Strange questions?

I went for another CBT appointment yesterday and it went very well. However, I have to fill in a form at the end of each session that indicates to the counsellor how I’ve been in the last two weeks. Moreover, there’s a section on the form that is somewhat alarming.

The section in question refers to suicide and any preparations to do so, whether currently or in the past. I’ve no idea who’s decided to redesign the form, but this particular section is frightening. Currently, I feel reasonably ok, and to answer questions on a very dark period in my life is something I find difficult.

The counsellor and myself have come to an agreement that I don’t fill that section in. And to be honest, if someone was that much in crisis, they wouldn’t be sitting there talking to a counsellor, they would be in a hospital’s A&E department or being taken to a psychiatric unit. Very, very bizarre line of questioning on a form, and one that strikes me as being poignant and somewhat insensitive. 

I don’t know what other people who undertake CBT think about this, but this is just a personal opinion. I’ve no wish to be reminded on a form on events that could have seen me in real danger. Maybe NHS England need to reconsider upsetting people in this way.

Allen Brooks xx


Mum’s Birthday…

It was my late mother’s birthday today. She would have been 87. I haven’t really been thinking about the day itself, consciously or otherwise. It’s important to remember that I have to keep going, like she did. She had an indomitable spirit that kept her sane, right to the very end.

I still miss and grieve for her, but as time passes by, the pain does get a little easier. But bereavement is one of the most stressful things anyone can go through. There’s no time limit for the grief, and some parts of the year are easier than others. But Mum is always there, in the back of my mind, if not the front.

Allen Brooks xx

I want to tell you a story….

I had another CBT appointment today. This time, we are going to be trying to process the horrors of seven years ago. 

I had to recount the whole story, from beginning to end. Not bad in 35 minutes! The mind has it all stored, and chronologically, and eloquently, I went through the lot. I stayed fairly emotionless, a little bit anxious, but I managed to get through without resorting to wiping away any tears.

The counsellor was busy scribbling notes, and we are going to pick out individual themes and then to process them. Could this be the start of dealing with the bad anniversary that crops up every May/June? Too early to say, I’m going to have to wait until next year to see if this experiment is going to work.

I’m quite proud of myself for doing that, and staying stable. Relaxing now with a coffee and a bite of lunch. I’m fine! Just goes to show that confronting matters can help sometimes. I’m just not very good at doing so. 

A good start to the week…

Allen Brooks xx

Christmas 2010…

Several months earlier, my world was in turmoil. Mum had passed away in June of 2010, and I was struggling to come to terms with that event and others that were going on at a similar time.

Usually at Christmas, I go to my sister or nephew for dinner. This particular year, it was at sister’s. How would I cope? This will be the first Christmas without Mum. 

The day arrived. I remember the day, it was the tail end of a very cold spell of weather. I wasn’t in the greatest frame of mind, emotions were swirling around in my head. It was time for dinner. I sat there, but there was a vacancy never again to be filled. Normally I would eat my dinner without too many problems. This time, I left half of it. The appetite was gone. I wasn’t enjoying this at all.

At future Christmasses, I tried to shut out all the bad memories, with some measure of success. I don’t enjoy that time of year, and it is very difficult to push myself through to the New Year. But I must have been strong to have lasted this far. Another test of my mental fortitude is on the way in a few months time, and the weather outside this summer’s day speaks only of winter. Dark, gloomy and with foreboding. I have to cope each and every day. There’s no other choice. 

Allen Brooks xx

9th July 1991….

A date that is imprinted on my mind, forever. It was the day that my father, Len, passed away, aged 65. It was the first loss that I had to endure, and I was only 18 years old at the time. 

Dad had cancer, and he withstood it and all the chemotherapy that he had to take, for seven months. A previously fit and healthy man had been reduced to virtually nothing by journey’s end. It was painful seeing him waste away and it was too much to bear for a young adult as I was at the time. 

I remember the day he passed very clearly as it was yesterday. It was a warm, cloudy day and my mother and sister were at the hospital all over the weekend. On the Monday, they were still there. I awoke at 6.30 am, in a bit of a daze, not wanting to accept the inevitable. 

The day dragged on, until I received the dreaded phone call during the afternoon. Mum and sister came home and I was beside myself with grief, as they were. I cried, probably more in anger than anything, as to why a relatively young man had been taken away by a cruel, cruel illness. 

It took me a fair while to come to terms with the death, but I managed to soldier on, as Dad would have wanted. I had to be strong for Mum. She felt the loss just as keenly, if not more, as they had been married for 37 years, and had been together for a few years prior to that. I coped, just about.

I wonder what he would have made of the everyday struggles I put up with now. He would have been sympathetic but probably telling me to ride things out and they will get better. He was taken from me far too young and though time is a great healer in such matters, I will never forget him. He was a great influence on me, though it was only a brief period of 18 years. I don’t want to remember him as the ill man for the last seven months of his life, but for the previous 18 years.

Miss you Dad

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

Numbness and shock….

Hello, and good evening. Well, you can take the word good out of that sentence.

Not been a brilliant day if I’m being honest. I decided not to go to cricket as anxiety had me in it’s iron grip, and this evening, a feeling of numbness and shock has hit me, as though I’ve experienced some kind of trauma.

Very bizarre feeling of just sitting here, in a daze. My brain isn’t functioning at all. Trauma? What trauma? Well, it could be this feeling of solitude that I have on a daily basis, and have done so for seven years. On most occasions, I shut things out and function reasonably well. Yesterday and today, it’s though some kind of bereavement or grief has taken over.

Don’t ask me why. I really don’t know the answer. It’s been a lonely weekend, you could say of my own making. I can hear people saying “Why don’t you go out and do things?” Well, the fail safe option is to shut myself behind closed doors and have little dealing with the outside world. Counterproductive, but it’s the only way to cope at times. 

Aimless, hapless and clueless. That’s Allen Brooks’s weekend.