Augsburg Fortress

Bipolar Faith: A Black Woman's Journey with Depression and Faith

Bipolar Faith: A Black Woman's Journey with Depression and Faith

Monica A. Coleman's great-grandfather asked his two young sons to lift him up and pull out the chair when he hanged himself, and that noose stayed in the family shed for years. The rope was the violent instrument, but it was mental anguish that killed him. Now, in gripping fashion, Coleman examines the ways that the legacies of slavery, war, sharecropping, poverty, and alcoholism mask a family history of mental illness. Those same forces accompanied her into the black religious traditions and Christian ministry. All the while, she wrestled with her own bipolar disorder.
Bipolar Faith is both a spiritual autobiography and a memoir of mental illness. In this powerful book, Monica Coleman shares her life-long dance with trauma, depression, and the threat of death. Citing serendipitous encounters with black intellectuals like Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Angela Davis, and Renita Weems, Coleman offers a rare account of how the modulated highs of bipolar II can lead to professional success, while hiding a depression that even her doctors rarely believed. Only as she was able to face her illness was she able to live faithfully with bipolar. And in the process, she discovered a new and liberating vision of God. 
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  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Hardcover
  • ISBN 9781506408590
  • eBook ISBN 9781506487106
  • Brand Theology for the People
  • Age/Grade Range Adult
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 364
  • Publication Date July 1, 2016


Excerpt from Chapter 1:

"The South Carolina cousins placed buckets of fried chicken on the piano bench, and my faith decreased and my depression increased with each wing that was eaten. We treated Grandma's funeral like a family reunion. 'Have you got yourself some chicken, baby?' 'Who's your Mama?' 'Are LePearl and them here yet?' 'She always adored you grandchildren.' The brown wrinkled fingers picked up a napkin and wiped a bit of grease from the side of a mouth. As the relatives stood up, the plastic covering on the pale blue sofa made a creaking sound.

"I was thirteen, and too young, my parents said, to wear a black dress. So I’m donned a navy dress with a Peter Pan collar with soft yellow and blue lace trim on the sleeves that my great-aunt sewed just for the day. I slid into the back of the limousine with my two first cousins. It was the first time I saw a dead body. I stood in front of the casket and looked for a long time. I stared so long that I swore I saw Grandma’s chest move up and down. Not much, just a little. I wanted to yell and grab Mama and tell her to call the doctors and morticians and say that a mistake has been made and Grandma is not really dead. Just very sick. I blinked again, and everything was still."


Reviewed in Publisher's Weekly