The Black Dog (10 years on) 4: THE END OF THE ROAD…?


So where does it all lead? Well, that’s precisely the problem. It can often feel like the road down has only one conclusion. Or perhaps terminus is the better description. Which is a terrifying thought. Not to mention taboo…

But it’s logical, isn’t it? Being submerged by riptides of guilt, shame and worthlessness hardly provides much incentive to persevere. But then, of course, I have. For 10 years! And as I said in the first post, it’s happened because I’ve taken one day at a time, one step at a time. So let me say at the outset, not least for the sake of those closest to me who might be reading this, I’ve never actually followed through with the trajectory (evidently); more importantly, I very much doubt I will.

van Gogh: Self-Portrait (Aug 1889)

This is because I know enough from talking with others, and reading, that the act of suicide (there… I mentioned it) is always devastating for those left behind. And I think of my family and my closest friends, whom (I know) love me – and I simply couldn’t do it to them. I love them too much. So perhaps that is a kind of electric fence guarding the terminus.

But if I’m to be real about this (as a few friends who’ve travelled with me in this have encouraged me to be), the thought… no, the relief… of ending things is very present. I think (I shock myself even admitting it now) that a week has not gone by in the last decade when it has not crossed my mind.

One of the feelings I didn’t mention yesterday is the dull ache of dread. It has died down at the moment thankfully – but there have been times when it was my first waking sensation each morning. It was weird – it never seemed especially related to anything. Just a sense of impending doom. There might be stressful appointments in the diary on some days – I don’t know about you, but whenever I wake up and gradually regain brain, I tend to think through what the day holds – but sometimes there’d be nothing at all. It would be just a normal day. And I couldn’t get the feeling to go away.

But one option seemed to offer relief. Preempt the doom by running towards the doom. If I can put it like that.

Sometimes I can swat it away. It’s a ‘don’t-be-so-ridiculous’ kind of swat (think Maggie Smith at her most imperious). And of course, that’s easier when circumstances aren’t too adverse.

But there are times when that’s impossible. It just can’t be ignored. And the internal narratives become more and more distorted and warped, with everyone’s words and deeds being spun in the bleakest terms. Yet, there’s no denying the logic. A worthless person finds no worth in life. It all comes down to an identity issue in the end.

I don’t especially care if you think considering suicide is weakness or cowardly or even attention-seeking. I’m simply trying to expose why some might find themselves on the brink. It feels v odd to blog about it. But I think it is right to do it. Not least because (I hope) it will make following through even less likely. But whatever happens – I can only ask – please don’t feel this is done in an appeal for advice. I don’t want that. Understanding is everything. And I know I’m not the only one.

I’ve got a little group of guys I can send emergency texts to. Sometimes it’ll be just one word. It’s quite a random, incongruous word that resulted from one of them mishearing something I’d said. But it does the job well. And they are committed to praying for me at those moments. That is a help.

But it of course raises the big question behind all of this. What’s a Christian, let alone a minister, doing contemplating such bleakness? Well, that’s the subject of the next post…