Little Orange Pills

The following text is from my personal journal. I have tarted it up a bit so it is a tad more entertaining to read but truly the following is just a bunch of notes.

Originally I was not going to publish it but have done after hearing a friend was prescribed Sertraline recently.


I have just scanned through an article on the BBC website. I didn’t read it properly for two reasons. The first is that the content of the article appears to be from tonight’s episode of panorama so I’m thinking that I’ll watch the show later. The second is that I don’t want to feel more depressed than I already do today.

The story is about the batman killer and how some doctor believes that if he had not been taking the SSRI known as sertraline he would not have committed multiple murders that night as it was the drug that removed his fear of failure.

I have been taking sertraline for anxiety and depression for nearly ten years. In fact in the early part of 2017 I pretty much stopped taking it for five months resulting in the worst withdrawal I have ever experienced. This in turn led me to temporarily restarting a course of sertraline with a view to stopping again in the future as long as withdrawal did not ruin basic everyday life. During the years on the drug I have done some stupid things. I have done some courageous things. I have done things that are a mixture of both.

I, like most people taking it have not become a mass murderer.

Becoming a killer is not something that appeals to me funnily enough and I don’t think any drug would alter my identity so much to change my school of thought. I’ve never been into illegal drugs but I imagine that even if I was up to my eyeballs on smack or meth I would still not be capable of killing.

What a thoroughly miserable subject. I’m assuming this show will be sensationalist nonsense. Millions of people are prescribed sertraline in the UK alone. They take it to feel less anxious or depressed after taking a medical professional’s advice. They pay for it. I must have spent hundreds on it over the years.

I don’t want to think about Sertraline anymore. I don’t want to write about it or make a documentary about it. I was thinking about doing just that. A non sensational story of an average artist’s experience of sertraline. Probably not a good idea.

My wife and I still watched the episode of Panorama that evening. We had a 20 minute discussion after the show which I felt was thought provoking but irresponsible and insensitive programming.

The first 20 minutes showed in detail how this beyond awful act was planned.

The drug may have played a part in how the batman killer acted resulting in multiple deaths.

How is the psychiatrist who prescribed the drug not accountable when he confided in her that he was having evil fantasies that should have resulted in him being securely hospitalised?

Questions and differences of opinion are exchanged by my wife and I.

Unfortunately all this writing and conversation achieves is weight and value to the theory that the batman killer invented. The theory of human capital. He believed that in taking lives he would in turn become more valuable. He would gain the value of their lives and futures by consuming their lives. When his example is highlighted in a BBC1 Panorama documentary that has potentially infinite reach as it will also be available online he wins. He gains more fame and more value with every conversation or reaction piece that is generated. Even after years of being behind bars his story is reaching more people. Each person that consumes his story gives him more value.

He didn’t invent the theory.

There are many before him who have committed atrocities like this and worse. They will have thought the same things.

This is all too dark. I’ll finish this bit with this. When my sertraline dose was raised to the maximum I quit long term full time employment in order to pursue life as an artist. I had no fear of consequence. It was not the first time I’d acted like this but it was the most successful attempt.

The consequences are that I am still pursuing life as an artist. Living an artists life. I would be doing that regardless of staying in that job or not.

I already had formally qualified as an artist.

I had already sold my work.

Neither of those things make me anything. Neither does making new work.

If one person perceives you as the thing you intend to be you have succeeded.

If one person reacts to something you create you have succeeded.

If a seemingly internal voice keeps telling you to try to push boundaries and make new work hinders you daily you have to satisfy that voice.

If you don’t you will become miserable.

I’m lucky. I’ve been able to manage my medication to a point where it barely features in my life but if I knew then what I now know about Sertraline I might not have taken the gamble on it because..

The withdrawal from SSRI is the worst thing ever. (written just a few weeks ago)

Quitting citalapram in 2004 gave me the same brain zaps that I got when I quit Sertraline.

I was only on citalapram for a year so it quickly faded.

I was on sertraline for 10 years.

The zaps went on for months.

A brain zap for me was like Tommy Cooper doing his most animated just like that with his hands.

Do that hand gesture as hard as you can.

Then imagine that sensation in your skull.

Every time you move you eyes.

For months.

Then it tapers off.

For me it did.

And I was left with chronic pain.

One can only assume this stuff messes with your nervous system more than they actually know.

Who knows if we will ever know the truth about Sertraline. I only have my personal experience, I’m not an expert.

I have also watched a documentary called Letters From Generation Rx and if you have read this far and haven’t seen it I would recommend it.

At the moment I’m not depressed but I am anxious. Anxious that I’m about to click publish.