Goodbye, Blog

Hey, guys. Merry Christmas!

If you’re reading this, thank you. I know that I have quite a handful of loyal readers. However, I’m retiring this blog, because I have a website now! My entire life has changed and it’s a new year. I couldn’t think of a better time to let go of this blog (which I haven’t written much on, anyway) and start fresh with a website.

I’d love it if you subscribed to my new blog/website here: donavensmith.com

Love you all.

With hope,

Donaven

You Deserve This, Donaven

I’m taking a writing class in creative non-fiction this semester and our first assignment was to write a short vignette about anything. The only catch was that we had to mimic the writing style of Sandra Cisneros in “The House on Mango Street,” a novel made up of snapshot-stories. Her writing didn’t contain quotations around dialogue and a lot of the sentences were fragmented.

Four years ago yesterday, I attempted to end my life for the first time. Four years ago today, I spent the night in the hospital. That was the night Maggie passed away. The essay I’m about to share with you is about that experience. The essay below is the mandatory revision of the first assignment we were assigned to do in my creative non-fiction class last week. The timing worked out by fate, I guess.

I know that it will sound like it, but this essay is about so much more than a cat. Don’t get me wrong, losing her was not easy. It still hurts.

But you’ll see. Continue reading

Hypomanic

I’m writing this to help you all understand what I’m dealing with and to help myself process.

Characteristic of Bipolar type II are episodes of deep depression and, other times, episodes of hypomania, which are less extreme versions of the full-blown manic episodes that manifest themselves in people who live with Bipolar type I. I feel lucky to not have developed type I. I cannot even begin to imagine how difficult it must be to live with mania. My friend Wolfgang shared with me an incredibly raw poem by a man who lives with manic episodes – check it out. I can’t wait to earn the title of LCSW so that I can competently work in a treatment center with people living with mental illness, especially Bipolar disorder. Episodes, both manic and depressive, can last for hours, days, weeks, or months, but they are so intense that they interfere with an individual’s ability to function.

Every person who lives with Bipolar can be placed on a spectrum based on the frequency, intensity, and duration of their moods. My experience with Bipolar II has been one marked by ultradian cycling and it seems to be most difficult to live with during the Autumn months and during February. It’s looked like dozens of long periods of severe bipolar depression, which is different from standard clinical depression, followed by periods of intense emotionality and mood instability. Sometimes, I can be mid-conversation and my mood will shift from stable to severely depressed for no reason. However, I have very rarely experienced legit hypomania. It’s been years since my last hypomanic episode and I’ve definitely not had more than 5 in my life. The last time I experienced hypomania I hadn’t even been diagnosed yet and so I thought it was totally normal to stay up for 3 days straight while feeling on top of the world. Growing up, my parents would yell at me for not sleeping or for crying at inappropriate times or for feeling too much.

Continue reading

Dear 2009 Donaven,

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What brought you to that feet fish tank in which you are now ankle deep in, smiling for a picture, was yet another move. Moving always hurt. I remember. And I hate to be the one to break it to you, but you haven’t actually felt real hurt, yet. I mean, sure, you’ve seen mom hit dad and dad hit mom, you watched them drink too much, you were violated and taken advantage of at such a young age, and you are already able to process through the gut-wrenching emptiness left by the word goodbye like no other.

But by the grace of God you have yet to meet the pain that is to come.

You and I both know that our innocence was long gone by the time this picture was taken, for the world had already started to corrupt us and we knew more about life than we should have. What we didn’t know (what you gratefully don’t know) is how brutal life can actually get. Looking back, our ignorance regarding the amount of damage that life can inflict on a person’s heart had to have been a God-ordained, protective measure.

No, you, in your dorky glasses, don’t fully understand despair yet, but due to the military lifestyle you have managed to understand the power of something else entirely: an amazing skill called resiliency.

You’re going to need that soon. Continue reading

Journals

I went through old journals tonight. They date back to the beginning of my first semester away from CU. September 2015.

Let me just say that God has been so freaking faithful.

He softened my heart hardened by bitterness towards broken friendships and plans, lead me to an incredible church, placed and kept the right people in my life, and gave me the strength, courage, and endurance I needed to be able to check myself into Cedar Springs for a month, complete the program, and accept the help that I needed.
He closed doors when He knew they needed to be closed, delivered me from some serious demons, literally created a job for me out of nothing, brought me closer to my family, and taught me how to love who He’s made me to be.
He has worked out my entire summer, gave me an incredible vision for my future, and has allowed me to be a part of the INVST Program at CU.

9 months of journaling revealed those conclusions. Continue reading

14 Things

If we associate, here are 14 things you need to know about me. If you know these 14 things, you know it all.

  1. I find that everything’s better in yellow
  2. Tina Fey is my person… literally anything involving Tina Fey, I’m on it!
  3. Giraffes are the best out of all the animals
  4. Favorite actresses: Amy Poehler, Holly Marie Combs, Sandra Bullock, Jane Krakowski, Jennifer Garner, Abigail Breslin, Betty White, and Julia Roberts (I’ve never taken the time to form an opinion on my favorite actors)
  5. Favorite movies: August Osage County, Lilo & Stitch, and The Proposal
  6. Favorite TV Shows: 30Rock, Charmed, Adventure Time, Bob’s Burgers, Spongebob, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  7. The 14th of every month is a celebration known as Donaven Day
  8. I was a cheerleader for 6 years, but now I spend most of my time writing music and poetry
  9. “Peasant” plays a huge role in my vocabulary
  10. If you don’t respond to my text messages, I assume that you hate me and that our friendship is over
  11. Biggest Inspirations: Demi Lovato, Jamie Tworkowski, Jonny Craig, and Jimmy Needham
  12. I’m pursuing a career in social work and the mental health field
  13. My biggest fear is being forgotten… and Frank from Donnie Darko
  14. I love sushi, my friends, and Jesus

That’s me for ya.

With hope,
Donaven

The Reason for the Hiatus

I haven’t blogged in quite some time.

It’s not that I haven’t had much to say, it’s just that I’ve needed these past couple of months to realign my heart, to seriously struggle, wrestle with some emotions, and allow myself to fall apart, while allowing God to piece me together, again. It’s been hard. It’s been painful. It’s been humbling. But everyday I’m learning what it means to put my faith before my feelings and fears.

I am still battling bipolar/depression. It is something that I will probably live with for the rest of my life, but it’s God’s way of reminding me that I need Him. My medications help, of course, and I’m the most stable I’ve ever been, but I still have bad days and I’m not going to apologize for them. Instead, I’m going to keep moving forward with my head held high and arms outstretched even higher in complete surrender to the One who makes the moon reflect the sun.

Here are two things that have really been on my heart since January: Continue reading