Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Media Studies

Reader 1

T. Kim Trang Tran

Reader 2

Gina Lamb

Rights Information

© 2018 Alissa Merz


My original, web-based, digital media project is an Instagram account that offers an honest dialogue about personal experiences with mental health, recovery, and pharmaceuticals. The account @bigpharmaslut provides a first hand account of my journey through the process of finding an anti-anxiety/anti-depression medication that works for me. I use the word slut ironically to describe my dependent relationship with pharmaceuticals and highlight the fact that both the concept of sluts and the insidious mechanisms of pharmaceutical industry have been constructed by society. @bigpharmaslut does not promote or idolize the use of pharmaceuticals, but it is also not engaging in or endorsing pill-shaming—for me, it is about transparency and sharing information.

This installation documents and explores my year-long breakup, as I like to call it, with Paxil.

“Paxil, which also goes by the generic name paroxetine, is a common type of antidepressant classified as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). It’s considered non-addictive by both the medical community and the federal government. Patients who stop taking the drug still experience withdrawal symptoms referred to as discontinuation syndrome.”

The FDA now warns patients that withdrawal from paroxetine can be severe. Paxil has received more than 40 warnings from drug regulatory agencies in seven countries, including warnings in Australia about an increase in death rates among female Paxil users. The United States issued a public health warning about Paxil’s risk for inducing serotonin syndrome. This condition can cause hallucinations and hypertensive crisis, and in some cases, be fatal.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.