Editor’s note: If you are experiencing any of the feelings described in this post, please reach out and accept help. You are loved, wanted, and so important. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

I know you’re hurting, but I’m here to say I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you. In fact, my brain constantly and overwhelmingly convinced me that you are better off without me. I truly believed that I was doing you a favor. Now that I’m gone, I understand how sick I was. I get it. And I’m sorry I hurt you.

I didn’t know any better. Mental illness clouded me. It enveloped me like a thick fog and all I saw was darkness. Everywhere I turned. Darkness.

You see, even though the world will often say that I didn’t consider my friends and family at all, that I was so selfish, you were actually the only thing on my mind. I understand now how mental illness works. And just so you know, God understands it too. He’s here with me . . . or I’m here with Him. However you want to look at it. It’s cool. I’m good. 

I was in so much pain on earth. I just knew. I knew how much of a burden I was to you. I knew your life would be beautiful if only you didn’t have to worry about my problems. Yes, you tried to convince me otherwise. And I love you so much for that. I love how hard you tried. And I know you loved me fiercely on earth; I see that now. I saw it then, too, but my mental illness didn’t let me care. Sometimes I wanted to, but here’s the thing . . . I was really good at hiding the pain. I just didn’t want you to have to worry, and I didn’t understand I was doing more harm by not being honest . . . by not accepting the help you tried to give. Mental illness just wouldn’t let me; it held me so strongly in its grasp. So you need to know one thing:

This was not your fault.

Truth be told, it wasn’t my fault either. Mental illness won in that life, but it didn’t win in the life I’m in now. It is a disease—not unlike other diseases that cause death. I’m in no pain. It’s beautiful here. I’m OK.

I did take my own life, but please know I wasn’t trying to be selfish. The pain was intense, but not for myself. The pain I felt for you, for the pain I truly believed I was causing you, was unbearable. I love you now. I loved you then. I’m excited to see you soon. I’m here.

All my love,
Me

Written by Jeremy & Bailey Koch and originally published on Anchoring Hope for Mental Health: Jeremy & Bailey Koch. Jeremy, a five-time suicide attempt survivor, has lived to explain the reality of suicidal ideations. Bailey, his wife and primary support person, stands beside him and helps him accept help and share his story. This post was written based upon a suicide note Jeremy left for Bailey in 2012. As of today, Jeremy is nearly three years free of suicidal thoughts. Healing happens. Hold onto hope.

Bailey Koch

The story of Bailey Koch finding her love for and strength in writing begins with near tragedy. In February of 2012, Bailey's husband was nearly killed in a head-on collision with a semi truck. As a method of getting information to friends and family, Bailey began a Caring Bridge page. Immediately, others began commenting that Bailey should be a writer. "Yeah right!" Bailey thought. "There's no way I could do that!" "Never Alone: A Husband and Wife's Journey with Depression and Faith" was published in March 2015 and is written by Jeremy and Bailey Koch. It details their struggles with severe depression and the journey toward understanding their purpose, accepting help, and finding faith. High school sweethearts, Jeremy and Bailey know their lives were meant for each other and to help others by being honest about their story. They are proud parents of two beautiful, and often rambunctious, boys, Hudson and Asher. You can learn more about their journey and even purchase the eBook or paperback copy of "Never Alone" at www.jeremyandbailey.com. Additionally, a new book written for families to open up a conversation about the reality of Depression is now available. "When the House Feels Sad: Helping You Understand Depression" is available at www.jeremyandbailey.com as well. Jeremy and Bailey found their purpose in helping others find hope when suffering from a disability, especially unseen illnesses like depression. Jeremy, who suffers from suicidal thoughts, continues to learn to live, not simply stay alive, through hope from God and the acceptance of help. Bailey is his biggest supporter and left her teaching job, after being in public education for seven years, to focus on what the two know to be God's plan. Bailey now works as a Lecturer in Teacher Education at the University of Nebraska at Kearney and will graduate with her doctoral degree in Special Education from Walden University sometime in 2019. Jeremy and Bailey co-own and operate Natural Escapes, a landscaping and greenhouse services business that also includes a paint your own pottery and canvas family art studio. The passion to advocate for those who can't easily advocate for themselves is strong. Bailey has a message of hope and acceptance for all; she has plans to completely demolish the societal stigma attached to mental illness.