Internal Fire – A Poem

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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

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Deep Poem About Depression and Feeling Emptiness

Deep Poem About Depression and Feeling Empty, Nothing, and Alone

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“The Nothing”

Desire eludes me like an admirable foe
in a game of hide-and-seek.
I know it’s somewhere close,
but always feels out of reach.

I call out and question this vast nothingness
that often settles in my soul,
but its mute tongue remains silent and never speaks.

I wander through the trees,
searching the ground for the inspirational feelings
that I lost somewhere along the way.
I track their footprints across past progress,
but lately find nothing to push me through the day.

Depression’s misunderstood bane is not sadness,
on display for all with sobs and sudden tears,
but the emptiness that keeps your heart hidden from yourself –
the absence of feeling when excitement speaks in your ears.

To stare at beauty and recognize it with the mind alone
breaks the gates between life and death.
The numbness tugs you towards the boundary
until you feel like a ghost, with no part of yourself left.

Desire, motivation, and inspiration –
they all snub me and leave me slumped in this chair
feeling half-dead and without the energy to get up into life.
Depression begins as a teardrop,
but ends as a restless phantom sucking at what’s left of your soul
in a seemingly endless cold, dark night.

– Poem Written by Justin Farley

Beyond the Poetry

For a great deal of my life I never thought I was depressed because I didn’t feel sad, I didn’t cry, wasn’t suicidal, or have suicidal thoughts. But I failed to see that I often didn’t feel happy, motivated, inspired, ambitious, or love either. Depression has become more accepted and recognized by people, but I believe that the general public accepts or only recognizes one side of depression – the side they can relate to.

Everyone has felt sad, lonely, “depressed”, or grief at some point. They can relate to depression in that way. Few people have felt emptiness or nothing at all for an extended period of time. At least when you feel sorrow, you feel something. A bad something is often better than nothing. Nothing feels not human. Nothing claws at the thing that makes you “you”, until you can’t find it anymore.

When someone is visibly crying and obviously distressed, it’s easy to get sympathy or at least provide real evidence why you can’t do something. Emptiness, however, can’t be seen. You still look the same. It doesn’t appear anything is wrong with you, but inside of you there is something cripplingly wrong.

How do you explain depression when you don’t really even know how to describe it? You may be labeled lazy by people who can’t understand, but you can feel lazy. Nothing is nothing. No desire. No motivation. No ambition. No feeling to do anything. Because feelings and emotions are one of the key elements that define us as humans, it’s too abstract for people that have never been clinically depressed to understand. It’s hard enough for us that deal with it to understand…

Sometimes you must act regardless of how you feel. I understand that. But behind acting for something you don’t want to do is feeling for something you do what. You may not want to clean the kitchen, but you do it anyways not because you have to, but because you desire a clean house. You may hate the temporary job you have, but you do it because you desire to work your way up in the company or because you desire money. And that’s why depression is hard to explain and hard to comprehend by others.

When you’re depressed, often there is NO desire. You don’t want to clean the kitchen and you don’t desire a clean house, even when you want to desire a clean house. You hate the temporary job and have no desire to show up, to make money, or the ambition to move up in a company, even though you want those desires. Humans do just about everything because of some desire, whether it’s directly or indirectly connected. The mundane work gets done because you have a greater desire for something else that requires it to be completed. People that are depressed often have no desire to do anything.

Being depressed is like trying to be in a relationship with someone that you don’t like, love, and find very unattractive. You try to will yourself to love them. You try over and over, but no matter what you do, you can’t force yourself to suddenly be attracted them them and love them. Sooner or later you hit a brick wall and give up because it’s draining you inside and nothing is changing despite all your attempts. Depression is like that, except life is your relationship and you want nothing to do with it, despite how much you want it to change. It makes you feel something other than being human and utterly alone.

I didn’t write this poem on depression to produce feelings of hopelessness or sadness. I think it’s important for those who suffer from mental illness to see other people’s struggles, so that they know that they are not alone. Mental illness isn’t fun and sometimes “trying to stay positive” is exhausting and self-defeating. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t a core part of getting better. But some days you just need to know that there is someone out there that is like you. That you’re not the only of your kind and can still relate to someone of the human race.

You may not ever be able to express what depression feels like or get others to understand. That’s not your fault or theirs. It’s just not possible because unless you’ve felt it, you can’t comprehend it. But you’re not alone, and there are thousands of people feeling just like you. That doesn’t change the fact that you’re depressed, but it does give you comfort knowing that you’re not the only one dealing with it. Hope only ceases when we decide we’re going to quit looking for it. Keep looking. Keep searching for a way out of your cold, dark night and back into the warmth of life.

 

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

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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

 

The Woman in the Mirror

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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


 

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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)

The Fight – A Poem About Conquering Fear

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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)

One Is Never Enough, Ten Will Never Do – A Poem About Addiction

a man who  is ashamed, lonely, and depressedHaving suffered through the bonds of addiction, I sought in this poem to somehow put into perspective what the transformation of an addict is like. It never starts off as tragedy, but as a solution to all life’s problems – the missing puzzle piece that we’ve been searching for all of our life to make us fit. And nothing is better than discovering the magic of our elixir or drug of choice because it’s never about the experience. It is about healing the mangled, broken human being we’ve been carrying around inside our chest our whole life.

We rejoice. We celebrate. We can’t get enough. Finally, we are free. Finally, we have something that makes our darkness and fears disappear. But somewhere along the way, we cross a line. I don’t think any addict can truly know what day or time that line was crossed. But when we cross it, our enchanted dream becomes a bone-chilling nightmare. A sickness so swift comes over us that we fail to diagnose ourselves (unfortunately some never do). There is no romanticism in the depths of addiction. It is the coldest hell that man can ever go through.

There is often much confusion and anger towards loved ones who have addiction issues. That anger and frustration is not invalid. But for the addict, it is not some trip to Disneyland, but a ride down avenues that few can bear. It is the process of the soul shattering, and when the soul shatters, chaos is bound to follow. We are responsible for our actions, but the active addict is enduring a world that you can never begin to comprehend. We are not bad humans. We are sick, broken, mad, and in need of restoration. Love requires truth and confrontation. It cannot sit back and watch, while it’s lover is dying. It demands to be heard and to fight against the chaos. But love is the most powerful weapon against addiction. It takes someone else to believe you can fight back because often times an addict doesn’t have anything left to believe in. You don’t have to understand; you never will. But stretching out a hand to someone sinking is sometimes all it takes if they are willing to grab on. Blame, shame, and anger never do an addict any good. Trust me, we’ve got enough of that in our own heart to fill the world. We hate ourselves and what we’ve doing more than you can ever know. But we are frightened. We are scared. We do not know how to live in our own skin – fragile, broken, and utterly mangled. It is not deviance that drives one to addiction; it is deliverance. Deliverance from a world of hurt and pain. These hearts are already broken enough. Please do not break them even more. Restore them. Cherish them. Breathe your life back into them. Give them hope for a better tomorrow because their today is a living hell.

One Is Never Enough, Ten Will Never Do – A Poem About Addiction

One taste was all it took to love you.
You coddle me in your sweet embrace
And rock my fears and insecurities to sleep,
Nestled within your powerful arms.
But your enchanted dreams do not rub away from my eyes,
And I find it impossible to say good-bye to our nightly rendezvous.

I am drowning in your love,
But still thirsty.
Still yearning for just one more,
But somehow I know that will never do –
My every thought is of you
And the magic that your cast upon my broken mind.
You fix me and as long as you’re by my side,
The world is fine.
My strides are long and steady.
I’m cool, calm, confident, and ready
To take on the world with my head held high and my eyes
Ready to look life in the face.

But without the transformation I undergo after your taste,
I am lost, weak, scared, and incompetent.
My eyes drag across the floor
And fear commands my every move.
No.
One more will never do.
I need every ounce of you
Rattling through my veins, breaking these chains
That bind me in isolation.

But love, things were going so well.
What is this desolation
That now flows from your well?
Your spell has enchanted me blind
And numb to life.
What started off as waves of calm
Have turned to tides of chaos,
Screaming, shrieking out in piercing alarms.

I am not well.
No. My being is fluttering away in the breeze,
And a new form – some deformed demon
Forces me to my knees.
I only wanted one.
But one was not enough.
Neither was two.
Or the ten that followed two.

I no longer desire to be kissed.
My mind insists that I must be swallowed
Up in your madness, in the sadness
Of this depraved love affair that has turned sour.
I do not know the hour
That I turned from lover to slave.
But I look through blurred, sunken eyes at my reflection
And never have been so afraid.

I am no longer me.
I am not my own.
And who can comprehend the clamor of this confinement?
None. I walk alone
Through the dark corridors –
I reside within the empty walls.
I am an inmate on death row,
Silently drinking my way towards my execution date,
And my executioner will not wait, nor hear my plea.
I shiver in the silence of my cold seduction.
Oh, how I long to break free!
From this madness, this chaos, this never-ending itch
That I can’t stop scratching,
My claws ripping away the flesh of a once decent man.
But he is far gone from me, a monster is what I am.

I don’t want you.
But I need you.
No longer for safety, but to survive.
My love, I am a stumbling corpse,
Barely breathing, barely alive.
Realization reeks like a rotten carcass,
Festering, decaying in swarming summer heat,
Waves of repugnance sweeping me off my feet.

For truth stings sharper than a thousand bees.
Truth, heavier than the weight of the world,
When reality knocks an addict to his knees.
Oh, my sweet friend…
I thought your love was true!
But now I know one is never enough,
And ten will never do.

– Poem Written by Justin Farley


photo credit: into the blue via photopin (license)

The Tinman – A Poem

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The Tinman – A Poem

Your beacon blazes with the firestorm
Of a thousand pyres.
In your eyes I find the fires –
Smoke signals that rise to the heavens
And lead me on a journey
Out of the confinement of earthly shackles
That have clanged like lonely church bells
Ringing in the early morning,
Beckoning for deliverance around my feet for countless eons.
But when our hearts meet,
The cold of chaotic confusion is warmed by the heat
You infuse in me, soothing me to the core,
Stilling this ailment that never quits, never relents
Like a nagging child consistently tugging on my sleeve.
But the chilling winter breeze
That howls throughout my chest’s empty corridor
Is driven back from whence it came
Under the concealment of your shelter.
A whisper of your tongue sends new forecasts
Of warmer weather upon my heart’s radar.

Angelic avenues appear before me.
I can see Avalon in the distance –
My vision cleared from the fog
That has hung over my head like a drab curtain
For far too long.
Your song pierces the mist of madness,
And I see the kingdom once again
That I believed to have crumbled
Under the weight of tyrannical vacancy.
But now there is a peace in me –
A gentle but consistent flame that is growing,
Consuming all my darkness and blazes brighter
With each new tree of dead wood I chop down
And throw on top of it.
I do the work, but you provide the oxygen
That allows this bonfire to reach ever higher,
Burning off the shadows of these hanging leaves of treetop trees,
Opening my outlook like a door,
Revealing the heavens in this dark forest once more.

I am yet free –
Still stuck in these dark woods
My mind has resided in for years.
But these towering trees of torment
Are falling one by one,
Chopped and loaded into the hearth of your love.
My ax may be rusted, and my tin skin clanks,
Weighing me down, leaving me falling behind
Trying to make up for lost time,
But I am moving, even if it is sometimes slowly.
When I find myself weak and lowly
Will you oil me up and wait for me?
Will you see me through to the emerald gates of Oz?
Your beacon bellows –
A woodcutter’s dream to have your resistant flames
Scorch and singe back the bark’s leather skin.
I will continue my hacking until this forest
Is but a memory of protruding stumps
That serve as a reminder of what was
And what will never again be,
As long as there’s a fire in your heart,
And you are here fighting next to me.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

If you enjoyed this post, I would greatly appreciate it if you like, share, or comment on it. Follow my blog to receive notifications when new posts are published. You can find my other Christian poems, Lent poems, love poems or inspirational poems at https://alongthebarrenroad.com/category/poetry/


photo credit: Woodchoppers scene via photopin (license)

An Ode To Joy – A Poem About Hope

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An Ode To Joy – A Poem About Hope

It is joy that spreads its wings
and meets me in the midst of my melancholic musings
and carries me through despair.
Pain does not disappear,
but is transcended by a power mightier
than the trappings of the mind
and the preaching Pity pouts from depression’s pulpit.

Joy is not the elixir of pain,
but the medication for madness,
the harvester of meaning in the grips of sadness,
that hoists the spirit high in the heavens
handing over a hope undaunted by trials,
compiled over seasons of faith
where each surrender was followed by deliverance.

Joy is the bright, morning star
that shines in the darkness –
the light that leads you through the land of the lost
and pierces the longest midnight.
Happiness is but a foolish endeavor,
inclined to be swept away,
stolen like a thief in the night,
gone without a trace from which it came.
But joy is a resistant flame
that burns both night and day.
It does not recede, but leads come what may.

Joy is the force infused through the victor
knocked down by the world face down on failure’s doorstep,
who refuses to lose, gets up again
and wins despite the odds.
We blindly search for happiness
down every drunkard’s alley,
down every dead-end street,
and in the end only meet further pain.

This world can never trap happiness,
but only manage to grab him by his tail
for a brief moment before he scurries away.
Hang onto the rare opportunities
to catch a glimpse of him,
but don’t try to make a fleeting feeling
A constant companion.

Joy smiles when the world frowns,
laughs when the world knocks you down,
dances in the depths of depression,
and sings in the silence of solitude.
It is not built on transient times,
but an external hope that transcends the present reality.

– Poem Written by Justin Farley

If you enjoyed this post, I would greatly appreciate it if you like, share, or comment on it. Follow my blog to receive notifications when new posts are published. You can find my other Christian poems, Lent poems, or inspirational poems at https://alongthebarrenroad.com/category/poetry/


 

photo credit: Pôr do sol no Rio Paraná via photopin (license)