March 1st: Self Injury Awareness Day - TWLOHA

This past Sunday I hosted another art event. But this time was different. This time was very difficult.

It was not difficult because this was my first event hosted at a legitimately rented venue, it was not because I had relocated, and was now in a brand new city trying to promote what I do; no it was not even difficult because the canvases were mixed media art instead of just acrylic paintings. These were all factors in why it could have been difficult. And if I am being honest, factors in which I claimed were valid reasons to cancel. But no, that was not why this was difficult.

This particular event was difficult because the organization L's Art was raising funds and awareness for was: To Write Love on Her Arms. And this is the part where everyone falls silent, either because they know what To Write On Her Arms is about, or because they do not.

"To Write Love on Her Arms 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."

In short, as Jamie Tworkowski, the founder of the organization would say: "It is a story and it is a response to a story ... It is about hope more than anything else."

"You need to know rescue is possible, freedom is possible, God is still in the business of redemption. We're seeing it happen. People sitting across from a counselor for the first time. People stepping into treatment. In desperate moments, people calling a suicide hotline. We know the first step toward recovery is the hardest to take. We want to say here that it's worth it, your life is worth fighting for, it's possible to change.

Beyond treatment, we believe community is essential. People need other people. We were never meant to do life alone. The vision is that community, 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 we would love ourselves enough to get the help we need."

I know this seems so foreign, and even a little dark. That happy-go-lucky girl with everything going for her, loving an organization who's focus is self harm and suicide awareness and prevention. It is the thing no one likes to talk about. It is that illusion of a perfect life. It is not true. This happy-go-lucky girl, is human and beautifully broken; I am no exception to life's double sided blade of happiness and sorrow. This event was difficult for me because I have struggled with depression, much like many others, for the better part of ten years of my life.

Every time I get better, it then gets so much worse when I slip up. When I slip back into those negative, self deprecating thought patterns; when I have too much to drink; when I find a razor when I am sad; when I love someone who is bad for me, to reinforce how poorly I see myself. When you have it together, it makes things hard to fall apart.  That is where To Write Love On Her Arms, along with Christ, and long lasting friendships have helped save my life. Because when I read the words Jamie writes: your life is worth fighting for, it's possible to change - it sends a resounding shiver down my spine. Because I know what it's like to want to die.

This event was difficult, because despite my close friends and family knowing my history with these issues: both triumphs and failures, that by hosting this, by affiliating myself personally with this organization I was exposing a part of my soul. A part that on some days I do not even want to acknowledge.

But I chose to do this, because this isn't an organization about a bunch of whiners or people who want attention, as some might stereotype it. This is an organization that gives community and hope to people who are hurting and need it. That is something I will support until the day I die.

The theme for this event was Fear vs. Dream, a reoccurring question of To Write Love On Her Arms. I asked everyone at the event what their fear and dream was, I forgot to explain my own. So here goes: Dream - Love (Including/Especially SELF LOVE) Fear - Relapse.

These issues need to be discussed. Break the stigma associated with mental health issues. Love people. Love yourself.

I know these are gritty issues and are hard to discuss. Clearly, they have been for me as well (I never even wanted people to know I supported TWLOHA for fear of judgement) but by doing so you could save a life, by doing so you could change a life. Love people. Love yourself. It's hard, but it's worth it.

I am happy to announce, this event raised over $500, all of which is going to encourage, inform, inspire, and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.