Memoirs of Mental Health: Columbus Short

Given this series, it’s clear that memoirs are my favorite book genre. With that being said, Short Stories: The Autobiography of Columbus Short is one of the most dynamic memoirs that I’ve ever read.

I know of Columbus Short from his role in ABC’s Scandal; however, his career has spanned choreography, music, and film production. From reading his memoir, I gained a lot of insight into his challenges with addiction, toxic relationships, and depression and how he was able to use those experiences to overcome adversity.

Mental Health Themes

Columbus Short jokes throughout the book that his real life is often more scandalous than the roles he plays.

Short experienced trauma throughout his life; for example, as a child, he learned that his mother murdered his biological father. Later, he was molested repeatedly starting at the age of eight. Apparently, molestation had a generational pattern in his family; a pattern he was determined to break when he became a parent.

Racism was another repeated occurrence throughout his life. Like me, he experienced bullying in school for, “talking white;” in other words, he was picked on for speaking with proper grammar and advanced vocabulary. Later in life, Short faced racism in his career following an affair with a well-known pop star (which resulted from repeated sexual harassment). Those close to the pop star referred to him  as, “that nigger.” The affair and its publicity caused a lot of damage to his career and is another example of double standards when it comes to race in Hollywood.

Short also experienced what is known as spiritual abuse, as he was raised in an incredibly legalistic pentecostal church. For example, he was pushed into an arranged marriage at the age of nineteen and was forced to cut off his dreadlocks because marriage and a neat haircut fit this church’s idea of godliness. I’m impressed that he made it through those years with his faith still intact.

Then, there are the toxic relationships sprinkled throughout his life. Short’s mom married several times and often did so impulsively. Through EMDR therapy, he later learned how these experiences impacted his attachment in his own intimate relationships, which tended to be toxic in nature. He learned this after years of promiscuity and adultery in his marriages (which occurred on both sides.) But don’t worry, the book leaves off on a high note with a thriving healthy marriage.

“What I failed to realize was that just because I did the work and I began to change doesn’t mean the world in which I live changed along with me.”

Other mental health themes discussed include depression, addiction (alcohol, cocaine, and molly,) rehab, and suicidal ideation.


As I said, this is hands-down the most intense memoir that I’ve read to date. I admire Columbus Short’s bravery and vulnerability in sharing his story. As a Black man, it’s important for me to see other men of color sharing about their struggles with mental health, as toxic masculinity and stigma have remained pervasive in communities of color for far too long.

I’d definitely recommend Short Stories: The Autobiography of Columbus Short because it serves as an example of how we can keep going despite all the ugly that the world throws our way.

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