Have you ever thought you were playing against a stacked deck? Hm are you even familiar with the idiom?
I am pretty sure that it is a very common expression but just in case there is someone out there reading this who doesn’t know the expression basically it means that you are playing against a deck that has been set up or manipulated to ensure that you will be the loser.
Sometimes life can seem to be like that can’t it? Seemingly dealing you a hand that you just can’t win with?
Well today is just such a day for me really. My voices have been at me all day and I have been struggling to win through it all and ignore them or at very least to reduce the amount of effect that they are having on me.
Now I don’t presume to suggest or know how other sufferer’s voices affect them but for me personally they tend to focus their efforts in two primary ways. Firstly to ridicule, undermine or assassinate me personally and secondly to point out, exaggerate or emphasize how bad things are for me or around me and why it is not worth living or going on. And sometime they choose both approaches together. Very often when this happens the mental stress all gets too much the depression deepens and the bad. harmful or suicidal thoughts start to take over. Today being one such time.
Now Suicidal Ideation or Suicidal Ideology (depending on who’s doing the labeling) is nothing new to me although thankfully it is something that I don’t suffer from continually.
It is hard to adequately describe but if I had to try I would have to say that it is like a specter that lives within a deep dark place hidden in the recesses of my mind.
And whilst I know that it is there I can generally keep it locked up within that room and thus stay safe from it. Until that is when the depression gets a strangle hold on me or the voices get so bad that they distract me whilst they unlock that room so that it may call to me.
And today my mind decided to go a “visiting” very early on and before I knew it there I was hovering outside the open doorway to that room knowing that to actually enter into it could prove fatal.
And all the time the voices kept on about how useless I was and how life wasn’t worth living. So I did what I always do in these circumstances and tried to avoid it and to divert my mind and I tried to submerge my mind in the sea of dross that is daytime television.
But then came the television news, something that I actively try to avoid as it depresses me far too much and all too often gives the voices too much ammunition to play with. Today was no different in that respect and I had not intended to watch it but when I turned on the television it was the first thing that came on and the very first news story I saw – about an 18 year old boy who was stabbed to death whilst out at the January Sales in Oxford Street in London.
18 years old and stabbed to death! What kind of horrible world or society are we living in nowadays where life is treated with such casual callous disregard? Oh I know that bad things happen the world over and indeed far worse atrocities take place almost every minute of every day but what kind of consolation does that offer?
The voices leapt on the news story like a pack of starving dogs on a hot-dog cart! Just as they did on the follow-up announcement that another youth had also been stabbed just up the road from where this youth had died. The fact that the second youth survived the attack offered no solace whatsoever.
I sat stunned and tormented. My thoughts went momentarily to the boy’s family. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what that poor boy’s family and friends and loved ones must be going through. And yet still I could not escape the missiles of pessimism that the voices hurled at me and so the struggle worsened and continued.
Then the phone rang and it was one of my adopted kids. In tears and obviously so very distraught, she told me of how her cousin had just taken his own life. Another young life wasted and taken so very suddenly and tragically. His young family left fatherless as a result of the injustice of this world and the tragedy of his mental health.
See how the deck is stacked against me? See how every card dealt seems to feed into the negative, harmful and suicidal thoughts that state so repeatedly and so categorically that life is not worth living?
But when the cards that you are being dealt are so obviously rigged or manipulated against you, you have only two choices – fold or play the hand you are being dealt!
I considered both options…
To fold is exactly what the voices and the thoughts want isn’t it? When the game is life itself and the hand is but the circumstances of your life folding would mean to leave the game – to leave life – to enter that fatal room and meet my fate.
To play the hand you are being dealt is the other option and whilst it may still result in your leaving the game at least you can say you gave it your best shot.
Desperately, analytically, logically I studied the cards I had just been dealt to me as I hovered around the doorway to that fatal room. Not strong enough to close it and lock it once more I searched for a way of not entering.
And in that desperation, though that logic and that analysis again my mind went to the family and friends and loved ones of that young man all but a boy really who lost his life in London and to my daughter and her distress and heartache over the loss of her cousin.
Could I really put my family, my friends, my loved-ones through the same kind of distress?
I have often heard it said that suicide is the cowards way out. Heck haven’t I in my professional life, in my ministry seen enough of them and heard enough opinions concerning them? To all of those who say that suicide is a cowards way out all I have to say is spend a week in my depression and my psychosis and then tell me how brave you would be?
No I don’t believe suicide is a cowards way out at all. But I do believe that denying suicidal thoughts and ideation within oneself is a very brave things to do. And it is a pathway I am desperately trying to follow right now, but judge me not if I fall from this pathway. For you know not the paths I have trodden for so long now and you carry not the burdens that I carry.
As I sit typing I do so with the firm resolve that I will get through this and with the equally firm resolve that I will not put my family, friends and loved-ones through that kind of grief and distress. I sit drained and so desperately tired. I am going to go pray and to try to rest and if chance will allow to sleep.
Will I play the hand that I am being dealt? Yes for as long as I can I will, but I do not play alone.