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
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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.

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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

Walk Beyond the Darkness

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/.

 

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.

Hysterectomy: There is Good in This

I firmly believe there is good in everything. I have been through an awful lot of fear and heartache in my 33 years. Having a hysterectomy next week pales in comparison. In fact, I’d take more of this over the idea of losing my husband anyday. And Jeremy is doing so well that he hasn’t had any suicidal thoughts in almost a year and a half. He says it’s his turn to take care of me. So yes, I can handle this. I’m handling it quite well, actually, because I’m really excited to get my life back. The pain has reached the point of intolerance and the uterus must go. Thank you for our two beautiful boys, now good riddens.

There are so many things I’ve been thinking about lately…how all of this was orchestrated to have so much good in it. I believe God planned it out perfectly, and I believe in the importance of focusing on the good. It’s how we survive life without bitterness and envy. It’s our secret to happiness…focus on the good and on what you can control – your own attitude. So focus on the good I will. And I write knowing others may be dealing with similar situations, so here it goes. A glimpse into my current thoughts if you will…

One month ago, I was frustrated. As a doctoral student in my fifth year and currently collecting data for my dissertation, I am possibly less than a year away from becoming Dr. Bailey Koch, Ed.D., in Special Education. I’m excited and very ready. But my research depends upon receiving surveys back from teachers. My timing wasn’t great. By the time everything fell together to begin collecting data, it was the extreme end of the school year…literally the last week. What teachers want to spend their last few hours of the school year filling out a survey? Well, I can answer that with 14 so far. But I need at least 30 back, so I’m at a standstill. I’ll have to wait until school starts again and go to more schools in order to invite teachers to participate.

Now I understand why God wanted me to have the summer off and put a stop to my data collection. There will be no doctoral stress while I’m recovering, and I’m very thankful for that. There is literally nothing I can do. This is my first true summer off…ever. Because I’m in the 25th grade (as my sons say), every summer has been full of classes for my degrees. Now is my time off. Now is my time to relax and recover.

A little over a year ago, I landed my dream job. Now a university lecturer teaching teacher candidates how to advocate for the learning of all students in the classroom, I am extremely blessed to work from home in the summers teaching online classes. I travel and teach face-to-face in the fall and spring semesters. Best of both worlds. So with a major surgery in the summer, and given the fact that I happened to teach both of my online classes in May and June, I have my July and August to relax and recover. Talk about timing.

But there’s more. Five years ago when it started to become obvious that my reproductive organs were failing, I had a procedure that would “buy me time” so hopefully my boys would grow old enough to be a help and not a burden when the time for a hysterectomy would come around. It worked. Our boys are 10 and 8 and are the biggest blessings to us in this…and always. While I wait for the procedure next week, unfortunately my uterus is extremely angry and the pain makes it hard to do much for very long. My hydrocodone and heating pad are my best friends right now. The boys are so helpful in preparing for surgery next week and in taking care of their momma. Hudson has taken an interest in learning to cook for the last year. Most of the time when I have to brown hamburger, he just does it. He knows all the steps, even seasoning the meat to perfection. Tonight we have friends visiting and I wanted to make my Mexican lasagna. I did nothing but cut up onions. Seriously. This is our 10-year-old today with mom. My husband walked in and started snapping pictures. Oh my heart.

 

And then there’s the fact that it has likely been around 13 years since I have read a book for pleasure. Don’t get me wrong, books about special education and research are great; and they’ve been my life for a lot of years. But I’m done with my doctoral courses and am now in the dissertation research stage, so I can read…like, for fun. I was so excited today when I went to our fabulous Wilson Public Library in Cozad that the women there had to believe I was crazy. However, I informed them of my situation and my likes and they guided me toward books I may just love. I’m so stinking excited to read while I recover.

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I know there’s more good. It will all be revealed in time. I’ve got this because He’s got us. The surgery is Thursday the 13th of July. I’m sure I’ll write while I recover. Who knows, maybe I’ll compile a list of “must-haves” for women preparing for and then recovering from hysterectomy. Maybe I can help someone in this. See…more good right there.

~ Bailey

Follow our journey on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jeremyandbaileykoch/

30 Something Somethings I’m Learning in My 30s

I’ve only been in my 30s for a couple of years now, but I’m finding it to be quite awesome. My 30s so far have come with some ground-breaking realizations. I’m feeling more free. Transformed even. I’m learning that a lot of the chains I felt were on me were put there by none other than – wait for it – me. I held myself back for a long time.

Getting old has a lot of disadvantages. I’ve stopped getting carded when I order a drink. People call me “ma’am.” And being a parent in this world of technology is a huge challenge. But I’ve found that there are a heck of a lot more benefits to getting older than setbacks. I’m learning to embrace the changes, take the bad in stride, and focus on the good whenever and wherever I can. I’m enjoying life more and more every day and embracing the moments, so it’s time to put words to what I’m realizing…

Here are 30 Something Somethings I’m Learning in My 30s:

  1. Weight is nothing more than a number. Do you feel sexy? Focus on that. If no, work hard in whatever way you need to get there. If yes, rock whatever you’ve got.
  2. Hair dye and makeup cover up my “wisdom” and “experience.” Some people call these gray hairs and wrinkles. Those people can bite me. I’m growing fond of those visual representations of the fact that life happens. I feel better when my hair is natural and I wear less makeup rather than more.
  3. My husband seems to love me even more than he did the day I married him – you know, when I was 120 pounds and had zero life experience (ah hem…and humans) showing on my body. I like that. He’s hot. I’m hot to him. Who else matters in this area?
  4. I’ve learned more from failure and tears than from success and smiles.
  5. Keeping thoughts and feelings inside is really overrated. It’s the reason every fight has ever happened. Say it. Respectfully.
  6. Continuing number 5 – Being able to respectfully disagree or not says an awful lot about who you are…and whether or not I want to be around you.
  7. There is so much power in the words, “I’m sorry.” Say it and mean it.
  8. A smile, coupled with an attitude of I’ll do better tomorrow. I’ve got this., can turn any bad day around.
  9. Jesus rocks.
  10. Being a parent is the hardest and easiest job at the same time. They are so easy to love.
  11. Attitude is everything. Think about it. A is the first letter in the alphabet. T is the 20th and so on. Add up the numbers. A=1, T=20, T=20, I=9, T=20, U=21, D=4, E=5. Got it? 100. Attitude equals 100%. (I may or may not be a teacher.)
  12. Cussing by training yourself to say words like, “BUBBLES!” will immediately change your attitude. Go ahead, just try to say “bubbles” in an angry way. I’ll wait.
  13. Listen to lots of music. Dance. Sing loudly. Be weird. You will make yourself smile and others around you. Even if they are smiling because they are laughing at you – you just made their day better. Hold your head high.
  14. I don’t know what I’m doing. Ever. I’m just doing the best I can with what I have. And that’s okay.
  15. My favorite word is, “Enough.” When feeling frustrated with financials – Do we have enough? Yes. Then trust it will all be okay.
  16. I don’t know how I feel about a lot of things. And that’s okay.
  17. Just love. Judging, hating, envying, trying to change someone…they don’t help and they don’t work. I’ve tried and failed. I’ve hurt myself and others. Just love.
  18. Sometimes keeping your mouth shut is what has to happen in the moment. Walk away. Cool down. Think of a way to be respectful. Then speak.
  19. There is something so emotionally comforting about having and loving a dog. Or really any pet. Animals have healing powers.
  20. The ONLY way to lose weight is to work hard through diet and exercise. There is no secret. Stop wasting your money.
  21. The people making decisions are usually the ones who shouldn’t be. Do the best you can with what you have.
  22. Working hard and falling flat on your face (likely multiple times) is the only respectable way to get anything. Do NOT give up on your dreams.
  23. Those who fall and get back up are so much stronger than those whom have never fallen.
  24. Suicide is not selfish. It is also not the answer. But it’s not selfish. (Side note…this is number 24 in honor of my husband. Jeremy, my love for almost 17 years, is a five-time suicide attempt survivor. Learn more on our website at www.jeremyandbailey.com and follow our journey advocating for mental health on Facebook).
  25. God doesn’t make mistakes. Period. You are who you are and where you are for a reason.
  26. There is always a way out of an uncomfortable situation. You just have to find it.
  27. Your conscience is God. Listen.
  28. Learning to train yourself to see the positive before you see the negative is a human superpower. Do it.
  29. Being thankful for what you have, as opposed to focusing on what you don’t, will change everything.
  30. It’s okay to be picky about who you choose to surround yourself with.
  31. The bad days are the days when I’m trying to control something or someone. Let it go.
  32. If you learned from it and you grew through it, it was worth it.

If you liked my list of 30 Something Somethings I’m Learning in My 30s, please share. If not, don’t. Here’s a bonus tip…be true to who you are and what you believe. Stand up for what is right. And be happy.

~ Bailey

www.jeremyandbailey.com

https://www.facebook.com/jeremyandbaileykoch/

Advice For My Sons: Top Seven Things That Are Not “Okay”

I’d like to think that I gain knowledge as I get older, that the world makes more sense, and that past mistakes change from feeling like mistakes to feeling more like missed opportunities or even lessons learned. I’m past my years of having babies as our boys are currently 10 and 7 years old. Our family feels complete, and we are truly enjoying the years of helping our boys grow and learn.

I’ve been in school for a long time, and I’m a teacher, but I’ll be the first to admit that the greatest lessons I’ve learned have not come from within in a classroom or from a textbook; they have come from experience, tears, and triumphs. My greatest lessons have come from my own lessons learned, but also from watching others.

I’ll be honest that I love social media and writing in general. Mostly, I share for the fact of knowing how easy it will be for our boys and us to reminisce about our life later. The Internet knows all, sees all, and remembers all. It’s a digital yearbook that can be used for good or for evil. By sharing both the good and the bad of our lives, I like to think that I’m helping our boys remember reality and know, when they hit bad times in their lives, that life gets better when you have a positive attitude. You can get through anything when you draw strength from Him.

It’s amazing how much trash there is on the Internet; it makes me so sad to see things that others are celebrating when in reality, they are completely selfish acts. I’m a mom and a teacher, and there are some things in life that are just not okay. I’m not afraid to stand up for what’s right, even if I’m standing alone. I once read a t-shirt that said, “No more Mr. Nice Christian.” It really hit home with me.

So after seeing much more than my eyes want to see on the Internet, I’ve decided to compile a list. My husband and I won’t be around forever and we want our boys to know what we believe is right and what isn’t. It’s most important to remember that nothing is unforgivable. Nothing. Forgiveness is real, but there are still some things that are not “okay.”

  1. Playing the victim.You make your own decisions every day. Nobody forces you to do anything. You cannot control what others do, but you can control how you react to them. You do something stupid, you deal with the consequences.
  2. Living in a constant world of negativity.How you see the world says an awful lot about you. If you are living in a constant world of negativity, see number one above. You are the reason you are miserable because you are not allowing yourself to see the good that is all around you. Miserable relationship? Work on it…hard. Frustrated with your body? Change your habits. Hate your job? Work harder to find something you love.
  3. Lying.Not everyone appreciates the truth. But when it comes down to it, you’ll be thankful you were strong enough to speak it. When you speak the truth, you build trust and respect. Someday, those who don’t want to hear the truth now will appreciate that you were not afraid to speak up.
  4. Cheating.If you are in a relationship, especially if you are in a marriage, you work your butt off to make it work. If the love is gone, you try your damndest to get it back. I’ve seen it happen. God can move mountains when you let Him. If the love is truly gone after you have given your all, then you amicably part ways. You respectfully part ways. You do not ever move on to someone else while still in a relationship with another. And if you have children, you put them first. You display what adults should behave like and you show that you can be respectful without having to agree. You can be happy for each other that love will come around again.
  5. Stealing.There are so many times when “stealing” happens and our society doesn’t even notice. You already know it’s not okay to shoplift or take items or answers that aren’t yours. But I want you to know it’s also not okay to steal time or joy. I have mistakenly done this many times, and I’ve learned my lesson. When you live in negativity (see number two above), you steal time and joy not only from yourself, but from others as well.
  6. Refusing to forgive.By refusing to forgive someone, you are hurting nobody but yourself. We all make mistakes and hurt others; you will do it many times too. Refusing to forgive leads to both points one and two above.
  7. Refusing to listen to or see Him.You gave your hearts to Jesus. Whether or not you choose to follow Him every day, you are His. He will fight for you. He does it everyday in those good voices you hear and the good things you see. You see someone in need of help and hear a voice telling you to help…listen. When something good happens, thank Him. When something bad happens, pray to Him and look around. You’ll see good if you allow yourself. See Him. Listen to Him. Be ready for some to tell you you are crazy for believing the way you do. But trust me…He’s worth it. Stand strong in your faith and He will make you stronger than you could ever imagine.

Follow our journey advocating for mental health and raising two boys on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jeremyandbaileykoch/. Learn our whole story at http://www.jeremyandbailey.com/

We Don’t “Need” Each Other

My husband and I have been married for 12 years today. I’m writing this on July 24, 2016. But in February of 2012, I was writing a very different part of our story. It was then that I almost lost my husband, Jeremy, in a car accident.

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Jeremy in ICU at Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska after two life flights. He suffered a leg broken in four places and repaired with titanium rods, fractured pancreas, punctured lung, brain bleed, face laceration, and a bruised colon that required complete reconstruction. Six intense surgeries in five days. Jeremy survived for a reason. You.

I watched him fight for his life, enduring surgery after surgery, and I knew the possibility existed that Jeremy had tried to take his own life. Severe depression had run our lives for three years at that point. I prayed God would just take him. I witnessed the hell on earth that mental illness can be and I didn’t want my husband to have to endure it anymore, not if there was no hope for a cure. And I didn’t think there was, at least that’s what the world tells us over and over.

Did you read that right? She PRAYED that she would lose her husband? 

Yes. I did. And for a long time I wasn’t proud of it. But for a long time, Jeremy and I lived in the dark about our reality. Why would we tell the world that Jeremy had tried to take his life five times? Why would we tell the world that I was terrified to walk in our home from work for fear that I would find my husband had finally ended his hell on earth? Why would we tell the world that suicide notes were not uncommon?

The truth is that accident happened for a reason. Jeremy survived for a reason. It was both the absolute worst and best thing that has ever happened to us. We were brought to our knees and we learned true faith. God showed me what life would be like without Jeremy. He answered my prayer. I didn’t know if Jeremy would survive; nobody knew. What I did know is that I had two little boys to raise.

So while Jeremy was fighting for his life, I was plotting how to never allow Jeremy’s death to be in vain. I plotted how I would raise our boys to know their father and to be like him.

Little did I know, God was plotting how to never allow Jeremy’s LIFE to be in vain. He was plotting how He would save my husband, turn us into warriors, and raise our boys to know their FATHER and to be like HIM.

Life changed for us. We have been married for 12 years today, and we can both honestly tell you that we do not need each other. God is our number one. He is the reason we are here together. He died for us; so we will live for Him. We share our story because so many suffer in silence. God brought us to our knees so we would learn to lean on Him.

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Jeremy and I wrote our story because we knew God would take what was meant to destroy us and make it good. Sharing our reality and helping others living with mental illness or supporting a loved one is our mission, our passion, and our purpose. You are the reason we are still here together on this Earth.

We do have a strong marriage, but it’s not the work of us. We have learned, because God had to bring us to our knees, to live for Him, listen to the Holy Spirit to guide us, and help others through our mission. So no. I don’t need my husband, and my husband doesn’t need me. I need Jesus. Jeremy’s needs Jesus. That’s why we have a strong marriage. We choose each other over and over, day in and day out, every day. Some days are easier than others, but that’s life.

So today, on our 12th anniversary, Jeremy brought me a vase of hand-picked flowers, a beautiful card, and a hug. We made breakfast together, attended church together, and worked in the back yard together. Together. That’s what makes an anniversary perfect. I choose him, but I need Him.

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As always, if our story touches you or if you know of anyone suffering from mental illness or supporting a loved one suffering, please share our story. Our “Anchoring Hope” support group meets every Sunday evening from 6:30 to 7:30 at United Way in Cozad, Nebraska. Please join us. You are never alone.

And if you don’t live near us, please like our page on Facebook to follow our journey and share our mission with others. https://www.facebook.com/jeremyandbaileykoch/

My Kids Hate Me

You learn you are expecting a child. Whether that child is coming from your own womb or the womb of another, you are about to be a parent. And then, the day comes when the baby enters the world. You marvel at how this tiny human was created. You dream, even plan, of how you will be the most amazing parent ever. You will guide, protect, and be patient and gentle. You will not yell or allow anger to take over your parental decisions. You will raise respectful children who are always kind to others.

Then the tiny human begins to grow. Then one extremely early morning, you wake to find that tiny human has grown into small human and has escaped from his crib only to stand next to you and scare the living crap out of you with the words, “I jump!” Yes, ladies and gentlemen, small human is a climber. Did I mention small human also puts everything in his mouth? Yes, that includes his pee soaked diaper insides that exploded since he slept through the entire night. You learn that the people who work for the Poison Control Center are fabulously understanding and most importantly, that small human will be okay. You learn to be thankful for non-toxic everything.

Ahh, but don’t forget you have another small human, the one who was here first and wants nothing more than to see slightly smaller human destroyed. So one day, you turn your back for a moment and find that small human has convinced smaller human to climb from the upper deck onto the roof. After a minor heart attack, you safely maneuver smaller human back onto the deck.

These small humans have very little understanding of the word “danger” until they experience pain for themselves. Parents know nothing. Experience means little. 

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“Let’s keep him. I want to take him home.” – Hudson (age 2 1/2…proof he liked baby brother at one point)

So now I am mom to two medium-sized humans. Two boys to be exact. I laugh at my parenting plans before I actually had to do my best every day to attempt to keep these children from injuring themselves or others. I remember saying I would never spank. I remember saying I would never yell. I remember believing I would just know what to do. So here’s the truth now, as our boys will be ages 10 and 7 this year. I spank. I yell. And I have no idea what I’m doing or how to handle most, if not all, parenting situations.

So here’s the reality today. My kids generally hate me. They want to eat junk all day long; we don’t let them. They want to eat and run; we make them eat dinner with us as a family most days. They want to pee all over the toilet seat and expect mom to clean up after them; we make them clean it up themselves. They want to stay home on Sunday mornings in their underwear and play video games; we go to church as a family. They want to get angry, scream that I am a horrible mother, and then go back to their video games; they get grounded, spanked, and don’t get video games for a week. They want to forget their manners; they lose Kindle time. They want to destroy their bedrooms and expect mom and dad to clean them up; we shut the doors until they run out of clothes and are forced to clean. They want to be rough on toys and expect mom and dad to just buy new ones; we make them work to earn their own money by doing chores and use their money to purchase replacements. They want to try dangerous stunts; we let them within reason…they learn. They want to play video games all day long; we cancel cable in the summer and only allow television time in the evenings after we’ve been outside all day long. They want to be the first to run in everywhere; we make them hold doors for others. They want to do wrong and blame others; we teach them how to accept responsibility and fix mistakes. They want to have things and favors handed to them; we teach them to work hard and help others without expecting in return. They want to goof off in school; we teach them to respect a solid education and the teachers giving it to them.

They don’t yet understand what we are trying to do…that we are just trying to help them grow into respectful and responsible young men. We don’t know what we are doing as parents, but we do know we are trying our best. Yes, I yell. Yes, I allow anger to control my parenting from time to time. Yes, I will spank our children if the situation warrants it. No, I do not know if what we are doing is working. I believe my roll is to parent and pray; that’s it.

A woman once said to me, “Free will trumps good parenting every day.” This is so true. And honestly, it makes me feel so much better. I will do my best as their mother. I will raise them in a Christian environment with the knowledge that we respect and love others, we treat women with gentleness and admiration, and we share responsibilities in the home. We work for what we get in life and we do not expect handouts. We believe in education and using passions and God-given talents to help others. So at the end of the day, our kids still have to choose. They still have to make their own choices. We can’t be there always to be sure they are following through with what we are teaching. Free will trumps good parenting.

Parent and pray. That’s what I’ll keep doing every day. It’s worth it. I just pray we are doing right by them. Parent and pray.

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Like Jeremy and Bailey on Facebook to learn more about our story and daily life. We are Christian advocates for mental health and Jeremy has survived multiple suicide attempts and lives with severe depression. We run a support group, Anchoring Hope, in Cozad, Nebraska for those suffering from mental illness or supporting a loved one. Be sure to check out our website at www.jeremyandbailey.com to find more and even link to purchase our book, “Never Alone: A Husband and Wife’s Journey with Depression and Faith.”

Forgiving After an Apology You Never Received

It’s a fine line – apologizing and forgiving versus ignoring. But I’m willing to bet I’m not the only one who struggles with this.

As a Christian, I know the importance of forgiveness. Trust me; I know. I’ve learned that my inability to forgive some only makes life worse for me. I’ve learned my inability to forgive hurts nobody but myself. I’ve learned this. I get it.

But my knowledge of the importance of forgiveness doesn’t make forgiving someone after an apology I never received any easier. Especially when the hurts just continue. Especially when nothing has changed. And especially when those I love continue to be hurt.

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I struggle with this. I have never been good at ignoring problems. I’d rather address them head on. I was taught this concept growing up. And you know what? It works. You say things rather than holding them in and allowing them to eat at you. You get hurts out, and you begin to heal. But most importantly, you help those who hurt you grow too. We all need a little help sometimes. How can you fix something you truly don’t know needs fixed? How do you wholeheartedly apologize for a hurt you didn’t know you caused? That’s why I believe in honesty rather than ignoring.

But I get it, not everyone is comfortable with this honesty thing. So at what point do you just ignore? At what point do you just learn to forgive and accept someone as they are – even if they continue hurting you and those you love?

This is my struggle. Because even after complete openness and honesty, some just refuse to change. Some just refuse to accept the fact that they have hurt, and continue to hurt, others. Some refuse to accept help.

It’s really hard. It’s hard to understand the importance of forgiveness while also understanding the importance of no longer allowing the same harmful behaviors to continue day after day. Does ignoring make anything better? Does it help anyone? Am I even capable of forgiving someone who refuses to accept any wrongdoing and continues to hurt myself and those I love? Should I be expected to when the hurt just doesn’t stop? Right now, I can’t say I have the answer. But I can say I’m constantly praying for clarity with my role.

I’m trying. I’m praying for the ability to forgive after an apology I never received, but right now I’m not sure I can. I pray for God’s strength and knowledge to flood me, even to change my heart if that’s what needs to happen. I just don’t know right now. So for now, I’ll hold onto my cross and I’ll talk it out with my person, my husband, Jeremy. Clarity will come in time.

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Follow our journey on Facebook at Jeremy & Bailey Koch: Anchoring Hope for Mental Health Ministry. Visit our website at www.jeremyandbailey.com to learn more about us and purchase our book, “Never Alone: A Husband and Wife’s Journey with Depression and Faith” in eBook or paperback.