Skip to main content

David's Inferno

My Journey Through the Dark Wood of Depression

David Blistein, Ken Burns (Foreword by)


List Price: 16.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


Combining personal anecdotes with the latest scientific research, this searingly honest memoir sheds new light on the darkness of depression

Millions people suffer from major depressive episodes. All of them want relief but, more importantly, most simply want to know that they are not alone. With gentle wry humor and a compassionate tone, David's Inferno offers a tale of realization, acceptance, and hope. It is neither prescriptive nor opinionated, seeing all forms of therapy as potentially beneficial in the continuum of care. 

Combining intensely personal reminiscences of a two-year nervous breakdown with contemporary insights on how manic-depression manifests and how it is diagnosed and treated; David Blistein shares his experiences to shed light on the darkness of depression for fellow travelers as well as those who care about them. David's Inferno serves as an ideal book for friends and family of those suffering from depression, helping them to better understand what their loved ones are experiencing.

“Blistein takes us into the heart of his Inferno and combs through clinical and scientific literature to create a vivid, unforgettable image of this very personal form of hell.” —Siddhartha Mukherjee, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies

Praise For David's Inferno: My Journey Through the Dark Wood of Depression

"It takes us deep into the mysteries of depression, and its power to transform our relationships, our creativity, and our very selves—a remarkable achievement." —Ken Burns, award-winning filmmaker

"Blistein’s book is a searingly honest and deeply researched account of a mysterious and pervasive illness. He takes us to the heart of his Inferno, combing through the clinical and scientific literature and plumbing personal testimonies to create a vivid, unforgettable image of this very personal form of hell. This is a wonderful and important book." —Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of Pulitzer Prize-winning The Emperor of All Maladies

"This record of a writing life, a talented man's self-examination, a marriage, all enduring the scalding tides those beset by depression know, stands out particularly for its articulated wisdom and graceful prose. It is plain-spoken, funny, and at times almost heartbreaking. […] But insight is what gets us all by and the most insightful writing is always help in need. David’s Inferno, with its wit and thoughtfulness, is a gift to be cherished." —Robert Stone, winner of National Book Award for Dog Soldiers and Pulitzer Prize Nominee for Bear and His Daughters

"Warm and compassionate, often hilarious, and full of hope and encouragement…If you love someone who is depressed (or who you think might be), read this book." —Caroline Carr, author of Living with Depression: How to Cope When Your Partner is Depressed

"Beyond the obvious—that it's a travelogue of an emotional journey, a Fodor's Guide to the troubled soul—the great insight of David's Inferno is that life and literature are interwoven, that we can look to even ancient books for wisdom, diagnoses, and hope. Blistein's frenetic, torturous—and surprise, funny!—tale offers all three in just the proper dosages." —J.C. Hallman, author of Wm & H'ry: Literature, Love, and the Letters Between William and Henry James

"Why would I want to read so much about another person's life except that it's self-revealing, honest, illuminated with humor, and urgent. It has a reason for being; a perfect storm of a book." —Kabir Helminski, Shaikh of the Mevlevi Order of Sufism and Co-Director of the Threshold Society

"There is no hushed reverence, no self-aggrandizing, no simple tried and true cures... just a shared battle and a stunning honesty." —Will Ackerman, Grammy Award winner and founder of Windham Hill Records

"David Blistein takes depression—something scary and overwhelming—and makes it approachable through this remarkable new book. He brings to his story a great deal of practical and scientific information without ever losing sight of the human element." —Rebecca Jones, MD, founder of the Vermont Greenprint for Health, and Vermont Director for Doctors for America
"From Plato to Plath, the great literary minds of our era have written about the descent into madness, but only one book both chronicles and heals, providing us a helping hand while also promising that we are not alone: David Blistein’s David's Inferno. For anyone searching for meaning in this fragmented world, this profound, brilliant, compellingly fresh memoir is your siren call home. Don't miss it." —Suzanne Kingsbury, author of The Summer that Fletcher Greel Loved Me and The Gospel According to Gracie

"And there are times when it seems that the storms will never end, that the vortex of madness will devour all hope — But there is tomorrow, and this is the story and promise of David Blistein's David's Inferno." —Dr. Michael Conforti, Jungian Analyst and Founder/Director of The Assisi Institute

"This is a very helpful book for depressives and their loved ones. It combines literary references from works such as Dante’s The Divine Comedy and Styron’s Darkness Visible with the author’s personal journey and practical medical information while not being preachy or demanding. It helps family members better respond to their loved ones’ breakdowns, provides depressives with a language with which to articulate their feelings, and provides hope that they will emerge from the dark wood and experience relief." —Ingram Advance

Hatherleigh Press, 9781578264292, 304pp.

Publication Date: March 26, 2013

About the Author

David Blistein is a novelist, essayist, and former advertising agency executive whose writing is the culmination of a lifelong pursuit of wisdom, transcendence, and humor. After a long career as a copywriter and advertising executive, he left the business world to travel the country in a VW van and pursue his own writing. His works-in-progress include books and blogs that present unconventional perspectives on nature, psychology, spirituality and writing. He lives with his wife Wendy O'Connell in Southern Vermont, where he balances his writing with professional consulting, serious road biking, intrepid wood-splitting, and working with children in the Vermont court system. For more information, see

Ken Burns, founder of Florentine Films, is a director, producer, and writer who has been making documentaries for more than twenty years. Among his productions are The Civil War (1990), Baseball (1994), Jazz (2001), The War (2007), The National Parks: America's Best Idea (2009) and Prohibition (2011). His work has won numerous prizes, including the Emmy and Peabody Awards, and has received two Academy Award nominations. He received a Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award in 2008. He lives in Walpole, New Hampshire.