Blood Orange Night: My Journey to the Edge of Madness (Hardcover)
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Brain on Fire meets High Achiever in this visceral, propulsive memoir detailing a woman’s accidental descent into prescription benzodiazepine dependence and the life-threatening impacts of the drugs’ long-term use.
As Melissa Bond raises her infant daughter and a special-needs one-year-old son, she suffers from unbearable insomnia, sleeping an hour or less each night. She loses her job as a journalist (a casualty of the 2008 recession), and her relationship with her husband grows distant. Her doctor casually prescribes benzodiazepines—a family of drugs that includes Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, Ativan—and increases her dosage on a regular basis.
Following her doctor’s orders, Melissa takes the pills night after night; her body begins to shut down and she collapses while holding her infant daughter. Only then does Melissa learn that her doctor—like many doctors—has over-prescribed the medication and quitting cold turkey could lead to psychosis or fatal seizures. Benzodiazepine addiction is not well studied, and few experts know how to help Melissa as she begins the months-long process of tapering off the pills without suffering debilitating, potentially deadly consequences.
Each page thrums with the heartbeat of Melissa’s struggle—how many hours has she slept? How many weeks old are her babies? How many milligrams has she taken? Her propulsive writing crescendos to a fever pitch as she fights for her health and her ability to care for her children. Lyrical and immersive, Blood Orange Night shines a light on the prescription benzodiazepine epidemic as it reaches a crisis point in this country.
About the Author
Melissa Bond is narrative journalist and poet. In the years of her dependence on benzodiazepines, Melissa blogged and became a regular contributor for Mad in America. ABC World News Tonight interviewed her for a piece in January 2014. Melissa is a respected writer on the perils of over-prescribing benzodiazepines and has been featured on the podcasts Risk!, IGNTD, and The Addiction Podcast. Learn more at MelissaABond.com.
“In this raw and captivating debut, journalist Bond chronicles her volatile descent into a benzodiazepine addiction... Pairing her unsparing candor with the same deep compassion she finds in the physician who helped her level out, Bond’s narrative casts a burning light onto the hazards of overprescribing and the threat it poses to vulnerable people. This cautionary tale stuns.”
—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
“A harrowing memoir about a class of drugs as dangerous as opioids… Bond’s sharp critique of big pharma and the broken American health care system sounds an urgent alarm. A vivid chronicle of suffering.”
“Bond's story, with lines like ‘the blood orange night turns red and screams through my eyes,’ is an eloquent cautionary tale.”
“An engaging testament to the powers of self-advocacy and resilience written with lyrical clarity and heart. This cautionary tale will help many understand how prescription drug dependency can happen and the strength and courage required to overcome it. Highly recommended.”
“There is a line in this evocative memoir that I will not forget, for it so perfectly sums up the effect that benzodiazepines have had on millions of lives: ‘Benzos are the thief that steals everything you own a piece at a time.' In Blood Orange Night, Melissa Bond writes of the thief that crept into her life with the narrative skills of a fine novelist.”
—Robert Whitaker, author of Anatomy of an Epidemic and Mad in America
“Blood Orange Night is a beautifully written and exceptionally moving firsthand account of Melissa Bond’s struggle with addiction to benzodiazepines. It should be read by anyone considering taking or prescribing medication for insomnia.”
—Irving Kirsch, PhD, author of The Emperor’s New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth
“This is the best-written and most immersive personal story on benzos that I have read. Melissa Bond summarizes the benzodiazepine crisis that is invisibly growing in the shadow of the opioids when she writes: ‘Benzos dismantle the brain over time. Instead of a swift and sudden death by overdose, there is a slow slide into disability.’ Immersed in her deeply personal story and peppered with pulsating prose, Blood Orange Night shows the terrifying but not uncommon consequences of using these drugs long-term as prescribed.”
—Bernard Silvernail, Co-founder and President, The Alliance for Benzodiazepine Best Practices
“Blood Orange Night has it all: sex, ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, brutal addiction that’s not addiction, and outright beauty (not necessarily in that order). There’s also a hilarious kiddo with Down Syndrome lighting the book from the inside, but he’s just the cherry on top of a magnificent cake of a book. If we were at a dinner party together and you asked me about it, I’d tell you to get the thing; get this book now and devour it. It’s that good.”
—Stephanie Wilder Taylor, author of Sippy Cups are not for Chardonnay
“With the unblinking eye of a journalist and the highly attuned heart of a poet, Melissa Bond brilliantly lays out the abyss prescribed benzodiazepine tranquilizers opened in her life…Blood Orange Night cuts to the bone. Here, truly, is hell on earth, and I can’t help but be awed by the strength and perseverance Bond manifested to emerge intact for her own sake and for that of her children.”
—Matt Samet, author of Death Grip
“A terrifying, fascinating story chronicled in a fever-dream of a book. Bond’s words crackle with vulnerability and pain but also—as she climbs out of the darkness in which she has been living— hope, strength, and love.”
—Eilene Zimmerman, author of Smacked
“Blood Orange Night made me feel all the feelings. Within the first few chapters, I laughed, cried and got goosebumps. I cycled through sad and angry, followed by grateful and then outraged and sad again. I finally landed at hopeful. This book will make many feel understood and give them strength to fight the next fight. I loved it.”
—Amy Lyle, author of We’re All a Mess, it’s Ok
“Due to its incredible—and incredibly gripping—narrative, one would like Blood Orange Night to be fiction, or even science fiction. But this memoir tells a story that’s too true: a physician prescribes drugs to his patient without informing her of their addictive nature. By the time she finds out she’s hooked, we are too. Melissa Bond has shaped her story with a poet’s zest for language, a humorist’s sense of timing, and a mother’s desire to spare others pain. This is an immensely important and inspiring book.”
—Beth Ann Fennelly, author of Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs
“Melissa Bond breaks necessary new ground in her astounding debut memoir, Blood Orange Night. A significant and essential contribution that further eliminates generations of tired stigma towards addiction and recovery. Her storytelling and literary genius reads right into your heart—taking you to the nexus of heartbreaking despair--while putting resilience, self love, and a tremendous amount of hope on full display.”
—Ryan Hampton, national addiction recovery advocate and bestselling author of Unsettled and American Fix
“In Blood Orange Night, Melissa Bond manages to capture multiple simultaneous truths: the frantic riptide of insomnia, depression, and drugs, as well as the buoyant, innocent loveliness of children. Which makes this book a powerful memoir about becoming a parent as much as it’s also a breathless and harrowing detective story about benzodiazepine dependence.”
—Catherine Newman, author of Catastrophic Happiness and How to Be a Person