It’s easy to share information, but it can be difficult to share our feelings. The real ones, not the cheap, obligatory smile and “I’m good” most of us respond with when asked how we are. The truth is sometimes we’re not good. Everybody has bad days, and some people have bad weeks, months and even years.
To Write Love on Her Arms, a rad nonprofit that aims to bring hope to young people struggling with addiction, depression, self injury and thoughts of suicide, recently teamed up with “Same Love” singer Mary Lambert and a bunch of other inspiring poets for Heavy and Light — an event that uses entertainment and art to raise suicide awareness and open a chill and positive dialogue about mental health.
MTV Act attended the inspiring event, where we caught up with Mary and TWLOHA founder Jamie Tworkowski about the importance of keepin’ it real emotionally.
Photos: (Brian Klonoski)
MTV ACT: What inspired you to team up with TWLOHA?
MARY LAMBERT: It’s really important to me to be a vulnerable person on stage and in my love life, and I feel TWLOHA lives by the same principles. I remember when I first looked the organization up, maybe two years ago, and thought, “I wanna work with these people!” They’re talking about things that are difficult; talking about suicide, talking about the uncomfortable parts of life, and they’re doing it in a way that’s not exploitive, but helpful.
ACT: Why do you think mental health is such a tough thing to talk about for some people, and how can we make it easier?
MARY: I It’s a really skewed part of our culture that happiness is the end-all be-all. The people that force themselves to be happy all the time often end up being the most broken. But I think we forget how closely connected we are, and how very similar our thought processes are. Everybody’s experiencing the same thing — the same fears and insecurities. The sooner that we can open up to each other with a level of vulnerability, the sooner there can be a dialogue and there can be solutions to it.
ACT: Can you tell us about the time you attempted suicide and how you overcame depression and self-harm?
MARY LAMBERT: I attempted suicide in high school. A lot of those days, I felt this pressure to be outgoing and happy all the time, and then went home feeling the complete opposite, and miserable. I did everything terrible that I could possibly do to myself. Cutting, self-harm, you name it.
Once I sought counseling, I learned I had a chemical imbalance and got medication, which saved my life. But the solution isn’t just medicine. It’s learning to love yourself and choosing to be happy.
It also helps me to know I’m a role model to other people. I know how I want to operate as an artist. And that is by having an honest, genuine dialogue about this kind of screwed up journey I’ve had that I’m so thankful for.
Photos: (Brian Klonoski)
ACT: You’re out and proud! What advice do you have for LGBTQ youth, who sadly often to struggle with suicidal thoughts while they struggle with their sexuality.
MARY: It’s terrifying being in that space. Being 17, feeling like a freak already, anybody is having a difficult time in high school. And then on top of that, battling your own psyche of your sexual identity or your orientation. All of that compounded together can be so huge, and so terrifying, and so scary, and I can understand why such a large percentage of suicides are committed by kids in the Queer community.
I know what helped me, and that was finding a safe space. Find a mental safe space and a community of people who understand you. And you may not find it; you may have to fight for it. Sometimes those spaces aren’t given to you if you’re not in a metropolitan city. Find them, fight for them, or create them. It can be in person; it can be online; any healthy space where you feel loved and accepted.
ACT: How can someone best help a friend who is struggling emotionally?
MARY: Self-care is the number one solution to helping somebody else. If you are being good to yourself, and your body, and your psyche, that that serves other people better because you will grow strong enough to life someone else up. Secondly, don’t judge. If you want to help somebody, make sure you’re coming from a place of clarity and complete non-judgment, that way you can begin to understand their journey too.
Photos: (Brian Klonoski)
“A lot of people feel alone,” TWLOHA founder Jamie Tworkowski told MTV Act. “But not a lot of people are talking about it. If someone breaks their arm, nobody tries to hide it or fake it — there’s no stigma. We need to learn to be just as open about what’s going on inside.“
“A lot of people are afraid of being judged or misunderstood,” he added. “But we’re all the same. We all feel sadness. It’s a part of being alive on this planet, and it’s something we need and deserve to talk about.”
So take it from Jamie and Mary: If you’re ever feeling down on yourself, tell somebody. And before you do that, tell yourself something: You are beautiful. Every single thing about you. And you’re never, ever alone. Help is just a text message, or a phone call or a Google search away.
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