Bipolar Story in New York Times

bipolar storyI ran across a fascinating article in The New York Times magazine this past week entitled “I Don’t Believe in God but I Believe in Lithium” by Jaime Lowe dated June 25th 2015.

It is a remarkable story, most particularly remarkable because it deals with some of the most charged issues connected with bipolar – inpatient and involuntary treatment, medications and their side effects – and it deals with these in a very public forum, the New York Times magazine.

Jaime writes –

The manila folder is full of faded faxes.  The top sheet contains a brief description of my first medically confirmed manic episode, more than twenty years ago, when I was admitted as a teenager to UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute: “increased psychomotor rate, decreased need for sleep (about two to three hours a night), racing thoughts and paranoid ideation regarding her parents following her and watching her, as well as taping the phone calls she was making.”  

She goes on to talk about her various manic episodes and gives some very good descriptions of what these are like and also talks about the experience of being seventeen and suddenly confronting the issue of bipolar, and what it means that “as long as I take those three pink lithium carbonate capsules everyday, I can function. If I don’t, I will be riding on top of subway cars measuring speed and looking for light in elevated realms.”

There is a description of mania based on videos that were taken by her boyfriend. The fact that she was willing to review the videos, and then write about them in the New York Times magazine speaks to her courage and honesty.

I was deeply impressed and moved by the article.

Finally, there is an extended discussion about lithium, its benefits and also its drawbacks, its history as a treatment, etc.

Well worth reading for all people who are early in the course of treatment for bipolar.