“I can remember it being hard to feel a smile.”
My name is Barton Mahoney. Thank you for this forum. It represents an opportunity to know that others understand what I experienced with the drug Paxil.
Bad, bad, bad for Bart! It has been a lonely experience in explaining the affects this intrusive drug has had in my life. I am one of those people that this drug was not designed for, doing it only by a doctor’s order. If I only knew what was in store for me, assuredly it would never have happened. It was prescribed not so much for depression as to help with an extreme case of fatigue. Depression and fatigue can appear hand-in-hand when working 80+ hour workweeks in construction. As an energetic and conscientious building contractor this is now my previous occupation.
Paxil, smaxil, serotonin, shmerotonin. I had no idea of what these were or what they would mean, before it was too late. They prescribed it with Xanax, another wonder drug. Within the first week I was complaining to my doctor about the effect it was having on me. I was told my condition was consistent with the early affects of the drug. It was recommended to continue the medication for the 4-6 week incubation period when the Paxil would then become balanced with my system.
This never happened. I stopped the Xanax within months. My personality and character changed so dramatically that I left the construction trades, lost the respect of my family, along with every ounce of self-esteem that I had within a very short time. I can remember it being hard to feel a smile. It was the major contributing factor to the demise of a life once enjoyed, leading to the perils of a drug user. I wish this on no person. The scary part is that this was considered a legal practice.
I was hospitalized on several occasions during the first year. Each time was the result of collapsing on the floor or when lying down and not being able to get up. I would just lay there not able to move or with a feeling of not wanting to move. It is difficult to explain. If helped by a person and moved very slowly they could get me to my feet, only to immediately collapse again. Three times at home, Twice while at hotels, once on an airplane. That time they had to hold the flight I was on from taking off. It took better than a half an hour to retrieve me from the bathroom. Two very helpful Texas police officers saw our way to a hospital. I was treated in the emergency room but they wanted to take blood. With a phobia about shots plus being through this experience before I felt to have a better answer for my treatment. They did not understand that I just wanted to lie there and that I would be fine in a little while. I tried explaining my condition at the hospital and asked if they would please call my doctor. They did not make the call and released me because I refused treatment by not letting them stick needles in me. I took a later flight home and told myself that this was it. I had to get off this drug.
I was in the care of my doctor this entire period from September 1997 until November 1999. What is interesting was how the medical clinic provided me with prescriptions of Paxil even after I had lost my insurance (I lost everything but that’s not the point). My thinking was that they are giving me the medication because they know something may go wrong if I stopped taking it. Something was adrift for them to give me the medication for free. It appears I am discovering that they did know once this drug had taken its place in my system that it was a very long process to wean a person off the drug. Plus there was a possibility that I may not be stable enough for those around me. There was nothing about this on the drug description at the time, only to say do not stop medication without consulting your doctor. I did and was told to very slowly reduce the dosage until I could handle life without it. It took over a year to free myself from this consummate condition.
It has been a year and a half since my final battle with the drug. The final no-more-Paxil period lasted for about three weeks. No different than any other episode during this treatment, if I stopped or slowed down the medication I would lose my motor skills or would lose my will to use them. Slowly perking-up I am happy to say that now without this drug in my system and because of a very supporting family; I am back to my old self and am finding life enjoyable once again. The further life distances itself from the history of this period the better off I will be. Occasionally, I still have strange twinges at the base of my neck and I now shake when doing something tedious with my hands. I had always prided myself in the steadiness of intricate tasks, but this is no more.
My memories of this period are also quite bothersome. I have spoken with three attorneys, one said his legal counsel doctor said I should have been able to stop cold-turkey with out having any problems. Right! A second said it appeared to be a class-action suit after a 20-20 television show about the anti-affects of anti-depressant medication. A third attorney said it would cost more than his firm could afford just in getting the case to trial.
I left it at that knowing that I was greatly improved and able by nature to fight my way back to a life. My wife and I were married at age 15 & 16 respectively. We have three wonderful adult children. For 31 years we have been through many tough times and this is now just another experience. I don’t want to think of where my life would be if I hadn’t fought through and separated myself from the clutches of Paxil. Even thinking through this letter helps with the healing process. I was compelled to write because it appears the truth is coming out. Previously, I actually thought I was going crazy and that nobody was listening, nor would they believe me. It was the loneliest feeling in the world.
I am saddened by the actions of those people under the influence of this
drug. To have done the things that they have hurts all of us. To an extent I can understand how they felt when performing these horrific acts. My prayers and thoughts go out to all that are affected. These are all very disturbing conditions that to some extent fall on the shoulders of those that offer these treatments and to those who manufacturer the drugs that they prescribe. It is a dangerous business. These drugs which are administered do have an affect. I can claim adverse reactions if the person is not designed for treatment in such a manner. We all deserve more information, especially when it comes to a drug that effects our central nervous system.
For those who have had or are having similar experiences, you are not alone nor are you crazy. If you are thinking about taking an anti-depressant, discuss all possibilities with your doctor. If the medication is helping you, then you are lucky. I might still be enjoying a life once stable. Hopefully I will continue to overcome and in time will be fully restored. As I get older it will be interesting to see whether I will ever chance taking any medication. Never again do I want to go through this experience no matter what my condition may be. I would rather go natural.
Thank you for hearing my voice. Now that I have written this brief letter about my experience, I hope it will help others understand the dangers of drugs not meant for the masses. Still it hurts to the center of my soul when considering these possibilities. I have experienced Paxil. Communication is our strength and it should be critically applied with matters of health. Manufacturers, doctors and patients must have all possible information before making life-altering decisions. I signed no waivers in regards to potential side-affects which excuses my ignorance. Luckily I was strong enough to help myself. Woe to those who are not so lucky, you are at the mercy of questionable practices by those we should be able to trust.
This is Survivor Story number 25.
Total number of stories in current database is 34