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. I 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 stopped tapering not because of seizures, but because I froze. 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.

I wasn’t ready.