My name is Gemma Williams from Manchester, I'm 30 years old and my life has been destroyed by antidepressants. Here is my story - I hope you are able to use it to help others. I wish I'd known the risks before I tried them. What's worse is that I didn't even need them...
My dream life turned into a nightmare 4 weeks ago when I was wrongly prescribed antidepressants. I'm married to Jamie, the love of my life, and we have 2 boys who I completely adore - Jensen who's 3 and Jude who's 8 weeks. Just short of 2 months ago I gave birth to my second son, Jude. In the days after his birth I couldn't decide on a name for him and got myself really quite worked up and anxious about picking the right name for my new little boy. In the end we settled on 'Jude' but with my hormones all over the place and because I'd overthought it so much, I kept having panic attacks about whether we'd made the right choice. Because this went on for 3 weeks and I didn't want it to become a bigger problem (I just wanted to enjoy my new son and get on with our lives as a family), I went to the doctor's. He prescribed me Sertraline to calm my anxiety. I didn't even think twice about it. I've not used or needed antidepressants ever before as I've never had any depression issues but knew they were widely used so presumed them safe. I am devastated with myself now for not requesting another medication instead because I wasn't depressed, I was happy, just having short-term anxiety problems around 1 issue - my new son's name.
I took the first tablet of sertraline and had a really strong reaction to it - I felt manic, stayed up for over 24 hours and had a bit of a headache and chest pain. That scared me so I called the doctors who said it must be a bit strong for me but my body would get used to it and to persist with the meds as it will help in the long run. After taking a half dose for a week, I had another terrible reaction to the tablet where my heart was racing with crushing chest pain. My head was throbbing and my mind was racing with panicked thoughts. I tried to calm myself down and somehow, I eventually fell asleep. During the night I had a very strange experience where I sat up and couldn't think who I was. I had to sit and think for ages and remember who my family were and reassure myself we were all safe. I also had a very scary strong suicidal thought at that moment which really freaked me out because I've never had thoughts of that kind before. I went back to sleep and tried not to worry about it.
When I woke up the next day, my life had changed. I felt like a completely different person. I was always a very happy, emotional person with a lot of drive and ambition who loved nothing more than spending time with her sons. After that night where I reacted to sertraline, I now have no emotions, complete apathy to life, terrible memory, I'm permanently confused and can't think straight, have terrible headaches and pain all over my body and suicidal thoughts. I've told the health visitor, various doctors and perinatal mental health professionals and keep being told it must be down to my anxiety and to keep going with the sertraline. I've been on it for 5 weeks now and I feel worse and worse by the day. I know this isn't how anxiety feels, this feels very scary and very wrong - I don't even feel like I'm the same person. It's either the sertraline having this affect or the sertraline triggered a severe mental illness or brain damage. Either way, I know I will never get my happy life back and am so sad I ever took an antidepressant
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Gemma is suffering effects from sertraline