Battling Chase's Demons
Source: The News Observer (April 4, 2010)
Seven years ago, Randi Davenport's son fell apart. Just as he turned 15, about the time most kids are learning to drive, Chase tried to strangle himself with a cord. He was convinced that people he called "the nailers" were coming to kill him. He went crazy.
In her new memoir, "The Boy Who Loved Tornadoes," Randi Davenport of Chapel Hill recounts her battle to save her son, Chase, as he descends into psychosis. Along the way, she delivers an indictment of mental health care in North Carolina and across the nation.
Davenport did not set out to write this book.
One day in 2004, she says, as she was "raging about mental health reform in North Carolina," a friend suggested that she submit an essay to a local newspaper. After a week of writing, she had 100 pages. "Then I started to cry, because I knew what it was. And I wondered if I had the strength and courage to go forward."
The result, "The Boy Who Loved Tornadoes" (Algonquin; $23.95), is a story of a mother's fierce love and a portrait of a system that fails some of its most mentally ill citizens.
One man and one Developmental Center saved Chase's life.