I have always loved Simon and Garfunkel, classic songs, never to be forgotten. Now I cannot get the words out of my head, particularly the words “Silence like a cancer grows”. The silence around the subject of antidepressants is now so utterly shocking, I cannot accept that this is happening in our NHS, in our country. Publicly funded, paid from taxation, by hard-working citizens, like you and me.
After I tapered off Nitrazepam, a benzodiazepine, I became extremely ill. I have been in bed for over 4 years. “These things happen” I am told. Well, perhaps they do just happen. But the rest of the story does not “just happen”. My doctors denied it was anything to do with the drugs, GPs and consultants. They became shifty, uncommunicative, uncomfortable. They also lied to me. One GP was honest, he said “I do not want to get involved”. Another said “benzos are poison”.
I battled on, for 4 years, a consultant finally admitted it was the drugs. That particular consultation was on 2nd February, I continue to wait for written confirmation. That is 2.5 months ago. I now wonder is this deliberate, what is happening with that letter, what will it actually contain when I receive it. Why would it take 10 weeks for a letter to materialise? Is our NHS in such a shocking state or is it only my letter that takes 10 weeks? Was the consultation simply a ploy to shut me up? The consultant said he would support me if I wished to take legal action, he seemed genuine. Has he been got at since that day, perhaps received legal advice to keep quiet. Imagine if I took this to Court?
Prof Wendy Burn, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists responded to my email. She was very keen to focus on the adverse effects of the benzodiazepine I had taken for nearly 40 years and to avoid talking about the 35 years on antidepressants. She has not accepted my offer to be the link person between the online community of patients and RCPsych and RCGP in the production of a new leaflet about antidepressant withdrawal. She did not reply to my latest email. She no longer wishes to receive emails from Dr Peter Gordon, psychiatrist for 25 years and member of RCPsych so I should not feel aggrieved. Patients who signed the formal complaint to RCPsych in February re letter to the Times newspaper still await a response.
Prof Clare Gerada, former Chair of Council of RCGP, is also very keen to focus on the benzodiazepine I consumed. We only “communicate” on Twitter. Prof Gerada thinks I am overplaying the shocking and dreadful states of health patients are being left in due to antidepressants, she has said so publicly. Am I really overstating the case? I do not think so, far from it, in fact I cannot impress on people just how terrible it is. Anyone who reads the submissions to Petition PE01651, Scottish Parliament, will get an inkling of the sorts of stories I hear every single day in the online forums.
In 2011, Prof Heather Ashton, UK expert on benzodiazepines, wrote the following ..
“On radio programme “Face the Facts”, BBC Radio 4, Dr. Clare Gerada was blatantly wrong when she claimed that withdrawal effects from long-term benzodiazepine use are overstated. She cannot have had any experience of long-term, prescribed benzodiazepine users or be familiar with the copious literature on this subject which has been well documented since the early 1980s, by Lader, Tyrer, Ashton and many others.”
Prof Gerada has lived through the era of benzodiazepines, the TV documentaries of the 1980s, the huge difficulties of withdrawal, the suffering, the class action against the drug companies by thousands of patients in the 1990s, deliberately thwarted by Government at the very beginning.
But as with benzodiazepines, perhaps Prof Gerada is equally unfamiliar with the devastating effects of antidepressant withdrawal after her decades of GP practice. She is very happy to focus on my consumption of Nitrazepam whilst avoiding the subject of my many years of antidepressant consumption and subsequent withdrawal. Yet in 2011, she thought that the horrendous claims about benzodiazepine withdrawal were over-stated.
Prof David Healy writes that the RCPsych has in fact known about the problem with antidepressant withdrawal for many years. He writes:
“Successive presidents of the British Psychiatric College have been told about this problem for over 20 years since Charles Medawar first wrote to them. They are in great part personally responsible for ongoing injuries from disbelief to thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of people.”
He suggests it is time for Prof Wendy Burn, current President, and Prof Simon Wessely, former President and husband of Prof Clare Gerada, to “man up”.
The ME Community has also suffered greatly due to the Wessely School of Thought. The Countess of Mar wrote the following letter to Professor Wessely in 2012. We now have yet another petition to Scottish Parliament re ME/CFS seeking appropriate help for patients and undoing the immense damage resulting from the PACE clinical trial. Professor Wessely was an adviser.
The silence like a cancer grows, no words could better describe what is happening here in the UK, in the NHS, when the subject of antidepressants is mentioned. And also the deliberate attempts by RCPsych to deceive the public, to manipulate public opinion, via the national press. Silence and manipulation are evident to see, if you care to watch closely. We now have a new diversion .. a new book “The Inflamed Mind” by Professor Bullmore, it seems we can talk about any subject under the sun as long as it is not the subject of iatrogenic harm from antidepressants. Anyone who is complicit in maintaining this silence, is also complicit in causing immense suffering to patients and for standing by and doing absolutely nothing about it. I believe this should now be a criminal matter.