Interview with Jamie Tworkowski, author of If You Feel Too Much
10 Oct 2015
Today, October 10th, is World Mental Health Day. We had the honor of speaking with Jamie Tworkowski, founder of the suicide prevention organization To Write Love on Her Arms, about his new book If You Feel Too Much. If You Feel Too Much explores heavy topics in mental health and offers truly inspiring words to those who are struggling. For more information on the work that Jamie Tworkowski is doing, visit the TWLOHA website.
It’s a collection of stories from the last 10 years. Stories from my life and work – pain and hope, fears and dreams, death and love and depression. More than anything, I would like to think it’s an honest book and an encouraging book. The title comes from something I wrote the night that Robin Williams passed away. I wanted to write something not about his life or death, but for people who could relate to that sort of struggle, to battling depression, even to the point of thinking about suicide. What I wrote began with “If you feel too much, there’s still a place for you here.”
What’s your favorite song lyric?
“I dare you to move.” by Switchfoot and “But I still haven’t found what i’m looking for” by U2. Technically, those are both lyrics but really I would also say those are my two all-time favorite songs.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
From about junior high on, I wanted to be a sales rep for a clothing brand in the surf industry, which is what I ended up doing. I worked as a sub rep (assistant sales rep) for Quiksilver from 18-22, and then I was Hurley’s Florida sales rep from 22 until 26, when I left to start To Write Love on Her Arms.
What’s the most memorable moment from your book tour so far?
Every night was special but I would say the highlights were Nashville, where about 40 people had to watch from outside because the store was so packed. I had a bunch of friends there that night, and two of my friends played songs. And then my hometown of Melbourne, Florida – I didn’t know what to expect and wondered if it might be the smallest crowd of the tour, but it ended up being the biggest. Over 200 people. Friends and family, former teachers, people I hadn’t seen in years. A night I won’t forget.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I was about to speak to a large crowd and I texted my friend Donald Miller to ask for advice. Don is my friend but he’s also my favorite writer and speaker. He wrote back, “I just think you being you is incredibly powerful.”
Where did you write If You Feel Too Much? (your couch, a coffee shop, a bar… hey – we won’t judge)?
I wrote it over the course of 10 years, so it was written in a lot of different places. I lived in Florida for a lot of that time but I also lived in New York City for two of those years. And then I was actually in Los Angeles at a place in Laurel Canyon when I finally committed to the idea and finished the book proposal, with the help of my agent Bryan Norman.
Imagine you now host a talk show (congrats). Who is your first guest?
Bono. He’s in a league of his own when it comes to my heroes. I’ve had the chance to meet a lot of people that I look up to and respect. He’s the one guy I would still really like to meet.
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
Not really but “People need other people” comes to mind. That’s a statement we use a lot at TWLOHA. It’s simple but i believe it’s a game-changer. So many people feel alone, especially when it comes to their pain. We want folks to know that it’s okay to be honest and it’s okay to ask for help.
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