As I have been researching and learning more about depression and suicide, I have been looking to other organizations who are looking to raise awareness and support for issues like these. This week, a non-profit organization, To Write Love On Her Arms, took time out of their day to answer some questions. Below are the answers from Abi, who is a Fall 2011 TWLOHA intern.
TWLOHA is a fairly new organization, only about 5 years old, and yet you have a huge following and support system. How do you think TWLOHA has changed since it began in 2006?
ABI: We would like to think that we have stayed true to our roots over the last few years. Our support base has grown and we are now known internationally and we have international inspiration everyday, which helps us keep TWLOHA true to its mission statement.
Your message is very clear and everyone seems so passionate about this organization. Would you mind sharing with me a bit about your own story?
ABI: I am a TWLOHA intern, I have been here almost 4 months. I applied for the internship because TWLOHA helped me a lot with my struggles. I suffer from anxiety and depression. In my darkest times I struggled a lot with self injury and TWLOHA showed me that I was not alone and asking for help was not a sign of weakness. I am passionate about TWLOHA because the idea of supporting and loving your community is something I needed in my time of darkness, to get me through, and I want to give that to other peole.
Each day you hear and reach out to so many people struggling with addiction, depression, suicide, and self-injury, how do you go about talking to people who are dealing with such serious problems?
ABI: It is all about the individual person, we do not have a set example of what we say to people struggling. We are all different and should be given personalized support. It is so important to make sure that they know that they are not alone, and that we are there to support them.
What is one thing you think everyone can do to help pitch in and raise awareness for addiction, depression, suicide, and self-injury?
ABI: Simple ways to get involved are following us on social media such as Twitter and Facebook, wearing a shirt, and sending in a donation. If you’re interested in a way to actively promote online and throughout your community, you can check out our Street Team at: www.towriteloveonherarms.fancorps.com. You could also put together a benefit or fundraiser in your area. In the past supporters have done everything from car washes and bake sales to pancake dinners and benefit concerts. If you would like to make your event an official TWLOHA Benefit, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your event details (date, time, place, and what the event is) to begin the application process. If you are in college, you may be interested in our UChapters Program or our Intern Program (more info here: www.twloha.com/move/uchapters and www.twloha.com/intern-program/). If you would like to learn more about the topics we address and how to raise awareness and build community in your area, you might be interested in attending a MOVE Community Conference (more info here: www.twloha.com/move/move-conference/). Please let us know if you have any questions. We appreciate your support very much.
How has working at TWLOHA changed you as a person?
ABI: I am now a more open person about my feelings and my story. I also love people in so many different ways. I love people, all people. It is not a blatent love, not romantic, not platonic. It is just love for peoples stories, their lives and they emotions. I am more tolerant and I love myself, something that has taken years to feel.
Today, depression and suicide are two subjects that many people are not comfortable talking about or dealing with. What are some of the things you struggle with on a daily basis in your job and how do you overcome them?
ABI: We struggle with the fact that we only have words to give people in need. It is hard to not be hands on in their recovery and not physically holding their hand through their process, but we have learned that being a support from a distance and being a support via email is so important to some people, which makes it all worth it.
If you could get out one message to the world right now, what would it be?
ABI: You are not alone. You are beautiful. Keep fighting, keep breathing, you are worth it. You are loved.