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…
- 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.
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…
- 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