I think I am going to set up a new category.
Over the last couple of years I have been increasingly depressed. Given what I know now about the last two years I am convinced that it's a combination of things that caused them, some internal and some external. I'm thinking that it's mostly external things and not brain chemistry - I was never depressed before and there were a lot of depressing external things going on to depress me without the help of a bad brain.
In any case, on Monday I go in to have anti-depressants prescribed for me. I'm told that when my external influences change there is a good chance that I won't need them anymore, but that in order to get through the next six months it can't hurt to see if they help.
Now, believing, as I do, that we are little more than the combination of our genetic predispositions, our brain chemistry and our experiences (which get filtered through the above, and our other experiences) combining to program the meat computer that is the self*, this is an interesting situation for me.
Will I be the same person that I am now if I take these things? Say they make me happier - does that mean that the me that I am today (the less happy one) was not the "real" me, that the real me was being affected by circumstances and less than ideal brain chemistry to be less than he could be, or am I essentially killing off the current me, with his less than perfect brain chemistry in order to make a new version of him with different (supposedly better) brain chemistry who will take over from there? To use a Star Trek analogy is the Kirk that Scotty beams up the same one that said "Beam me up, Scotty" in the last scene? Except that in this case I know that the version of me running around after this is different - he's on medication.
I've decided to change the operating environment for my meat computer, which, remember, is all I have. There isn't any "soul" that is going to "untouched" by this physical change. It's like expecting your experience with a computer to be the same whether you boot into Linux or Windows. You may be able to do the same things, and they may look sort of the same, but fundamentally you have changed the way things work (the use of this example does not mean that I believe I will have access to powerful command line utilities after this, though that would be awesome).
Of course, the version of me in operation today doesn't drink at all, meaning that, brain-chemically, I'm not the same person I was 6 weeks ago. And the me six weeks ago was different from the me three years ago.
Understand, I'm not complaining. It's just that this is the first time I have come face to face with the question of what makes me "me". And it's kind of freaking me out to think that I will be intentionally changing that, even though I've done it unintentionally or intentionally without thinking about it thousands of times. So, I am thinking that I will set up a new category, probably called "A Better, Happier You" in order to document what it's like. Partly so that other people can read what happening to me, and what might happen to them if they do the same thing, and partly for the whole "Flowers for Algernon" - like having a journal of what I currently consider to be my real self slipping away thing. Sort of assisted suicide for my personality. I'll be interested to see if I like the new me, even though, of course, I can't trust the way I feel about the new me, since I don't know if I feel that way for real, or if it's the medication. Of course, it won't make a difference - I'll still feel that way.
Then again it might be that I am over reacting and over analyzing all of this and I will be just like me, but not miserable. Over the next couple of days (before I go in) I am going to put together a list of the things that I think make me who am I am, so that I can have some baseline to understand what happens to me. I haven't decided yet whether to publish all, some or none of it. Probably I should publish all of it, since if I don't then some of the stuff that I write about the changes might not make sense to people reading. If I see any of those changing it will be interesting to see how I feel about it then, as opposed to how I feel now (freaked out, slightly horrified, yet with some excitement).
I think part of this freakout can be attributed to the Ambian/Lunesta change over the last 5 months (especially the last 6 weeks, during which I have not had anything to drink at all and used Lunesta every night). I am now a person who falls asleep at 10pm and gets up at 5 or 6 in the morning. I have always been a night person before, and it was a major part of who I was. Now that that has changed it's a really noticeable thing to me. Yes, I am not tired all the time, but I am also not able to really go out - I get sleepy very early. Some of the things that are making me unhappy now are things that I have felt for half my life, even if I feel better without them, am I still me?
Anyway, stay tuned as I begin reprogramming the meat computer that runs me and find out what happens and how I feel about it. I'm thinking I can probably get a good story out of it as well.
* A Note on Free Will: I do believe that we have free will and that we make our own choices. I also, however, think that our meat-robotness greatly affects the choices that we are able to make. I for example, am programmed to favor certain kinds of decisions. I can make decisions that go against my programming, but it's really, really hard and I usually won't unless I really try, and even then I will keep falling back into the pattern and trying to make the prgorammed decision. The programming doesn't stop you from making choices - but boy does it try to. In my case most of my programming is pretty benign, so it's not a problem. I know some people who's programming is really bad for them, and that's hard to watch.