A Night With TWLOHA

A Night With TWLOHA

"I'm so glad I'm still here for this."
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Last night I went to a TWLOHA event to see Jamie Tworkowski speak. If you've never heard of it before, TWLOHA stands for To Write Love On Her Arms. It is an organization dedicated to ending the mental illness stigma and helping people who are struggling to find help and support. It was a night filled with some heavy moments, but also moments of victory and celebration as well.

Jamie shared some heartbreaking statistics with us, like the fact that over 2.2 million Americans have depression, but 2/3 of those people do NOT receive the help they need. So let's get real.

Depression favors no one. It is not pitiful, it does not make you weak, and it does not have to be a secret. It does not have to be a deal breaker or a burden that you cannot live with. Depression can be managed, and we have the power to choose what we do with it. But here's the thing, NONE of that is attainable if you're unwilling to bring your depression into the light. You cannot heal what is hidden. I know, the dark seems safer than the light. And the truth is almost always harder than a lie. Our hearts love to hide. But we have to face pain either way. The pain of change or the pain of staying the same. And one lasts much longer than the other.

I know it sucks, and the stigma sucks right along side of it. But we are moving in the right direction. Individuals are becoming more open minded about mental health the more we speak out about it. When I was diagnosed with MDD (Major Depressive Disorder) and saw it written on paper, it made me cringe. I felt the stigma, I felt the label in my own mind.

But so what? I decided that, that piece of paper was not going to define me. It would never define who I was or how I lived. It's a diagnosis, not an identity. I believe more than ever that who we are in Christ will never be overruled by a mental health professional.

Okay, so maybe you decide to open up and talk about your depression. You go to the doctor, maybe they diagnose you. Now what? Well let me tell you first off, medication is NOT bad. I've been on an anti-depressant for over a year and it has changed my life. It helps me drastically, and I am so grateful for it. Saying no is fine, but there is a ton of spiritual and mental care that needs to follow. Depression is not just fixed by a pill. It's a hurt deep in the heart at times. While other times it is chemical. But having someone to do life with- we all need. Depressed or not.

We need to become comfortable with the uncomfortable. Push yourself. Push until you're exhausted, and work at it everyday. Each moment makes you stronger. Be brave. You are so brave. You are so loved. And you underestimate your ability. Fight as hard as you can, and don't give up. One day you will think to yourself, "I"m so glad I'm still here for this."

Cover Image Credit: Jessica Sirnic

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Masking Your Pain Leads To Self Destruction

Pain, physical suffering or discomfort caused by illness.

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I scream. I've been diagnosed. There's a virus inside of me, and it continues to spread throughout my body. I can't get rid of it. I knew in that very moment that pain became my best friend.

No one can see me like this. What would they think? I have to be strong, you know, hold up this image. So, I put on the "TyAsia's" very own masks, to hold up this image. I tell myself, they can't see the tears I've cried that late night when my family found out my stepdad was murdered. The one time I came to school hungry because my mother couldn't afford to buy groceries for the month. Or the time when I first met my biological father. Piece by piece, my masks are coming along pretty strong, don't you think?

Pain greeted me at a time where I had nothing, absolutely nothing. It explored me from head to toe, finding my most vulnerable moments. In this case, I became a victim of a controlling monstrous beast. This beast fed off my difficulties and insecurities in life. It knew me at my best and worst, where to get me good. I can't escape it. Something new is happening in my life, and it longs for new feelings.

The amazing thing about life is that lightness will always prevail. Whether you are going through depression or a bad breakup, a light will find a way to shine into your life. With pain comes the recovery process, and though I wasn't expecting one, but it came. Drowning in fear, I never expected to see the light. People always say life comes at you and you just coexist with it. However, I say otherwise. This world is no joke. I've had to mature before the time came, and it broke my view of the world. I saw things differently, and I still see things differently. These last four years of my life I felt alone and ashamed. I hid from the people I loved the most and those who care deeply about me.

I feel my mask shattering. The pieces that helped shape the mask are falling. Piece by piece, they disappear. This mask was my best friend. We were like two. Screwed into my head, the mask that hid my most painful moments in life is gone.

I don't scream anymore. I've been cleared from the virus. I don't wear masks around here.

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