Review | I’m Telling The Truth, but I’m Lying by Bassey Ikpi

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I’m Telling The Truth, but I’m Lying is a memoir written as a collection of essays about Bassey Ikpi, and her journey with Bipolar II disorder. It is raw, emotional and moving. For more details, read the goodreads summary here.

I had a hard time reading this book in the beginning because I was unfamiliar with the writing style. In one of the beginning essays for example, the author goes back and forth between different childhood memories, and I was a little confused. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like the book. But as I read on, and got used to the style, I became aware of the brilliance that is Bassey Ikpi.

People who have followed Bassey’s work as a poet and mental health advocate might appreciate the behind-the-scenes view of her work and a part of her life.

There is a lot of imagery in I’m Telling The Truth, but I’m Lying. Bassey describes events and feelings so vividly, that I wondered if the writing process was triggering for her (to have to recall low points in her life). The imagery is especially useful to display the weight of mental illness and its effects on a person’s general wellbeing. Beyond just what is going on in the mind, the memoir depicts how bipolar II and anxiety affected the author’s physical wellbeing and relationship with her friends.

From Bassey’s experiences, I gained a better understanding of anxiety, depression and hypomania, which I appreciated since I have loved ones who struggle with some of these. I understand that people have different experiences with mental illness, but some of the essays seemed to provide an inside view into how a person’s mind works with anxiety or depression.

We need to talk about mental health more, especially in African communities. We also need to end the stigma attached to mental illness, and treat people with more empathy. Bassey’s voice is vital to this movement. She adds a certain normalcy to the discussion around mental health. I’m glad that she was able to share her experiences so openly. I will keep these stories in my heart for a long time. Especially “Yaka”, “Tehuti”, “Side Effects May Include”, and “What It Feels Like”.

I’d rate this memoir 4 out 5 stars. There is so much creativity, insight, and vulnerability, and we all might just be better for it. Really, everyone needs to read this book. Aside from my initial confusion with the narrative style, I did not have any issues with it.

I’m Telling The Truth But I’m Lying is out on August 20th.  I received a free e-copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Have you read any books discussing mental health? Any new releases you’re looking forward to this month? Let me know in the comments 🙂

5 thoughts on “Review | I’m Telling The Truth, but I’m Lying by Bassey Ikpi

  1. I like your sincerity. Will look forward to read when it comes out on 20th August.
    We really have to take mental health serious in our part of the country. People are in self denial

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It sounds interesting and I like learning new things from books I read.

    Yes, we’ve read and reviewed a few. A play, ‘Sacking the Potter’ by Bolaji Olatunde on post partum depression, a memoir, ‘Dear Philomena’ by Mugabi Byenkya which explored themes on mental health and illness and ‘The Silence We Eat’ by Oyindamola Shoola which explores themes on mental health too.

    There are a few others like ‘City of Memories’ by Richard Ali and ‘Golibe’ by The Fertile Chick and ‘Bound to Favour’ by Kiru Taye which also touch on mental health.

    I totally agree about the need to talk about it more in African societies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yessss, I definitely learnt a lot of new things from this book. Bassey spoke about the Yakurr people (her tribe) and I had never heard of them until I read the book.

      I don’t think I’ve heard of any of these books. Definitely adding them to my to-read list!

      Liked by 1 person

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