The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

Yohe inspires many with stories

Life is not always a fairy tale.

Renee Yohe started her speech Thursday night by reading the introduction to her book, “Purpose for the Pain” about how her story is not a “once upon a time” story, but a story of pain, addiction and struggle and that these are issues a large number of people deal with in their lives.

She talked of the walls she built to protect herself from the world and its ugliness. Yohe said that, even at a young age, she tried to protect herself from pain.

She mentioned during her speech how she was 12 years old when she cut herself for the first time.

“I tried to keep up the faade that everything was okay,” she said.

Yohe also moved a lot as a kid and went anywhere from Mt. Zion, Ill. to Florida to Moscow, Russia.

Yohe said she wanted to rip her flesh apart because she could not deal with everything going on around her. Yohe went to a treatment center the first time at age 18.

“When you go back [to the real world], it’s 10 times worse than before,” she said.

Still, people from her bible study supported her and told her she had to seek more help and since she did not want to lose people who cared about her, she decided to go back and get further treatment.

“I wanted to go out with a bang and had a party with all my friends,” Yohe said. “My other friends Dave and Jamie tried to convince me to leave with them around 2 or 3 a.m. but I wanted to leave in the morning.”

The beginning

When Yohe arrived at the treatment center, they could not accept her because she had fresh drugs in her system and open cuts on her arms, so she had to wait.

Yohe talked about how she got a call telling her another bed would not open for a week and once she heard this, she decided to have a drink.

After her drink, she got another call telling her a bed had opened, but she had already started drinking, so she decided to write “f—up” on her arm.

Yohe then stayed with her friend David McKenna and his roommate Jamie Tworkowski. Tworkowski asked Yohe to write an article about the problems she had faced.

The article launched the “To Write Love on Her Arms” movement while Yohe was still in the treatment center.

After her initial recovery and three years of speeches, Yohe spoke about how she relapsed and those struggles.

“I was the girl in the story,” she said. “The need to be perfect was so great for me.”

Eventually, she learned to realize that everyone is imperfect and the human condition is to be fallible.

“The perfection is in the imperfections,” she said.

Q & A Session

Afterward, Yohe answered questions from audience members. One audience member asked if her family pushed her too hard.

Yohe said that her family was there for her when she needed them and pulled away when they thought space was necessary.

“Some people did push too hard, and I lost contact with them,” she said.

Robert Hawkins, a senior at Charleston High School, asked whether Yohe thought dealing with painful situations was necessary in life.

“A destructive thing in my life was running away from pain,” Yohe said. “I needed to face it, and I still struggle with that today.”

Yohe still goes to counseling sessions once a week.

Hawkins said he has also had pain in his life and wants to become a stronger person and not be afraid anymore after listening to Yohe’s story.

Chelsey DeYoung, a junior English major, said the part of Yohe’s speech where she mentioned that everyone has scars, whether visible or not, impacted her.

Relationship with God

Yohe said she resented God for a time, but now looks to God when she is weak and goes by the saying “this too shall pass.”

Yohe likes how her story has reached out to many people. Yohe said she spoke to a young woman who said she would get help because of her story and another girl who said she went through the same things Yohe did and this really inspired her.

Yohe also said people struggling should get their issues out in the open.

“Your secrets keep you sick,” she said.

Heather Holm can be reached at 581-7942 or at [email protected]

Renee Yohe draws large crowd / Sam Sottosanto from DEN Online on Vimeo.

Yohe inspires many with stories

Yohe inspires many with stories

Renee Yohe the author of ‘Purpose for the Pain’ and the inspiration for the non-profit organization, To Write Love on Her Arms talks about her painful exsperiences on Thursday night in the 7th Street Underground. (Samantha Bilharz/The Daily Eastern News)


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