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It began in Los Angeles in 1993, when Jaime Lowe was just 16. She stopped sleeping and eating and began to hallucinate - demonically cackling Muppets, faces lurking in windows, Michael Jackson delivering messages from the Neverland Underground. Lowe wrote manifestos and math equations in her diary and drew infographics on her bedroom wall. Eventually hospitalized and diagnosed as bipolar, she was prescribed a medication that came in the form of three pink pills - lithium.
In Mental, Lowe shares and investigates her story of episodic madness as well as the stability she found while on lithium. 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 - including Lowe, who, after 20 years on the medication, suffers from severe kidney damage. Mental is eye-opening and powerful, tackling an illness and drug that has touched millions of lives and yet remains shrouded in social stigma.
Now, while she adjusts to a new drug, her pursuit of a stable life continues, as does her curiosity about the history and science of the mysterious element that shaped the way she sees the world and allowed her decades of sanity. Lowe travels to the Bolivian salt flats that hold more than half of the world's lithium reserves; rural America, where lithium is mined for batteries; and lithium spas that are still touted as a tonic to cure all ills. With unflinching honesty and humor, Lowe allows a clear-eyed view into her life and an arresting inquiry into one of mankind's oldest medical mysteries.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By M.E. on 04-03-18
Recommend for Healthcare Providers, and anyone else
This may be my favorite book of all time. I’ll miss JL’s voice. She has such a strength in storytelling and making her experiences clear and vivid to a listener. Bipolar I is a condition that’s not common for providers who haven’t lived it to empathize with. I’m about to start a residency in psychiatry and it feels like going in blind for most of us. Memoirs as open and honest as these are invaluable to us, helping us understand what the journey of an illness can feel like outside of the IP/OP soundbites. I’ve been close all of my life to others struggling greatly with their mental illnesses. Reading this, I felt less alone. Thank you so much, Jaime. I’m going to donate a copy to my hospital library.
By Reader Rowland on 02-15-18
What made the experience of listening to Mental the most enjoyable?
Thank you for sharing your story. I was led to your book by a friend that works with your father. My husband is BP2. I find stories like yours are always helpful to others who suffer from, live with, or should just know what it's like to live with mental illness.
What was one of the most memorable moments of Mental?
Your in-depth information on your lithium, research, and then delving into the new drugs was so very helpful and informative, thank you.
What does Jaime Lowe bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Her personal narrative with inflections and dramatization where she knows it belongs.
Any additional comments?