Does spirituality prevent or cure mental illness?

I have been spiritual since I was fourteen, so almost half of my life. Praying, meditating, visiting the temple, reading scriptures alone and with friends all made up a significant part of my life. Slowly and steadily, spirituality went on the back burner starting almost three years ago. I completely stopped spiritual things about six months ago. I did not find the time for spirituality. I want to get back to spiritual activities but at the back of my mind I really wonder if it is worth it.

I have had depression on and off since I was fifteen or sixteen. I had my first major anxiety attack a little over a year ago. I have had two more since then and countless bouts of anxiety and depression over the past decade. Despite reading so much about self-control, hope, selflessness, perseverance, generosity, humility, surrendering to a god and all such ‘positive’ ideologies I find myself empty. I feel like God or whatever you want to call it has abandoned me, if such a being even exists.

I made the choices I did because they seemed right at the time. I see people around me who are not that much smarter and not nearly as hard-working living more comfortable, peaceful lives.

I am almost 28. I am poor, work 60 hours a week, still in school, making less than minimum wage hourly, my graduation is not in sight, I am judged almost on a daily basis, I have a sore back and neck, I don’t have publications to my name yet, my project is not giving concrete results, the job market sucks, the lab I am working in does not have any money left, I have to teach part-time to support myself but face getting fired from that, my wife still has thousands of dollars in debt and she doesn’t make much more than me, I have few friends and almost no social life.

Just reading that last paragraph is humiliating. This is not where I pictured myself when I was fourteen, the year that I decided to embark upon spirituality. I wanted a steady, decent paying job with a nice group of friends. And a fancy car. OK, I don’t really care about the car anymore. But is a steady, decent paying job with a loyal friend circle too much to ask? By the time I turned 30, I wanted a family of my own and a place that I could call my home that I owned. Those are also distant dreams.

Perhaps I was never really spiritual at all. Perhaps I had these desires and each one was never granted to me. No job, no family, no house, no friends and no peace of mind. I am living just like a monk. But the monk does supposedly have the peace of mind part. In fact, I have considered becoming a monk, but apparently that is a taboo desire. The odd thing is society is OK with anyone who lives like a monk, but not with someone who is a monk! It’s a crazy world… Go to hell, world.


Battles with anxiety and depression

I appreciate you for taking time to read my post. I don’t know why I am writing about myself and my inner struggles. Perhaps it is because I know you at some level. By knowing you I don’t mean that I know your name and identity, but that I can relate to you as a conscious person who experiences the same reality as I do. I feel like you can help me by doing me the small favor of just listening. And, if you are so kind, maybe you can do me the small favor of empathizing also. That is really what I want.

I am a male Ph.D. student. Well, I am first and foremost a fellow human with the same basic requirements and perhaps even ambitions as you. Secondarily, I am a male Ph.D. student. I suffer from having a higher level of anxiety than an average person does. I have very recently starting see a counselor for it. I have only been to one session. It helped de-stress me temporarily. But it is clearly not enough.

I am constantly worried. Thoughts about the future, the present and sometimes even the past haunt me. Every time I am under a lot of stress, I curl up like a ball. My stomach feels like it is burning and it starts to contract. My ears get red, my body feels like it is on fire, I feel choked. I start to sweat. These are the symptoms I have to live with.

Today, my anxiety was exacerbated by an incident that has just made me depressed. I haven’t been this depressed in a while – three years and four months to be precise.

I have had many firsts today.

For the first time in my life, I am starting to wonder whether I made the right choices. I don’t want to admit that I made the wrong choice because my friends and family warned me. They would be happy to know I was wrong and they were right. I don’t want to give them that satisfaction. So I continue to tell myself that I made the right choices.

Also for the first time in my life, I feel trapped. I want to hide, but the world is staring straight at me. It wants me to act and act quickly. I can’t do that. I am paralyzed with fear, resentment, anger and despondency.

Finally, for the first time in my life I hate myself. I have never hated myself. I have felt victimized, but have never hated myself. I want myself to be re-born, kind of. I want to die figuratively and be re-born. I want a new life, new friends, new job… but more importantly I want peace of mind. Apparently, that is too much to ask.

Am I the only one out there who feels this way?