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Thursday, July 07, 2016

The Pill That Steals Lives - A Review





Having received Katinka Newman's new book, 'The Pill That Steals Lives' through the post today I was contemplating on days/evenings when I could sit or lie down somewhere to read it. Much of my life is taken up with research, if not for me then for others. Then of course, France were playing Germany tonight in a semi-final (Euro 2016), a tournament that, for me at least, became insignificant when England were knocked out by Iceland.

So, no time like the present.

It's taken me five hours to read from start to finish a book that was written over the course of six weeks ~ it's a bit like slaving over a hot stove all day and serving up great food, only for it to be devoured in seconds.

'The Pill That Steals Lives' is great food.

Katinka "Tinks" Newman takes us on a personal journey that without explanation one would be left thinking, 'that poor woman who fell foul to depression, that poor woman had everything going for her then, Bam, she's struck down with a mental illness.' - Yup, I've been guilty in the past, before I became a writer and researcher of antidepressants, of throwing out words of sympathy to those less fortunate than me, those being struck down with a brain disorder - that was, of course, before I learned that the vast majority of brain disorders are merely marketing tools for the pharmaceutical industry.

Tinks was prescribed the antidepressant escitalopram, which is basically a modified version of citalopram, both manufactured and marketed in Europe by Danish pharmaceutical giant, Lundbeck.

Escitalopram is better known by it's brand names of Cipralex and/or Lexapro and is a class of antidepressant from the SSRI family.

Almost immediately after taking her first dose of escitalopram Tinks became distanced from reality - this was merely a pre-cursor of what lay in store for her. As in many cases I've read and heard over the years a bad reaction to one drug usually means another drug is added to the mix... and then another. In Tinks case she, at one point, was on five different psychiatric medications all because professionals failed to spot that her initial reaction to escitalopram (psychosis) was actually caused by the drug.

'The Pill That Steals Lives'  is compelling reading, it gives us an insight into how we, as patients, face many battles when prescribed these types of drugs, more importantly how difficult it is to persuade prescribers and even our own family members that it may not be the 'illness' that is causing the bizarre behaviour - it may just be the drug. I have experienced this personally with my ex-wife who still, to this day, believes that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance - she was never really one for reading anything outside of celebrity gossip so any books or journals I recommended to her have been met with her steadfast belief that I don't know what I'm talking about.

Tinks account rang a lot of bells for me, it had me nodding my head in agreement and if she were in the same room as me right now I'd probably be high-fiving her for writing such a creative piece. At times Tinks uses humour in her writing, one has to use humour when we learn how we have been duped by medical professions and pharmaceutical companies - what else can we do except for go public with our experiences and add humour to what is, it has to be said, quite harrowing.

I like the style of Tinks writing, she has the knack of putting you there, right in the scene - her storyboard being there for all to see and with elements of a Carla Lane (The Liver Birds, Butterflies, Bread) style for the middle-classes.

I had to email Tinks in the early part of this evening - I just felt compelled to as I know, as a writer, how nice it feels when someone reads back something you have created. I won't go into detail about the line she writes in her book, sufficed to say it was written with a comedic touch and follows the end of her one year harrowing experience at the hands of a misguided psychiatrist.

I've got a lot of time for Katinka, we met a few years back when I introduced her to former GSK rep cum whistleblower Blair Hamrick. We met again a few months ago in London for lunch - I was in London on business and she spotted me lunch in a hideaway in Notting Hill.

I'm glad she did - Sometimes reading personal accounts I get the feeling that this is just another story, having met Tinks in person it becomes much more than that.

'The Pill That Steals Lives' is a warts and all account of how the system failed and stole the lives of not only Katinka but her family too. Her children, Lily and Oscar, are mentioned throughout and one cannot help but bond with them. I know from personal experience the guilt I felt as my children, who at the time were very young, watched me turn into an obese monster during my time on and withdrawing from Seroxat.

Katinka not only tells her personal story, she also, after picking herself up from a year of psychiatric abuse (because that's what it was) writes about how she stumbled across other stories then felt the need to research how other's had become violent on SSRI type medications.

Every doctor needs to read this book, lets face it, the majority of antidepressants are dished out by GP's these days - if only they knew what harm they were doing. I'd suggest that psychiatrists pick up a copy of this book, those who are pro-medication and don't believe in antidepressant induced psychosis - Tinks story, although extensive, is one of many in this book.

There's a terrible injustice going on when one stops and thinks about those incarcerated up and down the country in mental health units, those same people diagnosed with illnesses that have, in the main, been caused by the prescriber. Moreover, there's a terrible injustice for those that have been sent to prison for committing crimes whilst under the influence of these medications - locked away for years for carrying out acts that they did not know they were carrying out until after the event.

There's quite a twist in the tale of 'The Pill That Steals Lives' - I certainly didn't see it coming - that's the art of a terrific writer, of which Katinka Newman certainly is.

Watching Kramer vs Kramer will never be the same, for me at least :-)

I'll be meeting up once again with Katinka next week in London for her book launch. Many others mentioned in her book will be there too - there's going to be one hell of a group hug!


'The Pill That Steals Lives' is available in most book shops and also online at Amazon (UK) (USA)


Will you be filmed for a panorama programme next week on SSRI's and violence. If so please contact katinka.newman@gmail.com today. 

Bob Fiddaman



More Info

http://www.thepillthatsteals.com/