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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- I’ve learned more from failure and tears than from success and smiles.
- Keeping thoughts and feelings inside is really overrated. It’s the reason every fight has ever happened. Say it. Respectfully.
- 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.
- There is so much power in the words, “I’m sorry.” Say it and mean it.
- A smile, coupled with an attitude of I’ll do better tomorrow. I’ve got this., can turn any bad day around.
- Jesus rocks.
- Being a parent is the hardest and easiest job at the same time. They are so easy to love.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- My favorite word is, “Enough.” When feeling frustrated with financials – Do we have enough? Yes. Then trust it will all be okay.
- I don’t know how I feel about a lot of things. And that’s okay.
- 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.
- 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.
- There is something so emotionally comforting about having and loving a dog. Or really any pet. Animals have healing powers.
- The ONLY way to lose weight is to work hard through diet and exercise. There is no secret. Stop wasting your money.
- The people making decisions are usually the ones who shouldn’t be. Do the best you can with what you have.
- 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.
- Those who fall and get back up are so much stronger than those whom have never fallen.
- 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).
- God doesn’t make mistakes. Period. You are who you are and where you are for a reason.
- There is always a way out of an uncomfortable situation. You just have to find it.
- Your conscience is God. Listen.
- Learning to train yourself to see the positive before you see the negative is a human superpower. Do it.
- Being thankful for what you have, as opposed to focusing on what you don’t, will change everything.
- It’s okay to be picky about who you choose to surround yourself with.
- The bad days are the days when I’m trying to control something or someone. Let it go.
- 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.
I’ve experienced many pant sizes in my 32 years of life. For most of high school and college, I was a size 6. I was what I generally call “skinny,” especially due to the fact that I am almost 5’9″. I have very long legs and no torso. Well not really, but it sure does seem that way when I’m shopping for jeans.
When I gave birth to our last son in 2009, I walked into the hospital weighing in at 226 pounds. I had gained 60 pounds during that pregnancy. When we arrived home, I found that my true body weight, now without baby and extra fluid, was 201 pounds. I was miserable. My body hurt and I had no energy. My jeans were a size 16. So I made a commitment and stuck to it.
I’ve learned that any weight loss program will work. It’s not the program; it’s the commitment. I lost 35 pounds following the Nutrisystem program. In the picture above, I was a size 10. It fit me well, and it was comfortable. I was happy at that weight for quite a while. Then I learned that my friend was getting married and I allowed society’s pressures to overtake me. Even though my body was happy and comfortable at a size 10, I convinced myself I needed to lose more weight in order to look my “best” in my bridesmaid dress for the May 2013 wedding. I lost another 30 pounds on my own. At 5’9″, I was 140 pounds.
This is what I got…
I get that in 2009, I was too heavy. Losing weight was needed, but I took it too far. Yes, I lost the weight and everyone told me how good I looked, except for my family…those close to me saw what a struggle I was in. They told me I looked too thin and they were genuinely worried. I didn’t want to hear it then, but you know what? They were right. They told me the truth. I knew it then too. You know how I know? Because I had to work my ass off, literally, to get to that size and then to stay at that size.
I was obsessed. I didn’t enjoy life because everything I ate made me feel horrible about myself. If I indulged even the tiniest bit, I just knew I would regret it because I would have to work so hard to over-compensate for that moment of yumminess. Every conversation turned into working out and eating right. Nobody cared but me, so essentially I was talking to hear myself. I wasn’t living life to enjoy life. I was living to stay skinny. I was taking time away from my family not only by working out constantly but also by obsessing over my weight; and these were the people I wanted to better myself for but who just wanted more of me…in quality time.
I had to focus so hard to stay at a weight my body didn’t like that it overtook me; I saw myself going down a dangerous road. Was this the life I really wanted?
This was the picture that changed everything for me. I looked at myself and saw someone skinny…and miserable. Those sweet boys and that handsome husband deserved to have more of me. Jeremy, my husband, has always loved me completely. I remember looking at him and saying, “Do you think I look better at this weight?” I could feel the pain in his voice when he had obviously had enough of these conversations, “No. I think you look better when you allow yourself to enjoy life more.” Who was I doing this for?
In truth, I was covering up an awful lot of pain. And Jeremy knew it. My husband suffered from severe depression and had survived multiple suicide attempts; my weight was something I could control when the rest of my world felt like it was crashing around me. It took me almost losing Jeremy, really almost losing him, to remember I’m not in control. And even trying to control something as simple as my weight was turning into just another pressure in life. I was taking it too far. I had to learn to let go and let God.
This video will detail more of our life’s struggles so you understand my need to control something…
So here I am today. We’ll fast-forward quite a bit. It’s almost 2017 and everyone is talking about their desires to lose weight. I’m included in that conversation since I indulged over Christmas a bit too much. I also learned, in April of this year, that I have Celiac disease. Gluten-free products are everywhere now, so it wasn’t a super difficult change. Don’t get me wrong, it was very overwhelming at first. But I have found it’s not so bad. And I feel amazing so that helps too. After 32 years of gut problems, my body is healing. But those gluten-free products are packed full of sugar. And I’ve gained weight.
I’m a size 13-14 now and my back is starting to hurt a bit. I can tell I have a little more weight on me than my body likes because, over the years of healing, I’ve allowed myself to indulge maybe a bit more than I needed to and all that sugar is packing on the pounds. My husband is doing amazingly; it’s been almost 9 months since he’s had even a suicidal thought. He takes his medication daily, sleeps with his CPAP nightly to get more oxygen to his brain, and meets with his psychiatrist, counselor, and pastor regularly. His brain is healing because he works hard to help himself by accepting help. So I need to do it too.
My seven-year-old snapped this picture of mommy today. I know how to lose weight because I’ve done it before. I’ll do it again, but I won’t allow it to overtake me. For me, sexy is a size 10. My body is comfortable at a size 10 and I can stay there by eating sensibly, walking regularly, and indulging occassionally.
The right weight is about your own body’s healthy, and we all have different body types and comfort zones. My body likes a size 10 and I like it there too. So that’s my realistic and healthy goal.
I’ll let you in on a secret, you’re sexy. Find your own body’s sexy. And if someone is telling you you aren’t, no matter what your size, find someone else to have a conversation with. For me, sexy is a size 10, but my husband clearly thinks sexy is a size 13-14 right now. 😉 When I get to a size 11-12, he’ll think I’m sexy there, too.
When we learn to listen to our own bodies, we can get excited about losing weight. We can even enjoy it. I’m looking forward to losing weight in the coming months because I know I can do it. I know my goal is realistic and healthy and I know it won’t happen overnight. I won’t let it overtake me, I’ll allow myself to indulge every now and then, and I’ll lose weight slowly and on my terms.
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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
There are few things more important in the world than being surrounded by people you love and trust, especially those who return the sentiments. David and Cara have been friends of my husband and I since we were in high school. In fact, it’s quite a hilarious story that Cara actually tried to set me up with David when we were in our early high school years. Why? Because David was a genuine nice guy, and Cara wanted that for me.
What Cara didn’t tell me then, and what I know to be true now, is that she tried to set me up with David because she didn’t believe she deserved that nice guy. She believed he was too good for her, that somehow her past made her inferior to him. But alas, years passed and David made her way into Cara’s heart not long after Jeremy made his way into mine. We lost touch over the years but came back together when Jeremy and I were hired to DJ at David and Cara’s wedding on September 4, 2004. We were there to witness their union. Time would part us again, but not for long.
Cara and I say that “the baby years” are what brought us together again. We were both younger than many of our friends when we began our families so we understood the time of life each other was in. But some things just didn’t come easy…
Cara watched and supported Jeremy and I as we navigated the choppy waters of living with mental illness. She was the first person to whom I revealed the whole truth of Jeremy’s suicide attempts. She was the person I called when I needed to cry, to be completely honest, and sometimes to just scream. Cara is, without a doubt, the most forgiving and accepting person I have ever met in my life. She was my comfort and steadfast support person always reminding me that Jesus had a plan for good in all the mess we were living.
Cara taught me so much, never realizing most of what she taught me came from how she handled her own life. The truth is Cara was fighting her own battle. Over the years of our friendship, I watched her and David struggle. I watched the reality of a blended family take its toll on their relationship. I watched priorities become confusing. I watched hurts happen and then become reasons for bigger hurts. I watched love fade, arguments turn to battles, and shots fired turn into full-blown war. But there was something else I witnessed.
I watched as two people were realizing that the people who often hurt you the most are the people who love you the most.
There are people in this world who can’t handle seeing others happy when they are unhappy themselves. These traits do not live in David or Cara. No matter what their lives consist of, they can genuinely and completely be happy for others. This is truly a trait to be admired and is certainly what I admire most about our friends. David and Cara could have pushed Jeremy and I aside long ago because our relationships had little in common. But what I love about our friendship is that none of us ever gave up on each other even when the world told us we should. And our kids…our kids adore each other.
It’s hard to love two people so much and watch them struggle so hard. At one point, I did almost give up. I didn’t know how to help or what my place was. I said things to my friends I had no right to. I was tired of watching the hurt and part of me stopped believing in God’s ability to heal. I had started to take sides, human sides as opposed to where I had always stayed safe and steadfast before…on Jesus’ side.
And then it happened. I watched as David and Cara hit true brokenness. I had never seen either of them so low, and it was because they were finally seeing what life without the other would look like. I’ll never forget having many conversations in the past with Cara telling her the truth of why I knew my relationship with Jeremy was so strong.
I would say, “Picture your life without him. Look into the future and imagine he’s really not there. What does life look like?” It was only when I saw what life would be like without Jeremy that I truly began to appreciate everything about us. I knew the same would be true for them.
But life has a way of not allowing us to imagine situations like this in such detail until we are actually living it. I saw David and Cara truly broken and I learned an important life lesson. Sometimes, it’s actually easier to heal broken than it is to heal bent.
After being broken, David and Cara began to heal…truly heal. Cara tells me now that it took them 11 years to figure out marriage, to truly understand the sacrifice, the give-and-take, and the dedication to never let love fade. I watched them begin to have weekly date nights, something I had never seen, and to rarely allow exceptions to the date night rule. I watched them begin to understand that the marriage has to come before the children, a real and accurate rule of relationships so many young couples struggle with. I watched them begin to attend church together and truly worship Jesus knowing He is the reason that which was broken is now healing. I watched them attend marriage counseling and both be completely honest.
But you know the best part? I watched David become Cara’s best friend instead of me. I watched her run to him and not me. I watched my knowledge of their relationship become less and less.
As Cara’s support person, I listened and did the best I knew how to try to support her. But now everything is different. Healing is happening and I get to just be the friend. Why am I writing this? For one, David and Cara told me I could. For two, the couple hopes to help other struggling marriages through their trials and triumphs. But for three, I want David and Cara to know how much respect I have for them and how proud I am of them.
So on September 4, 2016, Jeremy and I were there to witness their “I Do” again. David and Cara vowed to recommit themselves first to Jesus, second to their marriage, and third to their children. What an honor and a blessing. I could not be more proud to call them my friends. Congratulations to David and Cara. You two are an inspiration.
David and Cara would like you to have their email address if you feel inclined to reach out to them. Perhaps you need some hope in your own marriage. Trust me, they are a great resource. Email them at email@example.com
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.
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.
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.”
Well, I guess I can just stop typing. I already gave away the secret. But I guess I could tell you why I believe this is true. Remember, I’m a blogger; I’m not a journalist bound to report facts. I report opinion. And my opinion is this…
The secret to a healthy marriage is the ability to play with each other (take that however you want), to laugh with each other, to stay immature sometimes, and to find the humor in the horrible.
This is my hubby and me this evening, and this is the post I put on our Facebook page. This is us, folks. Take it or leave it. And this is why we are okay even though a big part of our lives involves walking through Hell on Earth. Today, we bit the bullet and bought a dual reclining loveseat from our local Furniture Mart here in our favorite hometown of Cozad, Nebraska. Why? Because we didn’t like being far apart from each other (you know…like 10 feet) in our separate recliners every evening.
The bottom line is we don’t like to be apart. We like to mess with each other and share funny stories. We like to find jokes on the Internet and immediately share to invoke gut-hurting laughter. It’s a goal. And it’s a good one…one we fully believe keeps our relationship healthy. We are business owners and often (like always) work late into the evening on ordering, inventory updates, advertising, etc. It’s a heck of a lot easier to work well together if we are right next to each other. So this will be fun, right? Right.
So while I’m not telling you the secret is to buy a dual recliner, I am telling you it really has brought a lot to my attention about what makes our marriage healthy (in our view). So I’m gonna make you a list. Why? Because I’ve learned in my blogging world that humans like lists. Lists get attention and I may be able to help some realize you just may be taking your relationship and life in general way too seriously. So fine, I’ll make you a list.
Now remember, Jeremy’s and my relationship has been anything but easy. We’ve certainly had our ups and downs, but we have found the humor in the horrible. Jeremy was diagnosed with severe depression in 2009 and has survived multiple suicide attempts, medication failures, inpatient mental health hospital stays, and a near-death car accident. We’ve been through a lot together and we’ve learned not to take each other for granted, so that is the main reason we still like each other; we know what life looks like without each other. I was a single parent for many years; Jeremy was here, but he also wasn’t. Physically he was here, but mentally he was gone. Her View From Home made a wonderful video of us telling our story, just so you know where we are coming from.
Our website is www.jeremyandbailey.com and you can go there to learn more about our whole story and even purchase our book in eBook on Amazon or in paperback directly from us. “Never Alone: A Husband and Wife’s Journey with Depression and Faith” was officially published in 2015 and is our whole reality. We share because we have a lot to thank God for, especially for keeping Jeremy here on this Earth with us after so many times of depression telling him otherwise. We are survivors. Together we refuse to let depression win.
So now you know what we have fought, and continue to fight, as mental illness doesn’t just disappear. We either learn to laugh and deal with life, or we cry, curl up in a ball, and live in a world of lies. We’ve done the second, and it doesn’t work. Somewhere during the trip down that road, somebody cracks. If you don’t grow together, you don’t grow at all. So in marriage you learn to embrace the good, deal with the bad, and find hope in everything…all together as one. United. Marriage take three.
So here is our list for a healthy marriage for you. This is what we have figured out. This is why we are okay, more than okay. This is why we are happy. This is why we are still together even though mental illness wants only to make us miserable.
- Fight for each other.
We all have challenges that come in so many forms. Mental illness is ours. Yours may be financial, parenting, blended family troubles, etc. It. Doesn’t. Matter. Deal with it…together. Counseling is good. Counseling has saved us over and over.But you have to learn you are both dealing with issues because of challenges. You both deserve to be heard, to be respected, and to heal. Just do it together and don’t allow your challenges to tear to you apart. Be honest. Be open.
- Talk. Tell the truth…the whole truth. Jeremy lived because he wrote me a suicide note. It was going to be the end of him, but something happened he didn’t expect. He healed while he shared. For the first time, he was completely honest with me. I could have freaked out learning the truth of Jeremy’s suicidal thoughts, but I didn’t. Why? That was God and only God. He gave me strength to know Jeremy needed my full support. Talk everything over together. You are put on this Earth together for a reason. Who do you trust more in the world? I hope it’s him (or her). Your “person” is your spouse. Your God is your God.
- Put God first and spouse second…children third. Yep. By far the hardest one, but also the most important. Think of the best gift you could possibly give your children. Got it? I pray it’s the chance to truly understand faith and love by seeing the example every day. Enough said.
You knew I was going to get to it. Because, yes, I believe this is key to keeping our marriage healthy and vibrant. We have not stopped dating each other. We crack jokes. We find time to play, even if it is a trip to Menards. Do you know how much fun you can have with items in Menards? Sure, some may look at you like you are crazy. But I’d much rather be looked at as crazy than completely unaware of my husband’s needs and desires. We love to play. We love to share jokes and laugh.
Just yesterday, I brought home a sign for Jeremy for our sign wall that says, “Embrace the crazy.” We laughed so hard because Jeremy literally got out of our favorite mental health hospital, Richard Young in Kearney, Nebraska, a couple weeks ago. We know how the world wants to see us sometimes. A medication failure caused Jeremy to believe he was God, I was God, water was the reason we were together as a couple (you know, because I like to do dishes and he likes to do laundry and they have water in common) and unicorns and rainbows were everywhere. Jeremy lost his collective mind for a while until our favorite professionals straightened out his medications again. We can either laugh about it or be bitter. We choose laughter.
Then I came home yesterday and Jeremy had bought me this sign.
Lol. That’s funny right there. It’s a sign that’s funny, and it also shows his respect for me as an equal partner in this house.
And tonight, our son (a third grader) had a little girl clearly flirting with him, so I text my husband to tell him. And this is what our conversation turned into…
Give and take, right? Lol. Jeremy was too shy to ask me out when we were in high school, so I did it. And he still hasn’t lived it down almost 16 years later. But in all fairness, he did ask me to marry him. 😉 And that leads me to my next point…
- Share words of affection. Knowing your spouse still loves you, appreciates you, and even still thinks you’re hot never gets old. In that text, I told Jeremy I would say yes again. Knowing everything we were going to deal with, every challenge we would be handed, I still wouldn’t change a thing. Jeremy needs, and deserves, to know that. And I deserve to know Jeremy doesn’t think I’m only here to cook him food and clean his dishes. He sees me as an equal and makes it clear, especially since he does all the laundry! And again…that goes to the next point.
- Share responsibililities. I do the dishes and cleaning for the most part. He does the laundry for the most part. We both talk about how we will discipline, or more so how we will try (key word) to go toward proactive positive reinforcement before having to discipline. We do it all together. Kids will try (this may be a shocker) to separate you so they get their way. Be proactive. Talk and share responsibilities. Show your kids, and the world, that you have respect for one another and that you are in this together. Life will be a lot easier.
- Pray together. This changed our world. It changed our relationship. It changed everything. I know it can feel uncomfortable at first. But just trust me (well, technically trust Him). In bed at night, hold hands and pray. We learned fears, anxieties, desires, and so much more. We learned to pray for each other, for our marriage, our kids, and our families. We learned to be here for Him first, for us second, for our kids third, and for our mission, work, and families after.
The “Anchoring Hope” support group of Cozad began in January of 2016. For the very first meeting, we had four people (including Jeremy and I). Steadily over the weeks of meetings, more and more people have joined our discussions. So now, the most common questions we are asked include:
“Who attends Anchoring Hope?”
“Is Anchoring Hope the right place for me?”
“What does an Anchoring Hope support group meeting consist of?”
“Is there a charge to attend Anchoring Hope?
“How do I stay up-to-date on meetings and any changes for Anchoring Hope?”
So I’ll start to answer your questions by telling you a bit about us. Jeremy and I (Bailey) have been together for over 15 years and have been through a lot…like A LOT. In 2009, Jeremy was diagnosed with severe depression. Since then, he has survived five suicide attempts, multiple medication failures causing him to be hospitalized in Richard Young Hospital (an inpatient mental health facility in Kearney) three times, and a near-death car accident. We have learned to find humor in our reality. Why? We tried it the other way and it didn’t work. We have learned to embrace the crazy (Haha…get it? Cause society would love to believe Jeremy’s just crazy rather than having a legitimate brain disability?). And most importantly, we have learned that we are still here on this earth together for a reason – to help others who struggle to understand mental illness the way we once did. We share our reality to help you; God has made it very clear to us that we have work to do in order to help you understand you are never alone.
Anyone is welcome to join us at Anchoring Hope. We meet every Monday evening from 6:30 to 7:30 at United Way in Cozad, 105 East Highway 30 (the train station).
Now let’s officially answer your questions:
“Who attends Anchoring Hope?”
At Anchoring Hope, you can find those who struggle with mental illness themselves, others who support loved ones struggling, some who just want to understand mental illness on a deeper level, and ones whom are suffering from the loss of a loved one to suicide. We often have individuals who visit from the healthcare field in order to get a better view of how to help their patients with mental illness and we welcome them in to our discussions as well. We have some whom have struggled with alcohol, drug abuse, or self-harm because of many of life’s difficulties, from mental illness to hardships. In short, all are welcome and none are exempt.
“Is Anchoring Hope the right place for me?”
From depression, bi-polar disorder, and schizophrenia to alcoholism, grief, and the quest for understanding, you have a seat at Anchoring Hope.
“What does an Anchoring Hope support group meeting consist of?”
When you attend an Anchoring Hope meeting, you’ll be greeted by Jeremy and/or Bailey. While we try to both attend weekly, sometimes life happens, but you’ll at least get one of us. The most important thing to understand is that Anchoring Hope is literally just a place to get together and talk. We usually start by sharing a little bit about ourselves. For example, I would share that I am Jeremy’s primary support person and I also struggle with control issues and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as well as Celiac Disease. Jeremy would share that he is diagnosed with severe depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), sleep apnea, and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and has survived multiple suicide attempts, hospitalizations, and (this just in) a paranoid schizophrenia episode. But remember Jeremy and I have grown very comfortable with sharing our reality; we also remember what it was like to not be so comfortable with it. You only have to share what you are comfortable sharing. You do not have to say a word if you are first just wanting to take it all in. In time, your comfort level with adjust. You will learn to understand we have a safe and nonjudgmental environment at Anchoring Hope. You will learn to understand your feelings, experiences, diagnoses, etc. are all very real and very okay. You will learn to be open, but it takes time. We will never push you to share anything and we will never share your name or information with anyone. Trust is key at Anchoring Hope. We just talk. As conversations continue, it’s always easy to tell who needs to talk more that week. At the end of the hour, we share what we are most looking forward to that week. It’s important to end on a positive note, and I never let that one slide. There is always, Always, ALWAYS something to be thankful for…something good.
“Is there a charge to attend Anchoring Hope?”
No. Jeremy and I began this mission out of a desire to help others who may be struggling the way we once did. I wouldn’t pay to talk about stuff I used to not want to talk about. Why should you? Additionally, we are extremely blessed by United Way as they have allowed us their facility to use as a meeting place weekly free of charge. We meet because we care about you, plain and simple.
“How do I stay up-to-date on meetings and any changes for Anchoring Hope?”
Like our Facebook pages. I’m much better at putting everything on “Jeremy & Bailey Koch: Anchoring Hope for Mental Health Ministry” than anywhere else. Also like “Anchoring Hope” specifically for group information. If we have to cancel a meeting due to weather or any other reason, you’ll find that info on both of those pages. But you can pretty much count on the fact that we will meet every Monday evening from 6:30 to 7:30 in Cozad at United Way. Join us.
You can find more information about us on our website at www.jeremyandbailey.com. On that site, you can also link to purchase our book, “Never Alone: A Husband and Wife’s Journey with Depression and Faith,” in eBook on Amazon or in paperback directly from us. Follow our blog here at www.jeremyandbaileyblog.com. I write randomly and about whatever I want so I hope you enjoy it; it’s my own therapy.
We would love to welcome you to our Anchoring Hope meetings. As always, please do not hesitate to message us on Facebook or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions at all. Remember, Anchoring Hope meets every Monday from 6:30 to 7:30 at United Way in Cozad, 105 East Highway 30 (the train station).
Well today was full of great information, most completely unwanted, but still great information.
For 31 years, 32 next month, I’ve dealt with a lot of intestinal issues. Flare-ups would come and go, and I just kind of adjusted to life with near-constant tummy troubles. However, this last time Jeremy had to be in three different hospitals in two weeks was enough stress to send my system into complete freak-out mode. Essentially, it started with a nasty cold that turned into a nasty sinus and ear infection. From there, I started some antibiotics, and while those infections improved, my intestinal issues worsened. To this day, my issues continue to worsen. But it appears I am on the way to healing.
A couple weeks ago, my doctors performed a scope and officially diagnosed me with gastritis. During that time, they also took a sample to check for bacteria. But then my doctor went on vacation. They instructed me to call if my symptoms worsened before I see him for my follow-up this Friday. So today, I made a trip after my allergy appointments.
But let’s back up a bit. SOMETHING causes gastritis, and food allergies/intolerances were suspected. Our oldest son suffers from food allergies too and he needed a follow up appointment; so today, Hudson and mommy had a date with the allergy doctors.
If you can’t tell, we have some allergies. Hudson is highly allergic to milk and corn (which we’ve known for a long time but had allowed him some in his diet in order to minimize the chance of reaction if any gets in his system…our method failed miserably). So Hudson’s allergy symptoms have continued to get worse and testing today confirmed why. He can have no milk…none. We had hoped he was growing out of it. Again, nope. Sorry buddy.
On the bright side, however, Hudson thought it was pretty cool mommy had to go through the testing this time too. While I’m not allergic to milk, I do have a severe intolerance to it, especially with my intestinal issues right now. So no milk for mommy either. However, most interesting for mommy, and terrifying, is the fact that I came back as extremely allergic to yeast. You guessed it…Celiac Disease. A blood test may or may not confirm (as the blood tests are highly inaccurate), but they sent off my blood anyway because of the large connection between yeast allergy and gluten issues. Even if it does come back negative, I’m to stay completely gluten free.
It’s quite overwhelming. But it’s also exciting. I think back to certain things I have eaten and immediately have had issues; those memories always seem to have one or two connections…gluten and dairy. But I also must say this…gluten free is not a fad as I once believed. Celiac Disease and gluten intolerance are real and miserable. I’m willing to do anything to no longer feel like this.
But there’s more to why I feel miserable lately. After those allergy tests and results, Hudson and I went out to eat. Immediate issues. EVERYTHING I eat lately gives me immediate problems. I was sick of it, and my doctor said to call if symptoms get worse. So I went to Urgent Care to see my friend and doctor, and she took care of me. It makes sense that my symptoms got worse. She spoke to my doctor, who just got back from vacation, and I am filled with infection…colitis in addition to my gastritis and possibly enteritis. That’s a lot of itis. They are doing even more testing, but they are putting me immediately on strong antibiotics to get these infections gone. So antibiotics and probiotics it is for me in addition to completely adjusting my diet. I hope to start feeling better soon. Crazy thing is this is even affecting my eyesight (lots of floaters in my vision), and that’s a huge indicator of infection too.
Basically, I’m a mess, but at least we have answers. I feel like crap, but I’ll get better. I’ve been dealing with this stuff for a long time; it’s just been a heck of a lot worse these last six weeks. I’m over it…ready to feel human again. Next steps are likely colonoscopy to keep diagnosing everything correctly and more specific bacteria tests.
As always, we share because we know many other people struggle with similar issues. So please feel free to share advice or tips if you have any. I’ll gladly accept any tips! I’ll especially accept prayers! Thanks, friends!