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2017 Reading Challenge

Jill Elizabeth has read 2 books toward her goal of 150 books.
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Book Review: Mental by Jaime Lowe

“How do you know if medication is working in mental illness? You don’t, you only know when it’s not working.”

***

“I don’t really believe in God, but I believe in lithium.”

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 around me but who I am – is horrifying to me.

Jaime Lowe’s Mental is two parts memoir, one part history book, and all three parts were exceedingly interesting. The book opens with her in the middle of a manic cycle, about to be institutionalized and medicated for the first time – at age 16. The story is a roller-coaster ride, a manic (literally) trip through the looking glass… Through it all, Lowe’s frank and engaging storytelling style entertains and educates – this is not only a personal history, but also a history of lithium. As Lowe manages her own condition (bipolar 1, which emphasizes manic as opposed to depressive episodes), she struggles to figure out what lithium – her personal magic bullet – is, why it works, and what it means for her and others suffering like her.

This was a fascinating peek behind the curtain. I can’t imagine living through manic episodes – or watching and participating in them as Lowe’s family and friends have… The inner strength that must be marshaled to not only survive but to live to tell the tale is as impressive as is the engaging tale that resulted. Kudos to Jaime Lowe for both.

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