War Within Myself
By Daniel K.
I've been fighting a War Within Myself all my life,
Tired of the hurt, the pain, the strife.
Anger consumes me from day to day,
Cellies now walking on eggshells, unsure of what to say.
I do pray each night for the peace that I need in my heart,
I need it before I tear what friendships I have apart.
Prison has a funny way of doing some things,
Leaves me wondering what tomorrow may bring.
I'm tired of the hate, anger and pain that I feel,
I just want my heart and soul to be healed.
I want to be able to simply laugh at a joke,
I need someone to help me before I lose all hope.
My heart is almost completely hardened with what I've been through,
I need someone, anyone, maybe that someone is you.
I'm fighting a War Within Myself, and I'm so tired,
So nervous, scared, like I'm on a high tight wire.
I hope that I don't fall before someone catches me,
But then again... maybe it's my destiny.
Rarely, have I come across a poem which so perfectly describes my current state of mind. Daniel K.’s poem “War Within Myself” was first published on February 20, 2019, in partnership with Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop, an organization based in Washington DC that elevates the voices of those directly impacted by the prison system through creative writing. (The poet’s last name was withheld on request in consideration of their privacy.)
While “War Within Myself” is about being in a literal prison, I think many of us have found ourselves more in a metaphorical prison at one time or another. Yesterday, my dominant emotion/feeling was, I am tired. Sometimes, we can’t pinpoint what we are tired of or if we are just tired of everything. When someone has depression, there is always a “war within ourselves.” We become a prisoner of our emotions. It causes an inability to function within our day-to-day tasks. We may find ourselves tired of the hurt, the pain, the strife, and the anger that consumes us at a given moment.
Depression can affect everyone around us. In the poem, Daniel K. writes, “Cellies now walking on eggshells, unsure of what to say,” It can be the same for our friends and family. They often do not know what to say or do to help us. We may see a doctor about our depression, and medication can sometimes help. But some people are too embarrassed to see a doctor. Hopefully, we seek help from somewhere or someone before a breaking point, before we lash out at those we love. Sadly, some people turn to more destructive means. What we most long for is for our “heart and soul to be healed.”
We want joy back in our lives. We need something to hope for in our lives. We must lean on friends and family who want to help us bring that joy and hope back into our lives. My depression is often fleeting at this stage in my life. There was a time when I found it hard to function from one day to the next. I am better now than in those darker days, but there are times like yesterday when I suddenly became so depressed that the sensation was overwhelming and all-consuming. Sometimes, it helps to concentrate on work or to reach out to a friend, anything to get the mind off my depressed state, but depression is a strange adversary. When you are in its grip, you only want to focus on your depression, and not the things that might get your mind off what is bothering you. Daniel K. ends the poem with the statement, “maybe it's my destiny.” It doesn’t have to be our destiny. We have to allow someone to catch us and pull us back from the brink.