Our Lady of Perpetual Depression

Lots to talk about, huddle up, team!

SO MUCH TO GET DONE HOLY GOD I LEAVE FOR MY BOOK TOUR IN ONE WEEK… LET ME INTERRUPT THIS FREAKOUT WITH WHAT IS KIND OF URGENT:

I am adding an extra city to my book tour, and I’m giving you guys the opportunity to vote on which city that should be. I’m footing the bill for this date, and like I told the subscribers to the newsletter of my book I need more than the mayor of Gabbs, NV, to show up if Gabbs were an option, know what I mean? That mayor is probably a very lovely person, but they may not respond to the chapter about my mother’s love of poop tea. (Yes. There is a chapter about exactly that. Of course, there is.)

Go vote here. I’m going to end the poll on Wednesday evening April 17th at 9PM EST.

ALSO: I am sending signed and personalized bookplates to anyone who pre-orders the book (US-only, allow 4 weeks for delivery). All you have to do is email me a copy (screenshot or photo) of the receipt for your pre-order—whether it is the hardback or Kindle or audiobook—plus your mailing address and what you’d like me to write on the bookplate. 

Email dooce at dooce dot com with the subject line TVOBD PRE-ORDER.

Yes, Notre Dame is burning as I type this and I can barely see these words through my tears. So many tears I have been crying for so long. Paris is where I gave birth to the first sentences and paragraphs of my book. Its streets made my heart explode into words, and often after wandering around for hours on end with no destination or map or plan I’d find myself crying. Sobbing. Tears would just pour out of my face because I was alive and I was lucky enough to see and be in Paris. That sounds so fucking dramatic because it was. My proximity to death had been so palpable and real and raw that to have escaped it and to know that I had escaped it made every color and smell and texture of that city merge with the lines of my fingerprints.

Notre Dame was the first place I walked to after I landed in Paris for the first time in 2017. I, like so many around the world, are torn apart.

So. Yeah. My book tour starts in a week and I am gearing up for the crying. I’ll get to that in one second. But first, my tour:

Barnes & Noble/NYC (Tribeca)  April 23, 2019
Indigo Bay & Bloor/Toronto, ON, Canada April 25 2019
The Kings English/Salt Lake City April 27, 2019 – In conversation with the lead anesthesiologist of my treatment, Dr. Scott Tadler
Book People/Austin April 30, 2019
Tattered Cover/Denver (Colfax) May 2, 2019
Third Place Books/Seattle (Lake Forest Park) May 6, 2019
Powell’s/Portland (Cedar Hills Crossing) May 9, 2019
The Kennedy Forum’s Annual Convention/Chicago June11, 2019

All these details have consumed me and my publicist for weeks, so we’re working to make sure it’s the best possible experience for everyone who comes out. I want to see you and hug you and tell you that you smell good. So please come.

So, the crying. This is important. Seriously.

I read the audio version of my book (available here) and the whole process kind of ripped me apart. It actually gave me a black eye (I wish I was joking, and I am not joking). They hired a local studio where I could sit in a booth and drink plenty of water while trying to say words like “statistic” and “anesthesia” and “phlebotomist” over and over and over again, flubbing it all so many times that I was certain they’d fire me. I had to relive an 18-month long bout of suicidal depression, out loud. I kept breaking down in tears. It was really, really hard.

So I did this sort of shit to get myself through it:

I was on Skype with a professional audio person in NY hired by my publisher, but there was also the local guy—a really shy and quiet man, so friendly—running the studio, making sure all the levels and noise were manageable. I kept thinking, “This dude is SHITTING HIS PANTS listening to me OH MY GOD why has he not run out of the building??” And the first day when we took a break for lunch we made some very, very quiet small talk. And suddenly he felt safe enough to share with me an intimate story about his family that connected directly to the message of my book. And he ended it by saying, “Of course, you’re crying.”

He offered me that.

I am on the verge of tears all the time now. Good tears. Happy tears. Sometimes wistful tears. Sometimes tears because it’s been a bad day. And then… on Saturday I checked my mailbox and had over 15 packages and boxes I needed to load into my car. Normally I do this errand alone. But both girls were with me because I was going shopping for a few last minute tour-related items I needed and they thought I’d be a total sucker and buy them something, too. They were right. Whatever.

(Leta, you better enjoy those shoes)

Leta wanted to stay in the car (she’s 15 and moody, so I was not expecting a parade), but Marlo. Yeah. So. You know. She’s my helper. She loves to help. But any parent of a kid like Marlo knows that by helper I mean “destroyer” and when they brought out three huge boxes she tried to grab one off of the countertop and it wouldn’t budge. We made a first trip out to the car with the first 12 packages between us (she dropped five in the middle of the parking lot along the way), and then we went back for the boxes. And they were really fucking heavy, and honest to god, my first thought was, “What the fuck, PUBLISHING HOUSES? What kind of books are you sending me that I can barely carry the box to my car? It better not be full of hardbound copies of the Book of Mormon or I am gonna get blasphemous REAL quick. Has anyone ever taken Lehi’s name in vain BECAUSE I AM ABOUT TO: OH MY LEHI.”

YES. I JUST DID THAT.

Marlo was adamant that she carry one of the big boxes, so I slid it off of the countertop and placed it very gently into her outstretched arms. She stood there for a second, grunted, grunted again, and then BOOM. She dropped the whole thing on the ground. That thing weighed more than she does, and I told her not to worry, I’d get the rest of it into the car. And I did, and it was heavy, and I was imagining opening that box to find Instapot cookbooks and me waving my fist in the air, like, “MY CHILDREN ONLY EAT NOODLES JUST SEND ME NOODLES IS IT REALLY SO HARD.” Seriously. Noodles. That’s my cookbook. It’s going to be called NOODLES and it won’t have any pages at all. Just a back cover that says, “Can’t guess what your picky kid wants for dinner? You’re a fucken idiot! Go back and read the title, dumbass!”

It was not until last night when I finally got the boxes out of the back of my car… I was standing in the kitchen ripping through a few that were books sent to me by various publishing houses. And then I walked over to one of the heavy boxes and slid a box cutter through the tape. When I peeled back the flaps… I thought I’d been hit in the chest by a bowling ball shot through a cannon. Wait… what… wait… h o l y g o d j e s u s c h r i s t it was my book. Sitting on top of two pieces of cardboard placed to protect the books from YOUR HELPER DESTROYER DROPPING THE ENTIRE THING ON THE GROUND was a packing receipt: 50 copies of my book. The final copy. The final hardback copy.

I did not know how to process that emotion. I didn’t know what to do. My child had (momentarily) held that box in her arms. I was alive to watch her attempt to hold that box. Full of copies of my book. A book detailing how a team of professionals gave her back her mother. I was alive to laugh with her as it hit the ground, the thud almost loud enough that it sent a wave of air rushing up to blow back her llama hat.

I had the idea for this book on March 18, 2017, and here it was. Finalized. Hardbound. I could not make out what was happening to me, so I retreated to my bedroom to be alone and shake and vibrate to some frequency out there that is calling me to you, and you, and you, and you. So many weird coincidences are happening right now that I cannot discount them, not unlike what happened after I finished my treatment and people out of nowhere started sharing with me their stories of depression and anxiety and how suicide has affected if not marred their lives.

Notre Dame’s roof has collapsed, and its interior is most likely gutted. The outside walls are still there, but when I saw video of the spire collapsing I experienced a moment of trauma. Not just for the building or for the city or for so much history inside every architectural touch that has been placed by artistic, genius hands over centuries. But also for those of us who have thought, “It’s gone. Hope is gone. There is no hope. And here is proof.”

I thought that. I thought and believed every word of that. When that spire went down I remembered the physical feeling of all of it.

And I am so indebted to the people who put me back together.

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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