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Health

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.

Debbie Menzies; unexplained illness; Golden Gate Bridge; suicide prevention

Woman is cured after trying to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge.

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.

half of a plastic brain

Brown brain decor in selective-focus photography

Photo 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:

All images provided by Prudential Emerging Visionaries

Collins after being selected by Prudential Emerging Visionaries

True

A changemaker is anyone who takes creative action to solve an ongoing problem—be it in one’s own community or throughout the world.

And when it comes to creating positive change, enthusiasm and a fresh perspective can hold just as much power as years of experience. That’s why, every year, Prudential Emerging Visionaries celebrates young people for their innovative solutions to financial and societal challenges in their communities.

This national program awards 25 young leaders (ages 14-18) up to $15,000 to devote to their passion projects. Additionally, winners receive a trip to Prudential’s headquarters in Newark, New Jersey, where they receive coaching, skills development, and networking opportunities with mentors to help take their innovative solutions to the next level.

For 18-year-old Sydnie Collins, one of the 2023 winners, this meant being able to take her podcast, “Perfect Timing,” to the next level.

Since 2020, the Maryland-based teen has provided a safe platform that promotes youth positivity by giving young people the space to celebrate their achievements and combat mental health stigmas. The idea came during the height of Covid-19, when Collins recalled social media “becoming a dark space flooded with news,” which greatly affected her own anxiety and depression.

Knowing that she couldn’t be the only one feeling this way, “Perfect Timing” seemed like a valuable way to give back to her community. Over the course of 109 episodes, Collins has interviewed a wide range of guests—from other young influencers to celebrities, from innovators to nonprofit leaders—all to remind Gen Z that “their dreams are tangible.”

That mission statement has since evolved beyond creating inspiring content and has expanded to hosting events and speaking publicly at summits and workshops. One of Collins’ favorite moments so far has been raising $7,000 to take 200 underserved girls to see “The Little Mermaid” on its opening weekend, to “let them know they are enough” and that there’s an “older sister” in their corner.

Of course, as with most new projects, funding for “Perfect Timing” has come entirely out of Collins’ pocket. Thankfully, the funding she earned from being selected as a Prudential Emerging Visionary is going toward upgraded recording equipment, the support of expert producers, and skill-building classes to help her become a better host and public speaker. She’ll even be able to lease an office space that allows for a live audience.

Plus, after meeting with the 24 other Prudential Emerging Visionaries and her Prudential employee coach, who is helping her develop specific action steps to connect with her target audience, Collins has more confidence in a “grander path” for her work.

“I learned that my network could extend to multiple spaces beyond my realm of podcasting and journalism when industry leaders are willing to share their expertise, time, and financial support,” she told Upworthy. “It only takes one person to change, and two people to expand that change.”

Prudential Emerging Visionaries is currently seeking applicants for 2024. Winners may receive up to $15,000 in awards and an all-expenses-paid trip to Prudential’s headquarters with a parent or guardian, as well as ongoing coaching and skills development to grow their projects.

If you or someone you know between the ages of 14 -18 not only displays a bold vision for the future but is taking action to bring that vision to life, click here to learn more. Applications are due by Nov. 2, 2023.
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