20 April, 2015

Why I Run TWLOHA's 5K

On May 3rd, my sister, husband, some friends and I are participating in To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA)'s virtual 5k.

TWLOHA exists to bring awareness and hope to those struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide.

I am running because for too long I lived in silence. I've written before about my struggle with cutting in high school. It is a disease that we still do not understand. We too easily push it aside as "unruly teenagers" or those seeking attention. And that is not okay.

Those who cut are not always depressed and we do not always want to die.

I did it for a sense of control in a very chaotic time when I felt very overlooked and abandoned. I did it to remind myself that I was alive and that I could feel something other than pain.

I stopped cutting because of one person's compassion, which is why I so strongly believe that we need to take this reality out of the shadows and make it okay to talk about and address.

There is often an underlying issue behind why people cut and until that issue is addressed or resolved, no amount of guilt, shame, pressure condemnation or sheer will, will make it stop. We need to stop looking at the what (the cutting) and address the why (the root issue).

JJ Heller wrote Control about a girl she met at a Young Life event who told her she cut.

"The cut is deep, but never deep enough for me. It doesn't hurt enough to make me forget. One moment of relief is never long enough to keep the voices in my head from stealing my peace.
Oh, control. It's time, time to let you go 
Perfection has a price, but I cannot afford to live that life. It always ends the same; a fight I never win.  
Oh, control. It's time, time to let you go...." 

I cut for three years and no one knew. Those I tried to reach out didn't know what to do so they simply walked away. Even if you don't know what to say - just listen. Let the person talk. Do not tell them it will be okay or that things will change. Listen to what is behind what they are saying. Follow up. Be there. 

The simple reality is that we all have the ability to save a life with our compassion, empathy and the ability to walk alongside someone. It's not being a savior or having all the right things to say. It's about being there and letting someone know you see them and they do matter. 

I run for those who did not have that one person in their life. 

I run so that this can be brought out of the shadows and talked about. 

I run because I am a survivor. 

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© Amanda Lunday