The Black Dog that tries to stalk me has found me once again.
He tries to intimidate me by making his presence known.
He wants me to know that he is there.
He wants to keep me looking behind.
To take my eyes off what is ahead.
To keep looking to what is in the past.
To try to make me afraid of the future.
To drag me back to the darkness of before.
To tempt me to walk deeper into the bleakness.
But in this tunnel of loneliness,
this tunnel of one person’s walk alone.
This tunnel of subdued light,
of grey walls and ceiling, there is still light.
Periodically along the walls are studded
the pointers to a route of escape.
Low lighting banishes the darkness in lipid pools,
with one pool leading to another.
Illuminated arrows point the way;
Towards a way of easy escape.
As does the dim glow of coming daylight
in front of me that invades this space.
So do I stay paralysed?
Rooted to the spot looking backwards?
Or do I look forward to where my light comes from?
To my own personal coming dawn?
Do I keep placing one foot in front of another,
acknowledging the dark but refusing to be consumed by it?
Acknowledging the dark thoughts that try to ensnare my mind.
To preoccupy it, to occupy it fully?
But I cannot deny the light that beckons me forward.
Cannot deny the half-whispered words to keep on walking.
So walk on I shall in the sure and certain hope that
full daylight will appear once more.
That the sun will rise once more.
The Black Dog may try and stalk me.
To drag me back to his world of dark and hopelessness.
To remind me of all that I have done wrong.
All that I have failed at.
But the coming daylight of the dawn that precedes the rising sun
reminds me that even better things are still to come.
So I continue.
One step in front of another.
Towards the rising sun.
During the past year there has been a growing acknowledgement here in the UK about mental health issues, particularly among men. This has encouraged a really healthy debate about mental health and a much better understanding of it and how many people are impacted by it.
One of the campaigns that I’ve become aware of is the “Black Dog” one and it’s encouragement that it’s good to talk about mental health issues and that it’s “OK” to not be “OK” (www.dancingwiththeblackdog.com)
I have had my own minor mental health issues in the past and continue to have to be aware that I can very easily become a “glass half-empty” type of person, particularly if I’m tired and/or stressed. When I’m in this place is often the time the Devil will come alongside and try and tell me all sorts of rubbish. It’s at times like this that I really have to work hard to keep focussed on God and follow his direction. It really is a case of walking in what I know of God’s character rather than follow what I am feeling.
Yes I still have my “dark” days and sometimes these merge into a longer period. I know that when I’m in this place I’m not a “fun guy to be with”. However I also know that God is right here with me going through it alongside me. I also know that it’s perfectly acceptable to tell people around me who I trust that I’m not “OK”. They will still love me, support me and encourage me forward. I just have to hang on to God, try to ignore the lies the Devil is trying to get me to believe and keep moving forward with God into his purposes for me. Some days it really is about just putting one foot in front of another spiritually.