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Mentally ill sufferers cannot find a “cure” in Buddhism

My wife reading in bed. And it wasn't because ...
My wife reading in bed. And it wasn’t because she was trying to get to sleep. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Buddhism
Buddhism (Photo credit: shapour bahrami)
English: Image for mental health stubs, uses t...
English: Image for mental health stubs, uses two psych images – psychiatry (medicine) and psychology (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Trazodone
Trazodone (Photo credit: Divine Harvester)
Rethink Mental Illness
Rethink Mental Illness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mind training is certainly beneficial but if the person cannot make their own effort outside the temple or retreat place it cannot be beneficial. Too many times in the USA people turn to Buddhist centers or temples for “cures” for their very serious mental health problems and go away devastated when they cannot benefit outside after the retreat or service. 

The truth is that the mental illness must be addressed first, for many that means medicine. The psychiatric world in the United States has in the past met the needs of the mentally ill with therapy and behavioral therapy. But alas, the person’s insurances will only pay for 10 sessions a year or for the lifetime. That along with medicines has proven stability. Because of the insurance company policies it forced a change so that now, psychiatrists only rely on medicine not therapy. 

The second problem is the choice entirely of the mentally unwell. They often stop therapy first not because of insurance but because they want to slip “out of it”. They are addicted to the state of being unwell. They stop progressing deliberately. And because in most cases by our rights for health choices are protected by law parents, spouses, and friends cannot force them to continue the beneficial treatment. This happens in every case I have seen personally. The person makes a deliberate choice to return to the unwell state and refuses to go to therapy or in many cases take medicines. So they slide down into chaos and they love it. It’s true and seems unbelievable. 

I am a twin of a sister who has history of depression (she hid it until we were forced to deal with her breaks from reality in psychotic episodes requiring hospitalizations for month at least 3 to 6 times a year) and repeated suicides (3 big life threatening attempts a year), now she is in a nursing home – she attempted suicide and had a stroke that left her paralyzed on the left side of her body due to overdose of Trazodone.   http://www.livestrong.com/article/83762-side-effects-trazodone-overdose/  My twin sister is the one on your left in the coat and white sneakers sshe had been through 3 years of psychotic breaks and repeated hospitalizations at that point the stroke happens later in 2007.

She was a prescription abuser a former nurse who knew exactly how to work the system to her benefit. She would be hospitalized doing really great, then get released and continue therapy for 1 week or 2 weeks and stop and slide downward so fast it was scary. No reasoning, no pleading, no rescuing, no logic to it, just her choice to slide down.

I am a bhikshuni, it took me years to get what was going on with her, because I was her twin and I was easy to fool because I was used to her behavior. I was always copying her in world outlook and caused myself unnecessary grief when I reasoned the same way due to the fact I didn’t know her history. I tell you, something you must not apply as cure like our Buddhist training. It’s for our each and every one of us to use to relieve our suffering and correct our own thinking is gradual process, not a therapy. I had to figure my sister out myself… parents hid her problems from me. I had to unlearn unheathly thinking. It took me quite awhile and now I am very happy to be me without all that learned unhealthy thinking. Because I had my truths: I am happy always, I see the world as positive place, I see others as my support, I see me as worthy, I see my faults and know I can correct them, my goals are changing and support my life satisfaction

I do not suffer from depression or mental illness when my sister started having breaks with reality, I ran to the doctor for evaluation and worry about myself becoming unwell and raising my daughter. I was reassured by the doctor and received counseling to get over my stress, because I had to rescue her many times and was a single mom with a 4 year old newly separated from my husband and hurting from that myself. They said I was handling myself beautifully. I would wait until the house was quiet and cry from the stress (they said I needed that and not to repress it). Almost every night. Until time took care of me. I got over it because I had moved on.

 

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Author:

I am a Bhikshuni ordained in Mahayana Chinese Buddhist tradition. I'm currently translating Vinaya sutras from the Chinese Mahayana Tripitaka.

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