Ann Keiffer

My Book

This is Ann's Story

It looked like Ann Keiffer had it all: an exciting career in a prestigious advertising agency, an adoring husband, a teenage son who kept her laughing, and a circle of close friends.

But there were signs Ann was in trouble. Her son was prophetic when he made a plaque for her with three chiseled words: work, work, work. A short time later, Ann realized something was terribly wrong. She had begun a harrowing descent into the black abyss of clinical depression.

What do you do when the spark of your life goes out…when you feel dead, sorrowing, hopeless? How do you re-light the flame? Ann writes with gripping candor of her depression…and equally powerfully of her healing process. Like close friends, readers will understand why Ann now views her depression as a blessing–dangerous and dark, but ultimately, a blessing.

Is it possible our wounds may sometimes be our healing, that transforming possibilities may be hidden in the darkest passages of our lives? Blest by the Dark Angel is a celebration of the capacity of the human spirit not just to survive emotional and physical pain, but to be transformed by suffering.


Featured Indie Title - April 2014


This memoir chronicles the story of one woman’s courageous battle with depression and how, rather than destroying her life, the crippling disease ended up improving it.

Keiffer…seemed to have it all. She held an enviable position at a prestigious advertising agency; she had a husband who loved her; and she had a well-behaved, lovable teenage son and a slew of loyal friends. It was hard to fathom, then, why she began slipping into a deep depression, which left her feeling not only incapacitated and weak, but also suicidal.

Keiffer’s battle with depression began when she started feeling extreme pressure to succeed at a fast-paced ad agency in San Francisco. As her main priority shifted to doing better and better at work, she began to notice that she felt odd, “like a visitor from another planet”—lethargic, disinterested in food and no longer able to find enjoyment. She also had an inexplicable rash on her body. Eventually, Keiffer realized she had reached a place where she was no longer able to function, and she took leave from her job, going from her own bedroom to a hospital to a supportive friend’s home to try to recuperate.

Keiffer’s book chronicles her excruciating journey, from the fall into depression through the climb out of it. As she explains in her introduction, “I will take you down into the abyss of my depression with the truest words I can find. And I will leave nothing out—not the chaos of the fall, the deadening despair, nor the love that was a candle in my darkness.”

Keiffer focuses much of her story on the pulls of feminine and masculine instincts inside of her (labeling these instincts “Valentine” and “Duke,” respectively), and she explains how this conflict exacerbated her depression. Her book offers not only a brutally honest account of what it feels like to deal with depression, but also the hopeful and optimistic story of overcoming it.

kirkus Review
Magzine Reviewer


I have never read a more profoundly accurate description of how depression feels. Everything I’ve ever wanted to say about how depression feels, author Ann Keiffer has expressed in Blest By the Dark Angel. It is an absolutely exquisite book, and she does so well in explaining how depression, and the physical and emotional symptoms of it, plagued her. I appreciated that she didn’t preach to the reader, or say “here is what you need to do to be happy.” She simply shares her experience–into depression, through it, and beyond it. The images and poems from her depression awareness project with her son were raw and beautiful. I absolutely loved this book, and have highlights for future reference throughout my Nook copy. I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone with depression, and to anyone who loves someone with depression. It is so difficult for one to express truly how awful and debilitating depression can be, but Ann does it so aptly, and I’m so grateful she has shared her story.

Next Gallery
Jennifer Orvis


Keiffer’s struggles with depression challenge the rest of us to seek awareness of how our friend, family member, or coworker might be suffering.

Now a multimedia project incorporating her traveling photographic exhibit, Ann Keiffer’s revived and updated debut, Blest by the Dark Angel, is an eloquent, sympathetic, and courageous memoir about weathering depression.

Keiffer reflects that she courted success from a young age. A move to California provides her the perfect opportunity to pursue new dreams, all with the support of her husband, Larry, and son, John. There, she shapes an impressive career with an advertising agency out of her natural gift with words. The position, for a long stretch, is a fulfilling and validating endeavor.

But Keiffer’s neat world collapses one day when she finds herself unable to do so much as identify the coinage in her hands. Finally unable to ignore the protestations of her rebelling body, she’s forced to leave work indefinitely and confront a terrifying reality: she’s suffering from crippling depression. “I felt frayed and worn like a bad lamp cord,” she writes, “waiting helplessly [to] burst into flame.”

When discussing the implications of her disease, Keiffer is an unflinching wordsmith. From the outset, she makes it clear that surviving her darkest days came only through recognizing them as an opportunity. They were an outwardly lifeless cave into which she was lowered against her will, she reflects in one particularly powerful passage, but once she was able to look around carefully, she found that said cavern was adorned with metaphorical jewels. “When I am deadened with depression, I will move within my own breath … peel the world in an orange, pebbled globe, bite of zest,” in a poem that foreshadows her eventual regeneration.

Keiffer speaks of both the disease and recovery as physically painful and painstaking endeavors; the tactile, raw metaphors she uses throughout help to illuminate that journey. Those reading her book to understand battles with mental illness are likely to appreciate her candor, and the continual promise of a hopeful turn is sustaining.

Blest by the Dark Angel also examines how social and medical institutions work against facilitating mental well-being. She recalls the deficiencies of an impersonal HMO, the implications of rendering mental illness taboo, the failings of an assigned therapist who refused to see past her bravado, and the misfortune of close friends and coworkers being unable to read the signs of deep depression.

Thus, Keiffer’s pages also contain the bones of an assignment for the rest of us: that we be officious in securing a more open public space for addressing psychological troubles, all while engaging in the kind of self-conscious “being” that might have prevented her own collapse in the first place. On such topics, Keiffer is compelling.

An emotionally naked and starkly beautiful examination of depression, Blest by the Dark Angel is both an introspective personal account of collapse and recovery and a manual for necessary self-care.

Foreword Reviews
Michelle Anne Schingler