Healing Via Walking

I’ll admit it, I never really understood the point behind a bunch of people walking for a cause, no matter the purpose. For all I knew, it was about raising money, and that I understood. I believed that people wouldn’t donate unless they had something to do or to gain. I figured a walking event was the easiest thing these organizations could think of to do in order to raise needed money for therapies, finding cures, etc.; that made sense to me. So I donated, but I never walked; and I’m ashamed to admit that. Because now, I get it.

It may be about raising money, but it is also about raising hope. It is about being surrounded by others whom have fought a similar battle and won, or at least understood the pain. It is about knowing we are never alone.

We will walk this Friday, September 11, 2015...exactly six years after the first time Jeremy tried to take his life. We are healing via walking.

We will walk this Friday, September 11, 2015…exactly six years after the first time Jeremy tried to take his life. We are healing via walking.

On September 11, 2009, I arrived home from a normal day at work; except it was anything but normal. I fought myself all day that day; I didn’t believe I should have left my husband, Jeremy, at home alone. Jeremy had been diagnosed with severe depression that past May, and he seemed to be steadily losing his passion for life. There was less light in his eyes by the day, but it was easier for me to ignore my fears and believe him when he told me he was “fine.” He wasn’t fine. But what would the world think if they knew the truth? So we both ignored it, and it tore us up. But that day, we couldn’t ignore it anymore. Jeremy had been locked in an intense battle between himself and his brain all day long. His dark thoughts almost won.

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Years later, and after five suicide attempts, a near-death car accident likely caused by a medication failure, countless medications we flushed or adjusted, and a trip to California to allow Jeremy access to cutting-edge technology in order to actually see what his brain was doing to him, we are survivors. We are supporters. My husband fights depression every day, but the healing and understanding we have all found, including family, friends, and supporters, has been incredible. Jeremy’s symptoms are under control for the most part, and he readily accepts help. He understands his illness. But most importantly, Jeremy understands the fact that his illness is the best thing that ever happened to us. Depression led us to God; it led us to our purpose. Our purpose is to support and help others find the hope that we found.

I would like to share with you an excerpt from our book. We knew what we had to do, so we shared our entire truth. “Never Alone: A Husband and Wife’s Journey with Depression and Faith” was published by Jacol Publishing in April of 2015.

Jeremy designed the cover of our book himself as this was such a personal endeavor.

Jeremy and I (click that link to go straight to our website and learn more) made a commitment to withhold nothing and share our reality. These words are straight from Jeremy and detail his battle with his brain on September 11, 2009. But I must warn you, this is very graphic. It is the reality of a person who suffers from suicidal thoughts. But we know that we have to share, and I want you to understand why we will walk this Friday…

It seemed to be just another day, another struggle with my depression, when our employee showed up for work. I was beyond tired of the constant battle between myself and my brain. I could feel the walls closing in; I felt so alone, but I didn’t say a word. I went through my usual routine, giving her some tasks to complete for the day, and I went inside to continue along my path of shame and self-destruction. Nobody had any idea of what truly went on inside my head or of how low I had allowed myself to fall. Bailey had left for work because I had assured her that, yes, I was “fine.”

            I went into our bedroom and closed the blinds. I fell into bed and tried to sleep the pain away, but the suicidal thoughts quickly flooded in and intensified minute by minute. The thoughts broke in like water rushing through a shattered levee, “Drive into an oncoming semi truck…lay under a train…jump off the roof head-first. Just do something, fast! End this all!”

I remember thinking to myself, “You won’t go grab the shot gun in your gun closet.” It was as if a challenge happened within me. Making fun and putting myself down was, and still is, easy to do. I beat up on myself constantly; I’m my own bully. And this day would turn out to be a pretty tough fight.

I rose from bed and slowly walked over to the gun cabinet, feeling an extreme desire to stop the thoughts, no matter what it took. I understand now that a suicide attempt is not somebody’s desire to end his or her life, but rather an intense longing to live fully and completely. My grandfather’s hand-made, wooden gun cabinet was the “safe place” for me to store the three guns I have in my collection. I grabbed my black, twelve gauge, Benelli shotgun; the metal felt colder and heavier than it ever had before. I sat on the edge of the bed and remember feeling amazed I had the guts to make it this far.

Sitting on the edge of the bed, I felt the extreme power of the shotgun pulsing through my hands and into my body. I placed the unloaded barrel of the gun under my chin and began shaking. I jumped up and ran to put the gun back in the cabinet. I gasped and sucked in a huge breath of oxygen, relieved for what would only be seconds. I walked out into living room and quickly closed all of the blinds; I couldn’t let anyone know what was going on in our house. I fell to my knees on the floor in the middle of the living room and pounded my fists on the carpet with the intensity of an ape. I felt unfathomable rage as I took all my frustration and fear out on the carpet. Yet, at the same time, the thoughts terrified me that I just couldn’t stop. “It’s all my fault. Snap out of it!”

The voice inside my head spoke up as I lay on the floor with tears streaming down my face. “You won’t grab a shell and load it in the gun.” I needed to stop the thoughts racing in my brain. With determination I walked back into the dark bedroom, grabbed the twelve-gauge again, and popped a shell into the empty chamber. I sat on the corner of the bed and thought about where I wanted to be found. Not wanting to end my life in the bedroom I shared with my love, I walked into the office and sat in my chair at my desk. Thoughts of Bailey and the boys entered my mind long enough for me to decide they would be better off without me. I leaned the loaded gun against my desk and distracted myself with email. This might sound like a random thought; but I know now God walked with me through this terrifying ordeal. He fought to help me see my purpose. I clicked on “compose” and started an email to Bailey. I began the email with “Come home if you can” when my eyes welled up with tears and I could no longer see the computer screen.

As I sat there, the terrifying thoughts grew louder again. “You won’t hold that gun to your head and take the safety off!” I grabbed the loaded gun, more than ready to silence the thoughts, placed it under my chin and un-latched the safety. Placing my index finger on the trigger, I closed my eyes. This was it. I still struggle with this painful memory to this day and know I will forever. As tears ran down my face, I had a vision. I saw Hudson, our oldest son, standing in the white-framed window of his daycare that morning. He waved goodbye.

I dropped the gun and fell to my knees. God had to work hard to win the battle for me that day; I wasn’t strong enough without Him. But He won. He showed me my purpose with a vision that will forever be etched in my memory.

The rest of the day is a blur. I ended up putting the safety back on, unloading the gun and placing it back in the gun case. I fought through the constant onslaught of suicidal thoughts until Bailey arrived home from school. I remember sitting on the edge of the chair with my tearful head in my hands while telling Bailey the PG version of what had happened that day. She immediately recognized I needed help and drove me through the rain to the mental health hospital in Kearney; a quiet trip that went by quickly. The long day of fighting had exhausted me and I knew I needed help.

Upon arriving at the hospital, a nurse, Bailey, and I sat in a small white room with pamphlets titled things like, “So You’ve Thought of Suicide” and “When the Voices Won’t Stop.” The nurse asked me to discuss my issues. I asked Bailey to leave the room because I wanted to protect her from the wretched truth of my day. Bailey stepped out and I unloaded the real version of what had taken place. I told the nurse I would be fine and wanted to go home, but she knew that wasn’t going to happen any time soon.

Then it was official, they committed me. I was a danger to myself, and even I knew it. The staff began the intake process for new patients while Bailey sat, trying hard to be strong. But I still didn’t see her, not really anyway; this was all about me. This was happening to me. I felt all alone. Even though Bailey sat beside me and refused to leave my side until they made her. In removing my belt and shoelaces, I thought to myself, “What in the hell are you doing here? You don’t belong at a place like this!” I walked around in my socks and judged others in the hospital. I believed I was unique and didn’t need to be here; I was better than this.

Two of my first visitors were my dad and father-in-law. The two men rode together from home in complete support of one another and of what they wanted to do to support us. As they walked in, I leaned against the wall with my arms crossed. I looked at them and said, “I don’t belong here. The people here are crazy!” I terrified both of them with that statement. They knew I needed to be there for some serious help. My eyes had lost the light. But for now, because I got in the car when Bailey said it was time to get help, I was safe.

Jeremy is safe still. And while what you just read was not easy to live, we understand now there are many more who live it. Jeremy survived many more days similar to this before we found our hope; God never gave up on us. There are countless people who live in silence, in fear of being open about their own realities. So we will walk to show there is hope. We will walk to support Jeremy and all those living with mental illness or trying desperately to support someone or cope with the loss of someone. There is a lot of healing that comes in understanding the reality of the illness and especially in understanding that none of us are ever alone.

Our family. Jeremy, Bailey, Hudson (almost 9), and Asher (age 6), we support mental health awareness because we live the reality.

We support mental health awareness because we live the reality. Hudson (right, age almost 9) and Asher (left, age 6) know the reality of almost losing their daddy many times. The truth continues in our home; our boys will walk with us.

Please join us. Please walk with us in support of mental health awareness and suicide prevention. The very place, the safe place, I brought my husband to on that night six years ago is sponsoring this walk for hope. It is impossible to express my thanks to them. Richard Young Hospital was part of the good that God had placed in our lives to help Jeremy find hope in his illness. So on September 11, 2009, we felt defeated. But our journey toward hope and healing began. And this Friday, on September 11, 2015, exactly six years from the first time Jeremy tried to take his life, we will walk as living examples that life goes on and healing happens. We overcame battles we never asked to fight. We found hope. We found faith. We found out who we really are and why we are here on this earth. Please walk with us in Kearney on Friday, September 11, 2015.

Healing Via Walking

Light Up the Night for Mental Health Awareness and Break the Stigma! Registration begins at 7:00 pm on Friday, September 11 and the walk begins at 8 at Yanney Park.

Learn more about us, Jeremy and Bailey Koch, on our website. There, you will find links to purchase a signed paperback copy of Never Alone directly from us. You can also purchase the Kindle version on Amazon. Thank you so much for your never-ending support. God bless.

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

Follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jeremyandbaileykoch and on Twitter @jeremyandbailey

You can also follow our blog at http://jeremyandbaileyblog.com

When God Speaks to Me: My Top Christian “Keep Going” Songs

It all started after Jeremy’s accident. I always believed in God, but I didn’t truly understand how present He really is until I was so mad that I screamed every cuss word I could remember in the English language at Him. Why did my husband suffer so horribly from suicidal thoughts? Was Jeremy here now fighting for his life because he had almost succeeded at ending it? Is that what happened? Is that what God wanted? I didn’t understand any of it. Nothing.

So I did it. I yelled at Him. I screamed at the top of my lungs and asked Him why us. I told God to **** off. I told Him I hated Him, that Jeremy didn’t deserve this. MY husband…a man who always puts others first…a man who loves me and his boys so wholly that his depression diagnosis made no sense to me at the time. This was about me and my family. And I let God have it.

Jeremy in ICU, February 2012.

Jeremy in ICU, February 2012.

Jeremy's truck after the accident in 2012.

Jeremy’s truck after the accident in 2012.

After I got my wits about me and believed God had likely had enough, I pulled my shell of a self off the floor. While it had seemed like only God and I were having it out in that waiting room while Jeremy was in a life-saving surgery, the reality was that over 20 people had just witnessed my breakdown. I looked up and saw Him.

Yes. Him. I saw Jesus crying.

I’ll never forget it. My sister-in-law, just 19 years old at the time, had tears streaming down her face having witnessed what I had just done. But instead of lashing out in anger at me, God chose instead to reveal His presence to me in a way I could no longer ignore. I saw my Savior in Jacqui. He was there and I couldn’t deny His plan any longer.

In that moment, I knew Jeremy was going to live. I was still terrified, but a comfort I had never understood before began to overtake my fear. And 20 minutes after that breakdown happened, a surgeon approached me with news that Jeremy’s internal injuries were healing. Jeremy was, in fact, a miracle. Twenty years ago, without modern life-saving technology and the incredible surgeons who allow God to save others through their hands, my husband would not be here. There was still a rough road ahead, but Jeremy was healing. It was the first good news I had heard in a long while…and it came directly after I told God to screw Himself.

Now that’s forgiveness.

After that, everything changed. My faith exploded. God had revealed Himself so strongly to me that I knew something was going to come from this…something good. God is only good and I knew He had a plan I knew nothing about. I didn’t have to know at the time…I just had to learn to trust. Key word…learn. It wasn’t easy. But now I get it. Three years later, Jeremy and I are published Christian co-authors. We found healing and faith during our journey with depression. We learned that God wanted us to fight together in order to help others suffering understand they are never alone. You are never alone.

Jeremy designed the cover of our book himself as this was such a personal endeavor.

Jeremy designed the cover of our book himself as this was such a personal endeavor.

“Never Alone: A Husband and Wife’s Journey with Depression and Faith” is now available in both eBook and paperback. A labor of love, Jeremy and I are sharing our reality with the world because so many suffer in silence. The book is only one way that we can share with the world the truth about God’s presence during terrifying or devastating situations.

But we all need reminders sometimes.

I’ll never forget driving in Omaha only a few hours after my waiting room fight with God. A car in front of me stopped short. My face was still stained with tears and I was ashamed of what I had yelled in that waiting room. I slammed on my breaks and the tears began to flow again. But I looked up and saw a bumper sticker for My Bridge Radio. I tuned in and began understanding how God would speak to me so clearly through music. I heard, “I remember the moment. I remember the pain. I was only a girl, but I grew up that day. Tears were falling. I know you saw me.”

I knew God was there. He was sitting right beside me in that passenger seat. And this is where haters will hate. And feel free. But you know what, He’s with you too. You can say music is just music, that it’s only there so the artist can make a buck. But what if God wanted that song to be written for me? Can you prove He didn’t? As a Christian co-author now, I can tell you that writing that book came about because Jeremy and I knew it is what God wanted from us. We know we are meant to help others. It is possible that somebody, somewhere, will pick up our book and choose to put the gun down. THAT is why we wrote it. YOU are why we wrote it.

“Hiding there in my bedroom, so alone. I was doing my best, trying to be strong. No one to turn to. That’s when I met You…

All this time, from the first tear cried till today’s sunrise
and every single moment between.
You were there. You were always there.
It was You and I.
You’ve been walking with me all this time.
You’ve been walking with me all this time.”- Britt Nicole

Jeremy, in February 2012, just after they extubated him and woke him from the medically induced coma.

Jeremy, in February 2012, just after they extubated him and woke him from the medically induced coma.

Thank you, Britt Nicole and My Bridge Radio. I am one of the reasons you were supposed to record and play “All This Time”. To this day, music is still my reminder of His company. Reading our book and remembering where we were then versus where we are now is always encouraging. But we all slip sometimes. Being a human requires pain, lessons we don’t want, and acceptance of realities we aren’t ready for. So the choice is ours.

Do we choose to see God’s good in our lives or do we choose to continue to ignore Him?

For me, seeing Him is as simple as hearing the music He places in my life just at the right times. I find myself singing along before I realize it. Then I remind myself that God may be wanting me to hear something. I listen to the lyrics and before I know it, I’m crying tears of joy and sheer astonishment at how good He truly is…how He speaks to me so clearly to get through difficult days and situations. It’s all about allowing myself to see Him, to hear Him, and often to let Him use me to help others. I let myself see God through music.

So if you are new to this Christian music scene but you believe in the power of seeing God’s good in your life through music, let me help. These are my favorite and most motivational Christian songs that have helped me through very dark times. This is when I always see God…no matter if I turned on the music myself or if it comes to me because He wanted me to hear it and I was ignoring Him. And all of these play as I write. Writing is how I know I can help others because God gave me this gift and I intend to use it for His good.

In no particular order…

1. “All This Time” – Britt Nicole

2. “Voice of Truth” – Casting Crowns

3. “Restore” – Chris August

4. “Listen to the Sound” – Building 429

5. “King of My Heart” – Love & the Outcome

6. “Lead Me” – Sanctus Real

7. “Losing” – The Struggle

8. “Do Not Be Afraid” – Tanner Clark

9. “Love Came Down” – Kari Jobe

10. “I Am” – Nichole Nordeman

11. “Brave” – Nichole Nordeman

12. “God’s Not Dead” – Newsboys

13. “Dancing in the Minefields” – Andrew Peterson

14. “Do Something” – Matthew West

15. “Drops in the Ocean” – Hawk Nelson

16. “More of You” – Colton Dixon

17. “Hope in Front of Me” – Danny Gokey

18. “More Than You Think I Am” – Danny Gokey

19. “On Fire” – Sanctus Real

20. “Worn” – Tenth Avenue North

21. “You Love Me Anyway” – Sidewalk Prophets

22. “Fix My Eyes” – For King and Country

23. “Beautiful” – MercyMe

24. “Lord, I Need You” – Matt Maher

So now you know my favorites. Here is your challenge…what’s your story? Share. Find the healing in being open about our realities. And the best part is…as you heal, you will see others healing because you started something. There’s nothing more thrilling than seeing others come to God, healing, and knowing you allowed God to use you to help others. We can help one another when we learn it’s not about us.

So share this post and comment telling me the songs that should be added! Let’s start a viral post of positivity, healing, reality, and most importantly…FAITH!!!

Why be silent? We all have a reality.

Why be silent? We all have a reality.

“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

Learn more about Jeremy’s and my story at www.jeremyandbailey.com. God bless you.