Gareth O’Callaghan on Citalopram.

Gareth O'Callaghan

Gareth O’Callaghan
Photo by Johnny Bambury

Strange to be writing about someone who’s alive, but a nice change all the same. A survivor, who knew? Sorry, sarcasm – you can take the girl outta Sallynoggin…

Gareth O’Callaghan is a well known Irish author, radio presenter and mental health activist. He has written numerous books on depression, including the popular A Day Called Hope: A Journey Beyond Depression. Recently, he has spoken out about his experience on the SSRI Citalopram (aka Cipramil/Celexa), the same drug my son Shane was on for 17 days before his death. Why he has decided to bare all now, I don’t know, but I’m just glad that he has. Gareth said that he followed Shane’s case avidly “..not only because of the huge media coverage it received, but also because I too took citalopram many years ago. I can identify with the Akathisia (restless, aggressive inner anxiety) that Shane suffered as a result of the drug. I could really frighten people here if I was to explain in detail what Akathisia does to the mind. Thankfully I had a chance to stop taking the tablets. Shane didn’t”.

I should say that this is not news to me – I spoke to Gareth some years back; he’s a nice, friendly and very honest guy, who pulls no punches. He can be heard on 4FM every weekday afternoon here.

Akathisia (from the Greek for inability to sit) is a widely misunderstood and underestimated adverse effect of taking a drug, usually an SSRI antidepressant or a benzodiazepine. Coded in Patient Information Leaflets (PILs) as ‘inner restlessness’ and ‘restless leg syndrome’, it has been described by some survivors as the ‘worst experience ever’, a feeling of ‘inner torment’ where ‘death would be a welcome release’ and seems ‘the only, very welcome option’.

Wendy Dolin, who I had the pleasure of meeting in Copenhagen, described how her husband Stewart died while suffering with akathisia – 6 days after he was prescribed Paxil/Seroxat. She has set up MISSD, a blog specifically to warn of the dangers of akathisia –

“On July 15, 2010, (six days after beginning the medication), following a regular lunch with a business associate, Stewart left his office and walked to a nearby train platform. A registered nurse who was also on the platform later reported seeing Stewart pacing back and forth and looking very agitated. As a train approached, Stewart took his own life. This happy, funny, loving, wealthy, dedicated husband and father who loved life left no note and no logical reason why he would suddenly want to end it all. Neither Paxil nor the generic version listed suicidal behavior as a potential side effect for men of Stewart’s age.”

A recent post on MISSD reports a personal experience similar to Gareths here. David Healy also explained akathisia in his coroner’s report for Shane’s inquest here. Short excerpt below –

There is good evidence that akathisia can exacerbate psychopathology in general, and a consensus that it can be linked to both suicide and violence. A link between akathisia and violence, including homicide, following psychotropic drug use has previously been reported.

What surprises me with Gareth’s post, is that while he is telling of his awful experience and has many supporters, some people have taken offence where there is none intended. There are quite a few ‘how dare yous’. It seems that while it’s perfectly acceptable to be MedicatedAndMighty, it’s not okay to be UnMedicatedAndMighty and talk of a bad personal experience with prescription drugs. Surely his story is equally important? A selection of the comments below:

  1. you’re doing more damage by labelling those who need help
  2. I am going to unfollow u I have had enough of your one sided beliefs
  3. Please don’t make people feel bad If they need it after bereavement etc.

Giving drugs for bereavement is surely part of psychiatry’s problem but one I won’t go into here (See works of David Healy, Robert Whitaker, Peter Gotzsche, Peter Breggin, etc). It should be noted that akathisia is not always fatal but monitoring is crucial. If it occurs in the early stages of taking a prescription drug, it can occasionally wear off (but not always). If it develops later, it’s less likely to wear off.

Read Gareth O’Callaghan’s post on akathisia below; It’s well worth a read.. 

This is a true story. It is called personal experience. It happened to me. In hindsight it relates to probably the most terrifying month of my life and I would like to write about it here for the first time. It happened 16 years ago.

If you would prefer not to read how an antidepressant can destroy a human mind, and even kill, then I suggest you stop here. Otherwise please read on. It’s also worth remembering while you’re reading this that there have been hundreds of suicides in Ireland so far this year. Many of these people could still be alive if they had been told the truth about these drugs before they had been prescribed.

I have written here on a few occasions about a condition – a body and mind reaction – called ‘Akathisia’, which is directly caused by antidepressant medications. I would like to explain more about this dangerous reaction this evening and what it really is, as very few people have ever heard of it. And it is one of the most dangerous and severe side-effects of these drugs.

In 2000 I was diagnosed with depression and prescribed citalopram (aka celexa, cipramil), a drug that – to the best of my knowledge – arrived in 1996. It was still brand new. These days we now know it is also extremely dangerous as I will explain in a moment. Despite all the damaged lives it has caused and the many deaths it has been responsible for, it is still one of the most frequently prescribed antidepressants from a range of drugs known as SSRIs (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors). Why, if this drug can induce death, is it still widely available?

Back then we knew nothing about what this toxic drug was capable of doing because it was basically still being tested. 16 years ago most of us might agree that our education about mind-altering drugs was scant and strongly influenced by the medical profession. Consequently very few of us were prepared to share our experiences like we are today because we knew no better. We were led to believe this was ‘the cure’.

The SSRIs have for years been marketed around a shocking blatant lie, namely that a chemical brain imbalance causes depression. Back then, 16 years ago, I thought (as a result of buying into this myth) that this drug would rebalance my brain chemicals and cure my depression. If only I had known back then what I know now.

I was told that the drug would take between three and five weeks (maybe six) to really ‘kick in’. I was told to be patient. So I reminded myself each day through this anxious misery and baseline unhappiness that I was feeling that I would eventually see the sun again and appreciate the life I had forgotten existed. I waited. And waited. And then after about seven days my life changed. Something truly shocking and off-the-scale of understanding started to happen.

I started to feel more anxious, in a stomach-knotted nauseous kind of way. My heart started to beat faster and I felt like I was losing my grip on reality. My first panic attack happened in a packed shopping centre on a busy Saturday afternoon. I lost the plot. I felt like I was having some sort of seizure so deep inside me I couldn’t control my rational self.

I told my two young daughters that we needed to get back home as quickly as possible. They couldn’t understand why I couldn’t explain why we needed to go home. I was cracking inside very quickly, sweating, trembling, palpitating, even crying. I was losing all sense of reality in a way that was terrifying me. How I managed to drive home that day is still something I can’t bear to think about.

Once home I went upstairs to a room which I had converted into a small office years before, closed the door and started to cry. The crying became a full-scale panic attack and I ended up lying on the floor hugging my knees trying to stop the awful sensation of severe agitation that was tearing me apart inside.

Eventually it eased; but then the pain in my knees became so bad I had to get up and walk around. It wasn’t normal walking; it was pacing. I paced around the house, often sitting down to rub the pain out of my knees, and then standing and pacing while scratching my face and squeezing my abdomen to stop the horrendous agitation that was tearing at my gut. It was so deep inside me it was tearing at my gut with a hidden pain I couldn’t reach.

In the days that followed, the aggression I felt would play horrible games with my mind. I couldn’t be around sharp instruments, or walk near water. I found it increasingly difficult to cross busy roads, or to be in a crowded place for more than a few seconds. Panic struck me randomly. I was afraid to drive my car so I stopped driving. But most of all the desire – the irrational, unwanted, terrifying need – to kill myself was never far from my mind. Death would stop this pain but I didn’t want to die, I kept thinking. My brain was in a state of meltdown. The nightmares and the sweats were truly shocking.

I lasted for three weeks on citalopram. On the 22nd day I rang my doctor. I told him I couldn’t take it anymore. I explained to him what was happening and he was shocked. I am lucky to have a very good doctor. Many people are not so lucky.

If reading about my experience here has upset you, then please let me emphasise that this was never my intention. This may not help you but I hope it might help someone who is reading this tonight and possibly going through this awful ordeal.

I made a promise to myself years ago that I would be totally honest with myself. If I can’t be honest to me, then I definitely can’t be honest with you. My writing comes from an honesty that believes in justice and support for others who are coming through what I have come through.

I know so much more these days about mental health and what heals, and also what doesn’t. I knew nothing back then. I started to educate myself when it dawned on me just how close I had come to harming myself seriously.

Unfortunately unless you have a good doctor you probably won’t be told what you need to hear and do. That is just not acceptable. If your doctor is a dickhead, get a new doctor – simple as that. If your psychiatrist is more interested in spoofing than in healing, then leave the room.

Akathisia, we are told, is usually a ‘mild reaction’ to SSRIs. Let’s be honest here. Mild is an understatement. For many people who start these drugs, akathisia is a life-threatening condition that needs to be more fully understand by both patient and doctor.

Most psychiatrists play it down because they know that three of the most popular drugs that they claim to be suitable and ‘safe’ to take for depression, that they increasingly peddle as a cure (the same drugs they include in many of their speculative, dodgy concoctions) cause akathisia: FACT.

These three drugs are Prozac (fluoxetine), Seroxat (paroxetine), and Cipramil (citalopram/celexa).

These drugs are believed to play havoc with the brain neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which under normal conditions is secreted in response to stress. It is associated with levels of insomnia, anxiety (panic), and aggression (and violence).

Research has shown that these drugs make people ‘more prone’ to suicide (and aggression) during the first few weeks of starting to take them. So many people suffer silently from akathisia. Ask any of these people if they were experiencing these awful side-effects before taking the drugs and they will tell you most likely they were not.

A deep sense of loss of interest in life, a deep-rooted unhappiness, a feeling of morbidity … these are all feelings of depression; but unfortunately often the very drug that is taken to counteract these feelings creates a violent emotional storm that many psychiatrists (and doctors) blame on the depression – not the drug.

Psychiatry is not going to change its attitudes to SSRIs. The pharmaceutical companies who developed these drugs need psychiatrists and doctors to keep selling them. Big Pharma has too much to lose. They don’t want you to find another way of healing your life. They want you to be as depressed as you possibly can be. Otherwise their profits drop because they can’t peddle their drugs. (And that’s beginning to happen.)

If a young person dies while on their drug, they blame the so-called illness, not the toxic drug. Depression is a multi-billion euro business. The second biggest exporter out of Ireland is antidepressants.

Maybe you haven’t experienced anything like what I have just described. If so, you are one of the lucky ones. If you have any doubt or bad feeling about the medication you take, or have started to take, then go straight back to whoever prescribed it to you. Demand honest answers to your questions. You are paying a lot of money. In return you are also demanding respect.

If they tell you that you are “blowing it out of all proportion” (as one young man told me he was told by his doctor), or to “stick with it”, as others have been told, or if they tell you they know best, then change your doctor. Get someone who genuinely wants to help you. It might just save your life.

Two Coroners, Two Deaths: The Scientist and The Chef


Margaret and Andre

Two recent inquests again raise concerns on the widespread practice of prescribing ‘safe’ [sic] SSRI antidepressants. Both inquests involve Citalopram.

On the face of it, Dr Sylvia Margaret Tisdale (64) and Andre Mickley (36) have very little in common. Dr Tisdale, a clinical virologist, had a long and distinguished scientific career with GlaxoSmithKline, while Andre Mickley was a former chef who was his partner’s carer at the time of his death. Mr Mickley had taken heroin and cocaine and was described in one newspaper as ‘a long term drug addict’ – but it should also be noted that he was described as a ‘gentle giant’ by his partner and was actively undergoing addiction treatment at the time of his death.


On April 29th 2015, Dr Tisdale left her ‘coping with stress’ book, her glasses and her antidepressant Citalopram on her bedside table and jumped from her bedroom window; she died a short time later. While the coroner focused on the stress Dr Tisdale was under, her sister Linda raised concerns ‘about the controversial side effects of citalopram’. She said “I felt that she wasn’t depressed but was instead very anxious and stressed. I was concerned about the citalopram she was prescribed, when I looked up the side effects- I don’t think she knew how serious the side effects could be.”

The coroner Tom Osborne returned a suicide verdict, dismissing Linda’s concerns. He said “If you went online and read the side effects of almost any medicine, you would never want to take any medication at all.” Wait!! What about the doubling of suicide risk? Mr Osborne is obviously not an advocate for ‘informed consent’? Incidentally, the psychiatrist testifying at Jake McGill Lynch’s inquest last week said something similar – “The Patient Information Leaflets (PILs) are too over prescriptive and it might put people off“. It might, and then there might be less use for psychiatrists or doctors to be testifying at inquests?

Andre Mickley’s Inquest and a different Coroner:

Andre Mickley was described as a ‘long term drug abuser’ who had reportedly used heroin and cocaine on the morning of 17th Feb 2015. He collapsed later that day, having suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage (uncommon form of stroke) and died a few days later. What he had in common with Dr Tisdale was a prescription for Citalopram; he had been prescribed it just a few days before his death. There is emerging evidence that Citalopram can cause major adverse events such as heart attack and stroke, leading to death. A 2012 study published in the journal Neurology, found Patients who take Citalopram and other SSRIs have an increased risk of bleeding in the brain and stroke.

At Mr Mickley’s inquest, the coroner Professor Robert Forrest returned a ‘Narrative’ verdict. Unlike the coroner who dismissed Citalopram concerns in Dr Tisdale’s inquest, Prof Forrest sent a Regulation 28 report (with the aim of preventing further deaths) to the MHRA Director of Pharmacovigilence. In the report he stressed that Mr Mickley had used many drugs for several years “without major ill effects” but he had concerns regarding the drug Citalopram. He said there are “clear potentially adverse pharmacokinetic interactions between cocaine and the SSRI group of drugs, besides case reports” and this is not addressed in the PILs. He asked for action to be taken to prevent further deaths.

Tragically, the coroner presiding over the Dr Tisdale’s Inquest did not feel the need to initiate an investigation, but maybe, just maybe, Andre Mickley’s death might curtail the number of further Citalopram deaths and even provide some answers to Linda’s questions. Who knows – it’s a strange and sometimes wonderful world.

Thanks Mr AntiDepAware for providing me with the coroner’s Report. RIP Margaret and Andre.


Bedfordshire News

Coroner’s Report

Lincolnshire Echo

Neurology Study

Copenhagen Conference; Psychiatric drugs do more harm than good

Copenhagen, 16th Sept, 2015 – ‘Psychiatric drugs do more harm than good’. Peter Gøtzsche is the director of the Nordic Cochrane Center, Copenhagen and co-founder of the Cochrane collaboration. Peter’s new book Deadly Psychiatry and Organised Denial contains our personal stories of the harm done by psychiatric drugs. See our conference speeches below:

Leonie Fennell (me):

Stephanie McGill Lynch:

Kim Witczak:

Wendy Dolin:

Mathy Downing:

Peter Gøtzsche:

Robert Whitaker:

The Inquest of Jake McGill Lynch (age 14).

Jake's Inquest

Today I attended the inquest of Jake McGill Lynch, which concluded with the Coroner returning an open verdict. Firstly, amid all the legal argument, there was an infinitely more important factor; Jake..

In 2012 Jake was diagnosed with aspergers syndrome; he was just that ‘little bit different’ ye see. He was a little too intelligent; too good; too kind; too perfect to be perceived as a ‘normal’ disruptive adolescent. I often wonder why psychiatry gets to define what is ‘normal’, considering the lack of any scientific tests to determine otherwise. Are we not all individuals with traits that others would see as abnormal? Are our strange and weird traits not what makes us likable, or even unlikable? Sure, Jake liked routine and things to be in order, a place for everything and everything in its place – not a bad trait I’d say, but nowadays it’s ‘diagnosable’. This extraordinarily intelligent young man was diagnosed, labeled forever, for being just that little too perfect.

Jake was an articulate, handsome young man. He had an online girlfriend, loved to play with his Lego and like ‘normal’ 14 year olds, spent hours on his beloved Xbox. He had joined a gun club with his mam and idolized his big brother and little dog Charlie (equally). He loved his native language and was a fluent Irish speaker.

Jake was primarily a happy camper with few problems, apart from feeling a little anxious on stressful occasions. He was attending a counsellor to help with his feelings of anxiety. When the counsellor decided that Jake didn’t need any more sessions as he was “the happiest she had ever seen him”, she referred him to a psychiatrist. His mam thought that this referral was in order to sign Jake off. Inexplicably, instead of signing Jake off, the psychiatrist prescribed Jake an SSRI Fluoxetine (aka Prozac), to ‘help with his exams’. Neither his mam or dad were given a patient information leaflet (PIL) or any information on side effects – suicidality or otherwise. Therefore, they were not told that SSRIs, including Prozac, doubled the risk of suicide.

Jake's Parents.

Jake’s Parents.

Jake’s medication was doubled after a week, without seeing the prescribing psychiatrist. He became increasingly restless and had a meltdown in school which was totally out of character. 46 days after his prescription for Prozac, Jake’s parents found him on the floor of his bedroom – he had shot himself in the head with his legally held rifle. He was rushed to hospital but declared dead a short time later.

The psychiatrist had previously testified that she prescribed Jake with Prozac ‘to help with his exams’ because he had had ‘a meltdown’ while doing an Irish exam. This off label prescribing is truly shocking, but what is worse is the fact that Jake’s ‘meltdown’ occurred 5 days AFTER he was prescribed Prozac, not before. Why would a doctor get this so wrong? Is covering their own backsides more important than revealing the true circumstances surrounding the death of a 14 year old child? Do Jake’s parents not deserve to be presented with all the facts, not a cover-up? The HSE’s barrister spends a lot of time in the Coroner’s Court – he’s obviously very good at what he does. Personally I think an apology would be far cheaper. Jake, the 14 year old child in the middle of all this, seemed to get overlooked in copious legal argument.
The Irish drug regulator, HPRA, states that ‘Prozac is not for use in children and adolescents under 18’ here. The HPRA further states that if Prozac is prescribed off-label to a child over 8 (Sweet Jesus) with ‘moderate to severe major depressive disorder’, that it should be offered only in combination with psychological therapy. JAKE DID NOT HAVE DEPRESSION! In 2005 the Committee on Human Medicinal Products, CHMP, advised that SSRIs ‘should not be used in children and adolescents except within their approved indications – not usually depression – because of the risk of suicide-related behaviour and hostility’. If prescribed off-label, the CHMP recommends that patients should ‘be monitored carefully for the appearance of suicidal behaviour, self-harm or hostility, particularly at the beginning of treatment’. Why then was Jake’s prescription for 10mgs of Prozac doubled the following week, without even seeing the psychiatrist? I would not call that careful monitoring.
What was particularly grueling for the family, was the 13 appearances in the Coroner’s Court, mainly for legal arguments over whether the family had a right to call an expert witness (David Healy). Not surprisingly the HSE barrister was vehemently opposed to David Healy taking the stand, stating that if he was allowed to be the family’s ‘expert witness’, they (the HSE) had an ‘expert witness’ who would say the opposite. I’m sure they had! The coroner refused the family’s request, referring to the limitations of the Coroner’s Act 1962 and the case of Eastern Health Board v Farrell, but said he’d have no objection to the family having an expert to ‘advise’ them on the day. By this stage Dr Healy was in the US, so Declan Gilsenan (retired assistant state-pathologist) came to the rescue and stepped in to advise Jake’s family. He has publicly stated “Based on my experience of doing postmortems on people where anti-depressants have been started fairly recently I would have concerns about the link to suicide”.
It is of particular significance, that in May 2012 Dr Gilsenan attended Leinster House with Dr Healy, warning that these drugs were causing many deaths and asking for an investigation to be initiated. Nothing was done – NINE months later Jake was given a prescription for Prozac and the cycle continued.

Leinster House-9 months before Jake was prescribed Prozac

What was awful today, apart from hearing the circumstances of Jake’s death, was looking into the faces of his grieving parents. That familiar look of unbearable pain etched on their faces, the unbelievable loss of their son who had so much to give – all totally avoidable. Another Irish boy lost through psychiatric drugs and another doctor being permitted to recollect ‘facts’ that just don’t add up; another mom and dad left bewildered and lost; another year, another death and still our Ministers avert their eyes and do nothing. Shame on them and the Irish Government.
The coroner, having heard arguments for the rights and wrongs of prescribing Prozac in children, said that it was “beyond his capabilities to adjudicate on Fluoxetine” but could not ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ say that Jake intended to take his own life. He then rejected a suicide verdict and returned an open verdict.
Dia leat Jake. Ní dhéanaimid dearmad ort go deo. 
The last word must go to Jake. It clarifies exactly what his family have been fighting for. In an e-mail the night before his death, he said (verbatim).. “The ‘anti-anxiety’ stuff is actually an anti depressant which they didn’t tell me. Probably doesn’t make much of a difference, but I feel like I’m drugged to the point that it suppresses everything bad until it suddenly spills out.”

David and Goliath Glaxo..

David and Goliath/GSK

David and Goliath/GSK

GlaxoSmithKline is a UK based pharmaceutical company with a very evil history. This has shown itself time and again in a litany of dubious actions and the pushing of equally dubious medications. In one instance, an FDA Scientist, David Graham, estimated that GSK’s diabetes drug, Avandia, may have caused as many as 100,000 heart attacks, strokes and deaths. Finally in 2011, the European Medicines Agency banned Avandia, ordering it to be taken completely off the market. GSK were found to have been aware of the risks, but hid the real ‘data’, publishing their own version – hiding the deaths.

In 2012 GSK came to the attention of the world’s media once again, this time for paying the largest fine in the history of Big Pharma – a whopping 3 Billion Dollars. Besides hiding Avandia data, GSK also admitted to bribing doctors and encouraging them to prescribe their antidepressant Paxil/Seroxat to children, all the while knowing that it caused suicidality in all ages; many children and adults died.

David Healy et al have recently brought Glaxo back into the spotlight – kicking and screaming ‘foul’ I might add. Last month’s revelation in the British Medical Journal Restoring Study 329: efficacy and harms of paroxetine and imipramine in treatment of major depression in adolescence proved once again that GSK hid data which showed that Paxil caused suicide in children. The re-analysis of ‘Study 329’ once again found huge discrepancies; another attempt by GSK to hide bodies, this time little children.

Don’t shoot the messenger:

So what have GSK decided to do? Hold their hands up? Come clean? Apologise for the deception? Grovel to the parents and families left behind? Nope! GSK is now attempting to discredit the messenger, Dr David Healy, who just happens to be an Irishman and a genius to boot (I’ve seen him in action). It’s perhaps not a coincidence that he’s one of the few phychopharmacology experts in the world with the credibility and knowledge to challenge any pharmaceutical company, particularly on antidepressant drugs.

Dolin v. SmithKline Beecham:

David Healy is the expert witness in an on-going trial against GSK (Dolin v. SmithKline Beecham), a case concerning the death of Steward Dolin, a corporate lawyer in Chicago. Stewart jumped in front of a train 6 days after starting Paxil/Seroxat. We had the pleasure of meeting Stewart’s lovely wife Wendy (who is taking the case) last month in Copenhagen. What she said about GSK’s carry-on would make your hair stand on end; as if she hasn’t been through enough hell, but hey, never say GSK  couldn’t sink any lower. They usually do!

According to Bob Fiddaman, GSK put forward a motion that David Healy “should not be allowed to give evidence in the trial, he’s not credible, he has a bias, he’s telling people to go out and kill”. Seriously? Toys and pram spring to mind.

Grown men actually put their heads together and came up with the latter. It’s probably why women should rule the world, but I suppose that’s a story for another day. Other fairly nefarious allegations by GSK include – Healy has implied that people who have lost loved ones due to alleged drug side effects would take violent revenge against pharmaceutical executives. Japers, better make sure we don’t all go on a collective rampage. Idiots!

As Fiddaman said “Healy’s deposition was supposed to be about science, in actual fact GSK’s attorneys chose, for at least 90% of the 10 hours, to talk about Healy’s blog, his financial accounts, and every other avenue that they could think of – rather than deal with the science.” The distracting hand was at it again eh?

For more comprehensive reading – see Bob Fiddaman’s Blog and Mr Antidepaware.

Jake and Shane’s story.

Psychiatric Drugs do More Harm Than Good.

Myself, Stephanie, Kim, Mathy and Wendy spoke at Peter Gotzsche’s Copenhagen Conference ‘psychiatric drugs do more harm than good’ (see the last post for details). I’m very proud to call these women my friends. This video shows Stephanie’s talk followed by mine. I’ll put the others up as we get them. Please be informed of the possible dangers of these drugs. For Jake, Shane and all the many SSRI victims..

Copenhagen: Psychiatric Drugs do more Harm Than Good


Copenhagen here we come..

So myself and the poor unfortunate husband took ourselves off to Copenhagen for a Conference ‘Psychiatric drugs do more harm than good‘. Peter Gøtzsche (physician, medical researcher, and leader of the Nordic Cochrane Centre), was bullied into had invited us to speak, along with our fellow Irish friends Stephanie and John, and three American ladies that I had long admired.

I had said, through ‘hell or high water’, nothing was going to stop me from going. Are you listening GOD – I had meant it as a joke, not literally! Firstly a traffic jam on the N11 meant we had to take a de-tour through the Wicklow countryside, causing a slightly frazzled and frantic dash for Dublin airport. Arriving safely (and in a timely fashion) in Copenhagen, we met with our gorgeous UK friends, Mr and Mrs AntiDepAware and we all boarded the train to Nørreport.  After a few minutes of lively chatter, the train decided to give up the ghost and came to a standstill – leaving us packed like frying sardines into a fastly deteriorating atmosphere and a very steamy (and very sealed) capsule. After about 30 minutes, when the condensation began running down the windows and the frazzled commuters were looking increasingly manic, in what seemed to be an unprecedented move, the doors were opened and we were allowed to walk (underground) to the next station. Sylvester Stallone’s ‘Daylight’ was coming to mind, but I thought i’d better keep that particular thought to myself. The Danes are lovely though and once the doors opened, the relief was palpable. Never one to miss a photo opportunity, I took my phone out and a pretty Dane asked was it okay if she photo-bombed me. I was told later that this train event was highly unusual and even made the TV News – typical that we just happened to be on it at the same time.

norreport underground from copenhagen airport

Underground, off the train bound for Norreport, copenhagen

We then arrived at our ‘cheap and cheerful’ hotel, whereupon my fellow Irish friend Stephanie proceeded to throw a strop and refused point-blank to step one further step into this ‘quaint’ establishment. Having got her money back, she exited stage-left (with her poor hubby in tow) to more salubrious surroundings, leaving us, her poor Irish and UK friends, to our less posh surroundings and to share a bathroom with everyone else on the same floor. Our UK friends, with that very British Stoicism, seemed happy enough to make the best of it – not like our fair-weather Irish friends. The weather then decided to ‘chuck it down’ – with deafening thunder and lightning for added effect.

We went for dinner that evening with Robert Whitaker (American journalist and author), Peter Gøtzsche (pronounced Gurchur) and our fellow speakers: kim witczak, Wendy Dolin and Mathy Dowling. We also got to meet the lovely Denis (Danilo’s dad) and an equally lovely medical student (name pronounced Annis). Wow, what amazing people. It’s an evening I will never forget, being in the same room as people that I had long admired through webpages and videos. Each time I spoke, Peter Gøtzsche would look at me with a quizzical expression (as if I was speaking Swahili) and kindly said that I could say what I liked at the conference, as nobody would understand a word I said anyway (he’s bloody hilarious!).

kim witczak and Peter C. Gotzsche

kim witczak and Peter C. Gotzsche

The conference was on in the beautiful Bethesda building which was a few doors down from our hotel, so what our hotel lacked in classiness, it made up with location (despite everything, I’m still a glass half-full sorta gal). Robert Whitaker was fabulous, very down to earth and could understand me perfectly, which was an added bonus. Peter Breggin spoke from his home in New York through Skype, which despite the usual initial hiccups with sound, went surprisingly well. We met some amazing and fabulous people, and each of us spoke of our husbands and children, killed by a drug they should never have been prescribed. Stephanie did an amazing job for Jake, as did Kim for Woody, Mathy for Candice and Wendy for Stewart – I know Shane would have been very proud too. Our stories can be read in Peter’s new book Deadly Psychiatry and Organised Denial.

Copenhagen Night

Copenhagen Night

So there you have it, a fabulous and very informative day was had by all. After another lovely night spent with the ladies and Mr and Mrs Antidepaware, we headed (exhausted but happy) for bed. The following morning, after a mad dash to cram in the ‘Little Mermaid’ and a meeting with Peter G and the others in his Cochrane office, we then left for home, happy and content after this lovely, lovely experience.

The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid


Cochrane Canteen

Two lovely ladies: Wendy and Stephanie

Two lovely ladies: Wendy and Stephanie

Thank you so much Peter C. Gøtzsche, Bob Whitaker, kim witczak, Wendy Dolin, Mathy Dowling, Stephanie and John, the Antidepawares, the lovely Denis and my better worse-half Tony.

The presentations should be on You-tube soon for anyone who wishes to view the day – I’ll update accordingly. Last word to Peter G (and C.S. Lewis)..