In 1985, Mark joined the Air Force. He was 18 years old. Mark and I met Christmas of 1985 and we were married in October 1987. In 1991 we had our first daughter and 1992 Mark discharged from the Air Force. Mark worked as a Security Officer and later in a Mister Minut store repairing shoes and key cutting etc. In 1996, we had our second daughter and Mark decided to get back into the Air Force. Mark worked as a Life support fitter in the Air Force. In 1996, Mark had a full medical and psychological assessment done on him so he could re-join the Air Force. Mark passed his medical. In 1998 and January 1999 Mark had another two full medicals and psychological assessments as he was trying to re-muster to another job. Both medicals had Mark at a very high level of fitness, health and psychological.
Japanese Encephalitis Vaccine and Black Mold: A Toxic Combination
This is where things fell apart for Mark.
We were in a married quarter and I was having hassles with an elderly gentleman that lived across from us (we were warned by housing department that he can be a pain at times). We had to move house and as my oldest daughter was settled in school, we decided to stay in the area. Before we moved house, Mark had to have a series of Japanese encephalitis (JE) vaccinations. Mark had his final JE vaccination as we moved into our new home in July 1999. He had to stay within an hour of the medical hospital in case they had a serious reaction.
We moved in and within a week of moving in a Plumber turned up to fix a pipe under the house, something to do with the toilet leaking. The plumber told me he would contact DHA (Department of Housing) and let them know it was a huge mess under there. We heard nothing more from DHA or the plumber and did not think any more about it. I was talking to the Chaplin one day and he asked where I moved too. I told him where and he was shocked. He said “You didn’t? We were going to put a match to that place.” I told him the place was freshly painted, new carpet, it looked really good.
Mark was a very fit man, he would ride his pushbike to work every day, run five kilometers every lunch hour, play soccer, come home and play with his daughters and do chores around the house. Mark was a very active fit man.
By September/October 1999, Mark’s health was deteriorating quickly. He was becoming fatigued, quick to anger, not interested in anything. He told me he was feeling very unwell but I misunderstood and took it as for that day. He continued to struggle and tried to get to Christmas, so he could take his leave and have a break. He was becoming very hostile towards me when he came home from work. He wanted nothing to do with his daughters and me, he just wanted to be left alone. I had had enough and decided to leave Mark as it was becoming unbearable (approx. November 1999). The Chaplin put me up in one of the emergency housing facilities on the base, and was going to go and see Mark. I did go back to Mark on the Sunday.
Antidepressants, Brain Kindling, and Violent, Painful Seizures
Mark continued to get worse and he was trying to get to his Christmas leave as he felt all he needed was a break. He didn’t make it to his leave; I had to take him to medical. The doctor gave him medical leave until his Christmas leave. Mark tried to push through but kept feeling worse. By early January 2000 he was back at Medical. They decided that Mark was depressed and decided to put him on SSRI antidepressants. From the moment Mark started taking these tablets, he began experiencing what he described as electric shocks in his brain. Mark explained it like someone had a cattle prod and kept zapping his brain every few seconds. The longer he was on them the more intensified the electric shocks became, making his whole body jump and he would scream out at times too. The doctors continued to tell him just keep taking them, your body just needs to adjust and we just have to find the right antidepressant for you. “You will be right – no long term effects,” they said. He wasn’t.
He could not sleep for a few months as the electric shocks were so violent. He would grab knives and have them at his wrist, just wanting the pain to stop. Mark would cry in my arms for hours. Mark was hospitalized a few times for his suicidal attempts, plus to give me a break.
They would put him on sleeping tablets, which made his situation worse. He wanted to sleep but the electric shocks would go through his brain and jolt him awake every few minutes. It was torture and no one cared or knew how to help his situation.
There would be times he would try to come to bed and cuddle up to me and he would jump and he would lift me off the bed as well.
When he has these abnormal movements, his body would get tense and he would lean backwards, at nearly the point he would fall flat on his back. He has fallen numerous times. His body is so tense. I grab him to try to stop the fall but this difficult because of the ridged body. He will also grab me (or anyone near him) and will not let go until it passes. He screams out as if he has Tourette’s syndrome. His hands, arms shake and body shake similar to Parkinson Disease. He throws his head back too and twists his body.
The Testing Always Comes Back Negative
The doctor did many medical tests on Mark including Lyme disease as Mark had developed a rash on his chest with one area having a pus-filled sore. Mark would snore since I have known him, but his snoring was at the point that he would stop breathing and then take a deep breath. He would hold his breath for so long and I would be getting in a panic. I was talking with Mark to his psychiatrist and I mentioned this to him. From that point, Mark must have sleep apnea and they put the focus on this. Mark was sent to specialist, sleep studies, and yes, he had sleep apnea. Mark could not tolerate the CPAP machine as he was still having trouble breathing and he was still jumping from the electric shocks. So they made him up a mouth splint to wear to bed.
Living in a House Full of Black Mold
Mark had spent near nine months on medical leave and he knew he would be looking at a medical discharge. So we decided we should pull his uniforms out of the cupboard to make sure they were all clean. His uniforms were covered in black mold. All clothes in his cupboard and my daughter’s cupboard had black mold. (I had free standing hanging racks for our clothes as limited cupboard space). We then started to look further around my daughters and my bedroom. As we had been there for a short time, I hadn’t moved furniture to clean behind. To our horror we found thick black mold behind the furniture and beds. My youngest daughter’s carpet was very damp. I would have to mop the windows in her and our room as there would be pools of water in the morning. I contacted the Chaplin to find out what we could do about it. My oldest daughter’s room was not affected. I moved my youngest daughter into her room and Mark and I slept on the floor in the lounge room. My youngest daughter constantly had a runny nose and breathing problems. The doctor was going to test her for asthma; she now suffers from rhinitis and is on a nasal spray too.
The Chaplin had a look and arranged for the Defence Housing Authority to come out and assess the house, along with a plumber. We were told that the main sewerage pipe under the house was broken and that we had a huge mess under there. We would have to be relocated immediately. So within 2-3 weeks we were moved to another house in Bligh Park. We had spent nearly nine months breathing in toxins from the broken main sewerage pipe.
After moving house, Mark’s condition improved. Within a couple of weeks of moving Mark was able to return to work full-time. Mark still had the twitching/ jerks, but nowhere as bad as in the other house. He could now get some sleep, but still had sleep Apnea.
A New Deployment and New Health Issues
I can remember Mark coming home from work excited, as there was a chance they could be deployed to Afghanistan. He said he wanted to go and he was going. He was still not cleared from Medical yet. At the time I did not think they would let Mark go. Mark was working hard at work to get all of his clearances done so he would be ready to deploy. He was on the list to be deployed and four weeks from deployment (2002) he was cleared. Mark left June/July of 2002 for approximately three months.
I spoke to Mark a couple of times while he was over there, he said he had hurt his ribs badly. They were playing volleyball and he dived, hit a rock and heard a crack. His boss made him go to medical the next day. He saw an American doctor (I think) who said “you will be right, off you go.” No x-rays were done. Mark could not get comfortable on the stretcher and had to purchase a soft like mattress from the Yurta shop to get some comfort. Plus, he had to keep working.
When Mark had come home he had lost so much weight.
He was given some time off. The girls and I had a good time on his return. I kept getting the feeling that something was not quite right with him. We had Christmas and went back to work. The year went on. I know I had a chat with one of Mark’s mates, and again, he reassured me. All of his mates were still rallying around him to help him get through.
Simple Stressors Proved to Be Too Much
Mark had a meeting with someone (who chats about posting preferences, etc.). Mark came home and was furious about this person. Mark wanted to stay in Richmond until his promotion to Sargent and for his daughters’ schooling. This person would not have a bar of it and said “you will be posted and that is it!”
Sure enough the posting came out and we were posted to Perth, not even one of our preferences. Mark was in a rage. He did not want to go there, and he was going to discharge rather than go there. I thought, ‘oh no, here we go again with the fighting and arguing.’ He just could not cope with the stress of it all. After a while, he settled and I was able to say let’s go and enjoy it. He was concerned about Candace’s schooling as she was in a gifted and talented class. She was in the top 5% of the state for her year. I assured Mark I would find her a school over there that would meet Candace’s needs, and I did.
As time was getting closer for the move, Mark was not coping with the stress. He wanted to just get there so we drove across Australia within three days. He was a little edgy on return to work. He knew his sergeant quite well from Richmond.
I got the girls settled in at School. Mark was going to work. He was not happy and not coping very well at all, but he kept a brave face.
My eldest daughter had a soccer carnival on one day, so I spent the day there with her and the youngest. I thought it was a little unusual that Mark had not called me, so I rang his section where I was told by one of Mark’s LAC’s he had gone to medical and there taking him to hospital in an ambulance, hasn’t anyone contacted you. NO! I rang the hospital on the base to find out what was going on. They said they are sending mark up to hospital to have more tests done, as he was having bad pains in his chest. I was told not to go up there, as there was nothing I could do. They would call me when I could go and see him. I collected Mark from hospital in the early hours of the morning.
A Return to Antidepressants: More Brain Kindling, Stronger Seizures, Memory Loss and Other Symptoms
Mark never returned to work from this day 21/04/2004. They kept him on full pay until he was medically discharged in September 2005.
They decided as to Mark’s previous medical history of 1999/2000 (which was never resolved), the doctor said he would have to go off previous medical records and put him back on antidepressants. Again, Mark didn’t want to go back on the tablets and he was very scared and reluctant to go back on them. The doctor said we have much better antidepressants now and not to worry. Mark’s involuntary jerking got worse very quickly and did not go away this time. They were violent. The doctor was quite shocked and stopped the tablets straight away.
Mark’s symptoms: nausea, severe headaches, very tired, speech problems, fatigued, numbness in the left side of his face, arm and tongue, weak legs, confusion, memory loss at times, diarrhea to name a few of his symptoms. He was a very sick man and it was not getting better.
Suicide Attempts and More Antidepressants
We were posted from Perth to Brisbane, while Mark waited for his discharge. Mark was just left to himself with very limited contact from medical. I was very busy setting up our business.
DVA / Comsuper made a couple of appointments for Mark in the city. I would try and go with him, but this one day Mark wanted to do it all by himself, as I was so busy. He went in, he waited for his appointment, and the doctor (a Psychiatrist, I think) was running two hours behind. He finally saw Mark for ten to fifteen minutes and sent him on his way. Mark walked into Queen Street mall balling his eyes out as he could not cope. It all became too much for him. He managed to call me. I had to leave work and race into town to collect him. He was a mess and just could not cope at all.
Ten days later, Mark hooked himself up to his car to end his life. I was able to get to him and unhook the car and turn it off. He then got hold of his bottle of Valium and took the whole bottle and sleeping tablets. I had to call an ambulance to come and collect him. Mark was taken to the Hospital again. He spent eight weeks in there. He was released and a home visit was arranged for Mark and he was readmitted seven days later.
I have had Mark at the hospital a few times since then for him trying to end his life. I had days of Mark not wanting to live, I had to keep fighting to keep him alive.
I sent a report to Comsuper from the hospital. I received a phone call from a lady from Comsuper, wanting to know who this doctor is (rather angrily at me). I turned around and asked her who her Doctor was, as Mark had seen him 10 days prior and did not pick up how bad Mark was and he was in hospital after suicide attempts. She was very quiet after that. They put Mark on antidepressants and again they made his situation even worse.
He kept telling doctors he did not want to go on antidepressants as he has reactions to them. They would say I have never heard of the medication doing this to anyone before and we have newer and better drugs now.
And Again, More Antidepressants: Is This Really All We Have to Offer Patients?
Mark was pushed into taking the medication, and again, Mark’s situation deteriorated very quickly. This time the jerking and movement would not leave or diminish. Mark was becoming very distressed and just wanted it to stop. I spoke to the doctor asking for Mark to have a room to go to for an hour or two for a rest. The doctor at the hospital would not let Mark have a room to himself, they wanted him to desensitize with the other patients. This was causing grief to other patients where Mark was nearly punched and people could not be around him, as they had their own issues to deal with. Mark could not cope either. I had to bring him home quickly. The Doctor wanted to do the electric shock treatment on Mark. Mark said no and begged me not to let it happen. Sure enough the doctor approached me to give Mark electric shock treatment. I said NO! That was the end of it!
Mark and his family have suffered enough.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has Mark diagnosed with:
- Major Depression
- Anxiety and Panic Disorder
- Conversion Disorder
Mark strongly believes his brain has been damaged by the SSRI’s. He can still feel the pain in his head where he was having the electric shocks. Nothing will show up on a scan, so doctors are quick to dismiss his issues. Mark refuses to take any medication for depression and so has to deal with all this on his own.
Medications given to Mark in 1999/2000
- SSRI Fluvoxamine
Where We Are Now
Mark is still suffering. He cannot socialize, as he is scared of grabbing or hurting someone. He still has the violent, seizure-like movements. They can happen any time or anywhere. His body gets tense and he leans backwards, at nearly the point of falling flat on his back. He has fallen numerous times. His body is so tense, when the seizures happen. He will grab me or anyone near him and will not let go until it passes. He screams out as if he has Tourette’s syndrome. His hands, arms shake and body shake similar to Parkinson Disease. He throws his head back too and twists his body.
If anyone out there can offer help for recovery, we would greatly appreciate it. Our entire family has been affected.
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