Julie Holland thought she knew what crazy was. Then she came to Bellevue. For nine eventful years, Dr. Holland was the weekend physician in charge of Bellevue's psychiatric emergency room. Deciding who gets locked up and who gets talked down would be an awesome responsibility for most people. For her, it was just another day at the office...
In an absorbing memoir laced with humor, Holland provides an unvarnished look at life in the Psych ER, recounting stories from her vast case file that are alternately terrifying, tragically comic, and profoundly moving. As Holland comes to understand, the degree to which someone can lose his or her mind is infinite, and each patient's pain leaves a mark on her as wellas does the cancer battle of a fellow doctor who is both her best friend and her most trusted mentor.
Writing with uncommon candor about her life both inside and outside the hospital, Holland supplies a fascinating glimpse into the inner lives of doctors, struggling to maintain perspective in a world where sanity is in the eye of the beholder.
In this disjointed memoir, Holland describes her nine-year odyssey as a doctor on the night shift at New York City's Bellevue hospital, a name that has become synonymous with insanity. Holland met a bewildering assortment of drunks, sociopaths, schizophrenics and homeless people malingering in hope of a warm place to crash. As the physician in charge of the psychiatric emergency room, the hard-boiled Holland acted as gatekeeper, deciding who would be sent upstairs to the psych ward, to Central Booking or back to the streets. The book also covers Holland's personal life from her student days as a wannabe rock star to her psychotherapy sessions, her sexual escapades and her marriage and birth of her children. Holland captures the rhythms and routines of the E.R. with its unbearable suffering, petty jealousies and gallows humor. She is less successful at maintaining any kind of narrative continuity. Chapters generally run only a couple of pages and often depict random anecdotes that most likely sound better than they read. (Oct.)