I have decided to write a documentation of the next phase of my daughters health and wellbeing plan. Withdrawal from sertraline. In preparation for this, over the last 6 months, I have researched, read and planned based on the advice and experience of those who have supported, gone or are going through withdrawal. I have done this by joining Facebook support groups. I have read some books and received advice from our bio medical naturopath and I have engaged a homeopath who is pharmaceutically trained. With the additional support of a great GP, we feel as supported and confident as we can to embark a journey which has potential for extreme side effects from withdrawal and no guaranteed positive outcome. But, as I was reminded the other day, we can never eliminate all risk, we can only prepare so much and then we have to stake the step. Just as in all areas of life, the journey is life and we should never put too much focus on end goals, forgetting to be part of the journey itself.
As well as the above, I have also put some plans in place for myself as Mum and main carer. It is essential for me to hold a strong and grounded position with no post traumatic anxiety from me to give out worry vibes. I have some homeopathic remedies to address my memories and emotions of past supplement or med changes which have resulted in my daughter having extreme mental unwellness and deliberating OCD. Watching your daughter in such great distress from brain malfunction, is, in my opinion, the single worst thing a parent can see, especially when trusted Mum is the one supplying the meds and I do not want my fears to subconsciously, or consciously mess with what we do next. I feel extremely confident and sure that I have done as much as is reasonable, without becoming obsessed with perfection and detail, to prepare for withdrawal and support. Now, allow me to fill in our story of how my beautiful, previously healthy 14 year old ended up on the antidepressant Sertraline (Zoloft) made by the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and why we need to stop.
She was first prescribed an SSRI at aged 12. It was an emergency intervention, without an in person assessment, based only on my word of events, we were prescribed Fluoxetine by a psychiatrist in the mainstream mental health system for children. Apparently we lived too far away, 20 mins out of town, to be seen at home at that time and there was no way we could get her out of the house.
We were in total chaos with the practically over night breakdown that befell my darling little girl. OCD was so bad that we couldn’t touch her or go to her bedside without her screaming and banging her head. (PANS) So intense was the torture of her brain on fire, that she became unrecognisable to us. We could not move her. It will always be etched in my being and it is painful to remember it. The vivid memories are crystal clear to me and I weep when I try to talk about it or write about it. Nevertheless, I want to give some background for anyone reading this to explain why and how we are going to attempt to come off.
Our first brush with the drug Fluoxetine, was horrific. No assessment or examination was made in person when the drug was prescribed. The prescriber did not know of my daughters genetic expressions or that she carried some faulty genes which would further effect how she metabolized the drug. Her immediate reaction was that of worsening symptoms and to this day, I don’t know how she didn’t take her own life. It was only shear love and protection from her parents that carried her through. When I called the hospital, obviously distressed to report the reactions, I was just told it was normal and would settle down. After a few weeks of living hell, we stopped. At that stage I was not told to taper, or how serious it can be to come off cold turkey. I realized then that all trust in the Doctors was gone.
We forged on, in darkness, insisting on no meds and desperately seeking answers as to why our daughter had suddenly become so ill. I felt so alone, terrified, in shock and grief. There was no support for us as her family, and no answers from the professionals. It is only now, with the gift of time, that I have managed to piece the puzzle together. We are still learning and I will never stop until I find complete relief for my daughters OCD.
I fought for 2 further years with the mainstream Doctors to keep her off the drugs. They could show me no studies of long term effects on children and could not tell me how she would stop them. That was my first breakdown of distrust in the sytem and it will never be restored.
At aged 14, she had made some improvements with the use of natural supports, but she began a decline and became so poorly again that she was unable to leave the house or do anything remotely normal. We begrudgingly returned to the system and were given no other choices than to try a different SSRI. This time sertraline. I was told it could be a better fit. We were backed into a corner and against my gut, my better judgement, we took the plunge. We did see some improvements but she was unable to tolerate any higher dose than 75mg. For extreme OCD, patients are often at the highest dose of 200mg. We stayed at 75mg for some years, but put all our focus on alternative and natural meds. This is when we saw the biggest improvements. Then one day, we had the most awful experience when her brand was changed. There was/ is no warning that a change of brand can cause adverse effects, despite it being very clear in the real life chat rooms that sensitive people can indeed have horrific side effects from change. The fillers can be different which impacts absorption and effectiveness of the drug. Some people (my daughter) are so sensitive to even the slightest dose change, that suicide intention can be induced. It is my belief that the rise in suicide that we have seen in the last couple of decades is a direct result in the ignorance of prescribers and the lies of the agencies and companies that make and monitor these harmful drugs. I managed to find some of her brand from other chemists around the country and as luck and determination of a Mother on a mission would have it, I secured 18 months worth, albeit at further cost. However, that supply is now at a years worth and so you see, we want to taper slowly and safely and not transition to another brand and risk horrific repercussions again. I am not here to argue, prove or otherwise about the harms of this and many other drugs. I’m here to document our story, for other Mothers, other people who are thinking of going on, or are looking for true life stories to help them withdraw. As said, I do not know what our outcome will be, but I want to be as honest as I can and share out truth, our experience.
My amazing girl is now 19. She has her life ahead of her. Blank pages on which to write. She is currently steady and in the best place she has been in for some years. A combination of understanding her bio chemistry manipulating the issues with supplements, diet and a course of antibiotics to address PANS, we are doing well. We have also got support from a homeopath and had cranial sacral therapy to address the concussion and traumas she has had since aged 7. As far as I’m concerned, there is no place for a drug that is still not fully understood and carries so many side effects that bleed out to the entire body. A med that can work wonders for a while, often looses effect so that the user has to increase dose. A med whose side effects can effect every system in the body, but is not often linked to complaints such as gut issues, skin issues, weight gain, and so many more. A med whose mark can still effect people years after coming off. A med that is prescribed for minor issues that could easily be solved with a host of other supports, that are not offered in mainstream.
I’m sorry if I offend anyone who is pro SSRIs, that is not my intention. But I now that I have had so much experience with this drug and read literally thousands of stories and experiences from others, I can say I am 100% against them. That is my position to date and I can only speak from my experience to now. There are SO many alternative ways to undercover root causes and heal the body and mind. SSRIs, in my opinion, are the golden cash cow for the companies who make them and a life sentence for those who are desperate. They cover symptoms of imbalance and disease, but they do not heal the root cause of those conditions. They mask symptoms and they ruin lives. It is still not known how these drugs fully work.
The Facebook group Stephens Voice is one I follow with a heavy heart. A family unnecessarily bereaved through the ignorance of prescribers, who are raising awareness and sharing the voices of others so that their beloveds death may save others. If anyone reading this is open to learn more about the dark side of these drugs, I highly recommend their work. Raising awareness is also my shared intention because there are too many people going onto these drugs who are being misinformed and are not being told how dangerous they can be. Especially children as young as 5, whose brains are so young and in development. But that’s a post for another day.
I will round up now with an invitation to follow my blog and our story as we taper very slowly over the next year. In my next post I will tell you our personalized plan, what we hope to achieve and how we are doing in real life, real time. I hope that our story can be useful and ideally, that it has a happy ending. But I do not have a crystal ball. Your well wishes for a safe and seamless withdrawal, will I’m sure, be of great help energetically. The power of love is everything.
Thanks for reading and respecting our personal views and situation. We are unique and we all have a path to walk.