The start of the return of the hell. It’s not worth the risk in my estimation. A person might try one drug holiday yet if it fails it’s not advisable to go on another.
Elyn Saks went on at least 3 drug holidays and got sicker and sicker after each relapse. Her book description on Amazon states she still has major ongoing episodes. Is that any way to live your life if you can avoid this scenario by staying faithful to your daily meds?
Here’s the scene in my memoir that sets it all up. It’s most likely going to be the last memoir excerpt I post here for now. I will return with details about Left of the Dial: the premise that is the root of this lifestyle and the power that each of us has to take back our lives after illness strikes.
On a Friday night, seated in the buckled chair across from Dr. Santiago, I felt spangled with hope because I did some research and found out that there was a 2 mg. Stelazine tablet. I could take this, lowering the dose, and eventually come off the meds completely.
He asked me the usual questions: How’s your sleep? Are you eating okay? What about your thoughts? “I mostly sleep six or seven hours. I make mac and cheese with broccoli or hot dogs or pasta. I’m on an even keel.”
“Good.” He lit up a cigarette. “What are your goals?”
“Oh, I’d like to lower my dose to two milligrams and then try a drug holiday.” I had come straight from the city in a wool skirt and eggplant jacket, working the persona of a successful woman down to my black briefcase and matching pumps.
“Okay, I’ll write out a new prescription and monitor you until the end of the year. If you’re stable on the lower dose, I’ll consider stopping the meds.” All he could see was a different me, polished and poised, and so that was what he had to go on in the fifteen-minute session—only this: a pretty face.
The closet door of my mind was shut. He couldn’t know what was hanging out in there because I failed to enlighten him. The thoughts were like slinky dresses, easy to slip into, and I had no idea the cocktail party I’d been invited to was a setup. So what could I reveal? Nothing seemed unusual.
“Thank you.” The glittery feeling subsided, and I felt calmer.
One of his miracle patients, I wanted to write about what happened to me to inspire other people. No one should have to live on the margins. A better life is possible. I’ve seen this with my own eyes: first Margot recovered and then me.
“Do you have any plans for fun things, social outings?” Dr. Santiago asked.
“I want to travel to London or maybe Italy.” I didn’t know why; I had decided I wanted to see the world. “Maybe I can save up some money each month and go in the fall.”
“You should go.” He ground out his cigarette in the cloisonné ashtray on his desk. “Whatever you used to do before you got sick, if you’re capable of it, you should do now.”
This heartened me. Work was the daily grind, and it was time to live a little. Maybe Margot or Zoe could travel with me. We’d take London by storm, riding the underground. Or we’d explore Rome, drinking a morning cappuccino.
“I’m pleased that things are working out. Here’s your prescription, and I’ll see you in three months.”
“Thank you.” I rose. He opened the door for me.
A segue to true freedom, this minor victory deserved a celebration. I walked to Joe & Pat’s for the shrimp parmigiana.