Excerpt from “The Spiral Down”
Englewood senior Serena Thane endured a childhood watching her mom losing herself to schizophrenia.
Her mom was scratching at her throat and hacking out smoke, trying to cough out the leech.
Bent over the coffee table, inhaling cigarette after cigarette, her mom said she was trying to kill the black worm someone had stuffed inside her throat to murder her.
Serena Thane pleaded with her mom, telling her it was only in her head. Her mom ignored her and continued to smoke, muttering between breaths, “He did this to me.” Her mom began naming family members, damning them for putting her in the hospital. Then she would inhale and scratch at her throat.
Petrified, Thane locked herself in her bedroom and hid under the covers, trying to get rest before school the next morning. The coughing and screeching in the other room continued until 3 a.m., when Thane heard her mom call 911, demanding to see a doctor to remove the leech.
Ten minutes later, police arrived and arrested her mom for being mentally ill, known as being Baker Acted. Thane was escorted to a friend’s house, crying as the squad car took her mom to the hospital.