"In November of 2007 I went to my doctor for a regular checkup," says Darlene. "We talked about how I could quit smoking—I had smoked for 33 years. I had tried to stop on my own—unsuccessfully—so my doctor suggested that I take Chantix; she said that it works really well.
By December I went back to my doctor; I was steadily get more aggravated and couldn't focus on my job. I am the chief technician for a dialysis clinic so it is quite stressful. I was becoming very agitated but my doctor said there was nothing wrong with me except that I was depressed. I asked her if it could be from taking Chantix but she advised me not to stop taking the drug. My mental state was way worse than nicotine withdrawal. I even tried to smoke a cigarette to ease what I was feeling but it just got worse.
I took 1 mg of Chantix for more than 90 days. Honestly, I could have taken more than that but I don't remember; I also had short-term memory loss and I was paranoid about everything. Then a voice in my head told me it was time to check out; that I was worthless. I had spent the weekend with my husband and had my youngest grandson with me. My family told me that I was doing oddball stuff all weekend.
The next day at work, apparently I flipped out. One of my co-workers told me that I threatened to blow my brains out. My boss took me to a psychiatric hospital; I was brought there in a manic state, threatening suicide. That happened about seven days after I stopped taking Chantix. I was diagnosed and treated for bi-polar disorder, type 1, and I was admitted for two weeks. It scared the hell out of me.
All along, I suspected it was Chantix; I even made a call to a lawyer before I went to the hospital. I have never been depressed in my life nor have I ever been treated for any mental disorders. During those two weeks I was drugged on Seroquel. When I was released, I went to counselors, and my family doctor and I have a follow-up appointment with the psychiatrist on June 4th.
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And my medical bills are stacking up—I had a CAT scan, an MRI, and went to a neurologist because of my memory loss. I have medical insurance but I still have to pay; luckily I didn't lose my job and I am back at work; I have a great boss and he told me to take care of myself first.
My doctor told me that stress can cause all these things that happened to me: hearing voices, memory loss, agitation. So can Chantix. My goal is to get this drug off the market. I feel for all those families whose family members committed suicide."