I think that is honestly the first time I have said those 2 1/2 words (there’s my grammar police status arising) in around 15 years. Truthfully. But here’s the reality; after you read my words, I bet you’ll realize you may be gone too.
Sometimes, God gives us challenges we aren’t entirely ready for and certainly don’t want. This has been the case in my marriage. I fell in love with Jeremy at a very young age and I wouldn’t change anything, not one thing, so please don’t take me the wrong way. But somewhere during this journey, I disappeared.
What did it take for me to realize this lately? A few things really…
Jeremy had been doing really well with his depression; we’re talking months without any suicidal thoughts. Then about a month ago, to make a very long story short, the two-day flu caused internal issues with Jeremy’s colon (compounded by severe injuries and scar tissue from the accident in 2012) and he had to be hospitalized for four days while a tube continuously pumped out his stomach contents to allow his organs to rest and heal. Do the math and that means my husband, who suffers from severe depression, went a full week without his medications that work along with his faith and support team to keep his brain healthy. He crashed. Hard. Talk about a slap to the face.
We run a support group for individuals with mental illness for crying out loud. We talk constantly about the importance of positivity and hope. With that setback, I lost mine for quite a while. When Jeremy crashed, he went into a false world of paranoid schizophrenia. He made no sense. He believed the television was talking to him, my phone was evil, and that he had to play some sort of game involving water, unicorns, and rainbows in order to escape from the hell he was living in. I. Was. Terrified. I did not understand this type of mental illness yet, and I was convinced my husband was gone and would never be able to recover. For the first time with a “brain crash,” as I call those moments when Jeremy’s medications fail, I was scared for my own safety and the safety of our children.
Do you know what it’s like to be terrified of your husband’s brain and to have to call 911 two nights in a row and have people help you haul your love and the father of your children to a hospital and then a mental health facility? I do.
And I wasn’t okay for a while. But I’m working on it.
So that started this realization. Oh, by the way, if you want to know more about our story and our mission, watch our interview.
The next thing that helped me realize I’m gone is the very interview I just linked on the previous line. You know what? I’ll just link it again. Click this. Did you click it? If not, here’s one more chance. Seriously, watch our interview and you’ll understand more about our reality and why we share.
So I trust that you watched it. And since you did, you likely noticed the title. My dear friend, Leslie, runs this beautiful site you are reading my words on and she and her husband created that interview to help us share our story. I did not title it.
So why would Leslie title that interview, “Their Bond Saved His Life; One Man’s Struggle with Depression and His Wife’s Battle to Save Him?” Because it was not difficult for her to see that is exactly what I did for so long. Because that is exactly what I still struggle with to this day, and likely will continuously if I don’t reach out for help myself.
Then there was the worst cold I have ever had in my entire life. I had nothing left. Nothing. My immune system was gone. Why? Because I had not slept in days, but likely weeks. You watched the interview. That’s not my normal voice. That’s sick Bailey voice. I. Was. Miserable.
But wait, I’m not done. I finally went in to the doctor for that “cold” and learned that it had turned into multiple infections throughout my body. I began taking one antibiotic that did nothing after four days. So I switched to another antibiotic. The infections improved, but that particular antibiotic wreaked havoc on my insides. Stomach issues that were already there became much much worse. So after I completed the antibiotic, I went to another doctor. Yep, a stomach scope was necessary. Just this past Monday, I was diagnosed with an infection in the lining of my stomach as well as severe gastritis. Awesome.
And what do all of these health issues (colds, infections, no immune system, stomach issues, gastritis, more infections) have in common? All are either brought on or compounded by stress.
And then there was one more thing. Bleached hair and a haircut. I’m an incredibly impulsive person when I’m super stressed. It’s my coping mechanism. If you see me become extremely impulsive, ask me if I’m okay because I’m likely not. So when the stress added up recently, I dyed my hair twice within four days. The last time, I dyed it extremely dark. I liked it…for a while. That was until I realized what had happened.
I pulled my hair back as I do near-daily. But this time I noticed something. Bald spots. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, stress began to make my hair fall out.
So you if you follow us on Facebook (click that one too), you see me often. But please remember none of us have it all together.
We can help other people without completely being okay ourselves. And that’s what we all do every day. As long as we realize it and constantly take steps to ensure we are okay ourselves, it’s normal. But I haven’t been doing that. And I bet many of you haven’t either.
So now we know how I figured out I had disappeared, but what about you?
Ladies, how many of us naturally take on the weight of the world?
Remember when I told you I haven’t said, “I’m Bailey” in 15 years. I’m not kidding. Why? Because “I’m Jeremy’s wife,” “I’m Hudson and Asher’s mom,” “I’m the co-author of ‘Never Alone’,” “I’m the owner of Natural Escapes,” “I’m a professor at UNK,” “I’m a doctoral student,” “I’m an advocate for individuals with disabilities,” “I’m a teacher trying to get back into public education,” “I’m my husband’s primary support person,” “I’m the co-founder of the ‘Anchoring Hope’ support group,” “I’m here for you whenever you need me…”
The list goes on and on…
When do I get to be Bailey?
I get it. It’s my fault. I believe it is a huge part of who I am, and I love that about myself. But I have to learn some healthy behaviors to ensure I am Bailey, that I am child of God, a strong Christian woman, and a human in complete submission to God’s will for my life before I am anything else.
I am Bailey. I am a positive, extremely happy and outgoing woman. I love to write, even if nobody reads it. I love sun; I am solar-powered. I love the outdoors, flowers, the dirty green water of the lake, and haircuts. I am not in control of whether or not my husband kills himself. I am not in control of my children’s destiny. I am not in control of those I choose to support. I choose Him. I choose to finally led Him truly lead me, and I will be me.
I’m Bailey. Who are you?
Read more of our story on www.jeremyandbailey.com and link to purchase “Never Alone: A Husband and Wife’s Journey with Depression and Faith” there in both eBook and paperback format. Also, follow us on Facebook. View more posts on our blog at www.jeremyandbaileyblog.com.