Reflections: To Withdraw or Not To Withdraw


Take a few minutes to sit with what you’ve gotten down on paper. It may be helpful to take a physical break as you think about what you’ve written in each column—consider moving around, stretching, making a cup of tea, or getting some fresh air as you reflect. Is one column far longer than the other, or are they both about even? Are there long lists of reasons, or are there only a few in each column? Are some reasons obviously more important to you than others? And are all of the reasons yours and yours alone, or are there outside influences that are shaping any of them in some way? The more intimately you explore the reasons sitting at the heart of your relationship—or possible breakup—with psychiatric drugs, the more accurately your inner compass will be able to orient you towards what it is you truly want for yourself.

Deep knowledge of our innermost desires and drives can lead to a stronger sense of personal power and agency in the choices we make about our lives. View all of the reasons you’ve written in these two columns as valuable resources to mine for more information about yourself and your life, and be curious and inquisitive about the beliefs that may inform them. Do they arise from facts or assumptions? Self-love or fear of yourself? Self-doubt or self-confidence?

Especially important to pay attention to are any fears, doubts, or concerns that may be contributing to the reasons you have for staying on your medications even when you’re wanting to come off them. For example, many people worry about the lack of support they have from family, friends, or prescribers, or have concerns about the amount of stress and responsibilities on their plate. Other people carry fears that arise from memories of previous “failed” attempts at coming off, or have been told authoritatively by their prescribers or therapists that coming off medications is simply not advisable. These are very natural and common emotions to feel about psychiatric drug withdrawal—we have certainly felt them, ourselves, and that’s why, in the steps to come in Part 1 of this Companion Guide, we’ll help you identify challenges and examine possible solutions to these and other issues in order to maximize your chances of a manageable withdrawal journey whether you choose to begin that journey very soon, or months or years from now.

Now, pause for a moment to reconnect with your reasons for wanting to come off your medications. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and let them sink deeply into you. As you move into Step 4, visualize these reasons as a beacon standing tall ahead of you—its light bright and strong through the fog of the unknown.

woman looking out over sunset


gray dividing line
Image of the compass courtesy of Caroline Press and Flickr Creative Commons/The background of the image has been added.