For the next two Tuesdays, I will be sharing the story of my friendship with P. and the ways she continues to affect and even haunt me, now that she is gone.  Because her story is one of pain and sadness, I will protect her identity by simply calling her P.  This is the third in a four part series.  Here is Part One: Meeting and Becoming Friends with P and Part Two:  Growing Up and Growing Apart.

When we last left off, through the wonder of the Internet, I knew something was seriously wrong with P. through things I found online, but I just didn’t know what was wrong, and I could not find a way to contact her.

Throughout the next few years, I continued to check P.’s Facebook page a few times a year to see if there was any activity, but there never was.  However, there were more indications that something was wrong.  Some of her friends posted on her wall, though she never responded.  They said things like, “Thinking of you.  Wish you were around.  Take care and I hope to hear something from you,” and “Hope you’re okay.  Thinking of you. **hugs**.”  Clearly I wasn’t the only one who hadn’t heard from her.

A Shocking Discovery

In August 2011 when I checked, what I found literally took my breath away—her obituary was a Google link at the bottom of the Facebook search page.  She had died 10 days before I searched for her.  Her obituary simply stated that she had struggled with addiction for many years.

I called her friends that I knew from college; one was as close to her as a brother and had in fact married her and her husband, but he had stopped talking to her in 2007 when her addiction spiraled out of control.  He referred me to her best friend, L., who, it turns out, had also stopped talking to her, though a bit later, in 2008.

When I talked to L., she reiterated that P. had struggled with panic attacks and anxiety after her mother died.  She had been a nurse supervisor with a good salary, but her issues forced her to resign.  She took on another nursing job and had to resign because of the disciplinary measure I had found on Google in 2008; I still don’t know if she stole medication or was at work under the influence.

She became addicted to her anti-anxiety medication, and then later she was diagnosed with bipolar and personality disorder and became addicted to the medicines used to treat her conditions.   She had multiple prescriptions from multiple doctors, and she even resorted to buying medicine online.

At the University of Michigan, you can find whatever you are looking for.  If you’re into drugs, you’ll have no trouble finding them.  There were times at our co-op where I witnessed people doing drugs; that was not my thing, and I was never tempted to try.  I never saw P. use any drugs; she only drank at parties.

To hear that she became an addict was very difficult to believe.  To know that her addiction killed her was even more unbelievable.

Learning the Truth about P.’s Addiction

P.’s birthday was a few weeks ago, and I saw a message pop up on Facebook that I should wish her a happy birthday.  When I clicked on her profile, someone had written on her wall, “Oh, P.  A life not well-lived. . .but yet you touched many deeply.  We should be celebrating your birthday, not the memory of your demise.”

When I saw the message, I e-mailed that woman, someone I did not know, and she called me on the phone, and we talked for an hour and a half about P.  About the fact that P.’s addiction caused her to lose her husband, her family, her friends, her job, even her home, and she couldn’t stop using prescription drugs.

She tried to quit, but her methods were flawed.  She didn’t want to go to Narcotics Anonymous so she went to Alcoholic Anonymous.  She tried to wean herself off the medication and suffered seizures as a result.  She went to rehab several times but always checked out early.

She attempted suicide so many times, most people lost count.  After 2008, she was homeless.  And still she never stopped using.  No one knows if she just overdosed or intentionally committed suicide, but because she had attempted suicide so many times, her death was ruled a suicide.

To be continued next week.  Come back for the final post about P.

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