Taking the Cape Off

How to Lead Through Mental Illness, Unimaginable Grief and Loss

Non-Fiction - Audiobook
Audio Book
Reviewed on 03/31/2022
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Author Biography

PATRICK J. KENNY has been a member of the fire service for over 38 years, and before retiring in January 2021, served as the Fire Chief in Hinsdale and Western Springs, Illinois. He has been a Chief Officer for over 25 years and a speaker in multiple countries on Mayday for Mental Health® for more than a decade. He is the international best-selling author of TAKING THE CAPE OFF: How to Lead Through Mental Illness, Unimaginable Grief and Loss and has articles published in the areas of mental health, leadership, fire safety, and fire code challenges. He was awarded the Fire Chief of the Year in 2004 by the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association. He was awarded the Fire Engineering/International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI) George D. Post Instructor of the Year Award for 2020-2021.

"My son, Sean, died by suicide at the age of 20 after a 15-year battle with mental illness. I began speaking about his journey in 2009. In 2015, my wife Eileen and I added a slide to the presentation comparing brain cancer to mental illness to reflect mental illness is a physical illness, not a character deficiency. Of all the comparisons to choose, did we somehow know what was to come? In 2016, my wife Eileen passed from brain cancer. The day before she died, she made me promise to write the story of Sean's journey and continue to spread his message that mental illness is a physical illness. I kept my promise." - Patrick J. Kenny

    Book Review

Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite

Taking the Cape Off: How to Lead Through Mental Illness, Unimaginable Grief and Loss is written and narrated by Patrick J Kenny. It is a self-help audiobook for anyone going through personal loss, grief, and battling with mental illness. A comprehensive book for parents recovering from grief, leaders, and any person who wants to shake off the stigma of mental illness. Author Patrick J Kenny shares his struggles as a Fire Chief and a father who lost his son to suicide. Used to being the hero and saving people, Patrick Kenny struggled a lot when he couldn’t protect his son who battled with mental illness for almost all his life. That ordeal led him to look deeper into what we call heroism, protection, and acceptance. After the death of his son, Patrick faced realities that were hidden from him, and in his book, he shares all those life lessons with anyone who needs them.

Patrick Kenny put his heart and soul into this book, and it was apparent in the way he narrated it. The way he talked about his son Sean, how Patrick felt like a failure and not the leader he prided himself on being brought tears to my eyes. The narrative was simple, yet the raw emotions behind each and every sentence spoke to my heart. Throughout the narrative, Patrick emphasizes the importance of communication and how it can prevent, help and heal. It takes a huge amount of courage to share your mind and thoughts with someone, but once you do, it becomes much easier to cope with your grief or your inferiority complex. He led by example, allowed readers deep into his mind, and shared his most vulnerable parts so that readers could take courage from his life. Mental health is still a taboo in many professions, but especially in professions such as firefighting or any life-saving profession. Patrick shared some sound advice and gave courage to readers to look for the positive in life, even when things were devastating. Encouraging and uplifting!

Sefina Hawke

Taking the Cape Off (How to Lead Through Mental Illness, Unimaginable Grief, and Loss) by Patrick J Kenny is a non-fiction personal development audiobook that would appeal most to a diverse audience of teens and young adults who have experienced loss, survivor's guilt, or a feeling of failing to save someone. Fire Chief Pat Kenny’s 20-year-old son died from suicide after a long battle with mental illness. While the loss itself was unimaginable, the grief and responsibility felt by Kenny were equally unimaginable and crushing. Yet, Kenny’s life story is not one of only tragedy, but also one of hope as he chooses to take a path that leads to him being able to use his position as a leader and his son’s memory to help others.

Taking the Cape Off by Patrick J Kenny was a well-written and well-narrated audiobook that was extremely emotionally moving. As a psychology graduate, I have studied mental illness and loss, but hearing it from Patrick Kenny helped me to see both subjects in a less clinical and more personal way. This audiobook really touched me; it has inspired me to try to use my education and knowledge to reach out to address the stigma attached to mental illness in my workplace.

The narrator of this audiobook was Patrick J. Kenny himself. Mr. Kenny might not be an experienced voice actor with numerous credits to his name, but his passion and emotions make up for any lack of voice acting experience. I was surprised to find that Mr. Kenny was new to voice acting as his narration was top-notch. The way his voice carried the true emotion behind each word pulled me into the audiobook and made me feel emotionally involved.

Cassie Widjaja

Taking The Cape Off: How to Lead Through Mental Illness, Unimaginable Grief and Loss by Patrick J Kenny is a beautiful personal guide on moving forward after losing a loved one, whether to a disease or depression. The author shares how he blamed himself for being unable to protect his 20-year-old son Sean from dying by suicide after a lifelong battle with mental illness. He then reveals the path he took to move forward and return to his leadership role in the fire department. He emphasizes how leaders should address the stigma attached to mental illness in the workplace, at home, or with friends and develop the leadership communication skills necessary to help you personally and professionally when faced with any health crisis.

When I first listened Taking The Cape Off, I was in awe of how the author had been through so much and could still move forward. His story reminded me of losing my grandmother to an illness, and I strongly resonated with his statement that time did not heal the wound as you will always feel the loss. I loved how he emphasized that grief is not just about you, and I also greatly benefited from his tip of talking to your loved ones even though they can no longer be physically present. In this audiobook, Patrick J Kenny spoke clearly, and it was easy to understand what he was saying. His use of different tones made it enjoyable and more engaging.