Bipolar Faith by Dr. Monica A. Coleman
Hello My Sage Beauties,
Welcome to the first installment of the Memoir Project. Dr. Coleman’s story touched me on such a deep level I chose her book to be the first review in this on going series because it highlights topics that black women and women of color rarely have a safe space to discuss: mental health, sexaul assault, and intergenerational trauma as a byproduct of systemic racism.
Bipolar Faith, A Black Woman’s Journey with Depression and Faith, is the intimate story of Dr. Coleman’s faith journey intertwined with her struggles with mental health, surviving sexual assault, reevaluating and reviving her relationship with God, and culminating in the realization that she was living with Bipolar II. About 2.5% of the U.S. population suffers from some form of bipolar disorder, that is nearly six million people.
Monica A. Coleman is a professor, author, and speaker on womanist theology and mental health issues though the lens of spirituality. She is also an ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and is currently a professor at the University of Delaware and teaches Africana Studies.
The book starts with the story of how Monica’s great-grandfather committed suicide. He was a sharecropper and a widower with eight children. Monica was told the story by her grandmother who claimed he died of grief. I love the way Monica so eloquently expanded on that memory stating that “Depression is like grief.” This portion of her story is where we may pause and think about how a family history of mental illness can affect the development of our overall mental health. As she chronicles her high school and college years we see how that generational trauma seeped into her own family dynamic with her parents.
Dr. Coleman shares her story of rape with grace, vulnerability, and courage. Many women have similar stories of sexual assault that are never told. She takes us through her healing process and how she struggles to reconnect to God, her body, and revive her faith. Her story of sexual assault, and the aftermath gives the reader space to ask difficult question such as how do we rebuild our faith life after a traumatic event? What comes after we have passed through the “valley” and how do we deal with being angry with God?
Dr. Coleman speaks with frankness, tears, and a unique religious insight which gives a voice to black women when our mental health, bodily autonomy, and struggles within patriarchal religious structures are not discussed in productive and empowering ways.
I would love for my readers to take the time to learn more about her inspiring story, and share your thoughts below or come visit me on social media, @sagebeautyblog.
Starting in July 2020 all future posts for the Memoir Project will be on my patreon! When my readers are kind and supportive enough to visit, Patrons will have access to exclusive content and other fun offers.