the smell of my desperation has become a stench

The Valedictorian of Being Dead

Available now:




“In a narrative that is part cathartic confessional, part apology to those who stood by her through years of anguish and recovery, and part accessible explanation of a highly scientific procedure, the author takes readers on a room-by-room tour of events leading to the treatment that finally helped her overcome her depression.” (link)


Armstrong’s book offers hope not just because she willingly participated in an extreme experimental therapy and it worked, but because her story of wrestling with intense depression is many peoples’ story.  She’s written a worthwhile contribution to better understanding and confronting a disorder that’s affecting more people every year. (link)


She chronicles her journey in fascinating detail, from her eerie experiences after emerging from “the abyss” and also includes her parents’ and siblings’ perspectives, as well as the profound experience of the treatment itself. As on her blog, her writing  feels off the cuff, by turns moving and irreverent, always conveying gratitude for the help she received from her family and the medical team. (link)


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.

FINE PRINT: in US only, while supplies last, allow 4 weeks for delivery. Yes, Canadians. I know. I’m so sorry. Very sorry. So sorry. They told me they can’t ship internationally even though I told them you’d be upset about this. Politely upset, but rightfully so. Let me brainstorm and see if there is something special I can do for you.


Perks include a contest about what city I should add to my book tour, subscriber-only access to “deleted scenes”, and an invite to a very special Q&A with my mother who watched me die ten times. I’ll be running my own giveaways as well, and you’ll be invited to add to collaborative playlists of Songs You Need to Cry To and Songs You Need to Help You Stop Crying.

And much, much more to come. Stay tuned.


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

The Valedictorian of Being Dead

Early Reviews:

“Breathtakingly honest, this story is a bridge to empathy and a bright beacon of hope. I’m telling everyone to read this book.” –Lisa Genova, New York Times bestselling author of Still Alice

“In The Valedictorian of Being Dead, Heather Armstrong carries the reader along her fascinating journey out of the abyss of depression, intricately weaving the threads of family, suffering, and scientific breakthrough. This touching memoir, full of scenes both silly and profound, manages to shock, educate, and inspire.” –Alex Korb PhD, author of The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time.

“I was moved by this real, raw, hilarious and deeply personal story of one woman’s epic battle with major depression and found myself cheering for Heather and her entire family by the end of book.”  –Wendy A. Suzuki, PhD, author of Healthy Brain, Happy Life

“A story of courage, hope, love, and science overcoming the despair of depression. It is a must read for mental health professionals and those touched by depression—their own or that of a loved one.” –Barbara Arrowsmith-Young, internationally bestselling author of The Woman Who Changed Her Brain

“I read The Valedictorian of Being Dead cover to cover in four hours. I cried and cried; it was so beautiful and honest and scary and real. I think this book will be so helpful for a lot of people living with depression, especially parents.” –Grace Bonney, creator of Design*Sponge and New York Times bestselling author of In the Company of Women

“As the lead anesthesiologist on the study, it was emotional for me to hear of Heather’s experience. She helped me to gain some understanding about what folks go through when they are sick, what the experience of treatment was for her and her loved ones, and what the treatment now means to her.” Scott C. Tadler, MD, University of Utah School of Medicine