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I'm Telling the Truth, but I'm Lying

Essays
Narrated by: Bassey Ikpi
Length: 7 hrs and 12 mins
5 out of 5 stars (133 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In I’m Telling the Truth, but I’m Lying, Bassey Ikpi explores her life - as a Nigerian-American immigrant, a black woman, a slam poet, a mother, a daughter, an artist - through the lens of her mental health and diagnosis of bipolar II and anxiety. Her remarkable memoir in essays implodes our preconceptions of the mind and normalcy as Bassey bares her own truths and lies for us all to behold with radical honesty and brutal intimacy.

A Bitch Magazine Most Anticipated Book of 2019 • 

A Bustle 21 New Memoirs That Will Inspire, Motivate, and Captivate You • 

A Publishers Weekly Spring Preview Selection • 

An Electric Lit 48 Books by Women and Nonbinary Authors of Color to Read in 2019 • 

A Bookish Best Nonfiction of Summer Selection • 

"We will not think or talk about mental health or normalcy the same after reading this momentous art object moonlighting as a colossal collection of essays.” (Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy)

From her early childhood in Nigeria through her adolescence in Oklahoma, Bassey Ikpi lived with a tumult of emotions, cycling between extreme euphoria and deep depression - sometimes within the course of a single day. By the time she was in her early '20s, Bassey was a spoken word artist and traveling with HBO's Def Poetry Jam, channeling her life into art. But beneath the façade of the confident performer, Bassey's mental health was in a precipitous decline, culminating in a breakdown that resulted in hospitalization and a diagnosis of Bipolar II.

In I'm Telling the Truth, but I'm Lying, Bassey Ikpi breaks open our understanding of mental health by giving us intimate access to her own. Exploring shame, confusion, medication, and family in the process, Bassey looks at how mental health impacts every aspect of our lives - how we appear to others, and more importantly to ourselves - and challenges our preconception about what it means to be "normal". Viscerally raw and honest, the result is an exploration of the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of who we are - and the ways, as honest as we try to be, each of these stories can also be a lie. 

©2019 Bassey Ikpi (P)2019 HarperAudio

Editor's Pick

I am here for it
"I was already really curious about this memoir when I saw two of my favorite writers—Kiese Laymon and Samantha Irby—say really nice things about it, including these phrases: "I want to scream my joy," "momentous art object," and "human miracle" (!). Bassey Ikpi is a poet who had a mental breakdown while touring the world with HBO’s Def Poetry Jam. During her hospitalization, she was diagnosed with bipolar II. As we become collectively more woke about intersectionality in our culture, Ikpi’s voice as a Black woman dealing with mental illness is arguably one of the most powerful voices you should put everything down for and just listen to already. She’s one of our most important mental health advocates, and I am here for it."—Rachel S., Audible Editor

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Brée
  • MD United States
  • 08-21-19

Full, poignant, purposeful

This group of essays provide a private view into the authors life. She describes everything so beautifully, the words roll off her lips like smoke. The imagery so vivid that, you feel as though you're getting a naughty peek into your neighbors world. The bravery that she shares in every story gives, a dignity that I didn't know living with depression deserved. Bravo Ms. Ikpi

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Hear this in her own words

I loved this. It made me have all kinds of feelings hearing Bassey bring her book to life. It made me think about things in my own life I had forgotten about. I feel seen and I’m glad someone understands some of ups and down of life, love, and struggles of just trying to live.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Raw. Real. Necessary.

After hearing Bassey on The Read, I knew I had to get this book. It turned out to be everything I didn't know that I needed. I feel so seen after listening to this. It felt like her words were telling the story of my life. While the cast of characters, places, and faces were different the feelings, emotions, and experiences she shared vibrated to the same frequency of mine.
Even if you don't have similar struggles with mental health, just hearing her tell the stories of her life in a way that's honest and so relate-able will have you captivated.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Tirzah
  • Benicia, CA, US
  • 08-26-19

Raw, real, vulnerable

This was the best book I’ve ever read, and I’ve read a lot of books. This book spoke a language that my heart knew but mouth couldn’t speak. This book changed me. This book was raw, and real, and vulnerable, and poetic, and terrifying, and sad, and thought provoking. This book is a masterpiece!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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This is why Audiobooks were invented

I was first introduced to Bassey Ikpi as a wisecracking, preternaturally witty presence on Twitter. So it was no surprise when I later discovered she was a poet and writer. This book gives a similar feel of, "Well, obviously." Its pacing, prose, and overall style betray its author's past as a successful spoken word artist.

That said, it's a surprisingly accessible read:
- I don't pretend to "get" most poetry, but it's okay because the poetic influence is more a flourish than a core.
- I'm an absolute layman when it comes to mental health, but not only did the book do a better job of vividly describing Bipolar II Disorder than I've ever encountered, it's otherwise such an engaging memoir that the mental health angle could almost be read as secondary.

The words are powerful -- I read an excerpt published in the NY Times before the book's release -- but the audiobook is truly the gem here. Ikpi's past as a performer really shines through in her reading. She goes from poet, to actress, to world-weary friend on your sofa, depending on what ground is being covered, and it really takes the subject matter to a whole new level.

Absolutely worth checking out.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Poetic, beautiful, heartbreaking, honest

I don't think I've ever read a such a beautifully descriptive story of pain and inner turmoil. Bassey's naked self reflection and unflinching honesty leave you unable and not wanting to judge her struggle. Honest, earnest and so raw. I found myself re-listening to portions that were so insightful and so beautifully descriptive that one listen wasn't enough.

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My heart is full

Enjoyed listening to Bassey’s story. Her essays detailing her life story, encounters and struggles were well written and spoken. She reflections were insightful to her dealings with the difficulties of mental illness. My heart is full. Prayers to her and all trying to cope and understand.

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  • TonyaA6
  • Vacaville, CA, United States
  • 10-21-19

Raw honesty!

I learned of Ms. Ikpi's book because I follow her on Twitter. This may be the most honest, raw memoir I've ever read about mental health, and I genuinely appreciate her sharing this with us.

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Time well spent suspended in her story.

I tremble when someone uses spoken word to expose my soul. Bassey Ikpi articulated her story fluently. Honestly, the one thing I disliked was how greedy I was for more. Thank you Bassey lkpi, for sitting in the darkness with me until morning lazily arrived.

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Mezmorizing

There are but two words that fully encompass the full weight of Bassey's Story.. Painfully Brilliant