Exercise: Exploring Feelings and Beliefs about Psychiatric Medications

opening out onto sunset

1. With your journal and pen or pencil in hand, create two columns on the page. Title the first column, ‘Why I’m thinking about coming off’, and title the second column ‘Why I’m thinking about staying on’.

2. Beginning with the first column, write down your reasons for wanting to withdraw from psychiatric drugs. There may be one strong reason, or many reasons both strong and subtle. Spend time thinking about them and writing them all down, knowing that there are no “right” or “wrong” reasons to come off psychiatric drugs, only your reasons.

If you’re not fully clear on what those reasons may be for you, that’s perfectly okay. Maybe you need more time to sit with the question. Here are some related questions that might be helpful to consider:

  • When was the first time I can remember thinking about coming off psychiatric drugs? What were the circumstances surrounding it? Was there a particular event or experience that triggered the idea? Was it initially my idea or someone else’s?
  • When the idea of coming off enters my mind, does it seem to be associated with a particular feeling or experience that I’m having, or does it happen randomly? If the former, what feeling or experience is it that leads me to think about coming off?

3. When you’ve finished writing down your reasons in the first column, shift over to the second column and think through the reasons why you’re considering staying on, or why you’ve never tried to come off even if a part of you has wanted to in the past. Be sure to pay attention to any emotions – even if they are uncomfortable ones – that might be related to your reasons for staying on.

If you’re feeling unsure of your reasons, these are some related questions that may be helpful to consider:

  • What are the beliefs I’m carrying about what could happen to me if I come off my medications? What sources or individuals, if any, may have played a role in shaping these beliefs?
  • What are the beliefs I’m carrying about the role that my medications play in my life? What about the beliefs I’m carrying about my mind, emotions, and sense of self in relation to my medications? What sources or individuals, if any, may have played a role in shaping these beliefs?
  • Are there any particular people in my life—perhaps my prescriber or therapist, or maybe a family member or friend—whose opinion on psychiatric drugs and withdrawal is one that I take very seriously? If so, why is it that I take their opinion so seriously?
pills in a bottle

Once you’re ready, move on to the 'Reflections' section.