Hefty and Happy

This was me. Here I was, vacationing in Colorado with my beautiful family in July of 2012, a lot thinner than I am now. I was around 50 pounds lighter. And I was miserable.

Now don’t get your panties in a twist, Tiny Tina. I’m not bagging on fitness, exercise, watching what you eat, whatever. I’m just telling my story.

I didn’t try to lose weight at this point in my life. I lost the weight because I was completely unhealthy. I barely ate. I threw up a lot…not because I was trying to, but because my anxiety was so high wondering if I would come home to my husband dead that my body couldn’t process foods. Sure, I posted the pictures and pretended. I loved the comments of, “You look so beautiful!” and “Oh my gosh you look amazing!” The attention from others, the comments…they kept me going. But here’s what you didn’t know…

I’m not naturally a small person. I’m an in-betweenie. I thrived on attention at that point in my life because my real world was crumbling. My husband had recently survived his fourth, and by far the most serious, suicide attempt. We hadn’t opened up to the world about our reality with mental illness yet. In order to feel like my husband wanted me in any way, I had to initiate. His Depression had taken over. My husband was no longer the man I married and emotionally, I was a single mother. We were together and he was physically there, but that’s all. So I poured myself into something different…into myself and attention from others.

Now let’s fast-forward to December 2018…

Over the years, my husband learned to be open. He learned to accept help. We learned how to live a life for others as opposed to ourselves. We began to understand that God hadn’t done this to us, but rather for us.

I’m married to a five-time suicide attempt survivor, a man I have more respect and love for than anyone else in the world. My husband lives for Jesus, takes medication, sees a counselor, has lunch with his pastor near weekly, and is raising two beautiful boys to know their Father, to respect others, to express emotions, and to accept help. I’m married to a man who loves his wife, respects every part of her, desires her, and craves time with her. Our family became a family of fighters.

For a while in life, mental illness took over our lives because we let it. Now, we have learned to live and not just stay alive.

This is our family now…

I can’t say I don’t want to exercise, eat right, and take care of myself. But I can say that, should I choose to try to lose weight, it will be a whole new ball game for me. It will be a completely different journey. It will be because I will have to learn how to take care of myself in healthy ways, rather than thriving on attention.

For now, I’m hefty and happy. And I’m 100% okay with who I am and where I am.

~

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Dear Teacher About to Give Another Test

Dear teacher about to give another test:

First of all, thank you for what you do. I’m an educator myself and I have many friends and family who are as well. I understand your sacrifice, dedication, and commitment. I’m also a mom. So I truly thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you do.

But I’m also here to beg you to reconsider your methods of evaluation.

Let me give you a little background…

Not long ago, a student left my office. Defeated. He’s 26 years old. I teach at a university and this student has dreams of becoming a teacher one day. Actually, he eventually wants to become a counselor. He wants to help students the way a counselor once helped him. And he’ll be amazing. I taught him. I know him. I believe in him.

But tests…

You see, in our state, we have a requirement that future teachers must pass certain tests in order to be certified in teaching. This is true of most states. While this student’s scores soared in two areas, there is one area in which his scores are not enough to pass…by two points. He has taken this test so many times. He just can’t do it anymore. He can’t afford it anymore. He’s given up on himself. Again…defeated.

Some students, most students in fact, just don’t do tests well. I’m actually one of them. Fortunately, most of my instructors throughout my schooling were very willing to let me write about my knowledge instead of taking a test over it. Just because a student doesn’t test well doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t know the information. So please, I’m begging you. As an educational society, we have some work to do.

Students should be allowed to showcase their knowledge in different ways. Some students are good at writing…let them write. Some students are incredible artists…let them create. Some students have beautiful musical ability…let them compose. Some students have business minds…let them present. Some students have mathematical or scientific gifts, let them experiment and solve. Some students have research running through their veins…let them investigate. Some students are natural born teachers, just like you…let them teach.

The concept of traditional “testing” needs to change to “showcasing knowledge” using a variety of methods.

Teach them to use their strengths. Teach them to embrace their talents. Teach them to think beyond a test. Challenge them to achieve their own best…not somebody else’s.

And again, thank you.

Sincerely,

A teacher. A parent. A citizen.

~~~~~~~

Follow Jeremy and Bailey Koch on social media. Jeremy, a five-time suicide attempt survivor, and Bailey, his wife, primary support person and special education professor, have two children with disabilities. Their oldest has High-Functioning Autism and youngest has Epilepsy. The family fights hard to advocate for individuals with disabilities and mental illness.

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10 Ways to Help Your Friend Living in a Hospital

It happens a lot. 

All of the sudden, life kicks one of your friends or family members right in the rear. It appears that friend will be spending an undisclosed amount of time away from home…likely due to health issues. Perhaps they are healing themselves. Perhaps supporting a loved one (child, spouse, parent, etc.).

No matter what the situation, you know your friend needs to feel supported. But asking for help is not an easy thing to do, especially when feeling helpless yourself. As a friend, you want to help, but you aren’t sure what to do without someone telling you. So how can you help?

As the wife of a man who spent almost a month in a hospital…in a city hours away from our home, I’m here to give you some advice. Jeremy survived a head-on collision on the highway in 2012, and the support we received from family and friends is what kept us going.

Jeremy’s 1/2 ton Dodge Ram, well…what was left of it, after the 2012 head-on collision with a semi-truck on Highway 30 in Nebraska.

Because “thank you” never seems sufficient, passing on the love and support to others is what we try hard to do. So let us help you with some ideas to suit any budget. Some of these ideas cost nothing but time, others cost more. Do what works for you!

Here is a list of the top ten most helpful and memorable “somethings” others did for us while we were fighting for health away from home:

  1. Gift Cards

    I am especially a fan of prepaid Visa cards because you can use them anywhere. From gas for the vehicle to food and even clothing runs, gift cards are extremely helpful when you’re away from home.

  2. Hospital Cafeteria Gift Cards

    This is one I never would have thought of. But a friend of the family contacted the hospital we were in and purchased a gift card to that hospital’s cafeteria. That was hugely helpful. I rarely wanted to leave Jeremy’s side, so having the option of eating with him, or very close to him, was so thoughtful. Then I was able to quickly return to my post…beside him.

  3. A Floor Mat

    I know…sounds weird. But those hospital rollaway beds or chairs are horribly uncomfortable for those of us supporting a loved one. I actually purchased a floor mat for myself, but if I find that another person is having to stay in the hospital for as long as we did, I immediately think of this. I was able to roll up my comfy mat and tuck it away in a corner of the hospital room during the day. At night, I simply laid it out on the floor and slept so much better than I had pre-floor mat. And now, we use it as another bed when our boys have sleepovers!

  4. Plants

    Cliché? Perhaps. But having some life in the hospital room certainly brought some positivity to our days.

  5. Snail Mail Cards and Pictures

    Yup…good old fashioned cards and pictures. We loved them. I decorated an entire wall in front of Jeremy with them. The bright colors and inspiring messages, especially those talking about how many prayers were being sent up, were so helpful to our moods. Oh…and never underestimate the power of a child’s drawing.

  6. Gift Basket of Relaxing Items

    Ahhh the basket. I still remember digging into that thing like it was Christmas. We had been in the hospital for over a week with no end to our stay in sight. That basket arrived and I found slippers, crossword puzzles, journals, robes, blankets, stress balls, joke books, etc. Oh, it was a happy day. The sky is the limit here…make it personalized!

  7. Entertainment for the Family and Friends

    Sometimes, if your friends are in a situation like we were, family and friends will visit for hours or even days at a time. We had small children when Jeremy had his accident…Hudson was five and Asher was two. One gift we received included games, toys, puzzles, colors and coloring books, and playing cards…great items for entertainment not only for us and our kids, but for other visitors as well.

  8. Clean House. 

    Yes, literally, clean house. When it was coming close to the time when we were expected to come home, a large number of friends and family went to our home and cleaned it from top to bottom. My sister-in-law and a friend deep cleaned the inside of our home while others picked up our landscaping…primarily leaves and cornstalks that had blown in the yard. Coming home to a clean house with no worries but to care for my family was an enormous weight off my shoulders.

  9. House Sit.

    Offer to watch the pets, pick up mail, keep the house from smelling like a dungeon, etc. Having someone watching our home for anything odd and just keeping an eye out was a usual stressor I didn’t have to worry about.

  10. Freezer Meals

    Coming home to a freezer stocked full of meals was incredible. Friends made meals and froze them. That way, when we came home, we were still being taken care of and could concentrate on healing. And it’s important to let your friend know that you are making meals. That way they know that food, upon arriving home, will not be a problem. It takes away a lot of stress.

So there you have it. Feel free to share our list and pass on the goodness to others! And never underestimate the power of prayer.

Our family in our home away from home for a full month in 2012…

Peace!
– Jeremy & Bailey Koch

Who’s Left Behind…

You think about suicide because your brain doesn’t give you another choice.

You wonder. Contemplate. And then plan.

But I’m still here.

I’m right here…not thinking what you believe I’m thinking. I’m not thinking I’d be better of without you. I’m not thinking the world is better off without you. I’m not thinking life would be easier if you weren’t here. I get that your brain is telling you that.

But it’s not true. Depression is trying to fool you into believing its lies.

The truth is I’m wondering what I can do to help. I don’t know much, but I know I want you here. I know I want to help. You just have to let me.

So please have patience with me. I don’t always know what to do or what to say. I don’t know how to get you to open up.

So please. If you ever hear the smallest whisper that tells you to reach out, please call me. Please let me be there for you. Please say, “I need help.”

I will do everything in my power to bring you that help. I will move mountains to keep you here.

Trust me. I won’t judge you. This isn’t you. I know you.

Please don’t let me be the one who’s left behind…

Love,

Me

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Suicide Hotline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ – 1-800-273-8255

Please share. Someone needs this.

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I Can’t Be the Reason He’s Okay

I’m fighting myself hard right now.

My husband is in a stressful season of life. He has not been his bubbly, funny self these last couple of days. While my husband, just like everyone else, is allowed to have bad days, I can’t help but worry.

Some people have bad days. But for Jeremy, bad days can turn into suicidal thoughts. And those thoughts can turn into actions. Because they have before.

Jeremy is a five-time suicide attempt survivor. He has severe depression. In those years when we fought so hard to keep him alive, I was constantly on my toes. I didn’t sleep…ever. Because if I did sleep, I would wake up to find him missing from our bed. My heart would start pounding…even if he was just using the restroom.

But then there was the time I woke to find he had written me a suicide note and left it in our kitchen. Every part of me believed he was gone that night. Thank God I found him still alive. But I stopped sleeping after that. To me at that time of life, sleep meant weakness. Sleep meant less to me than my husband’s life. So I stayed awake…to keep watch. To be sure my husband stayed alive.

But life changed…

Jeremy learned to fight his depression. He learned to reach out for help, to tell the truth, and to no longer try to fight this battle alone. We both found healing in sharing our truth. And it has now been over 2 years since Jeremy had suicidal thoughts. He’s doing well.

And today, Jeremy’s just having a bad day. He’s allowed to have a bad day. He’s human. Yes he has depression. But his symptoms are well-managed. He takes his medications, meets with his counselor, talks to his pastor, and reaches out if he’s struggling. Today is a bad day. It’s just a bad day. Can you tell I’m trying to convince myself?

You see, as Jeremy’s wife and primary support person, it’s very hard to not go back to the person I felt I had to be at one point in my life…the reason he was still alive.

I put an awful lot on my shoulders for an awful long time. I tried to save Jeremy. I tried to be the reason he was alive. I refused to give up the control. And it nearly killed me.

So here I sit in my living room. I type this as my husband lies restless in the other room. He can’t shut off his brain because he’s worried. He knows I’m here, and I’ve asked him multiple times what his number is. It’s our system: 1 is he feels himself, 2 means he’s down, 3 is suicidal thoughts, 4 is he has a plan and it’s time to go to somewhere safe. We came up with numbers so we woudn’t have to constantly say the word, “suicidal.” It got really old. Our life revolved around that word.

It doesn’t now. We’ve learned how to live…not just stay alive. And we won’t go back to that. I won’t.

I can’t be the reason my husband is okay.

That’s too much pressure for any human to bear. Jeremy has to reach out for help. He has to fight his mental illness by accepting help from others and by using the tools he has learned through years of counseling. Yes, I’ll be here for him to offer encouragement and support because I know it’s so much harder for him. And when he asks me for help, you bet your boots I’ll be there for him in any way he needs. But I won’t do it for him. I can’t.

So tonight I can do the one thing I’ve learned to do so well…pray. I pray Jeremy gets through the hard days without his mental illness becoming a factor. I pray the suicidal thoughts stay away. I pray for the strength to not take my husband’s mental health on my shoulders. I pray for our family to stay healthy. I pray for Jeremy to continue accepting help and fighting. I pray…and fall asleep praying.

My husband is the strongest person I know because he’s a fighter…more importantly because he’s a believer. I imagine Jesus holding my husband as he lies in our bed tonight. I’m in the living room. Jesus has this. He has us.

I held a funeral for my husband. Now, he brings me flowers.

I held a funeral for my husband, but I was the only one there.

It was 2012, and I watched as he walked past me in the kitchen. A shell of his former self. No light in his eyes. Emotionally gone. I accepted that mental illness had won. I knew he would never come back. So I held a funeral in my mind.

You see, just like so many others do, I believed in the lies. The lies that told me there was no hope. The lies that told me not to accept help, to hide, and to deal with all that mental illness gave to us on our own. Behind closed doors. Shhh. Keep it secret.

But it didn’t work. And I had to hold a funeral for my husband. My husband who was physically still there. Heart beating. Healthy body. I learned how to live without him…that I didn’t need him. Oh how I still wanted him. But he was not the man I had married. Mental illness had taken him from me.

Till death do us part, right?

I had prayed to God over and over. I had prayed that He would heal Jeremy. All the while, I continued to live in complete silence about our reality. And God wasn’t answering my prayers.  Where was He? Why had He given this to my husband?

That day, I gave up on the life I had wanted. I watched that shell of a man he once was walk past me and I changed my prayer. I changed my attitude. I would be okay. I didn’t need my husband. I could still do everything I always wanted to do, be everything I wanted to be. But I would do it on my own.

I prayed that God would take him…that my husband would just finally be successful in his suicide attempts. I screamed and cried and grieved and slammed my fists on our shared bathroom counter. But he had been gone long before I held this funeral.

I sound horrible; I get that. And I don’t judge you for judging me. It’s devastating today to hear myself talk about the reality of my prayers at that time in my life. But it’s the truth. And I lived in the dark and in silence for too long. No more. So this is me. Take it or leave it.

I took my vows seriously. I knew Jeremy was physicaly still there. The thought of physically leaving him never entered my mind. In my mind, I was a widow. I still loved who he once was. But I truly believed he was gone and would never come back. I had to have a funeral to move on…to be there for our kids. They didn’t have their dad anymore – not their real dad. They had mental illness.

But from time to time, I would see light in my husband’s eyes. I held on to that hope as tightly as I could. And that hope is why I never wanted to leave. But I had to hold the funeral. I had to free myself of the life I was living. So I pictured the life that I would lead from that point forward. I would be a single mother. I would raise our boys…never EVER letting them believe the lies in our society. I would never let them believe their dad chose this life. I would never let them believe their dad was the one who had done this.

They needed to understand how to separate the mental illness from the person. This was Depression…not dad.

I understood. I was angry. Oh so angry. But I had to keep going. So I held a funeral for my husband. Now, he brings me flowers.

God changed my prayer after I gave up the control. I tell our boys He “One-upped” us. Boy, did He. Jeremy is now 2 1/2 years years free of suicidal thoughts. My husband learned to accept help. He learned how to fight. He tells his story to anyone who will listen. He talks to his counselor, psychiatrist, and pastor. He turns to his support system when he realizes the dark thoughts are on the verge of breaking through. He takes his medications and thanks God even for the hard times. Jeremy says, “If I can help just one person understand they’re not alone…that it can get better, then it’s worth it.” It’s not the power of the curse…it’s the power you give the curse.

He’s the strongest person I know. And now, he brings me flowers.

Follow our journey on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jeremyandbailey/
@jeremyandbailey on Instagram & Twitter
Purchase our books and find more about us at www.jeremyandbailey.com

Mental Illness is NOT an Excuse

Hi there.

I’m about to strike a nerve in the world of mental illness. And you know what? I’m already not sorry. Because here comes the firecracker in me…

So what do I know about mental illness? Quite a bit actually. We’ll start with the professional…I’m finishing up my doctorate degree in Special Education. I’ve studied the brain, learning, disabilities, and yes, mental illness as it relates to learning. And I’m not done; I love education. I believe in its importance.

Answers come with education, and I was DESPERATE to understand what my husband was going through.

So it’s time to move onto the personal experience…my husband, Jeremy, is a five-time suicide attempt survivor. He has held a bag over his head until his grandma knocked on the door and he pulled it off – just before he lost consciousness. He has locked himself in a garage with an engine running and dashed to open the door when the fumes started burning his lungs because he got a vision of our two sons waving goodbye. It terrified him. He has put a gun to his head and thankfully didn’t pull the trigger thanks to another vision. And he has been in a car accident that nearly claimed his life in which he drove into a semi-truck at highway speeds.

And he’s still here. I thank God every day he’s still here.

But we believe there’s a reason Jeremy is still alive; and part of that reason is to be advocates for mental health. A huge part. What am I saying? That’s it…all of it. It is our personal calling to spread the truth. So there are two parts to mental illness we need you to understand…

  1. MENTAL ILLNESSES ARE REAL. AND A REAL PAIN.We get it. We 100% get it. It is hard to deal with a mental illness of any kind. Some days, even getting out of bed is challenge. Some days, the colors of the world just seem dull. Some days, the light is too bright, people talk too loud or too much about things you don’t want to hear, and others just don’t get it. Some days, it’s easier to cancel that counseling appointment. Some days, it’s easier to not take the medication the doctor prescribed. Some days, it’s easier to just stay away from everyone.

    And worse…

    Some days, alcohol or cutting seem to feel better than reality. And some days, it seems like the best idea is to just end it all. You think you’re a burden, right? You think the world will be better off without you?

    Guess what? Your brain is messing with you. It’s not your fault, but it’s also not okay.

    Am I right? Did I say something above that sounded familiar. Then you have a mental illness. It is what it is. We deal with it too, that’s why we get it and why so much of what I just wrote sounds familiar. We do understand you. You’re not alone.

    So onto my most important point…

  2. MENTAL ILLNESSES WILL NOT GO AWAY WITHOUT A FIGHT.Here’s where I may strike a nerve.

    There’s a reason I wrote “some days” above. Because I know the truth of mental illness. I know where it starts and how it progresses. I know how it goes from fleeting thoughts… What if I just drive my car off the road?

    Wait…what the heck was that? I would never do that. Too many people love me.

    …back into what we call “moments of clarity.” You wonder where those thoughts came from or why you would think them. You wonder if that’s normal? Sometimes you even try to convince yourself that it is (stop it).

    IT IS THE MOMENTS OF CLARITY THAT WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE.

    It is then, after you’ve experienced suicidal thoughts or even a profound feeling of sadness, mania, etc., and you come back to being yourself, that you NEED TO ASK FOR HELP.

    And if there are “triggers” around you, you need to learn how to deal with those. You need to accept help to the point where you are okay…truly okay. You need to learn how to reach out to your support system when you do experience those triggers. And it is absolutely possible, but it takes help from many around you. You are not alone, nor are you be expected to be.

    There is nothing…NOTHING…noble about trying to fight mental illness alone. No matter who you are. No matter what your support system consists of. We all have a support system in some way. This can consist of family, friends, counselors, doctors, nurses, churches, pastors, teachers, waitresses, librarians, meter readers…see where I’m going with this.

    I couldn’t care less who you tell. You just need to learn to say it.

    “I think my brain is lying to me. And I think I need help before it gets worse.”

    Now that’s noble.

    Mental illness is not an excuse; it’s a reason to fight harder.

    Accept help. FIGHT. And it will get better.

~ Jeremy & Bailey Koch

Purchase our books and find more about us at www.jeremyandbailey.com
Follow our journey on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jeremyandbailey/
@jeremyandbailey on Instagram & Twitter

 

You Are Not Your Diagnosis

Hi, I’m Anxiety. I mean Bailey. And this is my husband, Depression. Well fluther mucker, I did it again. His name is Jeremy. Sorry.

2018-02-02 08.44.03.jpg

It’s just so hard to remember we have an actual identity. You know, because mental illness defines us. It dictates everything in our lives. It controls our decisions and our hopes and dreams. It decides whether we get up in the morning and socialize with people or if we choose to isolate ourselves. Mental illness determines who we are on any particular day. Yep…anxiety and depression are who we are.

Hold up…everything I just said is complete bull snot. And I’m seriously hoping you were able to read the sarcasm in my words. My diagnosis does NOT define me, and it certainly doesn’t define my husband.

We won’t hide it and we won’t lie. Jeremy has survived five suicide attempts. So while mental illness has certainly been a big part of our lives, we have learned many extremely important lessons. Are you ready for the big one?

You are NOT your diagnosis.

It’s easy for mental illness to feel like a huge weight, something that seems impossible to lift or overcome. But when we learn to reach out and accept help, whether that be through counseling, faith, a support network, a psychiatrist’s help, medication, or even diet and exercise, the heavy burden becomes less. Why? Because you alone are no longer carrying that weight.

So while mental illness used to decide whether Jeremy got up in the morning, socialized with others, or isolated himself, we learned to say, “This is a real disease…not anybody’s fault. It is what it is. Time to get up, fight, and learn how to be me again.”

Don’t allow your diagnosis to become who you are…because you are so much more.

You are loved. You are strong. You are confident. You are you, and no diagnosis can ever take that away if you don’t let it. Accepting help does not make you weak, it makes you a fighter.

So be you…not your diagnosis.

By the way, you’re amazing. Go you.

~~~

~ Jeremy & Bailey Koch (Anchoring Hope for Mental Health)

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter @jeremyandbailey

View our website at http://www.jeremyandbailey.com

Something happens to all of us at some point in life. Something terrible. Something that makes us question everything about who we are. We all have a crisis…a turning point in our lives when we must choose to stand still, walk the left path, or take the “right” road.
At some point, we find ourselves standing at that fork in the road. We feel lost and confused…hopeless even. We feel defeated. We feel like God forgot us. That darkness and fog surrounds us. Even like He’s punishing us for something.
But we don’t understand.
We stand at the fork and watch as others walk past us. Some left. Some right. But we just stand there. Lost and confused. Searching for any signs that we should either go left or right. We stand there for what feels like an eternity. Not moving. Never looking for the signs…instead just hoping they show up.
And the wolves surround us. It’s easy to find prey when we’re not moving.
Surrounded by the pressure, we lift our head and watch someone about to take that right fork in the road. But they stop. They look back at us…surrounded by wolves and unwavering in our desire to just stand still. And they extend a hand.
No longer alone, we reach out for the hand.
No longer alone, we feel the fog begin to lift and we finally see the signs to go “right”. Why? Because we learned how to accept help. And because that person extended a hand, we can finally begin to see that the light existed just beyond the darkness…if we had only chosen to keep walking. To follow another blazing the “right” path before us.
Take the hand reaching out for you. Keep walking the right path. Keep following the One guiding you to the light. The signs surround you…you just have to be willing to take that hand.
You’re not alone. Look around you. Keep walking. There’s light beyond the darkness…you just may have to walk a little further. Through the thorns. Through the fog. Past those trying to get you to take the left path. Follow those willing to lead you and walk beyond the darkness.
And one day you’ll have the chance to lead another out of the darkness you were in.
~ Jeremy & Bailey Koch
A five-time suicide attempt survivor and wife.
Please share. Someone needs this message today. Life gets better.
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** Jeremy and Bailey Koch, along with their sons, Hudson and Asher, are extremely passionate about helping the world understand the reality of mental illness. Jeremy, diagnosed with depression in 2009 and ashamed of his brain, fought his dark thoughts alone for years. Finally, he found the strength to share his truth with Bailey. Together, they began the journey to healing. After six years filled with five attempts by Jeremy to end his life and multiple inpatient mental health facility stays as well as medication failures, Jeremy and Bailey began to embrace their truth and openly share their journey. What they found was support, healing, help, and more truth than they were prepared for. They found a world desperate to understand the truth but struggling with how to separate the person from the disease.
Follow our journey on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jeremyandbaileykoch/.
Visit our website at http://www.jeremyandbailey.com/.

 

Walk Beyond the Darkness

Just Pray.

Being someone who truly likes to open my mouth and spew my views, it’s not easy to keep it shut in moments such as this.

The mass shooting in Las Vegas last night was the reason I cried for nearly my entire 55-minute commute to work this morning. My heart is sad; and I know I’m not alone. Our world is confused, angry, and flat out hurt.

My first thought was to go on social media and write. I have views on mental health, politics, amendment rights, voting, etc…just like everyone else does. But then I started scrolling and I saw that others had written their views. And underneath those views were more comments from more people who had their own views. And social media fights ensued. So I decided to keep my mouth shut. Now’s not the time.

I’ve learned to not read the comments anymore when I write anything that may be controversial. Writing online is an outlet for many of us, and that’s okay. It’s good to share your views; I see nothing wrong with it. In fact, it’s truly one of the reasons my husband and I are okay because we’ve been able to use social media to help others understand mental illness. Yet I’ve still been told to “shut the hell up” and “get off my religious high-horse” by some who don’t agree with our message. I’m used to it and have developed a thick skin because I know that when we share, we help many. We don’t argue when someone doesn’t agree. We know where we stand and what we believe. We know why we fight and who we fight…not people. Brains. So when someone tries to start a fight with us, we say, “Just pray.” and we don’t respond.

But we weren’t always this way; we’ve learned the hard way. So today, we pray for those in our world who are only sharing views for the sole purpose of starting a fight.

Please just pray for the victims of this senseless tragedy as well as their friends and family. Please pray for everyone in attendance who witnessed this event as the trauma of a situation such as this is absolutely terrifying. Please pray for the first responders trying desperately to help. Please pray for our world to learn how to come together instead of finding more reasons to be divided. Everyone is trying so hard to understand and it’s just not possible. We can’t understand why someone would do this. We can’t understand what happened in this man’s brain to make him believe this was okay…that this was the answer to whatever pain he was in.

Please just pray. And yes, stand up for your views. But please be sure you are standing up for the right reasons…for reasons that will help our country come together and heal. For reasons that will spread kindness, support, and love.

Just pray.

~ Bailey

Follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jeremyandbaileykoch/. Our newest book, “When the House Feels Sad: Helping You Understand Depression,” is a book written for all ages to help families open up a conversation about depression and is coming soon.