Paxil Nightmare.

“Paxil should be yanked from the market immediately.”

 

In July of last year, I was coerced by my therapist to try a low dose of Paxil for depression caused by chronic pain. I was feeling pretty overwhelmed by the injuries I had suffered in an automobile accident 4 years earlier and the fight with my insurance company was turning into a nightmare of gigantic proportions. My therapist convinced me that Paxil was the answer.

I started out on 5 mgs and worked my way up to 10 mgs within three weeks. After one week on 10 mgs, I became suicidal and completely out of control and wound up in a 72-hour lockdown at the local State psychiatric hospital. Instead of taking me off Paxil, they increased the dose and continued to increase the dose at regular intervals until I felt completely brain dead. When I hit 40 mgs a day, I was nothing but a zombie going through the motions of life.

They didn’t seem concerned and even suggested once again that I should up the dose. Unbeknownst to my doctors, I began to slowly wean myself off the drug. That is when my real nightmare began. I felt as if I was in a mental straitjacket — then the head spins, nausea, dizziness, visual lag, and blackouts began. My doctor told me these were caused by depression not the drug. Thank God I didn’t believe her and continued to withdraw slowly.

It took me 8 weeks to finally get off Paxil, but it is now 8 months later and I still have terrible side effects, some of which I am afraid are going to be permanent. My memory is shot, my cognitive and organizational skills are hampered, I feel as if I have had a chemical lobotomy — which I am now finding out is just what this drug does.

The propaganda issued by SmithKline Beecham about this drug in no way indicates how serious the side effects are or how devastating the withdrawal can be. Paxil is the drug they want to use in “cosmetic psychopharmacology” — they want to put everyone on it because it makes you compliant, sociable and open to suggestion. Welcome the New World Order.

I believe that Paxil should be yanked from the market immediately. I have never met anyone who had a good experience with this drug and my experience is one that I will never forget. I have filed an Adverse Reaction Report with the FDA and SmithKline and I have no ruled out a product liability suit. There is nothing innocuous about this drug and everyone should be warned.

Trisha Spinelli

 

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 89.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

911 total views, no views today

Two Months of Hell on Luvox, Effexor, Paxil and Zoloft.

“Why don’t they tell people? What are they trying to do to us?”

 

Hi, I am not a teenager, but I was put on my first anti-depressant at 25 years of age. I was mostly depressed about my relationship at the time, but had always been anxious and unmotivated so I thought the doctor was correct.

I lived through two months of absolute Hell. First Luvox, then Effexor, then Paxil, then Zoloft…all of which I had severe tremors and dystonia while taking within days. My Dr. acted like I was psychosomatic. I became so ill during this time that I don’t recall half what happened. My now husband said it was terrifying to see me.

I quit the Doctor and am now 29 years of age. My memory is shot and if I was unmotivated prior to this, I can only say that now I am completely apathetic and disinterested in almost everything. I have tried naturopathy, acupuncture, etc. Nothing helps.

I had a minor problem before and now I think my life may be ruined. Why don’t they tell people? What are they trying to do to us?

Thank you for your page. It means a lot to know I am not alone if nothing else.

Yana
yana97@prodigy.net

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 91.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

927 total views, no views today

Hypomania on Zoloft

“..a dozen or more therapists all missed the signs and symptoms…”

 

My husband, was initially on 50 mg. Zoloft for a mild depression and concentration problems at work. It “worked” for a while, then did not. The family clinic GP upped the dosage to 100 mg, then the benefits “wore off” again. Nine months after the initial prescription, the doctor again upped the dosage. It was now 150 mg. of Zoloft per day. My husband was becoming increasingly irritable, and hostile, with a hair-trigger temper. He eventually erupted into domestic violence, battered me, and I had to call 911 for help.

I had heard about some of the violence associated with Prozac and I immediately suspected a connection with Zoloft. So he went off the Zoloft right away but had dream-like sequences impinging upon his waking state. This made it even more difficult to concentrate at work, in addition to all of our marriage problems resulting from the battery. It was scary to him. Finally, he saw a psychiatrist at a University here in California who seemed not overly concerned about this “side-effect,” but suggested he taper off.

He had to go back on to the Zoloft and withdraw slowly in order to mitigate this troubling (and now I realize it is a very dangerous!) withdrawal symptom. It never entirely disappeared for many months. Every time he stepped his dose down, the REM dream spill-over problem in waking-state intensified. These problems lasted about 6 months. One time he revealed that he almost got into a car accident, that would have been his fault, because he made a left turn when it was not safe. The dream “blinkies,” which is what he called them, occurred especially strongly when he moved his eyes around, such as when he was driving. This relates to what is known about the eye-darting in REM sleep, and the effect of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Therapy).

When the “blinkies” were still there even after he went entirely off the medicine, I cajoled him into having an EEG to check for epilepsy. The test was negative. But he said that during the test he had no “blinkies” because he was sitting or laying with closed eyes. However, as soon as he got up and left the office, and darted his eyes around in the parking lot, the problem resumed. He was defensive about possibly having epilepsy, so he did go back in and have them redo the test. In fact he was pleased that he “passed” the test, thereby proving to himself that “nothing was really wrong.” After reading your book I now realize that he had a very serious condition called REM Behavior Disorder, which is when REM sleep spills over into activity. I note that with a severe REM deprivation there is a 85% chance of resulting violence. I believe that this is what happened with my husband. The SSRI drug severely inhibited his REM sleep at night, and when he went off the medication, the REM compensation dangerously spilled over into waking state.

We were living apart for about 9 months. During this time my husband was hostile, and often spoke with manic intensity. He had very distorted perceptions, and wrote letters accusing me of having “only hate in your heart,” and of having done all manner of harm to him. One time I received one of the most distorted and acrimonious letters on the day that he moved back home and was sleeping and having sex with me!

During this manic time he charged about $30,000.00 on several credit cards. His spending was on so many things that the money just went through his fingers like water. He also found an out-of-town girlfriend, and she became quite enamored of him, convinced that they were “soul-mates destined to be together from the beginning of time.” She believed that I was an evil force in my husband’s life. Quite a bit of money was spent on this out-of-town relationship, as well as about $10,000 on an attorney and an accountant to prepare taxes for “married filing separately” and papers for a divorce. The taxes later had to be redone to include me, and he never filed the divorce papers. Basically, he “crashed and burned” after all his hypomania. Six months after he ceased the Zoloft he was ill for weeks with a cold, looked terrible, and could barely get to work. Then he decided to come home.

At times he had almost a catatonic depression, although he also alternated depression with anger explosions, although no more violence. It was a difficult first six months, and couple’s therapy was not helpful. As a result of other individual therapies, he did learn about appropriate and inappropriate expression of one’s anger. This made it easier to live with him, but he still struggled to keep his emotions in check. Finally he saw a psychiatrist who tried lithium for bipolar disorder.

Almost immediately the blow-ups and hyper-irritability ended. It took longer for the depressions to abate. He did go on and off the medication for short periods, apparently to convince himself he still needed it. During the “off” periods his irritability noticeably increased, and happiness decreased. He would soon resume the medication.

In 20/20 hindsight there is no question that the Zoloft induced hypomania, and that a dozen or more therapists all missed the signs and symptoms. No one took notice that the hypomania developed along with the increasing doses of Zoloft, and continued even after withdrawal. In persons with a bipolar tendency, anti-depressants are known to trigger mania, yet no therapist made this connection until a year and a half after the first symptoms of mania began to appear.

In addition, he developed other problems associated with anti-depressant usage. According to a five hour lab test, he now has “Impaired Glucose Tolerance,” a pre-diabetic condition. In my unofficial diagnosis, based upon your book, he had signs and symptoms of Cushing Syndrome (sugar metabolism disturbance, high triglycerides, “pregnant” appearance, thick fat at the neck).

Thank you so much for researching and writing your book on SSRI type antidepressants. My mind is still boggled by how accurate your description was of my husband’s problems.

S

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 92.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

1,214 total views, 1 views today

Suicidal on Prozac.

“…an incredible journey into another world.”

 

I am another in a long line of Prozac victims. For most of my life I’ve suffered from bouts of depression. After teaching in the public schools for nearly twenty years, I requested Prozac to help with my increasing depression. The following months began an incredible journey into another world.

At first I noticed that my self-confidence was growing. Even in my dreams (which were often fearful and involved my being in overwhelming situations) I began to gain confidence. I remember that in one dream instead of running away in fear, I stood my ground and fought my aggressor. This was an unheard of event! As one who has been given the gift of music but a paralyzing fear of being imperfect thrown in, I began to have the confidence to perform before others and finally get some affirmation.

As you might guess, if the story ended there, all would have been well. However, eventually I began to drink heavily, become very aggressive , and start to behave in ways that were also new to me. I struggled in other areas too personal to mention here in my personal life. Eventually, I saw clearly that my life was a curse to all concerned. One hears that the person who attempts suicide must be a real coward who cares only about himself. On the contrary, I knew that my continued existence was a threat to everyone I cared about. The most loving thing I could do was to end my life before I took others down with me.

I wrote the usual note saying good-by and tried to overdose on everything I could find. I swallowed all the Prozac I had, Benadryl, ….whatever I could find. I went to bed knowing that I was doing the right thing. When I survived and was brought to in the hospital, I was furious at those who had saved me. Learning that my survival was a miracle was not met by me with rejoicing. It took a while for my anger to subside.

At the ward they took me off all medication and watched me carefully. As days passed, it all began to look like a bad dream and I couldn’t imagine why I had attempted suicide. I swore to all it would never happen again. I was eventually dismissed, sent home, and again prescribed an antidepressant. This one was Effexor. Within one year the whole series of events repeated itself and I attempted suicide again…and failed. This attempt was strange. I had had a wonderful day but had ended it with a disagreement with my son. Without so much of a second thought, I was swallowing pills to kill myself!

Obviously, after my survival the psychiatrists still didn’t consider the fact that although I had been depressed most of my life I had never attempted suicide until I was put on these new antidepressants. I went back on Prozac this time. However, I was beginning to get a feeling on my own that the medication might be the cause. However, to stop and face depression with nothing was frightening. I decided to cut my dosage from 20 mg to 10 mg a day. This small drop seemed to help immensely. I just never told the doctors. Still with even 10 mg I could become furious easily. I just didn’t totally lose it.

Then I discovered you on the internet and found out about all the other people like me. Last week I stopped the Prozac and began taking ST. John’s Wort instead. I don’t know what the future holds. Perhaps, I’ll continue with the herbs. Maybe not. I don’t like taking anything, but from what I’ve learned on the web, SJW doesn’t affect a person like Prozac. I guess I will eventually find out, won’t I?

Well, that is my very condensed story. I have decided to order your book if for no other reason than to reinforce my decision not to return to Prozac.

Thank you for coming out like you have against the drug companies and helping those of us who have been so misled. I hope my story ends happily.

D.S.
Wolf444@webtv.net

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 84.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

845 total views, no views today

Between Laughter and Tears on Zoloft, Prozac and Wellbutrin (Zyban)

“…drugs are always give and take. This is not worth the take.”

 

I’ve been taking Zoloft or Prozac or Wellbutrin (Zyban) for several years. During some parts of this I began drinking heavily to the point of black outs and complete craziness. Most doctors called me an alcoholic. I had been drinking for several years for fun but never had any problems. I am in Law school right now and feel that I can’t remember well or that I have killed brains cells. I feel like I don’t care and like I am trapped inside of another body. The Doctor put my husband on Paxil and that was when I realized we both had to get off the drugs. This is day three and I fluctuate between either laughter or tears. I cried all the way through my patent law class. Deep down inside I know there are problems because, I have never been a C student. Some people say that Law school is hard but I also have a degree in Biochemistry which is a lot harder.

My science background though general in this area alerts me to the fact that there is a balance in all bodily mechanisms and drugs are always give and take. This is not worth the take.

I agree that something should be done. Western medicine which trains our DRS. is not ample for these people to make these assessments. Further, we are always the first real clinical trial because testing does not occur outside the lower animal kingdom until the FDA approves the drug. One doesn’t have to be an elitist to note the difference between our brains and those of lower animals. Further, it is clear that people are effected very differently, this also shouldn’t be that big of a surprise because we have a history incapable of adequate diagnosis in the mental health area. Drug companies are usually the people that pay in class action suits of this nature. This is big business for them and very possible that we have not been given all of the facts even with respect to their animal testing and in vitro experiments. (i.e. tobacco industry) Neurological safety can be nothing less than theoretical, to argue any more than this would put us in a completely reductionist framework when this has not been accomplished scientifically. In other words, we do not yet have proof that our brains operate on one to one biochemical pathways. Even if this were true, there is certainly some interesting conceptually different mechanism at work between individuals. My problem is that once FDA approval goes through because this is a rigorous process, then what do they do to track the “real” test subjects. Arguably here we are left to fend for ourselves because there is a point at which the market takes over all sense of humanity.

Ashley

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 85.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

1,088 total views, no views today

Terrified on Effexor

“I could not even go out to my car to go to the hospital. I became terrified, I could not leave the house.”

 

I just read the article from Pat Spruill regarding [her experiences] being a volunteer on a hot-line. I too called a hot-line after about 3 days on Effexor. (The girl at the distress center was condescending and I really should have reported her but was too upset.) I became immobilized, I could not even go out to my car to go to the hospital. I became terrified, I could not leave the house. I felt like what I imagine a moose feels like looking into the headlights of a car. It was the worst experience I ever had on anti-depressants. (I have tried Prozac, Zoloft , Zyban (Wellbutrin), all with extreme negative side effects.) Had I not known that this was a reaction to the drug, I honestly do not think I would be here today. Luckily my son was home at the time. The worst of this is that when I reported it to my family doctor he said, “Oh those reactions go away after 2-3 weeks.” My pharmacist advised me that this was an abnormal reaction and not to take anymore. Depression, sad to say, is still today looked upon as something folks bring upon themselves ..even by our doctors; so the easiest way for the doctors to “keep us quiet” is to dope us up and hope we go away. (I plan to report my doctor when I find a new one.)

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 88.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

899 total views, no views today

Prozac prescribed for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

“It was, by far, the most terrifying experience of my life; I literally felt like I was losing my mind, being taken over by an alien force.”

 

To make an excruciatingly long story tolerably short, I was given Prozac for Chronic Fatigue syndrome by my GP. I was on it for a year with no major problems, in fact I quite liked the unsought-for increase in confidence, sociability, etc.

After stopping, I began experiencing a whole host of ‘mental problems’ that I’d never had before. This began as a strange and almost indescribable difference in perception; it was as if I saw things without any emotional response. Even the simple, everyday things — looking at a tree, a dog, being in a roomful of people listening to conversation – took on a bizarre, otherworldly aspect. It was as if I were on some kind of anesthetic while still awake. This escalated over a period of several months until it took on the form of full-blown depersonalization disorder. At the same time, I began experiencing episodes of derealization and extreme LSD-like experiences, a constant experience of mental impairment, and severe loss of short-term memory. My doctor said he’d never heard of such a thing and referred me to a psychiatrist, who proceeded to tell me that this wasn’t caused by the drug, but that my ‘illness’ had gotten worse. ‘What illness,’ quoth I. ‘Your depression,’ quoth he. When I told him that never had depression, just fatigue and food allergies, and I’d certainly never had any of these extreme forms of mental illness before or anything remotely like them, he looked at me blankly for a minute, and then somehow convinced me that they had just ‘happened,’ that my condition had just coincidentally deteriorated, that I’d always ‘really been depressed’ and just hadn’t known it, and that what I needed to do to make these things go away was to go back on the drug. I was in desperate straits, scared out of my wits and appeared to have no other options. I did as he said, re-started Prozac. All the symptoms immediately got worse. I was having constant, unremitting LSD-like experiences, horrible, nauseatingly violent dreams, a constant state of unremitting depersonalization and derealization to the point where I could barely function. It was, by far, the most terrifying experience of my life; I literally felt like I was losing my mind, being taken over by an alien force.

I went to several other psychiatrists to try to find an ‘expert’ who could explain all of this. Dr. Daniel Aurbach (quoted in a recent story in Newsweek as a Prozac authority) told me that he’d never heard of Prozac causing any of these phenomena, that I should not worry, it was ‘a very safe drug.’ Dr. Deborah Nadel of UCLA told me that she’d ‘bet money’ that this had nothing to do with Prozac, that I should increase the dose, and that I needed to take Klonopin for my ‘anxiety,’ and go into therapy, which I did for several weeks. Eventually, I could no longer bear the asininity of sitting in a room talking to this woman about my childhood while tripping my brains out on a drug, hallucinating and having out-of-the-body experiences, nauseatingly violent dreams (when I was even able to sleep) and not being able to remember what I did yesterday. I expressed my concerns to Dr. Nadel about the approach we were taking; she told me that I should take a neuroleptic (anti-psychotic medication). To my eternal credit, I did not throw her out the window, but, patient guy that I am, went to a few more shrinks. They all told me basically the same things:

Prozac doesn’t do this, you must have ‘already’ been mentally disturbed (or this just ‘happened,’ nothing to do with the drug), all reports of adverse effects from Prozac were started by the Scientologists, why don’t you try a neuroleptic, they’re safe in small doses, etc. etc. etc. One morning, after waking up in sheer terror from a particularly horrible dream in which men in masks were ripping first the eye-balls and then the brains out of two young girls, I went into the bathroom and sat on the toilet, letting the water in the sink run to give me something other than my mind to listen to. ‘Jesus,’ I thought, ‘what the *hell* could a dream like that possibly mean? What is happening to me?’ ‘It doesn’t matter,’ said a clear, calm voice in my mind, ‘because I’m going to kill myself.’

In that moment, I realized that I didn’t give a rat’s ass what any psychiatrist said. I was stopping this shit no matter what. I’d walked into this with a mild case of fatigue and some food allergies, and now I’m sitting here on the edge of psychosis with a voice telling me to off myself. I don’t think so.

I went to a doctor I’d seen several years before, Dr. Murray Susser, one of the foremost authorities on the treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and related disorders. I knew that he had prescribed anti-depressant medications (I’d read his book), and I also knew him to be a knowledgeable, widely educated, intelligent and decent man. I told him my story. When I got to the part about everybody telling me that it ‘couldn’t be the drug,’ he looked up from his notes and said “Bullshit! It’s the drug. I see this kind of thing all the time. I don’t know how these psychiatrists can be in such denial, the literature is full of reactions like this.” We talked for a long time, figuring out a workable program for safely tapering off the drug, and for trying to get myself back in shape afterward. I left his office feeling hope for the first time in eight months.

Happily, right at that time, I found the book ‘Prozac: Panacea or Pandora?’ by Ann Blake Tracy, which I promptly read. It was like the light at the end of the tunnel; this book described everything that had happened to me in great detail, gave scientific reasons why it happened, backed it all up with solid research, included testimonials from hundreds of others in the same situation, and even gave me some insight as to how seven of the top psychiatrists in LA could be so amazingly, criminally inept.

I thought about suing them. For about thirty seconds. How could I prove what this stuff has done to me? For me, the most frightening aspect of this whole adventure, even more so than journeying to the brink of insanity, is the realization that these psychiatrists have all this power and authority to proclaim what is and isn’t real as regards your own mental function and sense of self, whether they have any real idea what they’re talking about or not. [I’ve learned that] SSRI’s can, in fact, cause LSD-like experiences, due to their artificial raising of 5HT (the chemical that LSD achieves its effect by mimicking). However, it’s not ‘fun, trippy acid’ kind of stuff. It’s more like LSD mixed with PCP mixed with anesthesia, mixed with Sulfur from the Pits of Hell, and like the energizer bunny, it keeps going and going and going…

As for depersonalization disorder (something the docs all told me Prozac couldn’t be the cause of): it’s listed right on the package insert as a possible side-effect. Too bad none of these guys thought it worth-while to give to me. Or read…..I like to learn from my experiences. In searching for positive aspects to this whole thing, I can say I now have at least some idea what schizophrenia might be like. For whatever that’s worth.

 

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 82.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

1,150 total views, no views today

Hospitalized on Paxil

“Has psychiatry’s faith in medication become so strong that the last thing they can imagine is that medication might be what is causing a problem?”

 

I was in and out of the hospital 5 times during the 8 month period on the drug in 1996. I suffered delusions, impulsiveness, roadrage (bumped a car ahead of me repeatedly), spent an entire night trying to put a T-shirt on–I had forgotten how to dress myself, and I couldn’t lie still. Eventually (I am told) I began hearing voices, became unconscious, and was in intensive care for ten days on the danger list, writhing around. Only then did they think to take me off the medication! They had actually added other drugs, rather than stop the Paxil!

When I regained consciousness I was in a black mood and let them use ECT on me.

What an assault on me! I’m angry! Shouldn’t my inability to dress myself have been a sign that I should be taken off all medication, rather than adding another drug?

Has psychiatry’s faith in medication become so strong that the last thing they can imagine is that medication might be what is causing a problem?

Ed Robinson
erob@people-link.com

Years 2000

This is Survivor Story number 72.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

1,003 total views, no views today

Withdrawal from Paxil

“Please get this message out…”

 

After trying several different antidepressants my doctor put me on Paxil. I stayed on it for about eight months but just didn’t like the way it made me feel. I felt like I wasn’t really living, just existing and I was extremely tired. I would fall asleep at nine at night and have trouble waking in the morning.

I decided to go off it VERY SLOWLY and without much help at all from my doctor. This is when my nightmare began. I experienced all kinds of symptoms- depression, uncontrolled bouts of crying, unable to get out of bed, dizziness, my head swimming and what I can only describe as brain attacks. I felt like I had some kind of brain damage . My doctor was completely unable to help me so I took Xanax to help counter the withdrawal symptoms. It helped a little. I even felt suicidal for the first time in my life. I thought I would never wake from this nightmare. Two months later I was still not completely off Paxil and the symptoms were still awful. I finally called a doctor in another state I had gone to in college and he told me there were several things I could have done to ease all this but since my dosage was now so small he told me to just stick it out and within about ten days of stopping completely I should start to feel better.

Well it took about another six weeks after stopping completely to feel normal again. Now another two months later I feel that I have recuperated from a serious illness. I can’t describe how wonderful it is to be off this drug completely. I am angry at my doctor for not telling me there are withdrawal symptoms from Paxil. None of the literature from the manufacturer mentions this. I would have never taken this drug had I known. The only thing that kept me going was reading the internet and knowing so many people were experiencing the same thing. PLEASE GET THE MESSAGE OUT TO PEOPLE THAT STOPPING IS POSSIBLE. There are so many others who just give up and stay on the drug to avoid the withdrawal symptoms.

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 73.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

849 total views, 1 views today

He always kept his promises.

“I know with absolute certainty that he could not have committed this act on his own.”–by Richard Schultz, his brother

 

Leonard Schultz
on his 50th Birthday
7/11/1948–11/29/1998

He was quiet and unpretentious. Someone who always played by the rules and rarely complained. If you passed him on the street you probably would not recall the encounter. However, if you were in trouble or needed a hand, he would be the first to offer help. You wouldn’t even have to ask. He could never refuse a request for a donation or assistance, even from strangers, and he could never walk by a Salvation Army kettle without putting a few dollars in the slot.

With small acts of kindness and courtesy, he made the lives of those he touched a little brighter. By example, he taught us how we should treat one another. He was a cherished husband, a loving father, a helpful and considerate neighbor, a valued employee and a wonderful person. He left behind a wife of 20 years, and a son that he adored. He always kept his promises.

It was a time when several significant changes were occurring in his life. His son had recently left home for his freshman year at college. He had just celebrated his 50th birthday, which is often a time for pondering and reflection. He had worked for his employer for 30 years and was eligible to take an early retirement. His wife had been encouraging him to retire and move to Florida where he could continue to work part time, but he was uncertain about taking this step. He loved his job. It gave him great satisfaction and a sense of worth. He worked as an industrial electrician for one of the large automobile manufacturers. He was extremely proficient at repairing and maintaining the complex machinery on the assembly lines. He was a prized employee who was relied on to quickly diagnose and repair problems and keep the plant’s assembly lines running.

I believe that these significant life events along with the uncertainty concerning his retirement must have combined to cause him to feel some symptoms of depression. Based on my conversations with the authorities, and with the people who were in contact with him in his final days I have pieced together these events. On November 15, 1998 he was having trouble sleeping. He was experiencing heaviness in the chest, and some anxiousness. He went to the local hospital emergency room where he was given an examination and various tests. The result of all of the tests were negative. He was given a prescription for 30 mg capsules of Temazepam to aid in sleeping, and was advised to contact his primary care physician. On November 23, 1998 he went to the local Family Practice Center and saw one of the doctors on their staff. This was his first and only visit with this doctor.

During the screening with the doctor, he again indicated that he had not been sleeping well and mentioned that he was feeling depressed. The doctor prescribed the anti-depressant Zoloft. The prescribed dosage for the Zoloft was 50 mg for 14 days followed by a 100 mg dosage thereafter. He actually only took the Zoloft for 5 days before his death.

It was the week of the Thanksgiving holiday. He took the entire week off from work. As previously planned, he and his wife flew to her sister’s in Texas where they celebrated the holiday along with their son who met them there. By all accounts they had a wonderful holiday and reunion. The only indication that something was amiss was when he mentioned to his sister-in-law that he was feeling agitated, and felt like he wanted to “crawl out of his skin”. He and his wife flew back home on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, arriving at their house at about 2 AM. They went to bed immediately. His wife remembers waking at about 4:30 AM and seeing him sleeping next to her. Sometime after 4:30 AM he got out of bed, took the prescription bottle from his yet unpacked luggage, went to the kitchen and took another Zoloft tablet. (The police found the opened bottle and partial glass of water on the counter.)

Shortly afterwards he got a gun, went into his back yard and ended his life. We were stunned and horrified at what happened.

We spent days looking for clues, any indication that he had been troubled and had been contemplating this act. We found nothing. I spoke to everyone I could. His family, the doctor, his neighbors, his closest friends at work, and the investigating authorities. It made no sense to anyone. The only unknown factor was the medication that he had started taking. I began searching on the Internet and found the www.drugawareness.org web site. There, I found some accounts that were so similar to what happened to my brother. I could only read them over and over again in disbelief.

I knew my brother better than any other living being. While growing up we were inseparable. We were often mistaken for twins. We looked alike. We acted alike. We knew each other’s thoughts without speaking. I know with absolute certainty that he could not have committed this act on his own. It must have been an adverse reaction to the drug. There simply is no other possible explanation.

He had everything to live for. He loved his family and his friends. He was at the top of his game. He had a private pilot’s license and was flying regularly. It was a hobby that he thoroughly enjoyed. He had recently gone to a racing school in North Carolina where he learned how to drive a top fuel dragster at over 200 miles per hour. I watched the video tapes of his runs and remember how I admired his skill and courage. There were many things that we had planned to do together. He had asked me to look for a good used recreation vehicle for him to buy so that he might use it to ease into retirement mode. He had never seen Cape Cod. He promised that his wife and he would join me and my family on our next annual vacation trip there.

His wife Paula adds the following to this account: “My husband would never have left us in the way that he did. Leonard was a very giving, loving husband, and enjoyed life. It is important to know that Leonard abhorred suicide. Two years ago my stepfather’s brother committed suicide and I remember Leonard and I discussing it. He said ‘Why would someone do something so stupid? There are so many other options to help you get through life’s problems.’ Leonard was very organized. He would methodically research every major purchase and every vacation trip. Everything was always well planned ahead of time. Before we went on a trip he would always make sure that the bills were paid and everything with the house and car was in good working order. He hadn’t done anything differently in the months, the weeks, or even the days before he left us. There were so many things that he would have taken care of if he had known that he was leaving, but they were left by the wayside. He left no note nor any other signs that this had been planned or even pondered. I am convinced by both the timing and the things that he left unfinished, that the Zoloft that he was taking affected his judgment and ability so severely that the drug itself is responsible for his untimely death. We are now left with only the memories of how special a person he was instead of having him here to continue his life with us.”

I cannot begin to explain how different life is now for his wife and son, nor can I describe the void we now have in our lives, so I will not try. We will forever remember him as someone who, except for this one time, always kept his promises.

His wife Paula Schultz can be reached at PSchultz1@aol.com

His brother Richard Schultz can be reached at Richard_Schultz@yahoo.com

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 76.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

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