Usually when people think “hero,” they think of someone like Superman or Spiderman. When I think “hero,” I think of a certain organization. I think of To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA). TWLOHA is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to helping people learn how to help their friends get through depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. It exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and also to invest into treatment and recovery. The organizers have a special vision, and they actually believe in their vision.
TWLOHA’s organizers’ vision is that everyone is meant to love and be loved. They believe you were meant to live your life in relationships with other people--you were meant to know and be known. They are there to remind people that their story matters and that their story is part of a much bigger one. They want to remind individuals that their life is meant to affect other people’s lives and that their life DOES matter. They say that we live in a difficult world and sometimes need to be reminded of this point.
Byron, one of the friends of the people that started the organization, said, “Life is hard for most people most of the time.” TWLOHA believes that everyone goes through pain at least a dozen times in their life and, therefore, everyone can relate to pain in some way. They believe that everyone lives with questions and gets stuck in some unfortunate moments. They are there to help you remember that you’re not alone in these moments.
TWLOHA’s organizers say, “We wake to mystery and beauty but also to tragedy and loss. Millions of homes are filled with questions – moments and seasons and cycles that come as thieves and aim to stay.” TWLOHA tells you the truth about life, no matter how harsh it may be. The people of the organization are there to tell you that hope and help are real. They are there to inform you that rescue is very possible, that freedom from all the hurt is very possible, and that God is still in the process of redemption. The organizers see it happen every day. They see people’s lives change as they get the help they need.
TWLOHA’s organizers’ vision is as follows:
“Community and hope and help would replace secrets and silence. The vision is people putting down guns and blades and bottles. The vision is that we can reduce the suicide rate in America and around the world. The vision is that we would learn what it means to love our friends, and that we would love ourselves enough to get the help we need. The vision is better endings. The vision is the restoration of broken families and broken relationships. The vision is people finding life, finding freedom, finding love. The vision is graduation, a Super Bowl, a wedding, a child, a sunrise. The vision is people becoming incredible parents, people breaking cycles, making change. The vision is that your best days are ahead. The vision is that we’re more loved than we’ll ever know. The vision is hope, and hope is real. You are not alone, and this is not the end of your story.”
TWLOHA began as an attempt to help a 19-year-old girl named Renee in the spring of 2006. Her story and the life her story represented were things of contrast – “pain and hope, addiction and sobriety, regret and the possibility of freedom.” To Write Love on Her Arms was a goal saying that a better life was possible. The organizers started selling t-shirts as a way to help raise money to help pay for Renee’s treatment, and they made a MySpace for it to give it all a home. They started hearing from people in need and other people wanting to know how they could help their friends.
Over the last two and a half years, the organizers have responded to over 80,000 messages from people from 20 different countries. They have learned that these are not American issues, not white issues or “emo” issues; they learned that these are humanity issues, that these are problems of pain that affect millions of people all around the world.
The following facts are from the TWLOHA website:
• 121 million people worldwide suffer from depression.
• 18 million of these cases are happening in the United States.
• Between 20% and 50% of children and teens struggling with depression have a family history of this struggle and the offspring of depressed parents are more than 3 times as likely to suffer from depression.
• Depression often co-occurs with anxiety disorders and substance abuse, with 30% of teens with depression also developing a substance abuse problem.
• 2/3 of those suffering from depression never seek treatment.
The whole story behind why the organizers created the organization is too long to write about and too important to try to shorten. It is a very sad and inspiring story about a struggle that really happened to someone. Her story is just like millions of other people’s stories and the organization is there to let people know that they aren’t alone in the world and that there is help to be found. These individuals of TWLOHA, those trying to help people all across the world, are the reason I consider the organization to be my hero.
To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA)
- is a non-profit 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 also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.