S: Faith. Hope. Love.
BC: Chris and I February 2009
1: "Stand up and fight, even if that means standing alone. Maybe YOU can make a change in something." -Paul Harvey
2: "Power is two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is 1,000 times more effective and permanent than the one derived from fear of punishment." -Mahatma Ghandi
3: "To feel love is to feel life for the first time." -Lip Stitches
4: "To write love on her arms, what would that mean? It would mean giving her hope, assurance that this too shall pass, life will get better." -twloha.com
5: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." -Philippians 4:13
6: "Wake up. You're alive. We're on your side." -Lovedrug
7: "I'd start by saying; it's love we all need. I love because I have been hated, | I smile because I know what it's like to fall. I believe because there is so much more." -Unknown
8: "Take a little moment to think | Think of everything you once said. Think of what you believe in and stay strong; strong to your beliefs, strong with your head up high." -Unknown
9: "A quiet whisper resounds, a long lonely sound. Yet, it's full of hope. It stands tall and majestic. Hope is what that whisper is called. A whisper to all ears, a whisper that everybody understands. It's the same whisper that tells you to get up, to try again one more time." -Unknown
10: It's okay to reach for help.
11: Just because you are ALIVE, | doesn't mean you are LIVING.
12: "Even in the darkest places, we know that somewhere the sun is shining to give us hope." -Anonymous
14: "TWLOHA began as an attempt to tell a story and a way to help a friend in Spring 2006. The story and the life it represented were both things in contrast - pain and hope, addiction and sobriety, regret and the possibility of freedom." (All based from one girl's story.) "Renee Yohe is 19, cocaine still fresh in her system. She hasn't slept for 36 hours and won't for another 24. Her life is all a familiar blur of coke, pot, pills, and alcohol. She says she will go to rehab tomorrow, but she isn't ready now. It is too great a change. . . She has known such great pain; haunted dreams as a child, the near-constant presence of evil ever since, She has felt the touch of awful naked men, battled depression and addiction, and attempted suicide. Her arms remember razor blades, fifty scars that speak of self-inflicted wounds. . . She drinks long from a bottle of liquor, takes a razor blade from the table and locks herself in the bathroom. She cuts herself, using the blade to carve "FUCK UP" large across her left forearm. The nurse at the treatment center finds the wound several hours later. The center names her too great a risk and does not accept her. . . She is full of contrast, more alive and closer to death than anyone I've known. . . She owns attitude and humor beyond her 19 years, and when she tells me her story, she is humble and quiet and kind, shaped by the pain of a hundred lifetimes. . . Her life has been so dark yet there is some soft hope in her words." http://www.twloha.com/vision/ | How it all began...
15: "Tell them to look up, tell them to remember the stars." -Renee Yohe
16: TWLOHA Mission Statement and Vision | "To Write Love On Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also invest directly into treatment and recovery. . . 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. . . You need to know that rescue is possible, that freedom is possible, that God is still in the business of redemption ." http://www.twloha.com/vision/
17: Statistics | 121 million people worldwide suffer from depression. 18 million of these cases are happening in the United States. 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. Depression often co-occurs with anxiety disorders and substance abuse, with 30% of teens with depression also developing a substance abuse problem. 2/3 of those suffering from depression never seek treatment. Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide, and suicide is the third leading cause of death among teenagers. http://www.twloha.com/facts
18: When I was seven years old, my family moved from Lathrop, Missouri, to Shenandoah, Iowa. My first friend in Shenandoah was a boy my age named Chris Priest who lived just a couple blocks down the street from me. We hung out every chance we got and played together at recess. We were best friends, and still are extremely close. Before we knew it, we were in 8th grade and in the same Language Arts class with Mrs. Henderson. We had to read the poem "Not Waving but Drowning" by Stevie Smith. In order to facilitate a little discussion, Mrs. Henderson asked if and how we could relate to the poem. I remember I sat in the second row, second desk from the window and Chris sat right behind me. No one had started any sort of discussion and Mrs. H (as we liked to call her) was just about to ask a different discussion question when Chris piped up. He was always the quietest boy in the class so everyone really payed attention to what he had to say. He started off by simply saying, "I can relate." When asked "How?" He quietly said, "I have tried to kill myself before." Being best friends for six years, I didn't know what to do or say. I had no idea that Chris had ever felt this way before. He continued, "People always think I am so happy all the time, but I'm not. I have attempted suicide twice and I cut myself sometimes." I hadn't looked at him since he started sharing because I felt like I would cry and I didn't want to cry in front of the class. But when he said he had cut himself before, I slowly turned around and pulled up his sweatshirt sleeve expecting to see scars but there were none (he then said he cut his stomach so no one would see scars). | Why I chose
19: this topic... | Just then the bell rang for class to be dismissed. Before anyone left the classroom, another student sitting in the opposite corner said, "Hey Chris, we are all here for you, and we all love you." Chris and this guy didn't even hang out and rarely spoke, so I was amazed to hear him speak up before leaving the room. I still didn't know how to react. After school that day, I went to Chris' house and he showed me the suicide letters that he had written and I couldn't help but cry my eyes out as I read them. I was surprised he mentioned me and I will never forget what he wrote, "Make sure Kirstin knows that she has been the best friend anyone could ask for. If it weren't for her, I would have been gone a long time ago. I love you Kirstin." A couple years later, sophomores in high school, Chris and I started dating right before summer break 2006. We had been dating for about a month and a half when I learned that I would be moving to Boone, Iowa, with my family (we mutually ended our relationship because we would be three hours apart from each other but agreed to continue being friends). I was worried that if I moved away, that Chris would attempt suicide again, or worse, commit suicide. I didn't want that summer to be the last time I saw him. Luckily, Chris is doing much better and regrets not trying to get help. He still has his scars on his stomach but sees them as stepping stones to where he is now. I am so proud of him for overcoming his battle with depression and I do not know what I would do without him in my life. *I did get Chris' permission to tell this story before starting my project.