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The Descent of Celia by Martha Rucker

The Descent of Celia

by Martha Rucker

160 pages
Celia’s untreated mental illness wreaked havoc on her family. She got no help because mostly it was not recognized. Then the behavior was excused and tolerated. Because of this, she spiraled downward abusing family members in the process.

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Category: Writing:Creative Writing
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About the Book
The main character, Celia, exhibited aberrant behavior from an early age, killing a baby chick because it wouldn’t be quiet before she was two years old. She later killed, maybe accidentally, her baby sister for the same reason. In both cases, she displayed an eerily innocent lack of understanding.

Jealous and resentful, she felt disconnected when she felt displaced by a new baby. Years later, when an older brother got sick, she was jealous and resentful. She didn't like the attention he was getting. Seeing her parents caring for the brother, she blurted out, “Why are you bothering? He’s going to die, maybe even tomorrow.” She showed no emotion when that brother died. Her main concern at his funeral was, being seated on the second row and not upfront with her parents. She felt displaced by her older sister and another younger sister born after the other baby ‘died.’

Some family members noticed that something wasn’t quite right, but they couldn’t believe it and accepted, excused, and tolerated the behavior, enabling it to continue. She did not get help early enough to stop her spiral. Then it seemed to be too late.

Because no one stopped her, she went on to abuse many family members.

Her HUSBAND she abused, threatened, and manipulated, beginning after the birth of their first child.

Her MOTHER had a stroke, perhaps because of her behavior. She abused and neglected her helpless mother.

Her SIBLINGS talked soothingly when they were around her but never challenged her. Eventually, they pulled away for fear of her rages.

Her CHILDREN she controlled, manipulated and constantly threatened them with what she would do if they crossed or criticized her. They eventually also pulled away.

Ruling with fear of her behavior was how she functioned.

She descended checked into the darkness of bipolar, paranoid schizophrenic, psychotic behavior, coupled with bouts of extreme depression and suicidal tendencies. She ended up being a danger to herself as well as others. Shooting into the ceiling when the house creaked, at school buses filled with noisy kids and neighbors laughing in their own yards. Even the town sheriff was reluctant to approach her.

Finally, she had to be committed.


Reading “The Descent of Celia” by Martha Rucker was like looking in the mirror and reliving my own past. This story hit home for me. It told the story of a woman named Celia’s battle with untreated mental illness and the turmoil her family had to endure. Celia’s erratic behavior began at a very young age. It seems Celia entering the world as breached was the beginning of it all. I found myself cupping my hands and saying “wow” throughout this entire read. From the baby chick, to baby Cornelia, all the way to shooting at the kids on the school bus and her neighbors, Celia seemed to cause destruction wherever she landed. It caused her to push away the closest people in her life. I can relate to the struggle within Pat. She wanted to be there and protect her mother, but she wanted to get away at the same time. She wanted to please her mother and keep her from having her crying spells and episodes. I admire Pat’s strength. Not only was she able to be there for her mother, but she was able to complete her education and create a life for herself. I truly believe the author was able to capture the true essence of the characters in the story. This book took me through a rollercoaster of emotions. It also helps you understand why it is not good to enable a person if they are having an episode or have a mental illness. This book shows us why it is important to seek help for our loved ones. This book was extremely informative and entertaining at the same time. I recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with a mental illness or wants to know the signs. It is also a great read for anyone who wants to be encouraged to keep moving when life gets hard. I sure view a lot of things differently by reading this book.
- Tacia Fields, Inspired Reader


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About the Author
Martha Rucker, a retired art teacher, is now a collage artist and writer. Born in South Carolina she was then moved to New York. Surviving a sexual assault, she wrote about it in Holding On. The Descent of Celia, about a woman’s mental illness, is based on her mother's life.



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