After nearly five years, I am trying to come off seroxat for the fourth time. I plan to keep a diary of my efforts and to discuss a few issues relating to the greed and lies of GSK, the makers of the drug, the woeful ignorance of the real effects of this drug amongst the medical fraternity and hope to find out what help is available to the thousands of people who struggle to come off it.

Monday, 23 April 2007

Article in Best Magazine last week!

Had a short piece publish in last week's edition of Best magazine last week. it took the format of a diary piece, detailing five days in the life of someone trying to quit seroxat and was part of a larger feature on habit-forming prescription and over-the-counter-medication. Was great to be able to raise awareness about the hazards that come with the benefits of antidepressants. These kinds of issues are fairly frequently covered in the broadsheets but not always in the rest of the media.

I'm now down to 1.9 ml, 0.3 ml away from my target to achieve by the end of the month. I think I'll be able to do it but it's not a strict deadline. I had a crappy week last week because I had a stinking cold and had four nights in a row with interrupted sleep (including two nights of less that three hours). Too much time lying awake is no good for anyone's mental health, far too much time to brood and analyse. I'm thinking more and more of where my life is going, my (lack of) career, what will happen if I never have children, impending ecological meltdown, etc etc, and not in a helpful or productive way. I am reverting much more to my usual (ie, pre-antiddepressant) pessimistic outlook on life and I know this is something about which I have to be very careful or I could slide back into my pit of misery. I counter it by telling myself this isn't the time to be overly concerning myself with the big questions (what is the point? what am I here for? is it worth living? does my bum look big in this? etc). I have to focus on my health and on doing things that make me feel okay, rather than beating myself up for having ruined my career, lost my looks/let myself go, and the general pattern of self-defeating behaviour and self-pity to which I am prone. The great thing about the past is that it is over. Things are done that cannot be undone and they can jetisoned when they are no longer useful. How awful would it be to reach the age of 80 and to still be fretting about what might have happened had I not sent my last 18 months at university hiding under the duvet. Looking forward is incredibly liberating and exciting, and something I never managed to do until I was about 30. I was always chewing over the stupid mistakes I had made and my failure to learn from them. If you are always looking backwards, you are not open to opportunities that might open themselves up in the here and now. I should remind myself of this a bit more often.

So I am feeling a bit more like an authentic version of myself, rather than a pharmocologically zen one and though this is a slightly less comfortable sort of existence, at least I am moving towards being a fully feeling and engaged person, for good and for ill. I need to concentrate on self-awareness and avoid self-pity.

I feel like the physical side-effects have become much less severe as the psychological changes within me have become more pronounced. Am still tempted to try to go cold turkey but am a bit too chicken (ker-ching!). I think the most beneficial thing I've done in the last few months is to go out into the fresh air and countryside in Southern Germany. I sometimes wonder if I'd lived in beautiful surroundings whether I'd ever have become depressed in the first place.

Thursday, 5 April 2007


Passed the psychologically important 2.5ml mark last weekend. This is the point at which I gave up giving up on previous occasions, because I felt tired, dizzy and completely spaced out. This time around, I'm not having to fit in a 40 hour working week and a daily three-hour commute, so I'm able to wake up naturally and sleep in the afternoon if I want to. I'm still doing enough work to make my eyes sore but at least I'm not in an open-plan office with 40 people yelling down the phone around me.

Apart from my niggly seroxat headache that comes and goes and a little bit of giddiness when I'm on the treadmill at the gym or when objects move to fast across the TV screen, I'm feeling pretty well. No major digestive disorders, sleeping well, not too many negative thoughts. I have noticed a marked change in my appetite, though, over the last three weeks or so. I have lost that sense of being ravenously hungry all the time and I'm not having carb cravings. I've found myself not hungry enough to fancy my usual mid-morning snack of fruit and yoghurt, nor do I need an apple and a banana to keep me going before dinner. I'm also eating less rice or pasta with my meals and have even left food on my plate at the end of a meal, which is much more like the old me. Perhaps I've reached the level where the seroxat isn't interfering with my appetite levels as much and, who knows, I might at the very least stop putting on weight and may even lose some. I'm trying to go to the gym twice a week to keep it under control and generally get my circulation going. I can't see myself ever being a size 8 again but I would settle for a 12.

I went through a phase a couple of weeks back of feeling extremely aggressive and angry, which i now think is a consequence of the magic pink seroxat glasses beginning to fade away to reveal East London in its true glory. Things that I was previously oblivious to I am starting to notice. It's an odd experience - a bit like the rough edges are coming into focus - perhaps it's a bit like when I was first diagnosed as short sighted and with my new glasses was able to see the individual branches on the trees instead of an indistinct green blob. It's very comforting being in your own little bubble but it's not really being alive, not properly. I've always felt seroxat provided an assymetric filter, filtering out the bad things and only leaving the good ones, but maybe it has been diminishing the latter as well. Certainly, my emotions have felt blunted and I've been able to put up with things that perhaps without my chemical friend, I wouldn't have stood for. I am apprehensive about losing that security blanket, but I'm more afraid of being stunted by its effects for the rest of my life.

My plan is to try and come off it by the end of June, with mini-goals to reduce to 1.6ml by the end of April and 0.8 by the end of May. It's so tempting to just get up one morning and not take it and see what happens but I know that if I had a really bad reaction it could really set me back. The fact that I can manage on 2.4ml is quite amazing seeing that I'd been stuck on 5ml for five years. I am cultivating patience.