The Valedictorian of Being Dead
The True Story of Dying Ten Times to Live
From New York Times bestselling author and blogger Heather B. Armstrong comes an honest and irreverent memoir—reminiscent of the New York Times bestseller Brain on Fire—about her experience as the third person ever to participate in an experimental treatment for depression involving ten 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. 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. For the sake of herself and her family, Heather decided to risk it all by participating in an experimental clinical trial.
Now, for the first time, Heather recalls the torturous eighteen months of suicidal depression she endured and the month-long experimental study in which doctors used propofol anesthesia to quiet all brain activity for a full fifteen 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.
“Breathtakingly honest” (Lisa Genova, New York Times bestselling author), self-deprecating, and scientifically fascinating, The Valedictorian of Being Dead brings to light a groundbreaking new treatment for depression.
The Valedictorian of Being Dead was previously published with the subtitle “The True Story of Dying Ten Times to Live.”
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Heather B. Armstrong was willing to die in order to conquer her crushing sadness…and she did so more than once. The pioneering blogger and memoirist was suffering from such bad depression in the mid-2010s that she signed up for experimental treatments that simulated brain death in the hopes of “rebooting” a patient’s mind and bringing it to a better place. Armstrong’s brutally honest and irreverent writing elevated her blog, dooce, to the top of the mommy-blogger world—and it electrifies this chronicle of a journey from mental illness’ depths.
Scarily Relatable but not very well written
I devoured this book in a few hours. I want to give it a better rating but I can’t. It reads like an extremely long blog post. The organization is weak. The repetition is reminiscent of those papers we had to write for high school when we didn’t really have quite enough to say on the subject. I feel awful pointing out the flaws because at the end of the day, this was the real story of a real person. I just believe these things obscure what could be a more engaging story. Honestly I shouldn’t be able to read something this heavy in less than a day. The punches were there, but not nearly as strong as they could have been. I feel like she should have given herself more time to write this book.