My Story

DISCLAIMER:  I know that not everyone has radical behavior changes while taking antidepressants, antianxiety medications and/or sleeping pills … but some do. I was one of them.

This is my story …

In the summer of 1998, I went to the doctor for a sinus infection and casually mentioned that I was under a lot of stress.  Our twins were nine months old, I was losing my bank job to a merger, and my parents were having health and other issues.  The doctor asked if anyone in my family had depression.  I told him my mother had taken Prozac for years. He gave me a prescription and a coupon for Paxil.  He said I needed antidepressants for my stress and didn’t mention anything about side effects.

After being raised to believe that depression ran in our family and I was destined to have it and need meds for life, I saw it as a foregone conclusion.  I stayed on the 20 mg per day dose for eight years never realizing what it was doing to me.  I gained a lot of weight, wasn’t sleeping at night, was having hallucinations and very traumatic thoughts, was dizzy every single time I stood up, had no energy, was unable to cry or laugh at appropriate times, and was very on edge.

I was slowly developing SSRI Induced Bipolar Disorder, but had no idea what was really going on.  I cycled between episodes of deep depression (having no interest in anything and not wanting to even get out of bed) and manic highs (grandiose ideas, feeling wired, extreme bursts of activity). I would have uncontrollable crying fits for no reason.  I would go into episodes of extreme rage for the dumbest things.  I yelled at people and threw things all the time.  I said things to people that hurt them and I didn’t even care.  Sometimes it even made me feel better about myself, happy that I had the power to upset them. 

I also developed an intense craving for alcohol (especially vodka).  I would drink pretty much every night, feeling like I had to be numb in order to make it through.  It got so bad I would start planning to drink during the day, calling my husband to make sure we had liquor in the house, yelling at him if he didn’t want to go get it for me and making myself a strong drink as soon as I got home.

I acted like a crazy person.  I WAS a crazy person.  I was obsessed with things and people.  I seriously thought I had to be friends with everybody.  I felt like I had to be involved in everybody’s lives, everybody’s except for the people I should have been.  I thought I knew how to solve everybody’s problems and when they didn’t listen to my advice, I attacked them.  I saw my own family as a burden, but wanted to be everyone else’s best friend.  I would constantly change things about my appearance; my clothes, my jewelry, my hair length and color, etc.  I was always searching for the next grand idea that would make me happy, but none of it ever did.

In January of 2006, I decided I didn’t want to take Paxil anymore, mostly because of the weight gain, still oblivious to the negative personality and mental health changes it was causing.  I called my doctor, but the nurse got on the phone and told me I could just take half of the dose for a while and then just stop taking it.  She was ignorant as to how these meds really work.  My brain was so messed up by then that cutting my dose in half only made things worse, much worse.  I started taking 10 mg per day, not knowing what it would do to my body and mind.

The withdrawal was horrible and I went completely manic.  I didn’t sleep for days at a time so my doctor put me on Ambien too.  The combination of the Paxil, the Ambien, and the alcohol sent me over the edge.  My blood pressure went up, so the doctor gave me a prescription for that.  My hormones went crazy, so a prescription was written for that too.  I had almost constant muscle and joint pain, so I took more pain meds than I should have.  I had black outs where I couldn’t remember what happened.  I lived in a numb fog, barely functioning.

The crying, anger, and obsessive behavior got worse.  I always had to be the center of attention and would steer all conversations to me.  My ideas were the best and I’d do anything to convince people they were wrong when they disagreed with me.  I got some sick thrill out of making people cry, but then wondered why they didn’t want to be my friend or even be around me.  I basically stalked people … and then went on crazy, curse filled rants when they told me to leave them alone.

In May of 2006, I decided that I couldn’t handle the withdrawal anymore and went back up to the 20 mg dose.  I know now that going up and down in doses with SSRIs can be very dangerous, but at the time I just wanted the withdrawal (dizziness, nausea, brain zaps, headaches, body aches, etc.) to stop.

The higher dose didn’t really stop the withdrawal and I was sick (both physically and mentally) most of the summer.  The really sad thing was that I couldn’t see that the meds were making me crazy.  To me I was acting perfectly normal and it was everybody else who had the problem.  It literally felt like I was living in a dream and it didn’t matter what I said or the way I acted, because I didn’t worry about the consequences.  I was too crazy to see how crazy I really was.

One night that Fall, our life came crashing down.

I was arrested. I had no idea there was even an investigation going on. I was never questioned by the police.   

I laid in that concrete cell wondering how the hell I got there … feeling like it wasn’t real.  I was so out of it, I didn’t even comprehend what I’d been charged with or how serious it was. 

Soon after I was released on bond I started questioning how my life had turned out this way. I researched Paxil and Ambien side effects and found all sorts of information online.  What happened to me was happening to thousands of other people too.  I found an online forum of fellow sufferers who helped me understand what was going on.

I slowly tapered off Paxil and took my last dose on August 25, 2007 (I call that my rebirthday).  Click here for my post on tapering.  I stopped taking Ambien every night and stopped drinking like I was.  Withdrawal was absolute hell and there were times when I thought I wasn’t going to survive it, plus I was going through the horrible legal case at the same time.  To be honest, if it had not been for D and the kids, I probably would have given up and ended it all.  Antidepressants and antidepressant withdrawal can also make you have very intense anxiety and suicidal thoughts.  It’s an absolute miracle that I’m alive.

We fought the case for a year and a half, positive that the truth about my drug induced behavior and altered mental health would come out eventually and everything would be okay.  Four days before the trial was scheduled to start, my lawyer told my sister that at best we had a 50/50 chance of me walking out of the courtroom a free woman.  He told her that if the jury believed what I was charged with then they would put hand cuffs on me and take me to prison.   I wouldn’t have even had the chance to tell D or my children good-bye.

At that point, all I could think about was what would happen to my children if I were sent to prison.  What kind of life would they have with a mother in prison?  Who would end up raising my kids?  I basically had a nervous breakdown and didn’t sleep or eat for days.  Plus I was in horrific withdrawal.  I know that a lot of people assume that I must be some kind of monster because I took the plea deal and plead “no contest”.  That is the furthest thing from the truth.  I did it because there wasn’t a guarantee I wasn’t going to go to prison and miss out on the most important years in my children’s lives.

I can see how it’s easy for people to assume the worst in a situation like mine and I try really hard to not have bad feelings towards people who say awful, untrue things about me (in person and online).  They don’t really know me, they don’t really know what happened and they sure haven’t experienced the hell that Paxil and Ambien put me and others through.

If I hadn’t lived it myself, I probably wouldn’t believe it either.

I know this is going to sound really strange, but all of this saved me.  It was the “slap in the face” I needed to see how out of my mind I really was.  The more I research Paxil and what it makes some people do, the more grateful I am that I’m completely off all psychotropic medications and I made it out alive and healthy.  

*** If you know someone on antidepressants, antianxiety medications, or sleeping pills please watch their behavior for personality changes and help them find a therapist who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).  If their therapist believes they need antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications, make sure it’s the lowest possible dose for the shortest amount of time needed and they combine it with CBT.  Using CBT to change thoughts, attitudes, and actions can make a huge difference.  ***

The sun will come up tomorrow and life will go on and I am so glad to be living it again – really living it.

It’s so good to be out of the emotionally numb cave and feel the sunshine again.

Surviving my journey through crazy and back taught me I never needed pills for depression.  I needed to change how I was living.  I wasn’t depressed.  I was stressed.  That’s why I help people simplify their lives … so they don’t take medications for the wrong reasons.

119 thoughts on “My Story”

  1. You are one awesome woman! Keep telling your story with your head held high, hopefully others will see themselves in your words and recognize that antidepressants aren’t the “happy” pills they are advertised as.
    Keep talking!

    1. Nothing amazing about me at all … just trying to make the best of a very bad situation. The sun came up today and it’s so nice to be out of that dark tunnel.

  2. like what antidepressants and / or alcohol abuse can destroy a life
    a moving and terrible part of life that ends well

    hugs from France

    1. Thank you for your thoughts and well wishes. Please pass along “My Story” to anybody who is looking for the easy answer to life … there isn’t one, and that’s okay.

    1. Oh I don’t know about brave, probably more mad as hell and determined to not let it continue to define me … but I will take brave too.

    1. It’s been a long road for sure, but I refuse to go back. Thanks for reading and for your kind thoughts.

  3. I don’t know why you think anyone would “unfollow” you for telling the truth! I agree with the others. Thanks for sharing such deeply personal bits of who you are and how you got to where you are. Your story will only help others! You’re an amazing woman!!

    1. You know how people can be sometimes, some run from “difficult” relationships. I have had sooooooo many people in my real life shun me because of what I have been through, which makes my online relationships even more precious to me.

  4. A shocking story but all too recognizable. Glad you have made it so far and we all are heading for a life free of this devastating drug. I want to publish my story too after full recovery, I am now 3 years after a cold turkey from 10 mg Paxil and though it was/is a hellish rollercoaster, I too am determined to come out alive and build a new life.
    Congratulaitions and wish you the best!
    Klaas (Dutchguy on PaxilProgress)

    1. Thank you for visiting my site and for your kind words. You can do it ! I know you can. Keep telling your story and warning people that happiness does NOT come in a pill bottle.

  5. It must have been hard for you to put this all out there, but I know you’ll help someone else by doing so. I can’t imagine anyone would unfollow after reading what you’ve survived.

    Strange coincidence–my brother was on Paxil for 8 years before it ruined his life. And my nurse practitioner can’t understand why I cried when she suggested I think about meds for anxiety/stress management.

    1. Oh yes, they hand them out like M&Ms for everything under the sun. I would much rather therapist go back to teaching life skills and put the prescription pad down.

    2. There are actually 3 “families” in the antidepressants. Wellbutrin is one kind, Effexor is another, and all the rest are SSRIs. I have used both Wellbutrin and Effexor without any of the freaky side-effects associated with SSRIs. Like “Slappy,” I grew up in a family with depression, knowing that eventually I would have to take meds too. Twice now I was able to get off them, but then hormonal changes (starting “the pill” when I met my now-hubby, and randomly 18-months after my daughter was born) swayed me back into the sad/numb stage. These non-SSRIs have helped me feel almost normal. I care enough to so things. I care enough to feed my daughter. So while I can agree with Slappy’s opinion on SSRIs and possible dangers for many (but not ALL) people, I hate to shove all anti-depressants into the same category. It is true that for many people eating right, exercising, and thinking positive can turn things around. But some people need help crawling out of the hole to even be bothered to do those things. And some, like me, have a genetic predisposition that keeps it coming back, no matter what I do. Luckily I am able to quit cold-turkey when pregnant, rather than GETTING depressed due to the hormones. And so far no PPD! 🙂

      1. I would never tell anybody NOT to take them, I just want people to be informed about the possible side effects. I so wish that I had looked for alternatives, but alas … I can’t travel back in time … so I must use what has happened to me in some contructive way.

      2. While I’m happy that these pills have done some good for some people, everyone needs to remember that you cannot take them forever. You will eventually reach a level of tolerance, as with any drug. When you reach tolerance or “pooped out” you will experience full-blown withdrawals even though you are taking the medication. You will, unfortunately, be forced to stop taking them. Over time, they completely rewire your brain, and it takes years and years of not using these drugs for your brain to heal. The other thing people need to remember is that you will NEVER know how these drugs will affect you until you take them. I was only on Effexor for 9 weeks when I started experiencing blackouts and ended up in jail; still don’t remember any of it. Only 9 weeks! It’s like rolling the dice when you take these drugs.

        There are other ways to combat depression, even if it’s chronic depression. There are natural remedies. There is cognitive behavioral therapy. These are safer remedies. I can tell you from my experience that no amount of depression will ever convince me to take a magic pill again. I’d rather be depressed, frankly.

        1. Terri,

          Thank you so much for your comment. I completely agree that there are other approaches. I would never tell somebody not to take them, that’s their choice to make, however I think that people need to be fully informed of the side effects. Paxil combined with Ambien turned me into an absolute monster and it came really close to destroying my life. I can guarantee you that I will NEVER take an antidepressant or psychotropic medication again.


  6. You are my dearest friend and I am so proud of you for being brave enough to share your story. The day that you reached out to me when T was going through Paxil withdrawal was likely the day that saved our life.

    You have come so far and I know your life will be exactly what it was “meant” to be.

    Thank you.

    1. You mean the world to me. I cannot imagine not having you in my life to share everything with (even when I overshare). Your friendship has helped me through some really rough times and I just know that we are going to stay close for the rest of our lives. I love you.

    1. You are very welcome. I have to share this … it is what is keeping me semi-sane right now.

  7. I have used anti-depressants successfully twice in my life. The first time was when my ex-husband announced to me, totally out of the blue, that after ten years he didn’t want to be married anymore. It was a tremendous shock to me, and I literally could not function (couldn’t drive, sleep, eat, etc.) and it was either take anti-depressants or have myself committed to an inpatient psychiatric hospital. The second time was when I watched my father die a long and painful death from congestive heart failure. I had what’s known as ‘anticipatory grief’ and felt my mind spinning out of control. I could not make myself stop moving… I couldn’t sit in a chair, take a bath, read (literally could not focus enough to read a word on a page), couldn’t eat (I went on a juicing craze and only consumed carrot/apple/ginger juice for over six months. My skin turned orange. I lost over 50 pounds.) Finally I was so bad that I drove my car off the road and wrecked it. If I hadn’t taken the drugs I don’t think I’d be here, now. That said, I was on Paxil for a very short amount of time and the withdrawal was simply awful. I had terrible mood swings, vertigo, and felt paranoid and manic.
    I think that the fault lies in a lack of monitoring by doctors of the patients that they prescribe antidepressants to. I could walk into any MD’s office today and tell him/her that I want a prescription and I would get it without a problem, and I’m sure that no one would follow up and question how I was doing.
    So, I agree with you you that the meds are overprescribed and under-monitored, but I still believe that they have their place.

    1. For very short periods of time, I think that they can get people through a rough patch (but who knows how much of that is placebo effect), but the long term side effects cancel out any benefit for long term use. They don’t change a person’s life … they just make them not care about their problems.

      1. Although don’t lump all anti-depressants together. There are 2 (possibly more, now) NON-SSRI drugs, without all the really crazy side-effects. Effexor and Wellbutrin are each in their own class. I’ve taken both long-term without feeling ‘numb’ (depression itself is what makes me feel numb) or going ‘crazy.’ Like you, I have what is called ‘clinical depression,’ which is a genetic predisposition, rather than an event-triggered depression. For me, hormones trigger the onset, so when I started The Pill up again, my depression came back (after FINALLY getting off the Effexor after 5 years. I *REALLY* wish my doc had warned me that birth control could do that. I would have used condoms!) When I got pregnant the first time my depression went away, and I was able to stop cold-turkey (the withdrawal symptoms for wellbutrin are very mild compared to SSRIs. I was waiting until I got a side effect before taking my next dose when I decided to taper off, but the withdrawal symptoms never came!) I didn’t get depressed again until she was almost a year and a half, and something happened to make my cycle wonky (every 2 weeks!!) and I had to start the Wellbutrin up again. I was able to quit again this pregnancy, but I still feel the depression. It didn’t go away this time around. But I’m not suicidal, so I decided that the benefit of taking the meds did NOT outweigh the risk to the fetus, plus there’s now evidence that it’s NOT safe during pregnancy (last time it was considered one of the ‘safe’ ones.)
        I’m hoping I don’t get PPD this time either.

  8. I have been on Paxil since 1995 and have had no side effects. I think you are correct that SSRIs DO have a real effect on the brain, especially in long-term use but at the same time they were created for a specific reason: to help those who do not generate enough serotonin on their own. Prescribing Paxil for a sinus infection and “stress” was irresponsible of the doctor you saw, and I think you’d have a pretty good case against his decision to give it to you.

    It has worked for me all these years and I truly believe if I did’t have it I would have been committed to an insane asylum a long time ago. With that said, I am aware of all the terrible side effects and interactions with other drugs and alcohol. I found reading your story enlightening and it will help me to remain as vigilant as I can be if my personality starts to change.

    Thank you for telling your story and I wish you the best as you work to find your new life, drug free.

  9. It’s the new diagnosis du jour. What so many do not know is that Bipolar III is identified as “SSRI induced bipolar”. Take away the antidepressant and the mania disappears with it.

    On the other hand, their are people who truly do suffer from bipolar. There is a need for these people to have acess to medication and treatment.

    The truth needs to be given to everyone who find themselves in this position though. If you never had mania before taking an antidepressant. Withdraw extremely carefully and slowly and then find out if you still suffer from mania before blindly accepting that you now have bipolar disorder.

    Most doctors and psychiatrists reinventing the bipolar diagnositic criteria, such as with this new III category, probably will not tell you bipolar III is chemically induced bipolar. Be careful people.

    1. I tell people all the time that my arrest actually saved me. I know know know that I would have ended up with a “bipolar” diagnosis and been prescribed more meds … and I hate to think of where I would be right now if that had happened.

      1. P.S.
        I have wonderful friends and I don’t underestimate their value wether they know abt p wdrawal or not.

        I’m down from 40 to 6mg. Had an insane day yesterday-worst in years. One friend who just switched from ?? To Effexor let me rant for 20 min about how stupid my roommates are.
        I tell her my exp with meds and what I’ve learned but not in a preachy way. I’m here for her when…

        Another friend invited me for dinner after I told her abt my day. She tried but didn’t totally understand because she’s Korean in the US 9 months = a bit of a language gap. She served several dishes of Korean food which she very lovingly prepared. !! I forgot what a crappy day I had (until I got back home.)

        I love my friends, but hopefully will make a new one who knows.

  10. Thank you for sharing your story. My husband is a Paxil user and just two weeks ago decided that he wanted a divorce. He says that the Paxil has made the ‘real him’ come out — he’s a jackass without a filter and a liar who doesn’t care about the impact of his actions and words on others. Friends and family don’t or won’t say anything because they don’t feel they can or that it isn’t their business.

    Me, I’m a self-serving nag grasping at straws to try to get him to stay.

    I am shocked, after reading the info on the SSRI’s available, that a layperson can walk into a Dr.’s office, say they’re depressed, then walk out with mood-altering drugs. You don’t go to the podiatrist for migraines, so why is this ok?

    Right now, all I hope for is for him to recognize the changes, get off the medication and try to repair the damage he’s already done — even if that doesn’t include staying married to me. I love him deeply and I’m very concerned about him — I hate to see him do this to himself, but for now — I’ve got no choice, because any attempts to discuss the matter pushes him further away.

    I’m the only one fighting for him right now — until he damages that, too.

    1. How are you doing now? The hardest thing in the world is for the person on meds to see how much they have changed their personality. I was a complete monster, but couldn’t see it.

  11. I hope you get this Comment… cuz….
    Holy hot crap.. I admire the hell out of you.. I have spent some time reading your blog and plan to spend some more when my husband gets his ass off to work and my kids and dogs leave me alone.. (meaning the middle of the night.. I don’t sleep well anyhow) I took antidepressants off and on for 8 to 10 years and quit when Celexa almost killed me.. I KNEW it did some bad shit to me but I put it all in the denial bag and tossed it in the back of the closet.. might be time to open it up and deal with some of it.. I might have the energy and courage these days.. a little at least.. My oldest kid has Bipolar and my husband has Aspergers .. my three young kids are either aliens or fairly PERFECTLY normal..
    Thank You for your courage.. I plan to keep following your blog and you may not ever know me but I know just exactly how hard revealing things like this about yourself is.. I did it 7 years ago about the State wrongfully taking my kids.. and putting my husband and I on trial for things that would have put us in prison for 20 years each.. and we also plea bargained and are on the state child abuse registry.. and I can say.. “I understand” certain things..
    I gotta go cry a little now..
    –who is not ashamed to leave her real name….
    but keeps her blog semi anom for the sake of her kids and husband

    1. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

      Sometimes all we need is for somebody else to reach out and tell us that they understand how we feel. I know that you posted that comment some time ago, but it was exactly what I needed to read today.

  12. I admire you honesty, you are a brave woman for putting your story out there. People think just because a doctor prescribes a medication that its safe. Clearly that is not the case. I saw a therapist for years after the tragic death of two of my five children, we talked many times about medication- i never to antidepressants.

    He always described it to me as a floor, to be used when the bottom was going to drop out, something that many doctors tend to over prescribe when talk therapy might be an option and clearly safer.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. I am so sorry for your loss. I know of so many people who were automatically prescribed antidepressants after they suffured a loss or a trauma, when all they really needed was somebody to listen to them and understand how they felt.

  13. Your story is incredible, as are you for so bravely sharing it in such a judgmental time. I’ll definitely be coming back to your blog — new follower here!

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting. After what I have endured, being judged doesn’t really bother me that much …. so I am going to keep putting it out there for others to hopefully learn from.

  14. Wow, what a strong, amazing woman you are!!!

    And CBT is incredible – I’m a firm believer & use is all the time.

    1. Hey there wild woman! I completely agree that CBT is awesome! Changing your thoughts, attitudes, and actions can literally change your world.

  15. I found this very interesting. Last week a close family member went off the rails and had to be hospitalized. Very similar/same meds and behaviors. I thank you for sharing this as it gives me more confidence in approaching the situation because I believed the meds were what was going wrong.

    1. I hope that your family member got the help they really need. It is so sad how often this actually happens. We have become a society that craves the “quick fix”, which can turn into our downfall in the end.

  16. You’re very brave. I can think of a number of reasons why I say that, but the most obvious to me are that you are still standing and that you are sharing your story. I assume you realize how powerfully and positively it will effect others.
    Thanks for putting it out here.

    My sincere wishes for your well-being and continued journey through life.


    (The Defiant Marshmallow)

    1. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

      I don’t know what made me come to this page and start reading all of the comments today, but I am so glad that I did.

  17. You are an amazing woman. I would suggest, that you write a book about your life and what you’ve been through over the years. This would make an interesting story for someone to be reading about someone’s life that has gone through with what you’ve been through. Congratulations on the complete recovery and turn around of your life.

    1. I am working on the book. It’s slow going, but I am determined to finish it …. maybe after all of the kidlets move out. 🙂

      Thank you for reading and for your comment.

  18. Thank you for sharing your inspiring story– you’ve been through lots and I applaud you for that. You are a fine example of someone who’s been through hell and come out of the other side. Congratulations and thank you for inspiring me. 🙂

    1. Thank you for reading and for your kind words. Just when I start feeling sorry for myself, I come across comments like yours and it reminds me that I have to keep fighting the good fight.

  19. My gosh, what a nightmare! I’ve always been leery of antidepressants, even before I was diagnosed bipolar. I got desperate enough to try a few of them (Prozac, Effexor, and Zoloft) all with awful results. The Prozac made me flat. I was like an android and my head was full of thoughts that were even more bizarre than usual. The Zoloft made me feel like my brain was literally trying to tear its way out of my skull. The doctor wanted me to stay on it anyway. The Effexor triggered big time mania. I’m a type II so I normally don’t experience full mania and I can tell you, I never want to again!
    Many doctors prescribe these pills like they were Tylenol. I won’t touch them. I have very resistant depression but I seem to have cut through it a little by taking megadoses of Vitamin D and 200 mcg of 5-HTP daily. I also take a low dose of Lithium. I am the queen of side effects so me and most medications do not work out very well.

    1. I think that very often people mistake the mania that comes from most antidepressants as being “happy”. It is soooooooooo not the same thing. I had full blown mania and I was out of my mind crazy.

      We want to be happy all the time and that just isn’t normal, but it doesn’t stop Big Pharma from trying to sell it to us.

  20. Hi, I have just started following your blog, and wow. I was wrongly prescribe Escitalopram, then after 3 months Seroquel. It started after a messy spilt with my husband, went to the doctors(as i wasn’t totally coping with my 4 children and being newly single) and got put on the anti depressant then the meds for bi-polar….
    Every thing was going fine/or so i thought that is if u count the inability to feel or care..till one day things got out of hand and i got a full doctors check and was told i had no underlying condition and should never have been on any drugs at all…they just basically made me crazy, i was withdrawn off them immediately and it has been a hard road as i had been having almost the highest legal dose of seroquel. Not to mention the 32kgs i put on over 9 months(yep in only 9 months my doses of both meds had hit the highest dose my body could take)
    All this makes me wonder why doctors are so ready to put people on meds for conditions they don’t even know u have, especially Medication that can have such a profound impact on ones life , never once did i have to see anybody but my gp, makes u wonder after the fact.

    1. I am so sorry that I missed your comment earlier.

      I completely agree that doctor’s look for the “easy answer” in the form of a prescription. Meds are not going to make somebody’s kids act better or their husband stop drinking, or help them find a job … they are just going to make them not care about those things … and as humans, we should care about those things.

  21. Thank you for your story. I’m going to read it again more slowly wjen I”m not at work! You think they would have put you on meds for bipolar? I was told paxil “unmasked” my bipolar. But in a response I heard “ssri induced bipolar.”. I always thought, “yeah, like all that alcohol I drank vontinuously for 30 years unmasked my cirrhosis!” I don’t have cirrhosis – its just an analogy. .

    1. I have absolutely no doubt that I would have ended up with a Bipolar diagnosis and been prescribed more meds for it. I would spend days and days being absolutely out of my mind with mania and then spend days and days in a deep depression. Sure, I still have bad days … we all do, but now I know that my emotions are what makes me human and I embrace the ability to feel sad, angry, happy, and content.

  22. Just awesome.

    I stumbled across your website after typing “damn angry birds”! (I just played the game last night and wasted almost two hours on it).

    But your story is amazing. Currently I do web development and marketing, but for nine years I worked with CCHR International who has been exposing these drugs for decades. I interviewed probably 300 people for documentaries who experienced similar stories as your own. In 2004 I was there when CCHR helped get black box warnings on the drugs. Obviously, those warnings were ignored by your doctors (and so many others, unfortunately).

    Needless to say, you are FANTASTIC for writing this down and putting it out there and helping others to find the information. I love it.

    Keep it up!

    1. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

      Isn’t it funny how the world works sometimes? My disgust for my husband’s Angry Birds addiction brought somebody to my site who shares my same “mission” in life.

      Please send me an e-mail sometime ….

      I am determined to use “My Story” to help others in this fight and to make some good come from my awful experience.

  23. Slappy,
    You are truly a strong and inspirational woman to all. Thank you for sharing a very painful time of your life. Good luck to you and to your family.

    1. Thank you. Every day I recover just a little bit more. Feeling is a good feeling.

  24. I’ve just come across your site read your story, and I want to express my admiration for your sincerity, your courage and your humour.

  25. Hi, Slappy — I run a Web site, for peer support of tapering and recovery from withdrawal syndrome. We need success stories like yours about surviving antidepressants, tapering, and withdrawal! Please consider posting it at

    There are maybe a dozen peer support sites like mine. Over the years, hundreds of thousands of people have posted stories of horrible withdrawal and the destruction of their lives. Medicine must be made aware of this — and made responsible for healing those who have been harmed by antidepressants.

    1. I posted a link to my story on your site. It’s so nice to know that we aren’t alone in this battle.

  26. I am a therapist (and we cannot prescribe meds, psychiatrist territory). I am so sorry you had this experience. I agree that meds do not need to be the first course of action in 99% of cases. I disagree that they do nothing and are harmful always. Some people have great success. And there is plenty of research about chemical imbalances. I am so glad you are using your voice to educate, because there are rusks and in my opinion PCP’s should not be prescribing psych meds at all.

    1. I would never tell somebody that they shouldn’t take them. In extreme situations they can be a lifeline. However, I think that people need to be more aware of the side effects and be told that the meds don’t last forever. I have seen so many people mistake SSRI induced mania for happiness. It was the mania that brought me to my rock bottom and nearly ruined my life.

      Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can work wonders and was my savior. I am so glad that you are one of the “good guys”.

  27. Powerful story you have here. I stopped by from SITS. HAPPY SITS DAY!! 🙂

    Your story is thought provoking (to say the least). My son suffers from SEVERE OCD. He also has Asperger’s and sensory issues. His anxiety levels through the years have been very difficult. Last summer he hit rock bottom after our family moved from our home of ten years. The changes were traumatic for him, and *long* story short-Zoloft combined with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, has changed his life. He has had a miraculous turn around. But, honestly? Without the SSRI, He would be a danger to himself. It has been a huge benefit for him, and he’s finally free of so many issues.

    I also take Zoloft to manage depression and anxiety, and I wish I had begun taking something years ago. I do however worry about long term side effects…

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. I hope that you find the position you’re looking for with an organization that can use your story for good!

    1. I am determined to find someplace where I can use all of this for the greater good. It’s out there … I just have to find it.

  28. You’re a very brave and awesome woman! Your story brought me to tears.
    Happy SITS day! You truly deserve the feature ’cause I’m sure a lot of people can learn from you and be inspired by you. Thanks. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much. I will never stop telling my story, because I know there are others who need to hear it.

  29. What a scary experience. You hear all the time the “side effects” of medication and never think they will happen to me. I do think they were for some people. My husband was a very angry man. I don’t know why, I lived with PTSD because of his snap anger. The doctor put him on anti depressants, and now he is the most fun loving enjoyable person to be around. It made a world of difference in our lives and marriages. I will be forever grateful that we didn’t have those side effects.

    1. Thanks for your kind words and for stopping by. My side effects didn’t really surface until I hit “poop out” about five years in … and the stuff really hit the fan after I had been taking them for about 8 years. Crazy doesn’t even begin to describe my behavior.

      Just be aware that some of the stuff takes a while to show up and if you notice strange changes in his behavior then it could be the meds.

    1. Thank you. It has been an interesting journey for sure, but I am determined to use it to help others.

  30. Visiting from the SITS girls and just wanted to say that I admire your strength and resolve. I know first hand the effects of Paxil, and I’m glad that I was able to realize early that something wasn’t right. I too have a family history of depression it’s always in the back of your mind that you could have it as well…kind of a predestined thing, but you know what we write our own history and as you have shown everyone you can break the cycle. HUGS to you and may you journey through life knowing your own strength.

    1. It’s amazing how strong we can be when we have to be. Thank you so much for stopping by and reading.

  31. Found you cause it’s your SITS day! You have amazing courage to share your story! Im so happy for you that you have pulled yourself away from that horrible bottom and are able to share your experiences.

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting. I wasn’t nearly as brave until I endured all of this … but now there isn’t much that scares me.

  32. You are a very strong woman, keep on fighting for awareness of other people by talking about it.
    I hope that this doctor will loose his license! As You say Big Pharma is selling it but doctors should know better!
    Hugs and kisses x

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting. I share my story whenever I can. I learned the hard way that happiness does not come in a pill bottle.

  33. Thanks for your information on Paxil. I have been taking it for 15 years. Wondering why I can’t keep friends and thinking that, somewhere in the far far back recesses of my mind, that I am not a nice person. I am obsessed with myself and what will make me happy without regard for other people. I used to be a doormat. There has got to be a happy medium. I was on 40 mg of Paxil and am now tapering down. I am at 20 mg now. I tapered under doctors supervision. After tapering I lost 20 pounds that just would not go (yay) but am still self involved. I was a mess, crying all the time over nothing ~ after not crying for 15 years I had a lot of catching up to do I guess. I can’t concentrate or stay still for more than 20 minutes at a time and I don’t know what this next taper will bring. I’m scared but I’m scared not to.

    Anyway, thanks for writing about Paxil. It was a real eye opener.

    1. You are so very welcome. Please remember to slooooooooooooowly taper from here on. It took me nine months to taper off of 20 mg and even that was a little too fast. Please send me an e-mail at if you ever need somebody to talk to about depression, anxiety, SSRIs, tapering, and/or withdrawal. I am here to help.

      You might also look at the website – they literally saved my life.

  34. I have just read your story and it has made me cry because what happened to you on antidepressants has also happened to me and landed me up in prison and loseing my job too. I too became numb, detatched, craved alcohol and became obsessional. I can relate to everything you say. I have also told my story on | Out of my mind. Driven to drink – Dr. David Healy . Thank you for telling your story, its so important for people like us to tell our stories to help other people recognise what may be happening to them also on these tablets.

    1. Thank you so much for commenting. It always seems that just when I start to feel sorry for myself (about my situation), then I get a comment like yours and it gives me a renewed sense of purpose. I can’t give up on telling my story. I KNOW that there are others out there like us.

      KEEP TALKING !!!

  35. Slappy I know exactly how you feel when you feel sorry for yourself, I get moments like that too and you deserve to feel like that sometimes because you were unfairly treated and it has affected your life in a big way, its a bit like a bereavement in some ways you need time to adjust and get over the damage that has been done to you but to also learn how to live in the future under different circumstances, there’s a lot going on in your mind and there is very little help out there to help you. Changing your career is a big change and its like starting all over again but you can get there and when you do you will look back and be amazed at how you survived it all and be proud of how strong you have been. Dont be afraid to have a cry because thats all part of the healing process, and if anyone gets sick of listening to you then fine their not worth the time of day anyway and its one less person you have to waste your time on. Goodluck with your future I think you will do well.

  36. I relate so much to your story, and I was a lot like you in that I didn’t connect the dots for a very long time. I just thought I was the most selfish, horrible person in the world for all I had done to my family when drugged on Effexor. I, too, ended up in jail, and I lost my job, ended up with bills I thought I could never pay off, etc. This all happend in 2001, and it wasn’t until a year or so ago when I started looking for help for my friend, who has been on Effexor for 15 years. She has been unable to get off the drug and is experiencing tolerance. The long-term use has led to low thyroid, early menopause, vision loss, chronic joint pain, obsessive thoughts, etc. I went searching for answers for her and found answers for myself instead. I started conneting the dots and eventually I’ve been able to stop drinking, stop obsessing over the past and I’ve forgiven myself.

    Thank you for sharing your story. It has made a difference in my day to read it.

    1. You are so very welcome. I’m glad that it helped you. Paxil came so very close to completely ruining my life and I feel like I have to share my story so that others in situations like mine will know that they are not alone.

  37. My story is so close to yours i am choosing to overide my fear of computer age whatnot. Like the typewriter effect thats my speed. The difference between us is in milligrams. I cant seem to function unless im taking, well let’s just say a weee bit more than rxed. Can u help me? Tall order. On second thaught, can u hear me? Ynpw like tommy can u hear me but rice crispie in my nose can u hear me? Sorry my sense of humour is from n.j.

  38. Would you like to participate in a radio talk show against psychiatric medication?

    I’ve been a show host for a while now so has my show, it’s on and off, and in it I try to raise awareness for mental illness, suicide and depression, lower their stigma and promote treatment without anti-psychotic, anti-depressant, psychiatric medication. I’d appreciate it very much if you would like to, the more people speak up the better.

    spreaker. com/ show /the_midnight_talk

  39. Slappy, I have semi met you on another website. I’m glad I found your page. Terrible, yet wonderful story at the same time. First let me say, to all, that no, these drugs don’t have this affect on everyone, but upwards of 20% is TOO MANY!

    My wife and I were in a ver loving and solid relationship. Sure, we had a few trips here and there, but the last 6 years were absolutely wonderful. We started a business and sold all our land and hot rods to start it… that’s how solid we were. My wife had slight chest pains the doc said was from work anxiety. He prescribed her 20mg of Citalopram / Celexa. In 3 months time, she was completely changed, and changing more each day. Locked our 2 year old in the bedroom by herself to go party, didn’t tell anyone. Started drinking, tried drugs, partying, cheating etc. Suddenly, said “I don’t know what happened, but between the blow up (we had an argument about her behavior) and the cheating, I just realized I don’t want you. I love you but not like a wife should.” and said many, many more things later that were very hurtful. We’re not talking about a typical “walk away wife” thing, SHE COMPLETELY CHANGED!

    Showed her some websites and some of slappy’s posts, and she agreed to come off the medicine. However, divorce was final shortly after so we’re divorced but she claims to have weened off inside of 2 months. No symptoms and she’s not near as cold hearted to me now.

    This story is all too common. Slappy, you are highly respected by so many, for your courage in posting your own story about this drug family. Thank you for your inspiration and hope. I pray, that with a little time, that my old best friend will start to emerge. Thanks to your story, and others, I have hope and encouragement to keep me holding on.

    God bless you,


    1. Thank you so much for your comment. It’s hard to believe that a little pill can change a person’s personality that much, but I’m living proof that it can and does happen. I would guess that the number is much higher than 20%. It’s so hard for the person on meds to see how they are acting. I was full blown manic and couldn’t see it. I just thought I was in a better mood. Plus SSRIs tend to give you a “don’t give a damn” attitude about everything, so it creates problems in so many areas. People think that not caring is a good thing, but it really isn’t. We should care.

      1. Exactly. “to give up caring, is to give up humanity” – me; just now, lol.

        Her mania episodes over I believe. She laughs and stuff I think with her new tween friends, but every time I see her, she’s just distant, somewhat to very cold, even with our daughter there just seems to be no emotion there. She swears she’s off so I just have to see. Divorce is done, but our lives are not. I love her, more than anything else in the world, next to our daughter. I cna get over her mania actions.

        I know the drugs and their power, so wherever I am in life, if / when she decides to miss me, I’ll be here.

        The ratio, if I had to guess, you’d be right. We only KNOW o fthe instances due to people coming forward / catching the connection. What about this same side effect that happens to SINGLE PEOPLE?? There’s no loved one / partner to see it and recognize it. Everyone just thinks “wow, he’s got a whole new view on life doesn’t he?” … it’s so sad. They KNOW it (the dr’s) We KNOW they know it, and they know we can’t do a dam thing about it. ONe day perhaps, one day we may get our say.

        Thanks again Slappy. Your story is very helpful.

  40. I think it’s great you shared your story. But please don’t generalize your experience to all people on antidepressants. It’s dangerous to do so bc sometimes only medication will help. CBT is useful but it’s not a cure for people who have chemical imbalances

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