1. What are you currently reading?
A Common Struggle by Patrick J. Kennedy. The Kennedy family maintains a hold on our national imagination in part, I believe, because they are just that -- a family. They are us, only more so. Our strengths and weaknesses are theirs, only theirs are magnified. All of this is on display in Patrick Kennedy's very brave book.
The youngest child of Ted and Joan Kennedy, Patrick had two parents with mental health and addiction issues. Like many families, the Kennedys found these issues embarrassing and painful and would have preferred not to shine a spotlight on them. But the spotlight was always there. In a particularly chilling passage, near the beginning of the book, Patrick describes his early sessions with a shrink. He was a teenager, confused by his parents' divorce, yet afraid to discuss the more painful aspects with his psychiatrist because it felt too private and too embarrassing. Then he walked into a bookstore, browsed the "Kennedy section" and saw that just about anyone had access to tales about his mother's drinking and his father's infidelities.
Mental illness and addiction are "a common struggle" because we all know someone who suffers from depression, addiction, or anxiety. Bi-polar Patrick shares his story, and offers up solutions, to encourage dialog on this important topic. While well written, it's not an easy read because there's real pain on every page. I applaud him for this book.