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The Valedictorian of Being Dead

The True Story of Dying Ten Times to Live
Narrated by: Heather B. Armstrong
Length: 6 hrs and 48 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (257 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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.

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Beautiful

A wonderful story of living, one that has meaning and hope for many. Passionate and emotional. Love love loved it!

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An Outstanding Story and Narrative

This book will be extremely relatable for anyone who has felt overwhelmed by the day-to-day. It's relatable for people with family problems, and for people with self-doubt. Having never read Heather's blog or writing before this book, I was blown away by the humor and truth she could bring into the narrative. The author, Heather, does an outstanding job of describing the little things that make up her experience as a mother, woman, and daughter through the weeks she took part in an experimental treatment. This book is about so much more than the treatment though, as she describes personal breakthroughs she discovered over many years. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in growing up, parenting, mental health, or overcoming setbacks.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-07-19

inspirational

an eye opening account of battling depression and the struggle to keep life together. This book is hope.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-22-19

Raw and Riveting

It takes a special kind of human to so share a journey so raw, so emotional and so inspiring and Heather B. Armstrong is all that and more. I was drawn to her writing way back when her blog was full of tips on How To Charm her, to read the rollercoaster she has experienced tore me apart as it is written so magnificently that you feel every word. I truly hope she continues on to be the valedictorian of living.