I'm a huge supporter of the organization To Write Love On Her Arms (as you may have noticed from some of my recent posts). Their mission statement, if you're not familiar with it, is: "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." I really couldn't put it in any better words.
I've never had the chance to go to a TWLOHA event, so I was TOTALLY excited when I heard about the Pick Up The Phone tour, featuring Blue October with opener B.O.B. The Pick Up The Phone tour was dedicated to suicide prevention, with people from 1-800-SUICIDE, TWLOHA, and PostSecret scheduled to be at the events. The tour was going to come to the House of Blues- just a quick bus ride from campus- on November 15. I definitely wanted to go.
I didn't purchase a ticket right away. In fact, it turns out that TWLOHA needed volunteers (18 and over, and able to get to/from the event) to help out at the event! I don't think I could explain in words how excited I was. Naturally, I sent an email and filled out a volunteer application. I was so, so excited to actually volunteer for an organization that means so much to me. I have had previous non-profit experience, but it was "behind-the-scenes"; I was so ready for the opportunity to go "out there" and meet people and tell them about To Write Love on Her Arms. Going to the event and meeting members of the TWLOHA would've been cool, but actually volunteering and knowing how much I would've helped? Yeah, that would've been pretty much amazing.
However, not long after that, I found out that the Pick Up The Phone tour had been cancelled, due to Blue October's lead singer, Justin Furstenfeld, being hospitalized due to an extreme anxiety attack. I was definitely a little upset that the tour had been cancelled, because I had really been looking forward to volunteering. But having struggled with mental health issues myself (I won't go in to detail here), I know that you can't always control it, and sometimes the best thing to do really is to rest. It is so, so important to get treatment.
So that was awhile ago. Today (okay, yesterday, be technical) was the date the show was going to be. I wish it could've happened, but I really think Justin did the right thing, and I know that it is important for him to heal.
For anyone struggling with mental health issues- whether it is depression, bipolar disorder, OCD, recovering from abuse of any form, self-injury, anxiety, addiction, suicide, or anything else- please, get help. Reaching out can be the hardest thing in the world. But please, please, please do it. If you are struggling with any of these things, please be aware that you are not alone. Recovery is not easy, but it is possible. I promise. I've held off on the cheesiness till now, but if you are in a crisis, please, please, please "pick up the phone" and call 1-800-SUICIDE (or any other hotline). Or talk to a friend, a parent, a teacher, a counselor. Just reach out.
"Presenting hope" to those dealing with mental illness may seem like a small thing, but it in no way is. I don't think it's possible to measure the impact of TWLOHA directly, but I think it's pretty clear that they've had a big impact. Friday was "To Write Love on Her Arms Day". I wrote "LOVE" on my arm, and if anyone questioned it, I'd planned to tell them all about the organization, and write "LOVE" on their arm. But I didn't get to write "LOVE" on anyone else's arm. Why? Because just about everyone I knew had already done it themselves.
I would like to add that you do NOT need to have personal experience dealing with any of the aforementioned issues in order to support TWLOHA, 1-800-Suicide, or any other organization. Writing "LOVE" on your arm, for example, does not mean you yourself have struggled with any type of depression, self-injury, or addiction. It means that you support the organization.