Before you stop taking your meds, read this

Lately, I’ve been uncomfortably calm. I felt like my emotions have been blunted, but really they’ve been softened. My experience of this world isn’t one of chaos and extreme highs and lows at the moment.

I’ve been thinking about how my medications may be attributing to this and if it would be right to go cold turkey on them just to experience more of the highs and excitement I felt when I was off of my medications.

I made this list to see why I don’t feel like myself and to navigate this stigma I have with my psychiatric meds.

Thought: I don’t feel like myself

Evidence for:

  • Your emotional intensity isn’t as strong
  • You’re not as excited

Evidence against:

  • Feeling is not the same as being
  • You’re doing things that are more aligned to your values rather than as a response to your mental health needs
  • You’re more futuristic and critical
  • You want more for yourself, not just stability
  • People are relying on you more, something that wasn’t possible when you were unsteady
  • You’re communicating more effectively
  • Your life is bigger than just your mental health lately
  • Your challenges don’t all circulate around your diagnosis anymore
  • You’re doing more than coping, you’re thriving

And in making this list, a few questions came to mind:

  1. If meds brought you stability, why do you think removing them will still maintain your stability if it also triggers mania and the downfall of mania?
  2. Why don’t you think you/this is enough for yourself?
  3. What can you do now that you couldn’t before you were stable?
  4. What do you miss about instability?
  5. Do those things contribute to a meaningful life?
  6. Are you willing to risk the consistency of good things just to experience a fleetful feeling?
  7. What relationship do you have to your medications?
  8. If there wasn’t COVID, would you still be contemplating this/would you be doing more stimulating things?
  9. Why now? Why was taking your medications not a problem up until now?
  10. What is your relationship to your mental health? What boundaries do you need to set, even when it comes to your meds?
  11. Where do you have more growing to do?
  12. What do these medications make possible for you and what do they make more difficult?
  13. Is there a middle ground?
  14. Are you making an emotionally driven decision or an informed decision with your long-term best interest in mind?

I obviously don’t have any of the answers to this for you individually, but what I’ve realized for myself is that there is an amazing list of things I’ve been able to experience because of the stability meds have helped bring. I may not be as excited as I thought I’d be, but I think that comes from a place of pre-set expectations on who I would be when I’d become “stable” versus who I am now, as a person experiencing stability. Lived experience is a lot more different than the envisioned ones. No one can perfectly predict the feelings that come with the things you hope your future self would accomplish.

I know the decision to take medications is a very personal and individualistic one, but whatever you choose I hope it is in service towards the life you want for yourself, not just for the feelings or highs you want to experience momentarily.

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