“Now you`ve upset me. I won`t speak to you anymore”. I (DB) have known Peter for a few years now; he is a good friend, a bit temperamental yet fun loving, a loving husband and a very doting father. Although we did enjoy a laugh, I had got used to such abrupt comments once in a while. Knowing that any comments from my side would only worsen matters, I went back to my office, gathered my stuff and lazed my way down to the pub, which was the last ritual before we hit the weekend.
This time it was different. As I walked in I found Peter stomping out and glaring at me with bloodshot eyes. Taken aback, I walked over to the table where the others sat in silence staring at me very disapprovingly. Angela broke the silence. “Peter says that you have been rude to him. He does not approve of your sense of humour.” John took over and began lecturing me about humour pushing the boundaries of offensiveness. I was a bit irked, because Peter always bragged about being `the funny guy`, but something had changed somewhere. Vikram brought in a bit of a management conspiracy theory and was immediately shot down and sanity was restored.
For the next two weeks, I kept my distance from Peter and when he called in sick, I seized the opportunity and rang him to find out how he was. “I`m better, but will be out of action for the next two days”. Peter had been a Type I diabetic since he was 10 years old, had travelled the world, always carried his sandwiches and we all had got used to him falling ill very frequently. Of late, his sugars were all over the place and he was trying hard to get an insulin pump. Due to his frequent eating, he was now putting on the pounds.
The following Monday, he returned and on the pretext that I wished to know more about the project that he was on, I sat down and asked him how he was doing. Over the last few days, he had become more and more irritable, he was having frequent arguments at home with his wife, he had lost money on an ill-advised investment for which he was now in a lot of financial difficulty, he was struggling to pay his rent and was probably not going to be able to go on his family holiday.
He described that these days, with the increased fluctuation of his blood sugars, he was having more episodes of feeling hypoglycaemic and was having to eat more of his ham sandwiches that he carried with him. He described that during each such episode, he got more irritable, angry, anxious and his whole personality would change. We had noticed that during formal meetings, disagreements were a norm, but Peter would vacillate between being meek and being militant. Increasingly, he was losing the ability to see the middle path and was seen to be adopting more a path of confrontation than discussion. He was a talented chap, but was slowly getting labelled as being unreliable. Though most people understood the reasons for his absences, it was his frequent change of personalities which was getting him into situations, where his credibility had begun to be questioned.
We are now closer to Peter and he does discuss his frequent vacillations in moods with us. We support him by appreciating that he has different emotional needs and not to judge him by how he behaved sometimes as this just might be his diabetes speaking. He does need help, but everyone is unsure from whom.
Of course, we haven`t discussed the pub incident. This and many more will have to be forgotten.
(This is a true story and the names have been changed to protect the innocent parties)