The Valedictorian of Being Dead Book Summary - The Valedictorian of Being Dead Book explained in key points
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The Valedictorian of Being Dead summary

Heather B. Armstrong

The True Story of Dying Ten Times to Live

3.9 (23 ratings)
19 mins
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    The Valedictorian of Being Dead
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    Heather had wished she was dead for 18 terrible months. 

    As Heather B. Armstrong sat in her psychiatrist’s office in early 2016, he could tell just by looking at her that she was seriously ill. Slumped in her chair, Heather resembled a zombie, with unwashed hair, a blank expression and dirty clothes. 

    Heather, as her psychiatrist already knew, was seriously depressed. More worrying still, she had been feeling this way for a long time. In fact, Heather had spent the previous 18 months in the grip of a severe depressive episode. 

    Her suffering would begin each morning when her alarm went off. As soon she heard it, a rush of anxiety would jolt through her body, making her gasp for breath. She likens it to waking up to your brain being on fire. As soon as she was awake, she would start panicking about every task that needed doing that day. Would she be able to get everything done on time – and do it all perfectly? 

    After divorcing her husband two years earlier, Heather had struggled to cope as a single mother to her two young daughters, Leta and Marlo. Whenever something went wrong – whether her girls forgot their lunch boxes or their homework – Heather’s negative inner voice would start whispering. She was a terrible mother, the voice said, whose children would be happier without her. And once these thoughts began, they usually spiraled into the most destructive thought of all: wouldn’t it be better if she was dead? 

    Overwhelmed with the demands of childcare and work, Heather spent almost every night crying down the phone to her mother. Often she made these calls from her bedroom closet, so her children couldn’t hear her sobs. Heather cried on her own too – usually in the shower, when the mere sensation of the water hitting her skin felt like too much. 

    Cruelly though, Heather’s depression didn’t just make her miserable, it sapped all her energy too. Most days, she couldn’t muster the strength to comb her hair or put on fresh clothes. So she lived in the same outfit for days at a time, not even caring if it was stained with food. 

    Heather’s psychiatrist, Dr. Bushnell, thought her vicious cycle of depression had to change. And after making a quick phone call from his desk, he made an unexpected suggestion. 

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    What is The Valedictorian of Being Dead about?

    The Valedictorian of Being Dead (2019) explores one woman’s battle with depression and the radical treatment she underwent to cure it. Shining a light on the realities of living with this debilitating mental health condition, these blinks chart Heather B. Armstrong’s journey through hell and her inspirational recovery. 

    Best quote from The Valedictorian of Being Dead

    I was Dorothy opening the door of her house when it landed in Oz. The colors were nearly blinding. 

    —Heather B. Armstrong
    example alt text

    Who should read The Valedictorian of Being Dead?

    • Anyone suffering from depression
    • Psychology buffs looking for fresh insights
    • Fans of inspirational true stories

    About the Author

    Heather B. Armstrong is one of the world’s most prolific “mommy bloggers,” and Time magazine has named her website,, as among the best 25 blogs in the world. In 2009, Armstrong featured in Forbes’s list of the 30 most influential women in media. She is also the New York Times best-selling author of It Sucked and Then I Cried (2009).

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