I was inspired by Heather to join in this movement. As she said- not to be "in on something" but to share... connect... to open up and spread the word... to let others know that they are not alone.
Let me back up. To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for those struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatement recovery. They also have a Facebook page.
A TWLOHA "Day" is a day set aside to specifically write it on your arms... write it on, speak it out, share your story if you have one. So, in honor of TWLOHA Day, I thought I'd open up to some issues I tend to keep to my private blog. Issues I've struggled with for awhile but just recently, in the past couple years, been working on to overcome.
- 121 million people worldwide suffer from depression. (World Health Organization)
- 18 million of these cases are happening in the United States. (The National Institute of Mental Health)
- Between 20% and 50% of children and teens struggling with depression have a family history of this struggle and the offspring of depressed parents are more than three times as likely to suffer from depression. (U.S. Surgeon General's Survey, 1999)
- Depression often co-occurs with anxiety disorders and substance abuse (NIMH)
- 2/3 of those suffering from depression never seek treatment.
I am one of the 18 million.
I suffer from episodes of anxiety, depression and anger/rage.
I have struggled on and off since my teenage years with depression... nothing actually diagnosed but I've had very very devastating thoughts at times throught my life. As a teen I asked to be put into counseling because I didn't know what was wrong with me... I didn't know why I hated myself... why I wanted to die... why I couldn't be "happy". As Heather said previously, I felt like I could mask it easily on the outside, but it was the struggle on the inside I was dealing with that was so scary.
Looking back, I really should have been on medication during my pregnancy with Hudson and especially afterward. I had some very awful thoughts, very depressed, hopeless way of thinking about life. It was such a dark time for me and when I recall the thoughs and emotions I experienced, it scares me. It is often so hard to ask for help.
Don't be afraid to.
You are not alone. I promise.
My road to healing has been long. It has had its ups and downs and it surely is not over. I currently see a therapist who helps me with mindful practices to overcome my demons, and I see a psychiatrist who regulates my medication. I still have days where I "fall off the wagon"... where I rage over insignificant setbacks and feel like life is hopeless and that nothing in the world is right. But, learning to LOVE myself, something that I've been working hard on doing in the past few years, has helped me through.
(The following is from their site... the vision for TWLOHA)
The hope is that we all -every single one of us- actually believe these things...
That you were created to love and be loved. You were meant to live life in relationship with other people, to know and be known. You need to know that your story is important and that you're part of a bigger story. You need to know that your life matters.
We live in a difficult world, a broken world. The truth is, life is hard for most people most of the time. Everyone can relate to pain, all of us live with questions, and all of us get stuck in moments. You need to know that you're not alone in the places you feel stuck.
Life if full of mystery and beauty but also tragedy and loss. Millions of people live with problems of pain. Millions of homes are filled with questions and moments and seasons and cycles that try to rob us the joy our life is supposed to be. We know that pain is very real. But we need to suggest that hope is real... and that help is real.
It needs to be known that rescue is possible, that freedom is possible, that God is still in the business of redemption and renewal. We can see it happen. We can see lives change as people get the help they need. People sitting across from a counselor for the first time. People stepping into treatment. In desperate moments, people calling a suicide hotline. We know that the first step to recovery is the hardest to take. We want to say here that it's worth it; that your life is worth fighting for, that it's possible to change.The movement behind TWLOHA has a vision.
The vision is that community and hope and help would replace suffering and 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. That we can heal those who harm themselves.
The vision is that we would learn what it means to love our friends and that we would love ourselves enough to get the help we need.
The vision is better endings.
The vision is the restoration of broken families and broken relationships.
The vision is people finding life, finding freedom, finding love.
The vision is graduation, a wedding, a child, a sunrise.
The vision is people becoming incredible parents, people breaking cycles, making change.
The vision is the possibility that your best days are ahead.
The vision is the possibility of the realization that we're more loved than we'll ever know.
The vision is hope, and hope is real.
You are not alone, and this is not the end of your story.