Mental Health in the Hindu Community

Mental Health in the Hindu Community November 8, 2018

The Sri Shiva Vishnu Temple has been putting on some wonderful programs (Like our panel about being a non-Indian Hindu, which I’m still trying to figure out if there is a video of). This week they had a panel about mental health and Hinduism. As a Hindu with clinical depression, I knew I had to be there.

I was a little late and missed the introductions but the panelists seemed to all be mental health professionals and dedicated Hindus. It was a great program.

It started out along the lines I’ve already been thinking, which is that Hinduism puts a very large emphasis on learning to control your mind and your thoughts. The mind is a sheath going over our divinity, as one panelist put it, and it is a tool to help us reach moksha but it also ultimately holds us back from moksha. So any challenges of the mind are illusion.

While all this is true, it does make it difficult to address problems with the mind. There is a fear that if we seek help for mental problems it makes us weak, not strong enough to control our minds.

But really there are so many aspects of Hinduism that can help heal mental problems if we are willing to talk about it. “There is power in the healing branches of Hinduism.” One of the things the panelists discussed was when to seek help from western medicine and when from eastern. One woman made a really great point that you have to be somewhat better in order to really utilize Hinduism’s tools. If you are way out of control then you need to think in terms of a short term strategy and a long term strategy to heal. “Meditation is impossible when you are in the midst of depression and anxiety.” But there are methods that are very effective at raising you to a level where you can utilize the tools of Hinduism.

I’m so glad that she said that because the advice is so often to “just meditate.” But meditation is difficult work and can be very scary too. You need guidance with it and you need to be ready to plumb the depths of your soul. Many things like meditation and yoga are meant for preventative long term practice.

Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

Western medicine might give you a short term boost to get you to the brain space that you need in order to use yoga, meditation, or ayurveda. And in fact, one panelist pointed out that the longer the field of psychology develops, the closer and closer it gets to Eastern medicine. Mindfulness is all the rage in psychology right now!

Neither system is superior, they can work together. And why not take advantage of every resource we’ve got to help the mind? Find the balance that works for you, but you need to be in control of your own treatment. It can be very challenging to figure out what is working and what isn’t because you may be so used to the feelings of depression or anxiety that you don’t know how it feels to be healthy.

One of the challenges in the Hindu community is that therapy in India is more communal than it is here and often the whole family will go together. This has advantages but it can also make it hard for the person struggling with mental illness to be fully open about what is going on. Their parents might feel “What have I done wrong?” Or “What can a therapist give you that you can’t get from turning within to the Self?”

One very sweet woman talked about seeing mental illness in the folklore. There are so many stories of wrestling with the mind, though mental health language isn’t used. She said that she appreciates the epics and all they have to teach us, but if she were there she would want to talk to Yudhisthira about his compulsive gambling and take Duryodhana aside to talk about his insecurities. People might get offended by that, she said, but they should think about why. Why would it bother you to put these labels on the great men of history? It is not something that’s wrong or broken–It is the human condition.

And in the scriptures there are gurus and holy men everywhere. People in the stories have help to battle their minds. Perhaps that is what we get from therapists in modern times.

There was also mention of some issues that are unique to immigrant families. For example a second generation Hindu struggling with mental health might feel guilt that they are struggling when their immigrant parents had to go through things that seem much tougher. And mental health issues are not just affecting the young. there’s a lot of loneliness in older people. Especially grandparents who have been brought to the U.S. to be with their families but are in a new and very different environment and loosing a lot of their independence.

At the end they mentioned some resources such as community day centers where grandparents can go to get a taste of home and celebrate festivals and cultural events, a website where people can share their stories, “Chai” pro bono counseling project, and that you can search on Psychology Today’s website for a therapist. Rather than searching for “Hindu”, the panelist recommended searching for “Hindi.” People are more likely to put the languages they speak on the database than their religion.

I’m so glad that I went. It feels validating in a way to hear the advice that we can take a holistic approach to our mental health and use the tools of both western and eastern medicine.

 

 

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  • Sambuddha Ghosh

    You certainly have mental issues, but it’s worse than plain depression and anxiety.

    It seems Ambaa Choate who acts as the supply side on a dearth of “Hindu” blogs here at Patheos has an alter ego “Ruth Madison” [1], who does the same thing for fetish erotica for disability paraphilia.

    But why would Ambaa write “Stewart and Leah: Home for Christmas”? Because she has “Disability Devoteeism” [2]. She’s a “Dev”.

    In other words, she has a sexual fetish for handicapped people and *she knows that she is a pervert*. (“It sounds sick and wrong.”, [2])

    But, like all irresponsible and cowardly anti-socials, instead of coming clean about her mental disorder, she starts blaming society for her mental disorders. (“The problem is not with the attraction, the problem is with the view that society has”, [2])

    Perhaps, she’s taking revenge upon society because she has always been called “a creep” by those around her. And why not? According to her own admission, she was sexually attracted to handicapped people “from at least four years old”. [3]

    And now, she’s projecting her sexual deviancy on Arjuna.

    [1]: https://web.archive.org/web/20181110144905/http://www.ruthmadison.com/about-romance-author-ruth-madison/
    [2]: https://web.archive.org/web/20181110145247/http://www.ruthmadison.com/devoteeism/
    [3]: https://web.archive.org/web/20181110152759/http://www.ruthmadison.com/always-called-creep/

    • MANOJ KUMAR

      Perhaps she too is just like East India Company, who entered Bharat as Traders but soon became a Cancer Disease for Bharat
      She never talks facts on Christianity, Jesuitist Terrorists, Catholic Terrorists

      • Ambaa

        Do I not? I’m pretty hard on Christians. I passionately hate evangelical Christianity. I’m not someone who wandered into Hinduism and bends it to my desires. I was raised with Hindu philosophy.

        • MANOJ KUMAR

          I am following your posts since many months. And I do appreciate your efforts to encourage HIndus / Hinduism. I appreciate your Feeling for Hinduism.

          Now Pls consider the Psychology of Hindus who have been Constantly Attacked by Christian/Islamic Looters since centuries. Hence you can understand that its very obvious that Hindus will DOUBT any Non Bharatiy Human who shows Her/His Love for Hindus/Hinduism, because Chritstians first entered Bharat pretending as some Traders, but later Proved to be a Cancerous for Hindus.

          If you really are Hindu, and Love Hinduism, then you should Admire the Current Cautious Approach of Hindus in Bharat for Safeguarding Hinduism n Bharat. I believe No True Hindu would get Hurt by this Cautious Approach. I think you should also Educate Hindus to be Careful & Cautious towards Possible Fraud Strategies that might be applied by Western Jesuitist Terrorists, and on how Hindus can work to save guard their Motherland and Hinduism.

          Hari Om

        • Ghosh

          ***I passionately hate evangelical Christianity***

          Yes. For wishing hell upon the Brown immigrants instead of convincing them to vote for the Democratic party,

          I, in contrast, laugh at the Christians’ claim to knowing “The Truth” when they couldn’t even tell who impregnated their mother before their conception.

          “I was raised with Hindu philosophy.”

          I disagree. “God” is not inside me.

          “God” created the world 6000 years ago, right AFTER the last Ice Age.
          Also, he was so tired that he rested after the 6 days of creation. He was SO out of shape!
          Also, he kept a magical tree in a garden so that a talking snake could convince Eve to eat the fruit of that tree.

          All this is supposed to be “empirically historically true”. Hence, the “One True Religion”!

          This silly “God” is not inside me! I assure you.

  • Ambaa

    I’m having some trouble with my commenting system at the moment. I need to write to patheos and figure out what’s going on. But I want to say that the comment that was here (maybe is still here?) is factually accurate. I have no problem with my attractions and love life and I don’t think those take away at all from my ability to ponder philosophy and be the best Hindu that I can.

    Depression is a mental illness that I struggle with. Being attracted to people who have physical disabilities is not a mental illness and is not a sickness of any kind. It was hard for me to accept when I was young but I’m now at a place of total peace with it. I’ve had wonderful relationships with disabled men and I’m now married to an able-bodied man, though I continue to work in disability rights advocacy. I enjoy writing romance novels. If someone thinks that makes me less of a Hindu, they are free to think that.

    I’m startled that anyone would think of me as “taking revenge.” What have I done that is negative that looks like revenge? I strive always to be a better and kinder person each day than the day before. You all have seen my posts over the last ten years and so I think the kind of person I am is pretty clear.

    I’m certainly not “projecting sexual deviancy on Arjuna” since the part about the issues that people in the Mahabharata may have is directly quoting one of the panelists and did not at all come from my own thoughts.

    • Sambuddha Ghosh

      ***I’m having some trouble with my commenting system at the moment.***
      From my commenting history, and responses to thereof, I believe you do. And, nobody can help you.

      ***I need to write to patheos and figure out what’s going on.***
      Please ban me. I am sure Patheos can make Disqus ban a commenter.

      ***But I want to say that the comment that was here (maybe is still here?) is factually accurate.***
      I don’t delete my comments. May be you do. Hence, the assumption “(maybe is still here?)”

      ***I have no problem with my attractions and love life and I don’t think those take away at all from my ability to ponder philosophy and be the best Hindu that I can.***
      Yes. Eastern philosophy gives you the right to be half-man half-woman (ardhanarishvara). It also gives me the right to cut your head off and replace it with an elephant’s head. That’s how Ganesh was born, isn’t it?

      ***Depression is a mental illness that I struggle with***
      More than that actually, you suffer from a disease that makes you try to reform the world according to your image. Our problem starts there.

      ***Being attracted to people who have physical disabilities is not a mental illness and is not a sickness of any kind.***
      You yourself said that it’s “sick and wrong”. Why the change?

      ***It was hard for me to accept when I was young but I’m now at a place of total peace with it.***
      You ought to be. Now that you have found Eastern philosophy, everything is permitted. Eastern philosophy helps the hipsters. I know….

      ***I’ve had wonderful relationships with disabled men and I’m now married to an able-bodied man, though I continue to work in disability rights advocacy.***
      Did you have babies with disabled men? Or maybe writing erotica is good enough but babies isn’t good….. maybe it’s the bad genes.

      Or maybe women shouldn’t do anything for men? [1]

      Or maybe you just wanted good genes and some person to pleasure you? [2] I agree, that Eastern philosophy, with a Western twist, may provide that too.

      ***I enjoy writing romance novels. If someone thinks that makes me less of a Hindu, they are free to think that.***
      Nope. you were never Hindu. Writing paraphilia erotica makes you a perv. This is not to say that Hindus can’t be pervs. But then you were never Hindu. You don’t have the necessary “family drama” and the (cultural?) “baggage”. [3]

      ***I’m startled that anyone would think of me as “taking revenge.” What have I done that is negative that looks like revenge?***
      For calling you “a creep” for being a perv at age 4.

      ***You all have seen my posts over the last ten years and so I think the kind of person I am is pretty clear.***
      Yes. You are a missionary for the Democratic Party as you’ve confessed earlier. You are interested in securing votes for the Democrats even when Democratic supporters are responsible for majority of Hindu unnatural deaths in the US.

      ***I’m certainly not “projecting sexual deviancy on Arjuna” since the part about the issues that people in the Mahabharata may have is directly quoting one of the panelists and did not at all come from my own thoughts.***

      Good grief! Most of these NRIs are hopelessly Americanised/de-Hinduised.

      [1]. https://www.patheos.com/blogs/whitehindu/2018/10/karwa-chauth-for-nursing-mothers/

      [2]. https://www.quora.com/I-dont-believe-that-all-our-behavior-and-attraction-to-someone-is-linked-or-explained-by-evolution-Can-you-guys-voice-your-honest-opinions-and-tell-me-why-you-agree-or-disagree/answer/Carolyn-Ambaa-Choate

      [3]. https://www.patheos.com/blogs/whitehindu/2017/05/disadvantage-born-hindu/

      • Ambaa

        For some reason your comments are not showing up on Google Chrome and I also can’t comment on Google Chrome. But it’s all here on Internet Explorer. Weird.
        Anyway, as I think I said I used to fear that my attractions were “sick and wrong.” I have grown and learned since then. I haven’t believed that in twenty years or so. Ideally we do grow and learn and reassess. So no I do not still believe all the same things I thought when I was 18.
        I don’t think you’re understanding my question about this taking revenge thing. For me to be taking revenge I would have to be doing something negative. I’m not sure what you think I’m doing that is so negative.
        Apparently you think I’m a pervert and that’s fine, you can think that. I know that I’m not and the disabled men in my life know that I’m not. Apparently you think that I can’t be a Hindu because I’m not Indian. That’s fine. I disagree but luckily you have no control over whether I am or am not a Hindu.
        Yes I’m a Democrat and a liberal. From my perspective the Republican party has been the worst to Hindus in America. Conservatives are mostly evangelical Christians who think Hinduism is a “demonic” religion, who are racist, and hate immigrants. Liberals in my experience are interested in helping people, having compassion, and making the world a more fair place. If you would be so kind as to use your research to show me how Democratic supporters are responsible for Hindu deaths I would really appreciate that.
        It’s interesting that you put footnotes into your comments. I’m impressed that you are putting so much effort and energy into your arguments against me.
        I have no agenda beyond striving to be the best human and the best Hindu I can be, whether you believe that or not.

        • Ghosh

          “Anyway, as I think I said I used to fear that my attractions were “sick and wrong.” I have grown and learned since then. I haven’t believed that in twenty years or so. Ideally we do grow and learn and reassess. So no I do not still believe all the same things I thought when I was 18.”

          Sure you do. That is the thing I am pointing out. And, you need some kind of text with “religion” written on it by the Western “academia” to let you continue to be so.

          ***I don’t think you’re understanding my question about this taking revenge thing. For me to be taking revenge I would have to be doing something negative. I’m not sure what you think I’m doing that is so negative.***

          The negative thing is projecting your sexual fantasies on to society as a social failure. Hence, anti-social.

          ***Apparently you think I’m a pervert and that’s fine, you can think that.***

          You yourself think of yourself as a perv. Eastern philosophy is just a feel good factor.

          *** I know that I’m not and the disabled men in my life know that I’m not.***

          Are you cuckolding your hubby??? Does Eastern philosophy allow that too?

          ***Apparently you think that I can’t be a Hindu because I’m not Indian.***

          Most Hindus do not think of ourselves as Hindus unless we are talking explicitly about Muslims, Christians et. al. Otherwise we simply think of ourselves as Indians.

          Hindus are too diverse for a religious definition,

          You will never understand the pagan Indian ethos……

          ***That’s fine. I disagree but luckily you have no control over whether I am or am not a Hindu. ***

          You are not a daughter of Emperor Bharata or Emperor Vikramaditya.

          Think of yourself as anything you want.

          ***Yes I’m a Democrat and a liberal***

          No. You are what we call a vote bank milker.

          .***From my perspective the Republican party has been the worst to Hindus in America. Conservatives are mostly evangelical Christians who think Hinduism is a “demonic” religion, who are racist, and hate immigrants.***

          Please! Must I report the name of that Hindu technologist who was beaten to death in front of his wife and child, for fun, by Democrats?
          Must I report the name of that Hindu 7/11 owner shot dead during bank robbery by Democrats?
          Must I report the name of that Hindu entrepreneur pushed in front of a moving train by Democrats?

          Must I muster all these names so that the White Liberal can come up with more excuses for voting Democrats and supporting public demonstrations of BDSM porn?

          ***Liberals in my experience are interested in helping people, having compassion, and making the world a more fair place. If you would be so kind as to use your research to show me how Democratic supporters are responsible for Hindu deaths I would really appreciate that. ***

          Liberals are interested to precipitate “Kingdom of God” or “Dictatorship of the Proletariat” or whatever that has since taken the place of paradise in the eschatology of your religion of Liberalism.
          And, White Liberal “Hindus” are not an exception.

          ***It’s interesting that you put footnotes into your comments. I’m impressed that you are putting so much effort and energy into your arguments against me. ***

          Effect of the apostolic succession known as the “Western Academia”. Not footnoting is apostasy.

          ***I have no agenda beyond striving to be the best human and the best Hindu I can be, whether you believe that or not.***

          When did Hindu come to mean a pornographer and excuse searcher?

          Hindu simply means a pagan Indian.

          That is the original definition, and this definition is still preserved in law. See Hindu Marriage Act 1955

          • Ambaa

            I wish I had that kind of power to effect voting.

            So apparently as revenge against society I 1) report on an interesting talk put on by the local Hindu temple 2) Strive to better serve people every day 3) Self-reflect.

            Quite a monster, clearly.

          • Ghosh

            ***I wish I had that kind of power to effect voting.***
            You do. The colour of your skin says so.
            We know these NRIs.

            ***report on an interesting talk put on by the local Hindu temple***
            Do you know why they are mentally screwed?…… By being around your kind.

            ***Strive to better serve people every day***
            Serve yourself. And, stay away from us.

            ***Self-reflect***
            That’s our biggest worry.

            ***Quite a monster, clearly.***
            We have a saying… The monster that looks like a monster isn’t too bad, but the monster who looks like an angel angel is a monster indeed.

  • MANOJ KUMAR

    Western Medical System is no way less dangerous than ISIS, BOKO HARAM , Al -Qaida, Lashkar-e-Taiyaba…………
    bcz they work in a pattern of Organised Mafia Gangs.