The Brink

A lot of the blogs I follow are written by people struggling with mental health issues.  These are raw and highly upsetting narratives often written from the brink. If you have never stood on the brink I pray that you will never have to. It is the loneliest place on earth. Beyond it lies nothingness. It is the place people come when there is nowhere else to go and nothing else to say. It is the end of the line, the final chapter. 

What brings people to the brink? Well there are a plethora of reasons and they differ from person to person. They are often complex and concealed within layer upon layer of scar tissue. These can include bereavement, abuse of all forms, addiction, eating disorders and mental illness to name but a few. They ferment and fester over long periods of time before finally bursting like a pus filled boil. 

You do not arrive at the brink overnight. For some this may have been a journey that has taken years, if not decades. It is a long and winding road with many detours and distractions. I say road but there are many highways that one can take which will eventually bring you there. Every visitor is unique as is their journey. But they all arrive at the same point eventually. The point of no return. 


Let’s not beat about the bush here. The brink equates to suicide. I am no expert on the subject. I am not well read on it. But I have experienced suicidal thoughts. I have had suicidal idealisations and I believe this equips me as much as anybody else to talk about it. For I have walked the path. I have stood on the brink. And I have looked down into the chasm beyond.

While those there may have arrived by any number of routes and for any number of reasons they all share the one same feeling – hopelessness. They have twisted and turned with their own individual demons. They have used up every last ounce of resolve and resistance in their beings. They have fought until they are at a standstill, out on their feet. People who consider suicide are not cowards which is a commonly held misconception. They have performed heroically in battles that many could not even begin to imagine. 

Just as people with suicidal thoughts are not cowards it is also unfair to condemn them as selfish. Yes at face value to take one’s own life is a selfish act. What about those left behind? The parents, the children, the wives and husbands. For the person who takes their own life, the pain ends but for those left behind it has only just begun.

But who among us is not selfish? We are at our base nature selfish creatures. I may behave selfishly given a certain set of circumstances but if you were placed in the exact same situation you would not. Our reaction to external factors is defined by a myriad of criteria – personality traits, belief systems and socio-economic background to name but a few. But at some stage in our lives all of us will be confronted with a bespoke scenario that will trigger the ‘self’ button in us.

For some it is suicide. For others it is infidelity, criminality or just being a crappy father or daughter. Selfish is selfish whatever way you try to dress it up. We are all stained by it so none of us can take the higher moral ground on the subject. Is the abused and damaged teenager standing at the brink more selfish than the ‘respectable’ business person who adds 10% to their expenses claims but tells nobody? I think not.

We have discussed pain and selfishness so far but I want to return to the brink now to consider the mirage of hopelessness; for with that I take issue. There is always hope. It may appear there is none but who are we to know what tomorrow brings, or the next day or the one after that. An escape route, a way out of the present moment and the specific emotions you are experiencing at that time.

Nobody can tell what the next day brings. So yes your past and present may appear without hope but in order to definitively declare hopelessness you have to consider it in the round and holistically. And this incorporates the future which you cannot confidently predict. Hopelessness is a transitional experience. All emotions are temporal. You cannot live your entire life 100% hopeless just like you cannot live your life 100% euphoric. ‘Happy Clappy’ Christians do not exist. Those that proclaim to be so are liars.

The human being consists of a body, a mind and a soul. Emotions invade the mind and trick it into commissioning the body into performing actions that cause harm and distress to oneself and others. Emotions lie.

I’m a useless human being and nobody loves me. LIE!

I’m fat and ugly and I’ll never get a partner? LIE!

I will never conquer this addiction? LIE

Everybody would be a lot better off if I just disappeared? LIE

Hope exists whether you like it or not. It could be five years away or it could be just around the corner. But it is there and it is real. The torment and suffering which drive people to the brink is equally real.  But the voice that talks to them as they waver there considering taking that final step is a liar.

Believe me. I have stood on the brink. And there is nothing beyond it. Don’t listen to the lies being whispered seductively in your ear. Turn around and walk back. Let hope lead you back. For hope leads to life and life is love. 

What are your experiences of the brink? Have you been there or know someone who has?

Are you standing on the brink now and need help?

Psalm 31:24 – ‘Be strong and take heart, all of you who hope in the Lord.’


43 thoughts on “The Brink

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  1. In LivingWaters new video EXIT they show an interview with a man who jumped off a bridge, but survived. I forget which bridge it was, maybe Golden Gate. He said the moment his fingers left the rail he regretted it. He said all the way down all he could think was ‘no one will ever know I wanted to live.’ That was so profound to me, I can’t shake it. This is a very powerful message, thank you for speaking out about it. My husband has bipolar disorder, it’s a difficult thing to watch a loved one suffer. I can’t imagine how difficult it is to be in his shoes. God bless you, friend.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. “Hope exists whether you like it or not.”
    Those words rang deep and true. There was a time I wanted to have hope, but hope was also scary and the possibility of opening my heart to more pain was unbearably risky. Hope sometimes hurts, and that is when I wanted to believe it didn’t exist. But it does. Hope is alive and real. It is our choice to embrace it or throw it away. But whichever way we choose, hope is there. And it is worth the risk.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I agree with Cynthia that sentence rang true for me too. I have been pretty close the brink lately. I am in a terrible place with my eating disorder but i battle and battle because i want to be around to see my daughter grow into the confident beautiful woman i know she will become. Every emotion you listed was spot on for me. I love your blogs keep them up. Keep strong………

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Beautiful! I hate when people say someone is weak for committing suicide. It means they’ve been battling with a darkness for ages, that’s not easy. People don’t realize. i have bipolar disorder & I’ve been close to the brink many times & I had one of my best friends commit suicide. Not fun. Not once did I think of him as a coward. He had been fighting for years. Anyway, great post!

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  5. Thank you for “liking” a repost of a Cloud and Townsend article on one of my sites. I believe it was Divinely appointed as it led me to your blog. I’m an abuse survivor and beloved child of God with 6 years of sobriety yet regularly battle The Lies. I constantly feel I don’t “do” enough and yet I constantly push myself to total exhaustion with 60 to 70 hour work weeks + church + family… I regularly end up using vacation for sick days. I’ve read a couple of your articles and they speak to me as this one has. I will be following you 🙂 Many blessings upon your ministry

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  6. Oh my goodness I love this article so much. It’s so eloquently written, and for someone that is also on the brink even still, I send you so much love and strenth

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  7. As I was reading, I too thought of a time I struggled. For me, my relationship with Christ saved from suicidal thoughts. I simply didn’t want to exist, but I knew my time on earth would be determined by God, not me. That in itself I believe was a form of hope God gave me to try to wait on Him. It wasn’t till months later I discovered what truly hid in my heart was shame, and I had to give it Him to move forward.

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  8. Wow! This is so powerful! Your best piece yet. I, too, have stood on the brink. But I would disagree on one point. I reached the brink in a single moment. Mine was not a slow slide. It happened instantly – the instant my world was struck with an immovable catastrophe. I could see no other way out, so I seriously considered taking my own life to end the immense pain. If I hadn’t had kids or my faith, I surely would have, because even with my belief in God, it took me 7 years I recover from the blow.

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    1. Sorry, that should have read “7 years to recover” but I went to edit it and my finger bumped the send button instead, but I can’t find a way to edit it or delete it and start over.

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  9. Although I have gotten close a few time to the brink – I was always led away by a Hand stronger than mine – Jesus. But I have traveled that road that led to the brink with a dear friend. Two of us holding on to her tightly so she would not fall over – Eventually she was able to let go of us and grab hold of the strong Hands of Jesus and today is alive to tell her story and share in the lives of her children and grandchildren. She moved out of town – but she knows no matter where she is or what she is doing all she needs to do is reach out to Jesus He is there waiting and to call for me and I will be there.
    I pray for those reading this article who are close to the brink – to hold on to family and friends and Jesus. But to just hold on tightly and not to let go.

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  10. Captured beautifully. It’s stunning how many people find themselves at the brink – when you’re there it feels like you’re completely alone. Once you start talking, reading, admitting it, you realise that there are so many others. That in itself is a dichotomy

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    1. Yes it is a lonely experience, one of total isolation. I think you only realise afterwards, when you come out the other side, that there are many others who have been there. Thank you for your kind words. I really hope my future posts speak to you as much. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I don’t think the problem with the brink is the lack of hope, but the lack of feeling of hope. It’s not that things won’t change, but that we can’t see it, being there. When I was at that lonely, terrible place, I understood with my logical mind that there is no reason why I should feel so alone and so terribly bad, and yet I did. I looked for help and managed to crawl out, but so many don’t – and they are definitely neither cowards nor selfish. It’s not the lack of concern for others, I think, it’s the feeling that there are no others. I hope your words reach those who need to belong..

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  12. As an alcoholic in recovery, your blog resonates with me. I am intimately familiar with “The Brink.” This was the bottom I hit. You said it beautifully in your blog: The brink…is a place people come when there is nowhere else to go.” It’s a place where the gift of desperation can finally push us to seek the help we need.

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      1. I think it’s a powerful message to those who are struggling that suicide is not the answer even though it may seem like there is no way out there is always hope.I have felt on the brink a few times but my biggest reminder to not give up is that there will be people you leave behind if you do and the pain that they will go through would be horrible.

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  13. This was a great piece. I shared it on my bereavement page. I have someone on there that needs to read your blog. I have been on the brink twice and it is very distressing. But I had faith that I finally grabbed onto and friends that loved me enough to allow me to vent. Thank you for your kind words about my blog.

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  14. As you know I’ve been in and out of “the brink” more than once in my life of which my recent blog post speaks.

    I am not standing there now. I’m about a mile down the road at a place called “ fuck it, just run.”

    and hope, well that’s something that I’m a bit short on these days but I wish I could get back. I believe I’m getting close to spiritual bankruptcy.

    I wish hope would return to my life, I reckon God will send it my way if it’s meant to be

    Like

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