Class Pick

‘I Don’t Believe in God, but I Believe in Lithium’

I chose this essay because of the way it presents bipolar disorder: as an ugly thing. There exists a misconception about bipolar disorder that it is just flipping between feeling happy and sad, which is far from the truth. Manic and depressive episodes occur, but there are also mixed states where one feels both and times of stability. A jump from a depressive episode to a manic one is pretty rare and requires a strong trigger. Nonetheless, neither manic or depressive episodes leave someone functional. Mania, in particular, is pretty nasty–losing touch with reality is far more common that a swell of joy. The author, Jaime Lowe, experiences this and recounts her own manic episode using footage filmed by a friend of hers.

Lowe also writes about how important lithium has been in her treatment. Bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition that requires constant medication, and even then, there’s no guarantee of sanity. We often hear about short-term care with bipolar disorder such as individuals being committed to psychiatric hospitals, but we rarely hear about what happens afterwards. In a way, I find it uplifting because while there will likely be a point in time where my body rejects my medication, long term stability is possible.

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