About the Author

Annie F. Downs is a bestselling author and nationally known speaker based in Nashville, Tennessee. Her most recent books include 100 Days to Brave, Looking for Lovely and Let’s All Be Brave. Read more at anniefdowns.com and follow her at @anniefdowns.

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  1. ~wOw~ .
    You have NO clue how you wrote out so much of my life and heart in what I just read…”Breathe”. Annie, I KNOW exactly what that feels like. Sure, it’s different for each person in their own perspective and way of experiencing it, but the FIRST word I say to myself is “Breathe”. After that, It’s “Lord!”. I have thought of it as the ‘black hole’, where you talk about the dungeon. Whatever it is, it’s DEEP and it’s DARK, and it’s a CHOICE to throw my leg over the side of the bed and get up on some of those days. It’s a Choice to eat something, to open my Bible and seek for God through His Word. It’s a Choice to STOP OBSESSING about whatever-it-is and turn my mind to Jesus to PRAY. I know that if I am to survive, if the Lord can help me out of this place, AGAIN, then it will only be because I keep doing these things.
    Pressing into the Lord sounds almost too hard, even impossible– but it’s NOT, cuz I’ve been here before!! I know He answers! I know He hears! I have dates marked in my Bible where He ministered verse after verse of scripture to comfort me, to set my mind and heart on the right path. HE IS GOOD.
    So what if people think I ‘should’ be so strong and spiritual that I never feel this or go through this again?! Here I am!! ~ So it looks like it IS possible, then, ~ even though I’ve been teaching others skills to use, even though I support others and comfort THEM when they are going through such difficult and dark times. Yes, I can still have a dark time, too. AND I’M NOT ALONE.
    NEITHER ARE YOU, Annie. You are precious in His sight. You are IN His Sight. He IS watching over you. He WILL bring you through THIS time, as well.
    Thank you for sharing your heart. Your openness will comfort many that you won’t even know about. 😉 May your Journey be Sweet and may the Lord God comfort you in Every distress. So much Love… in Him, Pam ♥ †

  2. Annie,
    You have also written my story. My dungeon is my ‘cave’ that it has come to be called. I didn’t know thats what it was because I lived in it for so very long before God put a wonderful friend in my life that he used to help me open the door a small crack to allow fresh air to enter. I still wouldn’t come out but I was getting fresh air! Eventually I did come out of the cave and sit with this friend, I learned to trust all over again, I learned that what I was living was merely just surviving. There was something so much better out there. My friend has walked beside me through some very difficult transitions the past 3 years and I have come and gone through the door of my cave but it wasn’t without medical and psychological help. I’m having more good days than bad right now but I too go running for the cave at times and slam the door shut! God is so good because he knew the person he sent to help me wouldn’t leave me because of my ‘moods’, he knew she would be someone I would trust, he knew she would be someone to pick up on the subtle cues that I was slipping backwards again and she would tell me what she saw from me. He also knew that she would be his mouthpiece and bring me back to him, teaching me, mentoring me, loving me, guiding me and at times rebuking me if needed.

    So I understand exactly the place you describe!
    Lisa

  3. Annie, OF COURSE you are struggling now because you were brave enough to write a book about it! Satan loves to make us his target when we teach or write about something. I have seen it time and time again in my own life.

    I can’t thank you enough for being so honest, so real. Thank you for calling it what it is: LIES. From the beginning of time, deception has driving a wedge between God and His precious people all starting with the serpent and Eve.

    Thank you for your beautiful writing and for your desire to help others through your own pain. You are a true encouragement. The real deal.

  4. “Just because i’m fighting doesn’t mean i’m losing.” —so so true and such a good reminder. sometimes I get so frustrated that I feel like I’ve gone backwards and have lost what I thought I learned just because I’m fighting for it again.
    great post and thanks, as always, for being real and honest. love that about you.

  5. So much expressed in those few words. Keep on fighting and breathing, Annie. It is a constant battle, isn’t it? Not the same for everyone, but a battle nonetheless. You’ve got the Victor in your corner, on your side. Just keep breathing. (Now I’m singing Dory’s song in my head…)

  6. I fight almost everyday with a constant stream of negativity toward myself to the point I almost hate having good days because it just accentuates the worst days…I have started to claim the phrase “never say to yourself what you would never say to a friend” to try to combat my negativity–sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t…

  7. Thank you so much for your honesty Annie. I am going to hang on to the truth of what you wrote – Just because I am fighting doesn’t mean I am losing. It goes well with one of my favorite sayings – Do it afraid. It is so hard when we have had victory in an area of our life and then find ourselves struggling with the same thing AGAIN. You are right, this is not our home and some day we will fill our lungs with air more wonderful than we can imagine and there will no longer be any more lies because we will be enveloped by the truth. Praise God for the hope He brings. I pray that God will strengthen you as you fight and that truth will prevail in every area of your life. Thank you for allowing God to use you as you are struggling. You don’t know how many people your honesty has encouraged today.

  8. Amen. I’ve been in that deep black hole, where I can’t feel any hope at all. I can’t count how many times I’ve had to remind myself that emotions aren’t trustworthy, and I need to cling to what I KNOW is true. As someone has said (I’m paraphrasing), “When you don’t know Why, remember Who is in control.”

    Keep fighting. Keep breathing. Keep your eyes on Jesus!

  9. “But here’s the thing- there are women around the globe who have found fresh air for the first time and are embracing truth. And there are other women who probably think, “I can’t win this battle. I will never get out of here.”
    Here I am, writing to you literally from the other side of the globe. Reading a blog that also literally could have been written by me. Because for so long the biggest lie, that I’m ugly and worthless has been a part of me. Facing this battle -that started some months ago- has been the biggest challenge in my life so far. It’s dealing with emotions, choices I made, my attitude to others, to myself and even to God on such a large scale that I feel disconnected on every level in my life. Up to the point today that I thought ‘I will never get out of here’. It left me feeling numb, too tired to cry or even panick. I felt defeated. And then I read your blog… Thank you so much.
    Love from The Netherlands, xx

  10. This is such a timely post. Our mind is a battlefield and Satan loves it.
    Last night my MIL and I were discussing the battle that goes on in our heads. {sounds strange, I know} Each of us has the ability to “think” on things until they become our truth. We’re then left with all the effects of it. 🙁

    “Take every thought captive” is my prayer.

  11. Dear Sweet Annie,
    What a precious, cherished child of God you are. I too am familiar with the stale dungeon air of captivity and the life-giving taste of true freedom. My heart immediately connected with your blog because I have walked in your shoes in both ways. I remember feeling like I would never be free. I also know what it is to be free–and confident that I would never go back. Still the enemy is hard at work with the help of his accomplices. And as long as we’re here on this green Earth, we will be engaging in warfare.
    I’m so thankful that you posted about this vulnerable season and I would like to offer some encouragement. Recently my mind also became so filled with lies. I was overcome by every negative emotion I used to know so well… fear, anger, insecurity, depression. Even though I know the Truth that sets us free, I was still weighed down by the fierceness of battle. But then God began to minister to me. Through people around me he began to open my eyes to the wonderful things he was doing in me & through me to minister to His people. I was virtually blind to the mighty work of His hands operating in my life to bring hope to others. I remembered that God does not give us more than we can bear, and that the lying devil attacks those who infuriate him. (God must be using you to do mighty things for His Kingdom). I also remembered that God “recommended” His faithful servant Job, because He knew that Job would see life in abundance on the other side of the trial.
    I don’t even know you but somehow as I write this, I believe you too will see life in abundance on the other side of this trial. I pray that by the Spirit of God you will discover a new-found hope in the midst of it all. — The other day, when I was taking in the familiar polluted dungeon air, I took a moment to cry out to God. I prayed for deliverance as my mascara painted my white bedspread. Then God gave me a vision. It was simply a large key going into a Key hole. I’m still praying through the fullness of what that means but I do know the simple truth that God has indeed set me free, he unlocked the dungeon door and I KNOW he’s done the same for you!
    I am praying for you this morning, Annie. You are not alone in this… not one bit. 🙂
    P.S. These scriptures have been a tremendous help to me in battle: Psalm 91; Psalm 32:7; John 8:36; Isaiah 59:1; Isaiah 49:24-25; Psalm 18:34-35.

    Blessings and Freedom,
    Monique Zackery

  12. I’m in a season where I have that song on repeat a heck-of-alot too! I see your heart in your words – and you are not alone.

  13. Thank you Thank you Thank you! As I was reading your words I couldn’t believe how strange it felt to have my own thoughts and feelings put on paper right before my eyes. I cannot thank you enough for your honesty and reminding me of the truth!

  14. Annie, THANK YOU. I read your blog entry and felt like you were describing my experience exactly. The woman I am today is vastly different from the girl I was two years ago. My hope and prayer is that it can also be true that the woman I will BE will be vastly different in two years…for the better.

  15. A friend of mine has a shirt that says “breathe deep the breath of God” and I think of that when I need to – that every breath we take is God’s love filling us and sustaining us – keep fighting!!

  16. May we remember that we are not the only one in the dungeon (although that is another lie from the Great Deceiver). We are battling together and the fresh breath of a sister in the trenches can bring healing an companionship. Bringing this battle into the light will revive many and strengthen us for the battles of life. Thank you!

  17. Oh the lies! I know the battle. And I love that you remind me that just because I am fighting doesn’t mean I am losing! Amen!
    I often feel like I’ve left some of my armor at home during the battle.
    I know how you feel Annie.
    God bless!

  18. In times like this, I remind myself of what the scripture says about me, “For I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” And “For God has great plans towards me.”

  19. Satan has no power over you, Miss Annie Downs.

    And any power he thought he had was just taken away when you shared these words with us. Bless you, sweet one.

  20. I wrote this line this morning for a post that isn’t yet published.

    “…as the drops wash the lies from my face, I feel my heart begin to breathe again. The pressure pours out of me like tears. And I remember…
    ‘Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; his going out is sure as the dawn;
    he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.’
    Hosea 6:3”

    Clinging to the remnants of an epiphany that has already began to lose its luster, I read heart (breathe) I read the stories of brokenness and ongoing fear and pain (breathe). Brokenness, pain, sorrow, fear, doubt, they are all lightened when I realize they are shared. You all make my pain beautiful.

    Did you know that, when you’re lost at sea with a group, rather than wrap your arms around yourself to preserve your own heat, you are supposed to form a ring, arm over shoulders, so that your lost heat warms your neighbor and hers warms you?

    There’s a shivering, naked woman locked in a dungeon, caught in a cave, lost in black empty space, trying desperately to keep herself warm. But if she would just reach out her arm, she’d feel the thin, frozen shoulders of another.

    Thank you for reaching out and sharing your precious, fragile warmth with me.

  21. I totally get this! I wrote about it in a different way, and now I’m seeing something even clearer after reading your post. When we are set free and we see life differently – including the truth about ourselves – we can tend to take the *before* for granted, and lose sight of His Grace over that freedom He gave us. He reminds us that His grace is constant and His freedom is to always be sought and His peace our daily bread. Perfection can tend to creep in and sometimes even pride. It’s Grace where He’s brought you, Annie…don’t get down on yourself…turn it into praise for how it brings you to your knees…and how you’re able to get out of the pit a lot quicker, and a lot stronger this time, all because of Him who gives you strength. Rich blessings…

  22. Thank you for writing this! I firmly believe that one of the devil’s nastiest tricks is to make us feel utterly alone. I was so there until I read your post. Countless others are out there fighting the same battle. There is no need to go at it on our own. With God on the front lines and a community of believers around it, we will overcome-again. And again. And again.

    • That’s right! It is cheesy to quote that song from High School Musical- “we’re all in this together”? Yeah, it’s cheesy. Sorry. 🙂

  23. Thank you so much for sharing!!! I fight the same battle in my mind and I am so glad to hear someone share thier experiance. There are days that I have to hold on the the truths of God’s word and let Jesus carry me through the day. The enemy thinks he has us blinded but we know where our victory lies and each time the battle get’s easier because the enemy uses the same stratagies. Keep on keeping on!

  24. Thank you. I call it my pit…its sides are steep and muddy, and I need help getting out of there if/when I fall in there. This year the pit has been following me, ambushing me unexpectedly, and since my husband is who normally helps me out of it, and he’s deployed, I struggle. I hurt alone…afraid of the very people on whom I might depend, based on past hurts. Yet, as hard as this year has been, it has also been amazing…the things I am learning about my Lord and myself have been truly life-changing.

    Again, thank you.

  25. Oh, I know how you feel. I’m so looking forward to getting this book from the giveaway I won with (in)courage!

    Keep breathing. Satan will attack you from so many sides because you’ve talked about your victory in your book. You must be doing something right! (((Hugs)))

  26. Annie,

    Thanks for sharing and being so transparent. Many women battle with this as you can see by the comments and yes I am one of those.

    I am lifting you up in prayer – praying for strength, wisdom and for God to wrap you in His arms and surround you with peace and rest.

    Keep breathing and pressing forward.

  27. oh, annie girl. i get it. i often say that i stopped actively being anorexic but my brain hasn’t really gotten the memo. but no matter what lies our eyes tell us, there is a TRUTH in our hearts that won’t change. praying you hold onto the truth.

  28. Thank you Annie for your honest and beautiful words. It’s so easy to think everyone else has it figured out. Especially in the blog world. But transparency is key to community. We are all so much alike while being beautifully unique at the same time. I am right where you are, breathing with you (and I don’t even know you!).

  29. I started with this post this morning and came back to it this afternoon.
    God’s work in you is so real and so clear.
    Longing for the day when the battle is over and “every tear is wiped away”.
    Thank you for being willing to share your heart.

  30. I was just having a conversation with a friend about this very topic yesterday. It’s like you read my journal. Thank you for your words and truth.

  31. I can completely relate! For a time, I do well. Then the road block slams into me, knocks me off my feet and I sit there dazed and confused, troubled and scared. In fact, I just wrote about it tonight! I found a Bible verse and it described me and how I felt. I guess I’m entering a new season and as you suggest, I’ll keep breathing! Thank you! I don’t feel so alone in my walk.
    Carrie

  32. I’ve always viewed depression as water. It’s wave upon wave of self-deprecation and loneliness that knocks me over, keeping me from standing and catching my breath. It’s a cool, dark place that surrounds me and isolates me from everything around me. The surface seems peaceful, but inside is turmoil and creatures that never see the light of day. I’m struggling right now…NO, I’m fighting right now. I hear the sound of the waves in my ears, feel the water lapping at my feet threatening to break the boundaries and overfill my life. Through the grace of God I am fighting and I will win. It is tiring though. Thank you for sharing your experience and helping me to remember that there are others out there fighting this same battle with me. Praying for you today, Annie.

  33. This is EXACTLY what’s happening to me right now. I’ve become insanely bitter & cynical lately – all because I liked a boy & then had my hopes dashed – which is how I used to function all the time. And the past couple of years, things have been great, mostly. But now…not at all.

    I’ll be praying for you, that this season of attack doesn’t last too long for you!

    God bless.

  34. Are you a long, lost sister of mine? Were we twins separated at birth?

    I kid, but Annie, I know you’ve heard it 80+ times already…I HEAR you. More than that, I’m giving harmony to this melody. I know the tune full well – the refrain – the repeated measures. The lyrics of lies.

    I believe God has gifted you and I in similar ways (never exactly the same, by His diverse beauty), for I can’t shake the feeling that He’s directing me to write about it someday too. Terror grips me tightly when I think about releasing so much out into the air.
    But that is a whole other story.

    All I came to say is that I feel like I could hug you tight and whisper “my sister, I understand”, and we could sit over coffee and not even need to speak many words, for the ability to relate would flow between the silence and sips. Though we never wish others to feel the stale air of our imprisoned walls, the knowledge that we are not doomed to solitary – to be the lonely sufferer of that which is constantly bigger than ourselves – is untainted oxygen to our lungs.

    Thank you. Thank you for being obedient and trusting enough to speak. You honor your sisters by your candor and faith.

  35. Annie,

    Thank you for your post! I am in the same battle. I am fighting negativity,anxiety, and depression. Leaning on God’s promises through the pain. Praying for you, Annie.

    Kathy

  36. I had been up for hours during the night trying to put my thoughts to words, and I woke up to your post. Thank you, for putting words to the thoughts that I couldn’t.

  37. Your courage to be brave….wow! I can only imagine the lives that will be impacted by your voice here. I, too, am one of those who knows both sides…and JUST BREATHE….each day, is great advice!

    {HUGS!!!}

  38. Okay, 88 comments, that’s a lot. But I wanted to share my thoughts too. Just like me I suppose to still want to give my 2cents even if I am a little late. *smile*

    I can take comfort in knowing I am a princess in His kingdom, a blessed daughter of the King. I know He is my refuge, best friend for all times, teacher, comforter, leader, guide, and so much more. Knowing that in my head while going through things in life don’t always mesh for some horrid reason.

    Since a church split over bible verses what the leadership wanted, having a baby among a sister and sister-in-law both struggling with not having them when they thought they should, and moving to a new town as well as state, life has been kind of crazy for the past six years. I am starting to feel at home again, though that has taken me at leas three years. I thought I was through this, but every time I think I am for some reason I feel alone once again. I have the privilage of spending every day with two of my best friends in the world. Not every momma has this opportunity and I am greatful. I get to be married to my best friend here on earth. Once again, not every wife gets to claim that truth. So, I am blessed. This I know. *smile* As I have grown over the past six years mostly, I have stoped to consider what I believe and why a bit more. This is not new for me, just taking it to a new level. I want to celebrate with a purpose not just go with the flow of traffic, you know. The song, “Find Yourself” by Brad Paisly in the Cars movie seems to be my theam song. My mom has no idea who I am nor why I am making the decisions I am making, nor does she support me in them. She doesn’t fight me, but she doesn’t support me either. Oft times she acts as though she wants to learn things from me, which is odd as I think it should be the other way around, me learning from her. My in-laws are nice people and listen well though they too seem to be unsupportive of decisions we make, not argumentative, just unsupportive. We attend church, with no fellowship – which is what we are told not to forsake. It’s been seven or eight years since we have been active in a small group of fellowship and spuring. I miss that.

    So, my lack of getting air has everything to do with me, though I struggle like a person with pnemonia I suppose, I long for a relaxed kinship that is blessed by my father. I have met other mommas who have a desire to grow children who hunger after the teacher but have not had that .. .. .. click, you know. So, again, I try to breath. The joy is that there are several times when I get a good deep breath of His calm and I rest. I rest in knowing that I am fallowing the Teacher where he leads my husband and our family. Some times there isn’t room on the path to walk two wide, we walk single file and keep treaking. That’s where we seem to be right now. I felt this way in school as well, like I was walking single file fallowing Him. There are days for pick nicks and laughter and there are days of quite walking and listening to where He wants you to go and who He wants you to be.

    Sorry, longer than I expected, but from the heart no less. *smile* Have a lovely day finding your breathing space and relaxing in His truths. Sincerely, Mommy of two little blessings & so much more!

  39. It is a season. This season will also pass and you will find yourself in a deeper, sweeter freedom then you have known in the past. Recently I realized that I was living under the belief that “I need to fix it”, it meaning – finances, relationships, career…It was a belief that was put into place when I was a small child and has been staling the air around me for decades. God will expose the source of your pain and walk you through the healing. All that you need to do is seek him and breath. You are loved.

  40. Thank you so much for your honesty. I needed to hear this today. It’s good to know I’m not alone in going through dark periods of life.

  41. Wow, I can’t believe the perfect timing of your writing this post. I’ve been feeling so many of these same things lately, and like you, hoped this season was done (like, forever).

    Thanks so much for your honesty and for tackling this important subject.

  42. Thank you for your candidness. I have been walking with the Lord for over 25 years now and for the most part am always victorious…however the battle to stay afloat is always there…yes, just breathe, breathe in HIS spirit, HIS love, HIS acceptance and HIS forgiveness…thanks again.
    aloha~Connie

  43. And just when I thought I was the only one…

    Thank you for sharing. Thank you for the encouragement.

  44. I am praying for you, Annie. You talented girl You. Keep writing and breathing. You are touching so many people; so Many, including me. Keep doing your thing.