Albuquerque

One of the things I think depression has taken from me is my identity, or perhaps just my self-confidence in my identity.

Who I saw myself as, my personal identity, used to be easier and much more concrete than I find myself struggling with today.  I was a wacky guy with long, curly hair, a computer guy, an ardent Mt. Dew drinker, and a hard & heavy believer at church.  Yet my identity was never tied to any of these in particular, none of these individually made me who I was, and though the hazy and haphazard collection of them did, it was something that simply was, not anything I had to think about.  I lived how I wanted to live, and how I lived is who I was.

Let’s talk about computers.  I’ve been using computers since the first grade in 1989, and was quickly hooked.  A computer in the home showed up in elementary school, a hand-me-down showed up in my bedroom in middle school, and I received my first, state-of-the-art, new computer in 1997—the summer before high school.  Over the years I’ve built computers, I’ve fixed computers, I’ve donated computers, I’ve played games on computers, and I’ve built websites from computers; in all I’ve spent a lot of time, effort, and money on computers.  I was a com-pu-ter guy.  I dug computers because I did; I enjoyed fiddling and playing and fixing and being the guy people went to with computer problems.

Around 2007 things began to change.  I started enjoying the work aspect of computers less and less.  When things went sideways, I began to view it as less of an opportunity and more as a burden, something I had to slog through to achieve my computing goals.  I was also outside of any computing group for the first time in a long time.  The camaraderie of geekiness over computers wasn’t there any more, and I had only myself to relish and appreciate the computing challenges and fixes I was summoning.  Also in 2007, when Apple released the first iPhone, I found a perfect blend of computing capability with none of the technical work required.  I was replacing a Palm T|X that was a few years old, and the difference was night and day; the iPhone did everything I wanted out of the Palm, and yet did so with 100% less frustration, fiddling, and fussing.  MacBooks followed within a couple of years, and I really came to appreciate these devices’ place at the intersection of capability and ease of use, as opposed to the enjoying the puzzle and construction aspect of my PCs previously.

At first, this all seemed to be a progressive change in my life driven by both logical reasoning and innate feeling about the subjects.  I wasn’t going to be a "computer guy" any more; I was going to be a guy that used computers.  Since those initial years though, I’ve become more and more concerned whether I made the “right choice.”  Remember what I said about self-confidence?  I can’t help but look at others for direction any more, and I worry about the paths not taken.  Let’s look at an example:

Should I be computer gaming?  When I switched to MacBooks, I did so knowing I wasn’t going to be playing computer games like I used to.  I spent a lot of time on the computer writing, reading, or playing smaller, lighter games (e.g. FTL).  I instead began to use a PlayStation 3 and a Wii for my gaming: they’re dedicated to that purpose and cheaper to maintain over a long-term than a computer.  Yet, does Scottish still play computer games?  Why might he still do it?  There’re still a lot of people playing computer games, and I’m jealous of their abilities to mod and tweak their games in ways I cannot on a console.  It’s almost like I’m intentionally sabotaging myself by specifically looking to others for reasons I can’t be happy with the decisions I’ve made.

Then there’re questions about other “techie” computer things I can’t seem to answer for myself: should I consider installing Windows for games, do I need a blog, should I have a website, do I need the hosting I’m paying for, do I need a URL, should I have stayed with Google for my services, am I hitching my wagon to the right horse (Apple) or am I going to be a guy owning an HD-DVD player in a few years?  Then I ask those questions and more but through the filter of what other people think I should be doing  What does Scottish think about my using iCloud instead of Google or instead of fourthords.com?  What do businesses think?  What do family and friends think?

And all of these concerns are just related to my life and the role computers play in it.  There's so much more to my life than computers, and it's all just as complicated and ill-defined.  How much does depression play a role in my self-doubt, in my self-confidence in my identity?  How much does simply growing up have to do with it?

I don't know who I am anymore, and that stymies my progress in recovery and in life.  Furthermore, I don't know how to fix the problem.  More on this story as it develops.

Daniel C. Hodges