I pulled out the driveway and drove down the street. I kept checking my rear view mirror to see if any activity was going on in the house we had lived in for a little over a year until it disappeared from sight. As I pulled out onto the highway, I kept checking behind me for car headlights or any other sign that my husband was coming after me. There was none. I got to the onramp of the interstate and breathed a sigh of relief. No way could he catch me now.
I hated what I was going to do to him but felt that I was doing him a favor. I couldn’t be the wife and mother he needed for me to be anymore. I felt like I was actively harming my children and him with my depression that had refused to lift after moving to a new home, giving birth to a third child, being involved in a serious car accident that we had miraculously survived, and living through the misery of Hurricane Katrina. So I left him the minivan he was going to need to ferry the kids around after I was gone and ran away. I reasoned that with me out of the way, he could find someone else that would take care of him and the kids the way they deserved to be taken care of. I was incapable of doing so any longer.
I had attempted to put a similar plan into action two months before—I left the house with a gun and intended to go north on Highway 25 until I got to Starkville. I was supposed to be going to a ladies’ meeting at church; I stopped in, asked for unspecified prayer, and left, fully intending to not be alive the next morning. Instead, I called a friend on my cell phone and allowed him to talk me out of leaving town—I went back home and told Bob what had happened. That incident resulted in my first hospitalization for what they were then thinking was unipolar depression. My doctor at the hospital made a note in my chart, however, that while I didn’t admit to bipolar symptoms, my history “sounds a bit like it.” I was there for several days and then released back home—but nothing in my life actually changed. I continued writing, keeping up with the house and kids, and putting more and more demands on myself to keep functioning through my depressive symptoms. I was medicated for the depression and given a follow-up to see the psychiatrist. I kept seeing my counselor but continued on a downward spiral, particularly around my periods.
This plan was much more elaborate—I had pulled money out of my savings account to pay for a hotel room and gas to run away the day before. I had it all planned out—go north or south on I-55 and stop in Grenada or New Orleans, whichever direction I picked on my way. No matter that I had never driven that kind of distance to anywhere by myself in my entire life. I was now fully manic, without my fear of driving that had bedeviled me since my car accident the July before and without caution. I sped my way down I-20 to the I-55 exit to New Orleans and turned south.