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Life After Tramadol Part 3

Nov 08, 2009 - 9 comments

Nine weeks and one day.  How much time is that?  Not much in the big scheme of things.  But still, to me, it might as well be an eternity.

Sixty-four days.  1,536 hours.  92,160 minutes.  Going on forever.

In comparison with the amount of time I was taking tramadol, it’s not much.  Fred once related his success to failure ratio and this reminds me of it.  I might as well have been born yesterday.

In a way, I sort of was.

Just read an incredibly important book called Necessary Losses (by Judith Viorst).  The book considers the human lifespan and human development in terms of stages, during which we have to “give up” something – sometimes Some Things – in order to get to something else, something we really need.  In order to grow and be well.  And I know this to be true from my own life: we are constantly having to relinquish our attachment to something.  That never ends.  Way before we are ready sometimes.  But we have to if we are to grow, to thrive.  Even when it hurts.

I lost a lot of my life to tramadol, and now seems like a time to reflect on that.  On why.  Not because I want to beat myself up because I definitely do not want that.  No point at all in excessive self-reproach.  Rather, because I do not care to repeat my past mistakes even one more time.  And looking back on my life, I have done that so many times.  I have made huge mistakes, terrible judgments, and I have learned something from it – and still managed to do it again at the next opportunity.  I am smarter than that, but I have done it.  I suspect I am not the only one.  Invincibility fable, perhaps.  Or maybe I tried to do it again believing I could somehow change the outcome, even though I knew I couldn’t.

We get so many chances in life and we blow and awful lot of them, and usually we learn important lessons through those lost chances.  We learn to value the better opportunities that come later, if nothing else.  To be less cavalier and more careful, more aware and thankful and present in our lives.  To not take things for granted.  Part of this lesson, for me, involves understanding – Really Understanding – that nothing is forever.  That everything we cherish in life can be lost, and ultimately, we are bounded on every side by time, finiteness.  And so we should be careful to not lose even a moment that remains in our grasp.

The Tramadol Lessons are still presenting themselves, sort of materializing as the dust and smoke clear away and things settle, and as my own eyes adjust to their new clarity.  I never realized until now how much I failed to see, or notice, during the tramadol years.  I believed, as many of my fellow warriors did, that the drug helped me live better.  That it repaired my brokenness.  But of course, it didn’t.  It obscured my ability to accept my brokenness even as it kept inflicting more damage emotionally and physically.  Breaking me down further, and further still, until I was sure I had been reduced to a heap of wreckage that was simply irreparable.  A total loss.  Fully lost human potential.  The saddest tragedy in the world.

That was then, though. This is now.  Everything has changed.  I have a new Self, and everything is made new again.

Some of my fellow Warriors have talked about how music helps get us through the hardest hard times.  Music has always been my native tongue, my language when words are just miserably insufficient, as they so often are.  I have played guitar and piano since I was old enough to reach the frets or the keys.  Playing songs, writing songs, singing songs and dreaming about songs.  Nothing could ever replace music in my soul, but tramadol made quite a run at it.  For weeks at a time I wouldn’t get my guitar out of the case, forgetting as I did the joys associated with anything but the poisonous fog that I kept running back to each day, each hour.  Every time something hurt, every time I felt sad, every time I felt overwhelmed or scared or happy or needed to jumpstart myself.  I turned away from people, away from myself, and away from God.  I turned to the one thing that was killing me slowly, cell by cell, pill by pill.  I committed slow suicide, guaranteeing my destruction even as I tried with all my might to patch the holes in myself.  I filled my body with poison.  How could I have expected to be anything other than a toxic wasteland?

There is a fine line between feeling healthy guilt for what I have done, for the price of that refusal to love and respect myself, and I need to find that line and stay on the healthy side.  There are definitely moments when I know I have crossed it – moments when I feel far too much anger at myself, when I think about how there’s no way I can ever get those years back and no way I can repair all the damage I did to myself physically.  The pains are poignant reminders of that.  I’ll never forget, even if my legs never hurt again.  Even if I sleep every night for the rest of my life.  The reminders will be there when I look at the people I love and see that they have aged since I last looked, really looked at them.  When I recall four years ago, beginning a new job, a new life, and wonder who it was that rose to those challenges while I was AWOL.  When I realize that I was three courses short of finishing my doctorate before I got too sick to keep going and had to stop and get better.  When someone asks me how old I am now, and I have to think about it before answering.  Where did those years go?  They are my Lost Years.  Necessary Losses.  What we have to give up in order to move forward, to grow, to thrive.

Three CDs are playing right now in my stereo.  David Gray, Lost Songs and Brandi Carlile, The Story and Give Up The Ghost.  I have them set to repeat, and I will listen until morning, or until I fall asleep. The music has healing in it.  

Another installment in the Life After Tramadol Chronicles.  Some losses are definitely necessary losses.  I am humbled by that knowledge.  I am stronger for learning to hold things, look at them, turn them over, feel them and memorize them, and then let them go.  

And I am so incredibly glad to know I am not alone out here.

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1090333 tn?1264508493
by GreatWhite, Nov 09, 2009
Wow! your words blow me away. You def have a way of putting everything that I would say 99% of people are feeling on this site. Its so strange to read words that I am thinking inside of my head and not able to put on paper that are the exact words of yours. I have missed feeling emotions, and having ups and downs, because everything was up on trams. Or for the most part. I miss going through the learning processes of life by making emotional decisions. I miss really sitting down and getting to know someone and not think about, "wow i am feeling good right now because of the pill i just popped".. All of these things that the human body needs in its life to love, learn, and grow. Many times i try not to think about the time that i wasted by taking trams, or the people that I have let slip out of my life, but I know that i need to think about these things, to reflect is healthy. To figure out where I went wrong and why is extremely healthy. So that is my new mission, to dig deep down in my soul and reach in and pull out the "me" that has been pushed down for sooooo long. but this first week I have discovered that although i poop every 5 seconds, and although sometimes I get anxious and get nervous, this is my body feeling for the first time in years. And I want to keep feeling forever.

1059641 tn?1277522376
by forget_me_not, Nov 09, 2009
GreatWhite, thank you for taking the time to read and comment!  I think journaling sometimes is really helpful for the person writing, as well as others who may come across it. That's how I found this site to begin with, as a matter of fact.

You're so right -- it's probably good for all of us to think about those things, although it can get a little overwhelming (especially if you are prone to guilt like I am!).  But I am finding that line between healthy guilt and obsessive guilt is much easier to find now that my mind is clear.  While taking tramadol I would think such dark, scary thoughts.  They became obsessions at times, paralyzing and crippling and so destructive.  And during the initial WD that was true, for sure.  But not now.  

I wrote that I would never forget even if I slept great every night for the rest of my life...and of course, was awake with PAWS insomnia all night, just napping after 8am this morning.  But you know, it's ok!  I can deal with it.  It will pass, and I can deal with it.

Thank you again...and blessings to you today.


Avatar universal
by Hillbilly47, Nov 09, 2009
FMN, all I can say is WOW.  Ain't it funny how we speak directly to one another through these things?  If I had such a way with words, I could have written that.  I too turned away from the things that used to mean everything to me, just to turn toward something that was slowly killing me.  I too am rediscovering those things that once meant everything.  I just spent the weekend making mediocre music with great folks (that's my story and I'm sticking to it) and for the first time in a long time, every note rang into the center of my mind - no fog, no filter and no pills.  Now that I too am dealing with some PAWS stuff, I find myself more and more often reaching for guitar or mando to get through it.  Music truly does heal.

Peace and blessing to you too!

1292938 tn?1333273242
by bethwillprevail, Apr 26, 2010
These posts are very encouraging- WOW is right!   It could be my life she is talking about.  I cant wait unitl I can post something that says 14 or 30 days free of Tramadol.  I am going to try the music- I think that may work for me.  I also am going to take asprin and tylenol PM.  Hopefully I can relieve a little of this agony.  I really think I am going to taper faster and get off by this Friday and get it over with.

Avatar universal
by PeteN1983, Sep 11, 2013
Hi all

I sincerely hope someone reads this;

Firstly, thank you so much for writing what you did, I feel for you so much - it's happened to me too.
I've been off of tramadol for 2 weeks now and I'm never, ever going back to it. I've neglected my music, lost the best job I've ever had and currently pretty sure I'm losing my wife. Me and my wife both knew tramadol was causing problems over a year ago and I started to cut down on them. Yet somehow the nasty little yellow and green tablets enticed me back again and I was back to my old, horrible, drug induced self again.

Now she says there's been to much damage done and she can't go back. I'm off the tramadol but fear it is most likely too late. I want her to give 'the real me' a chance to prove to her that I still have ambition and drive, and that I'm not lazy and do love her and my 3 children more than life itself.

I'm so down it's unbelievable. I am literally feeling physical pain and don't feel I want to continue living as a result of what I've done to all the people I love. I'm so lost right now.

It's going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better, I just hope I'm strong enough to come out the other side of this with some sort of life still intact.

Thank you so much to anyone who reads this


1059641 tn?1277522376
by forget_me_not, Sep 11, 2013
Pete, we are here, and we are with you.  Keep sharing, keep writing, keep the faith.  You have taken the first step in reclaiming yourself, and your wife will make her decision, but please don't let that affect yours.  You must do this for YOU.  Let her go if you must; if she wants to try again, she will come back.  If not, life will go on, my friend.  You will learn from this, too, just as you have learned from every trial and loss.


Avatar universal
by PeteN1983, Sep 11, 2013
Thank you for your kind words. Tramadol has ruined my life enough already and I'm determined to never go back. I will beat it,  I will become happy again. I just wish it didn't take me causing so much destruction along the way to see the light now. It's so nice to talk to someone who understands where I'm coming from, what I've been through, and what a grip this drug really has on someone once their mind & body gets addicted to it. I've always been such a mentally strong person, tramadol changed all of that. I am now reclusive, quiet, don't bother with my friends and family and have spent most of the last year sat in front of the xbox. How lonely I've become. Nearly 2 weeks off it now though so I'm hoping my brain sorts itself out and starts working out how to produce serotonin again, by itself. Thank you for being here and taking the time to read this, I am truly touched you replied so soon.


738790 tn?1377720994
by KC67, Jan 05, 2014
Forget me not,
I am so grateful that I just now found your journal.  I saw your posts on Emily's journal and clicked on your name and saw that you had your own journal.

You write beautifully and brought me to tears.

I am almost 7months clean of tramadol.  I have tried quitting this drug so many times over the past 10 years, I lost count.  In fact, I successfully quit around the same time as you did back in 2009, but only made it to 67 or so days.  I was feeling better and the tram voices told me that I wasn't really addicted and that the pills made me a better person.

The regret I have is deep.

I have done so much damage to my brain and body, but what brings me the most regret is the damage I have done to the people I love.  

I became a shell of a human being on these evil pills - - this self-absorbed pill seeking monster who missed 10 years of her life and her children's lives.  I went with my oldest son to proof his Senior pictures a few months ago.  They showed me this lovely video with all of the pictures they took with different settings and backgrounds.  I wept uncontrollably.  When did my son grow up and become a man?  I missed all those years.  It was (and still is) heartbreaking.

Tramadol stole my love for music as well.  I am a vocalist and within a few years on trams, I lost my love for singing and even listening to music.  At 7 months clean, I am just now rediscovering music again.   It is a beautiful thing.

Tramadol also stole my faith in God.  I slowly withdrew from the people I loved at church.  I stopped praying.  I stopped singing.  Tramadol became my god.  

I feel I am just now awakening from a 10 year sleep.  I have missed so much and am trying very hard not to beat myself up.  Self condemnation and guilt will only delay my healing.  I know this, but it is still a huge challenge for me.

So, I just wanted to drop you a line and say "Thank You" for continuing to post on Emily's journal.  And Thank you for starting your own beautiful journal many years ago.  As people discover it, they will be encouraged and blessed.

You are a light.


1059641 tn?1277522376
by forget_me_not, Jan 05, 2014
kc, thank you so much.  I journaled a great deal in the beginning, both here and privately, because it helped me work through the anger and sadness.  There was so much, so much.  And I didn't have anyone to talk to or any place to go, so I created the journal as a place to "put" it all.  I am thankful it has helped you.  I am a firm believer in sharing this experience, we are stronger together than we are alone.  Hang in there, and keep the faith.  It is going to be so worth it, I promise.  ~fmn

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