Shades of Blue

Writers on Depression, Suicide, and Feeling Blue

Edited by Amy Ferris


“This book belongs to all of us who have ever felt the pang of despair or the full blown crush of depression, or worried about someone precious who may be struggling this very minute.” —Nina Gaby, editor of Dumped: Stories of Women Unfriending Women

A silent epidemic, depression affects millions of people and takes dozens of lives every day, while our culture resists frank discussions about mental health issues. The writers in Shades of Blue share real and unforgettable stories of their personal battles with depression, grief, and suicide, offering solidarity, and hope for all those who feel as if they’re struggling alone.

$16.00 | October 2015 | 256 pages

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A Note from Editor Amy Ferris

When I decided to take on this topic—depression, suicide, mental health issues—I thought I knew what courage was, what it looked like. I was wrong. I say that without any hesitation. I have often thought of suicide as a way out. A way out of my pain, my heartbreak, my sorrow, my mood swings, my abusive (past) relationships, my fears and crippling self-doubt. For me, truthfully, it was a second thought, impulse. The first thought being, How do I get out of here?

I understand why folks take their life. I do. I understand that moment, that fierce mighty blinding moment. But I also understand why we’re told to count to twenty, breathe in and breathe out, put the gun down, place the pills back in the bottle, remove the scarf. Sit. Breathe. Make a call. Ask for help. Reach out. Reach out again and again. And again.

Life is precious, it is precious even in the worst of times. Because even in the worst of times there is always something—a memory, albeit, a small teeny memory—that can reel us in. Back. Home. It takes massive courage to say, “I’m not happy.” To say and declare out loud, “Please, help me, hold me.” It takes huge courage to share our lives—the messy, dirty, crappy, and complicated pieces of our lives. It also takes enormous courage to keep that pain a secret. After all, we live in a world where the round yellow happy face was the single biggest seller for years and years. People love happy. A frown would have never sold. It takes massive huge courage to wear a frown. It takes guts to wear it, and own it, and say, “Here’s my story, maybe it can help you . . .”

So this book is for you, all of you. The men and women, girls and boys, who always—always—wear their scars like stardust.

You are amazing beyond belief.

You are.

Yes.

So go on, strut your gorgeous stuff today knowing—absolutely knowing—that you are not alone.

This I know for sure.

This I’d bet my life on.

—(from Introduction: The Balls-out Truth About Depression)

Praise for Shades of Blue

“If you’ve ever been depressed, read this book. If you’ve ever lost someone to depression, read this book. I have no doubt whatsoever that Shades of Blue will save lives—maybe even yours.” —Laura Davis, bestselling author of I Thought We’d Never Speak Again, co-author of The Courage To Heal, and founder of The Writer’s Journey

“It takes great courage to get up in the morning when depression has closed in. It also takes courage to tell the truth about what it feels like to have lost hope. These brave essayists decribe the darkness, and their efforts, not always successful, to stare it down. By sharing their stories, they are making it a little easier for others to get up in the morning.” —Suzanne Braun Levine, author of Inventing the Rest of Our Lives

“What a strong and searing light the writers in this amazing anthology shine on the thing we are so loathe to name. Depression and suicide grow in secrecy and darkness. What a feat to bathe them in understanding and humor.” —Martha Frankel, author of Hats & Eyeglasses and director of The Woodstock Writers Festival

“This book belongs to all of us who have ever felt the pang of despair or the full blown crush of depression, or worried about someone precious who may be struggling this very minute.” —Nina Gaby, editor of Dumped: Stories of Women Unfriending Women

“I expected this collection to pull me into a maelstrom of darkness. Instead, story after story, I found myself surfacing into the light of appreciation and hope.” —Victoria Zackheim, editor of He Said What?

About the Editor and Contributors:

Amy Ferris editor of Shades of Blue

Editor Amy Ferris is the author of Marrying George Clooney: Confessions From a Midlife Crisis, which was adapted into an off-Broadway play. She lives in northeast Pennsylvania with her husband. Find her on Facebook and Twitter @amyferris.


List of Contributors and Essays:
Beverly DonofrioRiding With the Top Down
Mark S. KingSuicide, a Love Story
Beth Bornstein DunningtonThree Girls, Laughing
Angela M. Giles PatelMedication Makes Me Whole
Caroline LeavittBye-bye, Crayola
Marika Rosenthal DelanDeath, Depression, and Other Capital D Words
Linda Joy MyersColors at the Piano
Lira MaywoodThe Deal Breaker
Jimmy CampA Slip of the Noose
Zoe FitzGerald CarterA Body of Grief
Debra LoGuerico DeAngeloIf I Love You, You’ll Leave
Elizabeth RosnerHello, Catastrophe
Hollye DexterUnraveling
Alexa RosalskyLetters I Will Never Send
C.O. MoedNothing Helps, Except…
Betsy Graziani FasbinderSearch for the Silver Cup
Mark MorganThe Merry-Go-Round
Karen LynchThorazine
Chloe CaldwellLearning to Sit Still
Ruth PennebakerDepression is a Patient Stalker
David LacyAllies in the Sky
Christine Kehl O’HaganOff With the Fairies
Sherry AmatensteinLearning To Love My Depression
Barbara AbercrombieSkirting the Abyss
Patti LinskyGod’s Perfect Child
Kitty SheehanIrish Wake-up Call
Samantha WhiteThe Dialectics of Suicide
Kathryn RountreeForty-four Steps
Jenna StoneUpon Being Told to Be True to Myself
Matt EbertViral Goodbyes
Jennifer PastiloffSomeday This Pain May Be Useful
judywhiteRiding Shotgun
Regina AnavySurviving the Spiral
Pam L. HoustonA Kind of Quiet Most People Have Forgotten