RSA 2005 (Fool in the Rain)

by Bill Brenner on February 14, 2011

As I cover RSA Conference 2011, I can’t help but think back to my first RSA trip in 2005. This isn’t about security trends then and now. It’s about my state of mind back then.

Mood music (because I was listening to this one a lot back then):

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGshAiRp64Q&fs=1&hl=en_US&rel=0]

I had been writing for SearchSecurity.com for less than a year, and I was in the middle stages of an emotional breakdown. I just didn’t know it at the time.

Here’s what I do remember:

–Back then I was so afraid of the world that the very thought of getting on an airplane to cover this event made me stagger. I had several anxiety attacks in the month leading up to the trip.

–The plane ride was rough, and I had a four-hour layover in Denver. By the time I got to San Francisco, I wanted to crawl into a hole and die.

Pleasing my bosses and proving to them that I was the golden child was everything to me at that point, and I approached the conference with a “produce 10 stories or die trying” attitude that was wrapped in the fear of falling short.

–It rained constantly during the entire trip, and another thing I didn’t realize then was that bleak weather fueled my depression.

–I was sick for most of the trip. On the first full morning I woke up with a 102-degree fever and wondered how I would get out of bed. What got me up was a desire to spend as little time in that hotel as possible. The place was all concrete and brick, and I remember being terrified of what would become of the place in an earthquake. I wrote more than a couple stories that day.

–I was listening to Motley Crue’s comeback compilation, “Red White and Crue” nonstop for comfort.

–Once I got home, I was emotionally and physically sicker than ever. And in response, I binged and binged until I had packed on nearly 30 extra pounds.

That period was the lowest of the low.

In hindsight it was an important year in my growth as a human being, because I was finally starting to deal with the fact that something was seriously wrong with me and that I had to do something before I tore myself and my family apart. 

Today, I’m staring out a rainy window from the 14th floor of the hotel I’m staying in. The rain still has a depressive effect, but my program of recovery is keeping it manageable. My eating is strict and clean, and while I have done a lot of writing so far for the job, I’m not doing it to please the masters. I’m doing it because this is what I do and I love it.

I do miss my wife and kids, but that’s always the case when I’m away.

In any event, I’m in a much better place now than I was six years ago.

I’m grateful to God and everyone around me who makes it possible.

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