InDependence Memoir


You know why I stopped? I couldn’t make the jump from 200 milligrams to 175. 

That’s it. That’s the reason.

Tapering is a game of Russian roulette. Is the bullet in the chamber? Will you have a seizure? It’s anybody’s guess. Without a doctor telling me I didn’t have epilepsy, my chances of having a seizure looked promising.

So it’s a long jump from 200 to 175. I was as apt to make it as I was to leap from a building. To be clear, the plan was to taper off, not down. It’s just that at 200 milligrams, I realized my conviction was good up until a point. Which is to say, it was good up until 200 milligrams. Getting into the realm of the one hundreds offers no protection from seizures, does it? I mean, does it? I had no clue.

Dropping to 175 wasn’t going to happen. Not with the fear. People with epilepsy know the fear I’m talking about. It’s the paralyzing kind. Could have pushed it to the brink. Nothing was stopping me but myself. Isn’t that always the way? In my world it is. I simply couldn’t bring myself to leap off the edge. Did I have epilepsy? I was too afraid to find out. 

I realize that’s a luxury, but fear is as much a part of this journey as seizures themselves. Mine wasn’t a momentary phobia, like seeing the car coming up the street. This was a fright rooted in identity. Do you know how deep that runs?

In deciding to taper off, I failed to consider how it could even be possible in a world where I’d been medicated nearly every day of my life. Getting rid of Lamictal meant throwing away the lifeline. If there’s anything scarier, I can’t tell you what it is. We’re not talking vitamins here. We’re talking brain functioning. Coming off after 30 years requires the psychological strength of a ninja. 

I didn’t have it. 

You know what else I didn’t have? Proof. I had intuition, which was about as consoling as a game show parting gift. Up against three decades of conditioning, my strongest instincts didn’t stand a chance. When medicine is all you’ve known, it’s impossible to extricate from it without losing yourself. What will come next? No one can tell you.

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