I hate to be sitting here on this pretty evening and feel the need to write this. Truly, I do. I’d much rather be writing about things that move me in a good and spiritual way but the truth is that nothing is good…once again. I sincerely thought I was given a second chance at life after TMS. Then halfway through my big solo road trip I desperately fell apart. And then three days into my cruise in paradise I very much fell prey to the darkness.
I saw my doctor today and he certainly wasn’t expecting what I had to say. My bad days were bad and my good days were – not really good. I did admit that I had cut my arm and leg on the cruise but that was all. He looked at me as if I was telling him a joke. The truth is that there is no clear documentation either way on “life after TMS therapy.” He learns through the results.
There is an organization I love being a part of in any way I can. Reading through their blogs, buying and representing their t-shirts and simply just knowing that this community exists in the world brings me comfort. It’s a non-profit named To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA). The founder, Jamie, just published his first book titled: If You Feel Too Much” which is literally blowing my mind. I’m reading it slow because every word I read somehow empowers me. There’s a section that I flagged in which to re-read as many times a day that I think I need to. I want to share it with you:
“I like birthdays. i like them more for other people, but i’m glad we celebrate them. At the heart of it is the opportunity to tell someone “i’m glad that you were born,” which is also to say “i’m glad that you’re alive.” Those are powerful statements. The world would be a different place if we lived that way, if we said and expressed these things, more than once a year.
i hope TWLOHA can be something like that, an attempt to say those things more often, to say that we are thankful for life and stories and certainly you and yours. i hope that we can be something like a gift, something like a favorite song or some show that you remember, some piece of hope or life or strength to hold against the walls when they feel cracked or falling. i hope we can be a reminder that life is worth fighting for, that your friends and family are worth fighting for, that love and beauty still happen, that change still happens. We’ll only ever be part of the process, words on a screen in the middle of the night—i hope they find you like a friend. A t-shirt pulled from your drawer early on a tired silent morning—i hope you feel less alone when you look in the mirror. i hope it reminds you of community, that you’re part of a bigger thing. i hope it sparks some conversation that brings change like a fire on the coldest night.
You’ll need more than us. You’ll need more and better. You’ll need other people. You’ll need people to help you process, people to help you let go, people to help you remember what’s true, and people to help you forget what’s lies. You’ll need the stories and advice of people with gray hair or white hair or no hair at all. Don’t buy the lie that suggests they have nothing to offer or nothing to say—they were young once too. They are stories still going, and they’ve seen the places you will go. They’ve been stuck at times as well, just like you and me and everyone.
You’ll need coffee shops and sunsets and road trips. Airplanes and passports and new songs and old songs, but people more than anything else. You will need other people, and you will need to be that other person to someone else, a living breathing screaming invitation to believe better things.
We’re saying the story doesn’t end here, that the air in your lungs is there for a reason. Perhaps we’re all in the business of better endings, you as much as us, the business of redemption. Yours and mine and all the characters around us, and perhaps that bigger thing. i’ll steal from Bono here and tell you that i believe we’re far from alone in this, that God’s been at this for a long time, this business of buying things back, making things new. If this is starting to sound too churchy or spiritual, i’ll simply say that i believe God gives a shit, about your life, about your story, about your pain. And if those possibilities feel too far or they just sound weird, then rest now and we’ll get back to people.
We (TWLOHA) give a shit.
The darkness wins too often. Broken things build themselves in silence. People feel alone. People give up. People talk about this stuff like it’s math or they don’t talk about it at all. So what are we doing? Why an organization? Why the shirts? Why did a group of young people put their lives on hold and move to Florida a week ago? Why would they trade everything they know, all their normal comfort and quiet, for a crowded house and endless hours of this word “community”? Why would they want to join a conversation most people run from?
We’re trying to fight for people with kindness, with words that move, with honesty and creativity. We’re trying to push back at suicide with compassion, with hope. We’re pointing to wisdom, pointing to medicine, saying that hope is real, help is real. We’re fighting for our own stories, our own friends and families, our own broken hearts. We’re saying there’s nothing we can’t talk about, nothing off-limits. We’re kicking elephants out of living rooms, making room for life.
You. It’s about you. This is for you. It’s crap unless it moves you, crap unless it connects with your story, meets you in your pain, reminds you of your dreams, reminds you what’s possible.
We’re still alive, you see. You and i on this night that’s never happened before. Spread out across a giant circle, winter on one side and summer on the other, day and night the same. And then it moves and turns and changes. Things are always changing.
We are glad that you were born.
We are glad that you’re alive.
Don’t give up. Don’t give up on your story. Don’t give up on the people you love. Hope is real. Love is real. It’s all worth fighting for.”
Excerpt From: Jamie Tworkowski. “If You Feel Too Much DELUXE (Enhanced Edition).
So yeah, this section is one of many that remind me that I’m never alone. The nights that I can’t stop the tears or the days that I’m so terrified of myself or the times I can’t find comfort in a world I’ve convinced myself I don’t belong in…I have TWLOHA. It’s one of the few things that actually mean something to me. People who are standing up for my illness and giving it a voice. It makes me feel stronger knowing that this life doesn’t have to define who I am.
I’m going to be okay.