Mental: Lithium, Love, and Losing My Mind by Jamie Lowe
Published October 3, 2017
Hardcover, 320 pages
MY GOODREADS RATING 4/5 STARS
(Thanks to Netgalley & Blue Rider Press, I received an eARC)
A riveting memoir and a fascinating investigation of the history, uses, and controversies behind lithium, an essential medication for millions of people struggling with bipolar disorder, stemming from Jaime Lowe’s sensational 2015 article in The New York Times Magazine “‘I Don’t Believe in God, but I believe in Lithium’: My 20-year struggle with bipolar disorder.”
It began with an insomniac summer in Los Angeles in 1993, when Jaime Lowe was just 16. She stopped sleeping and eating, and began to hallucinate–Michael Jackson wearing masks, demonically cackling Muppets, and faces in windows. She wrote manifestos and math equations in her diary, and infographics on her wall. Eventually hospitalized and diagnosed as bipolar, her prescribed medication was three pink pills — lithium.
In Grand Delusions, Lowe shares her story of life-long episodic madness and the stability she found with lithium, as well as a journalistic exploration of the history and science of the mysterious element. She interviews scientists, psychiatrists, and patients to examine how effective lithium really is and how its side effects can be dangerous for long-term users. Lowe travels to the Bolivian salt mines that hold over half of the world’s lithium reserves, as well as to rural America, where turn of the century lithium spas are still touted as a tonic to cure all ills.
At the heart of Grand Delusions is Lowe’s personal story, detailing her experiences on and off lithium, and the mental health and personal struggles that have accompanied it. Most recently, the longterm effects of lithium have led to her kidney degradation. Now adjusting to new medication after 20 years of lithium, Lowe’s pursuit of a stable life continues. Grand Delusions is eye-opening and powerful, tackling an illness and drug that has touched millions of lives and yet remains shrouded in social stigma. With unflinching honesty, Lowe allows us a clear-eyed view into her life, while also offering a compelling historical overview of one of mankind’s oldest medical mysteries
I find books that talk about mental illness, especially memoirs, extremely interesting so I had to request this one when I saw it up on NetGalley. I’m always up for learning more about the mental illness I suffer from or the ones I don’t suffer from. I also find books that are based in or that have scenes in mental hospitals more than interesting. I thought this book was raw and thought provoking, I’m beyond grateful that I got the chance to read about Jamie.
I love that the story was told in a way that she wasn’t her diagnosis, she was an actual person. I thought Jamie did a wonderful job explaining her experiences with bipolar disorder in an easy and understandable way. I really enjoyed that she put pictures and journal entries in the book, it really put her story into focus.I love how open an honest Jamie was with her highs and low, even though I’m sure the lows and the highs were extremely hard to write about.
Overall I thought this was an excellent story about someone living with a mental illness. I loved that there were parts added that made you laugh, some that made you want to cry, and everything in between. If you are looking for a book by an extremely reliable author on the subject of bipolar this one is for you. If you are looking for more information on bipolar disorder this one would be perfect for you as well.