When I read about 7.30‘s report on parents calling for warning labels to be put on Singulair packaging – a common preventative medication for asthma sufferers – I was shocked.
The story of mum Melanie, who worriedly watched her six-year-old son Harrison suffer a “psychotic breakdown” after being prescribed Singulair, is strikingly similar to my own.
There’s just one difference: my story took place 13 years ago.
While the drug is administered to thousands of Australian children aged between two and 14, it has been linked to cases of depression and suicidal thoughts since January 2000.
Authorities in the US have been investigating Singulair since 2008 when 15-year-old Cody Miller, a teenager who had no history of mental illness, took his own life.
He had been taking the tablets for just 17 days.
Since Cody's tragic death, it has been mandatory in the US for manufacturers to put warnings about the psychiatric side effects of Singulair on the packaging. Australian parents of asthma sufferers are desperately fighting for the same conditions, and I stand with them.
My story took place in 2003 when I was a knobbly-kneed nine-year-old with severe asthma.
Aside from the persistent wheezing and never-ending coughing, I was a happy kid. One of those giggly little girls who just wanted to play netball and eat icy poles all day.
But I wasn't a healthy kid, and after a long list of failed preventative medications my parents were struggling to find anything that could get my asthma under control. That's when I was prescribed Singulair by our family's GP.
Within a fortnight I was hearing voices. Dark, menacing voices.
Sometimes the voice in my head was a mean clown, and he'd say things that would make me cry. Other times, I was in a crowded room of people who wouldn't stop shouting at me.
It didn't matter who the voice belonged to; it was always deafening, and it was always terrifying.