Bipolar Faith: Dealing with Depression and Faith

Bipolar Faith: Dealing with Depression and Faith

In, Bipolar Faith, Dr. Monica A Coleman openly talk about some very personal and intimate details that happened in her life as an evangelical minister.  Such as living with, depression, and also being raped by a fellow minister. She shares how that experience effected her faith and why she was angry with God.

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Bio

Monica A. Coleman is Professor of Africana Studies at the University of Delaware.  She spent over ten years in graduate theological education at Claremont School of Theology and Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.  Answering her call to ministry at age 19, Dr. Coleman brings her experiences in evangelical Christianity, black church traditions,  and indigenous spirituality to her discussions of religion. 

Dr. Coleman is the author or editor of six books and several articles that focus on the role of faith in addressing critical social and philosophical issues. Her memoir Bipolar Faith shares her life-long dance with trauma and depression, and how she discovers a new and liberating vision of God. Her book Making a Way Out of No Way is required reading at leading theological schools around the country. Dr. Coleman co-hosts the web series, “Octavia Tried To Tell Us: Parable for Today’s Pandemic.” 

 Dr Coleman speaks widely on mental wellness, navigating change, religious diversity, mental wellness, and religious responses to intimate partner violence. 

Myrna: How you were called into the ministry at an early age? How did your grandfather influenced you in that?

Book Bipolar Faith
Book Bipolar Faith
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My Bipolar Faith story

Dr Monica: In my book, Bipolar Faith, I tell the story of my great grandfather, my maternal grandmother’s father. Whom I’ve never met of course, and his experience as a black man in a small town in South Carolina.  The story I tell how he decided to hang himself and had one of my great uncle help him to hang himself. My great grandfather asked my great uncle to pull the chair out from underneath him and allow him to hang.

I did not know this story until I was well into my 20s. So, it wasn’t the story that I was told as a child.  Even though many people in the family knew what my grandmother meant when she talked about being orphaned or having her parents die at a very young age.  Her mother died from complications with childbirth. And then she said, six months later, my father died. And so, I understand how she came to that conclusion, that there was this deep sadness that leads this kind of activity.

This was actually just part of my family’s story that was talked about in these metaphorical ways, rather than in more direct ways. So, I think it shaped me in the sense of, there was something in me that knew that you could get so sad you will die.

That deep grief kills.

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Grief and faith

And I think this is a kind of backdrop to a lot of the many other things that I ended up talking about in “Bipolar Faith” as it’s my story.  I am also hoping that other people see themselves in the story in ways in which, poverty and class and war and sharecropping and the effects of slavery and all types of things, contribute to what we would now call, mental illness.

Being black in America, is very complicated. And a lot of times people aren’t stopping to ask “How do you feel?” And so, a big part of this book is really trying to shine a light on, mental illness. Having people ask,

  • How are you doing?
  • How are we feeling?
  • How are you managing these various things that we know that we all manage?

And so, I would say that’s really where I was going to push through and I think it became a part of my calling whether I was not aware of it all.

It is important to talk about these things, whether that’s around issues of, sexual violence, or, domestic violence, or issues around, depression, and, mental health.

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We inherit mental illness from our ancestors

Myrna: This is so true, we inherit the blessing of our ancestors, and we inherit the, curses, of our ancestors.

Dr Monica: I don’t want to quite use that language of, blessings, and, curses. But yes, we inherit what our ancestors have.  We can get the bad stuff and the good stuff, we get the things we would rather live without and we get a lot of their, survival techniques, and their joint, faith, as well. And you know, when I think we you know, so in the fact that we get genetically right isn’t new or knowledge, but the fact that it’s kind of part of who we are and it shapes us and part of our experiences and put up our family stories that we’ve known for a long time.

My great grandfather could have been depressed and that is why he decided to commit suicide, no one was giving a clinical diagnosis of, depression, in that time period.  So, what I want to say  it’s not about checking the boxes and saying that is what he had, because maybe it was the grief of losing his wife and being like oh, my gosh, I have to take care of these eight, nine kids, that’s overwhelmed for anybody plus  sharecropping and, racism. I’m saying I think it’s all of those things. I don’t think you can say, oh, let’s take one out.

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Bipolar faith of Black Women in America

Myrna: I understand the horrible things that our ancestors had to go through.  So, you have something like, mental illness, or, depression, or something like that. But this segues right into the next question I have here. You say that, Black women, we’ve been overlooked, black women, in the United States. What do you think, Black women, have been overlooked?

Dr Monica: I’ve seen things change a lot in the last five years, but for the last five to 10 years, there’s so much more conversation.  I would say, since the COVID pandemic, everybody’s got some kind of, depression. I mean, we think about how we talk about political movements, and the political activism and the voting power of, black women, and the sense that we’re going to hold it all together, we’re going to raise a family, go to work, do all things.

And oh, by the way, while you’re doing that, there’s I think, still is very much expectation that if you’re able to do the things and handle business and make ends meet, that you’re okay or even better, that you’re better than okay that you’re strong.

There’s very much a sense that if you are a person of, faith, then you should be fine. And you should be okay. You shouldn’t have challenges and problems and we have specific expressions that actually imply that.  We all need some help, and I am thrilled to see more of those conversations, but I think they’re still very much sensitive to that.

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Transform Your Mind Amazon

The Superwoman Syndrome and the Black Woman

Myrna: I got to circle back on that the first one was the, Superwoman, tendency of, black women. And you’re right, black women, they’re raising children and a lot of times there’s no man and so they’re holding down two or three jobs and, and they pride themselves on being, Superwoman. In fact, my mom was one of them. She raised four children by herself, had two or three jobs, I came around and did the same thing.  I would say, I can look after my kids, my mom did it, that’s the, Superwoman, tendency that we can do it because we’re strong.

White women, they all have husbands and who may stay home to look after their kids by choice.  The second part of a circle back is that you’re saying that the, superwoman, syndrome creates some kind of, mental illness, and, depression,  they should go to a doctor and get a checkup.  What are you leading to with that?

Dr Monica: My friend and colleague Dr. Chanequa Walker Barnes has written a wonderful book about chocolate the strong black woman is called “Too Heavy A Yoke,” I highly recommend.  Whether it’s legacies of war and poverty, these are also the ways in which black families look on legacies of slavery. And in the United States even the enslavement has manifested in parts of the African diaspora in terms of how families are structured. Even the policies and practices around what family structures look like.

Therapy wasn’t always covered by insurance, but I think it’s getting better. There are more, black therapists, and more culturally competent therapists who will understand all that people are bringing in terms of their racialized and gendered experiences.

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Google Podcast Transform Your Mind

I was raped by a fellow minister

Myrna: In, Bipolar Faith, you kind of cut yourself open and talk about some, some personal issues and personal things and you’re sharing so you can help others. So, you share some very intimate details of your life, such as living with, depression, yourself and also being raped by a fellow minister. How did that experience effect your, faith? Was there a time where you know you’re angry with God?

Dr. Coleman:  I think experiences of deep suffering cause all of us to have, at the very least a hiccup in our, faith, walk. You’re going to have some kind of pain, whether it is the kinds of, traumas, that I discussed. There’s going to be some level of suffering and no one likes it. No one’s ready for it.  Nobody wants to suffer. It’s not a part of the human experience that we’re happy about or that we’re going to welcome and say, hey, let’s have some pain here.

There are levels of grief. That’s all part of our life and because our spirituality and our, faith, is part of our life, it’s part of our, faith, as well. And for some people, faith, is very helpful and instrumental and holding them up and they find great resonance in the, faith community, and a lot of support there. But at some point, people don’t ask why me? Why someone I know and love died? I need some answers here.

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Deezer Transform Your Mind Podcast

Crisis of Faith

We act like asking why is a problem like it’s a crisis of, bipolar faith, and you’re not supposed to do it? Why do I have to do this? Why is this happening? Why it’s happening to my people? It’s a very natural part of the spiritual life to ask why. I think what doesn’t happen very often is people don’t always say, you’re going to lose the, faith.

And that’s okay. For a lot of times, there’s a sense that losing your, faith, is the end of the world and it is like heresy or some terrible thing.  We’ve all lost, faith, at least once, maybe 2-3-4 times. And it is our responsibility, I would say as a, faith community, to stay with you while you find it again, and to hold the space for you, to walk with you to hold you and bring you food.

Until you and God find your way back to each other or something like that. Because of course we don’t have the same, faith, we had as five-year-olds. We don’t have the same, faith, we had as 15-year-olds, because we’ve seen more and we’ve grown more, we’ve evolved and had different kinds of experiences.

Doesn’t mean I don’t have a relationship with God. I don’t have a, faith community, but that’s not what it looks like anymore. And so yes, it definitely caused me to have some questions and to be angry and to say, what I’ve been taught, is not matching up with what I’m experiencing, and I’m trying to figure this out. So, I kept changing, faith communities, until I found one that was able to hold that space of, faith, for me.

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Transform Your Mind Luminary podcast

Does Depression follow grief

Myrna: So, my circle back to that is when did you become, depressed?

Dr Monica: I really can’t quite pinpoint when did I become depressed or say Oh, well I have this very deep grief, my grandmother died when I was 13 years old. I named it as, depression. You know, my family negative, depression. I didn’t come up in a context where people were like, Let’s label this as, depression. Let’s give you some therapy. That came much later. But that’s how a lot many black families were in the 70s and 80s. No one said, let’s go to therapy like white people do.

Oh, yes, I can look back and say this was, depression. I felt that there were definitely some challenges and hard places in life. That made me sad, but to me, I was like, well, sadness is the appropriate response to some of these things. And I would later have clinicians say, well, most people feel sad in this way and you seem to be sad in a deeper way. And I’m like, oh, because I don’t know most people only know me from the inside.

Transform Your Mind Podcast Player FM
Transform Your Mind Podcast Player FM

Making a Way out of No Way

In many ways, I would say “Making A Way Out Of No Way” is the theory behind, Bipolar Faith.  So, Bipolar Faith, is my story.  It’s the story of my family. And I like to think that there is there’s some gray threads that feel like an African American story, it presents like an American story.  And I think Making A Way Out Of No Way is the belief system that’s behind, Bipolar Faith.  This is what I believe about community, what I believe about salvation and that salvation in the what gets us to heaven.

Salvation is the root word set out to heal, to be evolved and to make us well.  Salvation is what I believe helps us to be whole and helps us to do well. And then it is making a way out of no way.  But it’s really not no way, it’s just a way we can’t see.  And that’s where the God part comes in. It’s, you know, God and hopefully us as you know, as creative people’s humanity and the rest of creation, working together to in the best of worlds to make the world a better place. Transforming creative ways.

Myrna: So that’s great, it’s like, blind faith. Of us knowing that regardless of how bleak it looks right now, that God is going to make a way out of no way tomorrow.  Joy comes in the morning kind of thing kind of thing. So, I like that. So, do you feel that your story and, Bipolar Faith, you said that was the foundational principle? Do you feel that that is how your life progressed, that you had the spiritual power, that propelled you along and God always made a way for you to prosper?

Dr Monica: I’m not even sure if I’m prospering, I think I’m doing meaningful and I would even say needful work. Trying to creatively transform what we got, whatever we’ve inherited, into something better. Sometimes it’s great. Sometimes it’s this is what we got to work with, to transform what we have into creative ways. To make the world a better place.

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Podfriend Transform Your Mind Podcast

Conclusion Bipolar Faith

Myrna: How can people connect with you and pick up copies of, bipolar faith, and other books?

Dr Monica: You can always pick up a copy at www.bipolarfaith.com.  If you go there, you’ll find more than you ever want to know about the book. Find ways to buy it. You can also always call your local bookseller and ask them to order it for you. You can use larger online booksellers, if you prefer. If you go to www.bipolarfaith.com. I do a lot of music in the books. So, you’ll see some playlists there. You’ll see a couple of videos there. You can grab a little bundle I call, behind, bipolar faith, where there’s a workbook available if you want to do this like a reading group, for example.

And you can also hear a couple interviews from a psychiatrist and other, faith leaders, with me about, bipolar faith. You can also go to www.monicaacoleman.com and find more information about me and you can also grab a free devotional. If you go to the homepage, you’ll see a free five-day devotional there. And that’s just my gift to others a little devotional that I use for the spirituality.

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The Emotional Trials and Triumphs of Cancer

Triumphs of Cancer

The fear of, cancer, can be just as powerful as actual, cancer, right? And not all, cancers, in fact  most, cancers, are not a death sentence. So, what I wanted to do was to explain in my book is that we don’t really know what people are going through.

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How has your life been impacted personally by cancer?

David: What brought me to this project was, my sister was diagnosed with, terminal brain cancer,  in 2004. So, she was right around 40, married with two young kids, great profession, life going great for her. Then all of a sudden, she was diagnosed with, terminal brain cancer, and all that was going to be taken away. To me that was profound on a lot of different levels.  Because not only was she gonna face the reality that she was going to die soon. Some people get a terminal diagnosis, but survive, but my sister had no hope.

She had kind of come to terms with the fact that there was a lot of different aspects of it that she had to deal with. And I think that’s kind of true with anybody that might have that type of an issue, where you’re forced to face your own mortality. And with, cancer, especially, you’re kind of given sometimes time to get your house in order, right? A lot of a lot of people die on the spot, they don’t get tine to put their house in order.

Myrna: So, let me ask you, I know I’m jumping ahead of myself, but it seems like a good point to ask the question. Do you think that from the people that you’ve spoken to you, do they appreciate getting this time?  If somebody asks, how much time I got, and I said five months? Do they appreciate that time and knowing they have 5 months to live? Or they prefer not to know?

Do people appreciate knowing of their mortality

David: That’s a great question. I think it’s probably super personal. That’s the whole reason that I wrote the book, if you are going through, trauma, or know somebody who is going through, trauma, whether it’s terminal or not, but it’s related to, cancer, you know, some other major trauma,  if you do have the opportunity to form deeper connections with these people, do so.

The problem is, is that we often self-isolate, and or we abandon people not willingly, but we just, we don’t want to say we don’t know what to do. We don’t want to make people feel guilty. We don’t want to say the wrong thing or bring people down or whatever. And so, a lot of times, people do not use this time constructively.

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Myrna: How did you deal with your sister’s diagnosis? And how did you help her?

David: Great question. So, what we did was, throughout our adult lives, we were close, sometimes not close, because life just gets in the way, right. Like we she had her family and kids and friends and work and you know, just like gets in the way. After the, cancer diagnosis, though, I think we probably talked way more regularly and purposefully.

I had a friend recently who lost one of his best friends, and he said that they couldn’t count the number of, cancer nodes,  on his lungs, because there was too many, so he died really quickly after his, cancer diagnosis. And my friend said, that was probably the best way, why put him through all that pain?

Sometimes the reality is there, I felt like with my sister, even though she fought for three or four years, I mean, there wasn’t an option for her to survive, because she had a massive tumor and it spread. What happened was that anytime that I reached out, she was available. We didn’t always talk about heavy stuff. But knowing that there was a finish line, fast approaching, I think that we, with intentionality really tried to try to bond as deeply as we could.

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Transform Your Mind Podnews

A terminal diagnosis of cancer

Myrna: Now, a lot of people who are given that diagnosis would say I’m gonna make peace because they tell you to put your house in order and make sure you tell everyone you love them. And maybe you should do the things that you have always wanted to do. You think that people do that, like their, bucket lists? Do they do that?

David: I think that’s a rarity. Because you know, we live in denial. And one of the people I spoke to was a doctor, an oncologist at NYU. She told me that no one accepts that they are going to die from, cancer. They always have hope, so very few people put their house in order or do things on their, bucket list. One of the things she told me that really made a lot of sense was, the human brain is not wired to be able to really contemplate in an understanding way our own mortality, it just doesn’t just doesn’t happen.

I think that kind of explains why we don’t ever want to put our house in order and we don’t ever want to do those, bucket list, kinds of things. Because we just don’t think we’re going to die. So the vast majority of people that I spoke to, they did have a fair amount of denial, either from them or the people that they loved. They put off taking care of things. They were abandoned by people that loved them, they self-isolated and didn’t close loops that they probably should have closed.

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Cancer patients live in hope

Myrna: So true, that is why suicide is so against the norm, because most of us are wired to preserve our life, and we will go to great lengths to stay alive, even when the quality of our lives is taken away, we want to live. So that is a very distinct, very good information to put out to someone who is reading this, that is either going through, trauma, or they know someone who has been given a terminal diagnosis of, cancer. Make sure that you tell your loved ones that you love them and put your house in order.

David: My book is not all about death and dying from, cancer, because, cancer,  does not always mean death. Even the fear of, cancer, can be unbelievably traumatic for some people, right? Imagine if you received a diagnosis, it was early diagnosis, like a stage one, cancer, or something, and very treatable. But now you got to live the rest of your life thinking in the back of your head, oh, my gosh,

  • Am I allowed to go out in the sun?
  • Should I eat a certain food?
  • Do I need to exercise more?
  • Is this, cancer, going to come back and take me?
  • Do I not have kids because I don’t want to lose them in case my, cancer, is fatal.
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Living in fear of cancer

I mean, the, fear of cancer, can be just as powerful as actual, cancer, right? And not all, cancers, in fact  most, cancers, are not a death sentence. So what I wanted to do was to explain in my book is  what are people going through that we might not know? Or what, traumas, have affected them so that they’re not able to navigate this kind of traumatic diagnosis of, cancer.  Because we don’t really know what people are going through.

Myrna: Yea death and taxes are the only thing that are guaranteed. And yet, we don’t want to we don’t want either of them.

One of the things you said, though, is that, went and you interviewed, these 15 cancer survivors even though each one of their stories were different, you found something that was consistent that linked all these stories.  What is the link?

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What every cancer patient fears

David: Sure, so there were two things that was consistent. And just to add one more thing to what you just said is it also is not just people that had gone through, cancer, that I spoke to, but also caregivers, doctors. I spoke to people that never had, cancer, themselves, but their lives were centered around, cancer, as a caregiver, or maybe they were with a loved one who went through, cancer.

So, I wanted all those different perspectives, because I think that it’s not the same. If your spouse is diagnosed with, cancer, there still is an unbelievably deep and traumatic set of emotions that go through you, as well, right? You’re not even the one with, cancer, but imagine what you must go through watching your spouse go through, cancer.

But the two things that I found that were quite consistent with every person I spoke to whether they made the book, or they didn’t this is one:

  • No matter how crazy people lives are, nobody thinks their life is that interesting. They’re just living their life
  • Two they feared asking for help. The theme that we’ve been talking about, which is almost everybody not everybody, had a big identification with the thought of, I don’t know if I’m equipped to form really deep connections with the people around me about what I’m going through.
  • They are dealing with the tasks like how do I get to my appointment? How do I get my kids watched while I’m in the chemo chair? How do I navigate time off work? How do I eat healthier?  They don’t want to be a burden, so they have a hard time asking for help. And that was very, very consistent with almost every single person I spoke to.

Myrna: Do you think it’s because people don’t really like to ask for help?

David: That’s definitely a. Yeah,

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Patricia’s story: I don’t get colds, I get cancer

There was one story about this woman her name is Patricia and she made the statement I don’t get colds, I get, cancer.  From that statement, I delve into her, mindset, and I am assuming that she’s had a hard life because she made the comment that I don’t get colds, I get cancer, which tells me that, cancer, kept coming back. But, one of the reasons that I want to I want to I want to touch on it, is because I also know when we make statements like this one, then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. So, what can you share about Patricia’s story?

David: Wow, that’s a great insight. So, her story is really fascinating. And one of the things that was hilarious was like the second conversation I had with her she tells me, “My life’s not that interesting.” So,  let me try to explain her story. Her story is pretty fascinating, because I thought it was about the fact that she had, beat cancer, five different times over a 35-year period. But that’s not what her story is about. Near the end of her talking to me, I asked Patricia, I go, Hey, What’s your secret? Like how did you, beat cancer, 5 times?

And she said to me, well, ever since I moved on from x, and I’ll give you point x in a second. She said, every time that I moved on from point x, all I did was I just said to myself,

Every single day, you have to put your feet on the ground, get up out of bed, and go about your day.

Transform Your Mind PTWWNTV
Transform Your Mind PTWWNTV

Now sometimes David, I was able to make my bed and walk away. Other times, I make my bed and lay right back into it. But I wanted to get up and put my feet on the ground and make my bed and go about my day. Oh, wow. Now not knowing her story. If you told me life was get your feet on the ground and make your bed and go about your day, I’d roll my eyes go on, whatever, you know, good for you.

But her story is this so when she’s a teenager she was in a relationship and that the relationship was exceptionally abusive. To the point where she has is forced to cut ties with every person that she knows, including her family friends, not allowed to go out anywhere on her own. He beats her up if he just thinks that she’s having a bad thought. I mean, it’s horrible. Okay, so after four years she learns how to escape by getting another identity and she escapes that abusive relationship.

Shortly after she escapes, she gets diagnosed with, cancer, for the first time. Over a 35-year period she gets diagnosed with, cancer, five different times and five different types of, cancer, very serious. Her story is while beating the first, cancer, she met some someone and he becomes the only person that she had ever met that she could trust and that she could love and felt would love her no matter what.

This man helped her recover from that abusive situation she had escaped from. And he was beside her for her whole life, during which time she was fighting all these different, cancers,  and living her life. This love sustained her through battling her cancers, caring for her dad who died of, cancer.

Transform your Mind Spotify Podcast
Download on Spotify

Everyone has their time in the barrel

She looked at herself one day in the mirror, and she said, hey, don’t walk around, like all burden. Don’t walk around all emotional.

Everybody has their time in the barrel. All you do is just keep getting up, keep putting your foot on the ground, make your bed and go about your day.

And I’m just like, holy cow. She’s had been through all of that and the only solution to her was, everybody’s got a tough life. Everybody has it bad, you could be burdened by it. Or you could not just get your feet on the ground, make your bed and go about your day. I’m like, That’s brilliant. Right. And so, so that’s, that’s Patricia’s story. So, I mean, there’s more way more to her story you have to read the book.

Myrna: Well, you surprised me with that answer. But I get it. When I looked at that statement. I don’t get colds, I get cancer. I thought that was a, defeated mindset. You know, saying I’m always sick. And then you become always sick, like self-fulfilling prophecy. But instead, she’s looking at, cancer, almost like a cold, something that you get through. You get, and you just go on with your life!

Transform your Mind Stitcher
Transform your Mind Stitcher

Never sick a day in my life except cancer

David: And you know, one of the first things she said to me, she goes, I never been sick a day in my life. I never had a cold; I never had the flu. I have never been sick except for, cancer, and all the other stuff that came with it, I literally have never been sick a day in my life. And she goes, if somebody wrote a story about me, it would be titled, I don’t get colds, I get cancer!

Myrna: What do you want the reader to walk away with after reading your, cancer stories?

David:  Well, first of all, what I want them to know is that each one of the book participants, doctor, patient, loved one, whatever survivor, they chose a, cancer focused charity, or other charity that they wanted the proceeds of the book to go to, so 100% of the proceeds of the book, no matter where it’s sold, or how it sold, it gets divided up between the organizations that they chose. So that’s number one. What I want the reader to know is they’ll be doing some good financially, there’s not a lot of money in books, but 100% of it will go to support their organizations.

But I think what more you know, like that saying, we talked about it earlier, like you never know what people are going through. That’s what I want readers to walk away with. We really have no idea what people are going through.  For example, Patricia finished a master’s in art. She’s an amazing artist and when you were sitting next to her in art class and admiring her work, and she’s admiring yours, you would have no idea what she had gone through.

Book Cycle of Lives: Cancer stories
Book Cycle of Lives: Cancer stories

Conclusion

Myrna: How can readers get their hands on your book? How can they connect with you on social media?

David: Yes, the book is available wherever books are sold. So, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, your local bookstore. Up until a week ago, I couldn’t have said this. But now the audible is out. So, it’s, it’s available as a book, as an e book or as an audio book. In fact, we had 15 different actors each read one of the different stories, so it’s very entertaining, and very inspirational and it’s not very heavy. There’s a lot of inspiration that can come from these stories.

They can connect with me on Facebook or Instagram @cycleoflives or @David Richman or go to my website www.David-Richman.com  And they can learn about the institutions that we’re supporting, and all the other things that are going on around this whole cycle of life’s project.

Additional Resources

Nothing is Impossible: How to Turn Life’s Challenges Into Opportunity

 

How to Release Childhood Trauma of Guilt Shame

Healing ourselves from Childhood Trauma

Trauma, is a shock to the, nervous system. And when, childhood trauma, is stored instead of released, it can cause physical and, mental health, issues down the road. When, trauma, occurs,  in an effort of protection, your brain temporarily pauses your memory processing system, and the experience is not stored as traditional memories.

Today I am talking with Emily Francis. Emily  is the best selling author of “Healing Ourselves Whole”

Listen to the full interview here:

 

Healing Ourselves Whole will give you the tools you need to clean your emotional house from top to bottom, complete with journal prompts and access to audio meditations for you to listen along to as you read.

As a trained, body worker, Emily Francis offers a refreshing perspective into healing, trauma. She reveals unique knowledge of the body as a holder for memory. Emily will lead you on a path deep within yourself to rearrange the ways that, pain, and, trauma, have been holding you back from whole body, mind, spirit, and, energy healing. You will rearrange the dialogue within your body memory systems as well as learn a practice to re-birth by healing your, inner child, and adolescent selves, coming into the present to create the best adult self possible.

This groundbreaking interactive book contains a journal and access to audio meditations for you to listen to as you read. The meditations will help you dig deep into past, trauma, and discover when and how, trauma, took root. Learn to get in touch with various parts of the physical and, energy body, and how to use them to let go of stored, traumas, and rediscover the deeply held joys that have also been stored within the body. From this, you will learn to live from a new mindful and powerful space.

book: Healing Ourselves Whole from trauma
book: Healing Ourselves Whole

How to release trauma from the body

My Psychotherapist told me to do something called catch and release. Which means whenever you catch yourself being triggered by past, trauma. This happens whenever you begin to feel bad, and you are not sure why. Whenever you feel your body going into reaction mode,  breathe in and then release it.  This allows the feelings you have stuffed down to come out.

Myrna – Emily can you share with our readers how they can  to us start to release, traumatic experiences, from their body?

Emily – In my book, Healing Ourselves Whole, I help my readers put their own hands on their body. When I am helping my clients in person, I help them, release trauma,  in their body by putting my hands on their body to help them locate where the, trauma, had gone in, or the shame, or the guilt.

Why our bodies hold Trauma

Our muscles and tissues store the memory of, trauma.  They also store memories of Joy.  That’s my work; but I couldn’t write a book and teach you how to do Hands On Healing, so I wrote a book teaching you how to dialogue inside your body.  This book “Healing Ourselves Whole” has a chapter for every emotion we hold in our body. We go through a 15 to 20-minute meditation on releasing, body trauma.

The workbook included with the book allows you to journal and go through all the senses to find the, trauma, carrot or the shame carrot or the guilt or grief. I teach you through this book how to do the body work by yourself. I’m not a therapist, so some behaviors and thoughts still need to be treated by, hypnosis therapy, like EMDR.

I work on the part of the body that is holding the, pain, and blocking the healing, so you still need your, cognitive therapist.

Childhood trauma and body trauma are connected

I have some, childhood trauma, and I know that until I became conscious that I was stuffing things down instead of understanding my emotions, I never understood that my, childhood trauma, was influencing my present. My, childhood trauma, also affected my relationships earlier in life before I was able to start to release them.

This is a great topic on releasing, chronic pain, because some people go to their graves not understanding that their quality of life was hampered by, what happened to them. Sometimes the, wounds, were only from, childhood, but relationships earlier in their lives eg.  lovers, friends, teachers etc.

Emily, what made you become a wellness expert?

I graduated undergraduate with a science and, wellness, degree then I went on to become an aerobic yoga instructor. Then I started suffering from extreme panic attacks and agoraphobia, so I went from loving to be on the stage, to not wanting to leave my house.  I was a college cheerleader, I worked out every day, I was at the gym three to five hours a day teaching different classes and I was like rocking.

The more crowded the better.  I fed off the energy and then I turned twenty-five!  I stopped drinking and the mask dropped and the crazy came up. All the, pain, that I had stuff down came to a flying head and I had to stop myself from extreme anxiety and panic attacks.

It took seven years for me to understand that the reason for my anxiety and panic attacks were because of, childhood trauma, that I had stuffed down. I missed a lot of my hot years as a young adult because I couldn’t hang out with friends or go to bars without feeling like I was crazy.  I really stepped away from life and just sat out and watched life pass me by. My, mental health, was of grave concern to me.  I prayed a lot.  I did a lot of intensive work, meditative work.  I went to a million different, healers.  if I heard of something for, body trauma, I was there.  I went through 7 years of, holistic therapy, and nothing worked until I finally broke down and tried a child’s dose of an antidepressant.

When I was able to heal myself, I want to share and that is why I wrote the book Healing Ourselves Whole

Google Podcast Transform Your Mind
Google Podcast Transform Your Mind

Can medications help with Childhood Trauma?

After 7 years of looking for a treatment, I came across a book by a psychotherapist named Tom Rutledge.  He suggested medications. I tried it and it worked for me. The antidepressant worked because it regulated my brain and here is the thing that I learnt from Tom.  I was reading his book and embracing fear and I decided to write this letter to him. I wrote that I was a big phony and a liar, and I’ve been writing all these years and it was  just crap.  I am crap and I wrote this long letter.  It was like reading my autobiography. I just wrote out all the things I had been telling myself all these years.

Tom Rutledge replied that I should consider medication. He said that we must first regulate the brain before we can start the healing process and suggested that we should try medication. I rejected medication, because it goes against everything, I believe in.  It goes against my holistic principal, it was a Band-Aid. I said no I’m not interested, and he wrote back. He said there’s a part that I think you’ve missed, the brain and the mind are not the same thing.  The mind is where your thoughts and behaviors are, the brain is an organ in your body. It’s like your heart or your liver or kidneys.  You would not hesitate to take medication if your heart or liver or kidneys were malfunctioning.

But, mental illness, comes with a stigma. People hesitate to take medication because they feel it makes them crazy. Antidepressants are just something to regulate your brain. The brain is an organ and you’re missing some chemicals in your brain and that is the reason for the anxiety and panic attacks.  Once you get that regulated all the work that you’ve done because you’ve done significant with healers will be able to come through.

Book: Hollywood endings How to get one
Book: Hollywood endings How to get one

Hollywood Endings and How to Get One

 Yes, you can create what you want with imagination an intention. The movie themes the world loves are few and simple; they are the themes that have been portrayed over and over since Hollywood began to make movies. These classics have the most wonderful endings: love overcomes all; good defeats evil; the wayward child comes home. Anyone can be a hero, and everyone has a Guardian Angel.

Hollywood Endings – Using Imagination and Intention is about self-awareness, recovery and enlightenment. It’s for anyone who has ever wanted or dreamed of having a “Hollywood ending.” It is for those of us who never had a role model to show us how it’s done. It celebrates the wonder of the movies and urges us to see movies once to be entertained, and then return to see them again to learn from them. We all deserve a Hollywood ending. This book can show you how with life lessons from Dances With Wolves, National Velvet, Die Hard, and The Color Purple, to name a few.

Rewrite your own story and give it a Hollywood ending.

Soundcloud Transform your mind podcast
Transform your Mind Soundcloud podcast

Trauma gets stuck in the body

Trauma, gets attached to your tissues, because the experience of stress, particularly, childhood trauma, causes stress and can trigger active survival responses of fight, flight, or freeze. When your, body trauma, can’t activate or complete these responses, those sensations become trapped in your nervous system.

Trauma, is a shock to the, nervous system. And when that, trauma, is stored instead of released, it can cause physical and, mental health, issues down the road. When, trauma, occurs,  in an effort of protection, your brain temporarily pauses your memory processing system, and the experience is not stored as traditional memories.

Instead of being stored as a complete memory, traumatic experiences are thought to be stored as fragments of pictures of, body sensations or, body trauma.  These fragments are unprocessed and thus don’t fit in the system as they should. Because they don’t fit, these fragments can surface unexpectedly as nightmares, flashbacks, or general angst and unease. Most of the time you don’t know why you are feeling uneasy.

Transform Your Mind iHeart Radio
iHeart Radio

How to Release Trauma Trapped in the Body

International Trauma-Healing Institute founder Gina Ross has developed a simple process called Emotion Aid. Here is a summary of those steps you can use to begin to,  release trauma, trapped in your body.

  1. First, assess where you are: rate your stress or upset from a low of 1 to a high of 7. If it is high, first practice the following Grounding Steps.
    1. Begin by Butterfly Hugging and Tapping– hug yourself and then alternately tap on your arms, from side to side, 25 times. Then take a deep breath. Repeat this until your stress level begins to drop noticeably.
    2. Next, Send Roots into the Ground. Notice your feet or, if your seated, your back, buttocks, and back of your legs in the chair.  Now notice your feet or lower body being firmly connected to the floor, then to the ground, like roots going deep into the earth. Take a deep breath. Then gaze about the room and notice objects or textures about the room, remaining connected to your “roots.”
    3. Finally, Notice Breathing: Put one hand on your chest and one hand your belly. Now just be with your breath, not trying to change it, but just noticing the rhythm of it. Then make a heart shape with your fingertips and bring awareness to your beating heart.

How to discharge body trauma

  1. Now begin to Discharge Sensations and Release Stress.
    1. First, notice your breath and Breathe Notice any sensations that come up naturally. As you release, trauma, and  stress hormones, they will present through sensations like shaking, heat, sweating, yawning, goosebumps, changed breath, and gurgling in the stomach. Be curious about the feelings and be with them, and they will naturally discharge. Do not judge or critique what you are feeling or sensing.
    2. Next, briefly review the, childhood trauma, or troubling thoughts that lead to the sensations. As you review, notice the Feelings that come up as you consider what happened. It’s important to go slow so that you’re only allowing the activation of one feeling at a time. Just be with it and give it plenty of time. Then notice the discharge that emerges as you follow the sensations. (Know that you can temporarily set aside sensations and emotions that you are not focusing on at the moment. For example, imagine putting them on a shelf for the moment.)
    3. Then work with the Thoughts. Again, as you notice one thought at a time, observe the sensations that show up with these thoughts. Let go of the judgment or criticism. Just be present and continue to observe what happens next and experience the sensations discharging and releasing from the body.
    4. Now notice and bring to awareness Resources. A resource is anything that feels strong and calm to you. These can be external (for example, the kind eyes of a good friend) or internal (perhaps the memory of a personal achievement). As you recall or hold these resources notice the sensations that show up in your body. Take a few minutes to feel the sense of calm and strength in your body.

Conclusion

Listen to Emily radio show All About Healing 

Subscribe to the Transform your Mind Radio Podcast and TV show on iTunes, Spotify, or any of the podcast players

If you would like daily inspiration on how to transform your life, I invite you to join my Facebook group Lifecoach

Additional Resources

Drug and Alcohol Treatment for Women with Trauma