Today I helped spread the message of TWLOHA. For those of you who aren't interested or too lazy to click through to the website for the full story behind the idea, I'll summarise the whole deal here.
To Write Love On Her Arms was one guy's idea to help a friend who desperately needed it. A friend who needed treatment she couldn't pay for, and a creative fundraising effort by that girl's friends, and the people who cared for her. It grew. Into something much bigger. Something amazing. The idea is so simple. It doesn't require you to stop in the street, and answer a questionnaire, and surrender a load of personal information. It doesn't require you to field phone calls asking for £10 a month, for £5 a month, for £2 a month. It just asks, that if you believe in the concept you take a marker pen, and you write the word 'love' on your arm. Or that you wear one of their tshirts if having things written on your arm isn't an option for you for whatever reason.
The point of this, is people will then see that you have love written on your arm, and ask you about it, because its a relatively unusual thing, and this opens a dialogue. With random strangers. With people you wouldn't necessarily have deep conversations with. And you explain, that love, is part of TWLOHA, a charity that fights to raise awareness for people suffering from depression, for people suffering from addiction, for people who self harm, for people who are considering, or who have tried, to commit suicide. Because these conditions are all under-estimated, under-reported, under-diagnosed and under-treated. And they are serious. They are real problems. People suffering from depression or addiction need more than tough love a lot of the time to get them through it, they are not just being a drama queen about having a bad week or two. And even if they are, if someone's at the point of suicide, or self-annihilating behaviours, is "stop being so dramatic" really the best advice you can come up with, is that really the most helpful thing you can possibly think of to say to someone at that time. Whether you think it's real or not, they believe it's real, and anything the mind thinks is real, it will percieve as real, and it will respond accordingly. That's not me trying to persuade you, that's proven scientific medical fact.
I love TWLOHA because it is *so* simple. Anyone can get hold of a marker pen. Kids doodle on their hands all the time in school classes. People go for runs, or sit on a tube train wearing tshirts, or go shopping or anything. People don't need to change their life to do this. People can go about their lives perfectly normally, and you might meet someone new, you might get talking to a stranger and find you have more in common than you think. You'll find a new friend, a new lover, a new job offer. But you'll have spread this very simple and easy concept. And you'll have made someone stop and think about what depression is, and what it means, if only for 3 minutes. And those people will go home, and say "something really wierd happened to me on the way home from work today" to their families, and that will spread the message further. And if everyone did that about depression, about cancer, about global warming, about third world debt, about AIDS, everyone around the world, just once, that's around FOURTY THOUSAND years of thought. About six hundred human lifetimes. How's that for some fucking awareness?
Love, or something connected with TWLOHA is something I'd seriously consider getting as a tattoo on my arm so it was there everyday. In fact, I think the only reason I don't, is a tattoo is less likely to prompt conversation, people will assume, as it's a tattoo, that you obviosuly have it for some reason you care about, even if it is cliche/generic to have the word love as a tattoo. All it's missing a a heart with a sash on it. Or hate on the other arm. Granted that should be on the knuckles, but same idea. Conversely, if it's drawn on, in shitty marker, even if you've made it look pretty, it's very obviously drawn on. In which case, why on earth did you do that? I might, whilst I'm in the US this summer, where it'll be warm and I'll have little use for warm clothes (except when I hit San Francisco of course, damned Bay Area mornings), try and spend the entire time with it written on my arm. It's a cause I believe in that much.
For more links to TWLOHA, please see:
Also, TWLOHA recently won a twitter campaign for a FREE, full page advert in the USA Today, which I am immensely happy for them about. These ads cost about $200,000 and the paper circulates to 4,000,000 readers a day. Even if only half the readers think about it for 1 minute, that's still 4 years worth of thought, around 1400 days of awareness, just for one minute of a person's time.
Mood: Sad for a friend. The friend, and the reason for the sadness will likely feature in a post sometime over the next 10 days.