Pain is subjective— both mental and physical. Oftentimes, individuals with depression or addiction feel alone and hopeless— lost within their narrative.
Mental Health Month is recognized during May, encouraging the community to join together and bring awareness to something typically brushed under the rug. But, mental health is a subject that should be discussed more often than annually— and that’s where the non-profit organization To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) steps in.
A decade of love
The inspiration behind the organization’s mission is simple: to help. This idea developed in 2006 when Jamie Tworkowski helped support a friend during her mental health treatment and recovery by selling T-shirts. After her treatment, Tworkowski realized that his friend’s experience is one that many can relate to, and shared her story with the world via Myspace with a post titled, “To Write Love on Her Arms.” In response to the story’s positive and impactful feedback, the organization became an official non-profit in 2007.
Originally documented as an idea in 2006, To Write Love on Her Arms has helped those struggling with depression, addiction, self-harm and suicidal thoughts realize that they are not alone.
With the help of TWLOHA, more people than ever are getting help for struggles with depression, addiction, self injury and suicidal thoughts. The online support community is an empowering example of the modern age.
During the 10th Annual Rock on the Range music festival, we caught up with Chad Moses, Music and Events Coordinator for TWLOHA. He explains how the online community has helped make headway for individuals, “In our little niche of the internet, we’re seeing people ask for help in moments of courage. And through virtue of the internet, we are able to connect them to those resources.”
Yet, for every encouraging word, there are a handful of negative— hurtful— comments made by naysayers, dubbed “trolls,” who hide behind the anonymity of the computer screen. Along with those destructive personas, “You’re seeing different corners in the internet that are finding a false security in its anonymous nature,” related Chad, adding that, “Especially in the world of eating disorders, you’re now starting to see a bit of push-back towards health. But, for a while, there was a glorification of things that are quite damaging to someone… If we aren’t careful the internet can cause more isolation.”
During our face-to-face conversation, interested concertgoers walked past the TWLOHA booth, checking out the merchandise. One friendly-looking girl approached Chad and shook his hand, thanking him on behalf of the organization for her nearly two years of sobriety. Moments like this make the whole movement come to life. Witnessing the humanity behind the idea and the reality of pain and recovery, we saw a closing chapter to a story of struggle.
Help turn the pages
TWLOHA is a nationwide non-profit and a worldwide movement. Practically based online, the organization is physically based in Melbourne, Florida.
“We’ve had the benefit of seeing pretty much the best that the internet has to offer. We receive messages from countries that we’ve never been to, maybe will never have a chance to go to— but these are people who’ve heard about us,” Chad explains, “At the end of the day, we want you to connect with your community in a way that is significant.”
Chad compassionately highlighted the power of connection, saying that, “For us, the hope is that you are going find someone in your community that you can have intentional and consistent interaction with— you deserve a face-to-face, you don’t need a screen to feel loved, to feel heard, to feel connected.”
How to get involved?
Through the TWLOHA website, visitors are able to purchase merchandise (proceeds benefit treatment programs), plan a benefit event or join the campaign journey throughout the year.