I have just stepped off the stage at the Pulse Conferences CISO 360 Congress in Rome having presented on “The True Cost of Security, A Personal Story”, recounting my experience of poor mental health. I published my life threatening experiences in my Blog, Drowning not Waving, published a few months ago, and those of you with good memories will recall those events also took place in Rome in September 2017.
I haven’t been back to Rome since then until now to do this talk, and so I am doing so with significant apprehension and unease. It’s an odd feeling, and one I haven’t experienced since my breakdown, but it is one that I will work through and will ultimately do me good. I also have to thank the incorrigible Clive Room of Pulse Conferences for giving me the opportunity to do this talk to a significant audience, and in Rome also. Personal stories are always so much more powerful, and if people in the audience either get the help they need, recognise others in their lives who need the help they need or even just understand that it is a perfectly normal thing to go through, then it will be worth it.
It is also the last time I will be publicly talking about this topic.
I have been approached many times since my original post by people thanking me, empathising with me or generally being extremely supportive as my post had a personal impact on them in some way. In short, the response has astounded me. However, I don’t want to be known as “the mental health guy”; the point of my story is that I recovered, got better, moved on and actually came out a better person. The point of my story was that it was a transitory period of my life and not one (for me) that I have to keep going back to in order to maintain my recovery. The point of my story was to let others know that they are not alone.
Does this mean that I don’t care about this topic any more? Obviously not, and I will always be happy to engage with people about it, help and support them if needed. I am always going to “available” if that is the word, to anyone that feels I may be able to help them.
It does mean that this will be the last time I blog about it, present or appear on a panel on the subject or make any kind of public appearances or endorsements on the topic. Some of you may think this is a bit odd, or maybe even callous and cold, and I understand that. However, this is what is the right thing to do for me in my pursuit of happiness, continued engagement with the InfoSec community and growth of my own business.
To be absolutely clear though, if you want to talk/DM/email with me about this topic then please do. If you feel the need to talk about your own struggles, or think I can help, then reach out, and I will make myself available to you as best I can. Depression and alcohol dependence is a an empty and lonely place to be, and if a kind word and a smile from me will help you then then don’t hesitate. You should also speak to a mental health professional as well of course, as you would have to be very unwell to think I am your best route to happiness!
Thank you to everyone who has shown support, love, compassion, empathy and friendship since reading my story, you know who you are, and I send it all back times three thousand