Thinking can kill you

The mind is its own place, and in it self
Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.

John Milton


I am always baffled by reactions of anger to news of a suicide. I can recall a work colleague once hurling books and papers around her desk when she’d heard that a friend’s friend’s uncle had killed himself. She didn’t even know him.

As someone who has experienced such desperation, my own reaction is one of deep sadness and empathy. It’s not hard for me to imagine what the person might have been going through, and why he or she might have taken such steps.

To be trapped in your own negative thoughts and emotions is indescribably painful. Unlike a bad physical experience, you can’t walk out of your own mind. The bad experience is happening inside you, and there doesn’t seem to be a way out.

Not that long ago, I found myself awake at 3.00am worrying about a mysterious stomach ailment I’ve acquired and its affect upon my life. After an hour or so of hideous, grinding ‘thought’ I suddenly ‘came to’, as if from a dream, and realised that my thoughts had been dragging me deeper and deeper into a mental, and physical, quagmire.

‘You’re no good, you’re pathetic, you’re weak, you’re not normal…etc’

This cycle of ugly self-criticism was like a coil, pulling my mind and body tighter into itself. I could feel the negative emotional energy in my chest, my neck, my limbs – a heavy, dark static.

Becoming aware of these thoughts and sensations is the key to overcoming them, but it isn’t always so easy to do – and it’s certainly not easy to remove yourself from them when they have become your ‘reality’.

The origins of depressive thoughts are many and varied – rejection, divorce, death of a ‘loved one’, disablement, sickness, losing a job, financial mismanagement, an accident. Sometimes there may not even seem to be a specific reason for being depressed.

Over time, these depressive thoughts acquire an emotional force, and together they form a bundle of negativity that lives inside you, and emerges as though a dark cloud when triggered by the ‘right’ situation or sensation. This ‘trigger’ could be anything – a memory, the actions of a partner or work colleague, or something you saw on television.

This negative force can even seem to arise without provocation – suddenly, you’re overcome by feelings of self-loathing or anger or deep sadness! Where did it come from?

During my 3.00am ordeal, I’d started worrying about a stomach sickness, and within an hour, had turned the situation into a fully-fledged assault on my self-worth. What sort of day would I have had if I hadn’t realised what was going on?

Realising that you can step back and observe your own thoughts is a revelation, but it’s only the first step to finding your way out of the void of negative body-mind experiences.