National Alliance on Mental Illness
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NAMI Bookshelf: January 2010

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Voices of Bipolar Disorder: The Healing Companion; Stories for Courage, Comfort and StrengthVoices of Bipolar Disorder: The Healing Companion; Stories for Courage, Comfort and Strength
The Healing Project, LaChance Publishing (2010)

This is the eighth in a series of books with first-person stories by individuals and family members affected by different diseases.

More than 30 selections are organized into five parts: "How It Feels," "Diagnosis," "Bipolar is in Our Blood," "The Caregivers" and "I've Learned to Manage It."

In one part, a young man living with bipolar disorder reflects on his teenage suicide attempt and realizes how much becoming a father has changed him. A special chapter is based on a roundtable interview with the creators and cast of the Broadway musical Next to Normal.

In the show, the heroine, Diana, who lives with bipolar disorder, sees hope in her struggle, proclaiming "You don't have to be happy at all to be happy you are alive."

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Nothing Was The SameWeekends at Bellevue: Nine Years on the Night Shift at the Psych ER
Julie Holland, M.D., Bantam Books (2009)

As the weekend physician in charge of the psychiatric emergency room of the oldest public hospital in the United States, the author describes the terror, tragedy and moments of uplifting inspiration.

It is candid, sometimes raw and sometimes laced with humor from a physician's perspective. Some may find it offensive in attitude or language-or the number of violent cases-but it is a genuine work.

The ER's mission mostly involved "diagnosis not treatment; triaging not fixing" and doctors rarely saw whether or not a person ever got better. Moving on to private practice, Holland admits that she misses intensity, stress and frustrations and that homeless persons living with schizophrenia remain "my people." When she encounters them on the street or in subways, she gently encourages them to go to Bellevue.

Her nine years on the front lines of the mental health care system "helped to make me what I am-a better doctor, a better mother and a writer…I didn't alter the machine-I'm not sure anyone could have-but it surely had its way with me."

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