My Fear of Falling into Madness

“From the first day I took Zoloft, my life has been miserable.”


I am 23 years old and I’ve been taking psychiatric drugs on and off for the past 8 years. I was first aware something was not right with me when I was 13 and started to experience elevated emotions, whether they were sad or happy or together they where extreme.

At 15 they diagnosed me with manic depression and started treatment with Prozac…which in turn made me manic.

After that bad experience I took no more drugs for 4 years, other than the occasional tranquilizer.

In college I had my first “real” episode and again, at 19 started taking drugs. This time it was Zoloft. From that day on my life has been miserable. I had to drop out of college with only one more year to finish. When I was 22 I had already been hospitalized 7 times (the longest being 45 days long). I’ve had two sessions of ECT and have taken over 25 prescription drugs.

Since I am a rapid cycler, it’s been three years now and I have not been able to get a job, continue my studies or be functional. The few months I have of remission after each episode I use to recover and regain my strength. And although I might be fine, I live each day with the fear of falling into madness.

The reason I write this is because among those 25 drugs I’ve taken, I took Zyprexa. I did not consider myself a fat person. I was not skinny, and I was not fat. When I took Zyprexa I gained 100 pounds. I used to be a size ten and (before I lost some weigh) I was a size 20. (now I am 14-16). With all of my “psychiatric problems” I am thankful that I don’t care about my image as many other do. I mean, I did not die because I was fat.

But that is not all. With Zyprexa I also lost my period for 5 months. And then had it back for 2 months straight. I was in the hospital at the time so they stopped my period. If not, I would never know how much longer it would have been. On a good note, my hair grew a lot and my eyelashes too. My doctor told me that all of these hormonal change had occurred because Zyprexa made me secrete a hormone that is only secreted by pregnant women.

Zyprexa also made me hypertensive and zoomed up my cholesterol levels. So in addition of taking almost 5 different meds a day I also had to take pills for my cholesterol and hypertension.

Zyprexa so far has been the drug that gave me the most side effects. But that also happened because I had an incompetent psychiatrist that gave me a dose up to 45mg!!!! When the top dosage was 20mg.

This man took advantage of me. When I first saw him (he is supposed to be an expert on bipolar disorder and me and my family went all the way to Harvard to see him) he asked me what was the drug that helped me the most. And I said Zyprexa. At that time I took Zyprexa occasionally and only when I was in crisis.

Since I lived in Richmond with my sister, every time I had a crisis or something happened my sister would call and he would up my dose 5mg each time. He totally overmedicated me. And for that I had to suffer more. My sister was no doctor. She did not know the harm she was doing me.

I stopped taking Zyprexa last year. And I have lost 50 pounds. I am not hypertensive anymore, and my cholesterol is back to normal. However, I could have died of a diabetic coma and God knows what else could have happened me. I know there have been people who have died because of Zyprexa. Specially of diabetes. There are around 300 deaths. It must be stopped.

After my last crisis my current doctor (I’ve seen around 10) decided that I should not take medicine anymore, and that I should just live my life. I am in the process of withdrawal. I am taking lithium now (been for a while) which gave me severe psoriasis. I don’t know what else I am taking, since my parents are the only ones who know where and what I take.

I don’t know if my current state (depressed but not psychotic) is due to the lack of medication. I know that I am taking less than half a dose that I used to take.
I hope that maybe no medication will actually make me better. And that my problems are just psychological and not biochemical. I read a lot of RD Laing and I believe in what he says, I just hope life would give me the chance to a full and normal life.

In a good note. I just want to point out that there are good psychiatrists. My third psychiatrist who I had to leave because I moved out of town, was the best. Since I was a college student he charged me less than his normal fee. He would see me at any time of the day. He did not believe in drug companies. And he gave me my meds for free. He was also very hesitant of giving me lithium because he knew it would flare up my (at that time mild) psoriasis. He never gave me labels…in fact he never ever told me that I was bipolar…I had to force him. When I did he said he did not believe in labels…he believed in human beings. I miss him and I know that anyone who has the privilege to have him as a doctor is in great hands.

I hate drug companies, and the capitalist system. We all have the right to get well and worse than not being able to buy meds, is the fact that because of that system we are being forced to take meds and get sick to fill their pockets with filthy money.

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