My laptop functions as an extension of my brain. I use it to store memories, to explore the environment that matters to myself and my peer group, and to express my will. Both my work and large parts of my social life live online. When I don’t have access to a reliable computer, I’m cut off from participating in the spheres that I care about. Sure, I can still read Twitter and Instapaper and text my boyfriend from my phone, but a laptop is so much more powerful. Unlike a phone, it’s a robust creative tool. I’m much more text-based than visual, so without a proper keyboard and word processor, I feel stymied. The Notes app is just not the same.
Currently I’m hurting for lack of a machine that will do my bidding. I don’t want to complain about my IT troubles too much, but it’s striking how drastically my life is affected by a slow and glitchy computer. This old Lenovo ThinkPad has been degrading gradually for a while — since I first got it four years ago, if we want to be precise — but over the past couple of days the situation has dramatically worsened. I can still do things, but not consistently, and I have to restart whenever I want to open or close a new program. Downloading images is basically out of the question. (Yes, a factory reset is on my schedule, and a Chromebook is winging its way to me from an Amazon warehouse.)
There’s a parallel between my computer and my antidepressant meds. Every day I take 225 milligrams of venlafaxine, the generic form of Effexor. It’s a drug that I’m incredibly grateful for, because it enables me to feel happy and energetic. But venlafaxine has hardcore side effects if I miss a dose — the colloquial term for what happens is “brain zaps”. You know that feeling when you drink too much caffeine, so you’re shaking and buzzing with anxiety? It’s like that, but also static electricity shocks me behind the eyes periodically. It’s not painful, but it’s not pleasant.
The frustration caused by trying to get my broken computer to just fucking do things is like trying to navigate the world when my brain is missing the right levels of serotonin and dopamine or whatever chemicals are affected. It’s not as bad as being depressed or being stuck with paper notebooks — but I am still filled with enough rage to want to cry.