Namaste readers, I'm not sure what inspired me to do so tonight, but I recently looked up what Hindu perspectives on mental illness were. The things I found were...interesting, though I'm not sure what to make of them.
For instance, I looked in an article in the very issue of Hinduism Today that I got published in, one that deals with Hindu perspectives on modern medicine. When I got to the section on mental health, I came across this passage which I found a little shocking:
"Many Hindus attach a stigma to mental illness and cognitive dysfunction. Many have a strong belief in the concept of the evil eye and may believe this to be a cause of mental illness."
To be honest, I'm not sure how true this is, at least in my case. Maybe my experience has been different because I've used my faith in Hinduism to try to combat my mental illness. If mental illness is indeed stigmatized in Hindu society, my guess is that it's more indicative of humanity's universal stigmatization of "different" individuals than as a result of Hindu religious doctrine. After all, even in Christianity it took a long time for churches, Catholic and Protestant alike, to recognize psychiatry and psychology as legitimate medical disciplines.
It is thanks to Hinduism that I've made strides in treating my own mental health, thanks to many factors such as the concept of dharma, the notion of replacing divine punishment with the math of karma, and of course my real life Hindu friends. But I still have a long ways to go, especially when it comes to those moments when I sink into an emotional abyss. There are times when I want to say to people "I can't get over it" in reference to my mental illness, but I've realized that it's not a matter of "curing" myself - it's a matter of accepting myself.
Perhaps that is why I feel so attracted to the Gods Ganesha and Saraswati...I need to know myself to accept myself. Sometimes, though, my mind works in ways I cannot fathom. It's times like this I wish Lord Ganesha and/or Goddess Saraswati would control my mind. I don't want to surrender my free will, mind you, but rather have them eliminate my mental flaws for me.
I don't know how to fight my inner demons effectively...which is why I pray for them to fight them for me. I have faith that they will succeed...