7th November 2005
Dear Dr Stuttaford,
Thank you very much for asking me about the side effects of all the drugs I have been given for paranoid schizophrenia. It is with a strange pleasure that I can tell the horrible truth about what the NHS put me through from 1994-2004. Many before me, I believe, have endured or succumbed to the type of misery I describe attached. My experience in the last 18 months gives me hope that less will suffer in the future like I did during those years, though I must say I am mindful of the possibility that test animals have suffered greatly from psychiatric drugs.
I feel I should say that my psychiatrist says there is an illness called “post-psychotic depression”. It would be unsurprising if somebody felt low after coming out of a psychotic episode. However based on my experience alone I would have to question if there really is such a thing as clinical post-psychotic depression rather than clinical depression caused purely as a side effect of the drugs forced into the patient by the NHS.
Why do I say this? Well you see on the one occasion when made to take an antipsychotic which did not list depression as a side effect and, whilst still in hospital having that changed to another drug which also did not list depression as a side effect, I found I was released from hospital not suffering from depression!
I do not believe my experience is unique and therefore I am forced to suspect that since the introduction of chlorpromazine, a drug derived I am told from an insecticide, many patients diagnosed with schizophrenia have been tortured to the point of taking their own lives, not because of their illness, but because of the treatment they received for it. Having not given up the ghost, a ghost I have a duty to, I feel I am a very good witness as almost without exception I enjoyed the illness I have been diagnosed with.
When I was ill I indulged in the delusion that I was a member of the British special forces, the Special Boat Service in fact. The only truth in this delusion was that I had been in the Naval section of the school CCF and stroked the school 1st VIII to victory over the GB National lightweight VIII in a practice sprint at Henley Royal Regatta one year. This delusion actually helped me to keep going as it enabled me to think that the torture was part of my training! Others may not, I feel sure, have been lucky enough to have had such a protection mechanism. It seems to me that there are people buried all over the country and indeed the world who were driven to suicide not by their illness but by the treatment for it. I believe this to be a national and international scandal.
Might I illustrate the extent of this scandal by telling you of two ladies I met in hospital? I feel the GMC and Police are desensitised to the appeals of psychiatric patients though I suspect neither of the two I refer to called them like I did on many occasions. They were both lovely people and grew up together on the same street where they played together as children.
One day, on the ward, one of them asked to be on one-to-one. Diagnoses can be wrong, but I had seen the same look in her face as I had when I was suffering the effects of, e.g. Depixol. She was refused one-to-one treatment. Does not the fact that she asked say something? Later the psychiatrist called all the patients on the ward into the smoking room and explained that she had just hanged herself in her room and that it was “nobody’s fault”. Just what happens at these inquests when it is “nobody’s fault”. Has any coroner ever said “The deceased was driven to suicide by drugs they found totally intolerable to take”? I don’t think so. I feel the psychiatrist was responsible for her death. But what is the point of complaining, except to The Times’ medical doctor? You see I hardly suspect he’s any worse than any other psychiatrist, though at least Professor Liddle read my book and told me something I should have been told the very first time I was sectioned, 11 years ago, namely the recovery statistic. Before that nobody had ever told me anyone did recover (to the point of requiring no medication). In fact, and I don’t like to say this, but one psychiatrist I was treated by did not have a perfect grasp of English and what sort of prospect of good treatment did that entail?
Is it any surprise that her friend since childhood took a fatal overdose a year later? No doubt, I feel, the coroner smoothed over that just like he had done with the death of any other psychiatric patient.
Dr Clive H.Travis
P.S.Thanks for your interest in my book. I shall send you a copy when it is published.
P.P.S. Please be under no illusions as to how extremely hard I had to be to survive this treatment below. But then how hard does somebody have to be to commit suicide?
List of adverse reactions, though not comprehensive
Chlorpromazine. Suicidal clinical depression. Inability to concentrate. Nasty akathisia. Painful retroejaculation. Loss of appetite. Numbness in the arms on waking. I was left in no doubt that this drug had driven many to suicide. All the side-effects, including the depression went when I myself stopped the treatment.
January- February 1996
Clopixol. Suicidal clinical depression. Inability to concentrate. Inability to have sex. Loss of appetite. Numbness in the arms on waking. Strange effects to the muscles around my eyes related, I believe, to ocular gyric crisis. I was left in no doubt that this drug had driven many to suicide.
My memory of this time (when I was out of hospital) is of three drugs though I am not sure if they are actually just one or two drugs. They were Thioridazine, Droperidol and Melleril. I recall no distinction between them only endless months of nasty restlessness (akathisia), inability to concentrate or have sex and suicidal clinical depression with loss of appetite. I also recall numbness in my arms on waking. I was left in no doubt that these drugs had driven many to suicide. I find it hard to believe I took them all voluntarily. All the side-effects, including the depression went when I myself stopped the treatment.
January- February 1999
Clopixol. An absolutely terrifying experience to have this drug forced into me again. I begged and begged not to be given the injection knowing what it was going to do to me. I was prescribed Olanzapine at the same time but spat the drug out secretly every time for a whole month. As well as the same side-effects as before I found that the Clopixol made me speechless by, I think, paralysing my vocal cords. This side effect was cured in minutes by Procyclidin. All side-effects went after I absconded and the injection wore off. Again I was left in no doubt that this drug had driven many to suicide.
Depixol. Oh my God. Truly a drug of death. Wholly unbearable restlessness and inability to concentrate. Desperate, desperate clinical depression. Not only did my appetite go but I suffered the most impressive inability to recognise food items for what they were. A plate of food seemed, I assure you, more like a plate of greasy bicycle chains, rusty razor blades and nuts and bolts! How could anybody imagine the level of injustice I felt! I thought: Why oh why are none of the nurses on their hands and knees in front of me begging me to hold on and not bite a fatal hole in my wrist? Because they do not realise what they have done to me with the injection the psychiatrist ORDERED them to give me. I begged out aloud to God to help me but all he did was give me the strength to somehow carry on. I KNEW HE HAD GIVEN OTHERS THE STRENGTH TO KILL THEMSELVES. I was left in no doubt that this drug had driven very many to suicide.
Piportil. The nurse who gave me this injection told me it was a “nice” drug and that the managers had discouraged them from prescribing it for reasons of cost. I carried on feeling the same as I had on the Depixol. Hooray! The section finished and was not renewed. I could refuse the next injection. Thank God for that! ! I was left in no doubt that this drug had driven many to suicide. All the side-effects, including the depression went when I myself stopped the treatment.
September 2000-January 2001
Piportil again! “Why are they doing this to me!” Please just try to imagine the level of injustice I felt! Again I was left in no doubt that this drug had driven many to suicide. All the side-effects, including the depression went when I myself stopped the treatment.
Seroquel. I could not believe this! At last I was given a drug which did not make my life a complete suicidal misery. In fact it raised my spirits and I read 3 books! Only side effect I recall being rather severe constipation treated I cannot recall how well by Senokot. But trouble was ahead. After I had been on it some 3 weeks I started to get abdominal pain. Please let me explain how the nurses tell you not to complain of side effects as they want you to get out as soon as possible. It is the most horrible Catch 22 situation. So you have to put up with them rather than tell the psychiatrist as he might want to keep you longer whilst he tries something else. So the situation is terrifying and extremely lonely. You just have to put up with it and hold on until you can either gain release, abscond, or escape. I both absconded and actually escaped on occasions. Nothing in the world mattered more to me than getting away from the people doing this to me. I told a patient about my stomach pain and he mentioned irritable bowel syndrome. The pain got worse over a couple of days and then I started vomiting one minute and literally the next minute suffering diarrhoea. As usual I did not tell the staff as I felt they might soon release me. I noted nobody else had a stomach upset and that no bug was going around. In the end I was in so much pain in my gut (which had completely evacuated through each end) that I could cover it up no longer and collapsed in agony on the shiny ward floor. An A&E doctor came and injected me to stop me vomiting and gave me some Boscopan. After days of this I decided to secretly spit out the Seroquel and surprise surprise I got back to normal! Except the drug left my upper lip paralysed and I could not speak properly for months. It gave me a stiff upper lip! Unbelievably the psychiatrist had gone on holiday before all this happened having phoned my mother to tell her he was going to put me on Clozaril (without even discussing it with me). Because they had put me on Clozaril there seemed no harm telling the doctor about the irritable bowel syndrome and she said “It could not be that, you have to have that 6 months”. So I replied “What would it be after 5 months 30 days, 23 hours and 59 minutes? A teddy bears’ picnic?” The Clozaril made me terribly tired. I had itchy rashes and huge swellings all over my body and would wake up with my arms entirely numb and my head in a sodden pool of saliva about 2 feet across. But like the Seroquel, at least before the IBS, it did not make me suicidal. Hooray!
October 2002-January 2003
Risperdal Consta. Hooray, I thought. No side effects atall. I was deluding myself as there is no clinical effect from this drug until weeks after the injection. This is why they start you with oral medication too. But I was secretly spitting that out. Once it cut in it was the same old horrible story of akathisia, clinical depression, loss of appetite and on this occasion insomnia. All very horrible again. ! I was left in no doubt that this drug had driven many to suicide, though not as many as the others simply because it is a newer drug.
December 2003-April 2004
Risperdal Consta I can’t believe I let them give me this again. But then I can’t believe what they did to me above and how they have killed so many people with such horrible side-effects. I have no doubt the coroner has been deluding himself (with help from the equally deluded psychiatrist) for some 50 years or so since Chlorpromazine came in.
Relatively mild ongoing depression, perhaps even post-psychotic, or due to not having a full time job. Otherwise A MIRACLE!!! Thanks be to God! And thank God (despite being somewhat irreligious) that, though restlessness is listed as a side-effect, it does not make me restless!