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.