ANTIDEPRESSANTS & PAINKILLERS: Soldier Dies in his Sleep: Virginia

NOTE FROM Ann Blake-Tracy:

The first four paragraphs of this article reads like a classic
recipe for antidepressant adverse reactions, listing all of the most common and
then the reference to them being the signs of PTSD even though he was never in
combat. What is interesting is that the family understood enough to relate
it all to the drugs. And then to know that the drugs did kill him.
What they did not understand though is how much of a part of
the sexual assault the drugs might have played.
First of all false accusations of sexual assault is so
commonly reported by someone on antidepressants that for two decades I have
generally asked who the patient believes has sexually assaulted them if they
have been on these drugs more than a couple of years. The extremely vivid
drug-induced nightmares are often sexual in nature leading patients to believe
these attacks were real because they were so vivid and because the
patient can no longer detect dreams from reality while on these
But the second component is the widespread use of these drugs
in the military and their potential to produce sexual compulsions which would
produce more sexual attacks as well as the potential of antidepressants to
produce homosexual reactions in those previously heterosexual.
So if this young man really was attacked and it was not a
delusion, the attacker may have been on an antidepressant and experiencing
the adverse reaction of mania – in particular, nymphomania-a pathological
compulsion for sex:
“For years after the parachute accident that ended his Army
service, Cody Openshaw spiraled downward.

He entered college but couldn’t
keep up with his studies. He had trouble holding a job. He drank too much. He
had trouble sleeping, and when he did sleep, he had nightmares. He got married
and divorced in less than a year. He had flashbacks. He isolated himself from
his friends and drank more.

His anxiety level was out of this world,” his father said. “This was a young man who got straight A’s in high school, and
now he couldn’t function.”

Openshaw had the classic symptoms of
post-traumatic stress disorder, even though he had never been in combat. His
parents attributed the trauma to the accident and the heavy medications he was
taking for the continuing pain.

Paragraphs 61 through 64 read:  “He was still heavily
medicated, however –
with narcotics for the lingering
pain from his parachute accident and antidepressants for his
post-traumatic stress disorder.”

His first night at home,
he went to bed and never woke up.”

cause of death was respiratory arrest from prescription drug
He was 25.”

” ‘These medications that he was on, they
build up in your bloodstream to the point of toxicity,’  his father
said.  ‘And that’s what we’re assuming happened’.”

Military men are silent victims of sexual assault

By Bill

The Virginian-Pilot
© October 4, 2009

For years after
the parachute accident that ended his Army service, Cody Openshaw spiraled

He entered college but couldn’t keep up with his studies. He
had trouble holding a job. He drank too much. He had trouble sleeping, and when
he did sleep, he had nightmares. He got married and divorced in less than a
year. He had flashbacks. He isolated himself from his friends and drank

His anxiety level was out of this world,” his father said. “This
was a young man who got straight A’s in high school, and now he couldn’t

Openshaw had the classic symptoms of post-traumatic stress
disorder, even though he had never been in combat. His parents attributed the
trauma to the accident and the heavy medications he was taking for the
continuing pain.

But there was more.

Finally, he broke down and
told his father.

A few months after his accident, as he was awaiting his

medical discharge from the Army, he had been sexually assaulted.

attack left him physically injured and emotionally shattered. Inhibited by
shame, embarrassment, sexual confusion and fear, it took him five years to come
forward with the full story.

What truly sets this story apart, however,
is not the details of the case, horrific as they are, but the gender of the

There is a widespread presumption that most victims of sexual
assault in the military services are women. That presumption, however, is

In a 2006 survey of active-duty troops, 6.8 percent of women and
1.8 percent of men said they had experienced unwanted sexual contact in the
previous 12 months. Since there are far more men than women in the services,
that translates into roughly 22,000 men and 14,000 women.

Among women,
the number of victims who report their assaults is small. Among men, it is
infinitesimal. Last year the services received 2,530 reports of sexual assault
involving female victims – and 220 involving male victims.

One of them
was Pfc. Cody Openshaw.

Now his family has made the difficult decision to
go public with his story in the hope that it will prompt the military services
to confront the reality of male sexual assault.

As Openshaw’s father put
it in an interview, “Now that they know, what are they going to do about it.”

Openshaw grew up in a large Mormon family in Utah, the fifth of
nine children. He was a mild-tempered child, an Eagle Scout who dreamed of
becoming a brain surgeon.

He was an athlete, a tireless hockey player and
a lover of the outdoors. He was prone to take off on a moment’s notice to go
hiking or camping – sometimes with a friend, often just him and his tent – among
Utah’s rugged canyons and brown scrub-covered mountains.

He had a
sensitive side, too: He was a published poet.

He looked big and menacing
but he was really a teddy bear, one of his brothers said.

When he walked
into a room, a sister said, everyone would light up.

He also had a
mischievous streak. Once after joining the Army in 2001, he went home on leave
unannounced for his mother’s birthday. He had himself wrapped up in a big
cardboard box and delivered to the front porch. When his mother opened the box,
he popped out.

Openshaw volunteered for the 82nd Airborne Division, based
at Fort Bragg, N.C., where he excelled as a paralegal and paratrooper. But his

military career came to an untimely end shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001,
terrorist attacks.

As his unit was training to invade Afghanistan, a
parachute malfunction sent Openshaw plummeting 60 feet to the ground, causing
severe stress fractures in his spine and both legs.

For months as he
awaited his medical discharge, he was plagued by chronic pain. The medications
prescribed by the Army doctors only helped so much, and alcohol became a kind of

After a night on the town with a fellow soldier, his

father learned later, Openshaw returned to the barracks and encountered a
solicitous platoon sergeant.

His legs were hurting, and the sergeant
said, “Let me rub your legs.” Then the contact became violently sexual. Openshaw
– drunk, disabled and outranked – was in no position to resist.

The next
day the sergeant told him, “Just remember, accidents happen. They can happen to
you and to your family. You know, people show up missing.”

The story came
out in tortured bits and pieces.

Openshaw confided in his older sister
the next day in an agonized phone call but swore her to secrecy. He took his

assailant’s warning as a death threat.

“He was worried about me and the
rest of the family,” his sister said. “He said ‘We need to keep it quiet.’

Because of the reported threat to Openshaw’s family, their names and
locations have been omitted from this story.

He finally told his
therapist at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Salt Lake City, who
referred him to a VA sexual assault treatment center in Bay Pines, Fla. As part
of his therapy there, Openshaw shared more of the traumatic episode in a letter
to his father.

“He wanted to get better,” his brother said. ” He decided,
‘I’m going to beat this. I’m tired of five years of depression. I want to feel
alive again.’ ”

A longtime friend thinks guilt was a factor in Openshaw’s
reluctance to come forward with his story.

“I think he blamed himself
because he was drinking,” the friend said. “When the assault happened, he said
he remembered laying there and he was so drunk that he couldn’t do anything
about it.

“It really affected him. He struggled even with asking a girl
out on a date. He felt unworthy.”

Trauma from sexual assault has
become so commonplace in the military that it now has its own designation: MST,
for military sexual trauma.

The VA was first authorized to provide sexual
assault outreach and counseling to female veterans after a series of
congressional hearings in 1992. As the realization dawned that this was not just
a women’s issue, those services were extended to male veterans.

to a 2007 study by a team of VA researchers, a nationwide screening of veterans
seeking VA services turned up more than 60,000 with sexual trauma. More than
half of those – nearly 32,000 – were men.

Those numbers almost certainly
understate the problem, the researchers wrote, concluding that the population of
sexually traumatized men and women under the treatment of the VA is “alarmingly

Sexual trauma, the researchers found, poses a risk for developing
post-traumatic stress disorder “as high as or higher than combat

Among active-duty personnel, the Defense Department has
embarked on what it says is an unprecedented effort to wipe out sexual assault

in the ranks.

Key to that effort, the department says, is encouraging a
climate in which victims feel free to report the crime without fear of
retribution, stigma or harm to their careers.

In 2005, Congress
authorized the creation of the Defense Task Force on Sexual Assault in the
Military Services to examine how well the services are carrying out that
mission. Its final report is being prepared now.

The task force fanned
out across the world, hearing stories from dozens of service members who had
been victimized by sexual predators. In April, at a public meeting in Norfolk,
the group saw a slide presentation prepared by Cody Openshaw’s father.

the story unfolded, the hotel conference room fell silent. By the end, the
staffer who presented it – a crusty retired general – was close to

It was a rare event: Of 58 stories collected by the task force
over a year of meetings and interviews, only seven involved male

If the crime is seldom reported, it follows that it is seldom
prosecuted. According to Army court-martial records, 65 sexual assault cases
involving male victims have been prosecuted worldwide in the past five years.
There were almost 10 times that many cases, 621, involving female

The Air Force, Navy and Marines were unable to provide a
breakdown of sexual assault cases by gender.

Jim Hopper, a psychology
instructor at Harvard Medical School who has studied male sexual abuse, said
victims’ reluctance to come forward is rooted in biology and gender

Males are biologically wired to be more emotionally
reactive and expressive than females, Hopper said, but they are socialized to
suppress their emotions.

“Boys are not supposed to be vulnerable, sad,
helpless, ashamed, afraid, submissive – anything like that is totally taboo for
boys,” he said. “The messages come from everywhere. Right from the start, a
fundamental aspect of their being is labeled as not OK.”

training reinforces that socialization, Hopper said. “It conditions men to
accept physical wounds, death and killing while leaving them unprepared for
emotional wounds that assault their male identity.

“When they get
assaulted, they’re unprepared to deal with their vulnerable emotions. They
resist seeking help. They believe that their hard-earned soldier-based
masculinity has been shattered. They’re going to feel betrayed, alienated,
isolated, unworthy. They feel like they’re a fake, a fraud, not a real man,”
Hopper said.

Openshaw’s father, a marriage and family therapist, fears
that the plight of male victims will continue to get short shrift.

military should take a more proactive role in understanding male sexual
assault,” he said. “They need to set up some way that these young men can get
some services without feeling so humiliated. They don ‘t have to be so macho.”

When Openshaw returned home from treatment in Florida in April
2008, his family and friends were buoyed by hope that he had turned a

The two months of treatment “did a world of good,” one friend

“He texted me and said, ‘I’ve learned so many things. I’ve learned
that bad things can happen to good people, and it’s not their fault.’

“He was so excited to come home,” a sister said. “He was planning a big
party. He wanted everybody to see he was better.”

He was still heavily
medicated, however – with narcotics for the lingering pain from his parachute
accident and antidepressants for his post-traumatic stress disorder.


first night at home, he went to bed and never woke up.

The cause of death
was respiratory arrest from prescription drug toxicity. He was 25.

medications that he was on, they build up in your bloodstream to the point of
toxicity,” his father said. “And that’s what we’re assuming happened.”

does not think his son committed suicide.

“I have nine children,
including Cody, and 15 grandchildren,” he said. “Cody had made arrangements for
them all to come over the next day. There was absolutely nothing in his affect
or demeanor that would suggest that he would kill himself.”

He is buried
beside a pine tree on a flat, grassy hilltop in the shadow of his beloved
mountains. His gravestone is adorned by U.S. flags, flowers and cartoon bird
figures recalling his whimsical streak.

A year later, his death remains
an open wound for the family. One younger brother is “very angry with God,” his

father said. He refuses to visit the grave.

Openshaw’s young nieces and
nephews still talk about him and ask when he’s coming over to play.

loved him to pieces,” his mother said. “He affected everybody he

She, like her husband, hopes her son’s story will prompt the
military services to take male sexual assault more seriously: “Something needs
to be done so other service members and their families don’t have to go through

The Army Criminal Investigation Command investigated the case, but
with the victim dead and no eyewitnesses, the initial conclusion was that there
was insufficient evidence to prosecute.

The suspect has been questioned
but remains on active duty. He has been recently deployed in Iraq.

If the
case is not prosecuted, the suspect may be subject to administrative

Louis Iasiello, a retired rear admiral and chief of Navy
chaplains who co-chairs the sexual assault task force, said that when commanding
officers take the crime seriously, victims – whether male or female – are more
likely to come forward.

“The command really does set the tone,” he said.
In places where the command set a positive tone and also set a zero tolerance
toward this crime, it was very obvious that people felt more comfortable coming
forward and reporting an incident and getting the help they needed to begin the
healing process.”

In the Openshaw case, that clearly didn’t happen, said
Thomas Cuthbert, the task force staffer who presented the story in


At the time of his attack, Openshaw was in a holding unit at
Fort Bragg for soldiers awaiting medical discharge.

“Instead of
protecting him while he was being treated, he was left alone and subject to a
predator,” said Cuthbert, a retired brigadier general.

“The kid was not
in a position where he was fully capable of defending himself, and he got hurt
by some hoodlum wearing a uniform. Any Army officer worth his salt, looking at
those facts, would get angry.

“He needed help, and instead he received
abuse of the worst kind. Leadership can’t prevent all crime. But when someone in

authority takes advantage of a subordinate, leadership should be held

If the services are serious about coming to grips with male
sexual assault, Cuthbert said, there is still much work to be done.

If it
can happen to a talented, promising soldier in the 82nd Airborne, he said,
plenty of others who aren’t as independent or as capable of taking care of
themselves also are at risk.

“Nobody in uniform is very happy talking
about this issue. They don’t want to publicly admit it’s there, although we all
know it’s there.”

Bill Sizemore, (757) 446-2276,

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Our Lives are Following Apart

“The doctor … just kept adding more (antidepressants).”

My name is Susan Sweatman, and my husband’s doctor had him on Paxil and three other antidepressants at the same time. He was on these awful drugs for 3 years. The doctor did not take him off of one and try another, he just kept adding more.

Paxil worked for a while then after he had problems sleeping, the doctor added Trazadone, Ambien and Remeron. He took these as prescribed by the doctor. He started drinking beer.

It got to where he was drinking a case of beer a night, always mad. Still could not sleep, then when he would sleep, he could not get up.

We found out last June our doctor was hooked on drugs and was sent to dry out. Then while he was gone, the other doctor without seeing my husband kept writing prescriptions for these drugs. Our doctor died in Feb.

Last October my husband got mad pulled a gun on me and our son, and said he was going to kill us. I called the police, and he was arrested. We did not know anything about these drugs, and that you are not supposed to be on them that long.

Now the court will not let us be together, and we have no hope. Someone told me about this website. We need help to get through this. He does not take any pills or drink now, but is still having problems with memory. He does not remember anything that he did that night. Please is there someone who can help us?



 1,441 total views

Effexor Prescribed for PMS

“PMS compared to this would be heavenly!”

I am 45 yr old mother of 4, working full time. I was prescribed Prozac 12 yrs ago , then was changed to Effexor 7 yrs ago and have not been able to stop. The withdrawal’s are too overwhelming and debilitating. Even the slightest reduction 1/8th, starts the withdrawal symptoms. I experience extreme crying spells, horrifying panic attacks, which has sent me to the emergency room, sweating and burning followed by shivering cold spells. I can’t sleep, work or even function . I was prescribed this drug to help with PMS. PMS compared to this would be heavenly! The drug companies need to be held responsible for their actions. I believe their greed became more important than the reason these drugs were developed, to help people. I am a Christian and firmly believe God’s Word, we shall reap what we sow. I would ask other believer’s to join me and pray that these drug companies would reap what they have sown. Destruction. I have not yet gone through ‘the eye of the needle’ withdrawal and freedom but I am believing god to go thru and I will follow. Our country messed up big time. Hopefully god will be merciful and get up through this!

Liz powers


 1,456 total views

Coming Off Paxil—the Hard Way

“…I told him I was going to just end it all and kill myself.”


I was prescribed Paxil by a walk in clinic doctor. During the first week nothing seemed real, and I wasn’t able to express my emotions. Everything was calm and ethereal.

I was going through a very hard time with my boyfriend and breaking up. By the 3rd week, I was in a level fog, unable to get too upset or too happy. All I wanted to do was sit down and read or sleep. I didn’t want to take a shower or get out of bed. I’m normally a very motivated person but I just didn’t care anymore. I couldn’t follow conversations and didn’t really want people to talk around me; I just wanted to sit quietly.

It’s now been one month and I am trying to wean myself off Paxil. I was on 50 mg a day, which I am now understanding is a high dose. I was also taking Klonopin at night. I started skipping my Paxil every other day, and then chopped a few in half. I have terrible headaches, where I literally have to hold my head in hands; it feels like it will rip open. Every time I cough or move my head it hurts and spins. I have had diarrhea for 2 days now. I sweat constantly and my body hurts like when you have the flu. My fingers and toes have tingles and dead spots. I went to my boyfriend’s the other night and told him I was going to just end it all and kill myself.

I honestly felt like it was the right logical answer. I have all these feelings of despair. I can’t seem to think straight. I finally began writing in my diary trying to tell myself it was just the Paxil. I found several websites addressing these problems with Paxil and I feel better. I am 27 years old, and I don’t want to end up a cliche…I am going to keep weaning myself off this drug and begin exercising and eating healthy, to get it out of my system. Now that I know all these weird thoughts aren’t me…just the Paxil. I am going to be brave and make it thru.

NOTE FROM ANN BLAKE-TRACY: This is why this is the wrong way to come off these drugs! The roller coaster effect in one’s mood swings of taking the drug every other day is horrendous! It is so important to know to wean VERY gradually off these medications and once again I would recommend my hour and a half long tape detailing how to do this without these horrible reactions.




This is Survivor Story number 20.
Total number of stories in current database is 34

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Falling Apart Withdrawing from Effexor

“I know from now on I will check more into a drug before I begin taking it.”


I was more depressed then usual and wanted to go on something. I have used sinequin, Pamolar, amitriptoline, Prozac, Zoloft in the past. Prozac worked for awhile then quit. At the time I went on Effexor I had not been taking anything for a number of years. I had some side effects when I began taking it, I didn’t want to eat and I was hyper, but being over weight I thought that it was great.

After awhile these symptoms stopped but I wasn’t depressed. I felt the best I had in years. After about 3 years and finding out that long term safety had never been established, I decided I wanted to get off of it. The psychiatrist didn’t agree and said I would probably have to be on it the rest of my life. I didn’t like that but said OK. I really wanted to get off it so got them to agree to help me.

I was taking 150 mg daily. so I slowly cut back to 75 mg per day and still felt okay. I did have the electric shocks that go through the body, but I had had them when I was getting off amitriptoline so just was careful about doing this slowly. I finally got down to 37.5mg, and then I really fell apart–nightmares, vivid dreams, unable to sleep well, feeling jittery, depressed.

But these feelings were different then feeling depressed. I went back to my counselor and told her, and they put me back on the Effexor. I really felt that I was having withdrawal from Effexor but they didn’t agree. I now see that the withdrawal was real. I am again (with the help of my internist) attempting to get off of it. I have told friends what is going on and have set up a support group for myself. I am going to do it real slow. I am now taking 150 mg one day and 75 mg the next. I have only had mild electric shock feeling. When I have no side effects I will lower it again.

I just don’t believe that this drug Effexor is on the market and being allowed to be used for long term use. I think even though it helped me if I had known of the trouble getting off, I may not have used it.
I know from now on I will check more into a drug before I begin taking it.

Shirley Wallstrom


This is Survivor Story number 2.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

 1,271 total views

5-Year Old’s Unusual Reaction to 5-htp

“I read about 5-htp and under the recommendation of a friend.”

I have read about your research and articles about the harmful effects of Prozac, etc., and wonder if you can help me figure out why my 5-yr old son had an unusual reaction to 5-htp –a supposedly safe natural supplement.

My son Alex has is mildly autistic and has sleep problems in that he takes a long time to fall asleep (1-2 hours) and ends up going to sleep around midnight every night. I read about 5-htp and under the recommendation of a friend decided to try it to see if it would help Alex to sleep and to calm down. (At that time, he seemed to have gotten a little immune to melatonin which we used to give him once in a while to help him sleep, which was why we were looking for other means.) On the first night we gave him 100mg at 6:30 p.m. and he resisted going to bed till 9:30p.m., then fell asleep at 10p.m. However, he woke up at 3a.m. that night and stayed awake all night and all of the next day, falling asleep at 10p.m.! We didn’t give him anything that night, but to convince ourselves that his reaction was not a coincidence (he does have the tendency to wake up in the middle of the night once in a while), We gave him another 100mg on the third night at around 8:30p.m. This time he fell asleep at 9:30p.m., but woke up at 11p.m., 2 hours later! He only managed to fall asleep at 5a.m. the next morning, then woke up at 8a.m. During the time that he was awake on the medication, he looked quite disoriented and tired, but didn’t have any aggressive or extreme behaviors just real out-of-sorts.

Do you think Alex has a problem metabolizing the serotonin? Have you come across any other incidences like his?

A Note from Dr. Tracy
As those of you who have read the research in my book (Prozac: Panacea or Pandora?) know, elevated levels of serotonin are found in those who are autistic. This indicates an inability to metabolize serotonin. Therefore, ANYTHING that increases serotonin – whether you are told it is natural or not – should be expected to produce adverse effects in someone who has autistic symptoms.

L. L.


This is Survivor Story number 21.

Total number of stories in current database is 96

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