The Florida-based nonprofit organization To Write Love On Her Arms is about to commemorate its 10th anniversary helping millions of people who are struggling with depression, addiction, and suicidal thoughts. Founder Jamie Tworkowski worked tirelessly to honor his good friend and inspired the movement, which allowed him to form a group of people who have helped millions of those suffering in the process.
Watch: 10 Years of To Write Love On Her Arms
I personally discovered this organization while attending the It’s Not Dead Fest in October 2015. It made me realize that there are so many music festivals around today where tens of thousands of people can escape their everyday life to enjoy their favorite bands, if only for a few hours. Some of them return to their lives struggling with hopelessness and dependence on hard substances. It is important to not forget these people once the music stops.
The group sent me a copy of Jamie’s book entitled If You Feel Too Much after It’s Not Dead and I must admit, it has taken me a while to get through. I have struggled to sit down and dedicate myself to the vivid stories Tworkowski tells so well based on my own personal struggle with depression and my family’s history with suicide. As I slowly read each story, letter, and poem, I realize that a review of the book is not necessary.
I want to share the positive light created by To Write Love On Her Arms provides, especially in a music scene that focuses so much on positivity, that it may ignore those who use reggae music to help them with their own personal struggles.
Not everything in life has the “good vibes” we hear so commonly in the reggae scene. Sure, reggae is a positive outlet in a world that can, at times, be full of darkness and despair, but overcoming that is not easy for a lot of people. Many people who appear happy on the outside can be going through so much anxiety and depression with little hope of overcoming their thoughts.
Some people do not see a way out and decide to end their lives. They can be referred to as cowards without a full understanding of the disease that has been festering in their brain, eating away at the lifelines that holds their connection to life together and makes them face the world every day.
I have had the opportunity to leave home and experience many new places in my life. Each new place has afforded me the opportunity to meet many different people from all walks of life and it is in the eyes of those people that have forced me to see the good in this life and the reasons for continuing on.
One morning, while living at home, in between jobs and adventures, my parents barged into my room in a panic. They said my sister’s fiancé had tried to kill himself and we had no other information. What we did not know was the attempt was successful and my sister was about to begin a long road down acceptance, forgiveness, and redemption. Through therapy, the support of her friends and family, and participation in events such as the Save a Life 5k and walk, my sister took this tragedy as an opportunity to help others affected by the decision to end their own lives.
Depression can affect anyone at any time and it is important to have organizations and individuals who understand what it is like to be there as support to help heal the wounds in those left behind. Sometimes all that person needed was the right friend to sit, listen, and tell them they are beautiful.
To Write Love On Her Arms founder Jamie Tworkowski never set out to start a nonprofit organization, he just wanted to be a friend to Renee Yohe, who was suffering from addiction, depression, self-injury, and suicidal thoughts. He wrote about the five days spent with her prior to entering a treatment facility and raised money for the costs through the sale of t-shirts.
T-shirts are one thing, but how are we supposed to reach people on a different level of thinking? To Write Love On Her Arms became a nonprofit organization with the goal of dedicating and presenting hope while finding help for those struggling with depression, self-injury, and suicidal thoughts. The organization exists to inform, encourage, inspire, and invest directly into treatment and recovery.
As TWLOHA reaches its ten-year anniversary, the group has responded to over 180,000 messages from people in over 100 different countries. Volunteers have traveled over one million miles to meet with people directly in their communities, and have shared more than 600 blog posts from people who want to let others know that they are not alone in their pain.
In 2011, TWLOHA received a $1 million grant from the American Giving Awards which have helped them ship merchandise to 74 countries, including 3,624 National Suicide Prevention Week packs. To this day they have donated $1.5 to treatment and recovery facilities all while funding 73 unique organizations and counseling practices.
A film based on the true story that inspired the movement was released in 2012 by Sony Pictures Entertainment starring Kat Dennings, Chad Michael Murray, and Rupert Friend.
Sometimes, a simple act of listening can help someone overcome a dark path he or she has found himself or herself on. To Write Love On Her Arms was founded as a way to help one person and has blossomed into a collective that has been able to help millions. Please consider donating, buying a t-shirt, or even sending a message of support. A little act can go a long way.
TWLOHA is celebrating their 10th birthday with a concert featuring Jon Foreman of Switchfoot and may others at the House of Blues in Orlando, FL. You can purchase tickets HERE.
You can purchase a copy of If You Feel Too Much in their web store by clicking HERE.
You can donate to To Write Love On Her Arms by clicking HERE.