As Melissa Bond raises her infant daughter and special-needs one-year-old son, she suffers from debilitating insomnia, sleeping an hour or less each night. Her doctor casually prescribes benzodiazepines – a family of drugs that includes Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, and Ativan – and increases her dosage on a regular basis. Following her doctor’s orders, Bond takes the pills night after night without question, until her body begins to shut down and she collapses while holding her infant daughter.
In her visceral and propulsive forthcoming memoir, Blood Orange Night: My Journey to the Edge of Madness, Bond details her accidental descent into prescription benzodiazepine dependence and illustrates the life-threatening impacts of the drugs’ long-term use. Each chapter thrums with the drumbeat of her struggle – how many hours has she slept? How many weeks old are her infants? How many milligrams has she taken? Her lyrical writing crescendos to a fever pitch as she fights for her health and her ability to care for her children.
Bond learns you cannot quit this medication cold-turkey without risking psychosis or fatal seizure. Although benzodiazepines have been over-prescribed by many doctors, few actually know how to help Bond begin the months-long process of tapering off the pills without suffering potentially deadly consequences. Through her writing and her speaking appearances, Bond is shining a light on the prescription benzodiazepine epidemic as it reaches a crisis point in this country.
According to the FDA, approximately 92 million benzodiazepine prescriptions were filled in the U.S. in 2019 and, in 2018, half of all prescriptions filled were for two months or longer, despite recommended use of no more than 14 days and evidence that dependence can occur within a week. Much like the opioid crisis that has ravaged the country, prescription benzodiazepine addiction is gaining attention for its similarly devastating effects.
Bond is a poet and journalist and was the Associate Editor and Poetry editor of the Wasatch Journal, a long-form magazine serving the Intermountain West. She’s written several chapbooks of poetry and has performed in Poetry Slam nationals in Austin, Texas, and Portland, Oregon. Bond has performed in both traditional and non-traditional venues, including large theaters, universities, nightclubs, and during her guerrilla poet years, street corners across the U.S. In the years of her dependence on benzodiazepines, Bond blogged, became a regular contributor for Mad in America, and was interviewed in 2014 for ABC World News Tonight. Bond currently lives in Salt Lake City with her family.
- Habitat for Happiness – Your Wellness Toolkit
In this talk, Bond describes her experience in going from a rock climbing, world traveling explorer to a woman barely able to hold her own children because of the impact of medications prescribed by her doctor. In finding her way back to health, Melissa learned that because every body is unique, every Wellness Toolkit must also be unique to the individual. She explains how she discovered her own toolkit and describes the steps anyone can use to find theirs.
- Lessons from an Almost Addict
In this bold discussion, Bond talks about how, after years of trying to understand addiction, she came close to being one herself. The process was deeply humbling and gave her a clarity and closeness to the topic of addiction that only someone on the knife edge could hold. As the daughter of an addict and a deep student of philosophic texts on addiction, Bond brings a fresh perspective to why we have such a deep hunger for those things that can harm us.
- Wings for Tough Stories – A Poet’s Take
After writing a memoir about becoming deeply dependent upon benzodiazepines, Bond realized it was the voice of the poet that could help her transform pain into art. In this moving talk, Bond explores the role of art in taking what can break us and instead giving it wings.
- How Raising a Special Needs Child Bumps Your EQ Sky High
In this hilarious talk, Bond uses anecdotes from raising her special needs son to describe the tremendous beauty that comes from having to raise a child so unlike yourself and how in having to slow down and set herself aside, her humanity was burnished in a way she never knew she needed.
- The Anatomy of Attention
After learning meditation from a Tibetan Lama in the Himalayas when she was 18, Bond went on to explore how meditation could be used both on the cushion and off. In this talk, Bond takes a poetic eye to how we use our attention and defines meditation in a way that anyone, from the athlete to the venture capitalist, to the working parent can practice.
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
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