Internal Fire – A Poem

fire-2911041_640

Smoke fills the lungs.
Warning signals run in desperation to alert the mind
in a race that’s become all too familiar.
Flames engulf my entrails
like dry twigs thrown on a campfire on an August night.
In frantic panic, eyes search for aid,
but people pass by as if nothing were amiss.
Surely someone must feel the heat…
Can’t anyone see the fire that burns bright in these eyes?
Doesn’t anyone know the smell of the human spirit
cooking in the oven of fear or hear it’s cry,
wailing when touched by the torch
like a colonial witch burned at the stake?

My mind is already alight,
pulsing in agony,
raging like a wounded animal hobbling through the forest,
flapping my wings like a madman trying to put out invisible flames.
I wait out the blaze until every drop of fuel
has been burnt up within me.
My mind is now only simmering instead of boiling.
My brain’s fire has had it’s excess oxygen removed and dwindles.
But the coals of Hell have taken their toll.
I have been branded,
internally marked as different from society –
part man, part beast,
forced to carry these hideous scars,
these burns that have been seared upon my soul,
feeling like a traveling circus on display for all to see.

The internal fire is felt,
but remains unseen.
Daily situations necessary for living in modern society
are tiny sparks that land upon the mind’s kindling,
never knowing when flames will roar up
and engulf my essence once again,
always burning with too much heat,
and I never have enough water.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

Advertisements

Poem About Bipolar Disorder Manic Depression – Roller Coaster

Roller Coaster – A Poem About Bipolar Disorder / Manic Depression

 

No waiting lines.
No ticket fees.
I was born strapped in your seat.

You took me up.
You took me down.
No choice in where I was bound.

But you soared me too high.
You crashed me too low.
I fried in Hell’s fiery furnace, writhed in winter’s snow.

A thrilling ride
for a moment’s time,
but now no way to stop this racing mind.

For a moment’s time
A slow, quiet rest,
but now bleak, cold, and dead inside my chest.

No way to curb the madness.
No way to calm the fear.
No way to halt this ride and get out of here.

Corkscrews and loops.
Falls and climbs.
I spend my life riding the moods of my mind.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

About the Poem

Anyone who has dealt with bipolar disorder knows what it’s like to feel like your life is a constant roller coaster. You click up the tracks and reach the summit, feeling on top of the world. But soon come crashing down, picking up speed and racing through tunnels, curves, and loops. It may be exciting to feel out of control for a few minutes on a ride, but when it becomes the way you describe your life, enjoyment isn’t one of the words that comes to mind.

It’s exhausting living with bipolar, not knowing which “you” is going to wake up the next day. Are you going to be racing with energy, crazy in an episode of mania? Or are you going to wake without enough energy to even get out of bed and struggle to make it through the day filled with depression? Mental illness, and specifically bipolar disorder, can make you feel like your whole life is one long roller coaster ride you can’t get off of.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like my poem “The Clouds of Mourning”

Living With Fear – A Poem About Anxiety Disorder and Mental Illness

Scream-original-sm

Living With Fear – A Poem About Anxiety and Mental Illness

Close your eyes.
Keep yourself blind
To the hideous beast
That hides beneath this veil of security.

Pretend you can’t see me
For who I am –
A scared, frightened, shell of a man
Raging in the solitude of fear’s prison.

I can’t even stand the vision
That stares back at me in the mirror,
So how could I expect you to accept me?
How could I expect you not to judge me?

I only wish that for one day you could see
What it feels like to crawl within my skin,
What it feels like to loose it all –
Everything you’ve ever loved, ever dreamed to your own mind.

Finding myself racing around trying to make up lost time –
The minutes, hours, days cowered in the corner,
Just wishing the world would fade away
And this anxiety would leave me in peace.

The attacks may subside, but the restlessness doesn’t cease,
Always waiting to jump me unexpectedly
Like a mugger in a dark, deserted street,
Leaving me helpless and penniless, staring death in the face.

How do I mingle and mix with the human race
When I know my revelations will label me an outcast and crazy fool?
How do I look confidently into another’s eyes
When inside my soul shrieks and my heart beats through my chest?

Where can my soul find rest
In a world of strangers
Who would surely laugh and jest
At the man beneath the mask?

How do I keep from being labeled an outcast
And not notice the eyes jeering at me like I’m a psychotic loon,
Pretending to understand, but keeping their distance,
With no desire to get close enough to help me clean up my mess?

How do I bear being labeled lazy when I’m doing my best
Just to make it through the day, make it out the door,
To achieve some level of normalcy,
And not get crushed beneath the weight of my fears?

Will they ever understand when my mind rears
Its ugly head and leaves me panicking,
Breathing in short gasps pleading,
“Can we please leave now?”

Will they ever understand how
It feels to be locked in a prison of your own being,
Pacing the hours away, wishing somehow
You could find a way to escape invisible bars?

Will they ever not be horrified at the scars
That cover the face of my soul?
Can they ever comfort me at my worst
And not run from the beast before their eyes?

So do you blame me from hiding this storm inside?
Do you know the shame I sleep with,
Always feeling like a monster –
A freak drowning in a sea of normalcy?

But this is me.
And no amount of hiding can change who I am.
I am a scared, frightened, shell of a man
Terrified of the world finding out how weak I am.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley


*Painting “The Scream” by Edvard Munch

 

Fear of the Lord – A Lesson On What It Means To Fear God

“Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” – Proverbs 9:10

14829998461_12bcf564b9

As you read through the Old Testament, fear of or fearing the Lord is a common theme. It wasn’t until a recent study through the book of Proverbs that I truly grasped this concept and understood it completely. The Bible continues to reveal new things in spite of what we believe we have mastered. The Word is a tree that continues to sprout new shoots even when we think it can’t grow any taller or wider.

Fearing the Lord was one of the concepts I thought I truly understood. I struggle with an anxiety disorder that is often exacerbated by the threat of God’s wrath or judgement. There are few who can understand fearing God like someone with an anxiety and panic disorder; yet, it may be this very fact that kept me in ignorance of wisdom.

I sought out help in the book of Proverbs to deal with specific sins that no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t stop doing consistently for more than a few days or weeks at a time. But I found nothing, nothing that would really help me move past my own weakness and overcome the temptations I face. If I’m honest, I have to say I was a bit disappointed. I read chapter through chapter, hoping that surely the next I read would contain the knowledge I was missing. Still nothing.

Humility quickly turned to frustration. Surely, if this was God’s Word and if God really wanted to help me he would give me the knowledge I needed. All I kept hearing was “fear the LORD”, “fear of the LORD”, blah…blah…blah. Thanks, God. Think I got that one covered. But because I was looking for what I thought I needed, I was missing the message God was trying to reveal to me.

Unintentionally, I began to start contemplating what that phrase really means. My understanding was right at the surface level. Obviously, to fear God means to fear him. You do something bad or turn away from him, watch out because his wrath is likely to fall on you.  But as I dove deeper into meditating on the phrase, I realized that I think the word “fear” is really lost on our culture.

We are a society built on individualism. Fear is only understood as a response to a danger that we perceive can hurt us or threatens our individually. Fear in ancient cultures was more than just a threat; it also dealt with honor or respect. I would say that the vast majority of people fear breaking their country’s laws, but crime still occurs in high numbers everyday. Why? Because the people breaking the law may fear the law, but they don’t respect it. They may fear the consequences of their actions, but ultimately they think the rules don’t apply to themselves, or they respect their desires more than they respect the rules.

And as I pondered over this concept of fear, I began realizing how finite my understand of the “fear of the LORD” truly was. I realized that I was relating to God exactly the way a criminal relates with their county’s rules. I feared God’s wrath, but I didn’t respect him or honor him. When choosing to follow God’s laws became difficult, I always failed. It wasn’t because I powerless, as I often times felt; it was because I respected or honored by own desires and rules over God’s. I ultimately “feared” my ego and pride more than I feared God.

Fear has a lot to do with respect and even admiration. It is even a sense of awe and wonder, knowing that whatever we are fearing has more power than ourselves. If you fear a dangerous animal, such as a bear, you would never walk into its den because you respect their territory. My fear of God was sneaking around in his world, not respecting him, but hoping that he would either be sleeping, forgive me without ever changing my behavior, or not get caught.

“Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” because it makes you humble and opens your eyes to your lack of power. Yes, it does deal with the concept of God being a very real threat and danger, but I believe biblical concept of fear goes much further than that. “Fear” is probably not the best word to use in translation to get across the meaning to our culture who does not generally think of fear and respect as two sides of the same coin. Fearing God means submitting to his power, admitting that you know very little, and that his wisdom surpasses anything which you could ever conceive.

Strangely, what began as a search for a way to fix my lust problem, ended with the revelation that my problem was not really lust at all. Not fearing God was. Respecting my ego and selfish desires over God’s law was. Now lust is still a part of the equation, but I believe it to be a small part. The main thing that was keeping me from overcoming my desires was not lack of power, but lack of will.

Somewhere in the depth of my heart I believed (and still do to some degree) that I knew better than God. Somewhere I believed that I should be able to seek out pleasure wherever I want to, and if I’m honest, never wanted to stop. And I don’t think that’s ever going to completely disappear. Our very fallen nature as human beings is to look out for ourselves before anyone else, including God. The more humble we are, the weaker that desire becomes, but I think will always exist. The essence of “fear of the LORD” is not necessarily the threat of vengeance. It is viewing God as a loving parent who we respect and who’s rules who choose to follow, regardless of whether we think they are fair, right, or in our best interest. It means keeping our pride in check and understanding that God’s wisdom far exceeds our own and that even when we don’t understand or disagree, we know that he knows better than we do.

-Post Written by Justin Farley


 

photo credit: Dirty Collars via photopin (license)

The Woman in the Mirror

6162067219_44a87e7493

The Woman in the Mirror

You are a seductive temptress
that tempts with the ticks of time.
In control of the clocks hands,
only needing to rewind to the moments we left behind.

You still lurk in the shadows –
a creature stalking in the dead of night.
But potential follows wherever your heart goes,
needing only to let go of the darkness and step into the light.

My heart goes out to you in your struggle,
to the battle that rages in your mind.
Pick up your feet each time you stumble
and never settle for the chains of fear that bind.

Though our paths have diverged,
I still desire to see yours lead to a happy ending.
I still long to see the woman emerge
from your battle – the beautiful soul I’ve seen since the beginning.

May your head be held high.
May your feet walk into the flames of fear.
May your spirit learn to fly.
And may you love the woman in the mirror.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley


 

(license)

The Clouds of Mourning – A Poem About Depression and Pain

11746799814_45e7dbdfba

As we go through life, there are inevitable seasons where it seems the skies are always cloudy, always raining, and the forecast will never change. Anyone that has ever dealt with depression (or any mental illness for that matter) knows that it is like a ghost that haunts you no matter where you go or how hard you try to hide from it. Fight all you want, but you can never defeat the forces of darkness with strength alone. In these times of darkness and pain, how do we keep moving forward? How do we resist the temptation to give up and let the pain of life suck everything from our soul?

Typically, telling yourself to “cheer up”, “suck it up”, “pick yourself up”, or having someone else tell you to stop feeling sorry for yourself only makes matters worse, and I believe does a disservice to our heart. Deep depression is not an easy thing to fix, and the reality is that sometimes there are circumstances in our lives where the only appropriate response is to mourn and cry. And sometimes we need that time to just embrace the issue and recognize that it is ok to feel pain. But how do we not drown in that pain?

I believe the only way we can move forward is by grasping hope and refusing to let go. It might not get better today, it might not be tomorrow, but as long as there is hope that things will get better, the ghosts of depression are unable to penetrate our locked doors and totally possess us.

The Clouds of Mourning – A Poem About Depression and Pain

The clouds of mourning
Hang and hover over me
Like ghosts – translucent,
Yet allowing only darkness to pass through.
Their pale gray sheets flap and flutter
In the breezes of life,
Dimming and drowning out
All traces of light.
Their wails send nails
Falling from the sky,
Raining down and driving like hammers;
Pounding their melancholic clamors into my heart.

My palette is stained,
Soaked in ashen gray paint.
Non-washable, permanent and persistent;
Resistant to the colors I attempt to cover with my brush.
The clouds of mourning
Flood my skies like ghastly Dementors,
Following me through the hours
And sucking at my soul one minute at a time.

Sweet angels,
Have you lost the fight to the terrors?
Have your hallowed halos burnt out like smoking embers
And lost their luster and glow?
Where are you hiding
In this dark and stormy night?
Where are your shields and swords,
Why are you overwhelmed by the demons of darkness,
Why do you refuse to fight?

What weapons do I pick up
To fend off forces invisible and invincible?
Is there an amulet I can hang over my heart to keep out
The ghouls that pass uninhibited through locked doors?
The icy rain covers my window pane
In sheets of tears running down in streams of solitude.
Winter’s wrath bars my path
And leaves me shivering in the cold wondering what to do.
The clouds of mourning
Hang and hover over me
Like ghosts – translucent,
But hope shall be my exorcism.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley


 

photo credit: Titanic via photopin (license)

Growing Pains – A Poem

10255201834_2513cfd87b

Growing Pains – A Poem

Why are these dreams that stretch out across my heart’s field of desire,
That glisten Like droplets of drew sparkling on the morning grass,
So hard to obtain, so hard to take to take hold of,
And so hard to lasso and pull close to reality?
The burden is bearing the tragedy of it all,
Knowing what you want, what you need,
Lies just beyond the forest and through the trees,
But you seem unable to put those desires into action.
So often I’m fixated on distractions that pull me off-course,
And get me lost on side paths instead of trekking onward
Towards goals, aspirations, and destinations.
It drives a person mad, carrying around bags of frustrations,
Grueling through labor day after day,
Counting the minutes, knowing there has to be another way.
But the Way is left without footprints, often prepared for
But never ventured and what’s left of hope slowly fades away.
There’s a demon inside of me that seems unable to be controlled,
Scoffing at dreams, content to let life pass me by,
Trampling on schedules, and consistently cursing meaningful causes.
Claws strike out at my fingers each time
I reach out to grasp my true potential.
I now know the paved road to success doesn’t exist.
You must venture through the dense forest,
Fight through the clinging vines, and thrash through the sticks.
No, to journey with intention is no vacation,
And the mess inside me, always attempting to misguide me, is no easy fix.
But the trail to nowhere is covered by countless footprints
And paved with the trampled dreams others have left behind.
The alarm clock beckons.
Wisdom speaks.
My souls shrieks.
But for some reason I have yet to understand,
I hear, but refuse to listen.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley


photo credit: After the rainfall via photopin (license)

Leaving Home – A Love Poem About Rejection and Starting Over 

6282407122_3fa06acfa6

Leaving Home – A Poem About Getting Rejected by a Lover

Leaving home and venturing alone
Out across the unfamiliar frontier.
The scenery and signposts are all unknown,
And my heart sags, burdened by hesitation and fear.

Traveling along tomorrow’s highway,
Musing over the miles left behind.
But when you’ve played every card there is to play,
Your eviction notice has been signed.

It’s no easy task to pack up the memories,
Pile your bags high with hopes of what you thought would be.
But when your heart is denied all entries,
It’s clear you’ve been rejected, not set free.

So now one set of footprints mark the journey
Where there once were two.
This road has become winding and curvy
At the thought of starting something new.

But I have no regrets nor reservations;
I did all that I could do.
I’m just weighted down by a trunk filled with frustrations
That I was not worth the fight for you.

I’ll travel on,
Knowing there’s an exit within my sight.
But my heart still worries how you’ll get along
Through your dark and arduous night.

My only concern is for your poor heart –
So blind and was never able to see.
I would have held your hand tightly through the dark,
But instead you’ve settled for misery.

Leaving home and venturing alone,
Determined to not let fear decide my fate.
Far better to blaze a path into the unknown
Than to remain comfortable and stagnate.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley


photo credit: Iceland Highways via photopin (license)

Eclipse – A Poem

2282074048_5659595082

Eclipse – A Poem

Two sides of a conflicting coin
Flip like faces in a dramatic act.
Two intricate and separate forces entangle
In a bitter struggle, leaving Earth cloaked in black.

How can such a powerful light
Be smothered by such a small, sinister hand?
A visceral visual of what evil can accomplish
When given the freedom to take root in the heart of man.

In a matter of seconds the cosmos is silenced
By the veil of darkness and death.
The yang captured beneath the yin’s net;
Hope and light suffocating and gasping for breath.

What once was so beautiful,
Shining in the sky’s endless sea,
Has now turned into a lifeless puppet,
Bound and animated by dark, dominating strings.

You were once a blazing beacon –
A fire of hope that lit up my nights.
But now, my once glorious sun,
You’ve laid down, surrendered, and given up the fight.

I only hope this is but an eclipse
And shortly you’ll come forth from hiding behind the moon.
For life is but a quick, short breath
And will not wait while you wallow woefully in your room.

Two opposite forces fight
In the face of the atmosphere;
The moon is not a worthy opponent
But kills all light when the sun hides in fear.

The moon hangs with no power,
But becomes master when the sun submits.
Defy the rebellion, do not yield to your captor.
Emerge as the victor in your heart’s eclipse.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

photo credit: Lunar Eclipse via photopin (license)

The Fight – A Poem About Conquering Fear

boxing MMA fight

The Fight – A Poem About Conquering Fear

You can cast your shadow across my future,
Across every step that approaches every opportunity, every opened door.
Try to tear down the walls of my confidence,
And attempt to convince me that I was never meant for more.

You can startle me with your swiftness,
Visit me whenever and however you please.
But I, and I alone must give you the power
To break me and to send me to my knees.

You have dwelt within every human heart,
And every human mind since the dawn of time,
Making the mundane feel like destiny,
Slowly dying, slowly binding us as prisoners of the grind.

Your power is as limitless
Or as limited, as I will it to be.
For the only person who can choose to make you master
Is the man who resides inside of me.

I will not give approval to your veil of darkness,
Nor give you bricks to construct your castle walls.
What you build up I will tear back down with action.
You may knock me down, but I will get back up when I fall.

Fear, I am marking you as my enemy –
Right here, right now, this instant, not tomorrow, but today.
For I have dreams that I must tend to,
So pack up your “what ifs” and get out of my way.

Keep coming at me with your terrors if you like,
But my place in the corner is now a vacant cell.
This heart will no longer hide from failure,
Nor choose safety over walking through the fiery hell.

I choose my destiny,
I choose to hold my dreams as a beacon in the night.
For the impossible becomes possible
The day we choose to defy you, the day we choose to fight.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley


photo credit: DSC_0104 via photopin (license)