Devin Durbin | Staff Reporter
Published March 25, 2015; 2 p.m.
The Lindenwood Speaker Series brought Jamie Tworkowski to speak about sobriety at the Anheuser-Busch Leadership Room in the Spellmann Center on Tuesday March 24. The founder of To Write Love on Her Arms was joined by the woman who inspired his cause, former addict Renee Yohe, to discuss truths in life that many people are afraid to talk about. The stories of abuse that exist in today’s society are commonplace and have haunted many. Even though it was not planned, Tworkowski began to hope that they would be able to help people take the next step in the road of recovery. Being open and honest and searching for a community. As the organization says, “People need other people.”
The evening began with an introduction from LU Active Minds president Jaxsen Ball before Tworkowski opened with a few light remarks, talking a bit about himself and cracking a couple of jokes to lighten the mood. The irony of talking about sobriety in the Anheuser-Busch Leadership Room was not lost on him. He then started talking about Yohe and her history, saying that “Over time, she’s learned that she prefers to sing her story.”
Yohe plays music under the moniker Bearcat. Her songs are very personal and therapeutic. Her voice is soft, but feels strong and bigger than words. She played a few songs such as “Crazy Fishes,” which is featured in the “To Write Love on Her Arms” motion picture soundtrack and “The Nothing,” inspired by “The Never Ending Story.” In between each song, she talked about the painful stories that inspired each song. A song that meant a lot to Yohe called “Saudade” a she wrote for her friend David McKenna, the friend responsible introducing her to Tworkowski.
Tworkowski talked about the birth of the organization, and how it spawned a movement. He talked about how sometimes you have to take chances and go after the impossible. He then got on to talking about the nitty-gritty reality.
“We’ve learned that there [are] roughly 20 million [Americans] that struggle with depression,” he stated. “Untreated depression is the leading cause of suicide. That for us in the room tonight, that suicide is the third leading cause of death.” The most shocking statistic to him was that “two out of three people who struggle with depression never get help for it.”
The speech concluded with playing the trailer for their movie “To Write Love on Her Arms,” which focuses heavily on the five days before Yohe entered rehab and represents the creation the organization. Following the trailer a Q&A session began, where students and guests asked questions covering topics such as how to make sure that one is helping themself so that one can help others, how to deal with feeling insignificant and personal questions for Tworkowski and Yohe. After finishing up with the questions the speakers, took a moment to get refreshed and came back and talked with the audience and took pictures at which time people were able to purchase hats, t-shirts, books and get more information about the organization.
While there was rain outside, there was hope and light on the inside. To Write Love on Her Arms brought a conversation to campus that is important to people’s survival. One question that was asked was “How can I get involved?” Anyone can get involved by talking to people, opening up and telling their stories, or by going to their website and finding the local resources that are available in any local area by visiting http://twloha.com/find-help/local-resources/st-louis-mo. TWLOHA has an internship that is offered every semester that allows students and recent graduates to get experience, and help people while they are at it.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with depression, self-harm, or addiction don’t be afraid to ask for help. There is hope. You are never alone. Your story is important.