A lethal combination

Page 32 in the series Before the Pirates Came*

Miranda arrived at the campus early. She liked to sit in the parking lot and review her notes one last time before a test.  But on this day, something wasn’t right. She felt distracted and her thoughts were whirling, spinning, speeding out of control. This was not the way she wanted to finish out the semester. Against her better judgement, Miranda took a small sip of Vodka from the bottle she kept in her car.

(Author’s note:  Unless you’ve actually experienced the early symptoms of a manic episode, it would be impossible to appreciate what Miranda was going through, and her urgency to try to stop it. The onset of mania could not be wished away, and self medicating is a common practice among people with bipolar disorder.)

She had taken a Xanax after breakfast and it was starting to kick in. Over the past year Miranda had seen so many doctors and filled so many prescriptions that she had a huge inventory of anxiety pills and assorted psych drugs at her disposal. She lost interest in the tricyclic antidepressants and SSRI’s, but the Xanax and Ativan always seemed to help.  This was the first time she combined pills with alcohol, and when she got out of her car she wondered if she’d made a mistake.

Miranda fell asleep at her desk halfway through the essay question.  The teaching assistant walked her out of the classroom and a guidance counselor drove her home. She later told the professor about her bipolar diagnosis and he graciously agreed to schedule a make-up test.  He warned her not to do it again.

Her classmates, however, weren’t as understanding. They talked behind her back and called her a drunk, which in a way was true. Her status as one of the “smart kids” was reduced to “college partier”, a label she thought was far beneath her.  She hoped this would not get back to any of the couple’s friends and said a quick prayer to her new Higher Power.  She promised never to do it again if he would help her just this once.

The following weekend was Brian’s high school class reunion. He was beautifully dressed, looking very handsome, and basking in his hard-earned success. Miranda was no longer the ugly duckling, the shy girl standing against the wall. Instead, she was the pretty girl in the expensive dress leaning against the bar. She joined some of the other bored spouses in  a few shots of whiskey, a couple margaritas, and she’s not sure what else because that’s when Miranda passed out.

Brian was mortified while his classmates looked on. The alcohol poisoning lasted three days and Miranda thought she would die. On Monday morning she was still so sick, weak, and dehydrated that Brian sent one of his assistants to the house to care for her.  Controlling her drinking wasn’t going so well. Her husband was disappointed.

*This story is based on some true events, however, has been fictionalized and all persons appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real people, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

© 2012, Shoes for an Imaginary Life. All rights reserved.

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23 Responses to A lethal combination

  1. Theresa says:

    I am so glad you are writing this series. It accomplishes two very important things:

    1) It provides comfort, understanding, and hope to so many people that struggle with so many different issues…even combinations of issues.

    2) It provides much needed insight for people who encounter others who are struggling. We are so inclined to pass judgement…and very quickly and without knowledge. Our judgments tend to be so wrong so much of the time.

    I am both the persons described in #1 and in #2.

    I hope some day these accounts will be available on the shelves of book stores. They are brilliant and in my opinion divinely inspired.


    • Linda says:

      A combination of issues seems to be a theme for me, you, and who knows how many people who are struggling out there.

      Of course we judge. It’s so human to react that way. The first AA meeting I went to (years after the misstarts of the Miranda and Brian days), I went down the steps to that church basement and there were people who were dirty and smelled bad… people who were obviously mentally ill and highly medicated, and people who really needed a haircut!!! OMGosh I wanted to disappear!

      For my sponsor I chose a man who is a little rough around the edges, and he would agree. He is brilliant and insightful, and works third shift in a factory. I will never know as much as he does about living sober, contentment, and how to help others. He has saved lives and tells no one. I did my “Forth Step” (where you tell someone every single horrible thing you’ve ever done) in the front seat of his 15 year old pick up truck that was full of trash, out of gas, and reeked of cigarette smoke. It wasn’t a planned meeting, it just worked out that way. It saved my life.

      Now when I go to a meeting, I hug the same people I judged 10 years ago. Whatever your issues are, there is a way to make them right. Hang in there, Theresa… you can do it.

      Thanks for “shelves on the bookstore” words of encouragement. If this story is meant to be a 2Cor 2:13 thing, or a Romans 8:28 promise, I think it could happend. When I write I always start with a prayer that I won’t write anything too awful for God to bear. : )

  2. Although I didn’t have the same problems as Miranda, I can relate to sinking into despair and thrashing about, searching for a life preserver to grab onto.

    Okay, I’m ready for the next page.

    • Linda says:

      “Miranda is Sinking.” Yep, that really is the name of the next post. I’m comforted and inspired by my blog friends who are not perfect and know what it feels like to truly need a Savior. Glad you’re not thrashing today. : )

  3. Jim Travis says:

    I thank you for your honesty and open-ness, the road to salvation, happiness, or understanding is never an easy one. Without judging, I have always wondered about those who cross through life’s lake “without a ripple”. Unless you have been through the fire, have fallen and walked hand in hand with the devil, and then broken away and run to the Savior, how can you know the depth of your faith? God bless you sister for your stories of brokenness and renewal, you are a beacon to those who are currently riding out the storm. God bless-Jim

    • Linda says:

      I’ve wondered about the “ripple” crowd, too. “Walking with the devil” vs. “the depth of your faith.” When I go back and read some of my earliest posts of my first year with God, I am just blown away by it all… I mean completely consumed and single minded as if nothing else mattered. ‘Cause it didn’t.

      Thanks for your encouragement. I learn alot from your writing, and appreciate how we’ve walked some of the same roads. : )

  4. .endtransmission. says:

    As I read this installment, I came to the realization that I am all in on this story. I’m completely engrossed, starving for the next chapter, and excited when the next page is posted. It’s become a daily treat to read.

    • Linda says:

      e.t. you are too kind. Truth is, our FB time has challenged me to be up front and honest. Our dialogue has been a therapeutic place to practice telling the truth. Thanks for contributing so much to Miranda’s tale, whether you know it or not. : )

  5. Debbie says:

    “Her husband was disappointed.” What an important ending. Others are disappointed and judging and labeling, but Miranda is doing the best she can and needs help . . .not all of the other stuff. So glad her Higher Power is watching over her. :)
    God bless you as you give us precious insight and understanding! love and prayers!

    • Linda says:

      Yes, Brian was disappointed. But I’ve omitted some of the more sordid details… behavior characteristic of bipolar disorder, but inexcusable and impossible for a husband to live with. He was judgemental but also at the end of his rope. Brian was a “10″ in every way. Makes me feel bad to dwell on that…

      God had a plan for me. That’s what the cornerstone was all about. : )

  6. Linda, I feel so bad for Miranda. If I didn’t know the story was eventually going to turn around – though I suspect many pages from where this one ends – I don’t know if I could keep reading. I do appreciate the insight this story provides, even as parts of it are well known already. I’m so glad God had a plan for Miranda long before she even knew Him. Peace, Linda

    • Linda says:

      Yes, chaos and destruction take some time. If the mess was tidy and brief, sobriety and salvation could be just a blip on the radar screen.

      Last year I read the autobiography of Bob Coy, who is pastor at The Chapel in Ft. Lauderdale. He made it clear from the beginning that many years of his life were riddled with drugs, alcohol, women, and despair. At several points in his story he warned the readers again that they may want to avoid his long descent into depravity. I liked that, but instead I decided to write Miranda’s story without the stuff that nice people would find really gross.

      What do you think? Should I give readers a chance to bail if it’s not too delicate? A warning like Bob Coy gave? His book was a treasure and a wonderful story of faith. But it sure took a long time to get there. Thanks for your comment…

      • Linda, How much detail you share about Miranda really depends on how much you are willing to reveal. I wouldn’t worry about us readers. You might be surprised how many of us simply admire your courage to share (even if fictiously) the kinds of details we so carefully hide. Peace, Linda

        • Linda says:

          That is a huge compliment. Thank you.

          My courage is in question when I get chills at the thought of writing anything bad about me. Maybe Miranda’s story will help me peel away another layer of denial and get closer to accepting the real truth.

          Praying for you, and always glad to see your posts. ; )

  7. Ferd says:

    Self medicating is so understandable when you paint it in this light. I know people with unipolar depression do it too, to the point that you wonder what came first, the depression or the alcoholism. But the point is that these are not “bad” people, they are ill and are desperate for a solution. Alcohol is not the right medicine, but it gives a momentary reprieve, and there you go. Before you know it, there are two problems, the original one and then alcoholism.

    Some people without these disorders have a difficult time imagining depression, and some even disbelieve it exists. Understanding the manic side of bipolar disorder is even more foreign to most people. You are doing a great job describing it, and giving hope! It truly is a great service to be laying it all out like this. Way to go, Linda!

    • Linda says:

      “… desperate for a solution.” The relief that alcohol gave was so good at the time. Either I would feel better or believe that I would die. It was close to the end that I figured out that drinking was not the cause but an effect.

      Thanks for sharing your insights, Ferd. How awesome would it be if even one person got on the road to mental health and sobriety because of Miranda’s tale. : )

  8. ann says:

    As I said to a friend today, the difference between us and Whitney Houston is that the whole world ‘knows’ what she struggles with.

    Who are we to judge? Would be quite the epsiode if He ever rolled back the curtains so the world could watch us live and in action – even in the secret places. :-)


    • Linda says:

      Really? Wow… That is strangely comforting to me. “… if He ever rolled back the curtains so the world could watch.” Happily, we are God’s girls. Forgiven and so loved. Thanks for sharing that.

      I wept over Whitney’s death. Her songs were popular back in the day, and I know every one. I’m praying for those who loved her…

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