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.


A rest is as good as a change…

Just mangling a well known saying there. Afternoon folks. Spending a quiet Sunday at home and I think the rest is in the process of doing me some good.

As I alluded to in other posts, fatigue combined with an anniversary has seen my enthusiasm and zeal drop quite markedly since around the middle of last week. I have been in the middle of a busy spell with presentations and umpiring cricket, and I think it caught up with me. My mind and body were telling me to take it easy. 

This I have done. Yesterday wasn’t a great day, but slowly and surely, I’m starting to feel ok again today. Just by resting, that’s all. Drawing from that experience of dealing with mental illness, I’m able to recognise what works for me and what doesn’t. Also, the weather has been very warm and humid and quite energy sapping, so though I’ve missed out on umpiring this weekend, I think I’ve done the right thing by taking a back seat. Sometimes throwing oneself into too many things can have a detrimental effect. 

As I said, this afternoon I feel somewhat brighter. That wall doesn’t look as daunting, and I’ve been getting some good wishes from friends and acquaintances, which is always a good pick me up. Having a week off from stuff isn’t always the worst idea. The mental health toolkit does work sometimes!

Knowing the mind and body….so key to wellbeing!

Allen Brooks xx

3rd June…Anniversary Day tomorrow¬†

The anniversary of my late mother’s passing is tomorrow. It has been on my mind this week, but tomorrow, I have to travel to a game of cricket and umpire it like normal. It will be a difficult day, but the techniques and experience that I’ve learned will help to get me through the day, I’m sure.

It won’t stop me thinking about Mum, seven years may be a fair old time, but the memories are still fresh and all the other stuff that was happening at the time, will also be there in my mind. 

I have to be strong, I have to block it out. Time is a great healer, and once tomorrow has ended, I can then move forward after that day of reflection. 

Allen Brooks xx

Seven years on…..Part One

I remember the day very clearly as if it were only yesterday. June 2010. It was a hot summer’s day. My mother was in hospital, with her life about to end. It was expected, but that doesn’t stop the grief. 

I went to watch cricket, somewhere locally. I had my phone on constant watch, waiting for news. I tried to shut out the inevitable, but without success. Then, sometime around 7 or 8 in the evening, my sister rang me to inform me that Mum was no more. Dazed, I got in the car and drove to the local hospital.

I made my way to the private room. I took one look at my mother, and left the room immediately. I couldn’t look any more. Her life was at an end. I wept, as anyone would do. Her pain and suffering was at an end. My pain and suffering was continuing, unabated.

I spoke to both my sister and brother-in-law, then I left to go home. I then phoned the relatives to let them know. It didn’t sink in, despite the grief. I know that sounds weird, but it took a while for the enormity of events to sink in properly. Everything else seemed to be crashing in on me, at a tremendous velocity. This only added to it. 

Time is a great healer. I still miss my parents, of course, but at times like the present, my brain has tried to shut things out. There are times when my thoughts turn to why they went so quickly, why is cancer a horrible disease that claims so many, why, why? They won’t come back, but some days when I wake up, alone, looking at the four walls, I wonder how I reached this point in time.

But the world still turns, still spins on it’s axis. Life moves on, and this year is turning out to be pretty good, thus far. But events such as seven years ago still remind me of those dark times, stuck down that deep abyss. I’m sure as this week progresses, I’ll be busy so that I don’t think about seven years ago. Doing well to shut it out, but it isn’t easy at times.

Allen Brooks xx