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

Light Up the Night for Mental Health Awareness: Break the Stigma

Do you know where you will be one month from today? We do! And we are thrilled to ask you to join us!

We will be lighting up the night for the mental health awareness 5K walk/run on Friday, September 11th at Yanney Park in Kearney, Nebraska with registration beginning at 7:00 and the race beginning at 8:00.

The walk is put on by Richard Young Behavioral Health (CHI Health). Proceeds will go to the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) and Richard Young Fund at CHI Health Good Samaritan Foundation.

Feel free to save this image and send in for your registration!

Feel free to save this image and send in for your registration!

This race comes six years to the day from the terrifying moment I first walked into Richard Young Hospital with my husband who had nearly attempted suicide earlier that day. September 11, 2009 was the first day of our journey toward hope, healing, and acceptance of our reality. Jeremy has survived because of God and the good that He placed in our lives. Richard Young Hospital is part of that good.

So here is a little background information regarding why this event is so important to us…

We have talked about it before in great detail and we will continue to work hard to help anyone suffering from an unseen illness or supporting someone suffering to get to our book. “Never Alone: A Husband and Wife’s Journey with Depression and Faith” is our life, and there is no sugar coating our reality. The book is now available in both eBook and paperback format. You can purchase either here on our website using the “Purchase” tab.

We wrote our true life story detailing Jeremy’s struggles with a severe depression diagnosis, five suicide attempts, and a near-death accident likely caused by a medication failure in order to help society understand the reality of depression. We wrote it to help those suffering from suicidal thoughts or other forms of depression understand that it is okay to ask for help; in fact, it only makes you stronger. We wrote it to help you understand that mental illness is real and those suffering should never be made to feel ashamed. We wrote it to help those supporting someone suffering understand that mental illness affects many, not just the person with the diagnosis. We wrote it especially to help everyone find the hope we found in Christ. Healing can happen with the acceptance of the reality that is mental illness, with the acceptance of help from the good God has placed in all of our lives (like mental health professionals, friends, and family), and with the belief that healing can come when we put our faith in God.

We choose every day to fight mental illness. Jeremy takes his medications faithfully, visits his mental health doctors and therapists regularly, and openly expresses his reality to me, his primary support person. It is a conscious decision to live. It is a desire to provide hope to those who may be suffering like we did or attempting to support a loved one struggling. There is hope, but you have to choose to fight the illness. In order to fight, we must break the stigma attached to mental illness. Awareness is key because those suffering deserve good care, support, and the hope of healing.

The following is a post detailing our emotions the day that our book was published in March of 2015…

From Nightmare to Dream Come True

Five times…and he described every single suicide attempt in detail to me that night in late 2012. My entire body shook and I said nothing; it was obvious Jeremy needed to say everything out loud. I took it all in and tried hard not to blame myself for not knowing. But something else was happening that had nothing to do with my shock and fear; Jeremy was healing.

In 2012, months after his near-death car accident, Jeremy wrote me a suicide note on my computer and left it open on our kitchen counter. He typed out all of his thoughts and attempts, everything he had been keeping inside and fighting alone for years. It wasn’t fair to anyone. My nightmare of losing my husband was very possible, but my nightmare of losing him was nothing compared to his nightmare of losing himself. I read the note and believed he was gone. I screamed in my head and ran in every direction at 3:00 in the morning to find him, thinking I would only find his lifeless body. But instead, I found him very much alive and asleep on our couch in the living room. Our lives changed.

Jeremy and I began sharing with each other first. We began writing our nightmares…our reality. We opened up to each other about our fears and truly learned to communicate. We learned to fight this demon together. We learned to accept that there is a lot of healing that comes with being open and accepting the reality of a mental illness, of accepting help, and most importantly of accepting God. We wrote our story.

It took us a long time to see how God would take something so terrible and change it for His good. But He did. He took two bruised and beat down Christians who were undeniably angry at Him and opened our eyes to the possibility that we could do more. We could pick ourselves up off the floor and choose to see His good in every situation. We could begin to share with others and inspire hope in those who may be now where we were then. We could help society understand that mental illnesses are real and that those suffering should never be made to feel ashamed or weak. We could help those suffering understand God is always with them and there are many others who understand the struggle. We could be open. We could learn to live for God and for others all while healing ourselves too. We could find God’s good even in something so terrible.

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” Genesis 50:20

We began writing to heal ourselves; it was therapy for us. But God revealed our purpose as we wrote. We learned He wanted us to share, to help others come to Him and see His good. So we kept writing. And today, our nightmare became a dream come true.

The tears won’t stop; they are as abundant as before, only very different. These are happy tears…tears of healing, peace, and strength. They are no longer tears of terror. We have been working on this book for over three years. We are finally published authors and our book is ready for the world. We want everyone to know and we won’t hold back. The lives of those suffering are worth us sharing our reality. God is good, and Jeremy is still here for a reason. Maybe you are that reason. You are never alone.

“Never Alone: A Husband and Wife’s Journey with Depression and Faith” is now available in both eBook and paperback format. You can purchase either here on our website using the “Purchase” tab. Thank you for supporting us as we share and helping us help others. God bless you all.

~ Jeremy and Bailey Koch

You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.  Genesis 50:20

www.jeremyandbailey.com

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