I know I’m going to get lampooned for being cynical of such a harmless, friendly movement like the “To write love on her arms day”, but something about this movement makes me cringe. So I’m going to allow myself to be expressed. To be clear – I am not specifically critical of the original movement or its agenda. Although I disagree with some of its basic ideology, it was started for good purposes and is doing a good job raising awareness and getting people to recognizing/treating their symptoms. However, I think it has turned into more of a cool trend of young wannabe hipsters and groupies, or self indulgent “look-at-me-I’m-depressed-too!” ego freaks, rather than a genuine outreach program.
The movement is 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” (facebook page).
Butterflies and kittens and flowers, oh my. Normally I’d ignore this silliness – except that it is brewing up into a viral internet insanity; there may be a million people who actually write ‘love’ on their arm – and for what? “Depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide?’ That’s a long list. I’ll agree that love is usually a good thing and we should all express our love to each other (you may be surprised that Satan would advocate love – but you shouldn’t be. I am and always have been about doing what it takes to feel good and be happy.) But I can’t understand how having thousands of people write ‘love’ on their arms is going to help any individual suffering.
Moreover, as someone personally struggling with depression, (if you were unfairly accused and banished to Hell for eternity, without recourse to a retrial or legal retribution, or even the glimmer of hope that a future regime change might set you free, you’d be depressed too), I’m aware that real depression is not ameliorated by situation or circumstance – it’s a chemical imbalance that’s hard to control. Having someone personal, in your life, expressing their support for you… sometimes it’s nice. But if you’re really depressed it’s not going to help. If you’ve simply got low self-esteem, are full of self-pity, guilt, etc, then having someone care about you may make you feel better – but only until you learn to get over yourself. There are children starving to death for Christ’s sake. You’re sad because no one loves and appreciates you? Go ahead – jump off the freaking bridge. Donate your money to charity first so that someone else can enjoy it.
At any rate, having personal intimate relationships is different from a bunch of self-righteous, self-loving strangers who just think it’s a cool and fun idea (and it is!) to post photos of themselves and their beautiful arm-art. People who participate are stroking their own egos (and any seriously depressed or addicted person who wants to hurt themselves probably will recognize that fact; unless they join in the fun themselves and then it might be a nice 2-hour distraction from the pain that is life.)
Is it harmful? Of course not. It’s just a little twisted and pathetic and self-serving. The new facebook page has 244,000+ members. As far as I can tell, they mostly share bitch and moan stories about how they are struggling with depression or anxiety, or comment on how some famous people like rock stars are struggling with depression or anxiety. And sure, this sense of community or having other people out there experiencing the same thing can be beneficial (possibly – although it also gets everybody to accept the ‘normalcy’ of being depressed, rather than genuinely trying not to be depressed – being depressed, like big rock stars, is ‘cool’). And to their credit, TWLOHA (To Write Love On Her Arms) does link to legitimate resources where people can get real help. (http://www.twloha.com/find-help/)
And I know, I KNOW what a frustrating bitch anxiety or depression can be; you can’t enjoy life, food has no taste, you’re always going out of your mind, you indulge in self-abusive behavior or patterns… ok, it sucks. But Jesus Christ – if you had to work and toil to make a living, if you live in a small community with few options, you wouldn’t deal with this crap. These are modern symptoms. They are due mostly to a) too many interpersonal relationship, but with less intimacy b) poor diet (yes, diet is absolutely the cause of mood imbalances) c) too much free time.
Look at some pictures of the happy, moderately wealthy, often rich and glamorous participants of the ‘Write love on her arms’ movement and then picture a heroin addict, homeless, jobless, dirty and covered in urine in a cockroach infested hole somewhere in your city. Where is the relation? How is the help arriving? TWLOHA seems mostly to be a sympathy club for musicians who can’t figure out what to do with all their fame and fortune (poor them).
People write love on their arms for themselves, and to be part of a trendy movement.
If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, read some SERIOUS Greek philosophy; find the meaning of life. Take some time to be alone in nature. Do a fruits and vegetables fast for 2 weeks. Learn to control you will-power so you feel like you’re in charge of your life by denying yourself small pleasures (give up on coke, coffee, cigarettes, etc). The cure I’ve ever found for depression is the “Blue Day Book” or “Bunny Suicides” or “Breaking Bad News with Baby Animals.” Better yet, watch these funny cats videos. Depression is a pit to get out of, not a state to call attention to by asking for for sympathy.
Tomorrow I’m going to take a picture of my arm – it’s going to say “i LOVE sex” or “i LOVE beer” or something, with the “LOVE” really big and the other words really really small.
One more thing that makes me uncomfortable – from the To Write On Her Arms website: “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.” They also talk a lot about praying together and how ‘God is still in the business of redemption’. That stuff makes me a little queasy. First of all – why should you think that your story is important at all? 99% of you will live and die as nobodies. You will never be famous, rich or successful. You will work hard and die, and there will be millions more after you. Maybe it’s the preoccupation with ‘telling your story’ or getting yourself personally recognized that causes the modern degree of existential angst in the first place. Secondly, why is God given credit for the few times an addict or suicidal depressive gets better. If he’s responsible for them – then he’s also responsible for all the suicides that are successful; he’s also responsible for all the war orphans, starving children, poor and destitute millions of humans around the globe.
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