“End it.” Was my instant, simple but very sincere and heartfelt response.
On reflection – since we were sat in church and he had just earlier delivered a very inspiring personal testimony of how Christ can move in your life, if you allow Him to – I doubt very much that this was the response he was expecting to receive.
And to be totally honest I am absolutely convinced that it was not the response I expected myself to give. But give it I had. And the fact that I did – since I am being so open and honest – scares me somewhat.
The fact that I suffer from suicidal ideation is no secret to those who know me well. But the fact that this had progressed – hm. should that more accurately be ‘regressed’? – to a level where I had virtually accepted that this outcome was inevitable, if not imminent, is known to very few people indeed, perhaps only one or two people. And I am not sure even they truly know or understood the significance of it all.
It was Sunday morning and I had gone to church. The fact is that I have been fighting with myself about pulling away from church (and church activities) for some time now. Sometimes attending and sometimes not attending, depending on which pert of my thinking was winning at that particular moment.
John Edwards (The ‘he’ in the opening snippet of conversation above) had been in town that weekend and was the guest speaker at our church that morning. He had shared his testimony and then had prayed with folk afterwards. And despite my being in the process of pulling away, I had agreed to go along that particular morning because I have some responsibilities in respect of editing and publishing the sermons each week and because – again if I am honest – I have recently been trying to make sure that, as and when I do pull away from the church, what little I do do can easily be taken over by someone else.
The praise and worship that morning (this past Sunday) was wonderful and there were actual moments within it when I was able to lose myself in worship and where what goes on inside my head lost all significance or even presence.
Likewise, John’s testimony (which – if you are interested you can listen to here) was certainly inspiring and I listened to it intently. Afterwards many people went up for personal prayer although I personally, despite numerous encouragements from folk, avoided doing so. What was the point when in your own mind it was just all part of putting off the inevitable?
My buddy (also called John) – who had driven me to church that morning and who was driving me home again afterwards – had also suggested that we both go up for prayer. But I convinced him that he should and that I was quite happy waiting until he had done so. Actually, as it happens, he was the last to go up and so after they had finished praying John Edwards came over and said hello to me and that is when the conversation – the opening snippet of which I stated this post with – took place.
The truth is that John Edwards is a lovely guy and very caring. And the fact is that he made a lot of sense in what he and I talked about in our very brief conversation. But I was not in the right mindset to offer any positive responses to what he was saying and so the conversation didn’t last very long at all. And for that I am truly sorry. I am sure he needed my negativity that late morning/early afternoon about as much as he needed to hear my fatalistic response to his opening question to me. And that is what both scares me and has got me to thinking really.
Have I become so defeated, so jaded, that I have simply accepted my perceived fate and in turn simply refuse to accept that there is any hope?
Maybe not to the same extent or in the same context as this. But certainly one which I think a lot of folk will be able to relate to.
When you are arguing with yourself – with your own thoughts.
For a Christian, doing God’s will is (or at least should be) paramount in your life – even and especially in the face of your own personal struggles. And we are called to go through those personal struggles and to ‘press on towards the goal’. But sometimes, those personal struggles can become so all consuming -0 especially when you can’t seem to control the thoughts in your head.
Sometimes, it seems that ‘taking captive every thought’ is the battle – or at least the only part of the battle you can bring yourself to deal with. As I told Kelvin – a really nice guy who was accompanying John Edwards on his visit – when he and I were chatting whilst others were going up for prayer and when he told me that ‘taking captive every thought’ is part of the battle.
And that really con be so very true. It is, I added, like playing chess with yourself. You can be pretty sure that you will both win and lose in that situation. And I am so incredibly tired and arguing with my own thoughts that winning doesn’t even seem worth it any more. And that is what is so scary.
The truth is that I love God and Christ and I love my church and my family. And I also openly and fully recognise that so many folk suffer far more than I do. But when your thoughts consume you and when you can’t seem to even control them – let alone ‘take them captive’ – you do lose all sight of any hope. At least any hope for the here and now.
And along with that comes so many thoughts and thought processes. So much so that you can (I am convinced) fail to even recognise those thoughts and those thought processes which are harmful and even fatally flawed.
That conversation (the opening lines of which I shared above) happened this Sunday. And the fact that I so quickly, so instantly, responded the way I did. And to someone who was effectively a complete stranger, worries me. Especially given the setting it took place in. And I have not been able to get it out of my head since,
I have, as I said before, over the past few weeks been trying to pull away from everything and almost every one. Participating in things only out of a sense of duty, or in order to facilitate putting my affairs in order, or in order to not cause concern to folk or to raise any alarm bells.
I think closing my sites/blogs, and trying to put my affairs in order have all been a part of that self-same fatalistic mindset. But where do you go? What do you do? When you can no longer trust even your own thoughts? When you have tried get help and can’t seem to even adequately explain how desperate you feel or the confusion in your own mind? And when you are frightened of contributing to anything or even trying to explain where you are at, for fear of hurting or negatively impacting others badly?
I find myself so very conflicted. On the one hand I am actively doing things which all work towards a better future for myself health wise. And yet on the other hand I am doing things which – whilst designed to protect others and to reduce the potential harm and impact to others – are probably not healthy for me mentally.
The Christian message, the gospel of peace is, I am convinced – and yes I am still convinced even in all this – one of hope. A hope, in Christ, that we can hold onto in the face of the fiercest and darkest of storms. But that does not mean (and trust me here) that those storms will not come or are not possible. Because they are.
Since closing this blog (and others) I have found no peace over doing so. And I have to recognise that perhaps doing so was part of that fatalistic mindset I seem to have spiralled into. And it is interesting to me that – since closing this blog – the past two guest posts over at the Mental Health Writer’s Guild – which I am involved in – have been about or included suicide or suicidal thoughts within their subject matter.
Am I any the less lost, confused or conflicted today than I was when I decided to close this blog? Does my having decided to reopen this blog and to share this post mean that there is some progress being made here? The truth is that I have no idea. Perhaps it is all part of the self-same conflicted sense of being lost and confused?
But I do know that I have not been at peace about having closed it and I do know that that conversation I had on Sunday – or more accurately the fact that I even had it, where I had it and with whom I had it – does concern me.
I am (or perhaps I am better off saying my own fatally flawed thinking is) my own worst enemy it seems.