I took Ativan to assist sleep — and my life spiraled uncontrolled

Melissa Bond was caring for 2 toddler kids — a new child, and a year-old toddler with Down syndrome. It was 2009, and she or he had lately misplaced her journal job. Her marriage was disintegrating, and she or he spent evening after evening pacing her home in Salt Lake Metropolis, watching the hours tick by.

When a doctor gave her a prescription for Ativan — a “sturdy, fast-acting sedative hypnotic” that he assured would assist her get some shut-eye — she accepted it, no questions requested. 

“I used to be in such a state of desperation that I didn’t analysis the medicine,” Bond, now 53, advised The Put up. 

Bond’s new memoir, “Blood Orange Night time: My Journey Into Insanity” (Gallery Books), reveals how that prescription despatched her into an abyss of benzodiazepine dependence that lasted for years.

“There have been occasions once I thought, ‘Ought to I simply go stroll right into a glen and take myself out? I don’t know if I can deal with this anymore,’” stated Bond, including that when she realized her physician had overprescribed her, she was to this point in that quitting chilly turkey would have led to psychosis or perhaps a seizure. “I didn’t know if I might ever be wholesome once more,” she wrote.

Melissa Bond
Bond was prescribed Ativan after battling excessive insomnia that she says left her “hallucinating.” The drug helped her sleep, however her waking hours turned a nightmare of bodily ache and reminiscence loss.
Danielle Waters for NY Put up

Bond didn’t anticipate to sleep a lot as a brand new mom, notably one with a special-needs youngster. But in 2009, when her son Finch was about 7 months previous, she stopped sleeping in any respect. (She modified the names of her kids within the e book for his or her privateness.)

Then it occurred the following evening, and the following, and the following. 

She hoped that it was simply the being pregnant. However when her daughter was born in October 2009, her insomnia didn’t go away. “It felt actually like my eyes had been being peeled again,” stated Bond. She started hallucinating. “My bodily physique was beginning to collapse.”

Justin Beiber and Chance the Rapper
Celebrities corresponding to Justin Bieber (left) and Probability the Rapper have been open about their struggles with Xanax, a part of the identical pharmacological household that features Ativan.
Getty Photographs (2)

In late January 2010, she noticed a doctor specializing in hormonal imbalances whom Bond refers to within the e book as “Dr. Wonderful.” He scribbled her a prescription for the benzodiazepine Ativan. “You may’t beat it for sleep,” he stated. “It’s an unimaginable drug.”

It labored — for a pair weeks. Two months later, Dr. Wonderful bumped her prescription from 2 milligrams to 4 milligrams. Inside a 12 months she was imbibing 6 milligrams of the stuff every day. 

Since 2020, medicines with benzodiazepinem — corresponding to Ativan, Valium and Xanax — should characteristic FDA warnings that bodily dependence can take maintain inside a matter of days.

Nonetheless, Bond was nonetheless solely sleeping a pair hours an evening. Worse, she couldn’t bear in mind issues each day. She had extreme abdomen cramps and couldn’t eat, ultimately dropping near 30 kilos — at her lowest, she clocked in at 100 kilos, the identical quantity she weighed when she was 11 years previous. She smelled ashtrays all over the place. She continually fell and had bruises throughout her physique. Any sort of loud noise — even her kids’s cries — would make her really feel like “my pores and skin was getting pierced,” she stated. 

After simply 4 weeks of utilizing Ativan, the mind develops a tolerance for the drug — and that tolerance means the affected person experiences withdrawal signs regardless of nonetheless being on it. And in contrast to different medicine, like opioids, you possibly can’t simply cease chilly turkey, as there’s a danger of seizures and demise.

“It felt like I used to be within the Wild West, you understand, like, in one other panorama that nobody had documented,” Bond stated.

Melissa Bond and children
Bond is now not depending on Ativan, however she does require every day Valium doses that permit her to perform with out risking the agony of withdrawal. She is now divorced and works in IT.
Danielle Waters for NY Put up

Bond ultimately discovered a licensed addictionologist in Utah who specialised in serving to folks undergo benzo withdrawals. He switched her to Valium — a less-potent benzo than Ativan — and slowly diminished her dosage. Each time she dropped her dosage, she skilled the sensation of fireside below the pores and skin, nausea, muscle spasms and rage.

“My guiding gentle, my absolute dedication was to cut back the affect on [friends] and on my household as a lot as doable,” she stated, including that she would spend nights at a buddy’s home to protect her kids from her sickness.

Blood Orange Night by Melissa Bond
Benzo-related deaths have elevated 10-fold within the US up to now 20 years.

A 12 months and a half into the petering out, she misplaced her imaginative and prescient whereas driving and nearly acquired into an accident along with her two kids within the automotive. Though her husband was affected by “compassion burnout,” he insisted she spend all her nights at residence. She determined to maintain her every day consumption of Valium at 5 milligrams, an quantity that safely allowed her to perform with out inflicting additional cognitive decline, and which she nonetheless takes each evening. 

In 2020, the FDA started requiring benzodiazepines to be labeled with a warning that bodily dependence can happen inside days or perhaps weeks and that stopping them abruptly can result in life-threatening seizures. Celebrities corresponding to Probability the Rapper and Justin Bieber have spoken brazenly about their dependancy to a different benzo, Xanax. Benzo-related deaths have elevated 10-fold within the US up to now 20 years and medical professionals nonetheless overprescribe these varieties of medicine.

Bond is now divorced, with a full-time IT job and a brand new residence she shares with Finch and Chloe, now 12 and 11. “There’s a very long time of restoration and restore,” she stated. However now, “my life is extremely full and sturdy. I’m elevating my kids and we’ve got a deep connection to 1 one other and we play and there’s pleasure and lightweight in the home.”


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