Who needs medication when you can have laughter?

It’s been a tough few months for me personally. The depths of winter, the cold, dark days and the continuation of Covid 19 lockdown here in London has led to a downturn in my well being. I was not communicating with friends, family or stand up comedy colleagues. I wanted to wallow and keep out of the way.

Even earlier this week, I felt pretty abject. But all of a sudden, like a switch being flicked, I feel better again. And so that leads onto the latest online stand up comedy gig that I did last night.

This particular night is regularly frequented by me, and I had a fresh lot of material to try out. During the day, the anxieties and the panic were overtaking me, and I was even considering withdrawing from the event. But in the end, I was glad I took part.

The audience was about 40 strong, and the other acts were enormously strong and enormously good. I had to match that quality…..and all the anxieties stopped once I began.

I was thrown a bit of a curve ball by the host! I wanted to do a Donald Trump impression right at the end of my set (topical, keep it fresh!) and I was all prepared for that, when suddenly, the host said that Trump was to open my set! Eeeeek!!! So I had to think quickly. The wig was more or less plonked on my head along with the Make America Great Again (some mistake surely?) baseball hat and I had to get into the impression quickly.

And with that improvisation, I was away. The audience were laughing away and I was eased into the set. The rest of the set were jokes, interspersed with the occasional bit of observation, and again, the audience were laughing away. I was even interacting with them, I felt that confident and that good.

Got a lot of excellent feedback and it’s always nice to get that validation off the other acts. One of the acts, an American lady who now lives in London, said that my Trump impersonation was spot on. Blimey! The adrenaline was running round me and the whole night was a tremendous buzz. Nothing can take away the sound of people laughing with me, rather than at me.

Took me a long while to get to sleep, and I feel very good this morning! As I’ve mentioned before, this stand up comedy was something I fell into by complete accident. Not a path I would ever have chosen. But how it’s kept me going through some very low moments these last 12 months.

Laughter is the best medicine.

Yours in comedy

Stay safe

Ian L. Fullbrook

First impressions and self marketing?

Not too bad it seems at the former, but not so good at the latter.

I’ll explain. Last week and today at two separate mental health events, two people came up to me and remembered me doing some public speaking at previous events. It seemed that these people enjoyed my presentations and I’m flattered by the comments.

But I’m not good at marketing myself, making people aware of what I can offer. Always hiding my light under a bushel, as it were. I let people approach me rather than being pushy and overbearing. Presentations have dried up a little in the last few months but now Autumn is here, it seems I’ve been invited to a few events, whether in a speaking or non speaking capacity.

So if you want me to tell you my mental health story and my daily battles with being autistic, then get in touch with me on the regular platforms, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. I would like to do more speaking on the subject as it’s something I feel comfortable doing. Hopefully this might happen as the year end approaches. Watch this space….

A.S.D Brooks

Beware of the LinkedIn hoax….

I’m on LinkedIn, which is a business portal so that people can see your work history/volunteering history, skills and assets so that possible recruiters can see what you possess.

But, like most social media, it’s open to fraudulent activity. Now, I’m quite good at spotting scams and fraud. Not so today. This afternoon, someone who I know quite well messaged me with a message to check in on a website. I thought this person might be putting me forward so I can demonstrate my skills.

The only thing I demonstrated was my stupidity. I couldn’t get access to the site so I messaged the “person” back. He said “Let me know your thoughts”. I felt as secure as a piece of bait on a fishing line. I tried again, no website could be accessed. Cleverly and elaborately, the fraudster put a load of sites where you could type in your email and password. Not realising I had been well and truly scammed, I messaged the person again, and no reply this time.

It all looked very elaborate and well disguised. I messaged the person on Facebook and he said his LinkedIn account had been hacked. Please don’t be taken in, like me. I’ve changed all the passwords on all the sites and emails I use passwords for. I’m such an idiot. But I congratulate the hacker for being very cunning and leading you to type in your email and password. When I got the message that his account had been hacked, I had to act fast.

Yep, from being the one telling people to avoid being caught out to being caught out. Never again.

A.S.D Brooks

Professional makeover?

This is Viv Groskop. She is a well known journalist, writer, broadcaster and stand up comedian. Also she helps people from all walks of life to try to improve their public speaking skills.

Now as I’ve said many times, I used to run a mile from any kind of public speaking. But in the last few years, through practice and I hope some interest from people, I’ve managed to get by in the art of public speaking. I’m not perfect by any means (who is?) but I’ve conquered those nerves about getting up in front of an audience and speaking.

This is where Viv Groskop comes in. Today, via a mental health organisation in London called Thrive LDN and the Sheila McKechnie foundation, I attended a workshop in improving public speaking skills. There were about 12 of us there and it was a tremendously rewarding and fun afternoon.

Viv is very good at what she does and her confidence and enjoyment shone through. She critiqued a short talk from me, referring to the tone of my voice and trying to change it. I’ve never heard anybody referring to the tone of my voice before but it made for interesting listening, so to speak.

Viv also referred to my warmth, engaging personality (shurely some mistake, ed) and said that I sell myself short. How did she come to that conclusion?! Because I’m my own self critic, and try to be a perfectionist. I beat myself up too much, and that’s probably why I haven’t achieved as much as I might have done. Making myself look foolish is a number one reason for that.

I know I can do it, be it public speaking, umpiring cricket, tutoring umpires etc, but those inner demons always make an appearance. But it was excellent to have a highly thought of professional person to look at various bits of my body language and how I speak to give me some top feedback.

It was like being out of my comfort zone. But Viv put us all at our ease and it was a rewarding, and enlightening afternoon. Something different.

While I’m on the subject, check out Viv Groskop on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and also download a book from her about public speaking called “How To Own The Room”. Wonderful to meet people like this and I hope our paths cross at some point in the future.

A.S.D Brooks

Trying to carry on as best I can….

As I’ve mentioned, life is far from easy currently. But I’m trying to carry on, trying to do things, but with difficulty.

A little bit of light came with a tweet of a recording of a talk I did the other day in South London. It was only 15 seconds in length but I got over 2,500 looks on Twitter, 360 odd views of the video and 28 engagements (people clicking on links etc…). I’ve been getting lots of positive comments from people that I met at the event and I hope this could grow into something really enriching and powerful. I will reference the video and the day spent in South London as I will definitely need it in the weeks and months to come.

Unfortunately I can’t put the video on here because my real name is included on it and everyone knows me on WordPress by the alias I use. I prefer to keep it that way. But if you want to watch the 15 second clip on Twitter, my Twitter handle is @AllenBr40292092, then you can see me and my real name!

A.S.D Brooks

Tough week….

I thought that last week saw an upturn in fortunes and we can all look forward. The news I’m about to pass on has been very worrying for the family, and I’ve not been at my best as a consequence.

A member of my immediate family is ill, and he has been in hospital with an infection. I went down to see him the other day and suffice it to say, I was quite shocked and upset by how he was feeling. It’s been a big worry for the last few months but the last few days has been very tough. Thankfully, it seems as though he is more comfortable and the fight to get better continues.

Not been a great year so far, but things might start to look up family wise. I’m very close to this particular individual and I want to see him better and closer to home. We have to cling on to the good bits of news coming from the hospital, and hope there is more good news to come. I’m more optimistic and hopeful today that progress will be slow but sure with him.

Going into the office today to run the Peer Support group (which didn’t happen unfortunately) and catching up on some admin took my mind off the worries. Good to see some of my colleagues and that was a welcome distraction.

A.S.D Brooks

Sense of humour still intact?

On Twitter, a lot of women are having trouble with men sending pictures of their private parts, otherwise known as “dick pics”.

I have far too much decorum to be doing things such as that, but on the other hand, here’s a picture of a dick that I’ve found on the internet:-

Too good an opportunity to miss!

A.S.D Brooks

Mental Health Networking….

This afternoon was spent in the company of some really inspiring people. I was invited to a place called Maytree, in North London.

What is Maytree and what do they do?

Maytree is a UK wide sanctuary for suicidal people. The front of the building is unremarkable, just like a normal terraced house. But inside, it’s been converted into four rooms, a meeting room, a kitchen and a small office.

Maytree take suicidal people in as a one off safe haven, for either four or five weeks. They are a charity and rely on donations. It is amazing that there is very little else like this in the whole of the UK. Reading their statistics was illuminating. They got a lot of calls and people staying in the month of August, more than any other month. Now for everyone that thinks that the winter months are bad for people with mental illness, then that theory has been debunked. August – a time for holidays, free time and summer warmth. Who’d have thought it?

I sat and chatted with a few other invitees and was fascinated by a particular lady who is full of amazing ideas and great vision about how we perceive mental health. I told her about my presentations and hey presto, I’ve been invited to an event in South London in a few weeks.

She had a business card. I didn’t! I had to write my details down on a piece of card. I’m not upwardly mobile to afford business cards, but who knows in the future? We got chatting and I was really fascinated with her ideas and vision. She certainly was no shrinking violet and I like those sort of people.

What happened in the Autumn of last year was one 25 second video from yours truly on Instagram has seen me invited to a variety of events. Networking you see. One person meets another, then another, then another and all of a sudden, doors open in the most unlikely of manners. I hope I can do myself justice in a few weeks. Looking forward to it already.

So a really good afternoon. The weather is perfect, and the Maytree Open Day gave me some inspiration that we can change the narrative around mental illness and turn negativity into positivity. Here’s hoping.

A.S.D Brooks

A Christmas Message….

At 10.30 pm on Xmas Eve, rather than 3pm on Xmas Day. No crown and no posh voice. Just little old me….

Enjoy….if you can.

A.S.D Brooks

Warm and happy thoughts…

It’s been a horrible day weather wise here in London this day. Strong wind, grey skies, lashing rain and icily cold to boot. Very unpleasant. But that’s where duvets come in handy on a day like this!

Last night was spent in the company of two of our Peer Support attendees. We went to watch that play that I’ve seen already this year, called WEIRD, about one woman’s battle with OCD. We went to the Soho Theatre in London on a busy Friday night in amongst the Christmas shoppers.

I had to take my two colleagues along. And boy did they enjoy it. There was a terrific atmosphere in the room, which housed 70/80 people at a rough guesstimate. Amy Doyle, the fabulous actress that plays all the parts, launched into a tour de force that drew widespread admiration from all in the room.

The audience laughed at the funny bits. They sat in respectful silence at the sad moments. And when it was all over, the room rose as one to applaud Amy. She seemed somewhat taken aback by the reaction, but as I’ve alluded to before, this is a great production. And the ovation was richly deserved.

And some of the applause should be reserved for this fine lady:-

The lady in question is Manchester born writer Lucy Burke, (pictured with me, above) whose battles with OCD are brilliantly displayed via the stirring Amy Doyle. It’s an earthy, vibrant production with a bittersweet, human touch. Next year, WEIRD may tour some parts of the UK. If you see it advertised, please go and see it. It’s one of my standout memories of the year.

My two colleagues loved the whole performance. I shall see it again, and I shall bring along more of my colleagues to enjoy the beauty of one of the best things I’ve seen in recent years. No praise can be too high for this.

A wonderful way to end the week.

WEIRD, A Play about OCD. Written by Lucy Burke. Directed by Peter Taylor. Performed by Amy Doyle.

A.S.D Brooks