Paxil Survivor – Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil
An Open Letter to Anyone Seeking Information About the Harmful Effects of Psychiatric Drugs:
I am writing my story because I want to do something to help inform people about the harmful effects of antidepressant drugs. It took me several years, after using antidepressant medications for more than ten, to become clear headed enough to figure out what happened to me. I wound up having a minor stroke or a seizure according to the MRI. Now I’m trying to get my life back together.
Here’s what happened:
I went to a Psychiatrist in 1990 because I couldn’t control crying jags at work. I had been sad over a horrible accident that left my 19-year-old son permanently brain injured.
The lady psychiatrist saw me for less than five minutes, announced I was clinically depressed and prescribed Prozac. When I asked, she said it was not habit forming.
I remember feeling almost immediate relief after the first dose (surprising, since she said it would take 3 weeks to take effect). All of the sudden life became wonderful! I sang to myself all day long. I was the life of every party (or so I thought). I began drinking too much and running around like I was on speed. I just had so much fun at everything I did. The world was at my feet and I was setting it on fire! Wow…why didn’t I find these drugs sooner?
But really, as the years went by, I became unattached to the world emotionally. I became very self-centered. I lost a lot of friends. I missed major life occurrences, like the death of my father. I was not there for him during his illness nor was I emotionally present at his funeral. I was absolutely giddy all of the time. My most radical act was to sue my employer. I know now that it’s better not to sue your local government! As I look back at bad life decisions and embarrassing behavior, I can only be grateful that it was not worse. I read daily of cases describing people committing crimes and displaying truly bizarre behavior on these drugs, some turning into homicidal monsters when they try to withdraw. There are people spending the rest of their lives in prison because of these drugs. I realize I am one of the lucky ones to have come out of the fog and be able to tell my story. I have an insecure (shy), reserved personality by nature, and I come from a conservative family. I know now that the ‘drug fog’ kept me from seeing what was really happening in my life for many years. I know now that I would not have made all those bad decisions had I not been on those drugs. These pharmaceuticals that I so trusted to ‘cure’ my disease of depression have altered my entire life.
I realized I wanted off the drugs in the fall of 2001. It was nothing noble on my part that I finally decided to get off (an entirely different and very long story that I am not proud of…we’ll just say I wanted to be clear headed and leave it at that). It took from the fall of 2001 until the fall of 2003. And guess what? By December 2003 I was experiencing severe brain fogginess, mental confusion and panic attacks! I was deathly afraid of what was wrong with me and just as afraid to take any kind of medication to treat the crying jags. At this point, I did not know that I was experiencing was drug withdrawal.
I began to seek help. I had an MRI done because of the terrible brain fog.(1) They found ‘non-specific white focal matter’, which the doctor said could have been caused by a minor stroke or seizure. I searched for answers for an entire year from: three PHD therapists, one medical doctor of internal medicine, one general practitioner MD and one gastroenterologist MD. None of these professionals would discuss withdrawal effects of psych drugs! One guy curtly said in a very harsh tone, “if you want to talk about antidepressant drugs, you have to go to a psychiatrist!” Another, the PHD Psychologist lady, was giddy and scatter-brained. She left me sitting in her waiting room a half hour, then sashayed in laughing hilariously, saying she was so sorry she forgot about our appointment…then she proceeded to prop her feet up on her chair with her keyboard in her lap and and pounded in my name address and insurance information, saying “you know this drill, right?” I told her that I did not want to take antipressant drugs. She quickly explained to me that “our brains need help” and gave me some websites that supported her position. I finished the session with her and asked her not to file a claim on my insurance. I gave her a check. And guess what? The next day there was a claim on my insurance website! The woman obviously was in a world of her own. I suppose I should have written her a thank-you note for yet another example of the bizarre behavior caused by drugs that claim to “help” our brains!
Well, in fairness to these professionals, I was an emotional wreck, and probably presented a scary dilemma to them. While, all doctors may not know about the devastating physical effects these drugs have on our bodies and brains, most of them have heard about suicidal tendencies associated with them, and the well documented stories of people committing horrendous acts either on or while trying to quit these drugs. I’m sure when I mentioned I had recently quit them, I was quite the pariah.
I finally found a psychologist here in Austin, Texas, Dr. John Breeding, that lent me a copy of Ann Blake-Tracy’s tape, ‘Help, I Can’t Get Off My Anti-depressants’. And wow…what a relief! I wasn’t crazy after all. It really was the drugs, as I suspected. I began reading and researching, and discovered that everything that had been happening to me was directly related to the years of antidepressant drug use.
It took a personal crisis for me to wake up. And that’s exactly what happened. The details of the crisis are not important. What’s important is that things had to get pretty bad before I realized that the antidepressant drugs were wrecking my life and absolutely destroying my soul. Author and Psychiatrist Peter Breggin writes about a spellbinding effect these drugs have on people. Believe me, I was spellbound for a long time. I absolutely accepted as truth that these drugs were helping me. Even when I got off of them it took awhile for me to ‘come back’ and fully realize how duped I had been. This year will be the 6th year I am free from those mind captivating drugs, and never have I been tempted to get back on. Each week that goes by I still continue to gain memories and mental clarity.
It’s hard to get over the fact that more than 10 years of my life were lost in a fog because of drugs that doctors said would help me. It feels like my life has been turned totally upside down because of these drugs.
There must be a reason my mind was spared. I am now supporting an effort to enhance public awareness about the harmful effects of SSRI drugs in any way I can. That is the reason for this open letter. Please people …wake up! How many more lives must be ruined before you will see the truth?
I am asking that the medical community embrace the concept of ‘informed consent’. I went to three psychiatrists. None of them were willing to discuss the negative side effects of the SSRI drugs they prescribed for me. I went to professional counselors and psychologists who said ‘our brains need help’ and ‘the drugs help so many people’. Now after extensive reading and researching, I am absolutely disappointed in the prevailing viewpoint by the mental health community that mind-altering drugs are the answer. There is clear scientific evidence that they are not. When I see the giddy, drunken behavior of people on these drugs today, I am simply appalled that they continue to be touted as helpful by professionals who take an oath do ‘do no harm’!
I have started a support group for families, friends and bio-psychiatric drug survivors as a means of helping one another to heal. The lack of support from the medical community made me feel alone and isolated much of the time as I was coming off these drugs. By forming a community support group I hope to be able to help people avoid what I went through by sharing some of the information that is not readily available to the general public. I want to do something to spare people the anguish I went through. The information that I know now that I did not know when I went through all this should be readily available. My question to the medical community is why isn’t it?
It is my opinion that SSRI drug use today is epidemic, and that our society is being adversely affected because of it. It is my belief that those of us who have been on the drugs and successfully withdrawn have a responsibility to spread the truth that we have so painfully learned. We can change the world. We must share our stories and get the truth out there. If you are in a position to spread the word about how harmful psychiatric drugs are, do so…don’t hesitate. If you touch one life, you have made a difference.
Transformers Support Group
P. S. Please feel free to contact me at 512-626-7986 or e-mail me at MHEATH3@AUSTIN.RR
(1) Brain fog means: I could not think straight. I felt confused about day to day activities at work (I am a financial analyst), my short term memory was so bad that I could barely put a sentence together, and I just found myself in a state of mental confusion, not knowing if this was my fault or the rest of the world that was askew. Mental confusion is hard to describe because you don’t really recognize it until you have begun to regain your clarity. You get lost on the way to a location that you’ve travelled many times before. You forget names of people that you’ve known for years… you turn the wrong way down a familiar hallway.