Aside from Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day, I spent this period of festivity alone. Great to catch up on House of Cards with the brilliant Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, in between many episodes of Ghost Adventures (probably the best programme on TV) and trips down to the local bar with residents of the surrounding area, most of whom are pretty much oblivious to the work I do (and have been doing for almost 10 years)
April this year (2016) is the 10th birthday of this blog, it all started with a blog post of mine regarding the British drug regulator, the MHRA. Since then it's been a journey of learning, a journey of acceptance, a journey of grieving the loss of parents, children, husbands and wives - my grief shared in unison with those who are left behind to pick up the pieces that a death in the family brings.
I've held meetings with the British drug regulator, been threatened by GlaxoSmithKline's lawyers, had online stalkers, doppelganger blogs, Facebook and Twitter pages. In between, I've lost my mother, Teresa, and my best friend, Benn (my 10 year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback/Boxer cross) I've had a number of relationships, none of which worked out. A book published and two human rights awards. I've even tried my hand at fiction writing, a manuscript that sits waiting to be finely tuned if or when I get the time.
It's been 10 years that has opened my eyes to the murky world of the pharmaceutical industry, psychiatry and apparent medicine regulators, all of whom have enlightened me, all of whom I have a lack of faith in.
Online advocates have come and gone. This kind of work can be mentally exhausting, it's akin to having your soul raped when you read about another teen who has killed themselves because their prescribing physician couldn't be bothered to research the brand of antidepressant. Or another child born with serious birth defects, again for the same reason. Big pharma denies individual suicide links, medicine regulators sit and shrug their shoulders believing that they have done everything in their power to warn and moderate reported side effects of antidepressants - in truth, they haven't, truth is, they never will.
For me, this new year is about the role of others. There is a choir and has been for the past 10 years, since the conception of this blog, we sing the same hymns whilst others, for reasons unknown, sit and pretend to sing, they open their mouths but nothing comes out - they go home after the sermon and, well, leave the dirty work to the likes of Healy, Whittaker(MIA), Fennell, Antidepaware, Lynch, Truthman, Buchanan, Witczak, Matthews, Ann Blake Tracy, the CCHR**, myself, hoping (in vain) that we can pull the rabbit out of the hat and bring a halt to these needless deaths, truth is, we won't, not alone at least.
What we, as advocates, can achieve is hampered by the shoulder shruggers, be they medicine regulators or family, friends and those faceless Facebook friends who "like" a post within seconds of you posting it on your page, the type that read a headline without reading the actual content. I don't blame them for not reading, this stuff is heartbreaking and can leave one carrying around the grief of many people, sometimes taking that grief to bed, sometimes allowing it to spill into our everyday lives - yup, we have lives too, we don't just sit at home writing and researching antidepressants and corruption, We, just like those who choose not to bang the drum, have our own lives and families, relationships to deal with. I think, sometimes, that people forget that.
It's a feeling of pride when I see my name mentioned with those above, they have each put thousands of hours of work into making sure that this problem reaches the masses. It's all voluntary, it's all down to doing what they believe is the right thing to do.
I'm unsure if Healy,Whittaker, Fennell, Lynch, Truthman, Buchanan, Witczak, Matthews, Ann Blake Tracy, the CCHR et al think along the same lines as me when it comes to the role of others? I don't know if they think that others should be playing a part in voicing their opinions, meeting with regulators, congress - doing unselfish acts for, in part, the people that sit back and prefer to post fluffy bunny pics on their Facebook walls or the latest Hollywood gossip on their Twitter walls.
An old friend of mine once told me that they don't read my work because it's upsetting. As a writer I understand the sentiment, as a human, I don't.
The problem of antidepressants cannot, nor should not, be sugar-coated. Sharing a link on Facebook or Twitter is all well and good, but it's debating with those who still disbelieve that there is a problem that is they key. I don't want people to agree with everything I write. I'm sure the same can be said for the advocates I mention above. Debate is good, it's healthy, it's a snowball that will get bigger and bigger as it gathers momentum but it needs more snow, different snow, not the same snow.
As parents we all have a duty to protect children - those who work within the fields of the pharmaceutical industry, regulators and psychiatry, collectively known as the Pharmafia, fail in this one simple duty. I don't expect anything but negativity from them - it is they who are the problem and it is us who are the solution.
The problem cannot be resolved by ignoring stories because "they upset you or spoil your day" - boo hoo - try stepping into the shoes of the parents who have lost kids to suicide then ask yourselves if you really think you are doing enough to help a future generation of children and their blinkered parents.
We all know it's Christmas because we were each told the story of Jesus Christ. Christmas isn't about him any more, it's about over indulging and debt (Bah Humbug).
He was a good guy, he spread love amongst his fellow humans... then again, he had no foe to deal with in the shape of the Pharmafia.
If you are going to make one New Year's resolution this year, spare a thought for those who have loved and lost, those who have probably spent Christmas crying because their son, daughter, mom, dad, husband or wife, isn't around any more, all because they were prescribed an antidepressant that induced their death. Then, spare a thought for the anguish and frustration they feel because all they see and hear day in, day out, is the same people banging the drum about this problem.
Let 2016 be the year that YOU make a change. Nodding your heads in agreement isn't enough. Get your hands dirty.
Your online presence is of the utmost importance.
Mayor Vaughn: I don't think either of one you are familiar with our problems.
Hooper: I think that I am familiar with the fact that you are going to ignore this particular problem until it swims up and BITES YOU ON THE ASS!
Scene from the movie, Jaws.
**Many more to mention, they all know who they are.