Noah Webster Library
Parking: Isham Garage (go directly to library to validate parking)
Bishops Corner Branch
Parking: Surface Lot
Parking: Surface Lot
"Mental" is 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 author 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.
The New Yorker wrote, "Lowe writes with verve and rhythm and willed forthrightness about her endless search for stability and sanity, and about wondering which self—stable or unstable—is the real one, worthy of love." And NPR said, "Mental" is "a sweeping, expansive survey of the history of bipolar disorder, of psychiatric and pharmaceutical attempts to treat it, and — especially — the history of lithium itself.... Lowe uses all those stats and data points to supplement her account of experiencing her first manic episode in high school, and to document what she sees as the nigh-miraculous power of lithium to return her to herself.... She grapples with questions of identity: Who is she, without the mania? Where does her personality end, and the condition begin? It's heady stuff, but told with a sardonic humor that keeps things grounded.... Mental gazes inward, an exercise in rigorous self-assessment driven by a keen and inquisitive mind."
Lowe is a frequent contributor to the New York Times magazine and has been featured on RadioLab, Democracy Now!, NPR, and she has led discussions about mental health across the country.