My initial impression, upon seeing their shirts sold in local Hot Topic stores, was that TWLOHA was some emo/skater/ punk band who had incredibly high whiney voices. You know the type. The bands who, when playing live, have an audience filled with pre-teen girls and guys who haven't heard any real rock music yet.
Fortunately, TWLOHA is so much more than that; it is not a band, but a community and it's mission is to raise awareness and to provide hope and help to those struggling with addiction, depression, self-injury, and suicide.
I can't thank them enough for what they are doing.
In my life I have struggled with depression and self-injury. I have felt alone and isolated.
Many who struggle with these things feel the same way...that they are the only ones who deal with these things and that there is no one who can help them.
Because of my past I felt very strongly about doing something to help others who have been, or are going through, that place in life. I wanted to use whatever strengths, gifts or talents that God has placed within me to help others, but I had no idea where to start.
A friend of mine was wearing a TWLOHA t-shirt one day and I started to tease her about her "emo band" and she actually told me a little about what it actually was. I was intrigued to say the least.
Recently, founder Jamie Tworkowski spoke at an event in Oshkosh which I attended with two good friends of mine. He told the story of how TWLOHA came into existence.
It shocked me to know that over 121 million people in this world struggled with depression. That I was anything but alone in my battles with this dark place.
He also said that over 2/3 of those 121 million people never seek treatment or help of any kind.
Depression and self-injury continue because of the strong feelings of shame and failure which accompany them. It keeps those who are enduring the struggles in the dark.
Jamie had a quiet, laid-back style of speaking, yet there was definite conviction in it. I felt his compassion for the girl who had inspired this whole dream, I felt his compassion for those who continue to struggle. It was like he was talking specifically to me, and yet to everyone in the room at once.
The truth of the moment was incredible. With every word I felt my heart become lighter, because there is hope for those who are broken down. There is a new tomorrow just beyond the storm. There is rescue and solace for those who are tired and weary.
Every person who has ever lived is writing lines in the story of humanity. Some write lines of hate and despair. Some write lines of sorrow others write joy with their lives. I truly believe that every line is essential and valuable. I don't think that there is a single person who's story is a waste.
I want to spend my life writing the story of love to any who will listen.