How Can I Help?

Technically the voting for the Evergreen award starts at the beginning of October, so I’m a bit late with my final Evergreen read, which was How Can I Help? A Week in My Life as a Psychiatrist by David Goldbloom and Pier Bryden.

How Can I Help? by David Goldbloom and Pier Bryden

I found this book a bit difficult to read. No, that’s not quite right. When I was actually reading it it was engrossing, but once I put it down it was hard to pick up again – I think it’s like if oatmeal were a book. It’s good for you and it’s fine once you actually get started but it kind of feels like a chore at first and everything else seems so much more enticing.

Before reading this book I considered myself fairly well informed, at least for a layperson, when it came to mental health. Was I ever wrong! I now realize that most of what I read could be categorized as pop psychology whereas this book is firmly in the realm of psychiatry. I used to think the two, while not the same, were similar. I still believe they can be complimentary but they are also very, very different things.

Mental health is a complicated beast and this book really shifted my perspective on a number of things. I think the most notable was ECT – most of what I knew on the topic comes from murder mysteries set in the 1950s or thereabouts and they made it seem like a horrible and tortuous prospect – and maybe they were back then. But you can’t argue with results and this book really demonstrated how, when used judiciously, ECT can really help a person.

While not my favourite book of this year’s Evergreen challenge I think this is the one that taught me the most and I’m so glad that I read it.

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