We rode in silence. I didn’t’ want to talk to anyone anymore. We got to the hospital, and I was led in to the ER by the EMT’s. They sat me in a wheelchair and handed me my luggage. A nurse approached me with a chipboard in her hand—I had to sign paperwork to be treated and they needed my ID and insurance cards. So I filled out all the paperwork the best I could with the nurse helping me. Before she took it to the desk, she looked me in the eye and asked if I went to church. I said I did, but that it didn’t seem to be working for me right now. She nodded and moved off to file my papers and admit me to the hospital.
Again, I’m still not sure what was happening on Bob’s end. I think his friend called to let him know I was going into the hospital—I don’t know if that had been included in the police’s plans the last time they had communicated with the Brandon Police. I gave the hospital his number to call to get more information about my condition and my past treatment. I remember the ER doctor sitting down with me and telling me I was going to be committed to a hospital because I had come in as a suicide patient, did I care which one.
I told him my doctor’s name and phone number and the name and phone number of the last hospital I had been to in March. I said I would like to go to that one to by close to my husband and kids. He checked into it and informed me that it would have to be a Louisiana hospital because I was being committed by the state. By this time, I had been up for almost twenty-for hours straight without sleep—a hallmark symptom of mania.
After a day of searching for a hospital that could take me, I wound up spending three days in a Louisiana mental ward, then being discharged to my husband, who had to cross the state to get me as I was in a far west corner of Louisiana. We drove home, stopping off halfway to spend the night, and went to my hospital to be readmitted since Bob could tell I wasn’t yet well. I spent about a week there, seeing my doctor and trying different meds to take me down from the mania.
So began my journey through a diagnosis of bipolar disorder I. I look back amazed at the miracles that happened to keep me safe during this episode. I’m forever grateful to my husband’s co-worker for being willing to help me. I’m glad that the police saw I needed to go to the hospital instead of jail. I’m so very thankful Bob was willing to take me back after scaring him so badly; I cried for a long time over the grief I put him and my family through. Even the fact that I drove so far away and didn’t have an accident or any other incident seems miraculous to me. But I know God was watching over me to bring me through it safely.
Finally one of the officers asked her what she felt like needed to happen next. Her answer, “Well, she’s said she certainly did plan to do it,” triggered a response from both the other officers—they all stood around me in a rough circle, looking at me. One said, “We can walk you downstairs as long as you promise to behave. Or we can get a hospital bed up here and strap you into it.”
I said, “I’ll be fine.” With that, one officer picked up my suitcases. I grabbed my purse and laptop. The other male officer got my quilt, and the policewoman led the way downstairs.
As I walked by the front hotel desk, I put my key cards down on the counter. “I guess I’m checking out,” I said. The clerk, staring at me, nodded her head.
We went outside, and I saw my husband’s friend talking to another officer. He started towards me as I walked out of the building, while the officer he’d been talking to came right behind him.
“I’m sorry,” I said to him. And I was. Sorry that I was causing so much trouble. Sorry that I had obviously scared him to death if he felt he had to call the police. And sorry that I had burdened him with my problem.
He seemed to know exactly what I meant. He shook his head. “Don’t be,” he said quietly.
We stood around for an awkward moment. Then one of the officers told me they were going to take me to an emergency room, did I care which one? I looked to my husband’s friend. He commented that the county hospital was a good one; he and his wife had had their child there. So I nodded my head to the officer, and they led me to the ambulance.
The police beat my husband’s friend to the hotel room I was in—they knocked on the door about half an hour later. At first I didn’t want to open the door and asked them if they could show their badges to me through the peephole. This request didn’t get a response. They simply stood at the door and waited for me to open it.
I finally let them in and started talking to the policewoman that came in the door. The other two policemen searched the room, I assume looking for my gun. Finally the policewoman asked where it was, and I handed her my purse. “Is there anything else in here than can hurt me if I reach in?“ she asked. I said no—all I had was the .38 pistol Bob had taught me how to shoot. She took it out and handed it to one of the other police officers.
They had left a man downstairs with their car, and he called up on the radio to let them know that Bob’s friend had arrived and was asking about me. The policewoman continued talking to me, asking me why I had done what I had done. I told her most of the story as best as I could at the time—my thoughts were spinning more out of control and my speech was more pressured and monotone. I remember the policewoman calling Bob on my phone and handing it to me to talk to him. He spent our time talking about how much he loved me and how he wanted to see me get better and would do whatever he had to do to help me do that. I just sat there and cried. After I finished, the policewoman talked to him for a moment, then put my phone back in my purse.
His wife answered. I asked for him, and she said he wasn’t home, could she take a message?
I didn’t know how to leave the message I had in mind, so I simply hung up and started crying. I didn’t know anyone else in the area and couldn’t think of what to do next. I was sitting there wondering what to do when my cell phone rang a few minutes later.
I answered the phone, and it was Bob’s friend I had tried to call—his wife had pulled my number off the caller ID and passed it along to him. I guess he was used to getting random calls from people for business because he said, “What can I do for you?”
I took a deep breath to calm myself and spilled out my story—how I had driven down to the coast to kill myself and had changed my mind. I talked quickly and in a monotone—the disease was starting to affect my thought and speech patterns in a severe way. I told him where was and how I had gotten there.
I can’t imagine what he must have felt hearing this woman he barely knew telling him this story. He finally interrupted me and said, “What do you need me to do?”
I said, “I need you to come get this gun away from me.”
He said, “All right. I can do that.” Then he hung up.
I’m not clear on what exactly happened after that. Bob says that his friend called the office and let them know he had heard from me and that he was calling the police. I believe Bob then contacted the Brandon Police with the information, who then called the Covington officials to coordinate what was to be done. Bob says the first plan was for the police to find me and release me to his friend’s custody. Then Bob could come and get me and get me home.
All I knew was that help was on the way.
I was chickening out. I didn’t really want to die but didn’t know how to proceed from here. I wanted to go home but didn’t know if Bob would take me back or not. I didn’t want to call him and get an angry response because I knew that would send me around the bend and I really would kill myself if I did. So I decided I needed to get rid of the gun before I called him. Trouble was, I didn’t know the area and couldn’t think of a way to just throw it away and didn’t think that would be safe. I desperately wanted to talk to someone but didn’t know who.
I thought about that. A friend of mine’s husband was working on the Coast in hurricane relief—he had been in my Sunday School class for several years. I thought about trying to call him. I realized that I would have to call his cell—he was living in a travel trailer and volunteering for various cleanup agencies. I didn’t know his cell number and didn’t feel comfortable calling my friend to get it.
I thought some more. I had another acquaintance in the area—he worked for Bob’s company in New Orleans and on the coast. I went online and looked up his name on anywho.com in New Orleans and found out he actually lived in Madisonville, just down the road. I looked at my watch—it was around 4:30 p.m. Maybe he would be home for dinner by now. So I called the number on my cell phone.
I immediately checked my email but didn’t see any messages I needed to respond to. I surfed online for a while but had grown increasingly agitated. I turned on the TV to watch Home and Garden Television, my favorite channel at the time, only to discover they didn’t offer it. So I resolved to get some sleep. It was now after two o’clock, and I had been awake for fourteen straight hours.
I lay down until late in the afternoon, listening to the TV. I never fell asleep, which was very unusual for me at the time. At home in the middle of my depression, I could fall asleep lying on the hardwood color of our den. But I couldn’t fall asleep, and my mind was increasingly turning to my plan to shoot myself as it got later in the afternoon.
I had deliberately left my cell phone off all day, not wanting to be in contact with anybody. I remember checking it and seeing missed calls from Bob, my parents, and my sister. Through a prayer chain and contacts with the police, various areas of the state were looking for me, and though the search was now in Louisiana, I was still hidden from view through my strategy of paying cash for everything and holing up in unexpected places.
After seeing all the missed calls, I started thinking about my family. I knew I was doing something that would hurt my family for years to come if I went through with killing myself. I had done as much as I could think about to make it easier on them, but I got to thinking about my mom, now chronically ill from multiple small strokes. And Rachel, who wouldn’t remember me at all as young as she was. About Terrie and Amber, also young but old enough to understand death and how final it was. And my dad, prone to depression and mood swings himself. And finally Bob, whom I loved and did not want to hurt over my going. I wondered what he would have to do to bring my body back home to be buried. How long would it be before someone found me dead. On and on and on.
But my pesky mental condition wouldn’t let me sit still. I was growing increasingly paranoid—I kept getting from my book and looking at the Blazer to make sure no one had stolen my luggage out of it. Why I was worried about it when I had come down there to kill myself, I’ll never know. But I was, and I checked on the Blazer every fifteen minutes or so.
Finally I gave up on reading and decided to drop by a Kinko’s Copy Shop I had seen in town to see if I could get internet access there. Again, I don’t know why I was worried about checking my messages, but I was. I reluctantly ran my credit card and tried to log in but was getting increasingly frustrated with the place.
What I didn’t know was as soon as I ran the card, the Brandon Police picked up my location. They tried to get local law enforcement to pick me up at Kinko’s, but I left before they were able to mobilize anyone. By this time, the police had spoken to my psychiatrist, who obviously had said something to motivate them to find me. Typically a missing person report isn’t acted on for twenty-four hours, but I believe Dr. Bishop had impressed on them how dangerous I might be to myself and got them interested in finding me as soon as possible. Now the Covington police and the county sheriff were alerted to be on the lookout for me as well.
I went and ate lunch at McAlister’s, a southern deli chain that had been founded in the college town I went to Mississippi State University at. I don’t remember exactly what I ordered—likely it was one of their soups. My memory starts to get fuzzy here—again, I was increasingly paranoid and ready to get to my hotel room and get some rest before I was resolved to kill myself. I think I was hoping I could just go to sleep and not wake up, sparing everyone the messiness of my having to shoot myself instead. I do remember seeing a sheriff’s car at the restaurant and becoming paranoid that the police were looking for me. What I didn’t know was that it was the truth—but they missed me again as I left and went to the hotel I had selected.
I went to the hotel and asked them about lobby wifi access. They told me internet was free with my room but would cost from the lobby. I asked if they happened to have the room ready, and after checking with housekeeping, they said they did. I paid them $200 cash for two nights and went up to the room with my suitcases.