The intimate, horrific and inspiring stories of seven Central Michigan University students were told to a large audience Monday evening in the Park Library Auditorium.
The forum, hosted by To Write Love on Her Arms, provided students with the opportunity to express and listen to the struggles some students have faced during their lifetimes. TWLOHA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping and providing hope to those struggling with various issues such as depression, addiction, self-injury, suicide and eating disorders.
TWLOHA president and Chesterfield sophomore Danielle Cywka said the organization works to, inform, encourage and invest directly in treatment and recovery.
Escanaba senior Chantell LaForest has battled depression, memories of being sexually molested at a young age and suicide.
“I couldn’t understand why I was down for so long,” she said. “I became very destructive.”
For some of the speakers, including Ball, Sparta senior Leah Bee and Warren senior Amanda Trenkler, it was their first time opening up to people aside from close friends and family members.
“If you just open up and are willing to talk, you can be someone’s miracle,” Bee said.
Detroit junior Jesse Pfiko talked about the anger he felt growing up towards his father, who was addicted to cocaine.
“I really just didn’t care about anything,” he said.
Pfiko went on to explain how after going to church and applying to CMU his life began to turn around.
For many audience members, the forum was eye-opening and inspiring.
“I wanted to come out and support and listen to everyone’s stories,” Minden City sophomore Jasmine Loss said. ”I want to help them.”
Jackson sophomore Sara Rivera said this was the second forum that she has attended. Rivera said she doesn’t think she would have had the courage to get up and speak like the seven members did.
“I really admire these people,” she said.
Cywka said she believed the night was successful.
“It was the largest audience I’ve seen,” she said.
Cywka said TWLOHA has helped her achieve recovery and gain a support system.
“It makes me more willing to share my story,” she said.
The seven members gave insight to not only the dark moments in their lives, but also to their optimism of the future and for what lies ahead of them.
Pfiko ended his story with a quote he decides to live by, ”If you do what you’ve always done, you’re going to get what you’ve always gotten.”
For Onekama senior Megan Loney, the event was well worth her time.
“If I can tell my story and one person relates and gets help, then me sitting up here was worth it,” she said.