To Write Love On Her Arms founder breaks stereotypes of mental health
There was a substantial turn out as To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) founder Jamie Tworkowski spoke in the Mabel Brown Room about the struggle of depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide on Tuesday, Feb. 26.
Student Activities and Organizations Assistant Chelsea Harris organized this event. Harris said that they were looking to do a follow-up of the PostSecret event they held last spring,
“This is something that a lot of people know about and has a lot of publication that stands for good values. So we wanted to make an impact,” Harris said.
Senior Samantha Possemato said, “I think it’s great to have the founder of To Write Love On Her Arms here [at Keene State College].”
Sophomore Natasha Cable said, “I know a lot of people have been trying to get [TWLOHA] to come or start a chapter [on campus].”
“To Write Love On Her Arms began as a simple attempt to tell a story of a friend in need but quickly grew into a phenomenon supported by bands such as Switchfoot and Paramore,” Harris said.
Tworkowski said that there are roughly 20 million people in the United States who are struggling with depression and that untreated depression is the leading cause of suicide.
Tworkowski said TWLOHA just finished their biggest tour ever across the country; it was three weeks long and visited 17 cities. At these events, including the one at KSC, Tworkowski said, “My hope is that you walk out of here feeling encouraged, you walk out of here feeling less alone, you walk out of here feeling like it’s okay to be honest and as a student or as a person you don’t always have to have all of the answers and you don’t have to always have it all together.”
Teresa Hoffman, intern in the KSC Counseling Center, said, “If you’re concerned about a friend or family member and you’re not sure what to do, come on up, we can talk to you about how to help your friend or how to talk to them,” Hoffman added, “We’re here so you don’t have to be alone.”
At the beginning of this TWLOHA event Steven McMorran, member of the band Satellite, performed songs.
Tworkowski said every TWLOHA event starts with music, “We feel like music is a really appropriate place to start because it seems like music has this capability where it’s allowed to be honest.”
Tworkowski continued, “It’s allowed to say things that are difficult.”
Tworkowski explained the story of a close friend’s struggle with depression is what inspired him to attempt to tell more people that it is possible to receive help.
Tworkowski said he asked his friend if she ever thought of telling her story to others, expecting the answer to be no and for her to be offended.
“She lit up and smiled and said she loved the idea and that maybe there could be a purpose for her pain, that maybe somebody else, maybe some other family, could relate to her story and maybe someone would even take that step to get help because of this story,” Tworkowski said.
Tworkowski did not expect to have TWLOHA explode as quickly as it did, or even at all.
Tworkowski was friends with the singer of Switchfoot, John Foreman, and before one of their shows in front of 3,000 people in Florida, Foreman asked Tworkowski if he could wear one of the t-shirts they had just made for TWLOHA.
Foreman mentioned TWLOHA in the middle of the show, but Tworkowski was not expecting anyone to find them online. However, Tworkowski said later that nigh there were messages, comments and friend requests on their MySpace page saying that the story he was telling is their own story, that they are also struggling with depression.
Tworkowski said through Foreman is how TWLOHA really got to be well known.
“I felt like it was important to tell people that their messages or their questions or their confessions, it was brave. I felt like it was important to tell people that they weren’t alone,” Tworkowski said. Tworkowski said that TWLOHA has been able to build an entire team and they share an office in central Florida where they have interns who go through training in crisis intervention and respond to the messages that come in everyday.
“If you add up all of the messages now it’s coming up onto 200,000 messages, letters and notes that we’ve had the privilege to respond to,” Tworkoswki said.
“It was just an eye-opener. It was awesome and it was definitely worth coming to see, that’s for sure. I definitely shed a couple of tears, hard not to,” sophomore Devven Granger said.
Megan Grenier can be contacted at