Guest Blog from Kurt DanYsh, in prison for killing his Dad after taking Prozac

If you wish to donate to help Kurt raise funds for research material for his book on antidepressant induced killings, please go to https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/katinka-newman-1

If you wish to donate to help Kurt raise funds for research material for his book on antidepressant induced killings, please go to

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/katinka-newman-1

From Patient to Prisoner

By Kurt M. Danysh

My name is Kurt Danysh. In 1996, at the age of 18, I shot & killed my father, while experiencing a violent reaction to Prozac. www.kurtdanysh.com

I have no memory of pulling out the gun or firing it, only the sound of the shot & the scene before me. It felt

As though I was observing myself from above & to the right. Like a mantra, I kept repeating “Oh my God,

What have I done?...Oh my God, what have I done?...Oh my God, what have I done?”

Although confused about what had occurred, I was not emotionally connected to it. Instead, my only thought was to speak with my girlfriend’s mother, whom had become a surrogate mother to me.

After explaining to her what had occurred, she asked me what I was going to do. My answer surprised even me, I was going to shoot myself. It wasn’t a plan or something I had thought about since the shooting. It was just an idea that was already “there.” Again, I had no emotional attachment to it. I could have ended my life as effortlessly as turning off a light switch.

In the end, my girlfriend’s mother saved my life by convincing me to instead tell the police what had occurred. Until that point, I had not even considered the fact that what occurred was “illegal.” It never dawned on me.

In my confession to authorities, I did not attribute my actions to Prozac (I didn’t yet know that Prozac was capable of causing violence), but when asked to describe my behavior leading up to the offense, I explained:

“I’ve been different…I was on Prozac…And it’s supposed to calm me down & level me out, but since I got on it, when something bothers me, it bothers me to extreme, but not for a long period of time. And even normally, I just act differently. I don’t have the energy or personality I used to. I spend half the time, like in a trance.

This might sound weird, but it felt like something else, like I had no control what I was doing, like I was left there just holding the gun. It felt like someone else shot him.

Following my arrest, witnesses confirmed that there was a “major change” in my behavior & mood while taking Prozac, which they described as “violent, unusual & really strange.”

Nonetheless, based upon an assurance from Eli Lilly & Company (“Lilly”), the makers of Prozac, that Prozac “would not cause aggressive behavior” and its offer to provide the state with expert witnesses for trial purposes, I was charged with capital murder, thereby, qualifying me for the death penalty. 

In jail, I was evaluated by a psychologist, who concluded that “nothing in his past or in his psychological profile suggests why he would [commit] murder, especially his own father…nothing in my assessment explains why he committed this murder.”

On the advice of my court appointed attorney, who assured me that there was no evidence linking Prozac to violence, I pleaded guilty to third degree murder and was sentenced to serve 22 ½  to 60 years in prison.

Since that time, it has been revealed that Lilly knowingly lied to investigators in 1996 when it denied that Prozac could cause violent behavior. 

Lilly has known since the 80’s that Prozac is capable of causing violent behavior, to include homicidality, in some patients. Nonetheless, since 1991, Lilly has conspired with prosecutors to convict criminal defendants who raise the so-called “Prozac Defense.” (1) These efforts include providing expert witnesses at trial (to combat claims that the drug caused the defendants’s violent offense(s) and even financing entire prosecutions. (2)

Other antidepressant manufacturers have followed Lilly’s lead. Pfizer, the manufacturer of Zoloft, went as far as creating a “Zoloft Litigation Manual”, which it prepared “in anticipation of litigation to assist Pfizer’s lawyers, and lawyers in prosecutor’s offices with common interests, in responding to civil claim or criminal defense” claiming that Zoloft induced violent behavior. (3)

20 YEARS LATER-Undeniable Link to Violence

Today, 20 years after the fact, there is no denying that antidepressants cause violent behavior.

Since 2005, antidepressant manufacturers themselves include language on their product labels, warning patients to call 911 immediately if they begin “acting aggressive, being angry or violent, [and/or] acting on dangerous impulses.” (4) 

No less than 15 courts of law have attributed homicidal behavior to a defendant’s use of antidepressants. In these cases, the defendants were either outright acquitted of the criminal charges or granted lenient sentences (to include probation for murder) based upon evidence linking antidepressants to homicide

A 2010 study identified, from FDA data, SSRI antidepressants as the most “strongly and consistently” implicated class of drugs associated with “homicide, physical assault, physical abuse, homicide ideation, or violence-related syndrome” (5)

Canada and China’s regulartory agencies have explicitly recognized that antidepressants cause cause “harm to others”(6) and “hostility” (7) respectively.

Validation…..Better Late Than Never….

So irrefutable is the evidence against antidepressants that my prosecutor now concedes that Prozac could have played a role in my offense.

In a 2014 letter endorsing a reduction of my sentence, my prosecutor wrote that:

“My review of the record in this matter over the past several years, coupled with increased media reporting and scientific data, have convinced me of one thing..there is the potential that the use of Prozac played a role in your homicidal act…This potential fact creates something that could have been considered as a mitigation at the time of your sentence..and it was not as the Court did not have that information available to it.

Dr David Healy, who was prepared to testify in support of reduction of my sentence, has additionally concluded that:

“This case is about as simple and straightforward as it gets, and bears all the hallmarks of a treatment induced problem…I believe there is a strong case to be made, but for the Prozac he took, Mr Danysh would not have killed his father (Emphasis added)

Unfortunately, despite my prosecutor’s endorsement, my judge has determined that he lacks legal authority to reduce my sentence.

EFFORTS TO S.A.V.EOTHERS

Knowing that the effects of Prozac caused me to kill my father, does nothing to lessen the guilt, remorse, and memories that I experience each and every day. 

But it does inspire me to devote my life to preventing future tragedy.

Fact: There are men, women & children in prison (some serving life sentences) for offenses caused by legally prescribed antidepressants.

I know this because I have received hundreds of letters from them. I know this because I am one of them.

In 2005,  I started the “STOP ANTIDEPRESSANT VIOLENCE FROM ESCALATING (S.A.V.E ) Project as a means to share information regarding antidepressant-induced homicide. 

Since that time, I have received hundreds of letters from individuals who believe that they are incarcerated for crimes caused by antidepressants.

I’ve also been approached by attorneys from as far away as South Africa, who are representing defendants, they believe to be innocent, based upon antidepressant intoxication. These attorneys express both gratitude and shock upon being provided with evidence linking such widely prescribed “legal” drugs to violent and homicidal behavior. 

BIGGER THAN ME

It is impossible to repair the harm caused by Prozac, in my case (the loss of my father, the devastation inflicted upon my family and the unrelenting guilt I will forever live with.) But I can use my experience and knowledge to prevent future tragedy.

 Through The S.A.V.E Project, I am writing a book about the phenomena of antidepressant-induced homicide, which exposes the deadly effects of these drugs and Big Pharma’s efforts to conceal the risks. 

Prison walls may restrain my body, but they cannot restrain my voice or soul.

It is encouraging to know that people at www.thepillthatsteals.com know the truth about these drugs, and are raising awareness about this consequential issue.

 Kurt M. Danysh

 

 

How antidepressants really can change your life - Josh's Story

Aime and Josh''s lives have been torn apart by long term side effects of antidepressants and antipsychotics. 

 

WHAT DOCTORS DON'T TELL YOU WHEN YOU GO ON AN ANTIDEPRESSANT. -  Josh has been like this since January  2014 even though he no  longer takes medication. 

 

I suppose when you go to your GP and are given medication, you think that  if it doesn't agree with you, then you can just stop taking it. 

This doesn't always  happen with antidepressants. One of the reasons is that within  weeks, you can become hooked and they can be impossible to get off. Many of you reading this will be familiar with the horrifying effects of withdrawing from antidepressants. They include electric shock feelings, insomnia, extreme agitation. This leads  GP's and many people to conclude their original symptoms of depression have returned  and therefore patients are advised to go back on the pills,. I guess they will have to be on them for the rest of their life. 

You must be thinking, wow,  thats not something GP's tell you when you walk into their surgery looking for some temporary respite for stress or sleepless nights. But  there's worse to come. Since starting this campaign three  months ago,  I'm contacted by people who have come off antidepressants but are still plagued with debilitating symptoms.

The first example is included in my book. I  was shocked when contacted by a man who had taken Prozac because he had moved to the UK and didn't have any friends. Initially the drug worked for him. But after a few months the effects wore off  but he stuck with it. Eventually, many years later, he was determined to come off the drug.  After months of agonising withdrawal, he managed it. But then  months later something happened. He started getting the agonising condition of akathisia - where you can't sit still, can't sleep and is a condition so excruciating that suffers  choose to end their lives immediately.  It  was so bad that he had to go back on Prozac. He may now have to take this for the rest of his life.  And there are other cases like this. 

The most shocking case I've come across is the story of Josh who has been left mentally and physically disabled with akathisia and dystonia.   His wife Aime told me his story: 

Josh has ALWAYS been a hard worker, loving and fun, Father, Husband and friend.  He learned things very quickly, was a people person, team player and always has been promoted fast in all his jobs.  

However, at the end of 2013, due to several stressful situations, a  therapist offered him a low dose of an antidepressant.   It was effexor (venlafaxine)


What happened next changed his life.


January 2014 - He was then hospitalized from a side effect and they upped the dose.  2 days later uncontrollable movements started.  Doctors said it was anxiety and wanted to double the dose again which is when I got him out.  After that when we met with his prescribing doctor a week later,  they kept him on that dose for another couple weeks then she took him off it and put him on another 3 medications. Each and every time he went in, they said it was anxiety and the side effects weren’t that bad (some landed him the ER for heart attack symptoms!!)  He was in therapy 3x a week and they kept saying it was behavioral. He was diagnosed with Complex PTSD. 

11 months go by and 14 medications later, the movements were getting worse. 


In Oct. 2014 we finally got into see a Neurologist.  He confirmed my husband had Severe Akathisia and Dystonia.

Akathisia is a side effect from medication. If treated early, and taken off the offending medication, it can be reveresed. The longer it goes on, the more permanent it is and because they continued to switch meds, his is now Severe and irreversible . We have been told by several specialists who say he is the worse they have ever seen.   It is literal Torture. It’s Hell. It’s constant. No relief.  It’s involuntary movements, hand wringing, pacing when you desperately want to stop, when your body won’t let you, but on top of that its extreme pain from the inside. It feels like your body is on fire and you need to jump out of your skin.  Dystonia is muscle contractions in one or more parts of the body causing muscle cramps, nerve damage and of course pain.

 He paces 16+ hours a day. Doesn’t matter if he is at the doctors, or at home. Doesn’t’ matter if he is inside or outside, its constant. He wants so badly to stop but can’t.  With the Disorder Specialist as well with Therapy, they tried distracting his focus on something else and he still cannot perform simple activities as his body moves still.  He doesn’t sleep until he is exhausted and just can’t move anymore.  

He is embarrassed to be in public or around anyone because even with family and in the hospital and the MRI place, the questions asked is "What’s wrong with you?" "Are you cold?" "Do you need to pee?"  "Calm down, you don't need to be nervous" People don't understand that he can’t stop. We even had a Policeman ask if he needed an ambulance because he thought he had overdosed on drugs, thank goodness we had the medical proof to show he was not on drugs, but it was in fact caused by prescription drugs!

On a good week he is able to hold our baby once or twice for a few minutes before he needs to put him down.  He spends most of the time in the hall or kitchen pacing and keeps his distance. 

He wants so desperately to feel normal again and work and do something productive.  Instead he paces all day, can’t sit to read which he used to love to do, can’t sit to even watch a short TV show or movie, can’t ride his bike, can’t be around people in general.  His memory and speech have also beed effected. Some days he stutters and some days he doesn't. They told us thats because the medications fried his neurotransmitters they are misfiring. 

 

I want to thank Aimee and Josh for sharing their story. As Josh  can no longer work and they have a family to support,  I'm sure  that donations are greatly appreciated.

https://www.gofundme.com/holdingtohope4Josh

Being labelled mentally ill

For reasons too complex to go into, I had a recent visit from Brent Social Services. You may be wondering whether this is because I've recently been beating up my two teenage kids.  Actually not, though sometimes I feel like it but in reality it would be far more likely that they would be beating me up!! 

The reason  is   irrelevant to the subject of this post. Which is that when their report came back, it said, that the biological mother has a history of mental health issues. 

Now, I am of course their biological mother, and those of you who know my story, will also know that I have indeed had a history of mental health issues. But entirely  caused by antidepressant medication. I was having sleepless nights, was  prescribed  escitalopram, went into a toxic delirium lasting four days, ended up in hospital where no one realised it was the pill that made me ill. I was given more antidepressants and antipsychotics and it was only luck that got me off them after a year of being suicidal and being unable to leave the house.  I ended up in a different hospital who took me off all the drugs and within weeks of agonising cold turkey I was better. I was lucky it was only a year of my life that was stolen. 

Since writing a book and running my  campaign, I know how lucky I am not to have long term physical side effects from these drugs.  I know of many who have diabetes after being on olanzapine,  there are people who are unable to have sex years after coming off the drugs, and many who suffer neurological damage years later. So, yes, I know I've got off very lightly.

However, I find it very galling that I have it on my records that I have a history of mental health problems. I imagine it could impact on my chances of getting a mortgage, life insurance, or if I ever wanted to work with children. With this in mind, this week I penned a letter to Brent social services along with a copy of my book and a full explanation that my mental health issues are medication induced. 

So lets see what they come back with.... There's a cliffhanger for you to rival The Archers......

Meanwhile, I'd love to hear from anyone who has had similar issues and with a story to share. 

 

 

hospitals not spotting adverse drug reactions- Thomas Dunning's story

Since my book and the publicity surrounding it, I've been inundated with people who have suffered similar experiences to me. Some are heartbreaking and involve relatives of people who they believe suffered an adverse drug reaction leading to suicides. Others, who are questioning whether they are mentally ill, and now think that like me, their illness was  caused by medication.  Some have been kind enough to post their stories up in the Stolen Lives section. 

There was one story that really stuck out.  I was contacted by a young man, Thomas Dunning from  Lincoln. He had read my book and he told me it threw light on his own experience of mental health. Thomas' problems began three years ago while he struggled to come to terms with his brother's  death.  He was prescribed Prozac to deal with the grief and following that he made several suicide attempts, trying to hang himself in the garage. He said he started having auditory hallucinations where he just kept hearing a voice telling him to end it.   When he told the doctors this he was diagnosed with bipolar and borderline personality  disorder .

Recently Thomas  appeared on a regional news programme about the crisis in NHS mental health services. While on a trip to the cinema, he started to have violent hallucinations. They were so bad, that he was looking down at his hands and saw blood pouring out of them.  He ended up in hospital, and when they discharged him he tried to end his life twice. His story is featured in this news report

http://www.itv.com/news/central/update/2016-07-14/full-report-people-turning-up-to-a-e-hourly-in-mental-health-crisis/

I know from first hand experience that medications can cause hallucinations as this happened to me. Within hours of taking  the antidepressant escitalopram (lexapro)  I was in a trance like state, and two days later I was hallucinating so violently that I thought I'd killed my children and attacked myself with a knife. And I know of many people who immediately make suicide attempts after taking  antidepressant medication.  

Experts have told me that adverse drug reactions can happen when you go onto a medication, change dose or come off it.

I spoke with Thomas and he told me that his dose of Prozac had been changed  from 20 mg to 40 mg that day. 

It made me wonder whether, like me, he is one of the 1 % of people who suffer severe adverse drug reactions from antidepressants.  Thomas had never hallucinated or wanted to end his life before taking Prozac. Nor had he any signs of a mental illness. 

Since reading my book, he is questioning now whether he is indeed mentally ill at all or maybe his illness is caused by the medication. 

He is currently still taking Prozac and has been given the antipsychotic quietapine to stop the hallucinations. He tells me the meds makes him feel very drowsy. He is hoping to taper off all of his meds, and has promised to tell me how he does. 

His story makes me wonder how many other cases there are of people who are admitted to hospital suffering an adverse drug reaction and are mistakenly given a diagnosis of a mental illness.  Its not just with antidepressants that this may happen.  I spoke with someone who started hallucinating after taking an antibiotic. The hospital thought he had a mental illness, sectioned him,  prescribed him the antipsychotic olanzapine which gave him  terrible side effects, giving the hospital further proof he was ill. He struggled to persuade the doctors to let him leave and once  of hospital  he came off the antipsychotic olanzapine. After that he felt fine. 

There is one study that throws light on the frequency of this. In 2001 a research paper was published called Antidepressant-associated mania and psychosis resulting in psychiatric admissions (Preda A, Maclean RW, Mazure CM, Bowers MB).  The authors found the 43 (8.1%) of 533 patients were found to have been admitted owing to antidepressant associated mania or psychosis. 

The number of people on antidepressants has doubled in the last decade. Now there are 5 million taking them in the UK and over 100 million worldwide.  Hallucinations, psychosis, and delirium are a listed side effect of all antidepressants  for between 1 in 100 to 1 in 1000 (according to the drug companies own literature).

It makes me wonder how many people in psychiatric hospitals are there because of being misdiagnosed with a mental illness they don't have. 

With the crisis in mental health care, this is surely something we need to address. 

If you think you've ended up in hospital with an adverse drug reaction which has been wrongly  diagnosed, and are happy to share your story, please contact me at Katinka@thepillthatsteals.com with a 200 word description of what happened. 

 

Thomas Dunning from Lincoln appeared on a regional news programme because he ended up in hospital hallucinating and wanting to kill himself.  He now wonders whether it was caused by the side effects of Prozac. 

Thomas Dunning from Lincoln appeared on a regional news programme because he ended up in hospital hallucinating and wanting to kill himself.  He now wonders whether it was caused by the side effects of Prozac. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roaccutane (isotretinoin) and talking with Heather Roberts

Since starting this site I have had many emails and calls from people whose children or relatives have suffered side effects from antidepressant medication and in many cases have gone on to kill themselves. Some have spoken about this for the first time and have now put up a posting on the Stolen Lives section of this site. 

However, one story stands out and merits a blog post because it warns of the unpublicised deadly side effects of acne medication which has similar side effects to antidepressants. Some acne medication  containing isotretinoin  can cause drug toxicity leading people to want to kill themselves. Tragically this goes undiagnosed and often leads to tragedy.  And this is what happened to Heather's son Olly who died four years ago, age 32.

According to his mum, Olly was a fun, geeky, clever guy who studied at Bristol university and then started his own successful  web design company. He had everything going for him, though suffered from acne from an early age. Age 21 he started taking the acne medication, Roaccutane.  And his personality changed completely . Neither he nor his parents had any idea that this medication can have deadly side effects. According to the website Heather has now set up, it can cause irreversible brain damage leading to suicidal thoughts and its estimated that this has occurred to 3000 people worldwide. 

Nobody realised that Olly's sudden feelings of anxiety and wanting to kill himself were possibly linked to this medication. So he was prescribed antidepressants, including Seroxat and venlafaxine.  He became worse but when he tried to come off them, after two days he  experienced  electric shock sensations and the feelings of wanting to kill himself increased. 

Talking to Heather about what happened to Olly reminded me very much of my own situation when I was suffering side effects from antidepressants.  Like me, Olly couldn't sit still and this is akathisia, a side effect of drug toxicity.  There was a point when he was so desperate that he just asked his parents to kill him to end the pain in his head. I remember a time when my body went into convulsions  caused by the antidepressant medications and I started screaming that I wanted someone to kill me because the pain was so excruciating. Heather describes how Olly would sit in his flat and be unable to do simple tasks like cleaning up. Well, that was me too. I remember just being unable to complete simple tasks like washing up, or hoovering because my brain simply  couldn't function. 

At various times, it seems Olly was either  told there was nothing wrong with him or that he had depression. I'm struck  by the resilience of this young man who  survived so long on these drugs. I was on them for just a year and if it hadn't been for the lucky escape that meant I came off all of them, I would have ended my life. Being on those drugs for those of us who can't tolerate them, is agonising. Olly  survived this agony for 11 years and ended his life on 25 September 2012. Strangely, this was the  exact day I became ill after taking a single dose of an antidepressant that caused me to become psychotic. 

Heather has now set up a website  in Olly's memory(http://www.ollysfriendshipfoundation.org.uk) and is dedicated to alerting people to the side effects of RoAccutane/isotretinoin and also to the danger of antidepressants particularly when taken in combination with the acne drug. She is  keen that a safe form of treatment for acne be offered such as  Blue Light and Laser treatment. 

Heather states on her website  that Roaccutane (isotretinoin) is listed by the FDA as one of the top 10 most dangerous drugs yet it can still be bought over the internet. In the US patients have to sign a form saying they understand that the drug can cause suicidal feelings but not in the UK.  Apparently many cases of suicidality go unreported because parents do not understand the link:

The three stigmas of suffering patients are:- severe acne, mental illness and suicide; these mean that there are families who have not spoken up because of the shame and pain and have never understood the possible link between this drug and suicide after the deaths of loved ones. (www.ollysfriendshipfoundation.org.uk)

Heather has also set up a Facebook page  - Olly's Friendship Foundation where she shares  relevant information about these drugs and Olly,  in the hope that she will deter others from ending their lives on this drug. 

Olly's story and others are  told in a BBC documentary, Dying for a Clear Skin  

Recommended reading: Accutane: The Truth, by Stefan Lay

For more info visit Heather's site at: www.ollysfriendshipfoundation.org.uk

For info re other prescription drugs linked to suicide see: http://antidepaware.co.uk/other-prescription-drugs-linked-to-suicide/

With thanks to Heather for sharing Olly's story to stop other lives being stolen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kelly Brogan conference in london

Last week I went along to a conference in London given by New York based health psychiatrist, Kelly Brogan. I was invited there by my house guest, David Carmichael, who was over from Canada to attend my book launch and for the filming of the Panorama programme I am co-producing about antidepressants and violence. 

David's story is featured in my book and is a tragic reminder of what can happen to the 1 % of people who have severe adverse side effects to antidepressants.  Twelve years ago he became psychotic after taking Seroxat and believed his 11 year old son would be in a better place if he took his life. He  was so convinced that he strangled him, then  rang the police to explain calmly what he had done. When he came off the drugs two weeks later and realised what he had done  he cried so much he became dehydrated .  The drug manufacturer, Glaxo, deny his psychosis was caused by their drug but David is taking legal action against them because he thinks otherwise.  I have first hand experience of how mind altering these drugs can be (I took escitalopram and became so psychotic I attacked myself with a knife and believed I had killed my kids). So, when I hear stories like David's, its not hard for me to imagine that antidepressants can cause a psychosis which leads people to commit extreme acts of violence. 

I already knew about Kelly's work because I had read one of her articles on the Mad in America website.  It was posted on May 18 2016 and the title is In Honor of Fear and Pain. 

I was captivated by this article because it mirrors my own journey.  My nemesis began when I sought to escape the pain of losing my marital home while going through a divorce by taking antidepressants.  My attempts to short circuit the natural grieving process of losing something that was important to me, led first to a psychotic incident, and then when doctors prescribed more antidepressants, led to a year long medication induced nightmare which nearly ended in me losing my life.

Kelly Brogan was brought up in the traditional mould of psychiatry and used to hand out medication to patients who, like me, were probably just  distressed rather than depressed.  She then realised a significant proportion  of her patients were suffering severe side effects and also that once they were  on them, they were incredibly hard to get off.  The turning point came when Kelly  read Robert Whitaker's groundbreaking book "Anatomy of an Epidemic", and realised that "antidepressants have turned single episode struggles that recovered 85% of the time within one year, never to recur, into chronic and debilitating disorders that hold patients hostage in their own arrested development."

She now helps her patients withdraw and has developed alternative methods for dealing with depression and anxiety. My own journey has led me to believe that, paradoxically, we may be better of embracing  negative rather than numbing them with medication or anything else for that matter.  I've come to learn that these feelings are symptoms and may be the keys  to our happiness. If we are depressed, maybe thats a clue to know we are in the wrong job, or the wrong marriage. If we are  anxious or having sleepless nights, its usually because there is something we  haven't done or a problem we haven't addressed. Kelly writes beautifully about the acceptance of  difficult feelings:

"When I sit with pain, I know it is transforming me inside. It is refining and reconfiguring and upgrading all that needs to be. What emerges will be closer to truth ,more resilient, and more real.... The thing is we don't know how to do this. No one teaches us anymore. ...And thats why we feel stuck, detached, confused, dead inside. Many of us walk through life asleep because we have architected an entire existence around avoidance of pain and discomfort. We are buying into the fantasy that this is possible and so the pain becomes a chronic dull existential ache instead. We try to ease it with medication, with drugs, with sex, with work. We punch the clock instead of letting it fall apart." 

So, going along to her talk at the South Bank in London, I was excited about meeting Kelly. I wasn't disappointed. After David and I introduced ourselves, we attended her talk in which she spoke articulately about many of the issues that I have now become familiar with but  she told me things I didn't know about.  She spoke about  the fact that science has known for a long time that antidepressants are no more effective than a placebo, yet doctors still prescribe them liberally.  This is apparently because it takes 17 years on average for new data to influence your doctors practice.  Another fact Kelly came up with that   was new to me with was that for every 23 people that are treated with an antidepressant, one additional person with bipolar is created.  Kelly is familiar with the agonising process of withdrawal.  It is generally accepted that  that patients taper at 1 per cent per month and  she rightly points out that these must surely be some of the most addictive chemicals on the planet given that we have to come off them so gradually.

When Kelly came to talk about the more serious side effects of antidepressants, David came up to the stage to talk for the second time publicly about the tragic circumstances he believes led to his son's death. The first time was at my book launch a few days earlier.  The audience, many of whom are medics, were   shocked by the possibility that a prescription drug  that 5 million people take in the UK could cause this. 

I'm pleased to have  heard Kelly's  inspirational and educational talk, and to hear of her work on the other side of the pond in publicising the dangers of antidepressants and finding alternatives.  I hope she will come back. 

 

New York Holistic Psychiatrist, Kelly Brogan talking in London July 2016

New York Holistic Psychiatrist, Kelly Brogan talking in London July 2016

Book launch The Pill That Steals Lives

Hosting a book launch is like hosting a wedding except there is only one of you. Particularly as my book is partly  an autobiography and therefore of course I'm going  to invite friends and family, as well as many contributors whose stories or expertise are probably the  most important part of the book. 

So I was both nervous and excited about the launch which took place on the evening of 12 July at Waterstone's bookstore in High Street Kensington. 

I was expecting around 100 guests and some were people who I hadn't seen since the year my life had been stolen by antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs. Indeed, the last time some of those people had seen me would have been when I was wondering around in an old dressing gown, highly suicidal, dribbling and unable to finish a sentence. 

And then there were many people who had flown in from all corners of the world who had generously shared their stories of loss.  Of course I'd interviewed many of these people on the phone, but meeting them for the first time was a very special moment. 

The evening before I had hosted a dinner at my house for Olga Leclerq and her family who had flown in specially from Belgium. Olga is one of the parents of 22 children who died in the Sierra bus crash in Switzerland. Forensic experts who were hired to examine this case have concluded that they think the driver killed himself on purpose because he was withdrawing from Seroxat. 

It was an honour to meet Olga and her family for the first time

Olga and her family, David Carmichael having dinner at my house with my kids, Lily and Oscar. 

Olga and her family, David Carmichael having dinner at my house with my kids, Lily and Oscar. 

It was also very emotional because she shared with me that it would have been her daughters 15th  birthday the day of the book launch. Around the same age of my daughter, Lily. Once again, I'm struck by how lucky we have been that antidepressants didn't cause a fatality in our family.  

So coming back to the book launch at Waterstone's.  The room filled up with familiar and not familiar faces. A woman comes up to me with a bunch of flowers.  She introduces herself as one of the people I have interviewed for the book who lost her 15 year old son from an antidepressant induced suicide. She is there with her husband. We hug as there is a familiarity that transcends the fact we have never met.  And this is how I feel about so many of the people who attend that night: Leonie  and Tony Fennell from Ireland whose son Shane stabbed  someone and then himself 19 times   after taking citalopram. Stephanie Lynch who  believes her son, Jake turned a gun on himself because he was suffering the side effects of Prozac. And Brian and his wife  from Antidepaware who campaign tirelessly on this issue after their own son took his life after taking an antidepressant for work related anxiety. 

Somehow there are all these people in my life who I have barely met but who feel like family to me now. None more so than David Carmichael, who had flown in a couple of days before from Canada. David was one of the main inspirations behind  my journey of discovery, which then became the subject of my book. His story is in the Stolen Lives section of this site where he tells the tragic story of how  he became psychotic after taking Seroxat. He believes this led to the death of his 11 year old son, Ian. Meeting him at the airport and then having him to stay,  I felt like I had known him all my life. 

 Once the room had filled up, I made a speech and read a passage from the book.  Its my favourite bit - its about how I was sectioned after a year of being on the drugs and they took me off all five drugs. After three weeks of agonising cold turkey  I was completely better. The passage describes how Lily and Oscar (my kids) knew I was better before anyone else.  It was the first time I've been able  to read that passage without crying. It ends with "Yes that day, on 19 October 2013, we knew that Mummy was back". At that point, I told the audience  that there are many who don't get their mums back, or indeed their dads, brothers, sisters, sons, or daughters.  And I handed over to David Carmichael, who bravely stood up and told the tragic story of his son's death. 

Book launch of The Pill That Steals Lives at Waterstone's, Kensington High Street.  David Carmichael from Toronto has flown in especially to talk about the tragic death  of his son

Book launch of The Pill That Steals Lives at Waterstone's, Kensington High Street. 

David Carmichael from Toronto has flown in especially to talk about the tragic death  of his son

If there were people in the audience that night who had no idea of the damage antidepressants can do for the 1 % of people who react adversely, they would have left without any doubt . 

The next day, I was joined by  the campaigner Bob Fiddaman, Kirk Brandon, Leonie  Fennell and Tony Donnelly,  Stephanie Lynch and her husband,  John  for lunch at my house.  It was a momentous and often tearful occasion as we all exchanged stories.

Kirk Brandon, Oscar Newman, Leonie and Tony Fennell, David Carmichael, Bob Fiddaman, Stephanie and John Lynch. Lunch at my house in Harlesden, exchanging stories, often tearfully. 

Kirk Brandon, Oscar Newman, Leonie and Tony Fennell, David Carmichael, Bob Fiddaman, Stephanie and John Lynch. Lunch at my house in Harlesden, exchanging stories, often tearfully. 

In the following few days I had the honour of meeting Julie and Peter Wood from Canada,  who run the website SSRI stories and Rxsk.   SSRI stories  lists over  6000 articles  where antidepressants may be linked to suicides, homicides and violence. Even if only some of these are caused by the pills, its an astonishing amount.  Julie's knowledge about this issue is extraordinary as is her dedication. As is often the case when people become campaigners on this issue, she is driven by personal loss. 

Peter and Julie Wood  from SSRI stories and David Carmichael. Dinner in Notting Hill, London to discuss how we can create a team across the world to promote better understanding of the potentially lethal side effects of antidepressants. 

Peter and Julie Wood  from SSRI stories and David Carmichael. Dinner in Notting Hill, London to discuss how we can create a team across the world to promote better understanding of the potentially lethal side effects of antidepressants. 

Its been quite a week. In September 2015 I decided that because my life had been stolen for a year by antidepressants, that I would repay that by  giving back a year of my life to publicise the dangers. I'm 10 months in and its been some journey.! 

Article in The Times 7 July 2016

Extract from The Times

7 July 2016

 

‘I wanted to kill myself.

I couldn’t feel, I couldn’t love’

A film-maker was given anti-depressants to help her cope with her divorce. There followed a year of hell in which she suffered terrifying psychosis

Katinka Blackford Newman

July 7 2016, 12:01am, 

The Times

My ex-husband Robert and I have been separated for eight months and we’re barely on speaking terms. All night I’ve been lying awake with terrible heart palpitations, an unnamed anxiety, a feeling of inexorable doom. I’ve been feeling strange for two days now, ever since I went to see a psychiatrist near Harley Street. I visited him in desperation after I hit a wall of gloom on realising we had to sell our family home in northwest London. It was one of the few moments in my life when I had felt totally out of control.

The elderly man in the booklined office off Euston Square had looked at me sternly and asked if I had been crying a lot. The answer was undoubtedly “yes”. He asked me how I’d been sleeping and whether I’d stopped enjoying things I used to enjoy. Our 20-minute interview ended with him pronouncing that I was depressed. He wrote out a prescription for an antidepressant drug I’d never heard of called escitalopram, and another called mirtazapine, and told me to come back in a week. I wasn’t sure if I agreed with his diagnosis but now I’d spent a few hundred pounds on my appointment and he seemed to know what he was talking about. While I hadn’t heard of escitalopram, I’d heard of its cousin — Prozac.

Oscar cries when I go to his sports day. His friends are whispering

 

It was a matter of hours after first taking the escitalopram pill that I started behaving oddly. I became very withdrawn and was unable to sit still. I now know that I was suffering one of the well-known side-effects of antidepressant poisoning called “akathisia” — where quite literally you are so anxious, you have to continually walk around. Soon after I felt I had lost the power of speech. It was as if something else was taking over my mind and body. The children, Oscar, 10, and Lily, 11, knew something was wrong and they phoned Robert, my ex, to tell him Mummy was behaving oddly, would he please come round. I was pacing up and down, crying, unable to talk or engage. But that Friday was nothing compared with what was about to unfold.

On the Saturday morning my head started to spin. Robert knew I had to take these pills and so he gave me the escitalopram and insisted I take it. At that point my vision started to blur and my auditory senses began to close down. My heart was pounding and I was sweating but soon I started to have a clarity of vision that was terrifying. I was filled with a certainty that today was my last day alive and that somehow God had ordained it. I was now convinced that my ex was part of a plot to poison me with the pill he had just fed me. I hallucinated that I had a knife and was stabbing myself in the stomach. What did happen was that I took a kitchen knife and lacerated the upper side of my left arm. By early evening the hallucinations took on a different tone. Now I was convinced I’d stabbed the children. I felt as if everything I was doing was being broadcast on national TV. I think but don’t know that I took another of the pills that evening.

Later my sister put me in the car and told me we were going to a private hospital in central London (we had health insurance). I still thought we were being filmed. On arrival, they asked me to sign a form saying I consented to taking any drugs. They sedated me and I fell into a deep sleep.

 

 

On September 23, 2012, I wake up in a small room in the hospital. I’ve got to get out of here, but I don’t know how. A nurse comes in with a pill and a glass of water on a tray. She tells me she’s giving me the pill that I have been taking — that the private psychiatrist gave me a few days ago. She insists I take the pill in front of her. A few moments after she’s left, I can feel my head starting to spin and my heart is palpitating again. There is a sort of whoosh that goes through my entire body, and I can feel my vision once more blurring and the colours in the room are getting brighter. Christ, I know there is something in that pill — I know it!

A doctor arrives. My first question to him is when can I leave? “Let’s see,” he says. He starts asking questions. For some time now, ever since that first pill, I seem to have lost the power of speech. My sister tells him how I’ve been going through a divorce, how recently I’ve started crying a lot, how I’ve been having sleepless nights, etc. I have great difficulty talking but I remember telling this doctor that somehow it felt like I had locked-in syndrome. Then I summon all of my willpower to express to him the reason I was there. “I’ve got a suicide pact with God,” I tell him. “So Robert can have the children.” Shocked, the doctor asks if I’ve been hearing voices. “Sort of,” I reply, before adding imploringly, “Can I leave soon?”

Today, Friday, October 12, 2012, I’m being discharged from the hospital. I should be happy, but I’m not. I’m properly ill now, but there are seeds of doubt in my mind. Yesterday, I’d googled the drugs I’m on. There it was, the side-effects: increased depression, anxiety, feelings of hopelessness. When the nurse came round, I refused to take the pills. One of the doctors was on the phone. “I’ve read up on the side-effects,” I said. “I think I’ve got them.” His voice was very stern: “You’ve been very ill with psychotic depression. You have to take those pills.” I was frightened. Scared he might not let me out if I refused to take them, then scared because maybe he knew best.

Where was Santa Claus this year?

I hadn’t been well enough to do their stockings

 

A few days earlier, I’d phoned Robert. I know I can’t look after the kids. My body is racked with involuntary movements. I can’t think straight. Would he move in while I get better? But I don’t get better. And this is why — because by now I really do have a chemical imbalance in my brain. It’s what experts have recognised as Prozac backlash — the brain’s reaction to intruding chemicals.

When a drug boosts serotonin in the brain, the brain’s chemical balance is upset. The result is artificially induced fluctuations not only of serotonin but also of the many other chemicals that act in concert with it. And that is why even if these drugs started out making you feel better than well, the end can be rather different. Because the result of this altered brain chemistry can be neurological damage and a whole host of side-effects including Parkinsonism, agitation, muscle spasm and tics.

One week after my discharge, it was half-term. The kids were huddled on the sofa, watching TV. They were afraid of this stranger who had once been their mother. In November, the doctors had a “cure”. They added 20mg aripiprazole and 50mg sertraline. Oh, and some diazepam for good measure. When I complained of restlessness, they said, “Oh yes, that’s akathisia — a side-effect of the aripiprazole.” They replaced it with 20mg olanzapine, one of THE most powerful antipsychotics. Linked to unexplained deaths, strokes and diabetes, it also causes you to binge-eat. When the children went to school, I’d rush to their rooms looking for sweets, eating any I could find.

Before I know it, I’m three stone heavier: I’m wearing an old tracksuit and I’ve started shuffling now. Soon I’m dribbling. Oscar begs me not to go anywhere near his school. He starts saying he hates me.

By Christmas time I start to drink. I’ve never drunk more than a couple of glasses of wine before. Now I’m taking bottles of spirits to bed. Where was Santa Claus this year? I hadn’t been well enough to do their stockings. Lily and Oscar’s faces are etched with disappointment. Boxing Day — I’m on my own in bed with a bottle of whisky. My family organise a carer. They have to wash me and get me dressed.

By March 2013 I can’t bear to see the children’s hatred for me so I move out to a flat down the road. I’ve started smoking 70 cigarettes a day. The children cry when they have to visit. They ring Robert, begging him to pick them up. Oscar cries when I go to his sports day. He tries to pretend the woman dribbling and chain-smoking is not his mother.

By the end of August I want to kill myself. I know I’ve still got the kids, but I’ve lost everything. Because I can no longer feel and most importantly I can no longer love. I’ve ceased to be human. In September, I tell a doctor I want to kill myself, and I am sectioned at my local NHS mental health unit, St Charles Hospital. They take me off the drugs. Not just one, the whole lot. I start shaking. I’m now lying on the floor, writhing in agony. I can’t sleep, eat, think, anything. I start scratching myself uncontrollably. I start to hallucinate. Later I learnt that coming off one of these drugs is supposed to be as bad as withdrawing from heroin. I was coming off five.

Three weeks later, on October 12, they let me out for my nephew’s wedding. I was screaming and crying all day. “I just want to kill myself,” was all I would say. Lily and Oscar were there. Nothing could shock them by now. But they, and only they, noticed something no one else did. For the first time in a year, I was crying.

A week later, on Saturday, October 19, I was better. How do I know? Because Lily and Oscar said so . It was my birthday and I was allowed out to have dinner with the family. When I saw my son I drew him into my arms, smelling, touching, stroking and drinking up the smell, touch, sound, sight of my little boy now 11 years old. And for the first time in a year I felt the warmth of tears of joy running down my cheeks. Mummy was back.

What the hell happened? It doesn’t take long for my brain, now free from the damage of the drugs, to work it out. I find out about the charity RxISK, which has a website (rxisk.org) and publicises the dangers of prescription drugs. It’s teeming with stories like mine. It wasn’t me going nuts, the drugs had caused it. And I soon learn it’s happened to people all around the world; most have killed themselves or others.

It’s hard to describe what it was really like recovering from those drugs. Once the tears began, they wouldn’t stop. The most important thing was looking into Lily and Oscar’s eyes and feeling love for them again. We began a very special love affair, born out of that year when I was stolen from them. When I left St Charles Hospital in November 2013, I vowed never to take another psychiatric medication again. The doctors told me to take the antidepressant venlafaxine for a year. I chucked it away.© Katinka Blackford Newman 2016. Extracted from The Pill That Steals Lives, published by John Blake at £8.99WARNING: People who have been prescribed antidepressants should not suddenly stop taking them. Gradual tapering is advisable. Anyone considering altering the dosage of medication or withdrawing from it needs to seek medical advice first

 

getting the first copy of my book

On Friday 24 June, I just couldn't concentrate all day. You see, I knew today was the day when I was going to get the first copy of my book , The Pill That Steals Lives.  I tried to limit the amount of emails I sent to my editor at John Blake, the publisher of my book. I tried to email about different things and then slip in, oh by the way, just wondering, do you think I may actually get a copy today and if so, kind of what time do you think that may be.... 

You see, for me, the significance of this book goes beyond just telling the story of the year my life was stolen by SSRI antidepressants.  Its because I've been entrusted by world leading experts and most importantly many, many people whose lives have been destroyed by antidepressants and whose stories are in the book. 

I'm honoured to tell their stories and it is my greatest wish that   The Pill that Steals Lives will stop other lives being stolen.

Thank you everyone who has contributed. 

 

Talking to criminal barristers about antidepressant induced crimes

The other day I had the privilege of being invited to give a talk to some criminal barristers. I wanted to tell them about the fact if people are suffering from antidepressant poisoning, they cannot be held accountable for their actions.   I know this from personal experience. When I was psychotic from taking the antidepressant escitalopram (lexapro), I was hallucinating so wildly that I could easily have killed someone. In fact, I actually thought I had killed my kids and it was lucky I didn't. 

I'm no legal expert, but I've been a witness in a couple of cases and I've interviewed lawyers for my book.  Antidepressant induced crimes are difficult to defend. One possibility is a defence known as automatism. It means that defendant has a temporary loss of control. With antidepressants induced crimes, the problem is that in many instances the perpetrator is delusional for a considerable amount of time.  So this looks like intent. 

My talk was to  a fairly small group  so I was astonished when I was approached by a barrister who told me she now has a possible clue as towhy a 70 year old man she was defending had suddenly attacked his wife with a knife.  In the previous few days he had been put on an antidepressant and also sleeping tablets.  He couldn't remember attacking his wife and has no history of violence or of mental illness. 

I gave her the details of an expert and of course at this point nobody knows whether it was the pills that caused this. However It seems to me we need to get to a point where the first question that people ask when a seemingly motiveless crime happens, is whether they were on medication and if there has been a change of dose, or if they were withdrawing from them.  Violence on antidepressants is thought to happen in 1 per cent of cases. There are 5 million people in the UK taking antidepressants.  This surely needs to be brought to the attention of people in the criminal justice system. 

Meeting with the Nordic cochrane Centre

Yesterday I flew to Copenhagen for a meeting with a man who I respect a great deal. Peter Gotzsche probably needs no introduction to most of you reading this. His work to publicise the results of unpublished drug trials is a huge step towards getting people to understand the truth behind medication. Details of his book are in the Useful Information section on this site. 

We discussed many things, but as I left Copenhagen, my mind couldn't let go of a tragic story he had told me. A young woman,  is incarcerated in prison in Holland for killing her two children. On a Sunday evening in October 2013 she took a kitchen knife and cut the throats of her 6 year old daughter and disabled son.   She had been taking Seroxat and from talking to Peter, who acted as a witness in the original trial, she seemed to have all the signs of an adverse drug reaction. She had akathisia, she  had violent dreams of killing her kids, and after it happened, she kept saying "What possessed me". 

I know from my own experience, that when people become psychotic from antidepressants they are unable to distinguish between dreams and reality iIs a common experience to hallucinate about death, and killing and that the consequences of this can be the person killing someone without knowing it. It nearly happened to me when I was psychotic on lexapro (escitalopram). I thought I'd killed my kids, but in fact I'd attacked myself with a knife. It could easily be the other way round. 

I left Copenhagen determined to find out more, and to help this woman who is fighting to have her case appealed in the Supreme Court. 

I'll keep you all posted as to my progress... 

My first new stolen life posting by Kim Witzcak

Its been a couple of days since I've launched this site and the support I've had from many of you who have visited , some who I've never met, has been very rewarding. Thank you. 

There have been many who have contacted me about putting a posting in the Stolen Lives section whose stories have confirmed to me the reason I am doing this. One that stood out for me was from an amazing woman, Kim Witzcak from Minneapolis  whose story I will post up shortly but here it is in the meantime. 

OUR FAMILY’S STORY ——

On August 6, 2003  Woody, my husband of almost 10 years was found hanging by the rafters of our garage - dead at age 37.  Woody wasn’t depressed nor did he have a history of depression or suicidality or any other mental illness.  

He had just started his dream job as Vice President of Sales with a start up company two months prior and started having trouble sleeping which is not uncommon for entrepreneurs.  So Woody went to see his family physician and was given antidepressant Zoloft off-label for insomnia.  Five weeks later, Woody took his own life.

 The 3-week Pfizer-supplied sample pack that Woody came home with automatically doubled the dose unbeknownst to him from 25 to 50mgs after week one.  No cautionary warning was given to him or me about the need to be closely monitored when first going on drug or dosage changes.  In fact, I was out of the country on business for the first 3 weeks he was on the drug.  Within days, Woody experienced many side effects like profuse night sweats, diarrhea, and worsened insomnia. 

He also experienced others that were only known to Pfizer but not to Woody, his doctor or his family.  Shortly, before he died, Woody was curled up in fetal position on our kitchen floor, holding his head like a vice, crying, "Help me, help me.  I don’t know what is happening to me.  I am losing my mind.  It's like my head is outside my body looking in.”   

We never once questioned the drug.  Why would we?  Zoloft is FDA approved, given to him by his doctor and was advertised and sold as safe and effective.  Ironically, the day Woody was found there was an article on the front page of the Minneapolis Star Tribune saying UK finds link between antidepressants and suicide in teens.  

What Woody describes shortly before he died, is something I experienced myself while suffering acute adverse drug side effects from antidepressants. 

Kim has been campaigning since 2003 to spread the word about the dangerous side effects of antidepressants. 

http://www.startribune.com/rosenblum-personal-pain-led-twin-cities-widow-to-prescription-drug-safety-advocacy/374004241/

Her website is www.woodymatters.com 

Despite her campaigning efforts and many like her who have lost lives, the general public do not know the dangerous side effects of these drugs.  Lets join hands across the globe to tell our stories and stop this happening. 

 

Young deaths in the Priory

Today there were many postings about the tragic death of 14 year old Amy El-Keria who hung herself at The Priory after being forcibly injected with medication.

http://antidepaware.co.uk/amy-aged-14/

There is another case, not dissimilar, which is featured in my book where I interview the mum of George Werb. He was just 15 when he was let out from The Priory for the weekend and within a day had killed himself by jumping under a train. His last notes revealed that he thought he was being poisoned by the medications he had been given.  His parents now believe he was right. 

Here is the problem. The staff at The Priory or many other psychiatric hospitals, do not realise that its a very possible side effect of the medication that these kids (and also adults) are becoming suicidal. 

This is  going unrecorded in inquests and everyone  becomes outraged  about the apparent negligence of the staff.  These deaths will not stop until we create a greater awareness that a very significant number of people become suicidal because of the medication. 

I know, I was one of them. If I'd died, everyone would have blamed the staff at the psychiatric hospital I was at for not stopping it. But what is the real culprit here.?

Welcome

 I've never had a website or a blog so this feels new.  Well, lets start with "Hello, welcome, and thanks for visiting this site". Its five weeks until my book about the dangers of SSRI antidepressants is launched, and some of you will share me and my kids  excitement about getting the message out to the wider world about how to save lives by educating people about the signs of drug toxicity.