Mental illness and buddhism

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.
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oncereturner
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Mental illness and buddhism

Post by oncereturner » Fri Jun 30, 2017 6:13 pm

There are several people who are mentally ill, like me. We still want to live a better life.
The most disturbing is my obsessive-compulsory disorder. This means I have compulsory thoughts, which I can hardly control.
This makes meditation harder. I easily cling to people, thoughts, dreams, craving for decades.
For instance, I talk to someone, then I repeat this discussion a hundred times, in a self-monologue.
I also have severe depression, and general anxiety. I neglect my tasks.
Another problem is my social phobia, I find it very hard to meet and talk to others.
My doctor is a sedative vending machine, pill brings relief, but it is a highly potent drug, very addictive.

If I dont't take any medicines or poisons, I lay in my bed all day, I can't even move.
I learned that spiritual ways and meditation can help.

Any opinion is welcome. :)
"And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech."

— SN 45.8

befriend
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Re: Mental illness and buddhism

Post by befriend » Fri Jun 30, 2017 7:38 pm

For social phobia you should read something that you can talk about time magazine and USA today are good. For ocd read the book brain lock and practice the 4 steps in it to diminish symptoms. Practice the Rahula sutta where Buddha tells his son how to know wether an action will cause happiness or affliction. Sometimes intense meditation is not good for mentally ill so I start slow and do positive affirmations like my human nature is loving and joyful or make positive statements in the present tense like I am good enough I'm smart enough and gosh darn it people like me this is from a tv show but it's actually a good affirmation. The metta sutta is a gentler way to cultivate friendly feelings. I have been practicing Buddhism for 11 years and I am much healthier in mind and spirit because over time a long time you will slowly chip away at your symptoms a metaphor is if you eat artificial fatty foods you will become sick and unhealthy if you eat fruits and vegetables and good food you will be healthy likewise if you do good you will become healthy in mind and heart.
Take care of mindfulness and mindfulness will take care of you.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Mental illness and buddhism

Post by Sam Vara » Fri Jun 30, 2017 7:58 pm

Hi, oncereturner.

I don't know very much about mental illness, so my opinions on what you posted probably won't be all that helpful. But I couldn't help noticing this bit:
I have compulsory thoughts, which I can hardly control.
This makes meditation harder. I easily cling to people, thoughts, dreams, craving for decades.
For instance, I talk to someone, then I repeat this discussion a hundred times, in a self-monologue.
I think most people have trouble controlling their thoughts, and most people find meditation difficult. I was reminded of this talk by Ajahn Sucitto, in which he describes his first meditation experiences:
I couldn’t have followed more than a breath or two before my mind was wandering. In fact it was careening on a wave of speculations, memories, and analyses. Every now and then I would steer my attention back to the breath sensations, and be able to maintain that for a few seconds before a fresh tide of thoughts came washing in. This is pretty much the standard beginner’s meditation. Nevertheless, what struck me deeply was that here I was witnessing my mind. And that was strangely peaceful, even reassuring: somehow I didn’t have to make anything out of my thoughts, or even out of my mind. It was just something happening. Moreover, if I was witnessing my mind, who was I, and whose mind was this?
Of course, it's not my mind. I think I am "in control of my thoughts", but really they are not mine. They just arise and pass away due to conditions which are beyond my control. What I think of as "my thoughts" are really just ideas I have heard and which I cling to.

This is not to belittle your condition - it sounds awful. You have it harder than me. All I can suggest is that you look for whatever insights into impermanence, suffering, and non-self that your condition might give rise to. And remember that you have the potential to be an inspiration for others, because of the effort you put in despite your condition. Lots of people would have just given up.

I'm sending you my best wishes - I hope all goes well for you.

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Lazy_eye
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Re: Mental illness and buddhism

Post by Lazy_eye » Sat Jul 01, 2017 12:45 am

oncereturner wrote:There are several people who are mentally ill, like me. We still want to live a better life.
The most disturbing is my obsessive-compulsory disorder. This means I have compulsory thoughts, which I can hardly control.
This makes meditation harder. I easily cling to people, thoughts, dreams, craving for decades.
For instance, I talk to someone, then I repeat this discussion a hundred times, in a self-monologue.
I also have severe depression, and general anxiety. I neglect my tasks.
Another problem is my social phobia, I find it very hard to meet and talk to others.
My doctor is a sedative vending machine, pill brings relief, but it is a highly potent drug, very addictive.

If I dont't take any medicines or poisons, I lay in my bed all day, I can't even move.
I learned that spiritual ways and meditation can help.

Any opinion is welcome. :)
Hi, Oncereturner,
In my early 30s, I suffered from debilitating anxiety and was diagnosed with a mixture of OCD, ADD, and depression, with OCD being the primary disorder and the other two sort of coming along for the ride. The counseling center that I attended offered meditation as part of its program of therapy. In my case, it helped a great deal. It helped specifically because, in this kind of meditation, we were taught to not hold onto our thoughts but rather to watch them come and go. After some weeks of this practice, I began to attach less importance to them, and their power over me began to ease.

It's very hard to generalize about whether Buddhism and meditation are helpful to people suffering from various kinds of mental disorder. In my case, though, it was a major factor in my recovery. The crucial change happened as I learned how to let the thoughts go, no matter how alarming they seemed, and not get sucked into them. OCD, in my experience, is a little like a very persistent and clever internet troll, always there with a surefire way to get you worked up. The meditation practice helped teach me not to feed the "troll," and even to smile at it when it appeared. In fact, an exercise that I sometimes did was to purposely summon my anxiety-inducing thoughts -- being able to bring them forth and then detach from them was therapeutic.

Again, hard to generalize. I offer this simply because, when I was suffering from these disorders, it was helpful to me to hear about other's experiences and what did or did not work for them. I wish you all the best!

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Aloka
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Re: Mental illness and buddhism

Post by Aloka » Sat Jul 01, 2017 9:08 am

oncereturner wrote:Any opinion is welcome
I know of three (non-internet) people who are taking prescription drugs from their doctor for mental illness. Its made a huge difference to them and they are now able to go to work again, function normally etc.

Please don't stop taking your medication unless your doctor tells you to do so. I have also been involved long- term with two Buddhist groups both Mahayana/Vajrayana and Theravada and have never heard any Buddhist teacher saying otherwise.

Wishing you all the very best,

Aloka :anjali:

befriend
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Re: Mental illness and buddhism

Post by befriend » Sat Jul 01, 2017 9:27 pm

thich nhat hanh doesn't permit people with mental illness to ordain in his sangha because they aren't able to meditate intensively. Why not take medicine and have kind thoughts speech and actions. If I wasn't on medicine I'd be a typical homeless or group home wasted life. Do you realize the mentally ill were put into institutions before Psych meds were created. Thanks to psych meds I have a productive helpful peaceful sane life.
Take care of mindfulness and mindfulness will take care of you.

R1111 = rightviewftw
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Re: Mental illness and buddhism

Post by R1111 = rightviewftw » Sat Jul 01, 2017 9:30 pm

befriend wrote:thich nhat hanh doesn't permit people with mental illness to ordain in his sangha because they aren't able to meditate intensively. Why not take medicine and have kind thoughts speech and actions. If I wasn't on medicine I'd be a typical homeless or group home wasted life. Do you realize the mentally ill were put into institutions before Psych meds were created. Thanks to psych meds I have a productive helpful peaceful sane life.
Or maybe you could attain Enlightenment... My point is that unless you have tried all there is to try to solve the underlying issue one should not just settle for treating symptoms.
Last edited by R1111 = rightviewftw on Sat Jul 01, 2017 9:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

befriend
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Re: Mental illness and buddhism

Post by befriend » Sat Jul 01, 2017 9:31 pm

whats your personal experience with mental illness and how to go about improving the quality of your life?
Take care of mindfulness and mindfulness will take care of you.

befriend
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Re: Mental illness and buddhism

Post by befriend » Sat Jul 01, 2017 9:35 pm

I'm supposed to attain enlightenment when I'm in a psychiatric hospital as I slip into a schizophrenic nightmare because Buddha doesn't mention Thorazine in the suttas?
Take care of mindfulness and mindfulness will take care of you.

R1111 = rightviewftw
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Re: Mental illness and buddhism

Post by R1111 = rightviewftw » Sat Jul 01, 2017 9:39 pm

befriend wrote:whats your personal experience with mental illness and how to go about improving the quality of your life?
Well ive had two major depression episodes, severe OCD, drug addiction, addiction in general, anxiety ofc. I've tried most recreational drugs, ive done samatha, ive done yoga, ive gotten fit, ive gotten shredded, ive fasted and dieted, ive done a lot of Vipassana and eventually i attained Stream Entry with all it entails. If i were to do it again i would go straight for Vipassana and not waste my time with other things, even if i was legit schizophrenic id still try to sort myself out with Satipatthana Meditation.
Last edited by R1111 = rightviewftw on Sat Jul 01, 2017 10:23 pm, edited 3 times in total.

befriend
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Re: Mental illness and buddhism

Post by befriend » Sat Jul 01, 2017 9:39 pm

You can still try to solve the underlying issue and also be taking medicine it's not one or the other.
Take care of mindfulness and mindfulness will take care of you.

R1111 = rightviewftw
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Re: Mental illness and buddhism

Post by R1111 = rightviewftw » Sat Jul 01, 2017 9:43 pm

befriend wrote:You can still try to solve the underlying issue and also be taking medicine it's not one or the other.
In general i agree with this, in practice i think it is more complicated than that because if one was constantly on meds it would be impossible to learn about the state of not being on Meds. So in a safe enviroment id try to go off meds once i knew how to practice. I would expect it to be overwhelming until it is mastered and sorted out. I also know there are meditation teachers who could potentially sign up for this as in overseeing while having meds on standby, but for legal reasons one would have to travel to Asia probably and sign some documents. There is also the issue of finding right practice, all in all it is difficult and i would admire anybody who gave it a try, let alone succeeded. There are cases where people recover from what is seemingly severe Schizophrenia and become more or less normal, so that alone should be proof that there might be a path out of it.

Now i don't pretend to know exactly what it is like to be in and out of mental hospitals and being assailed by hallucinations but i know what it is like not to cope without drugs. If i didn't think that Satipatthana Practice would replace the crutch i would not advice someone go off the meds and practice Satipatthana.
The Blessed One said this: "This is the direct path for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow & lamentation, for the disappearance of pain & distress, for the attainment of the right method, & for the realization of Unbinding — in other words, the four frames of reference.

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BasementBuddhist
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Re: Mental illness and buddhism

Post by BasementBuddhist » Sun Jul 02, 2017 4:46 pm

A crutch is a legitimate tool when something is broken. These people prefer a gradual path. Maybe when they have developed their practice enough they will try going off meds and see the results. Maybe not. Maybe they know what works for them and have found a tool that eases their suffering. :hug: :heart:

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purple1
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Re: Mental illness and buddhism

Post by purple1 » Sun Jul 02, 2017 6:33 pm

oncereturner wrote:There are several people who are mentally ill, like me. We still want to live a better life.
The most disturbing is my obsessive-compulsory disorder. This means I have compulsory thoughts, which I can hardly control.
This makes meditation harder. I easily cling to people, thoughts, dreams, craving for decades.
For instance, I talk to someone, then I repeat this discussion a hundred times, in a self-monologue.
I also have severe depression, and general anxiety. I neglect my tasks.
Another problem is my social phobia, I find it very hard to meet and talk to others.
My doctor is a sedative vending machine, pill brings relief, but it is a highly potent drug, very addictive.

If I dont't take any medicines or poisons, I lay in my bed all day, I can't even move.
I learned that spiritual ways and meditation can help.

Any opinion is welcome. :)
I am sorry for hearing this. I have mentall illnesses too. Anxiety disorder and paranoid schizophrenia. :(

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PuerAzaelis
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Re: Mental illness and buddhism

Post by PuerAzaelis » Sun Jul 02, 2017 7:38 pm

BasementBuddhist wrote:A crutch is a legitimate tool when something is broken.
Bravo 100%. I am on four medications and likely will be so for the rest of my life. It's taken a while but I've come to realize that my self- stigmatization about this is unnecessary. I have a chronic condition, like an allergy or blindness. Such is life. It doesn't define me except in a minimal way.

PS: and btw the medications have helped me immensely.
Generally, enjoyment of speech is the gateway to poor [results]. So it becomes the foundation for generating all negative emotional states. Jampel Pawo, The Certainty of the Diamond Mind

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