Thursday, September 29, 2011
The Evidence, However, Is Clear...The Seroxat Scandal
“Highway to Hell”
No stop signs, Speed limit.
Nobody's gonna slow me down
Like a wheel, gonna spin it
Nobody's gonna mess me around.
Young, Young & Scott – Highway To Hell
I was prescribed Seroxat by my GP due to 'depression' - it was work-related and kind of spiralled when my former employers put me on to a 'Long Term Absence Register' because I had developed an illness, Osteoarthritis of the hips, that didn't allow me to perform the job I was employed for. The 'Long Term Absence Register' was basically set up to leave employees without pay and without being able to claim for benefits. It had a strain on family life and Seroxat was deemed to 'fix' that problem.
Seroxat took away the pain of not being able to provide for my family, in fact I didn't really care much about anything. I became devoid of any human emotion other than sadness, it was an unexplainable sadness though, you know bouts of crying when I really didn't know what I was crying about.
I first noticed withdrawal symptoms when my family and I went on holiday - an annual trip to the mother-in-laws caravan. At the time I thought I had sunstroke - strange shooting sensations across my head and a feeling of nausea. However, victims of sunstroke suffer because they get too much sun I had been on holiday for two days, two days in June where it had rained constantly. I actually [wrongly] thought that there would be no need to take my dose as I was away on holiday and away from everything that reminded me of the employment thing.
Once I realised that the zaps were caused by me missing a dose, I immediately started again. The zaps then stopped.
The two week holiday was a respite from the problems on the work front, however I didn't feel I was myself on the holiday. I didn't drink alcohol and couldn't get into the spirit of things. Eventually the sun did come out but sitting in it seemed to increase my agitation. Sudden loud noises were beginning to irritate me - unavoidable when you are sitting around a pool and kids are screaming and splashing around, basically enjoying themselves much to the increasing annoyance of myself.
I'd go for walks alone instead of sitting at the beach or around a pool - I didn't like the feelings I was getting at these loud noises - I would clench my fist and hold in the feeling of anger. I became very tired way too easily - one minute I was wide awake, then next I was 'comatose'. I was waking but not feeling that refreshed feeling one does after 8, 9 sometimes 10 hours sleep! Sure, when we are depressed our bodies tend to shut down and sleep is a common trait in the depressed... so I've been told. But this was more than sleep, this was literally like hibernation!
The early days of taking Seroxat have become a blur, there isn't much I can remember.
I started to become violent in my sleep. I remember my then wife telling me that I had woken next to her in the middle of the night.
On another occasion I lashed out at her during sleep. Again, I had no recollection of this incident. Things were strained between us and it was decided that I sleep elsewhere, the couch downstairs was the obvious choice as I didn't want to get into the same bed as my children through fear of attacking them whilst I slept.
Sudden loud noises became a real problem for me, with three children in the house I found it intolerable and would have to leave the room, sometimes house, just to get away from the noise. I started to feel alienated (distanced) from my own family. The children tried their best but how can children play without making noise? They are grown up now and my eldest recently told me 'Dad, it was like literally walking on egg shells'. That saddened me because it was something that was out of my control and something that had only started when I took Seroxat.
As the nightmare continued, my employers agreed to retire me on medical grounds and an agreement was reached for a ill health retirement package. One would think that a sudden windfall of cash would have brought me back into reality. It didn't. I was numb and at times I thought I was on a different planet with back-to-front time zones. Night sweats, confusion, lack of empathy and blurred or delayed vision became common. I felt like a prisoner in my own home. People complain about Seroxat withdrawal... all of the above happened when I was not withdrawing.
Things came to a head and I tried to take my own life by swallowing 20 or so Seroxat tablets. My then wife was on holiday with a friend. I just wanted out, I didn't care for anything, I had put weight on, my marriage was a sham, my children would take a wide berth when walking past me and would rarely talk with me for fear of me 'snapping'. I just did not care about anything, a complete lack of empathy for everyone and everything. I wanted the old me back, wanted my children to have a dad again. I couldn't see how that could happen. Here I was with a lump sum of money yet I was considerably withdrawn from reality. My world seemed my own and nobody else's. I didn't want anyone else to come into my world because I knew they wouldn't like it.
After I swallowed the tablets I phoned a friend who lived nearby - it was one of the rare occasions where reality had dawned and I realised that I had made a huge mistake. My friend phoned an ambulance and I was admitted to hospital and kept in for observation overnight. No stomach pump, just a series of wires with sticky tape attached to my chest.
A few months went by and my GP had prescribed me the liquid form of Seroxat, a sickly orange liquid administered with an oral syringe. As I recall, I think I had told him that I wanted [needed] to come off Seroxat as it was making my life a complete misery. I think I had tried tapering  by halving the tablets or taking one instead of two. It's all quite blurry. Basically, I had no guidance, nobody could tell me how to slowly taper and what programme to follow. The manufacturer [GSK] offered no guidance on the patient information leaflet, I think the only guidance they offer today is that 'you must taper slowly' or words to that effect.
I moved out of the marital home, leaving my 3 sons behind me. Again, I felt no emotion. I moved across the city to live with my sister, Janet. She educated herself on withdrawal problems and made things really comfortable for me. I owe her a great debt. I lived with her and her two children, Ashley and Lucy, for about 5 months before being given keys to a one bedroom council flat just around the corner from her. In fact, part of the reason I was able to live so close to her was because the Housing Department had agreed that I needed someone close by to help me through withdrawal. I guess I have GSK to thank for my one bedroom council flat.
I was elated when I got my own place, it meant I could see my children again, more importantly show them how their dad was getting better because I was tapering - and had been during my time spent living with my sister.
The zaps were still with me as was the irregular sleep patterns but I was happy in myself that I was 'getting there'.
18 months from 40mg to 22mg and I was reading comments on the internet from GSK employee, Mary Anne Rhyne, claiming that “discontinuation reactions” last for about 2 weeks. It was the longest two weeks I have ever known!' The term, “discontinuation reactions” was coined by the pharmaceutical industry – it basically means withdrawal reactions.
Enough was enough. I decided, against my GP's wishes, to go cold turkey. He told me to keep in touch on a regular basis and we did via email. My GP had sometime previously stopped prescribing Seroxat to new patients because he had witnessed what I had gone through and had read documents that I had read on the internet and printed off for him.
I still allowed my children to come see me for the first few days but then things got really bad. I became violent in my thoughts - I yearned confrontation.
Days and nights passed and I would control the zaps jolting through my body by wrapping a soaking wet ice cold towel around my head. I'd also wrap ice cubes in a smaller towel and place this on the back of my neck.
This helped somewhat with the zaps. I'd go for walks in the middle of the night - As I recall this was during the months of Feb/March and it was a particularly cold year. I would walk with just a t-shirt on - the cold biting at my naked arms - I didn't care - anything to take away the zaps – Anything!
I was living in a nightmare, although I had no fear, no fear at all, quite the contrary. I would walk through a country park that backs on to where I live, walk through during the early hours of the morning. I didn't care if I was stopped by gangs of youths, I would 'let them have it' - this was my mindset - I wanted violence.
It was a rough journey and one that I would never recommend to anyone. I've lost friends because of Seroxat, I've lost the woman I married, more importantly [to me] I lost a very precious moment in any father's life - I had missed my children growing up.
I locked myself in my flat and after a period of about 3 months [cold turkey] the demon had finally been banished. The clouds had parted and for the first time in six years. I felt like Bob Fiddaman again.
The withdrawal hell of Seroxat doesn't look like much when reading about it. One has to experience it at first hand to fully understand just how debilitating it can be.
So there you have it. GSK messed my life up and are continuing to mess with other people’s lives. I don't want them to do that.
In all I was on the liquid Seroxat for a total of 18 months, this period saw me taper down from 40mg per day to 22mg per day - it was a long process but it was something I needed to do. This drug had control of me, my thoughts, my emotions, dare I say it, my whole life.
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About the Author :
Bob Fiddaman has been writing about the dangers of antidepressants since 2006. In 2011 he was presented with two human rights awards from the Citizens Commission on Human Rights.
Labels: Aropax, BOB FIDDAMAN, GLAXOSMITHKLINE, Paroxetine, Paxil, Seroxat, THE EVIDENCE HOWEVER IS CLEAR, withdrawal