Reflections: Anchoring in a Sense of Safety and Security for the Taper Road Ahead

ropes tied into an anchor

As human beings, we connect with and turn to one another for help in vastly differing ways that are informed by our individual needs, values, personalities, circumstances, and past experiences. Some of us move through life like solitary “lone rangers”, while others of us are more like “pack animals” who feel nourished when surrounded by others. The journey off psychiatric drugs can sometimes further solidify our previous needs and tendencies, while other times it can shift us into entirely unfamiliar emotional spaces: in other words, those of us who were once “lone rangers” may suddenly start seeking a “herd” to belong to, or those of us who saw ourselves as “pack animals” are now just wanting to be alone.

Reducing or fully coming off medications inevitably means diving into all kinds of unknowns—including the many unknowns surrounding how easy or difficult your road may be, how long you’ll be on it for, or how much or how little support you’ll need. But while these big unknowns can often feel frightening or disempowering, remind yourself that people successfully taper off psychiatric drugs every day—and each and every one of them, too, had to grapple these same unknowns.

Many of us in the layperson withdrawal community have found that feeling a reliable sense of mental, emotional, and physical safety and security as we’ve forged ahead on this path into the unknown has been key to getting through withdrawal. How to find that safety and security, of course, is entirely individual. For some people, it may be a sense best cultivated from feeling entirely alone, while for others, it may be through feeling the unconditional support and presence of people around them. And for the latter group, it’s often reported that having that sense of safety and security from the outset can help them stay calm and comfortable enough through the course of their slow taper that they never actually feel the need to fully utilize that “safety net” of support resting below them—just knowing it’s there ends up being enough.

Perhaps you’re now feeling clear about any steps you want to take to start preparing the supports that you might need. Or, maybe you’re grappling with the fact that you are simply not in a situation in which your support needs can be met by those around you— if you’re in this place, remind yourself again that many, many people have gone through withdrawal in a similar position. TWP Connect may be an especially helpful resource for you as you move ahead with Part 1 of this Companion Guide—because no matter how isolated you might feel right now, you are in fact far from alone!