If you don't like it, change it.

17th September 2017

So the last few months have been interesting...

About three years ago I had decided to take control of my own life. I can't remember what triggered me but at some point I took on the mantra "if you don't like it, change it". This may sound strange to some, why wouldn't you be in control of your own life? But for some reason it never felt like that, I just accepted whatever happened and was never really outspoken about what I did and didn't like. So I started changing, replacing stuff I didn't like with stuff I did like. I terminated my own company, helped my customers move to different companies that were willing to service them. I bit the bullet and switched companies myself, went a year without soda and took up running to get fit. I finally started answering my own desires and made tough decisions which affected my personal life and relationship. It was probably one of the hardest things to do because I had to replace my rational thinking with emotional thinking. On paper, everything was perfect.

On January 1st 2017 I wrote a nice recap of my 2016 on Facebook. I ended that post saying this:

In 2016 I've gotten to know a lot of new people, made new memories and changed a lot about myself. This has had a significant impact on my life but I now see 2017 as a year in which I can find peace and regain structure in my life.

No resolutions, no new life goals. Just learn to be myself.

That was easier said than done. I was struggling to find the motivation to continue being my best self. I was always tired, felt down, sat in my car for about 5 to 10 minutes before walking home. I had no ambitions, no dreams and no future in mind. I avoided questions like "how are you?", always replied with a quick "I'm alright, you?" just to put the focus on them. Also my alcohol consumption spiked and not for the right reasons. At some point I even thought of what would happen if I were to just give all my money away and start over. Not that I was actually going to do it, but it looked like a nice way to regain motivation.

This went on for a few months until I hit a breaking point. The point where my two lives were heavily interfering with each other. I could no longer function well at work and in my personal life. In life you always need something you can fallback on. Whether that's your partner, a hobby, a good friend or your job. At that point, the breaking point, there was nowhere to find peace of mind. I felt bad, really bad. I apologized to the team and took the afternoon off. I laid in my bed and started writing down every symptom I had been experiencing the past year. The list turned out to be surprisingly long and it was enough for me to pick up the phone and call the general practitioner. I knew I wanted to see a psychologist, unfortunately you first have to get a referral from the doctor if you want your insurance to cover it.

I was terrified that week, I was afraid that I was blowing things out of proportion. I was making a big deal out of daily struggles that everyone experiences. My colleagues were going to think I'm weak, the doctor was going to suggest going to bed earlier or exercising as an obvious solution to all my problems. The worst part is, these things did happen. There were some people that did initially think I was making a big deal out of a small mistake, the doctor did recommend me to not look at any screens an hour before bedtime. Heck, the doctor even found it interesting to tell a story about her daughter being surprised by a gay couple because fuck knows why, while I was sharing my struggles. Luckily I had a few close friends I could talk to and they reassured me I was doing the right thing. The doctor did refer me to a psychologist.

After sharing how I was feeling with the team, they immediately excused me of any work. I stepped away from my role as lead developer, spend the next few weeks having long talks with colleagues and I was unbillable for a good amount of time. I'm still really thankful towards to team for handling the situation like this. It gave me the chance to create a fallback, the fallback I didn't have in any area of my life. I still had a lot of tension in my body at work but that started fading away as well. Work was now a safe space again.

My weekends were (and still are) the worst. It's the time where I'm left alone with my thoughts, the time where I seek out interactions that typically don't end in the way I hope for them to end. It's also the time in which I realise how small my world is. I've never been the type of person to message a friend to do something fun. I've always been afraid to bother them or that they would be too polite to say no to me. Like I would always be of an inconvenience to them. I still have this feeling, but I'm trying to be more selfish from my own point of view. And that's what this is all about. What others see as a good balance, I see as selfishness and arrogance. I would do everything to stay away from those two characteristics and in the process isolate myself, maybe not in all aspects of life but definitely in a lot of them. I never think of myself as someone who's good at something, rather "pretty good" or "decent". Anything to keep myself from thinking too much of myself.

I've been seeing my psychologist for a few weeks now. Slowly unraveling the reasons behind my actions. The official diagnosis is that I'm suffering from a minor depression, but she reassured me that we will always look at the symptoms rather than the diagnosis. Since then I've opened up to everyone around me, literally everyone. The response has been amazing. People inviting me to go out, see a movie, have dinner to catch up or help me still have a nice birthday. Even opening up to me about their own personal struggles. I haven't had a weekend alone since then. I made new friends, was reacquainted with old friends and I found out I have loads of people around me who care.

I wrote this blog post for myself, but I'm publishing it for you. What you've read is not the whole story, but it's the story I'm willing to share with the public. I encourage you to open up to others and be honest to yourself and those around you.

Thank you to everyone around me for helping me out, I don't need to list any names here because you know who you are.

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