Archive for November, 2011

Before You Use Zoloft…

Excuse my logic but if you were on a medication and found that it made you feel more tired the morning after despite a full night’s sleep would you continue taking it?  I hope not.

Much has been written about Zoloft and its sister medications Paxil and Prozac.  Known collectively as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, these medications have been linked to birth defects in newborns whose mothers took them, suicides in children and adults, and bone density loss in older people.

I cannot comment definitively on Prozac or Paxil because I have never taken them.  However, I have been using Zoloft for a great many years and my own personal experience with the drug has shown me another dark side to it. I have had other people using Zoloft confirm they’ve had the same experience. Specifically, it can produce bad dreams.  Very bad dreams.

The 1960’s counterculture had an expression for a bad trip on hallucinogenic drugs. They called such a bad trip a “Horror Show.”  I have found Zoloft to produce in me a nightly horror show. The net result is that when you wake up in the morning, you feel like a train wreck.  You feel dazed, stressed out and as mentioned more tired than before you went to sleep.  

Wierd things come in small packages

So there’s a paradox at work here.  You take Zoloft, a drug traditionally used to treat various mental illnesses and yes, you’ll be sane in the daytime.  But at nighttime you go crazy.

Here is a sampling of some of the more grizzly recurring dreams I’ve suffered from using this medication.


  • I see tsunamis as high as mountains engulfing me and my loved ones and there’s no place to run.
  • A doctor comes into the waiting room at the hospital and referring to my parents who have been in a car crash says “I’m sorry, they didn’t make it.”
  • I am walking toward my freshman year college dorm, an eight story affair, and I see it completely collapsed from an earthquake, with many of my friends inside.
  • I am sitting by the side door to my house looking up at the attic window of my neighbor’s house. All of the sudden, I see a human skull looking out that window at me.


This last dream is particularly disturbing to me because in my awakened state, sometimes in the evening I do sit facing that neighbor’s pitch black window and I am always thinking “Am I awake or asleep right now?  Will a skull appear any moment?”

As indicated, these are recurring dreams which makes the whole experience all the more draining.  Furthermore, there is another fear I have as I continue to take this medication.

Namely, it is quite possible that I will dream something so terrifying that it will frighten me to death.  There is a phenomenon , most often occurring in Laotian Hmong refugees and other young Asian men known as Sudden Unexplained Nocturnal Death Syndrome (SUNDS). It is considered the most serious sleep disorder on the books.  Interestingly enough, inHawaiiit is called “dream disease.”  When it was first recognized in the Phillipines back in 1915 it was named “bangungut,” the word for nightmare in the Tagalog language.  Some of the Hmong people when referring to SUNDS’ cause as being a nightmare, don’t mean a bad dream in the traditional sense.  A nightmare to them means an actual invasion of the victim’s soul by some evil spirit.

This is getting creepier by the minute. One of these days, instead of taking Zoloft, I think I’ll hang some garlic around my bedpost.


Copyright 2011; Greg S.

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They’re called “Piggy Banks” for a Reason

Excuse my logic and my provinciality but I feel us New Jerseyans are being duped and exploited by both the Port Authority of New York andNew Jersey as well as byNew York City in general. Just for starters notice that it is called Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, New York getting top billing in this two-party act.

People of my generation will certainly recall their parents or grandparents telling them that when the George Washington Bridge as well as the Lincoln Tunnel were built, the public was promised that once the funding had been paid off (presumably within 50 years of completion) these facilities would become free to everyone.  It’s no newsflash that this hasn’t happened.

The GW Bridge was completed in 1931 and the LincolnTunnel (2nd tube included) sometime in the early 1940s. So 50 years has come and passed and still we are paying higher and higher tolls. 

Same Bridge, Different Fare

To put things in perspective let’s look at some numbers.  The two tubes of the Lincoln Tunnel cost approximately $160 million to build. The GW Bridge cost approximately $75 million to build.  According to statistics culled from Wikipedia approximately 106 million vehicles ravel the GWB per year.  So if you divide that figure in half (The amount of vehicles crossing into the city and paying the toll) you get 53 million vehicles.  53 million times $12 equals $636 million for just one year.  Are you getting the picture?  Current one year toll receipts are nine times what the bridge cost!  They’ve been collecting hundreds of millions each year for decades and still want more.

The numbers are not as stark but still eye opening for the Lincoln Tunnel.   Approximately 22 million tolls are collected per year according to Wikipedia’s stats. 22 million times $12 equals $264 million.  Once again, one year of tolls pays what the total cost of the tunnels was and then some.

Now mind you, I don’t propose abolishing tolls all together although the astronomical amounts of money that have been collected over the years would certainly justify such an action.  Obviously it does cost money to run these facilities.  However, the Port Authority and the powers that be are forever crying poor and raising the tolls when in fact the figures just cited above would certainly prove them liars. 

Furthermore, there’s a certain psychology that permeates this whole fiasco.  As a New Jerseyan, I find it interesting that you only pay the toll when going intoNew York City.  It’s as if New York City is some Nirvana like kingdom and Jerseyans are not worthy of passing through its gates unless we pay for the privilege. 

Trust me, there is a dynamic here at work.  Consider the proposed train tunnel that was to connect New Jersey to Manhattan that Governor Chris Christie scuttled Last October. I recall reading certain news accounts that some New Yorkers felt New Jerseyand the Federal Government alone should have paid for this huge undertaking, the rationale being that New York City already provides us Jerseyans with jobs so this would be our dues to pay.  It’s as if New York City is this divine benefactor and that all the giving is one way.

Need I remind New Yorkers that Jerseyans flock to their Broadway plays, concerts, sporting events, restaurants, tourist attractions and airports by the millions, thus creating countless jobs for New Yorkers as well?

I wonder how New Yorkers would feel if one day New Jersey as it always has, kept charging them for the use of our countless beaches and state parks that they so love to frequent while allowing Jersey people to use them for free?  Or if we began charging only New Yorkers for parking at our famous shopping malls?

Just a thought.

PS.  A website called offers an extremely illuminating analysis of what happens to all the toll money that is collected as well as routes one can take in and around this area to avoid those nasty tolls.


Copyright 2011; Greg S.  

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