“Dooce” was the blogger name of Heather Armstrong.
The pioneering mommy blogger Heather Armstrong, who laid bare her struggles as a parent and her battles with depression and alcoholism on her site Dooce.com and on social media, has died at 47.
As a personal blogger back in the early blogging days, Dooce inspired and pushed the envelope for many of us trying to establish our own authentic voices on the internet. As she succeeded in writing herself into existence, she paved the way for personal bloggers, like me, to use that public format as a way to navigate our ways through tumultuous personal times because we did not have to feel isolated and unheard.
For me, it included years of being an abused caregiver; the five days I sat with my mother while she died; my debilitating struggle with not being about to fall asleep; my experiments with medical marijuana; and my ultimate sleep solution with an unusual pharmaceutical.
Like Dooce, I suffered from depression, but unlike her, I have been able to control mine, and, in association with that, to finally fix my sleep problem. For years, I tried to convince doctors that my inability to fall asleep was a matter of inefficient brain chemistry. While my depression meds triggered certain neurotransmitters that produce the chemicals that supported mood, they did not deal with dopamine. After doing extensive reading on the subject, I was convinced that my brain’s inability to trigger dopamine was behind both my mood swings and my sleep deprivation. A psychiatrist finally prescribed Abilify (which triggers dopamine) and my problems were solved.
I think of what Dooce endured as she struggled to find a solution to her depression. Her depression grew worse, leading her to enroll in a clinical trial at the University of Utah’s Neuropsychiatric Institute. She was put in a chemically induced coma for 15 minutes at a time for 10 sessions.
She finally committed suicide. What if her struggle could have been lessened if she just were given the blend of meds that would have balanced her brain chemistry? Why isn’t there more research being done to produce the pharmaceuticals that will help brain neurotransmitters produce and maintain the necessary balance of the chemicals necessary for mood balance: dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins? One big motherfucker happy pill that balances imbalanced brain chemistry.
Dooce committed suicide because life’s pain was more than she could handle.
Last night on the series “911: Lone Star”, a character with the last stages of Huntington’s Disease commits suicide, using what looks like helium inhalation. I happen to believe in the right of an individual in terminal stages of an illness to choose to end their life on their own terms.
I also believe that folks should be more comfortable talking about death and dying. , Back in 2010, there was a movement to set up “Death Cafes”.
At a Death Cafe people, often strangers, gather to eat cake, drink tea and discuss death. A Death Cafe is a group directed discussion of death with no agenda, objectives or themes. It is a discussion group rather than a grief support or counselling session.
I, for one, would love to have access to a Death Cafe, and even suggested that a local senior center hold one. The idea was never even considered.
At age 83, I think about dying, since it could happen any day, now. I also think about living, and doing what I can to make what life I have left continue to be a hoot. But I would love to meet with kindred folks who, like me, want to be emotionally ready when the time comes, not matter how it comes.
Dooce is dead, too young, too fraught with pain. There had to have been a better way for her. There has to be a better way for all of us.