From depression to happiness

When I were a teenager, I was already into computer science and dreamed about working at a large company like Facebook one day. That was the true American dream to me. Just working there in Silicon Valley, earning some money and building up a life there was all I wanted at that time. Everything would just be so much better over there. I would be happy all the time and everything would be perfect. So I thought…

Today I work at a large tech company, not in America, but in Amsterdam. Although Amsterdam is nothing like Silicon Valley, it’s a great city to live in and very multicultural. Let’s say I’m living a light version of a dream I had years ago. All of that seems great, but I don’t feel happy all the time. By no means I consider my life perfect and at this point I start to wonder if this would be any different if I actually would be living in the US.

Being happy is not something you become by achieving one or another goal. It’s not related to the place you live, the amount of money you have or even the people you know. Being happy is something you become by having a good mindset and a positive perspective on life. Or in other words:

(source: https://www.facebook.com/dejakob/posts/703655946339828)

Jup, that’s true, I just quoted myself. When I posted this message, I was actually living in the US. I was doing an internship in Washington DC and had just discovered that being happy was a thing I could do. Around that time, I realized I wasted so many time of my life being sad and nothing but sad. It was also around that time I started making plans to move out and to start my own life. I didn’t hate my family but living with two people who were suffering from depression wouldn’t help me to get better. All I wanted was to get better.

As you might have read in a previous blog, I did move out and tried several times to start over. Which brings us back to this:

(source: https://www.facebook.com/dejakob/posts/1411105048928244)

On April 24th (2017), I wrote some kind of blog sharing a personal story with the world. It’s a story describing me wanting to kill myself several times in the past. I know it was not a funny story, but it was an important one. Although I clearly stated this was “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”, it was only one truth, a pretty dark truth. Everything in that story actually did happen, but my life consists of way more experiences and events than described in that story.

Since I live in the Netherlands, people often ask me where in Belgium I grew up. Every single time I try to avoid this question by saying I lived at several places in Belgium. I try to avoid the question because I’m actually ashamed of where I grew up because I only remember bad and awful things about that place. It’s like nothing good happened while I lived there. There were objectively a lot of things over there that happened, which shouldn’t have. But… I lived there around 20 years, how could it possibly be that I only remember bad things?

Let’s fast forward a bit; I had my first job in Ghent and hated it. I once even literally said at work I hated my job. I hated driving there and just the fact of knowing I needed to go there on Monday usually screwed up my Sunday as well. Usually if I were feeling that unhappy, I just blamed it on my family or high school. At that time, I already left both of those. I started to blame the company instead. Once again, there were objectively a couple of things that shouldn’t have happened over there, but only a couple… When I started my second job in, I realised I could no longer run away from my problems as my biggest problem was living inside of me. That’s when I finally got the guts to step to a therapist.

Ironically, when a therapist asked me ‘do you think you are depressed’, I always answered ‘no’. Because depression is an illness, I was not ill. Depression was like my mother, I was not like my mother and never wanted to be like that. But guess what… First step in solving any problem is realizing there is one. I used to be depressed and honestly, I sometimes still am.

Which brings us back to today. I’m pretty much living the dream I had as a teenager. I have everything I need: I have great friends who always help me out, I have a very nice job and I live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. And yet, I always find something to complain about. This has to stop; This has to change. The only thing that stops me from being happy is myself. Luckily there are many inspiring quotes on the web that can help me with this, like this one for example:

(source: https://www.facebook.com/dejakob/posts/703655946339828)

@dejakob

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