Finding Balance

Lately this all too familiar place feels like a distant realm,
It has become a foreign land,
I feel like an outsider gazing down upon an unsettling scene,
As if I’m watching the world suffer in the palm of my hand.

I see people waging wars against themselves,
Everyone lives their lives off kilter.
Only motivated by their own selfish needs.
Love & kindness- never real, always untrue & filtered.

The tragedies I perceive, 
Make my soul feel weakened & drained,
For a moment, I can distract my mind by focusing on simple things.
Still, at times I feel empty, then startled by pain.

When all I hear are broken mumbles in my mind,
When I’m feeling everything too much,
When nothing helps, just overwhelms,
Then I need a break to get back in touch.

I need some time to regain perspective,
Time to rekindle the fire in my heart,
I must have time to refill my soul with gentle thoughts,
Then wash clean the slate, and restart. 

But in time, everything I see will again build up inside,
Clouding my mind,
Fogging my perceptions-
Making peace & happiness hard to find.

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These Waters

I close my eyes to blacken out the blue,
Inundated by the piercing silence of the deep.
I finally feel like I can breathe, with the weight of the water all around.
Into my soul, I feel the soothing waters seep.

It’s so calm, for once, now that I am alone.
At last, my churning mind is hushed,
And the eddying thoughts, all cease.
Into this liquid cradle, I put my trust.

I swim deeper & deeper,
Trying to catch a ripple of panic, a swell of helplessness.
Just so I can feel something again. 
I tread these waters to get away from the waves of emptiness.

The desperate need for breath cascades in,
I swim towards the flickering light,
My lungs surging, 
My mind saturated with fright.

At last I reach the surface,
Gasping for air,
The flooding rush of life is returned to me,
I feel a golden flow of joy, so rare. 

The glory of being alive fills me,
A whirlpool of emotions spills into my soul, 
I can finally feel again & I’m no longer numb.
The tides restore me & for a moment, I am whole.

I feel the ebb & flow,
I feel the sun upon my skin,
I feel contentment sinking in,
And for a second, I feel in control of the tidal waves within.

Yet, in a matter of time, I know I will wade in emptiness again.
This torrent of euphoria will drain.
The swirling thoughts will stream once more,
And I will be engulfed in the cold, dark rain.

So I submerge myself fully, into this time of feeling alive.
I let each emotion come pouring in.
I dive into these waters, and feel it all so deeply.
In this moment, I thrive. 

{Author’s Note:}

This poem was partly inspired by close family members and friends with Bipolar Disorder. I recently read a book about the life of a young boy with Bipolar Disorder. I was incredibly moved at how accurately it depicted the mind of a person with Bipolar. It gave me a very deep insight & new perspective on this, commonly undiagnosed, condition. I hope this poem/post raises awareness somewhat, even though it may be on a small scale. 

To anyone who is affected by a mental illness or has friends or family members with a mental illness: I know that this is the typical response, but please know that you are not alone. You are so much more than the label, the stereotype, the illness. You are strong…and even though I may not know you personally, I believe in you. You do not have to tread these waters on your own. Take care, my friends. ❤

–Elise Barretto