By Tommy HardenJanuary 8, 2018

Passage is a short film written and directed by Tommy Harden. This is what he’d like you to know about the inspiration behind the project.

Several years ago, my heart and mind were in so much turmoil I had a hard time getting any sleep, and it became a regular activity for me to go out for walks in the middle of the night. I live in a city that has a river running through it, and I became intimately familiar with the river walkways and the myriad bridges that connect the east side to the west. Much of the time my mind was somewhere else completely, and it was a struggle at times to remember where I was.

One particular night I found myself walking across a particular bridge, and about halfway across I stopped. I looked out across the water, and down the great distance below. In that moment I realized with great clarity what it would be like for someone to make the decision to end their life, and the sudden awareness of it shocked me.

There are some things the soul knows that the mind doesn’t, and this is what I knew for sure in that moment: I wasn’t in any danger, and I wasn’t going to make any attempt. However, the option presented itself as a way out of the pain. It was as if in the middle of this dark night a doorway appeared – a way out. I was never in any danger of walking through it, but it was suddenly and astonishingly clear to me why someone would. I saw this action, previously unthinkable and absurd, simply as innocent desperation.

The next day I Googled “suicide prevention.” Did anyone understand what I experienced? What would I tell someone if they found themselves in front of that same doorway? I was surprised to find a large amount of compassion welling up in me. Suddenly my own pain and desperation, my darkness, was being met with an enormous amount of care, and I simply started to follow where it led me. Google took me to a Wikipedia page, which I found dry, clinical, and unhelpful. But at the very bottom of the page someone had added a link to an organization with a very poetic name: To Write Love on Her Arms. I had never heard of it, but it was a beautiful phrase. I clicked on it, and it took me to Jamie’s story.

While reading it I felt the surge of relief that so many others must feel while reading Jamie’s words. It was a powerful reminder that recovery doesn’t mean putting a wall up around yourself, but instead being open and letting all of our hopes and fears and passions be felt and heard.

It was about a year or so later, after coming out of this period of pain in my life, that I finally decided to reach out to TWLOHA and see if there was any way I could help out. I had no idea what that might mean or what that might look like, but we started a conversation that has lasted a couple of years, right up to this moment.

So began a process that might be called compassionate research. I read blog entries and stories, I listened and watched and had conversations, I searched for what was true in other people’s stories and my own. This film is simply what arose as the result of that openness.

So… the film! I actually don’t want to discuss it much or try to explain it. It’s still somewhat of a mystery even to me, and I still feel and think about new things every time I see it. But whatever I have to say about it will never be as important or relevant as your experience of it. All I can say is that I made it for you, and that I hope it feels as true to you as it does to me.

If you are in a painful place, please know that the depth of your pain is understood. Keep walking your path. Stay alive. There may be times that you can’t even see the pathway in front of you, but keep on walking. This passage might feel impossible at times, but keep walking, no matter what. Soon there will be bursts of light in the darkness. For what is happening is not an ending but a beginning. A new version of you­—a new version of your life—is being born, and your depression is a sign that you are ready for this change.

Your life is intense and real and amazing and scary and beautiful, and the world wants to hear your truth in it, the truth that you know in your heart. We need to hear the sound of your voice. Find a living, breathing person whom you trust to share it with. If you are having a hard time finding that person, please reach out to TWLOHA for help. They will share with you the unconditional love and support that they shared with me.

The film is dedicated to your journey.

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Comments (23)

  1. Maggie

    So good.

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  2. David Seaman


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  3. David Seaman


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  4. Liz

    Amazing! Thank you so much for sharing the journey of so many in such a poetic and artistic way. I can’t wait to talk to my daughter about this and watch it with her as she journies a similar path.

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    1. Jennifer

      You are not alone, from one mother to another.

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  5. Amy

    Hope is real! I lost my son to suicide 10 months ago. Everyday I pray for Hope.

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  6. Pingback: Passage: The Director’s Statement – TWLOHA

  7. Glitter HD

    I don’t usually comment on videos but it feels important right now. Recovery can take a long time and there can be light in the darkness. This is such a beautiful film.

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  8. Scott K.

    Thank you so much for this. After discovering TWLOHA back in July, I’m convinced that it was an answer to my desperate prayers, God’s way of telling me that I still had reasons to keep on living.

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  9. Carrie Nygard

    This was extremely powerful for me. I have come to realize that recovery looks nothing like I thought it would. Recovery is not a destination. It is a journey of its own. Thank you for making this film! I am a brand new film student and writer and I want to make films like this!

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  10. Stephanie

    I wear those same scars. I wish it were as easy as this seemed to break free of the depths of despair and darkness. Thank you for taking the time to make this, Tommy.

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  11. Amy Glaser

    Thanks for sharing this film. It’s giving me insight into my daughters daily life. There are so many parallels. I’m trying to understand what it’s like to “walk in her shoes”. This gives me a lot of insight. She texted your hotline a little over a week ago. I’m forever greatful that someone was there for her.

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  12. Patti Runge

    Thank you

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  13. Diana

    Wow thank you so much for taking the time on the making of this video. I honestly couldn’t help it but to cry in the entire video because this is exactly how I feel every single morning and day. What’s even worse is that my little eight-year-old son sees how bad my depression is affecting me and at times when I try to be OK and pretend to be normal at times I feel so dead inside I can honestly relate to this video. Hope some day I can also find hope.

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  14. Tracey

    That is thpughtful and beautiful. Thank you.

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  15. Kaitie

    I love how real this is. It isn’t trying to be anything other than the beginning, it isn’t trying to answer all the questions. It’s saying “this is what it looks like to struggle, and this is what it looks like to see the possibility of something more beautiful and more hopeful.” Great job.

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  16. Autumn

    I have never read a piece of writing that spoke to me so clearly. Thank you. Thank you for your curiosity, your time, your thoughts, your passion, and most importantly your words. There are some things that the soul knows that the mind does not understand, but this, this is something I believe many minds CAN and WILL understand. God bless you.

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  17. Tish

    Thankyou : )

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  18. Bailee

    This is so beautiful. Everyone of us has our own passage we go through. I love how we got to see the hope in the girl’s eyes in the end and view her perspective. I can really relate to the main girl. Hope is real. It’s just taking me a while to find it. But I do believe it’s out there somewhere. I loved how she found two friends to lean on and they came into her life at the right place in the right time. Meeting someone who has gone through the same things as you really helps on this journey through life. Thank you for gnus video 🙂

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  19. Sarah

    Beautifully touching and very familiar…

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  20. Hurting Girl

    I am this girl. And I just lost those 2 friends. It feels so impossible. Thank you for the reminder that it won’t be this way forever.

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  21. Katie

    This film made me realize a lot of things. I’m going through a similar darkness as portrayed in the film, and watching it helps me see that there is hope out there, and I hope I stay alive to see the special moments in life that make me glad I stayed. Thank you for this Film. You have done a great job with spreading love and hope.

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  22. Alicia

    absolutely beautiful

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