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Day One, or Thereabouts

July 13, 2009
Photo by Flickr user macwagen under a Creative Commons license.

Photo by Flickr user macwagen under a Creative Commons license.

So then. Here we are. I had a moment this evening where I was just staring off into space — which is something you catch yourself doing a lot of when you’re On the Mend — when I realized that I was completely stone-cold dead-dog sober, and that there was all of like, me, “in here,” all systems green and ready for input, the self as a blinking white cursor on a blank black screen. A little uncanny, sure, but also incredibly new-feeling. No warm opiate buzz nuzzled up around me and purring in my head. No brain-fog offering gauzy assurances. Just straight-up in-here-ness.

Halation. “That same pale sweet aura that an LSD afterglow conferred, some milky corona, like almost a halo of approved grace.” One of the amazing things about tramadol is how long you can feel its effects — usually anywhere from 8 to 12 hours, with a warm afterglow staying with you for quite a few hours after that. From a practical standpoint this means is that you can pop a few in the evening and still feel generally good and warm-swaddled and protected from the pointy spines of the world for most of the following morning. You can imagine the appeal for someone with a difficult relationship with his day job.

But see, one of the consequences of this, of continuous daily drug use, is that all of your experiences start to feel more or less the same. On a given Saturday afternoon you can either go to the beach and get high, or you can stay at home and get high. The beach makes a nice kind of backdrop against which to get high, but really the overall effect isn’t very much different than getting high at home. So if you do actually go to the beach you’re not actually at the beach, you’re just high at the beach. But more often than not you’re going to stay home anyway, because let’s face it, all things being equal — and when you’re on The Drugs, all other things are equal — it’s  easier.

This same sort of relentlessly reductive logic starts to apply to literally every facet of existence — every emotion, every interaction, every situation, every place, everything. You can illustrate this using Math. “High” becomes this like inverted constant (let’s call it H) to every one of life’s equations, except that unlike normal constants, which cancel each other out when you drop one on either side of the equation, when H is involved everything else cancels out and all you’re left with is H. To wit:

H (going to the beach) \or \!\, H (sitting on your ass at home)
H (going to the beach) \or \!\, H (sitting on your ass at home)
H = H
Congrats! You’re high!


H (cooking dinner) \or \!\, H (eating peanut butter out of the jar until you’re full)
H (cooking dinner) \or \!\, H (eating peanut butter out of the jar until you’re full)
Congrats! You’re high!


Once you realize this, one random day deep into your dependency when you suddenly wonder why you haven’t gone anywhere or done anything or really had any kind of meaningful interaction, outside of work (which doesn’t count), for the past six weeks, it scares the shit out of you. So much so, in fact, that you can’t help but load up on another 100-or-so mgs. of H.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. k1789 permalink
    July 14, 2009 8:44 pm

    Truly an addiction is the ultimate form of mind control – so difficult to overcome, dear brave soul. Interesting to me always that the “legal” substances seem to be the bitch herself to master. I have seen this and know from personal experience. Hang in there.

  2. infinitedoors permalink
    August 7, 2009 5:16 pm

    I discovered your blog a couple of weeks ago through IJ which I joined a few days after I had on my own already wandered in to a bookstore and gravitated towards the Wallace section. I, too–with the impetus being a severe mental illness–am using reading as a way to stay alive. I stay around for books basically and just kind of fake it to make it when it comes to all the rest. I can’t really let any one close to me know I’m this close to dying, so I’m glad of the chance to let some of it out here, and I hope you don’t mind. I’m waiting for the moment when just one special book or the accretion of my past year’s reading experiences, either one, brings me up and out, makes me see that it _is_ worth living. I am lucky in that my reading concentration is not as much affected as it had radically been in the past. Otherwise, I don’t know what I’d do–I can’t afford therapy and my prescription drugs pretty much stopped working. Shock treatments had side effects ( for one thing, the convulsions gave me TMJ). In fact, I’m too weak to even go to therapy (or work)–lying in bed can still be done while reading thank God, and that’s what I do mostly. So this is all to say that I’m with you in trying to use a book to remedy a life-and-death situation, and I wish you best of luck. It’s obvious that you have great gifts and are destined for some kind of accomplishment and fame, and I hope I’m around to see it.


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