Memories from this morning….

Something that has kept turning over in my mind from the presentation I did was the comment a member of the audience made:-“Thank you for being so honest and sharing your story”

To explain, I gave my mental health journey in around about ten minutes, commenting on the autistic diagnosis and the underlying causes of my depression and anxiety. All it was was an honest account of what has been going on. 

I don’t see being any other way on this issue. People admire honesty and I don’t embellish or exaggerate the story. It is what it is, and the story, amongst all the other things we did, seemed to be appreciated by the audience. If I can make one bit of difference into how that particular company deals with it’s workplace mental health, then I have done my job. 

Nothing but good memories from today…and that will stay in my mind in some future low moments, it will certainly help. 

Allen Brooks xx

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Perfection….

I always think there’s no such thing as perfection, though I have tried to be the best at certain things, presentations, umpiring and the like, I can get rather down when I don’t perform up to the standard I’m capable of.

Today, me and my line manager went to do a mental health presentation at a local construction company. This is something different to what I’m used to as we haven’t done an adult presentation for quite a while, as most of the work has been in schools and colleges.

We were there for two hours, and to say it was wonderful would be understating things. It was an absolute joy to do, everyone really was interested in what I had to say, and we both used interaction to stop people from being disinterested, and that worked superbly. 

The number of people that came up to us both was a testament to how it went. We were complimented very fulsomely and thanked for our time. We had equal amounts of light and shade, mental health is a heavy subject and there was a dose of humour to help us. It was an informal atmosphere and that seemed to work better too, rather than standing up and pointing to a screen. There was an opportunity to describe my own mental health journey, and there was a video as well to describe what our charity does. A perfect blend, and an ideal template for future presentations too.

As I said about perfection, I believe there’s no such thing. But the two hours I have just enjoyed were pretty damn close to it. While I type, I’m enjoying a jacket potato with prawns as a well earned lunch. Now that is a great way to round off a super day so far. 

Just to say, when I’m feeling ok, I enjoy what I do, and I felt very relaxed today. Now that is a rarity, but as in Latin, carpe diem. Seize the day, and I have.

Bye for now.

Allen Brooks xx

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

Watching and Learning….

Tonight I have spent a very productive few hours in the company of the mental health charity I am currently training with, and hopefully to volunteer for.

It was an opportunity to shadow a current volunteer on the charity’s helpline. There are several charities in the U.K. that run helplines for people with mental illnesses, and it was certainly an eye opening experience, to say the very least.

The volunteer took six calls, and the variation in the nature of the calls indicates what a distressing existence it can be to have a mental illness, or even to contemplate something life ending. For obvious reasons, I will not elaborate on the callers or the nature of their calls. 

Helplines are a lifeline, quite literally. It’s like throwing somebody an aid to save them from drowning. I am used to dealing with real issues at the weekly Peer Support group, but tonight was here and now, mental distress in the raw.

I honestly don’t know how the volunteers on the helpline keep their distance, their boundaries or their patience. The guy I was shadowing was magnificent. Professional, polite and patient. He was a real credit to the organisation and we got on well. He also valued my comments about the individual calls too, which was nice. 

I must say, the helpline volunteering is not for me. If I didn’t have my own issues, then dealing with distress wouldn’t be a problem, but with all that has happened the last seven years, dealing with extreme stuff probably is a bit beyond my capabilities. The Peer Support group is different, because anyone in crisis in the group is referred straightaway to clinical services, and wouldn’t be allowed in the group. There is an informal vetting procedure, something that doesn’t happen with helplines.

I am up for moderating an online forum and doing some admin work with the new charity. Just going to keep my head down and make my contribution, in my own way.

An enlightening evening, and I have great admiration for anyone working on helplines. Mental illness is something to be taken very seriously, and these helplines perform a crucial outlet for those in need. Long may they continue.

Allen Brooks xx

But a silver lining round every cloud…

Not a good day then, but a couple of pieces of positivity to accompany me into tomorrow. First, I’ve picked up a presentation to do next week, to a small group of people in a business setting. No, Lord Alan Sugar or his cohorts will not be there, I’ll be nervous enough without those, thank you very much. 

And tomorrow, a chance to experience an overview of some more mental health volunteering at that place I’ve been selected for, in London. Just a couple of hours to see how the land lies there.

Sometimes a bad day can be a bad day, but then you realise, you are loved, you are valued, you are needed. It’s just my brain tells me not to recognise those good facets of my life, setting me off on another path of negativity. Oh well, my life is nothing if not dull…

Allen Brooks xx

High Anxiety….

Hello there. Well Thursday hasn’t been very kind to me at all. Last night, I didn’t sleep very well, the precursor to that was an anxious feeling with some difficult breathing. Some kind of panic attack I suppose.

Woke up this morning and the feeling hadn’t gone away. I struggled my way to the Peer Support group, for all the good I was feeling, I should have been indoors, and in bed, hiding away from the world.

I made it back home, and the lack of sleep has caught up with me, to the extent that I’ve been catnapping throughout the afternoon. Any triggers for this “anxiety” attack? None whatsoever. I just felt that way last night and nearly 24 hours later, not much change. Not a good day and one to forget.

Allen Brooks xx