Oct

13

Paxil on Trial, by Bo Keely

October 13, 2006 |

As an experiment, I swallowed a 10mg Paxil tablet a few days ago and now feel ready to report on this aspect of the demise of American society. I begged the little green pill off a manic-depressive to better understand him, his so-called anxiety, and the smiling Paxil faces'I see walking around the high school where I teach.

This is the most common prescription in the world for depression, anxiety, bipolar disease, my favorite post-traumatic stress, premature ejaculation, and gambling disorder.

One daily 40mg tab was my adult friend's starting dose that I cut in 1/4 for the trial. I took it with a glass of water on a half-filled stomach to dull the effect. I kept a pen and notebook in pocket to record the effects and went for a walk in his garden.

An initial mild euphoria took hold in twenty minutes as I continued to smell the roses. I sensed the medication's smooth absorption via the gastro-intestinal tract and insidious entry into the CNS. I hadn't tainted the results with prior research to self-administration. Everything felt free and easy, not a care on earth. Yet I could still make notes and identify plants.

The Paxil high got heavier an hour into the trip, with the thought: Are you anxious? Depressed? Obsessive? Uneasy with people? Then Paxil's the drug for you. One problem: You may never quit.

The absolute worst feeling I got from the drug, that is perhaps what most users embrace, was becoming an Eloi. The sensation was distinct and lasted for two hours. The Eloi are one of the two post-human races in H. G. Wells' 1895 novel The Time Machine. In the year AD 802,701, humanity has evolved into two sub-species: the Eloi and the Morlocks. The Eloi are the attractive upper crust living on the surface of the earth, while the Morlocks live underground, working and tending machinery that provide food, clothing and infrastructure for the Eloi. The Morlocks continue to support the world's infrastructure and serve the Eloi who have undergone drastic physical and mental deterioration. Having solved all problems that required strength, intellect and virtue, they have slowly become miscellaneous dingbats. It is revealed that the Morlocks are tending to the toiless Eloi's needs as a farmer tends cattle — because the Eloi comprise most of the Morlock diet.

My next thought along the Paxil journey was to cry out. Just imagine a legion of Happy Faces drooling down the school sidewalks and into the SED (Severe Emotional Disorder) classroom that I once taught for Riverside County, Ca. Their so-called Paxil Faces are rounded, waxen with thickened lips and dreamy eyes reflecting a happy, soulless mind. I anguished at that stint before being dismissed for insubordination and arguing against kid drugging and withholding of my salary.

Finally, six hours after the first taste, I came down from my Paxil high. An annoying aftereffect was wanting more for the remainder of the day. Paxil Paxil Paxil. I took my notebook and feelings to my buddy who commiserated. He had tried to stop. He had twice tried to stop and each time had felt so physically wretched that 'the continued addiction was preferable to the withdrawal'.

I would not have to withdraw from this small, experimental dose, but sense that it can be done with a charismatic physician's advice, at a bangup clinic, by geographic distancing from the drug, or best of all with the support of a recovered peer. There should be a Paxil's Anonymous. It may take weeks, one milligram at a time, and with all that I've said, plus exercise, good diet and water, and plenty of work or hobbies, it shall be done.

One recovered from the Paxil habit should feel so accomplished that depression or anxiety is never an issue, just a bright future.

That's the short report of Paxil on trial. I've experimented similarly with a couple dozen other prescription drugs in the name of altruism. Paxil, and the stable of like SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) antidepressants, are hands down the most pathetic therapeutic craze I've witnessed since earning a Psych Tech Certificate two decades ago. By rendering a patient or citizen unwilling to make judgments and incapable of taking stands, there is no role for them other than in the vegetable garden of life.

It's the most amazing, most common prescription in the world. So many millions more could be dangerous if they get pointed in the wrong direction.

Ken Smith replies:

What are they in Denial about?

1. That the same political class that has been in office for decades will ever change anything.

2. That the ministers, rabbis, preachers, priests they listen to will ever tell them the truth about life; that religion is big business and nothing else.

3. That they can save money by spending money.

Dr. Janice Dorn replies:

The worst lies are the lies we tell ourselves. We live in denial of what we do, even what we think. We do this because we are afraid - Richard Bach

Why do we run from the truth? What makes us close our eyes and bury our heads in the sand rather than face what appears to be a harsh reality? Why are we compelled to cling to dysfunctional relationships and losing stock positions in the midst of increasing drawdown of our mental, emotional, physical, financial and spiritual capital?

We act this way because we are driven by hope. We behave in a certain manner because we want to believe that, somehow, somewhere, sometime, things will get better. We refuse to cut losses in our personal lives and portfolios because it is an admission that we are wrong, that we can't make good decisions and we will have to say goodbye again. The final saying goodbye to someone or something for which we yearned, lusted and made our own is painful. We cherished this as a possession, believed that everything would be fine if we were a little more patient, held on just a little bit longer and kept doing everything we could to make it right while, every day, we were dying slowly inside.

People have been coming to me with "problems" for nearly 30 years. Bad jobs, hideous and abusive relationships, childhoods from hell, depression, self-destructive behaviors, addictions, compulsions, anxieties, phobias and the devastating consequences of undisciplined and massively risky trading. It's always about what's wrong. After all, why go to a shrink or a trading coach if things are wonderful? Why celebrate the positive aspects of one's life when there is so much misery and despair? Why bother to take personal responsibility when it is easier to remain in victim mode?

My monthly Trading Doctor Newsletter was born out of these experiences, strengths and hopes…both yours and mine. No matter what, we are always determined to "fix" the problem, to make the pain go away, to stay with the losing relationship or the underwater position because we "know" that everything is going to be fine if we just keep working on it. It will be OK. The person we love will change and the stock will come back. Forget about the fact that it is ruining our lives, that we can't eat, sleep or exercise properly and can't remember the last time we felt any semblance of serenity or joy. Just deny that the whole thing is happening and everything will, like some magic trick, turn out just fine. Won't it?

Denial ain't just a river in Egypt - attributed to Mark Twain

Years ago, I bought many thousands of shares of a low-priced stock because I became convinced that it was the next best thing to sliced bread. I paid no attention to anything I read or heard because the stock was being touted by someone whose opinion I respected. It made no difference to me whatsoever that the company had less than competent management, massive debt, no revenues and one of the ugliest charts on the planet. For reasons which I will explain in more detail in The Trading Doctor Newsletter, I had grown, fostered and nourished a BELIEF that this was going to be the big win for me. I truly believed that I would get in on the ground floor and then watch with delight as Wall Street finally noticed what a groundbreaking product this company had and the stock would start going up and up. Visions of a ten or twenty bagger infiltrated my brain and made themselves perfectly at home in my limbic system. I started having personal feelings about this four letter stock.

I loved it, knew it was going to live up to every expectation I had about it, read every piece of news I could about it, told friends that this was the next biggest and best winner and it was only a matter of time before everyone would see the beauty and power that I knew. I was there first, so no worries at all. My belief system was so skewed and distorted that I could not see the truth. I did not want to read or hear anything negative about the stock since I was now in love with it to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. I owned it. It was my prize possession and I felt like, in some way, I needed to defend it against all naysayers. Kind of like a marriage or a new relationship, I didn't want to hear anything bad about it. My brain was filled with the neurochemistry of new love and attachment, so please don't bother me with reality. Just like every other new relationship, stocks are entered on hope.

Please let me know if any of you can relate to the following quasi-delusional stinking thinking and denial of reality that took place in my brain over a period of two excruciatingly painful years. Please share with me if you can identify with the panoply of thoughts and feelings that ran through me day after day. Please tell me if you have ever felt like this, if your mood for the entire day was dependent on what was going on with one or more of your holdings. Please talk to me about this type of vertiginous, tortuous, torturous, neurotic brain scramble and how that is working for you:

Oops! What is going on? Almost immediately after I bought the stock, it started to go down. This can't be happening. I don't want to believe that it is going down even though I see it right in front of me. There must be something wrong. OK. This is just a teeny temporary correction and it will come back soon. Hmmm. I have a little loss here, maybe I made a mistake and should get out and watch it or read some more. No. That's not possible. I am smart and educated and this company is the next big winner, so I'll hold on and it will come back. What's up with this? It keeps going down every day and I can't sell now because I will be taking too much of a loss, so I have to hold on. Anyway, I know that the minute I sell, it will turn around and start going up. It happens to me all the time. I just know it. It's the market, and everything is being sold, not just my beloved four letters. I am a highly intelligent woman and I have made the right decision. I am not a loser and won't be a loser. I really want to win and this stock is going to come through for me.

As soon as the market gets a bid, it will come back. Anyway, I have decided that I am not going to trade it. I will just hold it for the long haul since the story is developing, good news is supposed to be coming next month, they are going on the road to get sponsorship and analysts will start recommending it. The chart now looks like death, but that doesn't matter because a lot of charts look like that and many have just turned themselves around into big winners. Maybe now that it's down 30% from where I bought it, I should buy more so that I can lower my cost basis. It wouldn't be that much money since the stock is cheap and just think how much I will gain once the Street "gets it right." But my rule says never add to a losing position. Maybe I should break the rule, just this once. Let me think about it and sleep on it and see how it acts tomorrow. WOW! It went up today. It went up 10% in one day, so things are starting to improve. Too bad I didn't buy more yesterday because I would have had that extra cushion and lower basis. Oh well. Not to worry, things are really perking up now and I was right not to take the small loss and even more right not to take the large loss.

Now I am back at break even and all I can say is "good for you for holding through". All that worry for months was worth it, and the market is now going to reward me for my excellent stock selection, patience and loyalty. Now that I am at break even, I no longer feel complacent, fearful or despondent. In fact, I am now a little anxious because I have to figure out how to sell the stock when it really starts to take off. Do I take a partial after it runs up another point or two, do I sell it all, do I just hold on to it as I see it run up even further? What if I sell it all and it keeps going? Ugh. That would really be a bummer, especially when I have waited so long for the breakout. Yes-it looks like it's breaking out, so I could actually add to it since it is now a winner—well, sort of a winner because it's just a little over break even. I know about buying breakouts because I read how so many people do it successfully and this looks like the time to buy more. But I already have enough and I am starting to feel increasingly uneasy since it is just a little over breakeven. Interesting how I didn't experience this when the stock was losing and I was down so much (on paper, of course). In fact, when I had the losing position it was easier because I didn't have to do anything. I just sat and waited and knew it would come back. And it did. Now I am starting to get really scared because I have a teeny profit and maybe I should take it. But–what if I sell it and it keeps going up? I won't do anything. I will just watch it and see what happens tomorrow. I'm a winner on paper so it is ok now.

There is the risk you cannot afford to take, and there is the risk you cannot afford to not take - Peter Drucker.

But it wasn't okay. The next week I sat in disbelief as the stock lost nearly 30% of its value. That was it. I simply could not take it any more. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I refused to endure one more minute of this. I was too good to suffer any more. I could no longer sit in misery and despair and wait for the market to throw me a bone so that I could get all excited and happy again. It was just simply too much torment and I was no longer taking responsibility. I was letting the markets dictate to me how I would feel that day. I was allowing the markets to exploit every aspect of my personality that would cause me to be weak, tricked and off balance. I had to get my head out of the sand, get out of denial and sell. Tens of thousands of dollars vanished into the market abyss. Two years of mental machinations and emotions which covered the entire range of any "feelings" chart I had ever seen. I bought with hopes and dreams and sold with despair and defeat. I ran screaming into the other room and then suddenly, I felt a sense of utter calm and tranquility. I was free from the daily suffering, the agony of thinking I knew something when it was really about how much I did not know. I was no longer a prisoner of brain scramble, endless tormenting of self and depletion of personal energy. By taking action I stripped through the denial and magical thinking. I took personal responsibility, empowered myself and gained great courage. Yes, I have scars and wounds which I cherish because they are there to remind me of hard fought times and lessons learned. It is idiocy to hold and hope, and bravery to admit you are wrong and get out before it's just gone too far. This experience is etched in my brain and written on my soul. I shall never forget so as not to repeat it.

I committed every one of the "Ten Biggest Blunders Investors and Traders Will Make in 2006-2007". I drove myself into a state of almost complete mental, emotional, physical and spiritual drawdown. I broke my cardinal rule of Don't Lose Money. I held on because for some reason I could not get myself out of denial. It was only when the denial lifted that I felt both courageous and free. I faced the truth and got out of hope and fear. Through this brutal experience I learned lessons which I teach to others daily. I know what it feels like because I have been there. I know what courage it takes to play this great game and to rid yourself of false evidence, stop playing ostrich and deal with the absolute truth which is staring you in the face.

In the markets, as in life, the only way to grow and preserve yourself is to get rid of what is not working for you. It doesn't matter if it's your relationship, your house, your pet or your position in the markets. If you do not have the courage to cut your losses, they will fester and take you down with them. To see and know in your heart what is right and not to do it is complete lack of courage. To be courageous is to do, in the face of seemingly overwhelming obstacles, what must be done. Courage is getting out of denial, admitting you made a mistake and taking personal responsibility. Courage is freeing yourself from the shackles of lies, hopes, dreams and white picket fences which are built on shifting sands. Courage is listening to the voice inside of you and following your heart which never lies to you. Only in knowing what is false does one come closer to the truth. Courage is the eternal and heroic struggle to find and face your authentic self, look it squarely in the eyes, and know that you are now becoming the person you want to be.

Many of you spend your entire life running from the mistaken belief that you cannot bear the pain. But you have already borne the pain. What you have not done is feel and see everything you are beyond that pain - Kahlil Gibran


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