I'm sorry you had such a terrible experience with lithium. Did you try another drug to stabilize your mood?
For a different perspective, I've thus far have had a pleasant experience with lithium. I wouldn't necessarily agree with statement that once you're doctor prescribes lithium, they've given up on you. Many people are prescribed lithium to help with their mental illness because it is a very useful tool for some. I began lithium when I was 17 and am 25 now, yet my doctor has not given up on me and I continue therapy. I have no regrets and thus far have not developed any adverse side effects except for thirst.
I'm also in a position of - either continue treatment or, well, death. Depression greatly increases the chance of suicidal tenancies and mania can be equally as damaging to the self. For me, my medication means life or death - and I'd rather suffer the side effects than live an even shorter life full of mood swings.
That being said, I wish you the best and hope your life beyond lithium is better. :D