Something I don't see discussed much in Sikh circles is mental health. Part of me wonders if there is some stigma attached to it in the community. I'm a open book and have no problems sharing my personal experiences, particularly if they help someone else. So here goes: Personal Story I remember when I was about six years old and at the mall with my mum. Six year old me became suddenly aware of this feeling like I'd forgotten something, or lost something, at the mall. I checked my little purse - my few coins where still in there. I gazed around the mall trying to figure out what what wrong, but couldn't pin it down. When I was eight, I developed obsessive compulsive disorder. Over the next 12 or 13 years I went through a few obsessive stages; the first was a fear of death or contamination from herbicide, pesticide, or anything from a container that said "poison" on the side; the next was obsessing over superstitions I learned from my mother, but my problem was that if I didn't act on the compulsion, I feared my mum would die, or other harm would befall the family; the next was making sure the car was locked, the taps weren't dripping, the light switches were properly turned off and the sliding doors properly closed. As I've stated in other threads, Sikhi helped me to let go of this OCD preoccupation by replacing my fear with acceptance of whatever comes. I was able to stop worrying and trust that everthing would happen as it would in accordance with hukam. However, my patterns of worry and anxiety about life persisted. I was 22 and had chronically high blood pressure (210/100 was my highest reading). I had bouts of hyperventilation syndrome. Somehow I only managed to get away with two panic attacks, not more. My husband would suggest regularly that I see someone about my anxiety, get some help, talk to someone. I did see a couple of psychologists, but it didn't really help. In 2014, when I'd turned 30, everything in my life was upside-down and inside-out. I had lost my love for Sikhi, had left my husband, was living in my parents' spare room, my CEO resigned at work [I was his personal assistant], and the lady I had to work with instead was difficult, as was the work we had to do, and I was starting a new but frightening relationship. My friend observed my state of anxiety and said, "You might want to see someone about it. You might think it's weak to ask about medication, but it's worse to struggle with something when you could get help for it." So I finally went to a doctor, explained my history, and was given a medication for it. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. We started at the lowest dose, which is actually enough for me. When it started working, I found myself far more confident and able to face issues head-on instead of running away from them. I did not feel overwhelmed by the world anymore, and the raging storm in my mind subsided. I could catch my breath. I was also given sessions with a psychologist dedicated to helping people with anxiety. And she's given me some very useful advice. So, my advice to others who might be struggling is that there is help available, go and see your doctor. It doesn't mean it will change you as a person and make you a zombie. It doesn't mean you are weak. It can give your body and mind time to recover from the stress you've been under for so long, and help you to re-train your mind to a new state of normal operations. Anxiety Technique DISCLAIMER: What I write are my own experiences. I don't have any qualifications in psychology, and whatever is written here is NOT a substitute for professional advice. The most useful thing my shrink told me was that the brain struggles to do more than one thing at a time. It can't worry and be focused on something else simultaneously. And it is easily distracted by the body. So, when I get into a fluster, I grip my wrist and focus on reassuring myself, taking breaths, and focusing on the moment by looking at physical objects in front of me. I've known about mindfulness for a long time, but the missing element for me was incorporating the physical. I once asked on this forum if there are any Gurbani shabads that deal with anxiety directly. The answer was, basically, no. But I think that for me, personally, the mantra wouldn't be enough. The physical needs to be included. So, I'm going to combine the physical, the mental and the spiritual by making myself an anxiety *gasp* mala/rosary/fidget. A great article on malas from the Sikh perspective is here at Sikhchic. My next blog entry in this thread will be of my work and further thoughts on the subject. Peace out Waheguru!