Friday, November 13, 2009

To Write Love On Her Arms

I was pleasantly surprised today to see a folder sent by my buddy Evangeline Schism.

What could this be? I wondered.

Then I started to read.

Direct Copy Past from her notecard:


We inturupt your regular Schismphrenic newsletter to bring you this special Public Awareness Message.


-121 million people worldwide suffer from depression. (The World Health Organization)

-18 million of these cases are happening in the United States. (The National Institute of Mental Health)

-Between 20% and 50% of children and teens struggling with depression have a family history of this struggle and the offspring of depressed parents are more than three times as likely to suffer from depression. (U.S. Surgeon General's Survey, 1999)

-Depression often co-occurs with anxiety disorders and substance abuse, with 30 percent of teens with depression also developing a substance abuse problem. (NIMH)

-2/3 of those suffering from depression never seek treatment.

Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide, and suicide is the third leading cause of death among teenagers. (NIMH)

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that each year approximately one million people die from suicide, which represents a global mortality rate of 16 people per 100,000 or one death every 40 seconds. It is predicted that by 2020 the rate of death will increase to one every 20 seconds.

Hello Schismphreaks,

Today, November 13th, has been declared "To Write Love On Her Arms" day. A day to write love, or any other message of humanity on your arms, or any other part of your body in support and awareness to stop self harm, and suicide.

To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) is a movement that started with one person watching another person destroy themselves slowly, and having the guts and the compassion to step in. The girl who inspired the movement is still alive today, thanks to that one person.

You may be asking, why does this matter? This is SL. It matters, because there are people behind these avatars. No matter how many alts you have for whatever purpose, YOU are behind them.

I've been wanting to do something in SL with the TWLOHA movement for a while, but didnt know where to start. Yesterday, while reading some of my favorite blogs (Fab Free, Free*Style) I saw something that truly moved me.

On Free*Style I read the words of my friend Sileny, saying how glad she was that Pididdle was doing something to support and show awareness to this day and movement.

On Fab Free, I read the words of Whisper Swansong, and it echoed a "coming out" of sorts, talking about her experience with Self Harm, and suicide. Reading the comments of the readers, and everyone sort of doing the same in turn, did more than make me smile. It motivated me.

So, at the store you will find an ad on the wall, in the tattoo section. It's a completely free tattoo, simply "Love" in my favorite font, with some stars around it. Why stars? I've noticed every single T-shirt TWLOHA has ever made includes stars in the design.

Inside the folder you receive, you will get the tattoo (which is on both arms, because of SL...), and a notecard telling MY story, and why I stopped everything last night and made these tattoos.

<3 With Love, Evangeline Schism" This was just one notecard in the package, the other was much more personal. I'd put it here too, but I want to tell my own story. I'll be having her info and Gift, a lovely tattoo set, which I am wearing in these pictures, at my store inworld, or you can go to her store, and get it straight from the source. I sadly had heard nothing about this, until today, just minutes ago, so I have nothing to give you myself, to spread the word, other then my own stories.

I'm 26 years old. I have lived thru many things, like many other people in the world. Someday I might tell my whole story. This is just one part of many I could tell you.

I was given a sense of duty by my adoptive mother, to join into the canadian armed forces. Much of her family did their duty to our country, if only for a little while. I joined army cadets at the young age of 11, tho they normally don't take on cadets till they are 12. I learned many things, and was part of a great corps.

Now being female and in something like this, I was one of 4 girls out of a corps of 250 souls. Cadets really isn't much different then being in the actual army. You'd think it would be, cause we are just kids right? there were certain things we were not permitted to do. I couldn't drive the tanks till I was 16. *Big unhappy face*

Well over the years, we gained a few more girls. We tended to be a very close group, even taking time out of cadets to do random girl stuff. On the days we trained, which was 2 times a week and every other weekend, we had to be hardened little warriors, often working 4 times as hard as the males, just to prove we were their equals and in all cases their betters. We climbed ranks very fast.

As we grew into teens we each started to gain more personality. Some of the girls started to show signs of preferring the same sex for their personal pleasures. This never bothered me, even when doing camping exercises. We may all be thrown in one tent, but these were my friends, I grew up with these people, knew all their secrets.

The army isn't some guys fantasy where we are all gay and have crazy girl orgies after getting off the battlefield.

The guys did start to notice how some of the girls were. Guys being guys, they think themselves very attractive and all women must love them even army brats. Rejection isn't handled well, specially when they are tough army dudes.

Many of us went into the militia upon turning 17. 7 of us girls got thru our boot camp together.

It's amazing how things spread, between bases, how simple comments turn into big huge ordeals.

At 18 I already had my own troop. I was always defending my girls. It got tiring. Most of the girls started getting depressed, constantly badgered about their choice of sexual partners. The funniest thing is, they never dated anyone in the army. When you work all day, training to be a warrior, why would you go home to a warrior? you want someone soft and loving, not achy and exhausted from the days exercises.

My friend Larson was the first to go. She hung herself on a tree behind our barracks during a training exercise trip. My friend Terra followed a year later, having been raped by a man and not being able to deal with the fact that she was a woman, and she could still do nothing to protect herself, even after all her training. She left in a sea of red waters. I lost 1 other women from my troop, due to a training exercise gone wrong, where she ended up being sexually harassed. Even after the men had gone to jail, she just could not deal with what had happened and shot herself in the head with her army issued sidearm.

While I was in the Militia, there were 9 cases of suicide in my corps.

Now this is just a story of that aspect of my life. I have been touched by others this way, thru school, friends, and even a father of one of my friends, who just could not go on.

My own girlfriend of 13 years, had almost given up on life, just a few years ago. She is the one story that turned out right.

I don't want people to lose hope because of this story. I want people to see the errors we sometimes make, that influence these people's decisions.

Love, acceptance, adoration, a sense of duty. These are all things we want in life. When one of those things is battered on by someone, specially someone you look up to, it can make things seem not worth it.

Some people can go beyond, and just keep living. I don't know how many times I've heard "oh it's the cowards way out, they wanted attention, they didn't deserve to live if they couldn't deal with such a simple thing".

Things effect people in different ways. You can't know what you'd feel like until you place yourself in their position. Have you ever been raped? Has someone ever stripped you down to nothing and made you run back to base in no clothing? Have you ever been called a Clitwhore, just because you like the company of women more then men?

It's time to stop being so silly to others of your race. Fuck, there is enough women to keep the world going, who cares if some of them like other women?

It's time to talk, and time to listen.

Get your package to support us this day:

The Stringer Mausoleum


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I hope others are as touched by it as I was. I, too, have lost many friends due to suicide. Awareness and education are the first steps to help solve this tragedy and and hopefully brave people, like you, sharing their stories will go far in that.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your story, while reading it tears just ran over my face. It brought many memories back from my own story. Being beated, raped, abused in other ways onto the attempt to kill myself. Like you said, i'm the one in the story who turned out right, thanks to my friends and my boyfriend, who i am endlessly thankful for to have been there when i thought i am all alone in the world.

Many people have no idea how much it can mean and change to hear from just *one* person that they are there.. that they love someone. It can change everything. So even if you think you are helpless and have nothing that you can do to help, you do more than you think by being there and loving your friends.

caLLie cLine said...

thanks for sharing this personal story. depression is something so many people fight. i have my own story i'll share one day but for now i wanted to thank you.



Ruina Kessel said...

I am not only grateful that you shared this story, but for the point you made - that you cannot know what it's like for someone else, that you cannot assume that they are simply cowards. The compassion you still hold for those that could not continue on is a note I find missing in most dialogues about suicide. I wish there was more acknowledgment that the people who do take their lives have done so for very valid reasons, no matter how much we regret their loss from our lives, or angry that they did something we might find selfish, when in fact sometimes the ones left grieving have been selfish themselves.

We are ALL *responsible* for how we treat each other.

Thank you Helena. For this post, for being you, for being my friend. I have great love and respect for you, and I hope that you always know it.


Eden Knoller said...

Your empathy for your friends and compatriots touches my heart so. I also have a personal story about depression and I've heard it all; "get back on the horse", "what happened to your backbone?", "get over it", etc. It is difficult for many to understand and people tend to get frustrated with people who have depression or other conditions where suicidal ideation or self-harm are a symptom. Hearing other's story is so helpful...for those that seek to understand, for those that suffer...that they are not alone... that there is hope.

Katie Viren said...

I sit in tears, in gratitude for your sharing this. It is so easy to harden. It is so foolish and tragic not to love.

Hazie Lee said...

Thank you for sharing your story, I too have suffered the loss of many do to depression and it has impacted my life profoundly, Always take the time to make sure someone it ok, even if they don't want to talk just being there can make a huge impact, I recently lost my childhood friend and of the many nights I just stayed till she went to sleep just to be there. This night I wasn't Huge hugs to you in your journey and thank you for bringing awareness to so many SL or RL we are all people!