This past week, Notre Dame's National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Student Union Board (SUB) paired up to plan the Irish State of Mind Awareness Week and brought the founder of To Write Love on Her Arms, Jamie Tworkowski, to campus.
In my reflections, I've realized that we, as students, are so busy that we rarely take time for ourselves. We run around campus going to class, working, doing group projects, and taking part in clubs. Many times, we push our own problems to the bottom of our lists because we think that we are not as important as the rest. I know I have done this plenty of times.
Jamie's talk focused on the idea that people seem to think that mental health issues only happen to a certain type of individual and no one else. However, he points out that these problems are everywhere, and we all have questions about them that often go unanswered.
He told a story of a woman named Rene who was going through depression, self-injury, and drug addiction. One of his friends, David, asked Jamie to go meet her with him. When they met her, she tells them that she is not ready for treatment and needs one more night before she will be ready for treatment. That night, Rene decides to self-harm and write derogatory words on her arms because she felt that those words summed up her life filled with regret and failure. When she went to the treatment center the next morning, she was denied entry because she needed to stay clean for 5 days.
Jamie decided to tell Rene's story to the world because he wanted to tell a story that was still in progress. He thought it would be a story that people who were still fighting their own illnesses could relate to.
The goal for Rene was to write love on her arms. Can she begin again and truly love herself no matter what problems she may have?
This talk directly applies to students because there are many college students that have some type of mental illness; it is important to realize that having these conversations help make progress. We must realize that people need other people in life. We cannot go through life alone as many students do because we are all wired as human beings to be known and loved.
We all don't like parts of our story, but it is important to realize that our story is unique and special. We need to try to focus on being a character in someone else's story because being there for someone could change their world.
If you are going through your own mental illness and considering applying to Notre Dame, know that ND is one of the most accepting places to come to. I have had many friends that have come to me just to talk about what they are going through. I can tell how much of a relief it is to talk it out. Students here at ND do not judge you for having a mental illness. Trust me, I have been there.