Blog

Sep3
2015

For When You Forget to Breathe

By Donaven Blake Smith

I wake up every morning, sit up in bed, wipe the sleep from my eyes, and breathe deeply. I remind myself that yesterday is gone and that today is new.

Inhale.

As a college student with bipolar II disorder who struggles with depression on a minute-by-minute basis, the amount of pressure that I’m under to survive never fails to overwhelm. Amidst the hustle and the bustle of life, I can forget to breathe. I can forget why I continue to combat my mental illness. It’s in those moments of forgetting that it becomes crucial to remind myself why my story and struggles matter.

No matter how heavy my struggles may feel, there is a light out there that is constant, vindicating, and timeless: hope.

Exhale.

Your struggles matter because you are a walking, breathing, living story of hope.

And me?

My life tells the story of a boy who grew up in a chaotic, verbally abusive household. My life tells a story of how moving every three years caused that boy to lose faith in stable relationships. It is a story of how he turned to self-injury to cope and how he put himself to sleep at night with pills when the anxiety became too much to handle. It’s also a story of how, after two attempts to take his life, he accepted the help he deserved. It’s a story of how he has found comfort in a God who loves him unconditionally and friends who do the same.

I am a story that could’ve ended but didn’t. I am a story of recovery and life. Our stories may be different, but they all deserve the new beginning that hope promises.

The reason that I continue to fight depression is not only so I can live a life of joy; it’s also so that I can show others that living with depression isn’t merely a thing that we talk about. It’s a reality that can be achieved by other real, purpose-seeking people.

People like me.

Of course, there are days when darkness wins – days when all the lies I’m hearing become my greatest truths. There are days where old hurts swell up and old scars start to show. These are the days when I have the arms of friends to hold me up and the light that is their love to guide me. The joy that I’ve found from letting people into my story has been tremendously helpful in my recovery. Having others love me and loving them in return has aided in my learning to love myself.

Inhale.

By continuing to fight our battles, we can be a light to others – and that is a purpose worth fighting for. And the cool thing is, those people usually end up choosing to fight our battles with us.

If you are struggling right now, don’t give up. Please continue to wake up every morning and remind yourself that you are worthy of recovery and love.

We were not put on this earth to survive on our own. We were created to thrive in community with others. You never know who’s looking up to you and wondering how you’re managing to stay hopeful despite the battles you face. Whether your battle comes in the form of depression or something entirely different, I’m going to ask you to reach out for support and stay strong. I ask this of you not only because you deserve peace, but because you never know whose heart you might be inspiring as well.

Exhale.

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Comments (34)

  1. Angie

    Thank you for writing this. It’s been a bad week for me, and I really needed to read something like this to be reminded to keep going. These posts are one of the three things that give me hope and keep me from hurting myself. The other two are God and music. Dunno where’d I’d be if I never received salvation or found this organization.

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  2. Trish

    I cried as I read this. I thought I was reading my own story. My only problem is letting people in. Why let them in when they are bound to hurt me in the end? This was marvelous and so meaningful.

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  3. Amy

    Dear Donovan,
    I am glad you are still with us. Thank you for sharing and reminding us to breathe.
    Take care

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  4. Katie

    I related to this so much. Thank you. It’s stories like these that hit home and make me realize that I’m not the only one facing BPII, depression, anxiety, and abuse all alone. You keep doing what you are doing. Stay strong and keep your head up. And keep inspiring others <3

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  5. Michelle

    Thank you

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  6. AYN

    Thanks so much for this. I’ve had a bad couple days and your blog today was a great reminder. I’ve felt alone these last couple of days…wish I could meet more of the writers on the blogs!

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  7. Becca

    Beautiful. Thank you.

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  8. sarah

    Thanks for reminding me I need others and I’m worth it. I really needed to hear that.

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  9. margaret

    Donevan: thank you so much for sharing. I was having this argument with myself last night – the merits of continuing in the struggle to thrive versus just giving into it all. A song that constantly keeps me going is enough to let me go by Switchfoot (a band TWLOHA led me to, ironically). Jon sings in the bridge, “breathe it in and let it go. Every breath you take is not yours to own, it’s not yours to hold.” I believe in the same God of love that you do. On my best days I believe that He made me for a greater joy than I can possibly comprehend right now. Thank you for standing with others who are heaven-bent for hope. Your surety means the world to us who are striving to believe in the same thing.

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  10. Chase

    This is Beautiful.

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  11. Jonah

    This was recommended to me by a friend. And I want to say that this is a beautiful story. As someone diagnosed with severe depression and severe anxiety disorder, to hear your recovery is bringing me to tears. I wish I could live with this sort of view. Lately I haven’t been able to see or hear God and I have been losing hope. I wish the best for you, and encourage you to keep on fighting even if I can’t

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  12. Ali

    This comment could not be shared due to the nature of the message.

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    1. Claire Biggs

      Thank you so much for sharing part of your story with us.

      TWLOHA is not a 24-hour helpline, nor are we trained mental health professionals. TWLOHA hopes to serve as a bridge to help.

      If this is an emergency or if you need immediate help, please call and talk to someone at 1-800-273-TALK or reach out to the LifeLine Crisis Chat at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/GetHelp/LifelineChat.aspx“. We also have a list of local resources and support groups on our FIND HELP page. Please know that we also respond to every email we receive at info@twloha.com.

      Reply  |  
  13. Jen

    I’m happy for you but not all of us have friends like you do. Most of us that struggle with mental illness are alone.

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    1. Claire Biggs

      Hi Jen,

      We’re sorry to hear that you feel alone right now. We’d love to send you some words of encouragement. Would you mind emailing info@twloha.com?

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  14. Mandy Owen

    I want to thank you for this post. I have been asking myself continually what the point is of living with depression, because it is the most crippling feeling I have ever felt. You have reminded me of all of the people I have who look up to me, and that I have to keep going to be that image of hope. This was definitely something I needed to hear.

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  15. Christina

    this is beautifu.

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  16. Cindi lewis

    You are an amazing person. Your talent is remarkable. Keep up the good work. I am a long time friend of your grandma and grandpa. I love to see your posts. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

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  17. Ruth Wilson

    I knew you as a boy and it seems you are now finding your way as a man. You are right. This life cannot be survived alone and we were meant to share the joys and burdens of others. May you continue to cling to hope and the security that only exists in knowing we were not made only for this life but for something greater yet to come when we are free from the things that bind us.

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  18. Jasury Bethancourt

    Hola Donaven…quiero que sepas que no estás solo…todas las personas tienen problemas…pero no todas son de la misma magnitud,a veces suelo sentirme mal,triste,sola;hace dos años que dejé de auto-lesionarme,por problemas familiares,gracias a Dios,a mi familia y a todos mis amigos hoy estoy aqui,para apoyarlos a cada uno de ustedes,porque se que es sentirse como si nada tuviese sentido,pero sabes algo? Siempre habrá alguien contigo.

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  19. Jennie Hoehn

    Beautifully written sweetie. I am friends with your Grandma Cyndy and actually worked with Grandpa Tom for many years. Keep up your fight, it’s no doubt a long road. I’m not bi-polar so it’s not for me to say ” I know how you feel”. Never would you or could you say that to anyone. We all “feel” in different ways even with the same “disease”. I did however grow up in a horrible home and have been in those dark places. I have managed to break the patterns of abuse and raised two loving and happy children who, like you, are adults now and have to make their own paths. Keep looking forward, don’t look back….. Share your stories. Trust me, people are listening, learning and being inspired by you. Hugs….

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  20. Lindsay

    Having the exact same disorder this truly helped me. I haven’t met people just like me but this made me realize it’s okay to feel what I feel and that I can get through it day by day.

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  21. Lynette

    I too battle everyday only difference my friends have given up on me!

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  22. Rebekah

    Donaven, thank you so much for this! It is beautiful! I have struggled with depression for a little more than 6 years now. I attempted suicide this past February, when I was in a really dark place, but the Lord saved my life. There are times where it is rough, but I know that I am here for a purpose. I would not be here without Him, my friends, and my family! Thank you for all you and TWLOHA do! May the Lord bless you! Thank you for the encouragement and reminder!

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  23. Peter Damian

    This comment could not be shared due to the nature of the message.

    Reply  |  
    1. Claire Biggs

      Thank you so much for sharing part of your story with us.

      TWLOHA is not a 24-hour helpline, nor are we trained mental health professionals. TWLOHA hopes to serve as a bridge to help.

      If this is an emergency or if you need immediate help, please call and talk to someone at 1-800-273-TALK or reach out to the LifeLine Crisis Chat at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/GetHelp/LifelineChat.aspx“. We also have a list of local resources and support groups on our FIND HELP page. Please know that we also respond to every email we receive at info@twloha.com.

      Reply  |  
  24. Cyndy

    Hi, I have acute tinnitus, which is ‘ringing in the ears’ and ruining me slowly but surely. I grasp at every bit of hope I can find, and tnank you for your testimony and ministry., you are a difference

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  25. Sondra

    Thank you. I’m sending this to someone very special to me that needs to hear your words of hope and encouragement.

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  26. Aileen

    Thank you.

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  27. Kristin

    Thank you for staying alive and thanks for inspiring me today, as I celebrate Suicide Prevention Week with the knowledge that I’m still here. So glad that you are too.

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  28. Jody Olson

    What a well written & significant piece. Great to see you are choosing to Live, to fight. And this story, your story, Will help others & Impact their lives. I hope your good days far outweigh your bad. Thank you!

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  29. Hanna

    I’ve tried to understand, tried to tell my story so many times. And when I feel I’m failing it helps to read reminders and stories of others. and remember that my story needs to continue. It’s far from over. Thank you.

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  30. Kim

    Donaven –
    “We were not put on this earth to survive on our own.” That says it all, doesn’t it. Why do we so often feel that we DO have to make it on our own? Thank you for saying those words, for putting them in writing, for sharing them so that we can share them with others.

    Thank you.

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  31. Wendy

    Thank you for sharing your story! ~Wendy

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