Affirm yourself

When coming off psychiatric drugs, it’s not unusual to feel engulfed at times by unpleasant or pessimistic feelings. Sometimes they’re general and amorphous, or they may come in the form of unwelcome thoughts or words. One simple practice many people have used to counteract this negativity is to repeat affirmations to themselves.

Affirmations—short phrases aimed at shifting the mind off difficult thoughts and towards more hopeful ones—may seem simplistic, but many find them effective as both a kind of personal pep talk and a good distraction from withdrawal symptoms. An affirmation can be as simple as the phrase “This too shall pass.” Some people who use affirmations during withdrawal suggest becoming aware when anxious or negative thoughts arise and saying to yourself, “It’s OK that I’m having these thoughts. I also know that I’m healing and becoming healthy, vibrant, and whole”—or something along those lines. Visualizing yourself fully recovered may help bolster the effect.

You know best what kind of language is likely to resonate with you; some phrases that people have found relevant to psychiatric drug withdrawal include I am healing; Feelings are not facts; I can be gentle with myself; I am strong and I can cope; I respect my need to rest and take it easy; or Recovery is my outcome. You may opt for something more specific to you, but it’s best to keep the language encouraging, with a focus on healing and well-being rather than on your symptoms. If you’re stuck for ideas, an internet search can provide sample affirmations, and there are also apps offering affirmations that can be downloaded onto your phone.

When using affirmations during withdrawal, it’s a good idea to keep them close at hand, as it can be easy to forget these messages when negative thoughts take over. You may want to save a list of affirmations on your computer or enter them in an electronic calendar as daily reminders. Some people write affirmations on Post-It notes and post them strategically throughout their home. It may feel most useful to keep things simple and work with one or two affirmations at a time, repeating them periodically through the day—whether speaking them out loud in front of a mirror, repeating them silently, or writing them down in a notebook.


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