Home Health News Jamie Tworkowski Opens Up About His Mental Health Journey

Jamie Tworkowski Opens Up About His Mental Health Journey

43 min read

It started with a story on Myspace about a young woman who needed help. Now it’s a corporation that helps individuals around the globe coping with depression, dependancy, self-injury, and suicide. With a devoted employees of round 25, To Write Love on Her Arms lets individuals know — by encouragement and remedy — that they’re not alone.

We sat down with the founder, Jamie Tworkowski, to speak about World Suicide Prevention Day and their newest marketing campaign.

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This interview has been edited for readability and brevity.

What’s the message that To Write Love on Her Arms needs the neighborhood to listen to, particularly right now?

Every 12 months, for the final a number of years, we’ve constructed a marketing campaign round a press release, so this 12 months’s assertion would most likely be the perfect reply to your query: “Stay. Find what you were made for.” Stay to consider a much bigger story and what you had been made for. And even when it’s a extremely troublesome second, or season, or chapter in your story, you can keep alive to see issues change.

Obviously whenever you think about suicide and when you concentrate on somebody struggling to the purpose of questioning if they will or ought to preserve going, the most important, single factor we need to say to that person can be to remain.

We love to ask individuals to consider that a part of it as properly. We imagine in hope, and therapeutic, and redemption, and surprises. So, not simply staying to undergo. Not simply staying to battle, however staying to consider your desires and what you hope this life can flip into.

How did the Stay marketing campaign come about?

Every 12 months when it comes time to decide on a press release, we kick round a handful of choices. This came from an excerpt of a book referred to as “When Hope Speaks.”It’s truly written by a former intern of ours, a woman named Jessica Morris who lives in Australia. We shared an excerpt on our weblog and that was only a assertion that had resonated.

Speaking of your group, how did the imaginative and prescient start and the way has it advanced?

Our starting was positively a stunning one. It was not meant to turn into a charity again in 2006.

I used to be launched to a woman named Renee Yohe. When I met her, she was fighting the problems that as a corporation we communicate to right now. When I met her, she was coping with drug dependancy, depression, self-injury. We later discovered that she had tried suicide beforehand. And I had the privilege of sharing a part of her story in a written story that was given the title, “To Write Love on Her Arms.” And primarily that story went viral.

2006 was the start of social media turning into regular. It was form of the start of the Myspace period, and so I gave the story a house on Myspace. Then we started to promote T-shirts as a option to [help] pay for Renee’s remedy.

The story took on a lifetime of its personal, and the T-shirts did the identical. A few months later, I give up my job and determined to leap into this full time. It felt like one thing too particular to stroll away from.

So that’s our starting. Now 16 of us are full-time employees, with interns and freelancers who carry us to a staff of 25. There’s at all times one other seven or eight interns who come to us from everywhere in the world. We proceed to speak about these points. Continue to let individuals know in the event that they battle they’re not alone. We proceed to let individuals understand it’s okay to be trustworthy.

And greater than something, to let individuals know it’s okay to ask for help. And with that we get to present cash to remedy and counseling, and we get to do our greatest to attach individuals to sources.

Is there a second prior to now few months, or 12 months, that actually stands out in your thoughts the place you stated to your self, ‘Wow! I’m so glad I give up my different job and selected this path’?

Honestly, it’s the identical second that occurs every now and then — simply assembly somebody who says that they’re nonetheless alive due to To Write Love on Her Arms. Maybe that’s a tweet or a touch upon Instagram. Maybe it’s a dialog nose to nose at a university occasion.

That’s one thing that for me actually by no means will get outdated. It’s laborious to think about one thing extra particular or extra humbling, to satisfy somebody who’s standing in entrance of you (and so they’ll say they might not be standing in entrance of you if it weren’t for To Write Love on Her Arms).

And relying on the time we now have, individuals can unpack their expertise of lastly getting assist, or opening as much as a pal or a member of the family — however these are the moments that remind me and remind our staff what’s at stake and why this complete factor is such a privilege.

That’s actually superb. In relation to the subject of psychological health, we additionally got here throughout a report that exhibits extra Americans live with nervousness, depression, and stress proper now. What do you suppose might be contributing to this?

I feel there’s loads of causes [resulting in the report]. Obviously there’s loads of uncertainty. You have a look at our president. You have a look at the discuss round North Korea. Climate change. The concept of whether or not we’re all nonetheless going to be right here tomorrow. It’s actually one that would trigger nervousness. And then add that on prime of individuals’s on a regular basis challenges and stresses of labor and offering for a household.

I do suppose we reside in a singular time, actually on this second politically. We get up to new challenges and troublesome headlines just about each day proper now, and so it is sensible if you happen to’re a person who feels issues that you just’re going to really feel the weight of that.

From an insider’s perspective, how do you suppose we will bridge the hole so extra individuals perceive what residing with depression, nervousness, emotions of hopelessness is like?

In basic, one thing that we like to level out (and this isn’t even an concept I got here up with) is that the mind is a part of the physique. Mental health shouldn’t be handled in another way than bodily health.

Because when you concentrate on it, nearly each situation, or sickness, or damaged bone is invisible except somebody exhibits you an X-ray. When somebody is sick, or when one thing is occurring internally, we don’t ask for proof.

I’m somebody who struggles with depression. And I feel it tends to affect our life in a lot of different ways. Depression, and nervousness, can have an effect on eating habits and sleeping habits that may trigger you to isolate. You can take somebody who was very social or extroverted and after they’re in a season of depression, it could trigger them to only need to be alone. Mental health can change behaviors drastically.


So we dream a few day wherein psychological health doesn’t have an asterisk, when it may be considered as treatable as one thing so simple as the flu or one thing as horrible as most cancers — the underside line is that if somebody wants assist, they’d have the opportunity get the assistance that they want.

Recently, a lady had written a be aware to her workplace saying she was taking time without work for her psychological health. Her boss responded, ‘This is amazing. More people should do this.’ What do you consider that?

I truly didn’t see that story, however I like it. I completely do. If somebody was combating a cold or the flu, everybody would perceive that person staying residence till they had been properly. So I like the concept of psychological health days or of individuals in workplaces prioritizing psychological health.

We’re made up of a employees and at instances it’s a extremely cool problem for us simply to reside out our message. We have people (myself included) who depart the workplace as soon as per week to go to counseling perhaps in the midst of the day. We like to have fun that. It could also be inconvenient for the workday, or for sure conferences or initiatives, however we’re saying this deserves to be a precedence.

And the concept is if you happen to help an worker to be healthy, on the whole they’re going to do higher give you the results you want. It’s a win for everybody. So even if you happen to’re an employer and also you don’t actually perceive psychological health, you may not less than perceive, “I want my employees to be healthy enough to produce.”

And how do you assist your self if you happen to’re experiencing nervousness or depression sooner or later, or going by a interval?

I’ve taken antidepressants for a number of years now. That’s one thing that occurs each day. No matter how I’m feeling, I take one thing earlier than I fall asleep.

I are inclined to discuss with them as seasons. I’ve had a number of totally different seasons of going to counseling, and sometimes that’s as soon as per week for an hour per week. That’s one thing that tends to be a little bit extra circumstantial, but when I’m struggling, I’ve discovered that most likely the best thing I can throw at my depression is for me to take a seat with a counselor as soon as per week and have that point to course of issues and discuss how I’m feeling.

And then past that, I’ve discovered the value of self-care, and a few of that’s very simple. Getting sufficient sleep at night time. Getting exercise. Doing issues that make me smile, and people issues are clearly totally different for everybody. For me it is likely to be browsing or taking part in with my nephews.

And perhaps one other factor can be relationships. We imagine that folks want different individuals, and so for me meaning having trustworthy conversations with family and friends members on the whole, however particularly after I’m struggling.

Thank you for sharing that. So many individuals will discover your recommendation worthwhile. What’s the most important factor {that a} psychological health neighborhood, and folks on the whole, can do to assist your group and others?

There are a lot of methods to reply that. Certainly we’re followers of breaking the silence, as a result of there may be such a stigma that surrounds psychological health and there’s such a stigma that retains this dialog from taking place.

We hope that the Stay marketing campaign and at the present time [World Suicide Prevention Day] can get individuals speaking, however past that, we’re attempting to boost cash for individuals to get the assistance that they want.

We’ve set this objective of elevating $100,000 that’s going to show into scholarship {dollars} for individuals who want counseling or want remedy however can’t afford it. There’s completely worth within the speaking and speaking, however we love that we’re additionally going to spend money on ensuring individuals get assist.

Our web site has loads of details about our marketing campaign and the fundraising facet round World Suicide Prevention Day. We’re promoting packs, which has a T-shirt, stickers, and a poster… actually the whole lot we can provide somebody to carry this marketing campaign and dialog to their neighborhood.

This day is far greater than simply our group. We work actually laborious on our marketing campaign, however we’re additionally conscious that so many individuals who work in psychological health and suicide prevention are doing their half to acknowledge September 10 and likewise right here, in America, National Suicide Prevention Week.

Well, thanks a lot, Jamie. We actually admire you taking the time to speak with us, and we’re actually excited to share your story with the Healthline neighborhood.

I’m tremendous honored by that and tremendous grateful. Thank you a lot.

Join the dialog on social media utilizing the hashtag #IWasMadeFor. You may also study extra concerning the marketing campaign by visiting To Write Love on Her Arms or by watching the video under:

Suicide prevention:

If you suppose somebody is at instant threat of self-harm or hurting one other person:

If you suppose somebody is contemplating suicide, get assist from a disaster or suicide prevention hotline. Try the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

This content material was initially printed here.

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