By Cheryl Steinberg
To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to give hope to people who struggle with addiction, depression, self-injury, and thoughts of suicide. The organization also invests directly into treatment and recovery. Furthermore, TWLOHA works to connect people with treatment centers, as well as other resources such as websites, books, and support groups.
TWLOHA was founded by Jamie Tworkowski in March of 2006 and is based out of Melbourne, Florida. Tworkowski was inspired by a story he wrote about 19-year-old Renee Yohe, who struggled with addiction, depression, self-injury, and attempted suicide. The story, which was written in February of 2006, follows Yohe’s life in the five days before she entered treatment. During which time she was unable to get into a treatment program. During this time, friends offered their moral support.
“We become her hospital and the possibility of healing fills our living room with life.”
To Write Love on Her Arms: Vision
TWLOHA works to remove the stigma and therefore the guilt and shame that tends to accompany mental illness and addiction by encouraging people to have honest conversations about these issues and come together as a community.
A major part of the work that TWLOHA does is to bridge the gap between traditional treatment, such as rehab, counseling, and helplines, and the people who need help. The nonprofit organization doesn’t want to replace already-existing programs; it seeks to support professional help organizations that are already helping people. TWLOHA also directly donates a portion of its monies to such causes as Hopeline, InTheRooms.com, S.A.F.E. Alternatives, Minding Your Mind, and (in Australia) Kids Help Line.
To Write Love on Her Arms: Support
To Write Love on Her Arms raises funds by hosting music festivals and tours, administering social networking sites, and having a presence on school and university campuses.
Musicians and bands who wear the TWLOHA’s distinctive T-shirts in photographs and performances lend the group its main exposure; however, it has recently gained more public exposure through merchandise and public community websites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and Tumblr. Professional athletes such as soccer players Abby Wambach, Ali Krieger, Ashlyn Harris, Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath, Christen Press and Megan Rapinoe can often be seen wearing TWLOHA shirts. Furthermore, TWLOHA had a booth at every stop at Vans Warped Tour for the past five years
To Write Love on Her Arms Becomes a Movie
Recently, the organization’s founding story has been translated to screen; a film dramatization of Yohe’s story that Tworkowski had documented leading to the formation of the organization has been been written for the screen. The movie, slated to be released in March 2015 by Sony Pictures, stars Kat Dennings as Yohe and Chad Michael Murray as Tworkowski. (Originally entitled Day One and Renee, To Write Love on Her Arms is much anticipated – so much so that it’s already been leaked as a pirated version.
As a person in recovery from drug addiction and who has long-term chronic depression, I find it encouraging and inspiring to see that these topics are becoming mainstream in pop culture. It’s really important to have open, honest conversations about substance abuse disorders and psychological disorders because too many people still suffer in silence and sometimes – all too often – resort to desperate measures that could be avoided.
Mental illness, self-harm, and substance abuse, such as addiction, are very serious medical conditions but there is hope! Treatment and peer and community support can lead to recovery. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak with an Addiction Specialist today!
We don’t always hear about celebrities’ struggles but they do and it is the exact same things that we all struggle with. Self-harm is an issue that doesn’t usually get a lot of press in comparison to driving drunk or sex tapes but there are many celebrities who self-harm. Cutting and self-harm usually covers up an underlying emotional or psychological problem. Many people who self-harm suffer from anxiety, depression, or a previous trauma. Often, the self-harm is used to cope with negative feelings and emotions.
Here are some of the celebrities who self-harm:
Fiona Apple was a famous singer and songwriter and is probably one of the most famous celebrity self-harmers. When Fiona read her first bad review she began scratching her wrist with her fingernails. She scratched all the way up her arm and there are still some dark patches on her wrists, where she dug the deepest. Fiona says, “I have a little bit of a problem with that. It’s a common thing.” Fiona Apple was a famous singer in the 90s and has dropped out of the spotlight since that time.
Drew Barrymore is one of the most iconic actresses of our generation and she got her start into acting and self-harm after her role in E.T. She first got drunk at age nine, smoked marijuana at age ten, and snorted cocaine at age twelve. She tried to commit suicide at age thirteen by slashing her wrists with a butcher knife. After that all-time low she entered rehab, not for the first time, but that stay was successful.
Johnny Depp has a series of scars on one arm where he has cut himself with a knife on different occasions. He says, “It was really just whatever [times when he hurt himself]–good times, bad times, it didn’t matter. There was no ceremony. It wasn’t like ‘Okay, this just happened, I have to go hack a piece of my flesh off.'” Johnny explains his self-harm, “My body is a journal in a way. It’s like what sailors used to do, where every tattoo meant something, a specific time in your life when you make a mark on yourself, whether you do it yourself with a knife or with a professional tattoo artist.”
Angelina Jolie self-harmed when she was younger. She explains, “You’re young, you’re crazy, you’re in bed and you’ve got knives. So shit happens.” She no longer self-harms.
Princess Diana of Wales
Princess Diana died in August of 1997 but had quite the life before that and it involved self-harm. In a 1995 BBC television interview Diana revealed to the world that she was a self-harmer. She said that she had cut her arms and legs, explaining, “You have so much pain inside yourself that you try and hurt yourself on the outside because you want help.” “Diana: Her True Story,” a biography written on the princess said that Diana had thrown herself into a glass cabinet at Kensington palace at various times, slashed her wrists with a razor, and cut herself with the serrated edge of a lemon slicer.
Some other celebrities who self-harm include:
Megan Fox, Marilyn Manson, Demi Lovato, Lindsay Lohan, Amy Winehouse, Russell Brand and quite recently there has been pictures of Miley Cyrus with cuts. The list of celebrities who self-harm or self-harmed in their youth and past could go on and on.
Miley Cyrus and Self-Harm
Speculation that Miley Cyrus is a self-harmer has followed the starlet for quite some time, as she’s been spotted out on numerous occasions in the past sporting what look to be a series of scars above her left wrist and up the arm.
Self-harm is something that affects people everywhere and there is help available for it.
If you or someone you love is cutting or engaging in self-harm, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.
In an interview with The Guardian, Amy Winehouse’s brother, Alex Winehouse, says that it was an eating disorder that killed her, rather than the drugs and alcohol.
When the pop singer died on July 23, 2011, the coroner discovered that she had more than five times the legal drunk-drive limit of alcohol in her system.
However, her older brother, in his first ever full length interview, has now told The Observer that he blames his sister’s long battle with bulimia, which she developed aged 17, for leaving her “weaker and more susceptible”.
“She suffered from bulimia very badly. That’s not, like, a revelation – you knew just by looking at her… She would have died eventually, the way she was going, but what really killed her was the bulimia… Absolutely terrible.” Alex says.
Her friends, Alex claims, “were all doing it. They’d put loads of rich sauces on their food, scarf it down and throw it up. They stopped doing it, but Amy never really did… We all knew she was doing it, but it’s almost impossible [to tackle] especially if you’re not talking about it. It’s a real dark, dark issue.”
The link between eating disorders and substance abuse has been very well established by experts. Some estimate that up to one half of people with eating disorders also abuse substances, compared to nine percent of the general population. Conversely, up to 35 percent of alcohol or illicit drug abusers have eating disorders compared to three percent of the general population.
The Amy Winehouse Foundation has recently donated money to an eating disorder charity called “Beat” to help fund an internet forum.
The interview with Alex Winehouse was given to mark the opening of a major new exhibition at the Jewish Museum entitled Amy Winehouse: a Family Portrait.
In pop culture, the name Amy Winehouse has become synonymous with both talent and tragedy. The singer won 2008 Grammy Awards in the categories of Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for the single “Rehab”, while her album Back to Black was nominated for Album of the Year and won the Best Pop Vocal Album award. The singer also earned a Grammy in the Best New Artist category. This earned Winehouse an entry in the 2009 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records for Most Grammy Awards won by a British Female Act.
Unfortunately, there was a darker side to the Amy Winehouse story. A trail of disturbing media stories and paparazzo images tracked her painful disintegration. Photos appeared of her on London streets, tear-stained and with bleeding feet, or with badly bruised legs. Her drink and drug abuse was well-documented. Scars on her arms were often visible, from a period of self-harm and cutting in her teens. She was in and out of rehab. Then in 2011, just three years shy of her 30th birthday, she died after an alcohol binge.
If you or someone you love is in need of alcohol or drug addiction treatment, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.
Attention Seeking vs. Non Attention Seeking
Cutting is a form of self-abuse. The person is literally making small cuts on his or her body. Self-harm generally starts in the early teen years and can persist for years. It becomes a way of dealing with emotional pain.
For cutters, self-injury is a way of coping with feelings like sadness, self-loathing, emptiness and rage. Cutting can release endorphins, much like addictive drugs, that create a euphoria (in a sense). There are two main types of cutters: Attention Seeking and Non Attention Seeking.
Types of Cutters: Non- Attention Seeking
Some call the non-attention seeking cutter the “true” cutter. They are cutting themselves as a way to deal with emotional turmoil, not just to get attention. Cutting is the way they deal with life, and they do it in secret.
This is one of the most disturbing things about the non-attention seeking cutter. They are driven by the need to keep their self-harm a secret. They are often withdrawn, quiet, secretive, mysterious, and they don’t often talk about their true emotions. The non-attention seeking cutter wants to blend in with the crowd, and would prefer if everyone would just leave them alone. They dress, act, and speak in a way that is designed to bring as little attention to themselves as possible. They believe that the longer they avoid attention, the longer they will be able to hide their secret: cutting.
If left untreated, the non-attention seeking cutter is more likely to make cutting an addiction. They are also likely to increase frequency and severity of cutting as time goes on.
Counseling for the non-attention seeking cutter is a delicate process, because they are fragile once they feel their ‘secret’ has been found out. They may feel very exposed, scared, and embarrassed and it may take time to earn their trust. This type of cutter usually gets better once they perceive that it is ok for them to talk about their emotions and their cutting.
Types of Cutters: Attention – Seeking
The attention seeking cutter is often very different from the non-attention seeking cutter. They want the whole world to know they cut themselves. They may cut a couple of times and wear a short-sleeved shirt to school the next day to get attention from other students.
The attention seeking cutter is not hard to spot because they want others to notice their cutting. They thrive on the sympathy they get for cutting and often use it as a form of manipulation i.e. “Give me what I want or I will cut myself”.
This type of cutter needs professional help as well. If they are willing to cut to get a certain level of attention, there is no telling how far they will go if they want more. The treatment for the attention seeking cutter is much different than that of the non-attention seeking cutter. It involves defining and enforcing consequences for cutting. As long as the attention seeking cutter gets away with cutting and gets the attention they want, they continue to cut. Once they realize they can’t get away with cutting, they can begin to recover.
If your loved one is in need of treatment for alchol addiction please give us a call at 800-951-6135.
Cutting and Self-Harm: Warning Signs and Treatment
Earlier this month, self-harm made headlines due to the now-infamous “Cut for Bieber” movement. It all started when TMZ posted pictures of pop-star Justin Bieber smoking something that may or may not have been marijuana. Online practical jokers jumped on the story and suggested that fans start a “Cut for Bieber” campaign to persuade the star to stop using drugs. (For those that don’t know, “cutting” involves self-mutilation, often with razor blades, and generally along the wrists or forearms.) Some legitimate fans heard about it and started posting photos on social media of wounds they had inflicted on themselves. The photos have been “liked” and “shared” thousands of times. Many are outraged and say that this prank undermines the real emotional issues behind cutting and self-harm.
Cutting and Self-Harm: Is it suicide?
Cutting and self-harm is not a suicide attempt, even though it can sometimes be an unintended consequence. Cutting is a form of self-abuse. The person is literally making small cuts on his or her body. Self-harm generally starts in the early teen years and can persist for years. It becomes a way of dealing with emotional pain. For cutters, self-injury is a way of coping with feelings like sadness, self-loathing, emptiness and rage. Cutting can release endorphins, much like addictive drugs, that create a feel-good feeling.
Cutting and Self-Harm: What does it mean?
Self-harm refers to anything a person does to intentionally injure themselves. Cutting is a specific form of self-harm. Here are the common ways that people engage in self harm:
- Cutting or severely scratching skin
- Burning or scalding
- Hitting oneself
- Throwing body against walls or hard objects
- Punching things
- Sticking objects into the skin
- Picking scabs or otherwise preventing wounds from healing
- Swallowing poisonous substances
- Putting oneself in harm’s way by driving recklessly, drinking heavily and/or taking too many drugs, or having unsafe sex
Cutting and Self-Harm: Warning signs?
Clothing can often hide physical injuries, so cutting and self-harm can be hard to detect. Here are some warning signs you can look out for.
- Unexplained wounds or scars
- Blood stains on clothing, towels, or bedding
- Sharp objects or cutting instruments
- Frequent “accidents”
- Covering up with long sleeves and long pants, even in warm weather
Cutting and Self-Harm: Who’s cutting?
According to parenting.org :
- 79 percent of self-injury callers are under 18
- 9 percent of self-injury callers are between 19 and 23
- 85 percent of self-injury callers are female
- Females who are 18 or younger make up 67 percent of all self-injury callers
Cutting and Self-Harm: Treatment
Cutting and self-harm usually covers up an underlying emotional or psychological problem. Many people who self-harm suffer from anxiety, depression, or a previous trauma. Often, the self-harm is used to cope with negative feelings and emotions. Therapy can be very beneficial to those who self-harm. A qualified therapist or psychiatrist can determine whether or not the patient has an underlying mental health disorder. Also, therapy provides a venue in which a person engaging in cutting or self-harm can explore past trauma. Although Abuse during childhood and bereavement are common social factors in cutters. Substance abuse is also highly associated with self-harming behavior. Alcohol is a factor in over half of all self-harm presentations at hospitals. Therapy is also a good place to learn more constructive means of dealing with emotional or psychological distress.
If your loved one is in need of drug and alcohol addiction treatment and has symptoms of self-harm please give us a call at 800-951-6135.