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Mental: Lithium, Love, and Losing My Mind

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  354 ratings  ·  69 reviews
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."
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Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 3rd 2017 by Blue Rider Press
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3.67  · 
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 ·  354 ratings  ·  69 reviews

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Sep 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Author Jaime Lowe candidly shares her true story of meeting the challenges of living with a serious mental illness (SMI). The amount of medication needed to function in a normal way, or like most people was really surprising. The pink pills on the debut cover of “Mental: Lithium, Love and Losing My Mind” appear rather unsettling in their actual form photographed in her open mouth, along with other pills. Lowe has done her research, and wrote about facing the challenges of functioning with a SMI, ...more
Sep 05, 2017 rated it liked it
It seems that memoirs about dealing with mental illness are becoming proportionately as ubiquitous as the conditions themselves. Searching "mental health" in Amazon's biographies and memoirs category produces more than 5,000 results. At least anecdotally, such works coming into the mainstream seems to correspond with increasing public discussion of destigmatizing mental illness. In recounting her 20 years struggling with bipolar disorder in Mental: Lithium, Love, and Losing My Mind , Jaime Lowe ...more
Jan 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own-it
I feel like I’ve found a friend, or confidant, in Jaime. In the end she acknowledges how lucky she is to have her emotional & financial support system in place and just living in a time where diagnosis & treatment of mental illness is BELIEVED and pursued.

Although at times dry when discussing scientific/medicinal history, the way she weaved her own mania through facts and events, was inspired.

Initially I picked this book because of my own personal struggles and my lowest point when I t
May 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs-tysm
3.5 stars

You can also find this review on my book blog.

Whenever I stumble upon a mental health book I make sure to read it because to me mental health is the most important thing in one’s life. I try and read mental health books as often as I can and I hope this year will be filled with great mental health books. Mental: Lithium, Love, and Losing my Mind is a very interesting and thoroughly researched book on bipolar disorder and the drug Lithium.

In Mental we are introduced to Jaime Lowe, a wo
Oct 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in bipolar diagnoses
I first thought this book was written by the brassiest writer ever but then realized she was describing herself in a manic state of grandiosity. The book goes on to provide not only her story, but her decades-long search for a drug or system that will manage a bipolar high. In this way, it's like Andrew Solomon's The Noonday Demon, which deals with his search for the system/medication that will manage his severe depression The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, or like the late, great Kate M ...more
Oct 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I tore through Jaime Lowe's autobiographical introduction to bipolar disorder. She tells her own story, beginning with an early manic episode and onward throughout the rollercoaster of coping with her mental illness. Some of her memories are gut wrenching and awful, some are a hallucinogenic dream. She intersperses her narrative with her quest to understand the disorder and the drug lithium, which helped her to achieve stability. Also, she's a brilliant writer. I would highly recommend.
Apr 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Matter-of-fact description of a mind that unravels and ultimate need for a remedy with Lithium, yet not the typical case scenario. The author seems to have access to much cash, many job prospects, connections to friends and supportive family and plenty of opportunities for travel, which usually doesn't happen to someone in the throes of a serious mental disorder.
Manny Coker-schwimmer
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
To me, this was a compelling, walk-a-mile-in-someone-else's-shoes look into life with bipolar disorder (mainly type 1), its treatments, and the consequences of both. I appreciated the author's candor when talking about the pros and cons of her illness. Having full-blown manic episodes was far from desirable for her, her friends, her family, and even her roommates, but Jaime acknowledges missing the heightened self-confidence that consumed her during those times. The writing is refreshingly uniqu ...more
Oct 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Free from Penguin First to Read, but my thoughts are my own.

This book is a little rough in writing style and subject matter. The author, Jamie Lowe, is manic depressive, with an emphasis on the manic phase. When she is up, she feels special, magnetic, chosen, and paranoid. She resisted change, fantasized and projected those fantasies as true. So some of the sections about her manic breakdowns are rambling, disjointed, and difficult to follow.

Some sections on her medicated life are, too. The main
Cynthia Nicola
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading Lowe's story. She has struggled with bipolar disorder since she was a teen and this book chronicles her experiences with finding a medication that worked for her and her struggle once lithium started destroying her kidney function. It's sad and funny because she is so honest. She adds in the research she did on mental illness, bipolar, and medications and she kept it to information she felt was relevant not just throwing in facts and statistics for their own sake. The take away ...more
Apr 19, 2018 added it
I really enjoyed this book especially because it dealt with bipolar disorder. I found Jaime's passion for lithium to be understanable though I don't know if I would ever have such confidence with one drug. When I first started learning about my bipolar disorder, I was against all medication. Jaime seemed to accept it quicker than I did.

I also believe the story she told many with bipolar can relate to and I feel she wrote the book as much as for herself as for readers interested in bipolar or re
Echo C
Oct 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs, memoirs
***Received a digital copy from First to Read for an honest review***

Now that I've established that, let's get to the good part. This was a fascinating read. I don't know anyone who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder but this firsthand account from Jaime Lowe has definitely taught me a lot. Reading this book gives us a glimpse of what it's like for people living with the disorder in every way: physically, mentally, and emotionally. Lowe recalls being diagnosed as a teenager, being committe
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: good-covers
I absolutely loved this book. The way Jaime Lowe writes is so specific and weird and she just invites you to read along. I really liked her pace and the way she wove the very personal story of her bipolar diagnosis and journey (specifically, her mania) with scientific research, reflections on identity and history, and information about the health care system and advocacy for change.
Sandy Harris
Sep 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
MENTAL: LITHIUM, LOVE, AND LOSING MY MIND is a memoir that deals with author's experiences with bipolar disorder and the use of lithium to treat it. While the first half is personal experiences of the author, the second half slows down as the author gets into more technical/scientific explanations regarding lithium and its use in treating bipolar disorder. Especially enlightening for those unfamiliar with bipolar disorder and its treatment. My thanks to NetGalley for providing me with an advance ...more
Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 60-books-in-2018
Mental is the story of Jaime Lowe's descent into mania and depression as she grappled with her bipolar disorder throughout childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. I found Lowe's writing deliciously candid, and her description of mania and depression in her experience was gripping, heartbreaking, and even a little hilarious. I appreciated her talking about something so stigmatized and hush-hush; we definitely need to make mental health more of an easy topic to talk about in our society.
Jill Elizabeth
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
I am fascinated by stories about mental health and mental illness. There is something absolutely primal within me that resonates when I read about people's struggles to maintain a sense of self when their own mind turns on them... It is one of my biggest fears - always has been. I've always been a person who lived as much in my head as in the world around me, and the thought that I might one day not be able to do that - that I might not be able to trust my brain to tell me not only what is aroun ...more
Oct 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Lowe is trying to do a couple different things with this memoir. She tries to convey a clear-eyed view of her own experience in mania. This first part of the book is very brave, and she acknowledges how lucky she's been. She had her first manic episode as a teenager, and she went and talked to those who knew her then, who interacted with her, and asked what their perception of her was at the time. I can't imagine having the strength to ask that so thoroughly. She hurt people when she was manic, ...more
Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
I received a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I respect Lowe's willingness to share her story of mental illness, and her initial passages on her psychotic break and mania are sad and fascinating (if abstract). However, it is as if Lowe lost her vision for the book after the opening; the book strays between topics and timelines and becomes hard to follow. At times, it reads like a dry non-fiction text book discussing the history of bipolar disorder or mental illness in literature, at
Rachel Blakeman
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
After reading an excerpt of this book in the New York Times, I was looking forward to reading the book. Short assessment: I was wildly disappointed by this book. I felt like it was the first draft before a good editor got a hold of it to find the actual storyline. Lots and lots of detail that failed to move the story forward. I didn't really come away learning anything new. Read the NYT op-ed instead of the book.
Oct 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
I always feel bad giving a memoir a less than excellent review, but this one fell short for me. While I understand that the author suffers from bipolar, the story line lacked the focus I need in order to keep my attention. I ended up DNF’ing it a few chapters in.
Katie B
In 1993, sixteen-year-old Jaime Lowe was hospitalized and diagnosed as bipolar. After getting a prescription for lithium, Jaime goes on to graduate high school and college and moves to New York City. This memoir follows the author and her experiences with being bipolar including what happens when she stops taking lithium and when she is faced with a tough decision about her health.

First of all, I really appreciate how frank and honest the author was in this book. When people are willing to share
Jan 30, 2018 rated it liked it
It was very interesting to hear an inside perspective of what goes on when a person is in the throws of mania. How does one decipher what is real and what isn't when it seems very real to that person? What is reality then? Several things that Jaime mentioned really will stick with me. One being that she still to this day doesn't always know what was really happening and what she was imagining. Even though she knows she was in the middle of a manic episode. I somewhat equate this with memories I ...more
Oct 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
I wanted to love Jamie Lowe's Mental: Lithium, Love, and Losing My Mind, I really did.

Lowe takes us on her journey through mental illness, to Lithium, which stabilizes her, and beyond. Along the way, we get frequent asides on the history of the treatment of mental illness, the development of Lithium (and other pharmaceuticals that treat mental illness), and her quest to try and puzzle out the nature of her relationship to her illness and its treatments. Her writing is solid and it's clear that
Mike Shoop
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Mental illnesses are still a hush-hush in America and the world. Disabilities are discomforting to people I think because they force us to confront our own limitations and frailty. Mental illness is more discomforting because we feel totally powerless to remediate them in any meaningful way. Jaime Lowe’s tome is filled with hope after a continuing battle with bipolar disorder. Reading this after Orlando by Virginia Woolf - and Lowe makes sure to point out that Woolf is thought to have been manic ...more
During the first third I'll admit I was rolling my eyes a little.

Fast forward a number of years in the Lowe's life and she's told that lithium is destroying her liver which begins a long meditation on lithium, the compromises the mentally ill make between health and mental health, the shorter life spans of those with mental illness (depression: 5-10y; schizophrenia: 10-20y), the lack of knowledge about psychotropic meds, etc. In Lowe's case, the difference between the efficacy of ER (extended r
Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
A pretty intense look at an individual who suffers a psychotic break and then begins a journey with prescribed lithium. As an individual who has also been institutionalized as an adult for bipolar disorder 1 with psychotic features and was also prescribed lithium, this book was both funny because I could relate to the stories, but it was also really difficult to read because it hit home due to of all of our shared experiences. It was almost like reliving my own manic episodes and ultimate psycho ...more
Joan Concilio
Dec 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction-read
I am at times a fully functioning, successful professional; at others a person who is barely - if at all - keeping it together, sometimes because I think I am a genius who is going to change the world and others because I think I am worthless and a waste of space. Much of the time I am all of those things, simultaneously (ah, mixed states, how I do not in any way love you). Like author Jaime Lowe, I have dealt with bipolar disorder since my teens, and being able to read her story and know that I ...more
Sara Smith
Oct 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: early-reads
3.5 Stars
I received an e-reader ARC copy of this book from the Random First to Read Program.

I really wanted to stop reading this book in the first 5 pages because it starts with a manic episode and it left me so disturbed as a bystander/reader that I felt a bit dizzy and nauseated even. But hang in there because once you get through that first section, it gets easier. The author, Jaime Lowe, tells us her life story starting with being diagnosed with bipolar at age 16 through her adult years. I h
Oct 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Note: I received a free copy of this from Penguin’s First to Read program for an honest review.
This book comes starts like a freight train and pushes through at an amazing clip from beginning to end. The author suffers from bipolar disorder, and her writing is unafraid and bold. She shares her personal journey through manic and depressive episodes, weaving in history about bipolar disorder, the drugs used to treat such disorders, and her family history that may or may not have led to her disord
Nov 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is the sixth or seventh book focused on mental health that I've read this year and it's definitely near the top of that list. I love the authors voice, It's real and authentic (I tell myself over and over again 'of course it is it's a memoir!!'). Even so I find that sometimes authors writing about themselves can be self righteous and over the top, Jaime is not. Having only experienced the depressive side of mental illness it was completely illuminating to read about mania, what a roller coa ...more
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