Mental by Jaime Lowe


Jaime Lowe

At the heart of Mental is Lowe's personal story, detailing her experiences on and off lithium, and the mental health and personal struggles that have accompanied it.

Start Reading….

Read Excerpt Now


Sign me up to receive news about Jaime Lowe.

Place our blog button on your blog to let people know you are a member of this great program!

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.
It began in Los Angeles in 1993, when Jaime Lowe was just sixteen. 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 twenty 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 tolithium 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.

Advance Galley Reviews

DNF, I got halfway through and still couldn't connect with the book. I tried, I felt it wasn't written as well as it could have been.

This is the author’s story of her own struggle with mental illness, which first manifested when she was 16 years old. She is direct and descriptive in talking about her thoughts and behavior when in the grip of mental illness. She becomes obsessed with obscure minutiae, is utterly convinced that she will become famous and make a fortune pursuing wild plans that pop into her mind. She hallucinates, she carefully records every thought and action, she destroys things that she loves. She has dreams of being a writer and so moves to New York City, where she does not stumble easily across her big break. Instead, she has a hard time making ends meet, she develops strange yet strong connections to total strangers, she yearns for a soulmate, and she accidentally sets her apartment building on fire. She describes some of her therapy and other treatment sessions, and her love/hate relationship with the drug, lithium, which is prescribed for bipolar disorder, the mental illness she is diagnosed with. I did not love this book. I felt that it needed an editor with a strong hand, as surely I am not the only one who was not interested in reading about every her odd thought, outlandish plan, or strange and dangerous behavior. I did find interesting her research about lithium. She visited the salt flats in Bolivia where lithium is harvested. She traveled to Europe to visit a spa to soak in the waters that are naturally infused with a form of lithium. But I found her personal musings tiresome enough to outweigh the compelling parts of the book. Thank you to Penguin books and the First to Read program for the opportunity to read and review this book in return for an honest review.

Great book about the struggles of mental illness. Highly recommend!

Akin to Prizac Nation in that it is a very personal memoir,'Mental' also discusses the provision of mental health care in the U.S. As well as this,the impact on family members is very well portrayed along with the stigma experienced. A very good and timely read which is highly recommended.

I enjoyed this memoir as a means of better understanding a friend who suffers extreme bipolar disorder with mania and too was treated with lithium. It is very insightful but disheartening how poorly insurance and often doctors treat mental illnesses. I found the detailed look into the history of the drug very interesting. This would be a great book to spawn lively discussion in a book group.

"An individual is much more complex." This is the author's story about mania and her treatment. It's always interesting to read one's experience and perspective on their illness. I think what made this book special was the historical look and current thoughts presented about Lithium. My favorite quote from the book: "...mental health is simply not treated the same as physical health. Not by insurance companies, politicians, or the field of medicine." Thanks to First to Read- Penguin Books USA for the free copy of this book.

Unfortunately I got behind with my reading and didnt get to this one. It sounds interesting and I will look for it in the future. Thanks!

This is the sixth or seventh book focused on mental health that iv'e 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 coaster our minds are capable of throwing us onto against our will. I really did enjoy this one and if you enjoy nonfiction i'd wholeheartedly recommend it.

Jaime Lowe's honest and extremely personal narrative of life with mental illness was almost cathartic for me. While I myself do not suffer from the same mental illness as the author, a close family member of mine unfortunately did. As the "outsider", I couldn't understand what this person was going through and Lowe helped explain that by allowing readers a glimpse into what it's like inside the brain of someone who is mentally ill. It was interesting to learn more about lithium, the same medication my loved one was prescribed, as well, along with a host of other medicines. I also found Lowe's journey to be a beacon of hope, that it is possible to live your life and even go on "adventures". Lowe is incredibly brave, not just for traveling the world to learn more about the medicine that affects so many so critically. I learned much more about a subject I thought I already knew a great deal about and I thank Lowe for her brutal honesty and her bravery in sharing her story with us all.

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 disorder. It was fascinating to hear what living through a manic episode was like from someone who has lived through one – I learned so much from her first hand experiences. If you are interested in memoirs and mental health, I wholeheartedly recommend this book.

To be honest, I got halfway through this book and quit. I couldn't connect with Jaime Lowe, either as a person/character or as a narrator. Despite the intensely personal nature of the content, there's still a sort of wall, as though she's distancing herself both from the reader and her own story. I struggle with mental health myself, and I wanted to like this book, because I think it's important for people to know 1). you can be successful even as you deal every day with this crushing debilitating illness, and 2). we EXIST; we are HERE; you KNOW us. Unfortunately, although I do not discount Lowe's own memories or pain, the telling of it wasn't quite effective, for ME. I desperately hope that others will be able to find themselves in her book, or be able to connect to her experience in the way I couldn't. Knowing others are struggling can be a comfort, and I hope this book provides that.

This book was an interesting depiction of the struggles of mental disease and the harrowing choice between physical and mental health that too many have to face.

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 committed, and finally taking Lithium to combat her mania and the consequences of that decision. Though her recollection was mostly straight to the point, I found the other information to be a bit scattered in subject matter. She delves into the history of Lithium, which leads her to discuss geography, science, and even politics but I think this only gives the reader a better picture into her mind. Overall, this was a good book. I recommend it to those interested in memoirs and/or mental health. Rating: 4/5 Stars

In Mental, Jaime Lowe provides an insightful, interesting, informative, and at times, funny, look into living with mental illness and the trials and tribulations she, and those around her, go through. Starting with her diagnosis as a teen, she describes her struggles with manic depression and how lithium helped her. After years of taking the drug, she finds out it can kill her and she must choose between life and the drug that has kept her sane all these years. The discovery that lithium could destroy her physically leads Lowe through the hell of finding another drug to treat her illness, which is no easy task. Mental really provides a better understanding of what it is like to live with mental illness, not just for the sufferer, but also for those around them. It also sheds light on the trouble with how to treat mental illness, how mental illness is perceived, and finding the right medications. I would recommend this to anyone interested in mental health.

Mental was an extremely hard read for me as I have 2 brothers suffering from BiPolar disease. Some things I did learn in this book is why it took so long for one of my brother's to finally be diagnosed, because he never showed signs of manic tendencies or even a low depression, he just seemed a bit "off" never those big swings. My other brother was so involved in drugs and alcohol (as Jamie was) that we missed the diagnosis all the way around until he 40 years old. His mania didn't seem manic, if just felt like one of Jamie's fun days that lasted 90 percent of his weeks. He was only low when he was jobless, broke, lonely, or in Jail. How we missed his signs, I'll never know. I appreciate the honesty of Jaimie's telling of her story. She trusts her audience. She takes wild risks and shares them with the world even when she knows that a lot of her mania is so out there a lot of people would never understand that its from a disease. Mental is a dark, eye-opening, riotous traveling as if on a rollercoaster tale of how one drug, a natural product can help regulate a disease so terrifying and hard for those who live with their BiPolar family member. The knowledge Jamie gives her readers about Lithium is abundant and much needed so we can see others with a sense of compassion and love and not misunderstanding. She even helped me, a family member, who has been involved in her brother's life for over 30 years of the disease to find new ways to support my brother even more. Thank you Penguin First Read for letting me have the opportunity to read this book in lieu of my honest review.

I enjoyed Jamie sharing her story. Reading Mental felt as if I was there with her as she struggled with her mania. I knew lithium was used for the patients, but it destroyed her kidney. I thought my teenage years were rough but they were a breeze compared to hers. I would recommend this book and there is also research that goes into learning about lithium. It was dark, real, and a riveting work about an illness that is usually misunderstood.

Reading Mania felt like I was watching someone mid a manic episode. Raw and jumbled full of idea of grandeur and unmovable depression. The memoir starts with her diagnosis as a teenager. The only benefit of her time of diagnosis being that mental health was becoming a little less stigmatized and she was able to get the treatment she needed and quickly. I enjoyed the interspersed personal pictures and drawings. It added an emotional touch that Jaime was and is just another normal person on the street. It is heartbreaking to know that people suffer so much. That while the human body can be so amazing it can also be a horrific place to be for some people. It is horrible knowing you can't trust your own mind.

I have to admit that I'm struggling to get into this book. I reserved a guaranteed copy pre-publication from the Penguin Books First to Read program because bipolarity is part of my family history. Jaime Lowe shared her personal story of learning to live with the disease with the help of medication, specifically lithium, only to have the meds turn on her. Perhaps I'm just too close to the subject; I did not finish the book.

I found the writing style hard to follow at times throughout the book but I also thought that gave the reader a glimpse into the mind of someone who suffers from mania. I never knew that lithium was actually used as medication to treat some mental illnesses or was believed to cure other ailments as well. It was also refreshing to read about a topic that many back away from or try to keep under wraps. I would definitely recommend this book to others.

Mental is a first hand account of the author's struggle with bipolar disorder. The book begins with a raw, honest account of her diagnosis as a teenager. Interspersed in the book are drawings and poems that make it seem as if you are reading someone's personal journal or letters. However, soon the author takes a step back and threads in historical and scientific facts about lithium and other treatments used in psychiatry. This addition makes the book more interesting and less heavy reading than other such accounts in my opinion. If you are intrigued by the history and science of mental illness, I would highly recommend this book. But if you want a personal account, that is there as well. Thanks to First to Read for the opportunity to read and review this story.

I found Lowe's account of her bipolar disorder fascinating, vivid, and moving. The writing was engaging and I enjoyed the way the book is laid out visually with photos and artwork. It dragged a little when she was going through the histories of the medications but that's a part of her journey. My husband also has bipolar disorder and although mania is different for each individual, much of her experience resonates with what he has described to me. He is also so grateful for all lithium has done for him and lives in fear of the day he won't be able to take it anymore. I hope many people read Lowe's book and see that people with bipolar disorder are just people.

A pretty comprehensive first person account of the author's nearly life long struggle with a mental illness. She also give a good overview of the use of lithium & Depakote, regarding the treatment of her illness. I am a health care worker, & even I learned something about these medications, so I think that bodes well in review! The writing is easy to read & stay involved in, despite the subject matter....I thought it 'read right along', even though it isn't a mystery or adventure (well, maybe it is an adventure, of sorts!) At points, I thought it might be 'digressing', but found later that it all worked in fine anyway. The author is a good advocate for mental health issues, & I think anyone, any reader might find this of wouldn't have to be into mental health issues to find this a good read. I did win this book in a Penguin First-To-Read giveaway program in exchange for my own fair/honest review......all opinions are strictly 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 issue, it turns out, is that lithium, the miracle medication, is destroying her kidneys. Left with two bad choices, she embarks on a journey to understand lithium, before she can choose to let it go. A lot of the memoir doesn't quite make sense, just a bit rambling, just a bit strange, but it's as grounded in fact as any memoir can be. Jamie's life, after all, is a bit rambling and strange. But for all that, she functioned, had moments of peace with her brain, and kept on living. It's a bit hopeful, and certainly offers an insight into one person's life with this disorder.

Jaime Lowe has really opened my eyes to bipolar disorder. You hear the word tossed around, but there isn't much explanation other than the simplified clinical one that is given when social media mentions it. It's hard to fully understand how it feels to have a mental illness or have a loved one that is afflicted with it. She gives a different side of the story by talking about her experience and the drug that helped her pursue a "normal" life. Definitely recommend reading this. Well written. It does take a little effort to get used to the writing style, but I couldn't put the book down once I got into it.

The writing style is a little hard to follow, but in general this read shows how difficult it is to deal with a disease like bipolar disorder. I would recommend it if you are interest in mental health.

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, and she faces that history head-on. She also covers her experience with Lithium and how it helped her avoid mania. The closer she gets to the present-day, the less detail she shares, and I get that. She's in a stable relationship, and this book isn't about her romantic relationships in general, but her relationship with lithium and mania. But her present-day section of the memoir is about preparing to leave lithium behind -- it has damaged her internal organs, and she needs to find a different solution. So she goes on a fact-finding mission about the element that she has depended on for over twenty years. This part of the book does drag a bit, but it's fairly interesting. She tells us of her fond farewell to the drug. All in all, this may not be exactly the book others are looking for, but it is Lowe's story, honestly told, I think. And I really enjoyed the time I spent with it, cautiously learning about someone else's struggles. It took me a little while to finish the last bit, but it was worth it. I got a free copy to review from First to Read.

As someone who suffers from Bipolar 2 (I have never had an full episode of mania) and has beloved friends with Bipolar 1, I jumped at a chance to get access to this book. I wasn't disappointed. While there were instances that were almost harrowing to read, I still enjoyed the book while being reminded that I am not alone. I also enjoyed the snippets of mental health history that was shuffled into the memoir. I would definitely recommend.

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.

As someone who has seen bipolar from the outside, getting a glimpse of its inner workings is helpful to understand. Although understanding lithium is useful to the story and a major part of the author's treatment, parts of the book read more like a textbook with statistics and scientific data. I would have enjoyed reading more of the memoir perspective from the author and delving deeper into her feelings and actions. I can greatly appreciate her quest to always learn more about her illness and the support system she had in place. Even though bipolar can be debilitating, as she states in the end, she is lucky to have the resources available to get the appropriate treatment and many are not as fortunate. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book and learning more about the author's experience with bipolar disorder.

An amazing memoir if you've ever been touched by mental illness, whether it be yourself or someone you know. This is an inside look into the mind of a "crazy person" and shows though personal experience and a lot of history and research how the mind and mental illness has been treated since time began. Her trials and tribulations, struggling with everyday tasks and grandiose ideas, show how far she has come in her treatment and how far the treatment options have come. Recommend to anyone!

I enjoyed reading Mental by Jaime Lowe. Even in the first few chapters, the experience was very relatable for someone who has experiencing dealing with someone with mental illness. The book both touches on her personal experience/history with mental illness and also provides factual information about the history of mental illness. The artwork in the book is odd, but interesting, as are the chapter titles. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book even though it's not in my normal wheelhouse of favorite book genres.

I always feel bad giving a memoir a less than excellent review, but this one fell short to me. While I understand that the author suffers from bipolar, the storyline was hard to follow and I ended up DNF’ing it a few chapters in.

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.

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 have a Master's Degree in Counseling Psychology and I still learned some new things in this book, such as that Lithium is a naturally-occurring substance that has been used for mental health for centuries. This book has some history on mental health and lithium as well as a view of the impact that bipolar disorder wreaks on a single life. It's an important voice.

Excellent memoir about a woman's lifelong experience with bipolar disorder! This is the first time I have really understood what bipolar is and how it impacts ones life. I found the story about lithium to be fascinating. I really enjoyed the author's story and her determination to stay well! I especially loved how she understands that even though she is living with mental disease she is one of the lucky ones!

Story lacks focus and structure. As someone dealing with the same ailment, I expected more. However, I did enjoy her chapters when she flings you into mania's heart. She speaks truth in those moments. Yet, outside of those chapters, she strays and I lost her.

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 their experiences with mental illness it helps to erase some of the stigma. I remember learning about bipolar disorder (or manic-depressive illness) for the first time when Patty Duke shared her story. It was interesting to me that the author had a personal connection to Patty's son Mackenzie Astin and I loved that he provided some insight to how it was to deal with a parent with a mental illness. While this book is mostly the author's experience with being bipolar and taking lithium there are also some interesting facts presented about mental health and the different medications prescribed. A few times some of the history got to be a little dry and boring, but for the most part I enjoyed the information presented and learned a thing or two. Overall I thought this was a fascinating look at one women's journey with having bipolar disorder and learning to manage it especially when life throws you a few curve balls. I was able to read an advance digital copy from the First to Read program. I was under no obligation to post a review and all views expressed are my honest opinions.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. It was an interesting foray into a mental illness from the insider viewpoint. Beyond that, I found it to be informative and the history and discussions about medications were helpful. At times I felt that the author was bordering on mania and as she wrote sections of the book that although she basically followed a timeline, parts seemed somewhat disjointed. Given the numerous opportunities and lifestyle depicted, her recorded experiences don't seem to match either income or timeline at times. Still, a courageous work.

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 other times she shares personal stories of her childhood or her parents' divorce. I think this could have been an interesting story, but the book lacks focus and structure.


Copy the following link