Tag Archives: To Write Love On Her Arms

Q&A: Jamie Tworkowski of To Write Love On Her Arms on His New Book

twloha jamie

In 2006, Jamie Tworkowski began an effort to help a friend in crisis. That effort grew into a movement far greater than he realized it would become. In January, Tworkowski announced that Penguin Publishing would be publishing his first book, If You Feel Too Much, a collection of musings and stories that frame his life. Now, with the release just days away, Planet Stereo wants to bring you our exclusive interview with the man behind the movement, and behind the words. [E/N: This interview was conducted in April 2015.]

Planet Stereo: Thanks so much for doing the interview. How are you?

Jamie Tworkowski: I’m doing well, thanks. It’s a busy time, but there’s a lot to be thankful for.

PS: Your new book, If You Feel Too Much, is getting ready to be released. How are you gearing up for that?

JT: I was in NYC last week recording the audio book. That experience meant a lot to me; to get to read my stories out loud, and to get to do it at Penguin in New York. I’m certainly looking forward to hitting the road for the book tour. In between, it’s all about getting the word out about the book, encouraging folks to preorder. The preorder supports To Write Love on Her Arms in a unique way, with the publisher donating an extra dollar to TWLOHA for every book presold.

PS: You call this the book before “the book everyone expects.” What do you mean by that?

JT: For years, I thought I would write a memoir. But, I realized there was a book’s worth of stories that I was really proud of; stories representing a decade of writing and life. I started to get excited about the idea of all of that writing having a proper home. So this book is that: 44 stories that I’m happy to share. As far as books go, I think this is the right place for me to start. There will be others down the road.

PS: The more I read through the book, the more intrigued I was. Would you say this is a closer look at the man behind the curtain?

JT: It’s definitely honest. I feel like I’m handing people my heart with this book. There’s a lot about love and loss, and my own journey with depression, and certainly hope as well.

PS: Would you mind walking me through the creative process? Why the title “If You Feel Too Much”?

JT: The writing represents the relationships and moments that have mattered most to me over the last 10 years, going back to when I was working as a sales rep for Hurley, before TWLOHA started. I’ve always written in response to situations and experiences, so, for me, the process definitely depends on inspiration.

The title is taken from something I wrote when I found out that Robin Williams had died. I wanted to write something to people who could relate; to people who maybe felt how he felt. I really love the title, because I think it represents a lot of people, and so much of the book is about being honest about how we really feel.

PS: Was it difficult to get more personal with readers?

JT: It’s the only way I know how to write. The same goes for my (public) speaking. i want to be the same person on and off stage. I believe that honesty is contagious, that me being honest hopefully gives someone else permission to do the same.

PS: How do you manage to find time to write new material between all of the work that you do?

JT: We have a great team. I basically write when I feel like I have to, and thankfully, everyone understands that. If I need to stay up half the night writing, I have the freedom to do that. Our team is amazing, and everyone plays their part to keep things moving forward. The organization started with something that I wrote, so writing feels like something I’m supposed to continue to invest in.

PS: What would you like people to come away with when they read your book?

JT: The dream is for people to believe that it’s okay to be honest, and that it’s okay to ask for help. Certainly with that, the hope is that people will choose to keep going, to keep fighting for their stories, for the idea that things can turn around, that life is worth living.

PS: TWLOHA is such a huge movement that has taken on so many different meanings to so many different people. But what does TWLOHA mean to you?

JT: It means I get to be part of something way bigger than me. It means I get to bring my heart to work. It means I get to participate in a conversation I truly believe in; one that has the power to change and save lives.

PS: I have to ask this, and I sincerely hope you don’t mind, but it is truly inspiring the way you all seemed to step up to help Renee Yohe, who you’d never really known. What made you feel like you could help her?

JT: It wasn’t complicated. It was the right thing to do. Our role was honestly simple. She needed a place to stay for the five days leading up to entering treatment. We needed to keep her safe and make her laugh. It was honestly a privilege.

PS: Speaking of Renee and TWLOHA, the new film is about to be released. Have you seen it yet? If so, what was it like to see Chad Michael Murray portray you?

JT: I’ve seen it about 20 times : ) It’s certainly an interesting experience to watch someone pretend to be you, especially day after day for five weeks. Chad was very kind and respectful. He really made an effort to get to know me, and to understand the true story he was representing.

PS: If you could say something to every person in the world right now, everyone who is struggling with something, the people who have finally reached their dreams, and even those who don’t know what’s next, what would you say?

JT: No matter what your life looks like at the moment, please know you’re not alone. Please don’t give up on your story. Please know your story matters. There is still some time to be surprised.


If You Feel Too Much will hit shelves on May 26th, 2015. Be sure to pick up a copy.

For more on TWLOHA, please click HERE.

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Tarcher/Penguin To Publish TWLOHA’s Jamie Tworkowski’s Debut Book

twloha jamie

Tarcher/Penguin publishers have announced the release of To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) founder Jamie Tworkowski’s debut book, If You Feel Too Much: Thought on Things Found and Lost and Hoped For, which will be available on May 19th, 2015.  As part of their ongoing Tarcher Cares initiative, for every book presold, Tarcher/Penguin will be donating one dollar to TWLOHA. Below, read Tworkowski’s statement and the letter informing him of his publishing acceptance.

“To be releasing my first book with this legendary New York publisher is a dream come true. i think the title is a phrase that applies to so many people – i know it applies to me. i hope this book can be a source of encouragement, something that helps folks feel less alone. More than anything, i hope this book leads to people getting help and even choosing to stay alive.”

– TWLOHA founder Jamie Tworkowski

twloha book announcement

“IF YOU FEEL TOO MUCH” can be preordered wherever books are sold, including AmazonBarnes & NobleApple, and your local independent bookseller.

Jamie Tworkowski is the founder of To Write Love on Her Arms, a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with addiction, depression, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA began in 2006 as Tworkowski’s attempt to help a friend and tell a story. Since then, Tworkowski’s TWLOHA blogs have become a source of hope and encouragement for thousands, and he speaks frequently at universities, concerts and conferences. 2015 looks to be the organization’s biggest year yet with the Sony Pictures release of To Write Love on Her Arms film starring Kat Dennings, Chad Michael Murray, Rupert Friend, and Corbin Bleu, available March 3, 2015 on DVD & Digital HD.
For more information on To Write Love on Her Arms, please visit: www.twloha.com
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TWLOHA: ‘No One Else Can Play Your Part’ Campaign

2256To Write Love on Her Arms, an incredible non-profit movement, will be joining organizations like the International Association for Suicide Prevention and the World Health Organization to honor 2014’s National Suicide Prevention Week (NSPW) September 8-14 and World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) on September 10.

This year, the theme is: “One World Connected.” TWLOHA’s message is, “No One Else Can Play Your Part.” TWLOHA founder Jamie Tworkowski tells us, “We chose these words because we believe them to be true. We want people to believe that their life matters, and their story is significant. More than anything, we want people to know that it’s okay to be honest, and it’s okay to ask for help. The highlight of our work is when people say things like, ‘I’m still alive because of TWLOHA.” Or “I got help because of you guys.'”

More than 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression. Two-thirds of those living with depression never get help, and untreated depression is the leading cause of suicide. In America, suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 10 and 24. This is why each year, in an effort to change these numbers, organizations come together to focus on suicide prevention. Tworkowski states, “We’re hoping you might join us in bringing this message to people everywhere. Whether you have 10 friends or 10,000 followers, we all have some kind of influence. Our hope is that this campaign – these words, this design – might lead to life-changing conversations. The TWLOHA story has been one of people connecting with hope and help by talking about things that aren’t usually talked about. Too many people feel alone. Too many people feel invisible. “No One Else Can Play Your Part” is meant to tell people that they matter, that they’re not alone, that there is still some time to be surprised.”

For NSPW and WSPD, there are many ways you can help spread TWLOHA’s message in your communities and online. First, you can pick up a World Suicide Prevention Daypack. Each pack includes a t-shirt, bracelet, poster print, and a pack of (15) info cards. These materials feature the “No One Else Can Play Your Part” design printed in orange, which is the color often associated with suicide prevention. All of these items are meant to equip you to talk about suicide prevention in your community. Use them as conversation starters, encouraging reminders, and informative tools to share with others. Join the conversation and post photos using #NoOneElse14.

By donating to TWLOHA, supporters are also investing in suicide prevention. From now until the end of NSPW, every dollar raised through our NSPW 2014 StayClassy page will go directly to funding treatment and recovery. As a way of saying thanks, the top individual fundraiser will win a unique TWLOHA experience. To learn more about the campaign and how to help, please visit:

To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery. Since its start in 2006, TWLOHA has donated over $1.2 million directly into treatment and recovery and responded to more than 175,000 emails from over 100 countries.

For more information on To Write Love on Her Arms, please visit: www.twloha.com

To get involved in National Suicide Prevention Week, please visit: http://twloha.com/blog/no-one-else.

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TO WRITE LOVE ON HER ARMS and CBS’s The Insider Correspondent Keltie Knight Team Up To Host Wizeo Chat Fundraiser


Non-profit organization To Write Love on Her Arms and CBS’s The Insider Correspondent Keltie Knight have teamed up to host a Wizeo Chat fundraiser. The chat, which will take place on June 11th at 8pm EST, comes in the wake of last week’s tragic shooting in Isla Vista, CA. For a contribution of the participants’ choosing (starting at $3), anyone can gain access to the interactive video group dialogue, and one lucky fan will win a one-on-one video chat with Knight. Interested participants can sign up here: https://www.wizeo.me/#!profile/27. For more information on TWLOHA, please visit: http://twloha.com/. For more information on Keltie Knight, please visit: http://www.keltieknight.com


On the upcoming fundraiser and in response to the tragedy, Knight tells us, “As a correspondent for The Insider, I get to report on some of the most fabulous and glamorous events in Hollywood, but I also have to report on the shockingly sad stories, too. My heart aches for the students and families touched by the UCSB tragedy, especially during Mental Health Awareness Month. I decided to team up with my friends at To Write Love on Her Arms to raise money for their programs and to help everyone feel a little less alone, and remind them that there is always someone who cares and that their story IS important no matter who they are and what they are dealing with.”

TWLOHA was awarded a $1 million grant at the first American Giving Awards presented by Chase Bank on NBC. This generous award was used to fund the nationwide HEAVY AND LIGHT tour in 2013.


To learn more about To Write Love on Her Arms, please visit: www.twloha.com. 

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TO WRITE LOVE ON HER ARMS Collaborates With Singer/Songwriter Christina Perri On Exclusive New Shirt Release

As many of you know, Planet Stereo shows love for a lot of artists and a handful of foundations. From the very beginning, To Write Love On Her Arms has been a foundation that has been at the top of the list for this site, and Christina Perri is held in just as high an esteem. 

THe non-profit organization has collaborated with singer/songwriter Christina Perri to release a brand new TWLOHA t-shirt, which is now available for purchase. The front of the shirt reads, “Hold On I Am Still Alive” with “This is not the end of me, this is the beginning” behind it – lyrics from Christina’s song, “I Believe,” the final track on her incredible new album Head Or Heart.




After writing “I Believe” with TWLOHA in mind, she first performed it at TWLOHA’s HEAVY AND LIGHT. On the song’s inspiration, Perri tells us: “People ask me all the time what I would say to the younger version of myself if I had the chance. I tell them: every single affirmation in ‘I Believe.’ I was inspired to write this song for TWLOHA’s HEAVY AND LIGHT concert. I wanted to write something special just for that audience, but after that evening and how it made me feel, I decided to put it on my album and give this song to the world.” Lyrics to the song in its entirety are printed inside of each shirt. To purchase, please visit: http://store.twloha.com/.

Personally, I think these shirts are gorgeous. Like every shirt TWLOHA puts out, they should be worn with pride, and there is no doubt that this one will be.


To learn more about To Write Love on Her Arms, please visit: www.twloha.com

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If you’ve been following me for a while, you will know by now that I am a huge supporter of To Write Love On Her Arms. It’s such a wonderful movement and it’s so great to see attention being brought to issues like self-harm and addiction. One of the events I look forward to most is Heavy and Light. As the headline says, it truly is “An evening of songs, conversation, and hope.”

I attended the Orlando date this year (February 18th, 2013) and, once again, was in awe. The music is always amazing, and the conversation sends chills up your spine. This year, a focus was placed on the loss of co-founder David McKenna, who died on December 14, 2012 in a car-accident. Both Jamie Tworkowski and Renee Yohe spoke of the loss on stage, which left many people with tears streaming. The event then moved forward with their message of hope and pushing through the difficult events in life.

Renee Yohe (a.k.a. Bearcat) performed to a crowd of delighted listeners. With an instantly classic voice and the beautiful melodies that accompanied her, one could not help but be entranced by her stage-presence.

With performances by Anthony Raneri (Bayside), Jon Foreman and Fiction Family, Will Anderson (Parachute), and Now, Now, the evening was everything I expected and more. Anthony Raneri is truly an amazing performer; my only wish is that I could hear him cover Death Cab For Cutie’s “I Will Follow You Into The Dark” over and over again. When he later reappeared on stage to join Jon Foreman for “Only Hope,” they both commanded the attention of the entire venue.

The same could be said for Will Anderson, who had many excited girls screaming into my ears, all desperately trying to catch his eye. As every performer did, Anderson communicated with the audience, engaging them, and wowing them as he sang. Now, Now were beautifully real. Between songs, they spoke about being under the weather (though you’d never have known) and joked with one another about needing to stay hydrated. Whatever they’re doing, they’re doing it right, because their set was superb.

They were energetic; their songs were different and catchy and overall, fantastic. When Jon Foreman and Fiction Family were on stage together, a whole new energy seemed to come about. There suddenly seemed to be more foot stomping, more clapping; it was an experience, to say the least, including celebrating Sean Watkins birthday on stage. I thought I’d seen just about everything until I saw Jon Foreman handing out lamps for their set at the end. “Here, take a lamp,” he said, grinning. “I’ve never done that before.” And we’ve never seen anything so wonderfully amusing!

Of course, who could forget spoken-word poet Anis Mojgani? Again, he amazed the audience, to the point that one girl even passed out! Jokes aside, Anis has a way about him that draws you into the poems he reads, making you feel every word. A Heavy and Light without him would be oddly empty.

Well done to all the artists and the entire organization of To Write Love On Her Arms for another successful Heavy and Light. If you’d like to know more about TWLOHA or Heavy and Light, please go to twloha.com

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FROM THE ARCHIVES: National Suicide Prevention Week & To Write Love On Her Arms

To Write Love On Her Arms has been presenting people around the world with that idea since 2006. These words also tie in nicely with National Suicide Prevention Week. From September 9th to September 15th, you may see many people wearing To Write Love On Her Arms merchandise, or simply writing the word “love” on their own arms. More than that, TWLOHA actually participates in National Suicide Prevention Week themselves. “We’re doing something different this year than we have in previous years. We’ve really made a big effort to make our audience aware of National Suicide Prevention Week and World Suicide Prevention Day,” says a representative from the non-profit organization. “We have been selling a WSPD pack that includes an orange title shirt and info cards to promote. Also, we’ll have a variety of ways our supporters can get involved during the week from using the hashtags #NSPW12 and #WSPD12 on twitter to sending us photos of what hope looks like in their community.” In many communities, the stigmas surrounding mental health issues act as one of the many reasons that people tend to avoid talking about their problems, and that emotion builds up. TWLOHA has been breaking down these stigmas since their formation. “We believe it is essential to change the way we talk about mental health. We want people to know that they are not alone and that it’s okay to talk about these things. We are constantly striving to create awareness of the issues so people feel more comfortable talking about them.” TWLOHA recently celebrated its sixth year; six years of giving people from all over the world a new sense of hope and changing the way the public sees mental health and the many demons that plague individuals. “Over the next six years we hope to expand our current programs, such as the UChapters, MOVE Community Conferences, and The Storytellers. We will also continue our Fears vs. Dreams campaign as we have been so moved by the response to that. Additionally we will continue to invest in treatment and recovery as well as expand our partnerships with other mental health organizations and treatment and recovery facilities. “We are going to continue the work we’ve been doing for the past six years and hope that our message continues to reach more and more people.” Even this year, TWLOHA is kicking off it’s second term of The Storytellers on October 1t and have two MOVE Community Conferences (one in Philadelphia-10/19-20 and one in Seattle-11/9-10). Along with that, TWLOHA is expected to continue its newest campaign (Hope Goes Surfing) and planning the 2013 Heavy & Light tour, both of which are being made possible by the $1,000,000 grant awarded by NBC’S American Giving Awards. TWLOHA partnered with the Kristin Brooks Hope Center to bring IMAlive.org to life and provide virtual counseling to all who seek it out. As an extension of the Hopeline Network, TWLOHA fund the program financially through donations. This National Suicide Prevention Week, it’s programs like TWLOHA and their extensions like IMAlive.org that need to be celebrated for the amazing work they put in to making sure that people don’t become another statistic. Everyone can do something for someone they know who is struggling. “It is essential for people to listen to those telling them of their struggles with mental health. People need other people,” expressed TWLOHA. “Listening and providing support, not judgment is crucial to helping someone. Many people do not come forward about their struggles because they fear being judged. If you or someone you know is struggling, be a foundation of support for them so they know they can be open about their struggles and hopefully you can connect them to the help they need.” This week, be sure to proudly wear your TWLOHA gear and show your support for the people who have been lost to their struggles and those who have survived despite them. For more information on TWLOHA, please go to TWLOHA.com.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES: Foundation Spotlight: To Write Love On Her Arms



You were created to love and be loved. You were meant to live life in relationship with other people, to know and be known. You need to know that your story is important and that you’re part of a bigger story. You need to know that your life matters.”
These words are in the opening of the Vision To Write Love On Her Arms has on their website.
In March of 2006, TWLOHA was founded by Jamie Tworkowski, inspired by the heart-breaking story of Renee Yohe (then nineteen). The foundation proved to be ground-breaking. Musicians like Anberlin and Switchfoot started wearing t-shirts in support and people all over the country, and even the world, found themselves inspired; inspired to change.
Many people who were once too nervous to reveal their personal problems to even their closest friends or relatives suddenly had an outlet that gave no judgment. “At TWLOHA we believe that stories are important and valuable, but we also understand how difficult it can be to share our stories with others sometimes,” says Savannah Jaye Thomas, one of the six interns at the TWLOHA headquarters (now located in Melbourne). “[W]henever someone chooses to share their stories with us, we’re honored that TWLOHA can create a space where they feel safe and encouraged to do so.”
The foundation garnered such a following that “To Write Love On Her Arms Week” and TWLOHA Day (Nov. 13) suddenly appeared on Facebook pages, proof that it is more than just a foundation. “All of the TWLOHA days/weeks have been organized and advertised completely by our supporters through social media, so we definitely feel honored. The passion they have for our cause is overwhelming and humbling, and we’re so grateful for it.”
In 2009, TWLOHA partnered with the Kristen Brooks Hope Center to develop IMAlive, an online crisis center operating via instant messenger, just another way TWLOHA have made themselves more accessible to their supporters and the people that need their support in return.
TWLOHA has had a booth every year for the last five years, a move Thomas says, “[H]as provided us with opportunities to promote ourselves, meet supporters, and network with bands that support us.”
A sensation in the music world, TWLOHA has had the support of musicians from the beginning. “Jon Foreman, the lead singer of Switchfoot, was there when Jamie opened the first box of shirts and asked if he could wear one on stage that night. From there, other friends who were also musicians just believed in the story and wanted to support it, such as Anberlin and Underoath. We were also invited to be a part of Vans Warped Tour, opening up more opportunities to be involved with musicians and share our message with their fans. We are honored to have people with such powerful voices and committed fans be a part of our story.”
These voices are often a huge part of Heavy and Light, a TWLOHA gathering held in Orlando. “[Heavy and Light] began in 2007 as a way to create a conversation and night of hope in honor of our friend Casey Calvert, who died a month before. The name came from a blog Jamie wrote in response to Casey’s death. It was such a great night of hope and honesty and conversation, and we decided to carry it on,” states Thomas. “We believe that music has the power to encourage people and remind them that they are alive, and we really enjoy being able to take our conversation and combine it with great music. A good song leaves us feeling like it is okay to be honest and to feel things. We believe that there is a lot of freedom in that. Heavy and Light is an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ kind of event, involving all parts of our staff, from our communication team to our merch and music teams–everyone plays an important role.”
At the 2012 Heavy and Light, a short film plays at the beginning, setting the mood for the entire evening. “Welcome to Midnight,” the words say, bright against the dark background. The tone of the evening is hopeful, to say the least; believing that change is a possibility for both the company and its followers. “We have some really incredible stuff in the works that we’ll be announcing later this year that have been part of our dream for a while, but we’re excited that 2012 is the year that we’re going to be able to make a lot of those dreams a reality for us, including our hope to take Heavy and Light on the road. 
“We absolutely believe that everyone gets a fresh start, but we don’t believe that that fresh start is confined to resolutions on New Year’s Eve. We believe that that fresh start can begin at any moment, but that it begins with a choice to make a fresh start, to ask for help, to change the course of things. Maybe the best way to describe it is that we believe people get to choose a fresh start for themselves at any time. Since there are many people who spend the last week of the year preparing for the clean slate of a New Year at midnight on New Year’s Eve, we decided to join them in celebrating that idea.”


This year featured performances by Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional, David Bazan, Noah Gunderson, Mariah McManus, spoken word poet Anis Mojgani, and even a guest appearance by actress Sophia Bush. Fans also got a sneak peak at the movie “Renee,” based on Renee Yohe’s story and the formation of To Write Love On Her Arms. The film, despite not having yet been released, has already received support from the foundation’s many followers. “We are excited about the film, for sure. We did not write the script or produce it, but we are glad to be a part of it. Our hope is that the movie will connect and move people,” Thomas expresses. “Maybe it’s someone learning about and understanding self-injury better than they did before. Or it could be someone feeling inspired to live a more honest story or reach out for help after seeing the film. We hope it creates change.”
TWLOHA has fourteen staff members and six interns, a relatively small amount in comparison to other foundations and companies, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in passion, determination, and pure character, a community of wonderful people. “One of the most important tasks that our interns do is responding to e-mails from supporters on a daily basis, so it’s imperative that our interns are good communicators. Also, something we really stress in our internship program is the idea of community, and every community looks different. The application process helps our Intern Program Director invite interns who are not only a good fit for the organization but also a good fit for the community they will form when they arrive.”
It only takes one person to change the world, but imagine if a group of awe-inspiring people work together to bring on that change, what wonderful things could be done and created. TWLOHA seems to understand that, one of the many reasons they won the $1,000,000 grant from NBC’s Giving Awards.
TWLOHA is a cause that brings awareness and love in all that it does. Please go toTWLOHA.com to show your support.

“The vision is the possibility that your best days are ahead. 

The vision is the possibility that we’re more loved than we’ll ever know. 

The vision is hope, and hope is real.

You are not alone, and this is not the end of your story.”

*Also be sure to check out the weekly feature on the TWLOHA Behind-the-Scenes Tumblrcalled “Song of the Week.” You can also listen to this playlist on Spotify.

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TWLOHA Founder Speaks Out On Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s Death & Gives TEDxTalk



Jamie Tworkowski, the founder of To Write Love On Her Arms, is a truly eloquent speaker and writer. He often posts on the blog, further spreading TWLOHA’s message that it is not awareness, but conversation, that helps people battle their addictions and triumph over the demons in their lives.

In TWLOHA’s latest post, Jamie comments on the heart-breaking loss of Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and how such events can and should be learning experiences for others that are currently suffering from addition, depression, and/or self-injury. In the piece, Jamie states, Break the silence and break the cycle, for you are more than just your pain. You are not alone. And people need other people.” 

Jamie is quick to relate that famous people are no different from the average person suffering from depression or addiction.

“These famous names represent millions less known, millions of stories cut short, families with so much forever missing. Children shouldn’t grow up without parents and parents shouldn’t have to bury their children.

You can read Jamie’s full blog HERE.

Jamie also gave a recent TEDxTalk, entitled, “Depression and Desire,” which you can watch below.


The TEDxTalk further centers on the topic of encouraging people to be honest and ask for help when they need it. As he has said (now many times) before, “People need other people.”


For more on To Write Love On Her Arms, please click here.


RIP Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

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To Write Love On Her Arms: Heavy & Light 2014



To Write Love On Her Arms’ annual “evening of songs, conversation, and hope” is something I look forward to and am very proud to cover. Each year, I take away something different–and not just my new t-shirt purchase. Heavy & Light 2014 was no exception. With performances by Anis Mojgani, Jon Foreman of Switchfoot, Mary Lambert, Tristan Prettyman, and The Summer Set, along with some amazing speakers, this year’s event was just as spectacular as the last.

Whenever those words come on the screen, reminding everyone why they are there, and what the point of Heavy & Light is, something like pride swells up inside of me; even though I had no hand in putting the event together, and have no direct relation to To Write Love On Her Arms, when those words flash by, something grips me. That feeling stays with me for the rest of the night.

Starting off with Anis Mojgani, the spoken-word poet entranced the crowd, as usual, with his perfect timing and stunning words. I’m not dismissing the works of some of the greats, like Emily Dickinson or Robert Frost, because I cherish their words, but Anis may be one of the most spectacular poets of our time, and to see him speak these words is a wonder in itself.

Mary Lambert took the stage, and in all truth, charmed the crowd instantly. Well-known for her collaboration with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, the “Same Love” singer stepped behind the keys and entranced everyone with her words and her music. She openly spoke of her own struggles with anxiety and depression, even filling up on stage a few times, leaving no eye in the crowd without a tear threatening to fall. She relayed a story from the awards show she’d performed at, even including a Harry Potter reference. It’s always wonderful to see an artist who’s so unafraid to be themselves, and reveal their humanity. Mary Lambert performed with soul and an undeniable fire, while speaking to the crowd as though she too was stood behind the barricades, waiting for what would happen next.

Following Jamie Tworkowski’s introduction, comedian Kevin Breel took the stage. Breel, at just 19 years old, gave a TED talk, breeching a subject most speakers would hesitate to even approach: “Confessions of a Depressed Comedian,” it became known as. 



His words rang true with the audience; the feeling of depression creeping in when a person is deemed successful, and should be excited about an accomplishment. Each word seemed to nail the hammer on the head even further, and Kevin only framed this with ‘light,’ making jokes about promising to let someone “much more attractive and with a better voice” step on stage, introducing Tristan Prettyman.

Prettyman is like a musical version of Aubrey Plaza. There is something very real about her, and she jokes about the most normal things–feeling down because everyone on Facebook seems to have it all together, then stage-whispering about how she gets to tour and do what she loves. In her music, Prettyman keeps that same charming quality, unafraid to be vulnerable, or even silly.

The Summer Set provided a fun, upbeat set, making people sing at the top of their lungs, dancing as though they couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Brian Dales took an opportunity to speak about when he was feeling pretty down and out himself, leading to the band’s wonderful song, “Legendary.” Having seen them perform at Warped Tour, I knew that The Summer Set were brilliantly entertaining on stage, and over the years, that quality seems to have only doubled, if not tripled.

Once more, Anis graced the stage, and just before he left, he delivered one of the poems I could read in my sleep: “Shake The Dust.” For a moment, everyone was still. This poem has become tradition, one that people wait to hear. I notice a few people in the crowd miming the words, as though, they too, have read this to themselves in sleep.

When Jamie steps out again, it’s like the crowd is waking up from a trance. As one of To Write Love On Her Arms’s founders, Jamie seems to radiate pride, and always seems excited to see how many people have turned out, showing his appreciation for those that have traveled just to be there. When he introduces Jon Foreman, he offers the artist a thanks. Jon had recently had 30 stitches inside his mouth, and they had thought they might have to cancel. However, Jon had decided to push on.

A fan gave him a care package, and he quickly expressed his gratitude, dedicating a song to her.

Now, don’t get me wrong, seeing Jon Foreman perform is awe-inspiring in itself, but it was standing off to the side that it hit me. As he took to being completely unplugged, he led the crowd through the beginning of “Dare You To Move.” The unity in the room was almost too much to handle. In all honesty, I don’t think you’ve known what effects art can bring until you’ve seen a room of strangers grin at each other like old friends because of a song.

That’s what Heavy & Light is about; coming together and, just for a moment, realizing you’re not alone.


For photos from Heavy & Light, please go HERE.


Also, huge thanks to Mike of Decades In Spain! I lost one of my SD cards during the show, and he was kind enough to help me find it afterwards! Yes, yes, I know–“#PhotographerFail.”


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