Trigger Warning: Suicide

I am sitting in shock at my computer, too numb to do or say anything. Too far down to emote, I just need the time stamp on this entry.

Heather “Dooce” Armstrong just died by suicide.

I wouldn’t be who I am now if she hadn’t been her…. And yet, I am still her. I have to monitor my mood and behavior like a hawk. She took her eye off the ball, and her disease managed her. On a different day, it could have been any one of us who suffer under the weight of the mental health alphabet.

So I’m going to sit here and think about it. How mental health manages you in so many ways you can’t see. How tiny interactions add up.

How devastated Pete and the kids (and their dad) must be.

In time, I’ll have more to say. All I want now is to go back and remember Dooce the way she was when I found her. I’ve been reading since before she got Dooced. I even know that Dooce is the typo she’d make when she originally started typing “dude.” I was there before Asian Database Administrator, before meeting Jon Armstrong…. “dry humping and Sprite” vs. mommy blogging.

I’m thinking about what I want to borrow from her to honor her memory…. And not in a way that people would know. I’d be able to look at my own work and say, “I borrowed style from Dooce here.”

I know that because I’ve said it to myself since 2003 when I started Clever Title. In fact, I don’t think I need to honor Dooce any more than I already have, because a tiny thread of her runs through every entry. I pour out everything here because she did it first.

There’s so much I would have liked to have told her, asked her, wish we could reminisce about- the good old days of blogging when it was me and Wil and Ernie and Mrs. Kennedy, with a smattering of Anil Dash and Jason Kottke for good taste.

She was the first one of us to make it. I don’t count Wil because he already had a huge platform from Star Trek. She started that blog from literally friends of friends and built an empire.

Though it was definitely the start of huge social media influence for moms with the introduction of “mommy blogging,” it wasn’t what made her site great.

What made her site great was being willing to talk about the fact that she had a disease that might kill her, and being honest about how hardcore that is. Your friends aren’t prepared to hear that’s a reality, and it makes them retreat. You just have to keep reminding yourself not to take it personally and to keep talking. Someone will listen. It just may not be the one you thought you needed. We can’t help each other when we’re in downward spirals, so we need to reach out before we start circling….. and in the end, it’s still just a numbers game. That’s not mental health. That’s medicine. You can run the numbers on any disease. We just treat diseases of the brain as foreign. Neurotypical people understand things like multiple sclerosis and diabetes to the extent that they understand that their friend needs help on a practical level.

Part of the reason being sick mentally vs. physically is so difficult is trying to translate why you look all right, but you are definitely, definitely not. You isolate because of the exhaustion of trying to explain something you’re not real clear on, either. I’m sure I’ll have more to say over the coming days, but right now I just need to sleep to save strength for tomorrow, where we will again face the blank page together.

If there is a heaven and St. Peter is indeed at the pearly gates, all I want him to say is “the former Congressman will see you now.”

5 thoughts on “Heather

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