the smell of my desperation has become a stench


Oh, hey. Hi there! Remember last week when I wrote on my Internet Website Blog Thing about suicidal ideations? Yeah. Those were fun times. No? Not really? What, did my mom call you? MOMS. We really know how to ruin a good party.

I had someone write to tell me to stop whining, and I’m not going to complain about that criticism. Because I get it. I understand it. One second you’re in your car and suddenly a song comes on the stereo that reminds you of how much you once loved that boy with blue eyes, how you’d walk to fifth period through a specific building just so you could pass him in the hallway and see if you could catch his eye contact. And when you did, your irises pooling with black as you held his stare, the rest of your day warmed its hands near the thought of him.

And when you didn’t, when the blue light in his eyes skipped over your head into the nothing that could possibly exist above your head, the rest of your day wasn’t there. It got sucked into that nothingness. And that song at the stoplight reminds you of that void, takes you straight back to the moment you passed him and he passed you and you felt your vein bleeding out.

That’s a really indulgent moment. You’re driving a car. Liberal estimates say only about 9% of the world’s population own a car. I’ve walked through villages where women have to ride for over an hour on the back of a makeshift rickshaw if they want to see a doctor. Fuck you and your song and that extra few seconds it takes you to notice the light has turned green because you’re overcome with emotion.

A similar principle applies here. I own two cars, a large home, and a business in a free market economy. My family enjoys excellent access to healthcare. My daughter goes to school. I get paid to write about my feelings on the Internet. Am I seriously going to whine about aimlessness?

Yes, I am, and that’s where I invite anyone who agrees with the valid criticism above to sit here with me and let me have it. I will listen to you curse me. I’ll nod and offer you a tissue when things really heat up. I’ll let you talk about your friend who died or the job you lost or the meals you’ve had to skip, and then I’ll fix you dinner and invite you to stay the night.

Sometimes the only way to quantify our own suffering is to compare it to what we think is the happiness of others. It’s human. As human as reflexively wincing when hearing the chorus of a song you once played over and over in your bedroom because of two blue eyes.

So I offer up my humanness if, instead of a place to stay for the night, you need to hear that even with everything in its right place it’s okay if you still don’t know why it doesn’t feel that way.

  • AlexandraDare

    2011/12/12 at 11:41 am

    Ahhh, this is a beautiful post. Love it. And I get it too. Everything can be right and oh-so-wrong at the same time. Suffering isn’t exclusive to third-world countries, the same way that happiness is not the direct result of having everything.

  • Bones

    2011/12/12 at 11:42 am

    Agreed. I was asking my mom the other day. Why can’t I just feel fine? Why do I have to work so hard to just be ok? We all should be happy with the abundance we have. That isn’t the point. We are wired different. It sucks. I come to this site to feel validated. And good for the people that have never felt like shit. You and I don’t agree on lots of things which is irrelevant, I respect you and what you are doing. Thank you

  • HowToBeADad

    2011/12/12 at 11:43 am

    Is there where internet trolls come out? Really? When we talk about concepts that are tough for us. When we discuss facts about subjects that most would rather sweep under a rug? Being a parent is the business but it’s also business end of the metaphorical gun. Sometimes.

    The only place for the bullshit of the world is in writing, in art. We weave our bullshit into shinier bullshit so that others can learn, laugh or take a break from their own.

    Let’s not start classifying each other’s bullshit as more or less valid. Shall we?

    ::”Haters gonna hate” Walk — COMMENCE::

    – Charlie

  • BrigidS

    2011/12/12 at 11:45 am

    Standing. Clapping.

  • AmandaB

    2011/12/12 at 11:46 am


    And this: “Knowing that there is worse pain doesn’t make present pain hurt any less.”

  • Pants

    2011/12/12 at 11:46 am

    I love how people forget that they chose to come to your site and that they don’t have to read or stay or even come back if they don’t want to. I like how they also don’t get that sometimes you like a post, sometimes you don’t, that’s life because that’s what it’s like to interact with another human being who has feelings and thoughts that aren’t just like yours. I guess what I’m saying here is that I would be on a rampage if I were you, but way to be for keeping calm and carrying on!

  • Shea

    2011/12/12 at 11:46 am


  • Katintherat

    2011/12/12 at 11:47 am

    I popped on today to find the blue light you’d posted a couple of weeks ago, as I am having a really hard time with winter already and feeling bad things that I haven’t felt in awhile. Anyway, as they say, money can’t buy happiness, nor can two cars, health care, or access to the internet. Suffering and pain can be relative, and I’m sorry that you’re having a hard time. I hope that you (and I) can dig your way out of it.

  • Sarasnee

    2011/12/12 at 11:52 am

    Had to choke up at the last sentence. Our problems are small, certainly, but our emotions are still there. Money does not buy happiness… It tries really hard though.

  • maureenp

    2011/12/12 at 11:52 am

    I thank you for saying so publicly what is so hard for many of us to say–and for making yourself vulnerable, knowing there are people reading this who feel the right to judge or weigh out your suffering against their own or anyone else’s.

    I relish your humanity in the many ways you show it on this site–not just in your worst days but also in your best.

    But, I hope you feel better soon.

  • Erin Z

    2011/12/12 at 11:52 am

    “Things that matter are not easy. Feelings of happiness are easy. Happiness is not. Flirting is easy. Love is not. Saying you’re friends is easy. Being friends is not.”
    — David Levithan

  • WebSavyMom

    2011/12/12 at 11:52 am

    –>Generally speaking, I’m a very lucky person and have nothing to really complain about that wouldn’t fall into a “first world problem.”
    I had the blues after having my baby and five years later still remember how it felt. It’s like wanting someone to shake the silliness out you because you can’t get enough air in to take a deep breath.

  • KatieMama

    2011/12/12 at 11:53 am

    I will never understand the people who think they can bitch about what someone writes on their own blog, especially directly to the writer. Thank you for writing what you feel. And by the way, I love your hair. I loved the Peter Pan cut, as well, and now that it’s a bit longer it has even more personality and spunk.

  • reneewvu

    2011/12/12 at 11:54 am

    Loving your hair.

  • dyanemcs

    2011/12/12 at 11:56 am

    Thanks for this. For the acknowledgement that it’s okay to feel whatever we feel. So many people look at other people from the outside & think that they should never have a reason to be sad, let alone depressed. I don’t own a house, but we live in a home we love, my husband has a great job, I work doing something I love & get to do it from home, our kids are grown, we have a strong marriage & even some of my friends feel resentful if I show my true feelings.

    The truth is, I have a daughter who’s an addict & a drug dealer, who’s sitting in jail, refusing rehab and all shots at a future & I’m supposed to be cheerful? We have had to completely push her away to avoid enabling her, so we have that guilt to deal with on top of the fear & worry for her safety. I needed to be given permission to feel my emotions today, even if it was from a stranger who’s blog I read.

  • infinitdee

    2011/12/12 at 11:58 am

    I’m crying as I write this, as I was when I read it. My depression cannot hold a candle to the demons that you’ve shared with all of us but it still hides its guilty, seemingly self-indulgent head from the world and festers without rhyme or reason.
    I struggle with how to explain it to my new husband, who treats it like he does menstruation – as one of those weird things I do. I’m so blessed, so fortunate, so AWARE of all of this. And yet…
    “…even with everything in its right place it’s okay if you still don’t know why it doesn’t feel that way.”
    This sentence is everything that I needed today and probably for a few today’s in the future.
    Thank you for your courage and allowing us all to borrow it from time to time.

  • Plano Mom

    2011/12/12 at 12:03 pm

    I don’t curse. That southern Methodist thing. But what you just said? Fuck yeah.

  • MelissaJ

    2011/12/12 at 12:04 pm

    just because you don’t have “the worst” situation does not diminish the feelings you have.

    i don’t like people…in general…and i really dislike asshats.

    yep…Dooce has got it good…i have got it good…just in a different way…most people reading this have it good…we all have baggage, we all have crap…and anyone that reads you and doesn’t think you have crap…well that’s because they are full of it!

  • Janice

    2011/12/12 at 12:05 pm

    I can relate to having depression thought I only know what my depression feels like. I appreciate your sharing the reality of what you are feeling as it validates the feelings so many would like to share but so many others don’t want to hear.

    I don’t know you so this seems a bit creepy to say but I’m a little worried about you.

    Take good care of you

  • Trish has 3 girls

    2011/12/12 at 12:06 pm

    Thank you. I struggle with depression and feel guilty about it about everyday. Well, everyday that is a bad day. They all aren’t. It’s so hard to reconcile all that I have with my feelings of sadness. Thank you for giving me permission to have an abundance of life’s riches and still feel like shit.

  • Deserex

    2011/12/12 at 12:07 pm

    Eff the haters!!! You can whine to me any day. That’s what friends are for, and we are your friends!

  • anya

    2011/12/12 at 12:08 pm

    You know what, everybody who is human, can get sad, and aimless, and depressed. The rich, the poor. If you are a thinking human being, an introspective person, a person with feelings, you can be happy, and you can be very sad. Don’t let the stupid make you feel as if you don’t have that right. I hope things start feeling better again for you very soon. Know, there are so many people around who feel very warmly towards you.
    P.S. is that lamp thing helping at all? I was looking to buy one for myself…

  • bmarten

    2011/12/12 at 12:12 pm

    All I know is I have depression too, and so often I beat myself up for feeling so down when I have much. But knowing this, doesn’t make it any better. So there is really no point in comparing myself to other.


  • smithie1996

    2011/12/12 at 2:34 pm

    It will be a great day indeed when people can start to understand that talking about depression is not whining. I live with a toddler and I know what whining sounds like. So do you. Your voice is not whining. It is so sad that it breaks my heart.

    I am so thankful for you and the way you so eloquently talk about what it is like to do battle with depression. Thank you.

  • RathrBeAtWrigley

    2011/12/12 at 12:14 pm

    Thanks for being so honest, Heather. That’s the reason why I read your blog and I’m sure that’s the reason why so many other people do, too. Keep the feelings coming!

  • uvula_envy

    2011/12/12 at 12:17 pm

    It takes courage to show your feelings, whether it’s in person or on the internet. Heather, thanks for having the courage to share your feelings, especially the icky ones. I know I don’t have the courage to show the dark stuff, but you do.

    I am sorry the haters are going to hate. It’s how some people make themselves feel better when they are down.

    I appreciate what you’ve done. Hell, you’ve encouraged me to tackle the marathon. Of course, it’s the marathon of walking with Avon because I am not certain that my knees could take it.

    Know you have more fans than you have haters.

  • monica.lynne

    2011/12/12 at 12:17 pm

    Heather, you are the fucking valedictorian of being depressed. And I know that sounds flippant, but I really, really mean it. I hope that the next time I’m depressed (I’m 22 & I’ve had two “major depressive episodes,” which means it’s only a matter of time) I an meet it with the kind of equanimity and grace you’re demonstrating. Thank you.

  • The Not So Little Things

    2011/12/12 at 12:18 pm


  • andywidget

    2011/12/12 at 12:20 pm

    I hope you know that for each person who dares to criticize, there is also a person, who after reading a post like that, spends the rest of the day worrying a bit and wishing the best for someone she doesn’t know.

  • MollyCT

    2011/12/12 at 12:22 pm

    I wish someone hadn’t written you to tell you to stop “whining.” I saw your post last week and I wanted to say that I was sorry that you are feeling so terribly, and as a reader who loves stopping by your blog, I care and hope you have better days. Now that comments are back on I can do that. Sending you peace.

    And I guess re: the whole suffering Olympics, as I can tell you know, we’re not in a competition. And I think most of us have too much respect for women like those you met in Bangladesh to turn them merely into objects that throw our own privilege into relief. Their lives are complex and so are ours.

  • Kathryn

    2011/12/12 at 12:23 pm

    This really resonated with me – I prefaced a complaint about my life with my therapist the other day as “another first world over privileged white girl problem” – and man did she tear a strip off me (in the nicest possible way of course)! Yes, my life is pretty damn good but problems are still problems and I am working on not feeling guilty about having them.

  • crivens

    2011/12/12 at 12:23 pm

    Thanks. I’ve been suicidal all weekend, despite the two cars and house etc. etc. (does it count as nice if the basement is flooded?) and it is, well, not nice, but comforting in a really weird way to know that someone else is going through this bullshittery too.

    Get thee under that light lamp, lady.

  • antigone

    2011/12/12 at 12:23 pm

    *standing ovation*

  • kelliamanda

    2011/12/12 at 12:26 pm

    Pain is not a competition, as my therapist often reminds me. Depression sucks, especially because it makes it so hard to know why, even when things appear close to perfect on the outside, they don’t feel that way.

    I know these will feel like empty words, because they do when they are said to me as well, but know that I do mean them: hang in there. Whatever it takes…hang in there.

  • Lauren3

    2011/12/12 at 12:31 pm

    Love post, love you, love

  • lisdom

    2011/12/12 at 12:31 pm

    What andywidget and kelliamanda said.

  • filmlady11

    2011/12/12 at 12:36 pm

    I was afraid to scroll down to your picture, because I knew I’d see the raw emotion that’s in your eyes and on your face.

    It will be okay. Maybe not now, but sometime soon. And you’ll be here to know it.
    Gentle hugs for you.

  • chrissie lynn

    2011/12/12 at 12:37 pm

    just what i needed to hear/read — you never disappoint. thank you.

  • Stormwhisper

    2011/12/12 at 12:38 pm

    It’s always hard to balance the knowledge that others are much worse off than you, while remembering that your own emotions are still valid, no matter how lucky you are. Thank you for reminding me that it’s okay to acknowledge how you’re feeling, even if you feel like you should spend every moment in unimaginable awe at how lucky you are.

  • Daisee

    2011/12/12 at 12:40 pm

    Im sorry too that you are feeling down. Yours is an amazing site – you are a remarkable lady – dont ever forget that.

    I also have to say looking at this photo how much you really look like your mama!

    I dont know if you remember me but you/the doco helped me through a very tough time a couple of yrs ago when I was at my wits end & scared to death.
    It was this month 2 years ago; you continue to inspire me, give me hope, make me laugh – thank you!
    What I/we have gone through has made me love,laugh, appreciate, enjoy my loved ones so much more. Where we are today is a good place! Hang in there and know you are truly blessed & loved – nothing else matters.

  • Anita Scotch

    2011/12/12 at 12:46 pm

    In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

  • KathyB

    2011/12/12 at 12:57 pm

    Heather, excellent post. I sent my 36 year old daughter the Vistas post, as I had the second and third NYC marathon posts. So much there that would register with her. She has had lung issues for maybe six weeks, no running, no hormonal highs.

    Gut laughs in there, along with gallows humor. We know gallows humor. Child was elected to an office in Honor Society while she was doing time in hospital wing where the bracelet on her arm would keep the elevator door from closing.

    Now she is newly divorced and in school, living alone in her mother’s little house with her dog and other pets. No kids. Never will be kids by birth, just not in the cards. Would have to go off meds that make life livable. Granddogs are lovable too.

    I may be your oldest reader. Maybe not. Not daily, but frequently. Love the photos too. You are living your life fully and honestly. I’m proud of you.

  • Emmadoula

    2011/12/12 at 1:05 pm

    Funny thing is, if you had diabetes and talked about that, people would feel sorry and compassionate. Not so with mental illness…seriously, why is that? I’m joining the chorus of supporters who are so eloquently thanking you for sharing your demons, and in so doing, letting us know that we are not alone, that we have a voice, and every right to share our stories of ups…and downs. You are by far, one of the most beautiful person that I have encountered, not just because of your haircut (it is gorgeous!), but because of your courage, your passion, and your willingness to share with them with us. Thank you Heather. When others make you doubt by their ignorant comments, think of all the people who truly appreciate YOU.


    2011/12/12 at 1:06 pm


  • rosiemom

    2011/12/12 at 1:10 pm

    Ok, so here’s another perspective. I totally get depression – it affects people I know and love dearly. If you are talking about the post that you wrote about your long post-marathon recovery and how hard that is to deal with, I understand that it’s tough. But I hear some self-pity in there too.

    Think about it – you ran a marathon that you were not prepared for, with a training injury that you knew was not good, and you refused to stop when your body sent you an unequivocal message that it had reached its limit. You asked for this, Heather.

    What I can’t understand is why you trashed your body that way. Was it because of the feeling you get being part of the group that Christy has put together? Not a bad reason – sounds like a worthy group of women doing a good thing. Unless it was a vanity thing – being associated with what they are doing, and being that superwoman who can do anything – for your ego. Not such a good choice, maybe. Especially knowing yourself the way you do.

    I truly hope you feel better soon. I also hope that you learned something from the experience – that next time you’ll be prepared for what you do, and if you aren’t at least you’ll be enough of an adult to say so. There are other ways you can contribute without trashing yourself physically, and suffering so much emotionally for it.

  • Jan

    2011/12/12 at 1:12 pm

    Please, why do you worry about these crazy commentators with issues. Just let them go! Save the energy! Please! You don’t need to do this to yourself.

  • jleigh

    2011/12/12 at 1:12 pm

    So when my son was diagnosed with autism I got so mad at the little complaints I saw from people every day. Obviously they didn’t know suffering.

    Except that was stupid because eventually I felt better and had my own little complaints and just because I’d had worse didn’t make them less valid.

  • debramac

    2011/12/12 at 4:20 pm

    Ohhh Darling Dooooce.
    Swear to god, although we’ve never met, there are ways that you feel like my best friend. Creepy, huh? Well, not for me; you’re like the best friend that has never screwed me over, never says stupid shit, always makes me laugh and hardly ever gets on my nerves. Seriously dude, the only thing you have ever done that bothered me is admitting to tailgating (which is very, very bad on so many levels)
    People on the internet say some of damnedest things, really, don’t they and most of them not so helpful and so many just cruel.
    Laughing, as long as we’ve been together (that’s so cracking me up) I’ve never worried about you (started reading post hospital stuff and I knew how it turned out!) but I have to tell you that I had to skip a lot of the running, addicted to endorphins stuff because it made me want to go do crack in the gutter. Ah, my own addictive personality just wants to go there with you and what better reason to try crack than Dooce torturing herself with effing running! I wanted to be there with you, but for the running, so this cracks for you! (Crack in spirit only!)(Never did crack)
    So, today I will only give energy to a positive outcome, because you rock the planet.

  • LisaAR

    2011/12/12 at 1:17 pm

    I had intended to comment on your previous post and then something shiny crossed my path and I got distracted. Sorry–I would have said I totally get it. I do still. Well said by you then, and beautifully said now.

    I’m sorry that there are people who feel so entitled to break bad on others who are not hurting anyone. The truth is, you have done a huge amount for those of us who deal with depression. No matter what else you accomplish in life, a part of your legacy (in the world according to me) is the light you’ve shed on depression–and how that has helped reduce the stigma of mental illness. The stigma still exists, obviously, but you’ve kicked it in the teeth. Thank you for that, Heather.

  • Tragic Sandwich

    2011/12/12 at 1:26 pm

    Of course there are people with bigger problems than you. Of course you have nothing tangible to complain about.

    So what? I have long been a believer in the idea that the biggest problem you have is a problem, even if someone else has a bigger one.

    We can always find someone’s bigger problem to put ours in perspective, and that can be helpful. Except when it isn’t. Because the fact that someone has a bigger problem doesn’t mean you don’t have one.

    I have no insight about depression that you haven’t experienced–I’m sure of that. My bouts have been mercifully short, and not chronic. So the only thing I can say is that I know it’s not a situation where you can just Buck Up!, because I know it doesn’t work that way.

    I hope you feel better soon. I hope things get more manageable. I hope some day you really don’t have problems. I hope that for everyone. I know it won’t ever be the case for everyone, but I still hope that.

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Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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