Just going to share a few more thoughts from the mental health summit I attended yesterday.
Though these days, I have few problems with public speaking, I must admit to feeling somewhat overcome with nerves the night before. Why? Because there was a large audience in attendance and it’s for a major organisation. I didn’t want to speak and make a fool of myself. These thoughts were making my stomach turn cartwheels.
Next on the panic list was the travelling to the venue. I live ten miles out of the city of London, and getting around this great place is difficult at the best of times. I was out early to be at City Hall by 9 a.m. With the failure of the phone network, I had no idea of when the bus might show up (I have an app that tells me). I waited, and I waited, for 20 minutes. The hands on the watch were travelling rather too quick for my liking.
I had to make a decision. I decided to walk to the nearest rail station (15 minutes away). Cursing the lack of buses, I set off. I got round the corner when I noticed two buses show up together. Too late. I walked at a brisk pace (rare for me) to make it just in time for the train. Being 8 a.m., the station was a seething mass of humanity.
I got to London Bridge around 8.45 and set off for City Hall. The mass of humanity seemed to get more prolific as I walked the ten minutes from station to venue. Being an unusually warm December day, I was sweating profusely, thinking I would be late. Luckily, I wasn’t.
I had no notes prepared. But I had a blank sheet of paper. While the chap who invited me spoke, I scribbled down some cogent thoughts. I showed him the result of said scribbling, and he was impressed.
Up in the lift now, right to the 9th floor of the building. The room was airy, with excellent views of the River Thames and Tower Bridge. I watched people file in….gradually the room was filled with roughly 100 people. Me and another lady who was due to speak joined the others as we filed up to the top table, adorned with microphones.
I was calm by this stage. And when it came to my piece, I was ready. I was prompted with a question and it was time to open my mouth. And it went well. I even threw in a quote and a little witty aside that seemed to go down well. The mind was relaxed, as though I was on a beach. What was all the fuss and panic about?
The chap who had invited me to speak sat to my left and simply and sincerely said “Well done” when I’d finished. That was all the confirmation I wanted.
So that’s an insight into the mind of A.S.D Brooks. Autistic and able to say it’ll be alright on the night too. A little preparation goes a long way. Someone said I didn’t refer to my notes. I didn’t actually – they were like an aide memoire. I knew what to say and to keep it brief. Learning at this game all the time.
I just wonder in 2007 if my life took a better path that I wouldn’t be doing this. It took a wrong turn but I love speaking about mental health and to give something back to others facing their own struggles. All that experience of my own demons and good days to throw in the mix. Speaking at events like this are spiritually and emotionally rewarding, and I hope to continue speaking until people get fed up with listening.