Monday, December 19th, 2011
“It has been over three years since that day. I am still trying to understand what happened on October 3, 2008. I feel like I am putting a puzzle together, and with each piece, I am healing. I want to know what happend along the highway, and why people were kind enough to stop and help me.
“That day, I had to attend a funeral of a co-worker’s mother. I am not a religious person, but woke up feeling like God was speaking to me. I saw signs of his presence everywhere, little things like a car with a bumper sticker saying, ‘Follow Me.’ At the funeral, I thought the service was speaking directly to me. I didn’t understand what was happening, but I felt like I was a special person and God had chosen me to save the world.
“Later that day, I was driving home, and started to really lose it. I was having crazy thoughts from movies, driving in the breakdown lane, and having phone conversations with my husband thinking he was the devil and I was God. My husband realized that something was wrong with me, but he didn’t know where I was because I would not tell him.
“I started driving towards water, and ended up on a bridge along the Potomac. I don’t really remember all of it, but I got out of the car, and started taking off my clothing. A couple of people stopped because they found me running naked along the side of the highway. At that point, I was completely delusional and thought the world was ending. I wanted to be baptized in the river before it did.
“The strangers stayed with me until the police and my husband showed up. I was taken to Greater Southeast Community Hospital. There, I thought I was the Virgin Mary. They tried to restrain me for an MRI, and I was screaming and trying to run away, so they gave me Haldon, which knocked me out. I was transfered to the psych institute, and I only became aware of what was going on a few days later.
“I learned that I suffered from postpartum psychosis, which was the first sign of being diagnosed as having mild bipolar disorder. Let me tell you, running naked on a highway with delusions is a crazy way to find out that you are sick! I couldn’t really wrap my head around it, and the first few months were a blur. The medications made me tired or depressed, and I couldn’t think of anything worth doing. Then, I was just trying to find a new normal.
“After two years, I started to get more brave, and wanted to talk about it. I started reading blogs, and eventually posted my story on postpartumprogress.com. Before I felt so alone, but the comments and responses were amazing. I found a community of others who had similar experiences. I even found a woman who stripped naked in front of her father. As they say, things can always be worse. I am just happy I got naked in front of strangers! I just feel so fortunate that I am okay, and have so many loving friends and family to help me. Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky.
“I think back to that day, and am just so thankful that people actually stopped. These days, we get so wrapped up in things that many of us never take a moment to stop and help those in need. I am still trying to find the people who helped me. There are still so many holes in the story that I don’t understand. I was able to find one person, and know that a 911 call from a man named James from Richmond. Otherwise, I have no idea who helped me. So many cars just drove by that day, but a few people stopped. I want to know why they did, and thank them.
“This experience taught me that we are all much, much stronger than we give ourselves credit for. We are strong enough to survive the most difficult things, to help others in need, and to tell our stories. I hope that in telling my story, people can learn, but also feel stronger in whatever they are struggling with.”
If you may be the kind stranger that helped Heather that day, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about Heather’s story at IgniteDC.