Or a little bit more than a year
It’s been a year for me, one in with a lot of stuff happened, some good but a lot of bad and harsh. I’ve been recovering from a burnout since February 2018, and I’m now finally back at work at La Quadrature, where a lot of changes are underway.
During this time, I spent more than six month experimenting different prescriptive drugs, trying to find a balance that would finally enables me to feel normal emotions, not the huge exhaustive and destructive tsunamis of rage, or the infinite pain of just being in pain.
Experimenting with your brain homeostasis is kind of a weird process. It changes the way you think, the way you perceive the world, the way you define yourself. It questions your free will, it questions your world, It questions who you are. And, in the end, am I just more than the serotonin neuroreceptor inhibitor drug that I take daily, or am I something different ?
The fiction I’m reading again has always at its core this notion of identity. It’s the basis of all the CyberPunk movement, and it should be at the center of Transhumanism too. Yes, queer politics are also about identity, as well as all politics in the end. And my identity has been fucked up by depression and traumas. I’ve built myself around a seed of anger, buried under layers after layers of insensibility, sarcasm and individualism. That’s how I survived until ten years ago. Got no choice, my socialization as a teenager has been adversarial and I had to weaponize it.
This seed of rage turned into a full blown sinister tree of depression, deploying its root in each aspect of my life and the way I relate to other, burying me under big black rotting leaves of melancholia and existential crisis, ornamenting the abysmal depth of despair with beautiful flower of exhausting emotional burst, lots of them were rage. Some others were dried by suicidal thought and morbidity. Other were flower of pure joy, turning despair in seconds, because it made me see the darkness I’m leaving in.
So yeah. Depression sucks. ADD make things worse. But back to the pills. What they do, basically, is giving me future and prospective. It’s helping me to get out of the fight or flight mode I’ve been in for years. It’s giving me the ability to plan for the future. Or the next two days, which is a huge improvement.
And yes, it is an emotional prosthetic. I see it that way. There’s a non zero chance I’ll take them until the day I’ll kill myself, or that a car decided that I should have stopped my bike in time and rode over my disarticulated body. It is part of me. The depression tree has been tamed a little bit : I still have those emotional burst where I have to fight myself to not jump on someone and turn his face in a bloody pulp with my bare hands. But they’re manageable, I can channel them a bit now. It’s still exhausting, and I’ll have fucked up night after that, despite the pills who are supposed to help me rest when I sleep, but at least it only last a few minutes, not hours or days as it used to.
You have to understand that those pills, are the only things that can help me to get some stable ground. Maybe after years of therapy I won’t need them, but for the foreseeable future, they’re part of me. And they allow me to shift my identity away from the rotten tree of despair to somewhere else. To a place where I can enjoy being with friends and lovers without blaming myself after that. To one where I can manage some social stress, even if being in a room with more than ten people is still tough for me. To a place where I can dance the stress and anxiety away. Where being sober among drunk and high friends is not stressful. Where I can admit that shit might hit the fan and that there’s probably nothing I can do to avoid that. The thing you call getting over stuff I think.
I’m still bad at it. I never learned to manage my feelings, and to accept them as not being alien, implanted in me by a fucked up chemistry, pushing me in the backseat of myself. But I think I’ll get there. At least I’m getting a little less shy about it.
But depression is always there to sucker punch you the second you stop paying attention. I can’t forgot the pills. If I forgot them for twelve or more hours, I’m getting suicidal. Fast. I need to be sure that I have them with me in case I’m not sleeping home. Getting arrested at a protest, even only for twenty four hour, is dangerous.I have to think about it every day, all day and it doesn’t help to see my progress.
So, I started to log my feelings. A small app, that will pops some time in my day asking me how I’m doing and what I’m doing. Something proactive, which will interrupt my train of thought and forces me to think about how I feel. Even for only ten seconds. It’s not like keeping a journal, which would require me to take an action, to think about logging and, being ADD, forgetting about it two seconds after thinking that I should do it, postponing it forever.
And yes, maybe this free apps is riddled with advertisement (I could pay to get rid of parts of it) and is built on GAFAM tech. But, as a lot of assistive tech, it needs to exists to make my life a bit easier, to rely a bit less on others, to stop feeling like I’m a burden to others. But this software, those data, are part of who I am. They record my past, and gives me agency. I can look at it and see that yesterday I was quite happy, and that all things considered it’s getting better. The same way the molecules I ingest daily patch my homeostasis, those assistive apps patch my moods.
It doesn’t tells me how I could be more productive. It just tells me how I am outside of now. But then, I’m hearing people, allies or friends, telling me that assistive apps are bad, that they’re only used to gather data about me, profile me in order to deliver targetted ads. Yes that’s true. The same way pharmacological companies tries (and succeed) to profit of every pills they make.
But rejecting this, rejecting the assistive tech part is the same as refusing people with diabetes to monitor their glucose level and to adapt their insulin intake, giving them autonomy. Or refusing access to glasses or hearing aids. Or prosthesis of any kind.
I have the right to help myself with external apparels, and to alter my self using anything available. And I have this right either because it’s a necessity to adapt to this crazy and destructive world we live in, or because it’s fun. Or both. The issue is that we’re monetizing the data about us, about our lives, not that the data exists. Those data are parts of me, they helps me understand myself. They helps you understand me. They helps me understand you, and the world we share.