TWLOHA + Birthdays
I have this quirky habit where every time I read a book I tend to choose a favorite chapter so that if I ever want to read a section to a friend I know just the chapter to read. This time around the chapter just so happened to be entitled Happy Birthday (pages 42-45, also the blog post linked). Jamie says that birthdays are "the opportunity to tell someone 'i'm glad that you were born,' which is also to say 'i'm glad that you're alive.' Those are powerful statements. The world would be a different place if we lived that way, if we said and expressed these things, more than once a year." (page 42, If You Feel Too Much) If you are new to Jamie or to TWLOHA, this chapter is a clear expression of their efforts. A mission statement of sorts you could say.
When Jamie originally wrote Happy Birthday on the TWLOHA blog, this quote below was taken from it and reblogged countless times by people all over the world. You see, he has a way with words. It struck a collective cord within us, a place that was in need of hearing that it's okay to need other people, inviting us to believe better things and to invite others to do the same. He has a way of telling us those simple truths that we all struggle with believing. A few days ago I turned another year older and I still needed to hear these words. That's why I'm such a fan of TWLOHA. It's an organization that meets us where we are at or speaks of a place we have all been at in life. I don't think we realize how important that is.
Okay, Jamie Might Be A Broken Record
If You Feel Too Much is a series of short stories that keep pointing back to the bigger picture. In the beginning I was just so excited that Jamie had finally written a book that I wasn't really aware that it is mostly a compilation of his previous blog posts with a little bit extra added in. A lot of those posts already made an impact as the words read were needed by so many. Now when I want to share about TWLOHA with someone, I don't have to point them to five or six blog post links. Instead I can just share my copy or suggest that they pick up their own. It's TWLOHA's story all in one place. A story that is very much still being written.
Even though I'm excited for Jamie to write another book as he has eluded to, I'm grateful for this one. I have to admit it though. His words can sound like a broken record at times. It can seem like a continuous replay of the same words told with different stories: you're not alone, it's okay to ask for help, people need other people, i'm glad you're alive, there is hope. In most other scenarios that would probably agitate me. I would probably exclaim, "I GET THE POINT!" and hesitate from continuing to read someone who repeats themselves. Maybe that's just me but I have a feeling it's not. But what has stopped me from quitting on Jamie's favorite choice of words is that they are the type of truths that we so desperately need and the type that are so hard to believe. Maybe hearing them over and over and over again is what is helping chip away at my disbelief and helping me heal. There is something so powerful in being reminded of these truths and I believe that is why TWLOHA has been so effective for so long. I didn't count how many times he said those phrases and others like them throughout his book but they are what bind those pages together. I have heard them possibly a thousand times but it astounds me how much I still need to hear them each time they grace my life. I need HOPE. I need HELP. I need COMMUNITY. I needed them this time around almost just as much as I did the first time I heard them. Even if I joke about Jamie being a broken record sometimes, I think it's probably one of his best qualities. Please, no one ever try to fix him!
This Book is For Three People
So I think there are three people that I would recommend this book for. Maybe you're reading this review and you've already read If You Feel Too Much. If that's the case, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comment section. What did you think? How did you hear about TWLOHA? Or maybe you're reading this and you're contemplating purchasing the book. If that's you, this section that I'm writing is one I'd prefer to have sitting across from you in a coffee shop (or outside at a park - my personal preference) and tell you that we all need this book at some point in our lives. Every single one of us.
The first person that I think this book is for is myself. Like I shared above, I've needed these words a thousand times over and they still hold meaning in my life. I don't think I'll ever outgrow my need for these words either. The idea of things like Hope, Help, and Community are necessary in every season of life. Can you honestly tell me that you haven't felt alone, felt too much, or maybe even that the world would be better if you weren't apart of it? Those ugly lies exist. We all encounter them and others like them at different points in our lives. That's why I also believe that our loved ones need this book too.
There are some out there who came to know about TWLOHA or about Jamie because they have either already lost a loved one to the tragedy of suicide or they have loved ones who fight the darkness every day. If that's you, I'm so sorry for your pain. Maybe it's a difficult conversation that you need to have and you are looking for the right words. Please know that these pages are filled with Hope for you and for them. As much as it is a beacon in the dark it is also a resource of sorts. I truly believe that this book is meant to be shared.
I remember underlying a phrase that Jamie used in telling one of his stories. He spoke about a girl that he met and again, the topic was birthdays. He recalls that 'she said that birthdays made little sense aside from love, without a person to share them with.' (page 82, If You Feel Too Much) Maybe life feels like that at times. Maybe it seems like it isn't worth it or it makes little sense without love or a person to share it with. That is why I think that this book, but ultimately the message found within its pages, is meant for strangers as well. I think it's important to know that we are not alone and that our story matters but it is just as important for others to know that as well. I hope to be someone who comes alongside of strangers and helps them push back the darkness a bit. Life is a beautiful thing when Hope and other people are involved.
So I don't know if you are thinking about reading this book because you or a loved one struggles with depression, suicide, or addiction. Maybe you're here because some famous person, because let's face it Jamie has a lot of famous friends, posted about this feelings book. Whatever brought you here, just know that you're welcome into this conversation. A conversation that pleads with others to know that they are not alone. That it's okay to ask for help. That people need other people. That it's time to meet each other in our questions with Love and Hope.