Sunday, October 23, 2011

Improvements: and memories of the Skyway Bridge

Today I went to this outdoor festival with my mom, which involved driving over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge to get there. I don't have good memories of that bridge. Sometime in 2004, close to 2005, I took my mother's car to that bridge, drove up to the top of it, which is 150 feet up, sped up to top speed and slammed into a guardrail. My plan was to go over the side of the bridge into the water, and die. The policeman who called my mom said, "She rolled the car three times, Ma'am". And yet, I left without serious injuries. I also left without getting psychiatric help. They sent me home from the emergency room that night.

The reason I had done this was that I was floridly psychotic, and experiencing command hallucinations, where everywhere I went I was hearing people tell me to die. I have written about this before here, but basically it was a few weeks of non-stop hearing everyone tell me to die, including children playing in a park, and voices on TV and the radio. I saw signs that meant for me to crash that car on the top of that bridge. I was told to do so. I wanted my nightmare to end. So I did it.

At the hospital, a policeman asked me what had happened, and I said, "I lost control of the vehicle". Because I associated psychiatric care with going to a concentration camp, and I wanted to avoid that at all costs. My brother and my mother both, separately, called the hospital to tell the staff this was a definite suicide attempt, and that they should not send me home. The hospital staff didn't care. I also lied and said I had no insurance, which might have been part of the reason for this ridiculous act of sending me home.

When I went home, barely able to walk, I stumbled into my neighbor's apartment where he was sleeping and said, "I need help." My family was fed-up with me, didn't know how to help me or what was wrong with me, and nobody came to see me. I laid in bed for days, hallucinating, and not knowing what to do.

These are not fond memories. But today, I talk regularly with two of my siblings and with my mom, and I go places with my mom regularly. I have a joke that we have a "codependent hotline" because we talk on the phone so frequently. I am close to my mom now. Back then, I wasn't. Mental illness is a destructive thing. We don't have a perfect relationship, but at least now we can talk about these things that happened years ago and say, "I'm glad that's over." Because, so help me, I will never again go to the top of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, a place where people kill themselves so frequently it's a cliche to do so, and try to commit suicide.

When I was younger, I was drawn to that bridge when suicidal, and I would go there, park my car, at the fishing pier before you get to the bridge, and think about jumping. I don't do things like that now.

My mom is religious so she got a kick out of rolling down her window when we drove over the top of the bridge, and yelling, "You didn't get her, Devil!". Of course, I don't believe in the devil, and I wish my mental illness was not at times attributed to demon possession, as it is by my mom, but whatever. She enjoyed doing that.

We talked about little things that happened when I crashed the car. The way the car looked - absolutely totaled - when my mom saw it, and how she couldn't believe I had survived. The library books she saw in the car that made it look like I had planned on going on a trip somewhere. I made a joke about what happened when I went to a library after that to explain, "I do not have the book anymore to return it, because it was lost in a car that I crashed on the top of the Skyway Bridge." The librarian said, "Oh, why don't you just pay the thirteen dollars?!" She didn't believe me. This is funny to me now.

I have come a long way since those days, and I am grateful for that fact. Medication has been a big help to me. Soon, I will be taking 80 mgs of Latuda, and I hope that the psychotic symptoms I still occasionally have will go away then.

Tonight, I finally did something I have been putting off for months. I cleaned my apartment. I have to say, that this is a sign of improvement for me. The apathy and the negative symptoms of psychosis that lead to not doing things are subsiding somewhat. I am able to focus more on the things I need to do, now, than I was a couple weeks ago. I have posted a lot here lately, much more than usual, and almost every day, because things have been difficult, but I wanted to let you know that I feel they are improving. This is a good thing.


  1. This is a touching story. It would be a good idea to petition to install safety nets on the bridge if it doesn't already have them. I'm a suicide attempt survivor myself, it feels so strange to get a second chance after I nearly threw it all away. If only I knew then what I would have now: my beautiful boys, my unbelievably loving husband. I'm ashamed that I almost messed it all up.

  2. sad it feels to see it as the only way to ease the pain. I am sorry you struggle with suicide but am glad you have made so many improvements over the years. I hope the Latudna helps

  3. Such a moving post - I am so glad you've been able to get help and find a chance to actually live your life. Nope, not demons, it's mental illness, and we can fight it with therapy, meds, taking care of ourselves, and more. Excellent that you had a success, too, in straightening up your living space!

    Adventures in Anxiety Land

  4. Great post. I really admire your bravery in sharing your story with the world; talking about suicide is often seen as a sign of weakness, when the reality is that it takes incredible strength to survive what you've been through.


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