cover image Bipolar Faith: A Black Woman's Journey in Depression and Faith

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

Monica A. Coleman. Fortress, $26.99 (356p) ISBN 978-1-50640-859-0

Coleman (Making a Way Out of No Way), a Claremont School of Theology professor, traces how mental illness and rape have shaped her Christian faith. Burdened by her sharecropping great-grandfather's suicide in 1920s South Carolina, which cast the shadow of depression down the family line, Christian practice was always the default: "In my family, going to church is like brushing teeth.... Good spiritual hygiene." Taking ownership of her faith was a long journey complicated by severe recurrent depression and being sexually assaulted. As Coleman went further in her theological studies, she was sustained by music and dance, therapy, African-American literature, and churchgoing. The closer she drew to ministry, the more she questioned whether she, a damaged soul, dared minister to others. Highlights of this sensitive memoir include establishing the Dinah Project for victims of sexual violence and holding a memorial service for her former self%E2%80%94"Rituals helped me integrate the trauma of rape in my life," she writes. The cycle of broken relationships can feel repetitive, and dating chapters by their relation to painful events doesn't wholly overcome the chronological drag. However, this empowering story of depression and healing is inspiring, and it successfully shows womanist and process theology in practice. Coleman's courage shines through in this fine memoir. (July)