Memoirist. Poet. Essayist.
Educator. Mental Health Advocate.
"Hope is the thing with feathers."
Out of the Ashes (2022)
With Out of the Ashes: A Story of Recovery and Hope, Sallie Crotty offers a profoundly moving memoir told with unflinching bravery and insight. Her compelling story explores a topic that affects us all: mental health. Detailing a mid-life descent into debilitating despair, she brings the reader on a deeply personal journey. She reveals her struggles, time spent in a psychiatric ward, and how lacking a clear diagnosis almost led to her death. She also describes how proper care and receiving the right diagnosis and treatment can provide hope, stability, and a path to
This inspiring memoir will help remove some of the stigma surrounding mental illness and encourage those suffering to seek treatment. Crotty provides hope for the many individuals diagnosed every year, their loved ones, and anyone interested in learning more about the lives of
those who live with mental illness.
Available at all major booksellers, including:
“Sallie Crotty brings the reader along on her journey of despair, hope, and recovery as if looking through the eyes of a phoenix and into the eyes of those present throughout her treatment while reflecting on her past. She educates those with mental health issues on things like misdiagnosis, patient advocacy, and the importance of feeling hopeful and safe. She educates health-care workers on how their verbal and nonverbal communications, like the importance of a smile, can impact patient care. Be prepared to experience your full range of feelings and learn how you can help those around you suffering from a mental illness. This is a book I will now recommend to my bipolar patients.”
--Joseph W. Dickson, PhD, private practice in Houston, TX
“Sallie Crotty’s Out of the Ashes is a masterpiece. It is incredibly well-written, and one never gets bored while reading it. Moreover, it will serve as a guiding light to those who struggle with, or know someone who struggles with, mental illness. It will be a beacon of hope during times of despair: Yes, I can find a way to live my life. I can have a career, a family, and friends. All is not lost. On a practical level, Crotty’s retelling is exactly what’s needed to spotlight mental illness and bring it totally out of the darkness and into mainstream society.”
--Dr. Susie Wolbe, author of The Empowered Teacher: Proven Tips for Classroom Success
“Out of the Ashes is a gift. Sallie Crotty has taken a most painful time in her life and transformed it into a gift for us. She shares her attempt to end her life, and then takes us on a journey to recovery, and one thing stands out for me: Love saved her. At the lowest point in her life, the point where she is pursuing a goal of obliterating her pain, she hears her deceased father’s voice: ‘Sallie, it’s not your time. Pull over, stop.’ And so, she did. She stopped and turned back to life and back to love—the love of her courageous husband, the love of her children. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever felt her desperation or loves someone who has.”
--Julianne McCullagh, writing instructor at The Writer’s Garret and award-winning author of The Narrow Gate
“Sallie Crotty has written an excellent, courageous, and deeply personal account of her struggle with bipolar disorder. Her description of her path from despair and confusion to hope and healing is a compelling must-read filled with valuable information for anyone dealing with, or interested in, the challenges of mental health.”
--Debi Strong, behavioral health peer support specialist
“In her powerful memoir, Out of the Ashes, Sallie Crotty takes us right into the turmoil, anguish, and fear she experienced during the worst times of her life, before being diagnosed with and appropriately treated for bipolar I disorder. As someone who also has bipolar disorder, I had so much in common with her and could empathize throughout. Readers with bipolar will strongly identify with her struggles, family members supporting a loved one will relate to her long-suffering relatives, and clinicians will be struck by the power of small courtesies and kindnesses their clients deserve. To help fight stigma and spread hope, please read this!”
--Merryl Hammond, PhD, author of Mad Like Me: Travels in Bipolar Country and editor of Navigating Bipolar: Personal and Professional Perspectives on Living with Bipolar Disorder
"I absolutely loved this book for two reasons. Out of the Ashes provided me with incredible insight. I recently watched a friend I've known for decades and considered one of the most intelligent, successful, together people I know fall apart later in life due to mental illness. I simply didn't know what to make of it or how to comfort and support her. This booked helped with that immensely. I also appreciated that it offered hope. The author is living well and managing her mental illness in a way I find brave and inspiring. I highly recommend this read. Thank you, Ms. Crotty for your honesty and the courage to share your story."
--Michelle Hannon, former Executive Director, The Writers' Colony at Dairy Hollow
Out of the Ashes
From New York Journal of Books, by John Newlin Sallie Crotty’s first book-length work, the memoir Out of the Ashes, is a harrowing but ultimately hopeful account of her descent into mental illness. Such memoirs are not new. William Styron in Darkness Visible (1989), and later Kay Redfield Jamison in An Unquiet Mind (1995) recounted their experiences with bipolar disorder. What sets Crotty’s account apart is the thoroughness with which she documents her struggle to be properly diagnosed and then the painstaking process by which she was able to regain her health. She reveals how pernicious mental illness is, how the sufferer usually has no idea of what is happening to her, as well as the devastation mental illness can inflict on those around the sufferer. When Crotty began to have episodes, she had no idea of what they were nor why she was experiencing them. Forty years old, she lived in Dallas, Texas, where she was a middle school English teacher, happily married, and the mother of a daughter and son. Everything appeared completely normal. Then she began to experience manic attacks during which she lost her temper and began to hyper-function. These episodes were followed by long periods when she became unable to function at all. Eventually, panic attacks ensued, then ideations of suicide, and finally two failed attempts to take her life, first by ingesting poison and then by crashing her car. Her doctors struggled to get a handle on what her exact problems were. She was prescribed many different medications, none of which proved effective, in part because she either refused to take them or because she did so sporadically, but also because no one knew exactly what a correct diagnosis was for her illness. Meanwhile, her husband Mark was trying to manage her and the children, along with his own job, baffled at what had become of his wife. In short, the lives of four people were in jeopardy. Most helpful is Crotty’s detailed description of the treatment she eventually received at the Menninger Clinic in Houston after two previous hospitalizations. She presents a therapeutic model that has proven effective for many people. She has been in remission for 16 years but remains vigilant for any signs of a new onset. In her Afterword Crotty offers suggestions of ways for people to get help should they suspect that they or someone they love is showing signs of mental illness. “The Crotty family experience is all too similar to what people deal with when a loved one is in the throes of mental illness, oftentimes complicated by alcohol and drug addictions. This writer can attest to how when one spirals through a bout of severe clinical depression (as I have done several times in my own life, first when I was forty-two), the toll it takes on everyone else is horrific. That my wife and five children were able to survive my episodes is miraculous. Like Sallie Crotty I was fortunate enough to find talented doctors who could help me and my family navigate a perilous journey.” The author points out the stunning numbers provided by NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness): by 2020, only 46.2% of adults in the United States with a mental health condition received services. Just as bad, only 64.5% of adults with a serious mental illness were in treatment.
See Sallie Tell Her Story
In February 2018 Sallie told her story to a live audience as part of the Oral Fixation (An Obsession with True Life Tales) program. The YouTube thumbnail reads: "When educator Sallie Smither Crotty told her gripping tale of confronting mental illness and winning, everyone in the audience could see the power she brought to that fight—and why she won. “My primary clinician hummed ‘Eye of the Tiger’ when I entered the room. I laughed and flexed my muscles. I felt like I had just left the ring: sweaty and victorious. One nurse said, ‘You’ll be one of our success stories, Sallie. You’re ready.’”
Sallie was interviewed for the September 15, 2022, edition of the "Write Now" podcast of
The Writers' Colony at Dairy Hollow. Listen here.
Keynotes and Workshops
This memoir serves as a call to action. Sallie strives to foster a more hopeful and expansive dialogue around mental health issues at the local, state, and national levels. Towards those efforts she is available for inspiring and interactive keynotes and workshops. Some content highlights include:
- The importance of receiving a correct diagnosis and proper treatment
- The balance of mind, body, and spirit in healing
- How the patient and clinician relationship is key in healing
- Writing as healing
Please contact her for more information.
Tues, Nov 1, 2022, 6:30 PM
Reading at Paper Boat Booksellers, 6040 California Ave SW, Seattle
Fri, Nov 4, 2022
Panelist at 31st Annual Psychotherapy & Faith Conference: "Shaken to the Core: Restoring Faith in Psychotherapy"
Tues, Dec 20, 2022
Presentation at Psychiatry Dept of Dell Medical School, Univ of TX at Austin for 1st year students, 4th year residents, and local faith leaders