The Clouds of Mourning – A Poem About Depression and Pain

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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)

I Am Not A Victim – The Courage to Change

4081041321_f8d89785beThe hardest thing about fighting back against any mental illness, addiction, mental limitations, or physical limitations is that there is not a direct enemy that you can see, that you rebel and fight against. I read “Unbroken” by Lauren Hillenbrand a few weeks ago and was inspired by the story. But it wasn’t the time Louis Zamperini spent as a POW that moved me. Yes, it took a lot of courage and strength to endure the horrifying experiences that he went through, but it is much more inspiring to hear of his real triumph and that didn’t happen until the war was over. His real triumph was when he overcame himself.

Human beings are naturally pretty good at withstanding lots of pain and hardship as long as it is coming from “out there”. There is someone to hate, someone to curse and your motivation revolves around pride, knowing that you’re going to do whatever it takes so that the enemy doesn’t beat you. But what do you do when the enemy is inside you? What do you do when the person to hate, to curse, and to triumph over is yourself? It is this internal struggle that requires more strength and courage than fighting any enemy on the outside. Why? Because in order to win, you’ve got to defeat yourself and that’s a whole different ballgame.

You can fight an external enemy and stay relatively the same person on the inside. Sure, it takes hard work and strength, but you’re pulling motivation from the “self” that is inside you. You have to endure, but you don’t have to change. With internal struggles, the sense of “self” is in direct conflict. Your mind is against your body, your spirit is against your mind, etc. You have to destroy the part of you that is causing the conflict and that requires more than just a little change. It requires a deep, painful metamorphosis like a caterpillar changing into a butterfly.

My biggest enemy is self-pity. Throughout my struggles with addiction and mental illness, I have always been my greatest enemy. If I’m honest, I don’t want to change. I want to stay the same as I’ve always been and stay in the comfort of the familiar. And I think everyone does, but the majority of people are never forced to change. I am. I can either take that as a blessing or a curse. Instead of accepting that, many times I fight against it, fighting against something “out there” whether it’s fate, God, circumstances, etc,  asking “why me?”, “haven’t I been through enough?”, “can’t I just live normally for once?”, distracting myself from the real issue and the real enemy – me.

I want to pretend that I’m helpless, that everything isn’t my fault. And in many ways, it isn’t. I can’t change the fact that I can’t stop drinking once I start, I can’t control the fact that I have panic attacks and my mind doesn’t function the way it should, and I can’t change the days when I’m filled with apathy or plagued by depression. But I still have a choice. I chose to stay in my comfort zone, blaming external circumstances, unwilling to change, willing to blame and curse the hand I’ve been dealt. I fear emerging as a new butterfly, unrecognizable and unfamiliar. Fear keeps me in my cocoon. I want to go back to living as a caterpillar, where everything was easy and where the majority of society dwells. But I am not called to be a caterpillar. I am called to be a butterfly and until I stop fighting against the external and start killing the internal, I’m going to be one miserable human being. It is not my job to decide how or why things have happened to me the way they have. My job is to pick up the pieces and put them back together. I AM NOT A VICTIM. It sure as hell isn’t easy, but I still have the choice to endure, to change, or to wallow in self-pity. The choice is up to me.


 

Photo Credit: jonycunha via Compfight cc

Walk On

If the road stretches you,
walk on.
Sprint, stumble, or crawl
but walk on.
Don’t look for the exit signs,
the mile markers, rest stops, or places to lodge.
Fix yourself to the road ahead,
not the distractions on the sidelines.
Hold your destination firmly in your hands
and grip it tight, or else it’ll slip
through your fingers and sift to the ground like sand.
When you’re lonely out on the journey,
make perseverance and patience your bestest friends.
Ignore the potholes, the bumps in the road
and no matter if the rest of the traffic clears out by night fall,
walk on.
Don’t be shocked by the weather- it’s destined to change.
When it threatens to destroy you, put on
your pride and positivity.
No one lives in the comfort of summer all year long.
Your journey may have begun under the warmth of the sun,
but fall’s coming and with it a chilly breeze,
warning you of the coming winter
with temperatures guaranteed to knock you to your knees.
There’ll be days when an inch is all your spirit can handle
and others where you’ll float above the weight of gravity.
But do not be distracted by distances.
Even the weakest minds can manage miles
when walking on a smooth, flat plane.
Worry about suiting up and showing up
when misery is calling your name.
No matter what anyone tells you-
not even that voice living inside your head,
put one foot in front of the other and carry on.
Your destination is closer than you ever dreamed.
And no matter what life throws at you,
walk on.


Photo Credit: eflon via Compfight cc