Warning: This article contains strong language. If you don't like strong language, then please leave this page immediately.
I haven’t written much about anti-depressant drugs over the years. The reason is simple: They were of little interest to me. Quite frankly, I found the idea of solving a complex psychological issue like depression simply by popping a daily pill to be utterly absurd. The so-called “chemical imbalance” theory of depression is an absolute farce, a Big Pharma-contrived tale created purely to sell anti-depressants. To this day, no-one – I repeat, no-one – has ever presented anything even resembling proof for the nonsensical “chemical imbalance” theory.
My disinterest in anti-depressants recently changed - in a big way. I had the opportunity to witness someone I know closely go through pure hell on a SSRI drug known as fluvoxamine. The changes in his outlook and behaviour while on fluvoxamine were truly alarming – he began morphing into a different person.
Let’s call this person Adriano. What follows is Adriano’s scary SSRI experience, followed by the research showing anti-depressants dramatically increase suicide risk and often cause – yes, cause - depression, anxiety, mania, agitation, insomnia, aggression, impulsivity, and an especially dreadful condition known as akathisia.
After witnessing Adriano’s frightening ordeal, I promptly began scrutinizing the research on anti-depressants, especially the widely prescribed variants known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs).
What I uncovered truly shocked me.
These drugs are dangerous junk, pure and simple.
Anti-Depressants: Turning the Black Dog into a Fire-Breathing Dragon
For reasons that will soon become obvious, I’ll endeavour to recount Adriano’s story in a manner that will minimize the chance of identifying him. Let’s just say Adriano hasn’t had an easy life. But he’s a survivor; several of his childhood and teen acquaintances, who grew up in similar trying circumstances, have since succumbed to suicide, fatal drug overdoses and mental illness.
However, the last few years have sorely tested Adriano’s resilience, and his mental outlook has suffered accordingly. An energetic guy whose positive vibes used to rub off on those around him, Adriano started to become despondent and withdrawn. Adriano’s doctor, increasingly concerned by this worrisome change, repeatedly tried to get his patient on anti-depressants. He’d already prescribed Adriano an anti-depressant known as Lexapro (escalitopram) after the latter hit a rough patch back in 2010, but Adriano took it for less than a week. Almost immediately, Lexapro turned Adriano into a zombie. Within days of taking it, he felt like all the emotion had been sucked from his body. “I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t sad, I was simply void of all emotion,” recalls Adriano. Because Adriano – a feisty Italian - didn’t fancy going through life with the personality and passion of a concrete slab, he promptly stopped taking Lexapro.
Like yours truly, Adriano is a highly active individual who places a premium on health and fitness. As such, Adriano has never used illicit recreational drugs. Ever. Heck, Adriano’s idea of a “hard drug” is dark ale. Even when it comes to prescription drugs, Adriano is reluctant to take something unless he truly feels it is necessary.
And so Adriano’s doctor really had his work cut out for him this time around.
The ‘anti-depressant’ Adriano’s doctor was pimping this time was fluvoxamine maleate, a drug introduced decades ago by Belgian company Solvay and originally marketed under the name Luvox.
After a particularly impassioned speech, in which his doctor told Adriano all the wonderful things the “very safe” fluvoxamine would do for him, how it would cure his “chemical imbalance”, put him on an even keel, lift his mood, make him think clearly, make him feel much better, and pretty much turn him into an international sex symbol adored by millions of gorgeous, panting women around the world, Adriano finally relented. Okay, his doctor never really mentioned the sex symbol thing, but he sure did make fluvoxamine sound like the closest thing to sex in a pill.
The first red flag was raised almost immediately after Adriano reluctantly agreed to start taking fluvoxamine. “You will probably feel nauseous when you start taking it,” said his doctor. “That’s a good sign.”
“Throwing up is a good sign? You serious?”
“It means it’s working.”
“No, it means it’s making me sick.”
His doctor persisted, but Adriano remained wholly unconvinced that feeling sick and wanting to hurl could possibly be a good thing. So he presented his doctor with a compromise: He’d begin by taking half the starting adult dose (the ‘therapeutic’ adult dose for fluvoxamine ranges from 100 to 300mg daily). He’d take the 100mg tablets, slice them in half, and take 50mg a day. When Adriano felt game, he’d try a full tablet. If it made him sick, he’d cut back and attempt the higher dosage again at a later date.
His doctor concurred, and so off Adriano went to fill the script. He then did exactly as promised: Every night, he took 50mg, and after a while ventured into 100mg territory. But every time Adriano tried the 100mg dosage, he felt nauseous the next day. His doctor may have somehow been convinced that nausea is a good thing, but as someone who exercised a lot and needed to eat like a horse in order to keep his weight up, feeling queasy all day was a disaster.
Even at 50mg, Adriano noticed his appetite, which is normally voracious, had started to diminish. He couldn’t eat as many meals per day, and at mealtimes he couldn’t stomach as much food as previously. For a high voltage, high mileage exerciser like Adriano, this was not a good thing.
This went on for months. Fluvoxamine impaired his appetite, but had no positive effect on his mental state.
In modern pop psychology parlance, I believe this would be known as a “lose-lose situation”.
Things Go From Bad to Worse
In early November, Adriano received a harsh financial blow, resulting from a wholly unfair decision that was completely beyond his control. Adriano had done nothing wrong, but a highly overpaid employee of the evil, callous enterprise known as the State of South Australia clearly didn’t give a brass razoo. When you’re in a position of power, you get to screw with people’s lives while remaining free of any personal consequences.
For someone who was really struggling to see the positives in life, this was a disastrous development. Adriano had come to view the world as an eminently unpredictable and unfair place, where nothing ever seemed to work in his favour. His family and friends were doing all they could to convince him otherwise, but this latest development didn’t exactly help their case.
Adriano proceeded to completely lose his shit. As in, he had a certified meltdown. Luckily, one of the people he messaged that night with the bad news was his doctor, who promptly jumped in his car, picked Adriano up, and took him to a café where they sat and talked. And talked. And talked some more.
Very wisely, he only let Adriano drink decaffeinated that night.
Get a Job, Go Crazy
At the same time this harsh financial decision occurred, Adriano began a new job.
Ever started a new job while your life is in turmoil and your sanity is being pushed to the brink?
It’s no fun, as Adriano will tell you.
Indeed, Adriano’s life was about to enter a whole new level of drama. And fluvoxamine would play a starring role.
Social Anxiety: When Introducing Yourself Becomes a Nightmare
Some people think terms like “social anxiety” are just wanky pop-psychology buzzwords used to describe pseudo conditions that don’t really exist. To those folks, I say this: Pull your heads out of your assholes. Social anxiety is real as jock itch, and in November 2018 Adriano suffered a massive dose of it (social anxiety that is, not jock itch).
His new job entailed six weeks of training, after which he and his colleagues were to begin taking live calls in a call centre. The morning of the very first day of training, the lecturer asked everyone in the class to introduce themselves and to tell a bit about themselves. As soon as the lecturer said this, Adriano’s heart began racing. By the time it was his turn to speak, his heart was pounding like a bass drum.
“What in bejesus is happening to me?”, Adriano thought to himself.
The muscular Adriano has faced down and fought guys twice his size without batting an eyelid, but here he was, absolutely terrified at the thought of simply having to introduce himself to his new classmates.
“It was just fucked,” recalls Adriano.
And it would get a lot worse before it got better.
A lot of people, when they are being kicked around by life, become emotional, mouthy and confrontational, and take out their frustrations on others. Adriano tends to do the exact opposite. He battens down the hatches, withdraws into his shell and goes all quiet while he struggles to deal with his inner turmoil. This process of withdrawal is known as “numbing,” a subconscious attempt to quell the emotional pain that is part and parcel of depression.
Those who know Adriano will readily confirm he is a friendly, polite and empathetic guy. Those who don’t, and who encounter him when he’s in numbing mode, can quickly get the wrong impression. They simply assume he’s aloof and unfriendly, even stuck-up and arrogant. The poker-faced, ice cold demeanour Adriano employs when things are really getting to him doesn’t exactly help matters.
And so at a time where Adriano needed to be mixing and ingratiating himself with his new colleagues, he was instead walking around with the demeanour of a CIA agent. Thankfully, some of his new colleagues weren’t so easily deterred and made the effort to talk to him anyway – something for which Adriano was truly grateful.
One morning, Adriano’s group was given a presentation on domestic violence. As the guest lecturers began their presentation, they said that if the subject hit too close to home for anyone, they were welcome to bow out of the session.
Guess who was the first to crack?
Yep, the Calabrian Iceman: Adriano.
It happened during a short 4-minute video re-enactment of a domestic violence scene. The re-enactment featured an abusive asshole terrorising his wife and kids. The bit that really triggered Adriano off was a scene in which the beleaguered wife served her prick of a husband a meal. This meal, it turns out, was not to the husband’s liking. And so to express his displeasure, and confirm what an utter turd of a human being he was, he held out the plate of food in front of her and their kids for dramatic effect - and then let it drop to the floor.
I won’t go into the details of just why this particular scene unlocked Adriano’s adrenalin pool. Nor will I elaborate on just why domestic violence so easily presses his hot button. Let’s just say Adriano is only too familiar with the behaviour of abusive pricks, and the long term scars these maggots leave on their partners and children.
What I will share is that when Adriano saw that scene, he immediately wanted to leap into the screen and gauge the abusive husband’s eyes out. Yes, Adriano knows, it was just a re-enactment and the folks in that scene were all paid actors. At that moment in time, however, that scene was as real to Adriano as it gets.
It left him trembling.
Life Loves Kicking You When You’re Down
Adriano has a dog whom he loves dearly and treats like a king. A couple of weeks into his training, Adriano had to take his pampered pooch to the vet for a routine dental procedure. He dropped his dog off at the veterinarian surgery early in the morning, then headed off to work. During lunch, he turned his phone on and promptly received a call from the vet.
“How is he?”, asked Adriano, fully expecting the vet to confirm everything went well.
The news was not good. While removing some calcium build-up from his dog’s jaw (a common phenomenon in older dogs), the vet had noticed a suspicious-looking growth in his dog’s lower jaw. The vet had seen these growths before, and the prognosis was almost always bad.
It looked like Adriano’s dog had cancer.
The news sent Adriano reeling; he felt like he’d just been smashed in the head with a baseball bat. His stomach started churning. In a state of semi-shock and struggling to gather his thoughts, he immediately packed away his half-eaten lunch, grabbed the rest of his gear, and headed for his car.
“All this other bullshit, and now my dog?!”, Adriano kept thinking as he drove home. “C’mon, not my dog!?!”
Thankfully, this was one shitty situation that would eventually have a positive outcome: One week, a series of tests, and $2,500 later, it was confirmed that the suspicious-looking tumour was in fact benign. But during that week while he waited for the pathology results to come back, Adriano was sick with worry.
A Disastrous Decision is Made
Clearly, Adriano was going through a rough time. And he was struggling to cope. He wanted to connect and interact with his classmates, most of whom seemed like really nice folks, but he simultaneously felt consumed by a need to withdraw. And his nervous system now seemed to constantly be on tenterhooks. This was a definite problem, because in several weeks’ time he would be live on the phone, taking difficult calls. He could expect to field calls from people in severe financial hardship, people with substance abuse problems and victims of domestic violence. To handle these calls calmly and confidently, Adriano would need to bring his A-Game.
But at that point, he felt a long, long way from being A-grade.
And so Adriano went back to his doctor and told him about his increasing anxiety. The 50mg of fluvoxamine he’d been taking each day was clearly doing absolutely nothing to help him.
His doctor promptly made the same suggestion a lot of other doctors would reflexively make: Increase the SSRI dosage.
”Adriano,” said his doctor, “you need to up the dosage of fluvoxamine. The starting adult dose is 100mg. You’re only taking 50mg, which is a pediatric dose.”
And so then Adriano agreed to do something he will forever regret: He agreed to increase the dosage to 100mg. He vowed to fight the nausea, and doggedly persist with the 100mg dose until it started helping him.
And so began Adriano’s frighteningly rapid slide into suicidal territory.
The Short Dark Road into Hell
One of the defining characteristics of depression is relentless negativity. Destructive, self-defeating negative thoughts become your constant companion. And they just won’t go away. They are with you when you wake up in the morning, they are eating at you all day, and they’re still there when you’re trying to get to sleep at night.
When you’re depressed, you don’t reflect on the good things in your life: Your excellent physical health, your supportive family, your awesome friends, your beautiful pets. None of that stuff even seems to register. Instead, you start dwelling on every real or perceived failure, shortcoming and disappointment that has ever afflicted your life.
An illuminating example of this soul-disintegrating mindset can be found in the recent and terribly sad death of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain. On the surface, Bourdain seemed to be living the dream. "He had everything. Success beyond his wildest dreams. Money beyond his wildest dreams," said Bourdain's mother, Gladys. He was a celebrity, by virtue of hosting a popular TV series which involved travelling around the world, meeting interesting people and sampling delicious local foods. He seemed a talented, likeable guy. He was dating an Italian actress, Asia Argento, almost 20 years his junior.
But then on June 8, 2018, came the shocking news. Bourdain was found dead in his hotel room; he had hung himself in the bathroom. Bourdain reportedly “had been in a dark mood” the couple of days prior to his death. Pictures then emerged, taken prior to Bourdain’s death, of Argento cavorting with a French journalist.
Bourdain, I’m guessing, died with a broken heart.
I’m sure Bourdain, with his celebrity status and his global travel, would have had little difficulty finding an attractive – and infinitely more worthy – replacement for Argento. But in his last days, that’s not how Bourdain would’ve seen it. When you’re depressed, you become engulfed by a suffocating sense of hopelessness and despair. Nothing ever seems to go right. You start wondering what the heck the point of your life is, and you start wondering why the hell you are even here. You remember all the hopes and dreams you had when you were younger, and you look at where your life is now. You start to wish that you could go to bed at night, and never have to wake up.
No more frustrations, no more disappointments, no more betrayals, no more hassles, no more bills, no more bullshit.
You start ideating about suicide.
And this is where anti-depressant drugs become a very, very dangerous proposition.
SSRIs Increase Suicide Risk
Despite all the lavish bullshit that doctors, drug companies and the medical-industrial complex have fed us over the years, the reality about anti-depressants, and SSRI drugs especially, is that they increase suicide risk.
Let me state that again:
Taking so-called ‘anti-depressants’ increases the risk of suicide. People on these drugs are more likely to try and kill themselves than similarly depressed people who take a placebo.
The drug companies who produce SSRI drugs know full well they increase suicide risk. For example, the “Warnings and Precautions” sections of the package insert for fluvoxamine warns:
"Clinical Worsening/Suicide Risk: Monitor for clinical worsening of suicidal thoughts/behaviors especially during the initial months of therapy and at times of dose changes."
“All patients being treated with antidepressants for any indication should be monitored appropriately and observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, and unusual changes in behavior, especially during the initial few months of a course of drug therapy, or at times of dose changes, either increases or decreases.”
The insert provides no research data to show by just how much fluvoxamine increases suicide risk (don’t worry, I will), and these warnings are hidden away in the insert’s mass of fine print that most patients and, I’m confident, most doctors never read (Adriano’s doctor didn’t).
So we have a class of drugs that are relentlessly promoted and prescribed as a panacea for depression and anxiety, but in fact increase your suicide risk.
I’d say that is a major problem.
But the overriding priority of the Big Pharma drug cartel is making money, not doing the right thing by sick and vulnerable people. As such, there has been a monumental effort over the years to downplay the very real increased suicide risk imparted by anti-depressants such as SSRIs. This effort has gone far beyond using compliant researchers to write favourable SSRI reviews loaded with idiotic rationalizations; it has involved outright fraud. Unfavourable studies have been suppressed and withheld from publication, and much of the SSRI data that has been ‘peer-reviewed’ and published has been manipulated and fabricated.
The increased suicide risk from SSRI use among teens and young adults is so pronounced, that even drug companies and the morally bankrupt researchers they fund have not been able to massage the data enough to hide it. As such, the current official party line is that SSRIs may increase suicide risk in this demographic, but they exert no increased risk in middle aged folks and actually reduce suicide risk in those over 65.
I’m here to tell you that they increase the suicide risk across all age groups. Rest assured, I’ll be discussing the research confirming this shortly.
The more I look into anti-depressant drugs, the more I realize they are just like statin drugs: Useless, toxic crap dressed up as “wonder drugs.”
Wonder Drugs: You Take Them, and then Wonder What the Fuck Happened
Suicidal ideation is common among people with depression. However, when people are depressed, they are often too despondent and lack the motivation to act upon their suicidal thoughts.
However, when these patients begin taking an anti-depressant drug, things can quickly take a turn for the worse. That’s because anti-depressants – contrary to their common image as drugs that leave you placid and dopey – actually have a stimulating effect in many people. Rather than reduce their anxiety, these drugs can make people jittery, agitated and even cause mania.
"The following symptoms, anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, aggressiveness, impulsivity, akathisia (psychomotor restlessness), hypomania, and mania, have been reported in adult and pediatric patients being treated with antidepressants for major depressive disorder as well as for other indications, both psychiatric and nonpsychiatric. Although a causal link between the emergence of such symptoms and either the worsening of depression and/or the emergence of suicidal impulses has not been established, there is concern that such symptoms may represent precursors to emerging suicidality."
You see all those symptoms I’ve highlighted in bold? Adriano suffered each and every one while taking fluvoxamine and/or during the rollercoaster hell ride that ensued when he stopped taking it.
And so when you give a SSRI to someone ideating about suicide, and they are now in a “wired”, agitated, impulsive and maybe even manic state, you have essentially thrown fuel onto the fire.
That person is now much more likely to act upon their suicidal impulses.
Thursday the 13th
13 December 2018, was the second-last day of training at Adriano’s new job; the following week, he and his colleagues would be going live on the phones. He was a bit nervous, as he didn’t feel the training had adequately prepared him for what was about to come. Several of Adriano’s classmates felt the same way (and as subsequent events would confirm, they were right). They all wanted to do a good job, but were apprehensive about whether the training they had been given was sufficient.
Adriano’s emotional state had been erratic. One day he felt okay, the next he was down in the dumps. Thursday was one of those days. The day started off innocuously enough, but as Adriano began driving home, he could feel his mood sinking - quickly. He went home and rapidly descended into what he now describes as the darkest six or so hours of his life.
“It was ferocious,” says Adriano, “and it pretty much came out of nowhere. The intensity of my despair, the vividness with which I recounted all my major frustrations and disappointments, the overwhelming and crushing feeling of loneliness and isolation, was like nothing I’d experienced before. I completely gave up all hope that night, and have no doubt that if I had a gun handy, I wouldn’t be here today. That evening, burying a piece of lead in my brain seemed a far easier and much more attractive option than continuing on.”
Thankfully, Adriano didn’t have a gun handy.
He even thought about hanging himself, but again, he didn’t have the requisite length of rope, and Bunnings had long since closed for the evening.
And thank goodness for that.
Miraculously, Adriano somehow managed to get to sleep without much difficulty that night. Maybe he was just too emotionally drained and exhausted to stay awake.
When Adriano woke up the next morning, he felt better. Significantly better. However, the previous night’s chilling experience had left him absolutely stunned, and he was shaking. In a matter of hours, he had gone from 0 to 100 – no, make that 300. The very next morning, he was almost back to zero again.
Adriano was absolutely rocked by how quickly he went from relatively OK, to earnestly wanting to check out of life.
That morning, Adriano got to work and as soon as his team leader arrived, Adriano asked if they could go talk somewhere private. Adriano explained what happened the night before, and his team leader could see Adriano was still shaking. This team leader proved what an outstanding, non-judgemental individual he was by listening, talking with, and reassuring Adriano. He said something that immediately lifted Adriano’s spirits: He said Adriano was one of a handful of class members that he’d tagged as future floorwalkers. These are the folks who walk around the call room, armed with a tablet and providing assistance to those stuck on especially difficult calls. “You have the ability to break down complicated information and present it in a way people can easily understand,” said the team leader. “I’ve watched the class when you talk; everyone stops and listens to what you have to say. You’d make a great floorwalker.”
Wow, positive reinforcement! Adriano hadn’t tasted that for a while.
This actually lifted Adriano’s spirits, and he felt pretty good the rest of Friday and all that weekend.
Despite the positive boost provided by his team leader, that night and over the weekend Adriano still felt jittery and his heart was racing. On Saturday evening, he got caught up with chores and went to bed having forgotten to take his daily fluvoxamine dose. When the shakes and jitters continued throughout Sunday, he took 200mg in the evening to compensate for the missed Saturday dose.
Then came the big day; Monday, the first day that Adriano and his colleagues began taking live calls. It was a tough day, to be sure. But at the same time, it wasn’t as bad as Adriano thought. With floorwalker help, he was able to answer and process the calls without issue.
All of which made Adriano’s concomitant physical symptoms a real mystery. All day, he was shaking and his heart was racing furiously. It felt like his throttle was stuck on. During the tea and lunch breaks, Adriano had to hide his shaking hands from his colleagues. Needless to say, these physical symptoms were out of all proportion to how he was feeling mentally. His mind seemed relatively at ease with what was transpiring in the call room, but his body was acting as if he’d just been confronted by a pack of sabre-toothed tigers.
And so Monday night, Adriano took 200 to 300mg of fluvoxamine. He can’t tell you which dosage for sure; he meant to take 200mg, but when he went to take the second tablet, he earnestly couldn’t remember if he’d already taken 1 or 2 tablets. This was another worrying effect of fluvoxamine; after he started taking it, the mentally acute Adriano began experiencing strange episodes of forgetfulness and absentmindedness.
Judging by the way he felt Tuesday, Adriano most likely took 300mg. His eyes were puffy when he got up that morning, and the lymph glands in his throat were swollen. His hands continued to shake and his heart raced all throughout the day. And he had the strongest feeling of nausea yet, which persisted all day.
It was at this point Adriano finally wised up to just what fluvoxamine was doing to him. He didn’t have any of these symptoms prior to taking it, and all these symptoms worsened in step with his dosage increases. At this point, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to detect the cause and effect relationship.
In disgust, Adriano quit fluvoxamine. Cold Turkey. Tuesday night, he didn’t take his scheduled dose, and he hasn’t taken any fluvoxamine since.
Instead, when he got up on Wednesday morning, he filled his bath with hot water and poured in some Epsom salts and green tea. Boy, did it feel good to lie back in that hot bath and just relax and let his mind wander. With such a relaxing start, Wednesday actually turned out to be a pretty good day for Adriano; the shakes and racing heart symptoms had almost entirely disappeared.
Adriano thought his SSRI-induced troubles had finally been laid to rest.
Boy, was he mistaken.
Quitting SSRIs: The Rollercoaster Ride from Hell
Anyone who knows anything about anti-depressants knows you shouldn’t just quit them cold turkey. But that is exactly what Adriano did. He was so disgusted by what fluvoxamine had done to him, so rattled by the side effects, and so angry he’d let his doctor convince him to take it, that he just wanted it out of his body and out of his life ASAP.
SSRIs and other anti-depressants are being sold on the fanciful theory that when you suffer depression, you are suffering from a chemical imbalance. It’s a nonsensical theory with no scientific foundation, but a theory that has nonetheless come to be accepted as fact by the medical profession.
I’ll tell you what does cause a chemical imbalance: Suddenly quitting anti-depressants.
Doing so leaves you susceptible to sudden changes in your brain chemistry, which then leaves you prone to all sorts of unpredictable and dangerous side effects.
The first one to manifest in Adriano was aggression. Gone was his trademark suffer-in-silence stoicism; he was now starting to develop the demeanour of an agitated pit bull. The first and most dangerous arena in which his new anti-social attitude manifested itself was on the road. “I started doing stupid, risky stuff on the road,” recounts Adriano.
What kind of risky stuff?
“One morning I was driving to work, and got stuck behind some crawling idiot in the right hand lane. [Here in Australia, slow-moving traffic is supposed to stay in the left hand lane]. Whether this guy was still half asleep or just an inconsiderate jerk, I don’t know. What I do know is that he would take off slowly from the lights, then leisurely work his way up to only 50 km/h, despite the 60 km/h posted limit. The other two lanes were full of traffic, and I couldn’t find an opening to change lanes and get around him.”
Normally, Adriano would just mutter under his breath, and wait for a safe opportunity to pass the offending driver. But Adriano, who had just quit fluvoxamine, was in anything but a normal state of mind. He was fuming.
Then came the eruption. While Adriano remained stuck behind Captain Dipshit, the traffic in the right hand lane came to a complete halt thanks to a car ahead that had decided to turn right.
Adriano lost it. He quickly glanced over his left shoulder and saw that the middle lane was now free. He swung to the left, maneuvered around the cars in the right lane, then stomped his right foot to the floor.
And left it there.
Adriano’s car shot forward, pushing him back into his seat. As the turbo on Adriano’s car kicked in with an almighty thunder-clap, it spat out a thick black cloud of carbon that engulfed the traffic behind him. Now back in the right hand lane, Adriano’s car quickly obliterated the posted speed limit, tearing past a long line of cars in the middle lane. They were doing 60 km/h – Adriano must have been doing at least 100 km/h.
“If one of those cars had pulled into my lane,” recalls Adriano, “we would have made the evening news.”
“I cleared the cars, and when I was way down the road I suddenly checked myself,” says Adriano. “’Che cazzo fai???’ [Italian for ‘What the fuck are you doing?’] I asked myself. That’d be a bit hard to defend in court!”
“I had a lot of those ‘what the fuck are you doing?’ moments during that post-SSRI period,” says Adriano. “That fluvoxamine filth made me shockingly impulsive. Normally, when you get the first inklings of a stupid idea in your head, there’s that counter voice that quickly crushes the idea with reason and commonsense. But when I was taking fluvoxamine, and especially after coming off it, that rational voice didn’t kick in until well after I did something dumb. I’d do something idiotic and irrational, then afterwards I’d snap to my senses and think ‘what the hell just happened??? What the fuck are you doing???’”
“It was scary. That fluvoxamine shit turned me into a different person. And not a good one.”
SSRIs: Making Flabby Women Seem Beautiful
When Adriano began his new job, he was assigned to one of four training groups. All four groups spent that first six weeks being trained in adjacent classrooms. One of those classrooms had a ceiling-to-floor glass frontage, and every time Adriano walked past it he noticed an olive-skinned girl flirting heavily with him.
“Every time I walked past,” recalls Adriano, “she was looking at me intently and smiling.”
“These weren’t ‘hey there, I’d like to get to know you’ smiles,” recalls Adriano, “these were more ‘I’d love to get you alone, undo your zipper and …’ smiles”.
For the purposes of this article, let’s call this girl Tahini.
From what Adriano had seen and overheard of Tahini, she wasn’t looking for Mr Right; she was a good time girl out for some casual fun. Here in uncouth and highly unromantic Australia, where the hook-up culture reigns supreme, that is hardly unusual. When this girl scanned Adriano and took in his chiselled facial features and his lean muscular build, marriage and kids were clearly the last things on her mind.
The problem for Tahini is that Adriano was way out of her league.
I’ve seen Tahini, and can readily confirm: She ain’t no Penélope Cruz. To give credit where credit is due, Tahini has nice olive skin and a pretty face. But that’s pretty much where the physical positives end. Perhaps the kindest way I could describe Tahini is that she could be quite an attractive girl if only she’d get off her ass and do some exercise. Tahini’s butt is big. Not sexy Latina-style “bubble butt” big, but rather “I sit down all day and do very little physical activity” big.
One day, Adriano caught a rare side view of the gap between Tahini’s top and the waistline on her pants. What filled that gap was a considerable belly.
“Gesù Cristo,” Adriano thought to himself, “she’s got a paunch on her!” No wonder Tahini always wore a jacket; she wasn’t trying to look professional – she was trying to create the illusion of slimness by giving an artificial taper to her waist.
As a guy of above-average fitness who takes pride in his physical appearance, Tahini was clearly not Adriano’s physical type.
Nor was she his personality type. Tahini belongs to an ethnic grouping whose women, in my experience, are easily among the most eager participants of Australia’s shitty hook-up culture. Ironically, men from this ethnic grouping have often been vocal in expressing their disdain for the purported loose sexual mores of Anglo-Australian women, but a lot of girls from this ethnic grouping absolutely thrive on casual hook-ups. When I was in my twenties, hanging around with idiots and frequenting those human zoos known as nightclubs, I had occasion to get intimate with a number of girls from this ethnic background. Without exception, I was amazed at what these girls would let you do to them – and how soon they would let you do it.
And from what Adriano had seen and heard of Tahini, there was no reason to believe she was any different.
When we were younger and all balls and no brains, we used to think these kinds of girls were great news. But then some of us in our social circle began to mature, and we began reflecting on all the drama and headaches these girls would typically bring into our lives. When a girl will let you do stuff to her that would make a farm animal blush, all within minutes of meeting her, the chances of her falling into the “crazy bitch” category are extremely high.
Nowadays, the hook-up culture makes us sick. As do the people who still take part in it.
Needless to say, Tahini wasn’t Adriano’s cup of tea. As a result, he paid her very little attention.
But then things got weird.
Really, really fucking weird.
Shortly after Adriano upped the dose of fluvoxamine, he suddenly decided he had to have Tahini.
No, I’m not shitting you.
Make no mistake: Adriano has high standards when it comes to women. He keeps himself in above-average shape, maintains a high level of dress and grooming, and can talk effortlessly and in depth on a wide variety of topics.
And he expects the same from potential romantic partners. If you’re not in good shape, or you struggle with conversation that ventures beyond guys, clubbing, hair extensions and bitching about work, forget about Adriano.
And yet here he was, suddenly developing a keen interest in a girl that, only weeks earlier, he’d already dismissed as just another flabby club/Tinder troll.
“I absolutely cringe just thinking about it,” says Adriano. “I wouldn’t touch this girl with a barge pole. But after I upped my dose of fluvoxashit, all of a sudden I had to make her mine!”
What followed was a rather stunted and awkward interaction that started out on friendly enough terms, but eventually culminated with Adriano and Tahini completely ignoring each other.
13 December 2018 may have been Adriano’s darkest SSRI event, but his newfound interest in Tahini was definitely the most bizarre.
As it turns out, Adriano is hardly the only person whose mating radar was completely thrown out of whack by SSRI usage. I happen to know Adriano’s doctor very well, and after Adriano came off “fluvoxashit”, I’ve been relaying my findings about SSRIs and suicide risk to him. And to his credit, he’s been taking these findings on board, as he is extremely unsettled about what happened with Adriano.
When we broached the topic of impulsivity and Adriano’s bizarre attraction to the tubby Tahini, he relayed a story about a girl treated by one of the other doctors at his practice (note to the AMA: Relax, neither this patient’s name nor any other identifying features were revealed). Prior to being prescribed a SSRI, she had been a quiet, shy girl. After starting the SSRI drug, however, she promptly relocated to Planet Skank and began screwing every guy she could get her hands on.
As Adriano and this girl discovered, SSRI drugs can rapidly transform you into a completely different person. They can remove your inhibitions, impair your better judgement, and cause you to make very poor mating choices.
Despite what our sleazy mass media and skanky hook-up culture would have you believe, that’s not a good thing.
“Hi, Welcome to [Famous Australian Government Department]. How Can We Screw You Around Today?”
While all this was going on, Adriano was trying to come to grips with his new job. Adriano has a strong perfectionist streak, but he was now answering calls on behalf of a Commonwealth government agency whose reputation for inefficiency is the stuff of legend.
It drove him nuts.
Calls that should, by all rights, have taken 5-10 minutes to get sorted instead took 2 hours. The database from which the Customer Service Representatives (Adriano’s official job title) were supposed to get their information from was a massive, convoluted and conflicting mess. Often, the information was just plain wrong. Adriano was now starting to understand why, if you rang this department and spoke to five different operators, you would typically get 5 different answers.
Adriano would routinely receive calls from people who had already spoken to another CSR and received information that was totally incorrect. “They told this poor girl what???,” Adriano would think to himself.
Along with misleading information, remedies that should have been actioned instead lay dormant in the system’s Neverland because the CSR in question had not forwarded the case to the appropriate department.
Adriano became truly embarrassed to work for an organization whose processes were such a mess. Initially, he had rationalized that he would do his best to make a difference, but it soon became apparent little was going to change. Much of the software platform the CSRs were required to use dated back to the 1970s, and hence used cumbersome, antiquated coding. This platform was confusing, poorly integrated and drastically slowed down the processing of calls.
To update the system would likely require billions of dollars, and it was made clear to Adriano that no such update would be occurring anytime soon. Here in Australia, taxpayer money is instead busily diverted to all manner of bullshit rorts (former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s half-a-billion-dollar gift to his buddies at the farcical Great Barrier Reef Foundation is a an especially egregious example).
In true half-assed “she’ll be right mate” Aussie fashion, the department in question has instead committed itself to propping up the current dilapidated platform for as long as it possibly can. As Adriano puts it, this approach is like stubbornly injecting an old, decrepit horse with large amounts of anabolic steroids, long after the horse should have been mercifully put down.
Then there were the customers. It wasn’t the abusive ones that got to Adriano; after having exchanged ‘pleasantries’ face-to-face with all manner of assholes over the years, some guy swearing over the phone was hardly going to rattle him. Nope; it was the clients who broke down and started crying because said government department had unfairly cut off their payments, failed to restore them, and then left them struggling to pay for food and rent. “What the hell are we doing to these people?”, Adriano frequently asked himself.
His increasing frustration started to take its toll. In the last week of December 2018, he experienced two particularly difficult evenings where he felt like he was having a nervous breakdown. The second was on a Friday night, a few days before New Years’ Eve. And it was unbearable, says Adriano: “I was ideating about suicide again. Nothing quite as intense as December 13, but still … I felt sick in my stomach, and my head felt like it was about to explode.”
The pain seemed inescapable. But then a light bulb went on inside Adriano’s head. The following day, he called a close friend in Melbourne. “Dude, you don’t sound good. Get over here,” admonished his friend. And so on Sunday morning, Adriano put his bike, dog and a bunch of clothes in his car, and began the 9-hour drive to Melbourne.
That Sunday night, after he arrived in Melbourne, Adriano sent his team leader an apologetic SMS explaining where he was and why, and that he would be back at work the following week. “It was the only thing I could think of to try and get a grip,” wrote Adriano, “again, my apologies.”
Once again, Adriano’s team leader was eminently accommodating and understanding.
Adriano stayed on a farm over an hour from the Melbourne CBD. It was just what he needed. Within days, he felt like a whole new person. As his close friend remarked with much relief, “you sound like a totally different guy to the one I spoke to on Saturday.”
As his break in Melbourne drew to a close, Adriano was confident he was now ready to return to work the following week and take on whatever his job threw at him. However, on the Saturday night before he was due to drive back to Adelaide, he started getting agitated and had difficulty falling asleep. He tossed and turned and did not get to sleep until around 1.30 am.
Not a good sign.
Nor was the sombre feeling he got as he crossed the border back into South Australia. Or the negative thoughts that started crowding his mind as he exited the South Eastern Freeway and began driving down Portrush Road to his Adelaide abode.
Upon returning to work the following day, Adriano again started experiencing anxiety symptoms. Once again, he started getting jittery and nervy. This frustrated him to no end: “I thought I was over all that,” recounts Adriano.
Then came the final straw. The morning of Wednesday 9 January 2019 had been a rough one. Late in the morning, Adriano began working on a particularly difficult call. It was a textbook classic case of something that should’ve taken no more than 10 minutes to remedy, but instead deteriorated into yet another exasperating marathon exchange thanks to the department’s hopelessly outdated software platform.
As Adriano tried to make sense of the extra-confusing procedures required to solve the issue at hand, he felt something he’d never felt before.
His mind froze.
His brain felt like it had seized up.
“I was just totally overwhelmed,” he said, “and just couldn't think. Normally, when I get flustered by a problem, I take a deep breath, or a few minutes to gather my thoughts, and then go back to the start and go back through the problem step by step. But I just couldn't do it, my brain just couldn't kick into gear.”
Adriano’s mind had completely stalled.
Adriano locked his computer, went over to his team leader and asked to speak to him in private. They walked to a private room, and after shutting the door behind them, Adriano’s team leader asked, “What’s up?”
“I'm quitting,” announced Adriano, “I can’t handle this anymore.”
Adriano’s team leader tried to talk him out of resigning as best he could. “I’m not here to talk you into doing something you don’t want to do,” said Adriano’s team leader, “but I don't want to see you go because you are a good CSR.”
During his first month on the job, Adriano was part of a small group who had achieved 100% accuracy on all their quality-checked work. Adriano has an old school work ethic; he firmly believes that, irrespective of whether or not it is your dream vocation, if you take on a job then you do it to the best of your abilities.
“I’m not blowing smoke up your ass,” reiterated Adriano’s team leader, “you’re definitely one of the better workers in the call room.”
Again, Adriano was flattered to hear such complimentary talk from someone of the calibre of his team leader.
But ultimately, Adriano stood by his original decision. Thanks to fluvoxamine, the challenges of his new job, and some shitty life circumstances, the last two months had been a nightmare. For the sake of his physical and mental health, Adriano wanted to make a clean break and start anew.
Life After SSRIs
Adriano says it wasn’t until around two weeks after quitting his job that he started to feel like he was finally thinking straight and regaining control of his situation. At that point, he’d been off fluvoxamine for just over a month.
“I’ll tell you what really pisses me off about that junk,” says Adriano, “I hate illicit recreational drugs, and I’ve never used them. I hate what they do to people, and I don’t understand why people take them.
But when I took fluvoxamine, it was like I was on drugs. And when I came off, it was like I was in the throes of drug withdrawal. My mood was erratic and I was irrational, impulsive, aggressive … I just wasn’t thinking straight at all.
I was suicidal, I was chasing some empty-headed floozy, and I was driving like I had a death wish. Looking back, the whole thing seems surreal, like a bad dream.
If I went to a music festival and got caught selling pills that did to people what that fluvoxashit does, I’d be in big trouble. Yet doctors are free to write scripts for this junk on a daily basis, and drug companies make squillions in the process.”
At this point, apologists for anti-depressants might argue that Adriano simply had an unusual reaction to SSRI use, or that fluvoxamine was the wrong SSRI for him.
Anti-depressants are, by and large, a garbage class of drugs, and I’ll explain why in coming instalments. First, there is something very important that we need to address.
If You are Feeling Suicidal
If you are feeling suicidal, please read the following.
Please fight the impulse. You are simply not in the right state of mind to be making such a monumental life choice. And if you are taking an anti-depressant, realize that it is very likely exacerbating your dark feelings.
I can’t think of a more immense or permanent decision than to end one’s life. Trouble is, by the time you’ve arrived at that point, you’re simply not in a good state of mind. That might be stating the obvious, but think about it: Would you recommend to someone else that they make a monumentally important life decision while in such a state?
To quote author Bev Aisbett (a former sufferer of anxiety and depression) from her excellent book Taming the Black Dog: A Guide to Overcoming Depression:
“If you are still considering this decision, then know that you are not WELL ENOUGH to make such a big DECISION!
You’re not yourself, are you?
You’re not thinking straight, are you?
You’re not really in the best position to make a SENSIBLE CHOICE, are you?
If you were to make any other MONUMENTAL decision in your life, you’d seek EXPERT ADVICE, wouldn’t you?
Well, there are few more monumental decisions than this one. You need a SECOND OPINION.”
On the evening of 13 December 2018, Adriano earnestly wanted to check out of life. He has no doubt that if he had the means that night, he would have killed himself.
But when he woke up the next morning, his suicidal impulses had disappeared. Instead, he was absolutely rocked by what he had been thinking the night before.
This reminds me of someone I knew in my twenties; he was the son of an electrical contractor my parents routinely hired. Let’s call him Ronaldo. A nice guy, Ronaldo accompanied his father to electrical jobs, but had been looking for full-time work in his own right. His job-seeking efforts were not bearing fruit, and when he and his girlfriend split up, Ronaldo sunk to that awful, horrible dark place where everything seems completely hopeless.
And so he hung himself.
Now here’s the extra-sad part: During the week following his death, two employers rang his parents' house, wanting to speak with him.
Both wanted to offer him a job.
If Ronaldo had held out for just one more week, he’d probably still be here today. He’d probably be running his own electrical contracting company, he’d be married, and he’d have kids in their twenties.
But instead, he prematurely gave up all hope and left behind nothing but heartbroken parents and devastated friends.
If you are feeling suicidal, then this is one of those times in life when you really need some assistance.
Don’t suffer in silence: Call someone.
To quote Bev Aisbett again:
“TELL SOMEONE! ASK FOR HELP!
Call TELEPHONE COUNSELLING
Call a FRIEND
Call a FAMILY MEMBER
Call a TEACHER, MINISTER, COUNSELLOR.
When choosing your confidante, keep in mind that not everyone’s good at it! Don’t be disheartened if someone can’t handle it; the important thing is that you have reached out! Keep reaching out until you get the help you need.”
If you’re suicidal, there’s another reason I don’t want you to act upon your impulses:
You’re probably a nice person.
Seriously, of all the people I know who committed suicide, none were assholes. Most were really nice folks. And it seems that way with most of the suicides I read about in the media. The world can be a c*nt of a place, and this seems to affect nice people to a greater degree. If it was the world’s assholes that were prematurely checking out of life, then maybe we could view suicide as some kind of Darwinian gene pool-cleansing phenomenon. But the exact opposite seems to be true.
So again: DON’T. DO. IT.
Get help. There’s no shame in that. In fact, it’s the smart thing to do.
In Part 2, I’ll start dismantling the monumental wall of bullshit that drug companies, the medical profession and immoral researchers have built around their lucrative anti-depressant drugs.
For more information on Anthony's books, click here.
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