Inside The Bellevue Mental Hygiene Clinic

So everybody's cracking up these days, streaking through Times Square and being carted off to Bellevue! Heck, we know. Some days it's all we can do not to rip off our clothes and run screaming through The Deuce. But what's the famous hospital like, especially for the uninsured loon? I went on a visit to their urgent care unit, accompanied only by persistent anxiety problems and creative-underclass rage.

The waiting room is much as you might expect! It is a microcosm of hell, and can induce a total break in reality for paranoid schizophrenics. It's crawling with police, not for security purposes per se but because so many of the patients are in custody. Two cops escorted an emaciated man to the bathroom, uncuffed him, and waited outside the door.

People in the waiting room screamed at each other in a medley of languages. A totally mental fellow started a shoving match with a male nurse and was subdued by force. A Dominican woman stood up and announced that "somebody" has stolen her cell phone. Sure, honey.

They make you wait a long time in order, I suspect, to break you down. This process of weeding out the weak means that about three hours into my visit, I had time to first question and then accept my own mortality. Whether or not I would get seen in the next six hours—well, did it even matter? Someday we are all going to die. This is actually a very helpful treatment!

The loony bin area is named, Orwell-style, the Mental Hygiene Clinic. Because mental cleanliness is next to mental Godliness.

The doctor performed a series of reality tests on me. "Can you tell me what this is?" he asked, holding up a pen.

It was a pen.

"Good. What's the similarity between a tiger and a mosquito?" he asked.

Stumped! "Uh, they're both animals?" I said.

"Good!" he said with a beaming smile, and scribbled something on my chart.

He then asked if I had a roommate, whether or not that roommate is a boy or a girl, and then asked if I was "intimate with" said roommate. I guess I passed that test?

Here are my helpful hints. One is, do not really bother going. You are probably crazy and should just get an expensive Upper West Side psychopharmacologist and some pills.

Two, if they assign you a shrink at Bellevue? And you find him or her kind of cute? Ask for a new one, because it's insanely distracting and it won't help in the slightest.