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What Is Death?

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For me, death is freedom. I don’t know what is on the other side, but I’m not scared. I imagine it to be peaceful or just nothing at all. For me, it’s such a comforting thought. Nothing would be a major upgrade on peace. Peace to me means times when the battles in my head stop for a short period.

I use to try and silence the battles through alcohol and later a combination of alcohol and gambling. The thing is the battles continued; I just made myself less aware of them by being in blackout – the gambling bubble or in blackout while in the gambling bubble.

Silence is wonderful. I love sitting in a room with no sound just sitting quietly. That silence though is external. Very rarely do I experience true silence. The thoughts won’t leave me alone.

I am nearly four years without a bet or drink but the battles in my head continue. So, to me nothing means nothing external and nothing internal. None of the thoughts or internal voices telling me that I am undeserving, useless, worthless, a burden – this list could be very long. I won’t put it all on paper.

These thoughts are there each day and night. Some days are more distressing than others. Some days the thoughts are manageable, and I can feel good. That’s because the little intrusive thought soldiers are taking a day off to rest and get battle ready again. 

Sometimes they take a little holiday, but I know they will be back. The battles continue. The war hasn’t been won yet! So, this is where I find myself. Trying to live my life with all this noise and this noise has both mental and physical impacts.

The highs, the unexpected laughter followed by a crash and a feeling of impending doom and then back the other way. Being unable to move, a body made of lead, feeling nauseous and total hatred towards myself and my life and then hitting that high again, giggling, singing, and dancing on my own at home. They can be quite exhausting.

All of this goes on while trying to live life day to day. Holding down a job, being a parent, a friend, a son and a brother. Life is hard, really hard, really, really hard.

I often ask myself how can I feel that beautiful nothingness and the answer is I can’t. Unless I am dead I can’t and even then, I don’t know what is on the other side. Does nothingness exist?

One of the gifts of life is being able to feel and think, so I should be grateful. I look forward to a sustained period of feeling good. I maintain that death does not scare me and at times I crave it and that’s because life scares me. That fear drove me to drink and gamble. The fear hasn’t gone and maybe never will, but I do have tools now to help me manage day to day.

An important thing that I regularly remind myself though is that I had the opportunity to end my own life. I had planned it, but something stopped me. 

These thoughts aren’t anything to do with suicide. What this is about is me remembering that no matter what is going on in my head I want to live. In October 2017 I chose life.

Will the battles continue? Will the intrusive thought soldiers keep fighting? If they do, I will keep telling them to fuck off.  Maybe one day they will listen. So, I’m going to stick around. If death is freedom, I am going to wait a long time to find out.

Chris Gilham is one of the presenters of All Bets Are Off Podcast. He tweets @gillsy1002_

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