Is there a substitute for prayer during hard times?

Was born and raised as a 'Hindu' in India.

all the rituals, prayers, made no sense to me, though i just practiced without any questioning. finally quit.

went to england to do masters. had a real difficult time, with my relationships with people and finances. tried jesus. didn't gain anything. been to churches and all that. realized miracles won't happen just because you pray to someone. in fact, realized, there aren't any miracles.

back to india again, for good. living with a bi-polar disorder father. this has come as a 'shock'. I got him checked with a psychiatrist. this is one of the hardest phases in my life. am sure i will see through this. i don't want to fall back upon any god's this time. been there, done that. not again. some where, deep inside, a voice is asking me to 'pray'. do they call this 'cognitive dissonance'? i guess. my atheist friends out there, any suggestions? much appreciated, Sandeep

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Barring a medical breakthrough, for life.

If it is any help, I have periods of depression, that seem to be triggered by temporary feelings of being overwhemed with details and drama. A few very small doses of anti-depressant seem to work wonders. I can get a few nights of deeper sleep, it breaks the depressive cycle so I can get back into control, and it is a way to take responsibility for my mind states and perceptions. Once I break the cycle, and start looking for the cycle restart, the depth of the depression is very shallow, a little like taking a mental health holiday for a day or two, returning refreshed and grounded. It could be seen as a vitamin tonic for the brain, without becoming a zombie in the process. As an atheist, we do not need just one more zombie I expect... 

My substitute for prayer is accepting my state of being powerless in certain situations.  There are always strategies that one can try to empower oneself, but sometimes the greatest empowerment comes from recognizing that some things are just beyond our control.  Once you realize something is beyond your control it can be easier to accept what is going to happen, to recognize that it is neither your fault nor your responsibility.  It can be a little scary, but that is reality.

I think i understand. In fact, his behaviour is not in my direct control. I can try, but i may not succeed (based on past experience)- i think i will just let go things that i can't control, same time, make sure i do what whatever I can within my reach. Thanks a lot heather. 

Making yourself ill in the process, is not the sane thing to do. Learning how to love another in bad times, while hard, might be another way to build a deeper soul. I still think the term 'soul' should not be abandoned to the theists, any more than allowing them to have the last word on biology....  

This absolutely.  Especially with family and mental illness.  I think the important distinction is that not being able to control everything does not mean that you are absolutely powerless.  Once I understood this, it was much easier to accept that I could not force my loved ones to get help or change their behavior.

Along with this acceptance, I also made a promise to always check in with myself.  In the past, the drama often swallowed me whole.  I'd forget to take care of myself, and I'm no good to anyone if I'm not happy and healthy.  I had to learn that taking care of myself was not selfish.  Instead it's actually a very important step in being able to help my family.

I've found that taking care of myself when it seems that others are in greater need is not always easy.  To make it easier, I've set very clear boundaries with my family.  I know what I can and cannot handle, and now my family knows too.

I can't say that everything from there is easy.  I've had to make some tough decisions, and I still get taken by surprise sometimes.  That being said, I recover much faster now and my relationships with the people I love are better than ever.

Last, I've found people who understand the disorder and who share similar experiences.  It helps me to know that I'm not alone, and that it's normal to struggle with this or to not always know what to do or to sometimes just feel so overwhelmed that you can't do anything.

Which brings me to my last point - As I said in my message to you, I truly sympathize with what you are going through.  I know first hand how hard it can be to love someone struggling with bipolar disorder (or mood dystopia in general).  I can't say that my situation is the same or that what works for me will work for you, but I really do hope it helps to know you're not alone.

Some family issues and mental dis-abilities seem to come with excess drama as part of the overall expression. Getting people to notice this can be very hard, noticing it yourself is only a little easier, if you already are aware of its possibility. Commiting yourself to the drama, makes a problem harder to manage. Drama is by definition an excess, and, I think, allows people to hind the solution behind a thick partition of emotions and previous commitments.

I have noticed a tendency for theists to make claims for some degree of 'super person' status. While I consider human nature to have some aspiration to perfection, it could set us up for disapointments. We are not all-powerless, just not all-powerful. Finding our balance point between, places us at our self honesty. Finding this right off in our lives seems doubtful, and should take experience. Many of us are capably of the most amazing feats of physical ability, cognitive gymnastics, and artsy production, but jumping tall buildings, seems a far off dayly ability.

'What can you do?', seems to be the question we should ask ourselves. Finding our last contributions to our parents, as the last person standing to represent our family's genetic endowments, and holding their hand at the brink of non-being, this could be one last thing...;p)  

Humor is the most rewarding coping mechanism.

Also, just trying to go about my day and focus on the things that make me happy is my main strategy. Think about your plans for the future, recall good times from the past, play a video game, watch some sports, go on TA and bitch about something stupid theists said, all that sort of thing. But do not try to forget what's bothering you or pretend it's not happening. You have to dwell on it a little bit and feel shitty about it for a while before you can adequately cope with it.

The best way to occupy your mind while dealing with a hard situation... is doing something about said hard situation. The best way to occupy your mind while resting is to think optimistically... imagine the possibilities.

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