“I found myself actually considering suicide which I had never done before. It was scary.”
I would like to share the story of my experience with the drug Zoloft. At this time, would like to keep my identity private due to the personal nature of what I am revealing. I am a professional musician who is losing my hearing. In 1998, I had several health problems including a lesion on my vestibular nerve, causing chronic, disabling vertigo. I had to wait months in between visits to the “expert” doctors trying to diagnose the problem. I saw a psychiatrist because I was depressed, cried easily, etc..actually, instead of having mental illness, I was sick and having a normal reaction to being sick.
I thought the psychiatrist would want to talk with me. That is what I thought I was there for. I believed in the healing powers of talk therapy. Strangely to me, she did not seem to be interested in my story and after 15 minutes or so of me telling my “story” gave me samples of Zoloft, even after I told her I am very sensitive to medications. I went home that afternoon and took one of the pills. I was 35 years old. I had taken LSD when I was a teenager. There was a very good reason I stopped taking LSD then. About 20 minutes after I took the Zoloft, I began to get shaky and nervous, EXACTLY like the first stage of LSD. I was going very fast, starting to get giddy and laughing. The phone rang, it was my closest friend, I could barely contain myself, until I heard it was her. I burst out laughing and shaking and for all the world felt like I was on LSD. I had never had hallucinations on the drug LSD, but rather, the same shaky, “high”, laughing, intense, experience I was having on Zoloft.
I called the psychiatrist immediately. She told me “that shouldn’t happen”, that Zoloft takes 3 weeks to kick in, and told me to take it again the next day. That night the “high” subsided and I went into a deep dark depression, completely unlike the existential “depression” I had come to the doctor for. I had NEVER felt anything close to this! I found myself actually considering suicide which I had never done before. It was scary.
Mostly because I am a deferential person, the next day as per doctor’s orders, I took the Zoloft again. I had essentially the same reaction after I took the pill the second time, but slightly less intense. I called the psychiatrist again, and told her about the experience of the night time depression including the suicidal feelings that I had not had before, and she again told me that that “shouldn’t happen” and again to continue taking it. I had the depression at night again, but slightly less intense. I knew I could not keep taking it. There was a reason I quit taking LSD as a teenager!
I stopped taking Zoloft, and I never had those symptoms again. I made an appointment to see the psychiatrist again, and in my deferential manner told her I had “self-medicated” by taking myself off the drug. She noted in my records that I was “self-medicating”. And she gave me samples of Wellbutrin in pretty little boxes. Of course I did not take them.
I did not return to the psychiatrist. The “high” experience I had with Zoloft was much like my experience with LSD initially, but the depression at the end of the day was like nothing I had ever experienced before. It was dark. A dark dark place, where I was considering ways to kill myself.
I don’t understand why the psychiatrist would tell me “that shouldn’t happen” when in 1998 the suicidal side-effects were known. Was she just strangely uninformed about the drug she was handing out so casually? Or did she not believe it?
These are very very strong and potentially damaging drugs. I am concerned when I hear about anyone on them. I know it is not just children who may become suicidal. I know it is very possible for an adult to become suicidal out of the blue as a direct result of taking the drug Zoloft, because it happened to me. I stopped taking it, the side effects stopped immediately, and I then simply lived through the experience of the loss of losing my hearing. The lesion on my vestibular nerve healed eventually, and I am essentially fine. Life has pain and trials, yes. I’m not happy all the time and don’t expect to be. I want to have the full experience of being human, which includes pain and trial. To pretend that human “unhappiness” can be cured with a drug, seems ludicrous to me. The dangerousness of the drugs they have settled on is obvious to me. I hope that support for these drugs will stop.
Thank you for your work.