In this case study, we share the reason behind Raul’s (not his real name) depression. It was due to having a suspicious nature; which he had because he suffered from a paranoid personality disorder or paranoid (delusional) disorder. The following is an account by him, of his positive life turnaround due to spiritual practice.
2. Life before marriage
Approximately 10 years ago, I was dating a girl whom at that time I felt I loved very much. While we were a couple, I noticed that I began to feel possessive and suspicious towards her. I did not recall having these traits before. However my suspiciousness about her grew to such an extent that I would continuously get doubts about her moral character. Even though she gave me no reason for this, my mind was plagued with thoughts of what she would be doing behind my back. Some of the thoughts included, ‘Which men would she be meeting?’, ‘Was she wearing something provocative?’, ‘Was she having another relationship behind my back?’, ‘Was she faithful to me?’ These negative thoughts would bombard me incessantly and I would imagine the worst case scenarios which would then disturb me further. As we lived in different cities, the physical distance only made matters worse as I felt I could not keep a check on her. I felt helpless about the barrage of negative thoughts which questioned the fidelity and moral character of my partner and saw no way of stemming it.
As a result, when we would talk or meet I would constantly be probing her with questions about her activities and whereabouts. This would lead to frequent arguments that would go on for quite some time. Needless to say, it drained us both and I found myself sliding into a state of depression. The negative vortex of suspiciousness and possessiveness that I was trapped in made me do things I was not proud of. I started spying on her by writing emails to her from false email addresses so as to know more about her true self, trying to gain access to her personal emails, and so on. My life was full of stress and unnecessary thoughts and I spent most of my time in mental anguish over my helpless state. This continued for many years, until one day we broke-up.
Yet even after our breakup, my life did not improve. I started doubting every girl I met; at my workplace or in a social gathering, basically any person of the opposite sex. I lost faith in marriage and thought that every girl must fake her feelings. My suspicious nature grew tremendously and life became extremely miserable.
3. Trying to find solutions to overcoming negative thoughts and my depression
I knew I needed help but was unsure as to how to obtain it. I did not want to visit a psychiatrist as I thought that they would merely try to convince me that not all girls were bad. (It is generally observed that people with a paranoid outlook on life rarely come to the attention of clinicians as it is not in their nature to seek help). One day, I finally opened up to a close friend of mine. My friend was amazed as I poured my heart out about my hopeless predicament. He said that such thoughts would never come to him. He tried to provide me with a few perspectives but none of them penetrated the bubble of suspiciousness that I had cocooned myself in, regarding my relationship with the opposite sex. I continued to slip into a deeper state of depression. I resorted to watching movies regularly and drinking alcohol from time-to-time to distract my mind and give myself some respite from the clutches of my negative thoughts of suspiciousness. But the respite was always temporary as it would only last for a few hours at best and no amount of intellectual reasoning would help me keep the negative thoughts at bay.
4. Problem worsened before and after marriage
As time went by, I met my future wife. Even though I really loved her and she gave me no reason to doubt her, the negative thoughts began to erupt again and cloud our relationship. I became extremely possessive and suspicious about her too. I could not tolerate her stepping out of her house or talking to any man. The thought of not knowing where she was or what she was doing for even five minutes would kill me. It got to a point that I even doubted her male cousins and kept tormenting her every single day with many awkward questions. She was so fed up with the badgering that on many occasions we came to the point of breaking up. However we finally got married but the problems did not cease even after marriage. I got sick of my life and my personality defects of suspiciousness and possessiveness. Due to these escalating problems and several other personal problems between us after marriage, I reached a point where I wanted to give up my life.
5. Emergence from depression caused by personality defects after starting spiritual practice
I was at my wits end as to how I could emerge from this seemingly hopeless situation. So I decided to turn to Spirituality. I began to read Holy books and visit temples. I would read about the lives of Saints in order to gain some perspective into my dilemma. One day an email from a friend introduced me to the Spiritual Science Research Foundation website. I spent many hours reading the articles on the website and I was convinced that spiritual practice improves life intrinsically. I met some seekers from SSRF and gradually started doing some spiritual practice. My spiritual practice in those days consisted of doing the salt water treatment (a spiritual healing technique), attending satsangs (spiritual meetings) and chanting ‘Shrī Gurudev Datta’ and ‘Om Namo Bhagavate Vāsudevāya’. After a few months, I also began chanting the name of my family deity.
After a few months of starting the spiritual practice of chanting the Name of God, I began to feel more at peace with myself. I also found that the personality defects of suspiciousness and possessiveness began to reduce. The veil of depression began to lift and I started to feel more enthusiastic about life in general. I have been doing spiritual practice consistently for a few years now and the traumatic feeling of suspiciousness and possessiveness toward my wife seems like a distant, bad dream. Life is now better in every way. At times I have also felt blissful whilst doing service unto the Absolute Truth (satsēvā) and whilst being in the company of other seekers (satsangs).
I have an immense feeling of gratitude toward God for this positive turnaround in my life and for being released from the clutches of negative thoughts and depression. My prayer is that other people who are going through similar problems in their life, will be helped though my experience. My humble opinion, to those who want a better quality of life is, “Give spiritual practice your best and God will do the rest”. In the words of H.H. Dr. Athavale, “If we take one step toward God, He takes ten steps towards us”.
The anguish that Raul experienced was primarily psychological in nature due to the personality defects that he had. There was minimal influence of negative energies in increasing the problem.
When Raul started spiritual practice, the spiritual energy generated, acted upon and nullified the impressions of suspiciousness and possessiveness in his mind. The spiritual practice of chanting the Name of God helped to reduce his personality defects. Read more about this mechanism in the tutorial on ‘How does chanting work?’