Today offered me a rare opportunity to say thank you to someone who literally saved my life, but yet had never met or heard of me before. I'm guessing opportunities like that don't come around every day.
As I've shared before, since 2001 I've battled major depression three times. And I will always use the term "battle" when speaking about those times in my life, because I know no other word to use when describing the fight for my life that I faced. Every single day, during those dark moments, I had to fight.
My victories in those fights were often small to the naked eye, but to me, they were the difference between life and death. The choice to put two feet on the floor in the morning, when sleep was my ONLY reprieve, was a victory. There were many days when I lost that battle. There were phone calls from bosses warning me that my days were numbered if I didn't "show up". What they didn't know was I couldn't muster the strength to "show up" anywhere in my own life at that point. In one instance, my dad had to call my boss and explain the situation. That is a humbling moment at 24 years old when your father steps in to help fight that battle and save your career.
Victories often came in quiet moments when I'd finally eat something. I remember the first battle where I dropped 12 pounds in a few weeks. Food wasn't the enemy and I didn't want to starve or lose weight, but I just couldn't feed myself. There was no energy. There was no point.
And one of my biggest victories was scraping up the courage to call home and say 13 words that I will never forget "I don't want to hurt myself, but I don't want live anymore either." I was in a bad place. The lowest and darkest I had ever known and I was terrified. The truth in my pain was to great to sleep away anymore. I just didn't want to be alive. It hurt to be alive, and it was that simple. Help came within a few days in the form of my amazing father who dropped everything and drove 1,000 miles to rescue me from myself. I just had to hold on until he got there, and I did. My dad was my knight on a white horse and I literally owe him my life.
My other "knight" and life saver goes by the initials TWLOHA. To Write Love On Her Arms came into my life by what could be called happenstance I'd guess, but I like to believe they were a Godsend for this broken girl.
Finding TWLOHA on Myspace of all places, was the first time that I hadn't felt alone in my pain. Suddenly, this organization with an elusive name like To Write Love On Her Arms, gave thousands of us a voice, a platform and more importantly, a community. We were not alone. Finally, I was not alone. We were not damaged or broken to them or each other. We were just 1,000 people clinging to over lives with a faint, yet hopeful grip. We wanted to live, we just weren't quite sure how.
Today, I got to hear the founder of TWLOHA, Jamie, speak from the heart on what led him to launch this now global organization. He wanted a place where the depressed, the anxious, and the addicts could go and seek help and be known versus judged. He wanted to make taboo topics brought to light where they can be heard and helped, not hidden or minimized. I've included the link to the story of the girl, Renee, who helped light the fire and the passion for Jamie and TWLOHA. This is the story that became a turning point in my battle. Warning, it may break your heart a little when you read it, but the upside is that Renee is now alive and choose life. Just like I did and the now thousands of others who've found solace in TWLOHA.
To be able to stand in front of a total stranger and sincerely and humbly thank them for playing a major role in you choosing life was a moment I will never forget. It was honest and it was raw, and I may or may not have had sweaty palms, tears in my eyes and crackle in my throat. Thankfully, he didn't seem to mind. We even got to laugh together for a second, which was a precious moment to be so happy and laughing with the man whose passion and dedication carried me through some dark times. They have certainly written love on my arms and I don't care who sees it. We've won the battle and love is a pretty incredible battle wound to carry around. Thank you, TWLOHA. Thank you.
Got a minute? Read their initial story here. You won't regret it. http://twloha.com/vision/story