Doctors discover and cure woman's mystery mental illness after attempting to jump off Golden Gate Bridge
The doctor who found the cause only worked at the hospital three times a year.
Editor's Note: This story discusses suicide. If you are having thoughts about taking your own life or know of anyone who is in need of help, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 200+ crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 9-8-8. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.
Mental illness is something many people experience, but we don't always correlate physical ailments with declining mental health. Chronic illnesses that include intense pain or some other uncontrollable condition, like seizures, can cause a person to experience depression. According to the Cleveland Clinic, "Depression is one of the most common complications of chronic illness."
Debbie Menzies, a woman living in the Bay Area of California, knows all too well the struggles of chronic illness and depression. For decades, she had suffered unpredictable frequent seizures and deep depression, which impeded her life. Menzies was diagnosed with epilepsy as a child, but medication didn't seem to help. After a lifetime of suffering, she decided to take her own life by jumping off the famous Golden Gate Bridge.
San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge has attracted people like Menzies in the past and sees an average of 30 jumpers a year. This high number has prompted a bicycle patrol, security cameras and suicide hotline phone numbers. In 2014, Bay Area officials approved a plan to install a net under the bridge to catch people who jump, but that project keeps hitting snags and delays. As it turned out, Menzies didn't need the net. Serendipity stepped in, not only saving her life but changing the quality of it.
Brown brain decor in selective-focus photographyPhoto by Robina Weermeijer on Unsplash
When Menzies was about to jump, a bridge worker intervened by tapping the desperate woman on the shoulder and calling an ambulance. What happened next seemed to be a cosmic intervention, because while she was hospitalized, Menzies continued to experience her bizarre seizures. These seizures caused her to laugh and smile, and she also explained to CBS News that she would get electric shock sensations in her head. The hospital staff took notice and called in reinforcements.
Dr. Paul Garcia, a neurologist who only worked at the hospital a few times a year, was the doctor on call. Upon hearing about Menzies' behaviors during her seizures, he was intrigued and completed an MRI of her brain. It was there that he spotted a small growth on her hypothalamus the size of a lemon seed. The doctor explained the hypothalamus controls a lot, including the nervous system.
Since the growth was deep in her brain, surgery was the only option for Menzies. After everything the woman had been through, the decision was a no-brainer...pun definitely intended. All the things that had to line up in order for Menzies to get the proper diagnosis and treatment is mind-boggling, but still, the procedure to destroy the growth was risky.
Menzies accepted the risk and received her surgery, which was a success. What's even better is that it didn't take long for the desperate woman to feel relief. Immediately after surgery, Menzies stopped having seizures and no longer experienced depression.
"It's amazing. Talk about perfect timing," Menzies told CBS.
You can watch the entire video below: