Thursday, October 29, 2009

"Will I be me again?"

From David O., age 30. New York City.

"I think today it's been more or less a year since I first asked Dr. -- for Adderall. It seems like since then I've been under the uninterrupted influence of that drug as well as others, the ones that help stabilize me when the amphetamine high begins to wear off and I need something to cushion the blow: Uppers and downers punching in and out, exchanging pleasantries between shifts.

How did things work before this arrangement? My brain had a chemistry uniquely its own, and, while not perfect, it was 100% me: my hormones, my neurotransmitters activating my synapses, working according to plans prepared in-house. The drugs enter like management consultants: "Not so much of that hormone, give him a little more of this one and maybe earlier in the day so as not to keep him up all night. You've got vast reserves of serotonin and dopamine, why are they just sitting there? Put your resources to work!"

Sooner or later it begins to feel like I've outsourced my whole personality. The drugs have altered the machinery in my brain to suit their own purposes. What would happen if I stopped taking them? Without their aid, who or what would run this drastically modified equipment in my head? Will I be me again?"

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