So many people criticize Lithium, however dramatic, it pretty much saved my life. I am very fortunate to have few side effects from it, and moods are pretty stable.
The only close call I did have with Lithium was, and truly my own fault: I went to an open market in the summer about 3 years ago; no hat on, no bottle of water, ate no breakfast and stood out in the hot sun for 2-3 hours. Came home, started feeling nauseous (flu symptoms), headed to bed, sudden cramps, diarreah and then suddenly I fainted. I was staying with a friend and she got me to ER. Turns out I was severely dehydrated, had to be hospitalized for 3 days on IV and doctors said I would have needed dialysis if I had waited. I was shocked and stunned!
No lasting effects though - my own fault. Even if I had had the water or hat, I think things would have been ok.
I'm still on Lithium and still have stable moods.