Or was I just an angry arsehole?
A few years ago, I was giving a talk to a company where a number of my ex-colleagues worked. They’re great people and it was a lot of fun. But towards the end of the proceedings, an old mate (who shall remain Steve Brann) asked a question that set me back on my heels.
“Do you think it was your mental illness that made you such an angry bugger?”
I was shocked. I’d always seen myself as an easy-going guy, not some grumpy old bloke with a short fuse. But as everyone sat waiting for my answer, I could tell my powers of self-perception may not have been all that they could be.
In fact, as I scrambled for an answer, memories came floating back. The kind that make you want to crawl into a matchbox or hide under a rock. Or both.
Now I’ve always believed that you can’t blame your illness for your behaviour. It’s a copout. But here I was just dying to yell out, “But I was sick, that wasn’t me”.
Thinking back, I can’t remember the answer I gave. Hell, I can’t remember yesterday. But I do know this: These are good people. They weren’t looking for payback. They were just genuinely interested.
And it occurs to me now, years later, that if I’d been more trusting and sharing when I worked with them, life would have been so much better for all of us.
Ironically, the ad agency in which we’d all worked was called Oddfellows. I kid you not.