Editorial Note: This post by Leonie Fennel carries on from parts 1 and 2 in this series. There will be one more post.
I dreamt I met my son Shane last night – in a jewelry shop, of all places. I was admiring the beautiful costume jewelry, when I overturned the dainty display and went clambering to pick up all the pieces. It seems I don’t escape my klutziness in the land of my dreams (or my love of all things bling).
The shop doorbell tinkled and in walked Shane who had been gone for so, so long, as handsome and animated as ever. All thoughts of scattered jewels were instantly forgotten while I launched myself at him. Shane’s younger brothers and sister appeared behind me (it is a dream after all) and he laughed happily while telling them stories of what he’d been up to. They all looked on, transfixed, fascinated as always by their big brother – listening attentively for once. All the while my arms were wrapped around him, with my head buried in his chest, clinging on for dear life, crying happy tears and feeling a joy in my heart that somehow seemed so alien.
Then I woke up and cried all over again when I realized it just a silly, silly dream and my lovely Shane was still dead – it’s ‘Marbh’ in Irish but means the same, deceased, dead, unadulterated and irrevocably dead.
Seven years and I’m still haunted. Haunted by the ‘what ifs’. What if I hadn’t insisted that Shane see a doctor? What if the doctor had not believed in the biological model of treating heartache? What if we had insisted on knowing all the facts BEFORE he took an SSRI, not afterwards? What if we had known Study 329 was a crap trial before 2009, not afterwards? What if Shane’s arms around me were actually real, not just a dream? ENOUGH. Back to a modicum of normality. I don’t know why I shared that with you, apart from the fact that the feeling of Shane is burned into my mind today.
As this is my second post, I should point out that my previous one effectively opened a virtual Pandora’s box, by annoying Ben Goldacre. He said I misrepresented his talk in Dublin – which of course I didn’t. He also said that David Healy was ‘fully responsible’, presumably for publishing the post on his website – have to be careful of misrepresentation here but I’m a little offended at the suggestion that I’m not entirely responsible for myself. To be perfectly honest, I’m not quite sure what all the fuss was about – but it seemed to have had a Streisand effect, which I suppose is a good thing. I think I’ll leave Drs Healy and Goldacre to debate the finer details, although I’d love to see them debating in the same room. Wonder if I’d get an invite if I promised to take a responsible adult as a chaperone, although Dr Dishy has now officially disowned me!
Tragedies similar to Shane’s are increasing every year, largely due to the increase in the prescribing of psychotropic drugs. Last week, very near to where I live, we heard police cars racing past with their sirens blaring and helicopters flying around overhead. It turned out that a man who lived nearby had tried to strangle his four children. Thankfully they all survived, but it was a close call, with two of the children being airlifted to hospital. Reports suggest that this man is a nice guy who loves his children dearly, so how do we marry these two opposing images? Every year we see the same tragedies, filicides, siblicides and infanticide, all with the same SSRI-induced hallmarks – yet very few ‘get it’.
When I hear of awful incidents like this latest one in Wicklow, the first thought that goes through my head is “Please, let these kids survive”. The second is “I wonder if this poor man was recently prescribed an SSRI or was he in withdrawal?” That most medics wrongly believe that psychiatric drugs are not addictive only exacerbates the problem. Hence, this latest incident is all too similar to many previous ones in Ireland, where the outcomes were not always as fortunate.
Despite the FDA and EMA warnings, on the rare occasions when medication is implicated, medical professionals will spout ‘autonomy’ and ‘informed consent’ – as if this is an actual possibility. Tell me, what medic tells a patient presenting with distress, that the proposed treatment may cause suicide, violence, emotional blunting, akathisia and among many other awful effects? Oh yeah, let us not forget the sexual dysfunction. Who will tell a vulnerable patient that the most dangerous time with psychiatric drugs is upon starting, changing dose (up or down) or discontinuation? Tragically, in the case of withdrawal, many healthcare professionals will justify these incidents by saying it’s the ‘mental illness’ returning – stating that If these people took their meds as prescribed, there wouldn’t be a problem. Thus, was this Wicklow native and his family given even the tiniest degree of informed consent? If this ‘out of the blue’ case turns out to be yet another instance of prescripticide, I can only hope that this man’s family, who know him better than anybody, will understand that these drugs can be the catalyst.
Lastly, the opinion of a lone member of the Irish Police force “There is only one thing I know that enables a parent to want to kill their children, SSRI antidepressants”. Whether this latest case is SSRI-induced, we will just have to wait and see. I’ll keep you posted.Share this:
Copyright © Data Based Medicine Americas Ltd.
Let’s return to this BBC News Item re GlaxoSmithKline:
GlaxoSmithKline is to pay $3bn (£1.9bn) in the largest healthcare fraud settlement in US history.
As part of the settlement, GSK agreed to be monitored by government officials for five years.
2 July 2012
From the section US & Canada
Sir Andrew Witty
“We have learned from the mistakes”
Any decent law abiding citizen would put two and two together and may be suggest that perhaps Seroxat be used judiciously after the *Cause célèbre* of Paxil
He made no remarks at all
In fact, he walked away from Paxil and never looked back
Sir Andrew Witty: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Witty
Thanks for telling us about your dream Leonie. I’m sure that Shane is out there somewhere and there is probably a certain amount of realness to this dream.
We know from the huge amount of evidence out there and studies done by some great, honest doctors that SSRIs can lead to serious tragedies. Be it the Donal Schell case who was only on an SSRI for about 2 days (Paxil / Seroxat) or in Shane’s case where there was an overdose level.
I have met your great family ~ Tony, your other 5 children, your mother etc. Ye are kind and supportive. I wish this hadn’t happened to you and your family. You have done amazing work the last few years and I regularly and spontaneously use your blogs from time to time. Be in in communication with ‘top’ Psychiatrists recently to highlight the Psychiatric abuse of our adolescents, where some have died. Or even earlier today online remembering deaths in one of the hospitals. These places are supposed to be “asylums” ~ a place of refuge and sanctuary.
In the context of the full blog and other recent tragedies, I reviewed a book by “Psychiatrist in a past life” Dr Phil Thomas “Psychiatry in Context : Experience, Meaning and Communities” and here are extracts ~
“The ethical use of psychotropic drugs is perhaps the single most important aspect of Psychiatric care that requires urgent attention”.
“The author highlights that relapse on discontinuation of psychoactive drugs is a form of drug withdrawal state. Information is needed for professionals, the person in drug withdrawal and their friends/family to support the person safely and effectively through this process”.
I am off the SSRI Citalopram 8 years almost. For me thankfully this drug did not lead to violence but instead caused Manic Depressive symptoms, including Psychosis (a temporary loss of touch with reality) which have now turned into Tardive Dysphoria. Due to the huge social stigma and discrimination I am exposed to regularly, I have to add that. But how mainstream Psychiatry operate in our courts and how the media then misinform the public as a result, is all part of it.
Sorry for long post but it’s hard to say that in one sentence.
Leonie – you are one courageous young lady. The reaction to your last post would have crippled many of us and put us off posting any more – but not you; you’ve come back and shown exactly WHY you’d been hell-bent on listening to Dr. BG in the first place. Your life experiences have pushed you to search for truths wherever they may be found – and, if not found, to disturb the waters a little to remind people of the BIG questions that remain out there, waiting for acknowledgement and answers.
My heart goes out to you over your dream – I’m sure it’s not the first and probably won’t be the last that feature your beloved Shane. We also have a beloved Shane who had adverse reactions to SSRI. We are the lucky ones – our Shane is still alive although very much a changed being since his misfortune. He suffered badly but nothing compared to your son. Due to his suffering, like you, our lives have been changed and I know very well how haunting those dreams/nightmares can be in the dark of night.
Rather sorry to hear that your ‘hunk’ ( sincerely hope that word has the same meaning there across the waters!) has abandoned you – a ‘hunk’ without a backbone is not much use to anyone is he!
I marvel at your determination and success and wish you all the best in your on-going recovery from your unnecessary and untimely loss – best wishes to your whole family too, who maybe, as in our case, don’t say quite as much as mum about the whole issue but are, nevertheless, hurting just as much.
It will be interesting to see what comes of the ‘Irish dad’ story that you mention. I wouldn’t mind betting that medications have played a part – either that or lack of mental health support. I also think that the same may be true of the Jo Cox murder suspect in England.
Another excellent post from Leonie.
I wrote about Leonie’s son Shane a few years ago, in a post titled ‘In defense of Shane Clancy’,
There is still no ‘informed consent’ when it comes to SSRI drugs, and patients are not monitored correctly or adequately for side effects such as akathisia, hostility, aggression suicidal/homicidal thoughts etc. I doubt if the average GP even knows really what akathisia is, never mind recognize the symptoms. Even if a doctor was concerned enough to be aware of side effects like these, it’s doubtful if these side effects can really be monitored properly in a very short GP visit every couple of months. Most people on meds for depression or anxiety are too zonked to muster up any will to complain either, and often they just tell the doctor what the doctor wants to hear. In some cases doctors give 3 month prescriptions, left to be picked up by the patient, or a family member, because often depressed or anxious patients end up housebound etc. There is almost no informed consent or proper monitoring of patients on SSRI’s.
Taking all this into consideration then, it vexes me as to why Ben Goldacre would claim that a patient can be informed and then choose’. This seems to me like a huge cop out, ans also a load of BS. It makes is seem like the problem of SSRI drugs and their side effects, and cases like Shane’s all boil down to a simple problem of a patient being told the full side effect profile by his GP and then choosing whether he/she wanted to take a drug that might make them kill themselves, or might make them kill others, or might ruin their life, zap away their personality, numb their emotions to the point of dehumanization, de-realization or de-personalization. That’s not to mention then the GP listing off page after staggering page of variables of other side effects, with a PIL the length of his arm. Pesky bothersome ones such as sweating profusely all day and night, nightmares, day mares, blurry vision, hallucinations, muscle spasms, sexual dysfunction, self harm, feelings of unreality, etc etc. This simply doesn’t happen, because most doctors think that SSRI’s simply cause a little bit of nausea, but the patient is not to worry because this should go away after a few weeks. (If only SSRI’s were than tame).
Most doctors don’t inform and for the most part, most of them believe that the drugs are great (yes great for pushing a patient out the door and feeling like they’ve given them an effective treatment but not so great for the patient in emotional distress), and most fully believe the drug company/psychiatric mantra that the ‘benefits outweigh the risks’ therefore they don’t actively look for adverse reactions. In particular they don’t look for adverse reactions like homicidal thoughts etc, and I’d hazard a guess too that most GP’s probably don’t even believe that SSRI’s cause aggression never mind homicide.
Thank you, Leonie, for beautifully articulating dreams about our dear children who were cruelly stolen from us long before their time. I, too, have dreams of my beautiful Natalie. Like your dreams, they are often happy ones of reunification, followed by the sad reality faced upon waking, that our children are indeed “dead.”
I also want to thank you for using the correct word “Prescripticide” to refer to our children’s poison-induced demise. My child’s death was not a “suicide” in the traditional sense of that word, nor will it ever be.
“comfortable with uncertainty..
GSK @GSK 3h
Congrats to Dan Troy, our senior vice president, for being featured in @FT ‘s top 30 leading in-house lawyers
From FDA to GSK: The Dangerous Partnership between Government and Big Pharma
Mickey Draws on Circles..
“To do nothing would be unthinkable.
Thanks for the very kind comments. Mary, I laughed out loud when I read yours – you’re very perceptive. I was walking down Dunlaoghaire pier when my friend phoned me to tell me that Ben Goldacre was throwing his toys out of the pram. I contemplated what to do and after the time it took to walk the pier and back, came up with the best possible solution – to throw my mobile phone into the sea along with my laptop.
When I eventually decided against that idea, I went back to basics and questioned myself. Was I biased? What was I actually expecting of BG? Was I remembering what he said about Study 329 correctly? I was so sure that I was. Then Ben put up the recording and confirmed exactly what I said, so no need for any drowned electronics – at least, not yet. The whole thing has left me wondering why he had such a hissy-fit – is it Study 329 or David Healy that BG has an issue with, or is it the fact that the wonderfully ‘transparent’ GSK has shown itself not to be?
P.S. You’ll be glad to know I was only joking about Dr Dishy (I sometimes forget readers can’t see the smirk on my face). Dr Dishy is in fact as loyal and as lovely as ever.
Throwing out another question, do you think you have to be a Psychiatrist. Psychopharmacologist. Scientist. Author. to understand the hair-raising Life of a Celebrity, in our midst…..:)
Heather Crocker I always rely on Ben to say it without flinching , to admit if he gets it wrong or changes his mind … To challenge and often challenge my thinking in a critical thoughtful way … A true scholar and down to earth no nonsense person … Well said Ben … Couldn’t have argued for remain better myself
Is all this “being a public figure” easier to manage now?
Yes and no. I’m not famous – I have what I would describe as “highly contextual micro-fame”. And I really recommend it. Someone comes up to me in the street to say hello about once a day. And they’re usually the kind of nerdy of nerdy, gaze-avoidant person that I naturally gel with and their interests are similar to mine.
Congratulations Ireland…Leonie Fennell:)
Leonie, knowing that Dr. Dishy is still on board has renewed my faith in human nature! There seems to be a lot to question about following yesterday’s results. That shock doesn’t involve your country as much as ours of course. To lighten up we’ll celebrate your on-going stand regarding BG – and also concentrate on the football, which does involve your country as much as ours! (great to read how well thought of Welsh and Irish fans are in France at the moment).
‘Out of the blue’ – can occur at any given time while on SSRI’s. I suspect it could happen within the first five-ten years AFTER SSRI’s too. I guess I’m rather alone in believing this, but our brains will take alot of time to recover from SSRI’s. These meds are NOT a ‘light intervention’, for some of us they eradicates your previous persona. God knows how long the effects last after you have finally weaned off them. (I can’t get off Seroxat after 17 years)
Yes, Leonie Fennell is very corageous. And she is absolutely right about her son, Shane. You can call me uneducated or an anecdote or any other shameful name you want. I have no doctors degree, I’m no professor, I’m just another ‘end user’.
The “squabble” between Ben Goldacre and dr David Healy that found its way to polute Leonies posts is significative for the academics in this debate. To me, they call eachother names and throw plastic shovels at eachother, just like in the sandpit. Dr Healy is our frontrunner, but he spends his time fending off attacks on his persona or views in general.
The advisaries talks about everything except that people die from suicide and homicide DIRECTLY caused by these pharmaceuticals.
Am I that wrong? Isn’t suicide and homicide side-effects that should launch the greatest investigation ever? Shouldn’t Scotland Yard and NTSB be involved? Shouldn’t psychiatry in general be very eager to unbiased investigate this?
Silence does nothing but kill and maim
Having read Leonnie’s post about dreaming of her son, it has given me the courage to talk about the dream I had of our son Olly, who died in 2012. He had been prescribed the acne drug RoAccutane/isotretinoin ( which is also a chemo drug produced by Roche but acne sufferers are usually unaware of this). One common side effect is low mood, verging on depression, and anxiety. When reporting this, he was offered Seroxat, and later Citalopram. He was never the same again, indeed initially he seemed to have been driven into a temporary mini psychosis. He first took RoAccutane when he was 21 in 2001. He managed to keep going, built a successful business after studying biology and biochemistry at Bristol University. But he never regained his old peaceful anxiety-free mind, and the pain in his head, both physical and mental, drove him to drown himself when he was 32. I must add that a psychiatrist he saw on two occasions in the months before he died, shamed him in front of the Home Treatment team for reporting his suicidal thoughts, would not listen to us when we tried to explain the significance as we saw it, of the cocktail of medications, including finally even Olanzapine. That was introduced to counter anxiety, the same psychiatrist having told him to stop taking Venlafaxine immediately as he was ‘not depressed’. They thought he was attention-seeking! Some months after he died, I had a very vivid dream of him. He was ski-ing with a group of new friends but he stopped and came over to hug me. Then he said ‘Mum, it’s important you know this, it was the medications that made me feel so disconnected – it was as though all I could hear was white noise and the voids in my thinking terrified me, and the pain in my head. I never wanted to cause pain to you and Dad, but please try to explain to people, warn them about the drugs, do something to help others.’ Then he skied away, smiling, with his new friends. On his back was a white square with the number 11 on it. I only add this to indicate how much detail there was in this dream. In life he had always loved ski-ing and the February before he died, had been away ski-ing in France. We started the Olly’s Friendship Foundation website and linked facebook page, and formed the Olly Roberts Charitable Trust, with money he left, in his Will, to ‘help others’. I have not dared to mention the dream till now in case people thought I was mad. But Leonnie’s has given me the courage. We are bonded together with many other parents who firmly believe that RoAccutane drove their young to end their lives. Some had additional anti-depressants (like Olly) but some did not. Seeing Olly as I did was comforting, in that it made me feel he is well, healed and happy in his new dimension, and that he is helping us, using his biochemistry skills, to make a difference. He was very much loved by us and his many friends.
I’m so glad that you shared your dream and I don’t think you’re mad at all. They can be very realistic, can’t they? I’ve had a few where, like you, I can remember every detail – sounds, smells, colours. It’s interesting that you mention the number 11 on Olly’s back. At the risk of sounding a little off-the-wall, I once mentioned recurring numbers to a friend who said I should check out their significance. While I’m an awful cynic and not sure what, if anything, I believe in – the number 11 is supposed to be an angel number. Check it out, it’s quite interesting.
Anyway, I just wanted to say I’ve been thinking about you and Olly and today. He sounds like such a lovely young man. It’s such a terrible injustice that all these people (young and old), with so much to offer, have died due to the very act of seeking help.
Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. When you lose someone to a death which you feel is caused by something that was ‘done to them’ not that they did to themselves, I feel you have a desperate need to find answers and when you get them, to warn others. If you had a very close, warm relationship, and suddenly, that wonderful brave person is no longer there, either in your kitchen talking things through, or at the end of a phone, it’s hard to believe that they have gone forever. Olly, as described by his friends, ‘was never a quitter’. He went on doggedly battling what were obviously medication induced effects on his previously ‘normal thinking’ mind, and he blamed himself for them. His University professor, who came to his memorial service, told us how very highly he regarded him, both for his academic work in biology, and for his delightful personality. I don’t regard Olly’s death as a suicide, I feel he was driven to leave by having his mind irrevocably damaged by prescribed medication, and then, like a wounded animal, struggling to crawl away from danger, the medical experts refused to listen to him or to us, and, being an intelligent guy, he decided that things would not get better and he lost all hope. In a beautiful but heartbreaking farewell letter, one of the reasons he gave for going was that he wanted to give us our lives back. He couldn’t bear to be a burden, as he watched us desperately trying to get help and understanding about what had happened to him, and being castigated ourselves for our stupidity. There is a quote ‘suicide, when goaded into it, becomes murder’ – I think Inspector Morse said it – and I think that’s what happened to Olly. He kept clinging to life for 11 years following the start of the wretched medication for his acne and thence the addition of various antidepressants, and I think finally the Olanzapine on top, sank his boat.
I’m interested in what you say about the number 11 I saw on his back in the dream. He was not a particularly religious person but he was fascinated by, and loved the beauty of nature, which is why he studied biology and captured it in wonderful photo images and films. I miss him constantly, but do chatter away to him in my head, and I do believe, wherever he is, he is doing all he can to get the word out and save others from suffering as he did. Thank you again for all you are doing.