Thomas Kind’s memoir recounts his struggle to overcome a difficult childhood and his subsequent addiction to alcohol.
Kind’s long journey to contentment and self-acceptance started with growing up with an alcoholic father who enforced outlandish rules and criticized his son’s every move. Kind coped by becoming a hardened drinker by the time he was in college. He married at age 26, and by age 29, his liver had begun to shut down. Fearing he would lose his wife and two children, he soon stopped drinking.
Throughout his life, he struggled with erratic behavior. Once, alone at home while his wife and children were away visiting her parents, Kind was gripped with the certainty that he alone could save America from impending disaster. He decided to travel to Washington, D.C., where he would announce his candidacy for president.
An accountant with no experience in politics, Kind was an introvert who didn’t have a campaign fund, or any influential supporters. Still, he excitedly texted his psychiatrist to announce the big news. “I’m going to be president!” He had stopped taking his medication; the psychiatrist convinced Kind to take one of the pills he’d been prescribed for anxiety and to get some sleep. After this episode, he was diagnosed as bipolar.
Kind writes well, with occasional splashes of grim humor. For example, after the above episode, he imagined himself chatting with a neighbor who complains about his back acting up and responding, “My bipolar is acting up again. I became president again last week.”
However, the litany of drunken exploits – “drunkalogues,” as they’re known in Alcoholics Anonymous – soon becomes tedious, slowing momentum in the book’s first part. Fortunately, the narrative picks up after Kind stops drinking and starts therapy to learn ways of controlling his anxiety.
Despite the sluggish start, this is a worthwhile look at Kind’s travails. It should interest anyone who has ever struggled with mental health issues or are adult children of alcoholics.