where I don’t feel so great, and it’s nothing to do with anyone else. It’s how I feel and my rather peculiar state of mind.

It’s all peculiar, I will readily admit. Very up and down with feelings of low mood, anxiety, paranoia and loneliness. Could it be depression again? Could it be making a comeback after a vacation? I hope not. I’m going to put off going to the doctors for a while, just so I can work my way through this bad spell. 

But, as I said, slightly better today, despite the weather returning to autumn. Many a psychologist and counsellor have tried to delve into the Allen Brooks mind, and this autism can be a strange beast. I hope that in a few weeks, I can return to the good times again. For the moment, it’s a battle.

Allen Brooks xx

Weekend Summary….

Hello. Not the best of weekends in all honesty. I feel down again, swimming against the tide.

Saturday saw myself and my work colleague go to a birthday party. It was held at the pub we usually frequent. The moment I set foot in there, something didn’t feel quite right. 

I’m not great with parties or any kind of social gatherings for that matter. The idea of making small talk with people I don’t really know has never struck a chord with me. Socially inept could be an apt description of me. The psychologist who diagnosed my autism drew attention to that. It’s something I can’t get my head around. 

So, I sat there, eating birthday cake, pizza and drinking five vodka and tonics. That was tipping me towards the edge. Not feeling great? Why not have alcohol, which is a depressant, to make me feel worse? 

I hardly knew anybody, and I was starting to feel tired. Time to go home. Went back to my friend’s place and stayed the night. Didn’t sleep that well, and consequently yesterday was not a great day either. I felt so out of it, so away with the fairies, that the best news in the world wouldn’t have made a difference. 

Came home in the afternoon. I’m normally quite alert and awake on a bus. This time, I was in a complete daze. Felt as far removed from my own thoughts as it’s possible to be. As it happened, when I got home, I slept again. My sleep patterns are all over the place. Drinking alcohol doesn’t help either. Perhaps it’s time to cut down. I feel a complete mess.

One of my cricket friends rang up in the evening. Normally, I would be enthusiastic and wanting to talk. I did talk, but with a sense of real disinterest. I really couldn’t have cared less about what he was saying. That’s no reflection on him, it’s just my state of mind at the moment.

The negative thoughts are there, the paranoia is there, the lack of interest is there, the low feeling is there. Could it be a depressive episode again? I don’t know. Perhaps it’s time to see my doctor. Perhaps the medication (which I’ve been on for 18 months) isn’t working. This isn’t fun at the present time. Don’t know what to do.

I feel shut out, marginalised, left to my own devices. Could I be doing the marginalising? Maybe. My head is in a real mess, there’s no sense of order at the moment. Trapped within my own mind. Not a pleasant feeling.

Allen Brooks xx

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

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.

Laters

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

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

There is something going on….

Hello. A good indicator if I’m feeling ok is the fact that I go out and enjoy some activities, like cricket umpiring, or enjoying this very fine and hot weather that is here.

Well, my enthusiasm for cricket umpiring, or just cricket in general, has ebbed away for the time being. This has been the case for the last few years, and I’m unable to think of a good reason why. For the first two months of the season, April and May, I was throwing myself into the cricket and largely enjoying it. Now that has ended abruptly. Last week saw myself pull out of scoring duties within an hour of the scheduled start. Anxiety was the main cause. This weekend, numbness and shock seem to be the overriding emotions. Again, at a loss to explain why. 

Why aren’t I going out and enjoying the hot weather? Why aren’t I indeed? I don’t want to. Whereas I usually leap at the chance to go to the beach and relax, I’m sitting in the flat, unmotivated, unenthusiastic, uninterested. My brain is operating on a reduced level. I’ve gone backwards, again. 

I don’t know how I managed to go out to do volunteering or the peer support group the other day. Maybe there was a glimmer of light, a glimmer of hopefulness that this may be a blip, and I will return to normal soon. In fact, it’s a pattern that reflects the last few years. Enthusiasm and enjoyment to start, overtaken by loss and bewilderment. Perhaps my counsellor will shed some light on Monday afternoon. Perhaps.

Sorry that I can’t be more optimistic or positive. That’s how I feel today.

Allen Brooks xx