Some of you may know that in my early teenage years I suffered from anorexia. After going through many traumatizing events in my early childhood I found the one thing I could control. It was rough and ultimately ended up putting me in the hospital while on a church youth group trip. At that time, To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) didn’t exist. Lucky for me, I had some pretty great people in my life who not only rushed me to the hospital but also took time to talk through things with me. Those people are still a part of my life to this day.
I’ve experienced more than an eating disorder. I’ve experienced loss as well. My friend committed suicide and I have friends along with family members that struggle with self injury and depression. For those reasons, TWLOHA is very near and dear to my heart. Not only did it start and now operates out of my hometown but their mission is to help people experiencing these horrible life struggles.
(Some of the following I will be taking from the TWLOHA website because the story and their mission deserves to be told perfectly.)
The TWLOHA founder, Jamie Tworkowski, didn’t set out to start a nonprofit organization. All he wanted to do was help a friend and tell her story. When Jamie met Renee Yohe, she was struggling with addiction, depression, self-injury, and suicidal thoughts. He wrote about the five days he spent with her before she entered a treatment center, and he sold T-shirts to help cover the cost. When she entered treatment, he posted the story on MySpace to give it a home. The name of the story was “To Write Love on Her Arms.” The story is an amazing and inspiring story which you can read here.
Soon Jamie and his friends were answering messages from people around the world. They longed to lift the heavy weight of depression. They wanted to be free from addiction or self-injury, to stay alive and live fully. They were mourning those they’d lost to such struggles, and they reached out to ask what they could do to bring hope to their communities.
In 2007 TWLOHA became an official nonprofit. TWLOHA is a movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and invest directly into treatment and recovery.
TWLOHA acts as a “bridge to help” by pointing people to credible national, local, and community resources which address a variety of mental health issues and illnesses. They also offer grants to organizations and treatment centers and support counseling through scholarship funds. They’ve given more than $1 million to treatment and recovery. They do this through fundraising and donations. Now you have an opportunity to help!
On April 16, 2016 The 4th Annual Run For It 5K takes place in Satellite Beach, Florida. While most of you are not in the local area, myself included, you can be a virtual runner. As TWLOHA states, this is an opportunity to move for something that matters–whether that’s for health, recovery, or in memory of a loved one.
This organization and their mission is very close to my heart and I have attended conferences and while I worked at a college I helped initiate a UChapter on campus. I was a virtual runner last year and will be again this year. Please join me and help support such a wonderful vision of hope and love. You can get all the details and sign up here.
If you are struggling with depression, self-injury, addiction or suicidal thoughts then please seek help. You can click this link and find local resources. If this is an emergency or if you are worried that you or someone you know may be at risk for suicide, please call your local authorities (911).
The hotlines below are 24 hours and are confidential.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
For hearing and speech impaired with TTY equipment: 1.800.799.4TTY (779-4889)
National Child Abuse Hotline
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN)
The Trevor Project
A national 24-hour, toll free confidential suicide hotline for gay and questioning youth.
Veterans Crisis Line
1.800.273.TALK (273-8255) Press 1
Crisis Text Line
Text “TWLOHA” to 741-741