We believe birthdays are a special thing. It’s an opportunity to say:
“I’m glad you’re alive. Your story matters.”
It’s also a reminder that your story is still being told.
For us, it’s incredibly humbling when our supporters say that we helped them continue, that we helped them reach their next birthday. And for that reason, we want to pause and celebrate with the 33 folks who donated their birthdays to support TWLOHA through Facebook.
We’re inspired by the fact that people view their birthdays as a chance to not only celebrate their own existence, but to ensure that others who are struggling will find the hope and help they deserve.
Wanting to know the stories behind these donations, we reached out to a handful of supporters and asked them: “Why did you chose to donate your birthday to TWLOHA?”
Here’s what Leah, Marissa, and Jordan had to say:
“It was September 2012 and I wanted to die. A flurry of students were buzzing around the counseling center during the switch between classes. I was being escorted by a police officer to his car so he could take me to the ER. I felt the urge to run in that moment, but then I spotted a student wearing a shirt that made me second guess: To Write Love on Her Arms.
I had been struggling with the worst of my mental illness when a counselor at my university’s counseling center urged me to go to the hospital. After much hesitation, I agreed. Still, I was unsure I was worth the help, or whether I even wanted to live.
During my most painful, confusing, and lonely days, TWLOHA was there to spread hope and breathe life into me. I found respite in their message: through blog posts telling others’ stories, resources to get help, and thoughtful responses to desperate emails, TWLOHA has always been here to remind me that my story matters, that hope and help are real, and that people need other people.
Before that afternoon in September, I had never seen anyone on campus wearing a TWLOHA shirt. That student just happened to be walking by at the moment I needed it most. It reminded me that hope and help are real.
So, I got into the passenger’s seat.
In some of my worst hours, TWLOHA told me not to give up on my story. I am honored to share some of it here. I am honored to have the ability to raise money and awareness on their behalf in hopes that their mission will continue to help those who feel hopeless.
I turned 25 this month. If you’d asked 19-year-old me where I pictured myself in six years, my response would have been heavy. I didn’t picture myself at all. Not here. Not living. But thanks to TWLOHA and the unconditional love of my family and friends, I celebrate my life by honoring others’. Our stories matter.”
– Leah Bartlett, 25
“28 was the toughest year of my life.
Growing up, I was always the “happy go lucky” one, the overly energetic one, the funny one. But then things changed. Days that were once filled with laughter, friends, and fun, were now packed with darkness, tiredness, and confusion. For a while, I thought it was a phase. I tried techniques such as meditation, acupuncture—anything really.
I was in denial.
The summer of 2016 was my lowest point. Work no longer served as distraction. I had nowhere left to go, but to face the reality that I wasn’t OK. I can still recall the panic attack that led me to that realization: I was pacing my room worried that I was having a heart attack, debating whether or not I should drive myself to the hospital. There was no more denying it, I needed help.
Thereafter, I was diagnosed with Depression and severe anxiety. At first, I was a bit embarrassed. But why? I have no control over it? I can’t change my biological makeup. So why was I feeding into the stigma?
There is nothing to be ashamed of. Especially considering it takes a certain strength to admit when we need help. The second I reached out, a weight lifted off of my shoulders. I am thankful to the team of doctors, and to my family and friends for their support. I would not be here without them.
So, when Facebook asked if I wanted to donate my birthday to the charity of my choice, I chose TWLOHA. It’s a mission that I can stand by wholeheartedly, I know that without the treatment and encouragement I have received, I would not be able to sit here and write this retelling of strength and perseverance; attempting to inspire others just like me. There is hope, and there are people out there who want to help you.”
– Marissa Tartaglia, 29
“On July 30, I will be 13. Throughout those years, I’ve struggled greatly. After spending almost two weeks in a hospital, I left with a Clinical Depression and possible DID diagnosis. I came back home to a supportive environment, but as I shared my struggles with my peers at school, I was met with ridicule. Overwhelmed by their reactions, I turned to my empty room and spent hours on end listening to music on the computer. It became my escape. But eventually, it all became too much again.
I turned to an old friend for help and he told me about TWLOHA. And while this friend doesn’t know my full story, and I don’t know his, we found common ground and comfort in this organization. Turns out, we both share a love for theatre, music, and staying alive.
This year I donated my birthday to TWLOHA on Facebook—assuming it wouldn’t be a big deal. But in the first two days, I hit my goal… twice. As of now, I’ve raised $360. It’s not a lot, but it means so much to me.
My name is Jordan, this year I’m going to be 13, and TWLOHA has helped me through my struggles. I’m giving back to them as they gave to me when I needed it most.
– Jordan, 13
To donate your birthday on Facebook, simply log into your profile and click “create a fundraiser.” From there, select “To Write Love on Her Arms.” You can even use the image at the top of this post as your cover photo! If you have any questions on how to get started, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.