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My years at Bellevue taught me many things, life lessons I could never have hoped to receive elsewhere, but the main take-home message was this: cherish your sanity, for it can be lost in the blink of an eye. Sometimes I saw the same patients repeatedly, alcoholics and addicts who were hitting bottom in regular cycles, showing up when their funds ran out. Other times, however, I met patients with no psychiatric history, who ended up at Bellevue when a bad break-up led to a suicide attempt, or a shared cigarette at a bar led to a PCP-induced psychosis. There are so many ways in which a life can suddenly unravel, and many of my patients could specify just when that started to happen for them--whether it was joining the army, leaving home for college, or living through the death of their child.
Many of the people I encountered at Bellevue tried strenuously to convince me that they did not belong there. Or vice versa. A big part of my job was learning how to separate the genuinely disturbed from the fakers (some people actually wanted to be admitted to Bellevue, if only for the promise of a clean bed and three meals a day), and to identify the people who had been misunderstood, misdiagnosed, who weren’t mentally ill at all. After a few years of Bellevue experiences under my belt, I developed a sixth sense for what real crazy looked like, sounded like, and yes, smelled like. One night a young man was brought in to the E.R. because he was found on a street corner preaching to passersby to give up their worldly possessions. I knew enough to listen and wait, and not rush to judgment, even though it might have seemed a no-brainer to admit him. Once I was able to draw him out, I learned that he had taken psychedelic mushrooms and then spent time in a Chelsea art gallery known as COSM, which I myself had been to and knew to be an intense, inspirational and potentially overwhelming experience, something that might well unhinge a person on mind-altering drugs. I spoke with him gently as his trip slowly ebbed, helping him to navigate his re-entry in the city hospital where he had landed with no money or identification. He stayed in touch with me for months afterwards, grateful that I was there to protect him when he soared--however briefly--beyond the boundaries of normal behavior.
There is a diaphanous membrane between sane and insane. It is the flimsiest of barriers, and because any one of us can break through at any time, it terrifies us, causing us to turn our backs on those who remind us of this painful reality. But spending so much time with people who marched out of the lockstep of sanity has made me less forgiving of the way the mentally ill are ostracized and shunned. We owe them something better. And we should remember that the barrier separating "them" from "us" is not nearly as secure as we might think.--Julie Holland--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
this is a very warm yet irreverent look at the mental health field , it is both witty and thought provoking, a good readPublished 29 days ago by Wanetta Renay
I don't usually write reviews, but disappoinment inspires this one. I found myself growing to really despise the author--her selfishesness, self-pity, and ego made the book... Read morePublished 1 month ago by K
One of the best books I've ever read. This gal is brilliant, funny and often profound. Feel lucky to have read it.Published 1 month ago by Eddie
At Bellevue hospital where insanity and substance abuse meet, a 279 year old institution tries to ease the pain of those unable to care for themselves. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Richard Quis
Julie Holland's writing style was approachable even for a non-medical person, like me. I had also read The House of God, by Samuel Shem (a pseudonym of the psychiatrist Stephen... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Shawn H.
Loved this book! Being a physician, I can relate to what Dr Holland is saying. I also work in psychiatry and understand her feelings towards what she does and towards her patients. Read morePublished 3 months ago by D. Gilmore
I loved reading this book. It was funny and insightful about working with different people. Enjoyed it!Published 4 months ago by Jackie
Good read. Non-technical, sometimes exciting, humorous at times, insightful. I will never understand how Julie Holland tolerated her, "Weekends at Bellevue", much less nine... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Bob McGhee