I'm just back from London, well, not just back - I arrived home yesterday after spending the night in Kensington and an afternoon in Harlesden, which is in the London district of Brent, ironically just a few miles from the cesspit that is GlaxoSmithKline HQ.
I think it's safe to call it a cesspit given the stench emanating from its bowels this century.
So, why had I travelled to London? Well, there's a new kid on the block, she has just launched her new book, The Pill That Steals Lives, I wrote a review for the book here.
Katinka "Tinks" Newman is, by trade, a documentary filmmaker. She's now a published author too - her story of antidepressant induced violence and psychosis an all too familiar one.
Tinks held her book launch at the Waterstones book store in Kensington on Tuesday evening. I travelled the tube from Earls Court along with long time friends Leonie, Tony, Brian and his lovely wife. Brian runs the antidepaware website - More about this later.
Upon arrival at Waterstones we were greeted with many familiar faces. Another long time friend of mine, who for many years has remained anonymous via his online blog, Seroxat Secrets, was also there - his own review of the launch can be read here.
First to introduce himself to me was David Carmichael. David had flown in all the way from Canada. We had only, up until that point, emailed one another. His story is heartbreaking. You see, David strangled his son to death. I say David, but in reality it wasn't David, it was a psychotic version of himself, that psychosis brought on by Seroxat, which is called Paxil in Canada.
Next up was Olga, a charming woman from Holland. Olga lost her daughter in a bus crash in Sierre in 2012. The driver of that bus, Geert Michiels, had traces of Seroxat in his system and a subsequent investigation into the crash found that he had deliberately mounted a pavement in a tunnel and crashed the bus head-on into a wall. There were 52 on board, 28 people perished, 22 of them were children. The other 24 pupils, all aged between 10 and 12, were injured, including three who were hospitalized with severe brain and chest injuries. (Back story).
I really wish I could have spoken more with Olga and her husband but as things are at these types of gatherings more and more people introduce themselves.
Next up was Stephanie Lynch and her husband John. Their son, Jake, was just 14 when he took a gun to his mouth and shot himself to death. Jake had been prescribed Prozac after a 10 minute consultation with a psychiatrist. There was no diagnosis made. Jake was prescribed Prozac because he was anxious about up-and-coming school exams. (Back story) - Just like David Carmichael, Steph and I had only previously corresponded via email.
Kirk Brandon was next. Kirk and I became friends a few years ago now and we met previously in Birmingham when he was touring with his band. For those that don't know, Kirk formed post punk new wave band Theatre of Hate back in 1980 and has since enjoyed success both as a solo artist and by forming other bands. Kirk was prescribed Seroxat - Kirk suffered severe psychosis as a result of ingesting Seroxat.
Tinks then read an extract from her book and afterwards introduced David Carmichael to address those that had gathered. As I've said, David's story is heartbreaking. An in-depth look into the events that unfolded on that fateful day on July 31, 2004,can be read here. - July 31 is my birthday - a useless piece of information but nonetheless a strange coincidence given that another Canadian, Sara Carlin, who suicided as a result of Seroxat died (May 6, 2007) exactly five years to the day that my eldest son phoned me to tell me that his wife had given birth to a baby girl. (On May 6, 2012) - Make of that what you will.
After the launch some of us headed to Bill's Burger bar just down the street from Waterstones. Food, conversation and great company. I arrived back at my hotel in West Kensington after midnight and slept like a baby.
Look who's here - It's those pesky Panorama people again!
Tinks, as I mentioned above, is, first and foremost, a documentary filmmaker and has made many films for the BBC in Documentary Features and in News and Current Affairs.
On the back of her book she has now been commissioned by the BBC to make a documentary about antidepressant induced violence and homicide, prescripticide, if you will.
This isn't the first time Panorama have covered antidepressants. They have previously aired four special documentaries about Seroxat, all of which are available here.
To my joy both the cameraman and sound guy had previously worked on the Seroxat documentaries and we had an interesting discussion about the individuals who featured in those series of programmes.
We sat around a colourful table at Katinka's house in Brent and basically just talked naturally about our experiences on the various drugs. Leonie spoke eloquently of her son, Shane, who was prescribed citalopram after the break-up of his relationship with his girlfriend. Shane, after citalopram induced psychosis, killed a young man then himself and Leonie has been campaigning since.
Brian of antidepaware and his wife sadly couldn't make lunch at Katinka's.
Brian's website, to me at least, is a welcome addition to the fight in creating awareness and holding people accountable. Brian and his wife lost their son in 2009. He had never been depressed in his life, went to see a doctor over insomnia caused by temporary work-related stress. He was prescribed citalopram, and within days he had taken his life.
Brian has a list of UK inquest reports from 2003 - to present, all of which mention the use of antidepressants, the majority of which have resulted in coroners concluding the death was suicide. It's an important website and yet another angle to come from when trying to seek the truth. Coroners, just as much as drug regulators and the mainstream press, need to seriously wake up and see what is in front of them. They need to give the dead a voice so future generations can be, at the very least, warned how some people can have a severe reaction to antidepressant use; namely completed suicide. Katinka talks about the 'defective genes' in her book.
Also missing from the lunch was Australian author Rebekah "Becks" Beddoe (Dying for a Cure). Becks had travelled over a few days before but had to travel back unexpectedly for family reasons.
All in all it was two days spent with remarkable people, each with their own heart-wrenching stories. Tears, laughter and strong friendships were born. I love them all ~ There was a lot of pain felt in the room but this was enshrouded with an overwhelming presence of love. I'd like to think that those who have passed were present in the room too, offering us all their guidance and love.
It's something that will remain with me forever.
Thanks Tinks for making it happen.
SEE NO EVIL, HEAR NO EVIL, TELL NO EVIL.