When he was nineteen years old Kevin Hines jumped from the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco to what he thought would be his death. As he fell he found himself changing his mind. And luckily for him he survived. Severely injured, but he was pulled from the water alive.
He had never wanted to die, he had never wanted to commit suicide, but he felt that he had to. He was compelled and unable to do anything to stop himself. Kevin Hines was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and the voices that he had heard all his life had become louder and impossible to ignore.
This is his story. From being abandoned by his parents, to being kidnapped back by them, only to be abandoned again when his parents went looking for drugs. His brother didn’t survive the neglect they suffered, but Kevin was rescued and eventually fosters and then adopted by the Hines family. He also came to have two other adopted siblings and grew up relatively privileged and well off, although he did suffer a lot from bullying at school.
On the one hand this is a story that really should be read. Hines has become an advocate for those with mental health issues, he gives talks and has helped numerous people. But on the other hand the book itself isn’t very well written. The chapters often cover the same ground, almost as though they were written as a series of articles and then stuck together to create a book, and then the articles were left unedited.
Which is a huge pity, as I would love to recommend this book whole-heartedly, but it does make it hard to read in places.
Nevertheless it is still a fascinating read, and one which does help the reader, in some ways, understand people suffering from mental illnesses. And more importantly, it shows how difficult it is to fight mental illness, but that it is possible, even if it often cannot be cured. People can learn to live with it, if they have the support needed. And that is both support from their family members as well as support from health professionals.
So even if it isn’t the best written book in the world, the story behind it is enough to make me recommend that you pick it up. With reservations.