Committed: Dispatches from a Psychiatrist in Training

Adam Stern was a student at a state medical school before being selected to train as a psychiatry resident at one of the most prestigious programs in the country. His new and initially intimidating classmates were high achievers from the Ivy League and other elite universities around the nation. Faculty raved about the group as though the residency program had won the lottery, nicknaming them “The Golden Class,” but would Stern ever prove that he belonged?

In his memoir, Stern pulls back the curtain on the intense and emotionally challenging lessons he and his fellow doctors learned while studying the human condition, and ultimately, the value of connection. The narrative focuses on these residents, their growth as doctors, and the life choices they make as they try to survive their grueling four-year residency. Rich with drama, insight, and emotion, Stern shares engrossing stories of life on the psychiatric wards, as well as the group’s experiences as they grapple with impostor syndrome and learn about love and loss. Most importantly, as they study how to help distressed patients in search of a better life, they discover the meaning of failure and the preciousness of success. 

Stern’s growth as a doctor, and as a man, have readers rooting for him and his patients, and ultimately find their own hearts fuller for having taken this journey with him. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book will be available on July thirteenth.

Committed: Dispatches from a Psychiatrist in Training is an engrossing look into the lives of those learning how to help those with mental illnesses and provide quality mental health care. Told from the perspective of Adam, a psychiatrist-in-training, it follows his life as he tries to navigate the world of mental health care as well as his personal life.

I don’t read memoirs all that often. In fiction, I do not need to relate to or like a character to enjoy the book- I just want them to be interesting. In nonfiction, it helps if I care about the person the book is about. Adam was supremely human and very open about both his strengths and weaknesses. That takes bravery on the part of the author. He vacillated between feeling very out of his depth and unqualified and seemingly having extreme bouts of self-confidence. I can definitely relate to feeling unqualified as I am well acquainted with Imposter Syndrome in most aspects of my life.

I loved seeing Adam’s growth in his ability to properly diagnose and treat patients, but more importantly in his ability to connect with his patients. He realized that his patients are more than just a diagnosis and list of medications: they are real people with unique stories, backgrounds, and experiences. Watching his empathy and understanding grow was an incredibly rewarding experience.

The patients themselves were fascinating. I wanted them all to find the help they needed and defeat their personal demons. I could feel the sadness in Adam Stern when a patient was lost (spoiler alert: not every patient has a happy ending). I could also see his excitement and renewed sense of purpose when a patient improved.

I did sometimes find the switch from Adam’s psychiatric situations to his dating life a little bit jarring from time to time. I understand why it was there-to highlight the way a profession in mental health affects every aspect of a person’s life- but I struggled to pay attention during those parts. It just wasn’t as interesting to me.

Taken as a whole, I found Committed to be a fascinating look at life as a mental health expert. It is an important profession, when taken up by caring individuals, and I have the utmost respect for Dr. Adam Stern for the aid he is able to provide.

Prozac Monologues by Willa Goodfellow- ARC Review

Amazon.com: Prozac Monologues: A Voice from the Edge eBook ...
She was going to stab her doctor, but she wrote a book instead.

Years later, Willa Goodfellow revisits her account of the antidepressant-induced hypomania that hijacked her Costa Rican vacation and tells the rest of the story: her missed diagnosis of Bipolar 2, how she’d been given the wrong medications, and finally, her process of recovery.

Prozac Monologues is a book within a book—part memoir of misdiagnosis and part self-help guide about life on the bipolar spectrum. Through edgy and comedic essays, Goodfellow offers information about a mood disorder frequently mistaken for major depression as well as resources for recovery and further study. Plus, Costa Rica.

· If your depression keeps coming back . . .

· If your antidepressant side effects are dreadful . . .

· If you are curious about the bipolar spectrum . . .

· If you want ideas for recovery from mental illness . . .

· If you care for somebody who might have more than depression . . .

. . . This book is for you. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This will be available for purchase on August twenty fifth.

This is a tough one for me to review, and I don’t know if I can give an honest opinion without giving a little background. I have bipolar disorder. I have a different kind than the author of this book (I have type 1 while the author says they have type 2), but they are two sides of the same coin. I have personal experience with both mania and hypo-mania, and I can say with absolute certainty that this book captures the essence of mania perfectly. I can also say that, due to the nature of the beast, this book is very difficult to follow.

First of all, I want to commend author Willa Goodfellow. Being unflinchingly honest, especially about a misunderstood mental illness, takes an incredible amount of bravery. I think that people who have gone through manic episodes will feel a sense of camaraderie, and that his book can be very beneficial.

Mania heightens emotions and sensations. It denies you sleep and makes thoughts run wild. Everything you do when in that state reflects it back later on. Things are more vivid, but they make less sense. The author’s writings during their hypo-manic episodes are fascinating from a “I’ve been there” standpoint, but- true to bipolar form -they are also frenetic. I’ve read several books about bipolar disorder that detail manic episodes, but never one written mainly during mania.

If you are reading this in search of a better understanding of bipolar disorder, be aware that this book will be challenging. It is also a valuable tool, but I would suggest reading An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison as well, just so you can get a more complete picture of the entirety of bipolar. I do think that the author achieved what they intended when writing Prozac Monologues, which was to give an accurate view of what bipolar mania is.

The switch between the entries written during a manic episode, and the information the author provided afterward, was often jarring. At times, it was difficult to follow the timeline and I had to go back once or twice to make sure I hadn’t missed something. However, that could have been an intentional choice, to assert the differences in thinking patterns when someone is having a manic episode.

The information itself is fascinating. I already knew a good chunk of it (I believe strongly in knowing as much as I can about a medical condition I have), but there were a few new bits of information that I’m glad I learned. One thing that was mentioned is how very long it often takes to get a correct diagnosis of bipolar. I honestly thought my diagnosis took much longer to figure out than was normal, but I guess it’s actually common to have several misdiagnoses and take years to get the right answer.

Would I suggest this book? Yes, but go into it knowing that at times it will be confusing and hard to follow. Basically, understand that this book is mania in a nutshell.