A beloved writer whose death by suicide was announced this week was tormented by “evil” trolls, her friends claim.
Heather B. Armstrong, 47, pioneered the “mom blog” in the early 2000s and went on to build a successful career as an author, drawing on her own experiences as a mother of two girls and her struggles with alcohol and depression in mapped.
Armstrong’s death was announced Wednesday by her friend Pete Ashdown, who told The Associated Press she died by suicide after recently relapsing after 18 months of sobriety.
The trolling was mostly on a website founded by self-proclaimed “most reviled woman on the internet,” New Yorker Alice Wright.
Heather Armstrong was named ‘Queen of Mommy Bloggers’ by the New York Times magazine
Alice Wright, seen in May 2022, founded the site GOMI – Get Off My Internets – in 2008 as a forum for commenting on famous people
Wright founded the site GOMI – Get Off My Internets – in 2008 as a forum for commenting on famous people.
Armstrong, who blogged under the name Dooce, regularly appeared in posts such as, “Dooce Will Bravely Post Soul Sucking Sponsored Content.”
Others included, “Dooce Wants You to Know Her Struggle” and “Dooce’s Grief Sponsored by Headache Medication.”
Armstrong’s girlfriend Jill Smokler, creator of the Scary Mommy blog, told me The New York Post: “I had some bad experiences with them, but they were so bad with her.”
“I was attacked for my upbringing, but they got very personal with Heather. It was complete bullying and so cruel.’
Smokler added, “They were ruthless to her. They knew she was vulnerable and depressed.
“It’s not easy being bombarded with messages that you’re a horrible mom and shouldn’t be living. It touches the core of who you are. I wonder how the people at GOMI feel now.’
Another friend, Deborah Cruz, who runs MotherhoodTheTruth.com, told the paper, “I’ve been told my children have to die. But Heather got it really bad and she was more vulnerable than the rest of us.
But she was also more successful. People are jealous. She had an empire she built on by living her truth and as it grew some people said, “Why should she have that?”
Wright was brutal in her assessment of Armstrong when she heard the news of her death.
Wright is unrepentant about her site’s content and was brutal in her comments after Armstrong died
“(Armstrong) was a bigger bully than I am, was or ever will be, and has been irrelevant since she refused to monetize online and was changing celebrity like 10 years ago,” she wrote.
“But for some reason, people who hated her a month ago act like she’s a light-shining saint and was a major force in the culture of creation.
‘But she’s dead, so hush hush! we can say nothing but good things. GMAFB.”
One of Wright’s followers, Pontica Tottos, replied, “Tidy is neat.
“(Armstrong) was not a nice person and the whole world finally saw that. She did more harm than good to the people in her life, and her suicide was just another way of selfishly lashing out at those who loved her.
“Her memory will never be a blessing.”
Wright insisted in 2016 that her site was not about cruelty, despite the content she wrote and hosted.
“I can’t speak for all GOMIers and I realize there are some people who kind of fall into that category of ‘let’s take this person down’ and ‘let’s take them down a pole and show them “- that’s not where I’m from at all,” she said.
“I’m just very ‘Oh my God, did you see what they posted? How crazy is that?’ and then talk about it.’
She added, “It’s not fair game to ruin someone’s life or anything, but whatever someone chooses to put themselves out in public, that’s fair game to discuss and speculate about.”
Armstrong is survived by daughters Leta, 18, and Marlo, 14.
Her heartbreaking latest blog post, published on April 6, discussed her battle with sobriety and paid tribute to her first-born daughter.
Armstrong’s mother (right) said her daughter (left) had a gift of intuition from an early age
Armstrong with her daughter Marlo, now 14, and her ex-husband Jon
“Early sobriety is like living like a shellfish without a shell,” she wrote.
She shared how in October 2021 she marked six months of sobriety “on my own on the floor next to my bed feeling like I was a wounded animal that wanted to be left alone to die.”
She described the milestone as “laden with tears and sobs so violently that at one point I thought my body was going to split in two.”
The grief plunged me into tidal waves of pain. For a few hours I found it hard to breathe,” she wrote.
‘I had completely shut myself off from the outside world because I didn’t understand what was happening to me. And I was ashamed.
“Here, two years after this often frenzied and wandering dance with life, I understand that I couldn’t hold anyone’s gaze, for everywhere I looked I saw nothing but my own worthlessness. And so I chose solitude. I couldn’t handle the idea of anyone else knowing how bad I felt about myself.”
She added, “Sobriety wasn’t some mystery for me to solve. It was simply looking at all my wounds and learning to live with them.’
Her death was announced on her Instagram page.
“Heather Brooke Hamilton, aka Heather B. Armstrong, aka Dooce, aka the love of my life. July 19, 1975 – May 9, 2023,” the message read.
“It takes an ocean not to break.”
“Keep your loved ones close to you and love everyone else.”
Armstrong’s passing was announced on her Instagram page on Wednesday
In 2016, Armstrong participated in a clinical trial where she was rendered brain dead three times a week for three weeks in an attempt to cure depression.
Armstrong started her blog, Dooce, in 2001.
The name came from her mistyping the word “dude” in a work email.
In 2009, she had a monthly readership of 8.4 million and was making $40,000 a month from banner ads, according to a 2019 Vox Profile.
In 2016, after battling suicidal depression and sharing her struggles online, she entered a clinical trial at the University of Utah.
During the three-week trial period, she was put into a minute-long coma three days a week.
The results were promising – six of the 10 patients who participated said their mental health improved and was still improving three months later.
It’s unclear if the treatment was ever submitted for approval.
She took part in drastic experiments to try and cure her depression, signed up to be made brain dead 10 times and then wrote about it in the book: The Valedictorian of Death. Her previous books include Dear Daughter and It Sucked Then I Cried
Armstrong with her children Leta (left) and Marlo (right)
Armstrong wrote about it after the trial in her book: The Valedictorian of Death.
The experiment used propofol anesthesia to flatten her brain for 15 minutes. She was the third person to try.
In an interview with The New York Post about the treatment, she said that she was not at all afraid that she would die from it.
She did it ten times and noticed small changes in her behavior after the first bouts of nausea.
“It was after the second treatment that I suddenly realized, ‘Oh, I showered without even thinking about it.’
“After the third treatment… I started doing my hair and wearing cleaner clothes,” she said.
She wrote about the experience in her book The Valedictorian of Death.
Her previous books include Dear Daughter and It Sucked Then I Cried.