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The Valedictorian of Being Dead

The True Story of Dying Ten Times to Live
Written by: Heather B. Armstrong
Narrated by: Heather B. Armstrong
Length: 6 hrs and 48 mins
5 out of 5 stars (33 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2019 Heather B. Armstrong (P)2019 Simon & Schuster

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Candid, moving, and full of hope

Gives an incredibly candid and authentic account of what this disease feels like- everyone who has lived it themselves, or who has a loved one with depression, will be well served to read this. Heather’s narration is raw and real and pitch perfect.

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Book that might have changed my life

I am kind of jealous for the author going through this trial. If I don't get the chance to as well, I hope I overcome my illness as she did. Book was written beautifully and I felt every word. One of the best books out there for mood disorders.

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Amazing

This journey is a story so many of us can relate to and was beyond words..... it was simply excellent!

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  • RB
  • 2019-05-09

Incredible story about depression

One of the best books I've ever read about the experience of depression. Also, the narration was second to none. Thank you, Heather, for writing this book.

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A must read.

I have followed your blog since the early years and it is nice to finally meet YOU. Your sharing of this journey is groundbreakingly beautiful and inspires such hope for those of us who currently feel or have battled that despair. Thank you for taking the leap into The Abyss, bringing the awareness to your platforms and sharing your journey with all of us. Your bravery in narrating it, hearing you speak through your tears-the authenticity with which you’ve given voice to your book and the subject matter is powerful. I am so thankful to have received these messages and while you didn’t ask for a review from this total stranger, I feel like I actually know the real you now and I have to say that the grace with which you were able to share your story without vilifying either of your main antagonists is beautiful. #endthestigma This. Everyone affected by depression/anxiety/panic needs to read this.

ETA: If you or someone you know and love battles depression this book will help you understand. Read. It. Now.

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A very brave woman

Having the author read the story seemed to make her relive such tragic memories and emotions. This added greatly to the story.

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  • Dan
  • 2019-04-24

Connection

This experience is about more than just depression. It's about family, friends, and connections with other people that you may never expect have a bearing on your life. I'm not going to even attempt to discuss the obvious details.. Ms Armstrong eloquently and unabashedly shares everything about the experience to take you through that journey that you'll never forget. My additional take away is that we should be grateful for our connections to other people - good or bad - because it shapes our opportunities and reminds me that we are who we are because of other people. What a lovely thing it was too share this with us.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • tillyrae
  • 2019-04-25

Life changing

I disconnected from Heather Armstrong's blog years ago. As a believing member of the church of Jesus Christ, I found her vitriol off putting. However, as a student of psychology who spent 18 years married to someone with severe, treatment-resistant depression, the book content called to me. This book is phenomenal. It's very dark in the early pages, you feel her hopelessness and awkwardness and it's intense. As she emerges through the treatments, the evolution is moving and redemptive. Kudos to the doctors exploring beyond antidepressants. There are so many who suffering for whom medication does nothing. I'm hopeful that neuroscience will discover better, life-gifting treatments. I feel hope for my ex husband, the father of my four children. Maybe one day he'll find similar relief. I hope it comes before he hits desperation and descends fully into suicide. He swims through it for now.

20 of 21 people found this review helpful

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  • Commoner
  • 2019-05-04

Overall, excellent.

Until Chapter 16 I was irritated with this narration and story. It all changed thereafter.

The candor of her mood and tone was appropriately tiresome prior to the “switch being flipped”. It all ended well and testifies to the importance of courageous and compassionate care and effort.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Maribeth B.
  • 2019-05-19

Really tried to like/listen

I ended up returning this book. I was so excited to hear her story and her eventual comeback. BUT...at times the voice I couldn't handle. especially at certain times it was just too...cant even think of a word. I really wamted to finish but just couldn't because of the voice/narration.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Sharon
  • 2019-04-26

Poignant and hopeful

I love this book. Hearing Heather read it was icing on the cake. This book has resonated with me and has helped me better understand myself (in some ways) as well as others. It is as heartbreaking as it is hopeful. I think it is a must-read for anyone who is suffering from mental illness or has a loved one who suffers.

I was also fascinated by some of the technical aspects of her procedures and found the afterward to be helpful as well. I highly recommend this book! Thank you for writing it, Heather.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Marie Stanesic
  • 2019-05-05

My Heart

I have followed Dooce and read her blog since way back in Mary J Blige inspired masthead times. I’ve always appreciated her honesty and humor. I was NOT ready for this story. I mean. I knew what the book was going to be about since I listen to her podcast but...I.. WASN’T READY. I’m sure reading the book is impactful but hearing Heather read it with the at times trembling voice ...for and extremely empathetic person like me...I cried. A lot. The journey is worth it. I know it’s weird to be so invested in a stranger’s life. I don’t care. I’m cheering my head off for her while having a slight tinge of jealousy that I do not have a family that I can lean on like she does. This is a must listen. Thank you Heather for sharing your life with us.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Chris Millar
  • 2019-04-29

Beautifully raw...

This book was absolutely incredible. If you or a loved one suffer from anxiety or depression this is a must read. The audio version was a must... hearing Heather’s emotion as she read left me in tears.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • TL Johnson
  • 2019-10-06

A must read

If you or someone you love has lived with,or is living with, depression then you need to hear the brutally honest truth of how this disease can change the very way the mind works and turns it into an instrument of destruction for the person suffering with depression.

I’ve followed Heather through her blog, Dooce, since long before she became a mother and her work never showed just how deeply she was struggling. I feel as though an old friend has confided in me and it’s a wonderful gift to be given.

As someone who struggles with depression and anxiety I was struck by her descriptions of exactly how I feel. Her relationship with her father and the mother we all need and some of us will never have.

This is a love letter to those of us struggling with depression or who have a loved one who struggles beside us.

Thank you, Heather B Armstrong

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  • uarrington
  • 2019-09-21

Emotional. Raw. Amazing

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has experienced depression or is dealing with a loved one who has depression. There are so many relatable situations in her story. I just loved every bit of it.

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  • Evelyn Lang
  • 2019-07-16

Thank You, Heather

Thank you, Heather B. Armstrong. I didn’t know it going in, but I needed to hear every word. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.