The Valedictorian of Being Dead by Heather B. Armstrong


English | ePUB | 5.3 MiB


Heather B. Armstrong is widely acknowledged to be the most popular “mommy blogger” in the world. Her website, dooce®, has twice been listed as one of the 25 best blogs in the world by Time magazine and Forbes listed it as a top 100 website for women. In the eighteen years that Heather has been shaping the internet writing community, she’s worked to create targeted content not only for fellow parents but also for numerous global brands—including Ford, Nintendo, and Clorox—and written a New York Times bestseller, It Sucked and Then I Cried. She lives in Salt Lake City with her two lovely daughters and an insane herding dog.


From New York Times best-selling author and blogger Heather B. Armstrong comes an honest and irreverent memoir – reminiscent of the New York Times best seller Brain on Fire – about her experience as one of only a few people to participate in an experimental treatment for depression involving 10 rounds of a chemically induced coma approximating brain death.

For years, Heather B. Armstrong has alluded to her struggle with depression on her website, dooce. It’s scattered throughout her archive, where it weaves its way through posts about pop culture, music, and motherhood. But in 2016, Heather found herself in the depths of a depression she just couldn’t shake, an episode darker and longer than anything she had previously experienced. She had never felt so discouraged by the thought of waking up in the morning, and it threatened to destroy her life. So, for the sake of herself and her family, Heather decided to risk it all by participating in an experimental clinical trial involving a chemically induced coma approximating brain death.

Now, for the first time, Heather recalls the torturous 18 months of suicidal depression she endured and the monthlong experimental study in which doctors used propofol anesthesia to quiet all brain activity for a full 15 minutes before bringing her back from a flatline. Ten times. The experience wasn’t easy. Not for Heather or her family. But a switch was flipped, and Heather hasn’t experienced a single moment of suicidal depression since.

Disarmingly honest, self-deprecating, and scientifically fascinating, The Valedictorian of Being Dead brings to light a groundbreaking new treatment for depression.


Erin: Thanks to Netgalley and Simon&Shuster Canada for a digital galley in exchange for an honest review.

Well, I never stray away from a tough subject in my reading material. I was seduced by the title and I stayed for the compelling and raw account of a woman’s struggle to overcome the painful depression that enveloped her every moment. Heather B. Armstrong goes to a place that I never could have believed possible. In 2017 , the single mother of two and popular blogger, became the third participant in a scientific study in which the subject is given a huge dosage through anesthesia which would leave her nearly brain dead for 15 minutes. All done in an effort to quiet the electrical activity in her brain. She would go through this process TEN times.

Heather shares her family story and treatments in such a conversational manner that I felt I was talking with a friend over a cup of coffee. As I came to the end of Heather’s story, I couldn’t help but allow the tears to fall freely. As much pain as there is in this book, there lies within a message of hope. The Valedictorian of Being Dead: The True Story of Dying Ten Times to Live is one of my most memorable reads of 2019

Ariel: Uuuugh, this is such a hard book to rate. There was a time in my life where I read a LOT of Heather’s blog, Dooce. Then it fell off my radar and life went other places. All those things that made me a devotee to her internet space made this a great read (or listen in my case). She’s got a great written voice. She’s funny. She knows how to tell a good story. And, after all that time reading her blog, I feel weirdly invested in her and her family (the internet is so weird, why do I feel invested in a total stranger?). This topic and her story in this book is pretty wrenching. To hear her read it is really tough – the sadness, hopelessness, and then the elation and joy in her voice are all apparent. The story itself (of her experience with an experimental treatment) is compelling and the outcome is encouraging. Do I think it’s a great book? Probably nah. It won’t stay with me any more than her blog did. Was it a nice diversion? Yep. Do I feel like calling her intense, deeply emotional story “a diversion” makes me a jerk? Yep. The internet is weird and the whole thing makes me a little uncomfortable, to be honest. Ha!


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