By John Waterman
By John Waterman
Life is a constant wave of emotions, and just when we think things can’t get any worse, they can and will. It’s times like these when our relationships with others are most important.
To have a hand reaching out to pick you up when things have finally hit bottom; to know that there is at least one person out there that simply cares is enough to bring hope to those who’ve lost it. It is enough to inspire, and it is enough to save a life.
To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) is an outreach program that acts as a conduit that can be utilized by those who suffer from depression, addiction, self-injury and as a result, consider suicide.
According to the TWLOHA Web site, “the organization was inspired by a girl named Renee Yohe whose story begins at the age of 19 with a line of cocaine and a razor blade.”
“She is offered opposite ideas by ‘friends’ in order to alleviate the pain she feels. That night Renee locks herself in the bathroom and cuts herself, using the blade to largely write a self-deprecating obscenity across her left forearm.”
Issues such as this have a major impact on young adults and teens.
According to TWLOHA, “self-injury, like many addictions is a coping mechanism to deal with some manner of internal pain.”
Although this form of self-injury only affects four percent of the world’s population, in recent years it has become more visible in society.
“When I was cutting, it would make me feel a little bit better, feeling the pain and seeing myself bleed would bring me back to reality,” said a Riverside City College student that requested his identity remain anonymous.
The student went on to say “It started when I was 14 … Towards the end of it I was doing drugs and drinking. One time I carved a tattoo into my arm that said ‘unloved.’ It’s just a release from social anxiety and pressure. A lot of the people that do it are repeaters … It’s like a drug, it’s addicting, while you’re doing it you feel better and when you’re done you want to go back and do it again.”
Self-injury comes in many forms, but generally stems from untreated cases of depression.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “approximately 18 million people suffer from depression in America alone.”
As a result it has been discovered that untreated depression is the number one leading cause of suicide, and suicide is the third leading cause of death among those 18-24 years old. 30 percent of teens who suffer from depression also develop a substance abuse problem.
“TWLOHA is important because there needs to be some sort of voice in all the darkness to say that there is hope, to help breakdown the stigmas surrounding these raw issues. Anyone dealing with these issues needs that inspiration that they are not alone and that they are still loved,” said a TWLOHA intern. “We know the pain is very real. It is our privilege to suggest that hope is real and that help is real … We suggest that love is the movement.”
Since 2006, TWLOHA has given nearly $500,000 to treatment and recovery programs.
More importantly than the money, they have created an outlet for prevention, awareness and communication.
Although TWLOHA has answered more than 80,000 messages from over 40 different countries, acting as a helping hand for those in need, they themselves have not acted alone.
They have also brought their message of hope to concerts, universities, festivals and churches, with the goal of spreading awareness and their message of hope.
It is the hope that to replace a feeling of self-worthlessness and To Write Love on Her Arms, replacing the scars that preceded can indeed change a life.
“Tell them to look up, tell them to remember the stars. The stars are always there but we miss them in the clouds and dirt, we miss them in the storms. Tell them to remember hope. We have hope,” said Yohe in her book titled, The Purpose for the Pain.
For those who wish to donate or seek help visit twloha.com or contact RCC’s Health Services at 951-222-8151. Remember, “rescue is possible.”