Susan Levy: 'We're Not Holding Up Very Well'

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Dr. Robert Levy, left, and his wife, Susan

Susan Levy's agony has become the nation's. Each day, Chandra Levy's mother works through her grief and frustration in her Modesto, California home.

In an exclusive interview with TIME about her family's ordeal, Levy acknowledged what many may have suspected from looking at her grieved face: Both she and her husband Robert take medication to help them cope. "We take sleeping pills to get to sleep at night and tranquilizers at night so we can get to sleep," she said, "but during the day we're not on anything. It's hard. It's real hard. It's abnormal." She elaborated that "we're not holding up very well. My diet's off. I eat wrong. I'm often sick to my stomach. I'm very sick. It's sheer terror." How she copes: she avoids reading the papers and tries to get out of the house with friends.

She's gotten some small comfort from the support she's received from government officials. Levy praised California's Senators, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, for showing concern for her and calling her family about the case. Interestingly, she noted that California's Governor Gray Davis has yet to call her family: "Nope. I've never head from him," Susan Levy says. Both of Condit's grown children work for the California governor, who was a political ally of Condit's.

The mother of the missing intern said this past week was particularly agonizing because of reports that a body had been found. The tip, delivered to a web site,, sent news media scurrying but it turned out to be bogus. "I'm not holding up very well. It's been a very rough week. Very rough. Very tired." And she reiterated her consistent plea: "I want my daughter found alive. I want the truth to come out."

Levy declined to talk about the controversial new TALK magazine piece about her daughter, saying that she hadn't yet read the just-published article. The story, among other things, chronicles the Levy's conversations with Condit in the days after her daughter's disappearance — a topic Levy wouldn't discuss.

She also declined to call for the resignation of Rep. Gary Condit, who is at the center of the controversy. "Let the people decide for themselves," she told TIME. And she didn't condemn his reportedly taking a vacation instead of speaking to his constituents about the Levy matter.

Levy, who has called on the National Guard to join the search for her daughter, also urged the civil air patrol to get involved. Susan Levy herself is a former cadet in the Civil Air Patrol. And she expressed concern for other missing persons around the country. "We need to address this nationally. It's a national tragedy."