Today an amazing book came out by Jamie Tworkowski, the founder of the nonprofit To Write Love On Her Arms. It’s called If You Feel Too Much and I sincerely want to send every single person I know a copy of it (and I’m only a few chapters in, so that’s saying something).
But this post is not a review of an extremely worthwhile book. No, it’s a small collection of my thoughts surrounding some of the things Jamie talks about daily, whether he is giving a talk or just spending time with friends.
Jamie is one of those rare people who have figured out a little bit better than the rest of us just how to talk about things that make us nervous. He knows how to talk about things that are scary or things that make us uncomfortable. But he really knows how it feels to be utterly human and with that, he knows what it’s like to feel like he is just feeling everything too much. There is a line early on in his book that sums this up pretty well:
“And it’s hard to tell a story you don’t like.”
Surely you know what I’m talking about. We all know someone or maybe we are someone who goes through life feeling the immense weight that somehow finds its way to our shoulders. We know what it’s like to wonder if there is a purpose for all this pain and if there is a reason that depression and mental illness effect so many people.
I think one of the hardest things for me to accept is that I am not alone with my illness. We are all together in this fight for ourselves and we don’t have to find our way out of whatever darkness is in our lives, alone. It is so absolutely easy to be in the middle of a difficult period of time in our lives and think that we are the only ones experiencing this and that no one could ever understand. But what Jamie and TWLOHA does is show people that they are not alone. And that people, whether they know how to realize it or not, need other people. We need someone to walk beside us in the days where the sun is on our backs and fresh air is on our lips and we need someone to be there when we haven’t been able to get out of our apartment for four days and we are still in the same clothes that they last saw us in a week ago.
Really, we need to be reminded that we are alive. And that we are absolutely worthy of being loved by ourselves and by others.
There is something unlike anything else that happens when someone puts a hand on your shoulder and reminds you that it’s okay to feel what you’re feeling. It’s freeing when they tell you that they are not going to just leave you where you are. And it is life-changing when you realize for yourself that it’s okay to be who you really are and shed all of the expectations that you have stacked on to yourself over the years in this fast paced society.
If you feel too much, you’ve been where I’ve been. I’m so glad to tell you that we can walk through this together. Remember that this life is fragile. Be careful with your words. Be soft. And be honest with yourself. People need other people. And I’m going to be here for you when you need me. There is hope.