Heather Armstrong Dooce.com was the “queen of the mom bloggers.” Then her life fell apart.


It was not long ago that millions of people knew they knew all about Heather Armstrong's life.

Armstrong was a great success after starting the Dooce.com blog in 2001. She was very successful at her sharp, attentive and unnecessary view of mother's wishes, breastfeeding and diaper change. to the mountains of homework and carpool runs. She opened about the parts that were not detectable, as she had earned and why she left the Church of Jesus Christ of Saint Day-Day (usually known as Church of Morone). Dooce also covered mental health widely, and Armstrong put down his ongoing struggle with depression.

“I looked at myself as someone who was able to talk about a parent in a way that many women wanted to be able to, but they were afraid,” said Armstrong, who is 43. years of age.

Rabid fans loved her, but she also attracted arms with haters, who put underwater hazardous observations and grain jobs and created digital forums aimed at smearing her.

She took a profitable business along the way. At its peak, immediately Armstrong's presence Show Oprah Winfrey in 2009, Dooce had 8.5 million monthly readers, and it was reported that the blog was earning up to $ 40,000 per month from banner notifications. In the summer of 2009, Forbes named one of the 30 most influential women in the media, accompanied by Oprah, Huffington Arianna, and Tyra Banks. New York Times magazine ordered the “queen of mom bloggers.” T

But in 2012, Armstrong's prosperity changed. It was not just that blogging was becoming less and less of a viable business. She shared with her husband, Jon, who was also her business partner, and her loyal fans were worthy. She was suddenly a fallen internet star whose mental health was eroding. The exposure to her marriage – as well as the remainder suffering from grain – helped deep-injured depression.

So, in March 2017, Armstrong enrolled herself in a clinical trial at the University of Utah's Neuropsychiatric Institute, where she was placed in a chemically motivated comma for 15 minutes at 10 sessions. The treatment, which was closely linked to brain death, was being tested to see if it could cure depression.

“I was feeling not living,” said Armstrong, sitting on his living room sofa one spring morning. “When you're desperate, you'll try anything. I thought my children would like to have a happy, healthy mother, and I wanted to know that I had tried to make every choice for them. ”


Heather, Marlo (left) and 15-year-old Leta, who sit with Leta 15 years on the spring evening.
Kim Raff for Vox

Armstrong lives on a quiet, leafy street in Salt Lake City, at the foot of the Wasatch mountain with a snow cap. She shares a house with her husband Pete Ashdown, an early-internet mogul and co-former Mormon, and her two daughters, 15 year old Leta and Marlo 9 years of age.

Armstrong is high, thin and blonde – the stereotype associated with a successful blogger precisely. However, she notes that she is deeply distressed and her Australian shepherd, Coco, is disturbing her, “I'm so old sermon Mormon who is willing to speak his mind.” She acknowledges that she has a tendency for melodrama . Often it mitigates and does often.

Although she still describes her life – her family life – on Dooce, she is now focused on mental health. That's why she recently published her third book, The Warsaw to be dead, a raw account of her experience with depression and how the Utah University trial helped her to recover. “I want people to feel depressed that they can be seen,” she says, “especially here in Utah, where teen suicide is an epidemic.” T

Armstrong is struggling with college depression. But she also believes that the great depression that she had had two years ago was likely to have happened because of her shared public life online, and so far.

“Hate was very frightening and very hard to live through,” she says. “He gets inside of your head and eats it away on your brain. Could not do. ”

Born in Heather Hamilton, he grew up in Mormon Church but began to question religion in the college. She left the church officially after graduating from Brigham Young University in 1997, moving to Los Angeles to pursue a new secular life. It was the era of the dot-com boom, and she learned HTML and took up positions as a developer, writing code for startup. Her interest in the internet started a blog called Dooce, inspired by a nickname she earned from coworkers, who failed her for typing by writing the word “dude”.

A year after she started the blog, in 2002, Armstrong was released after your coworkers discovered that she was writing about them on her blog. “Dooce” slang internet was made to go fired for doing something online. The same year, she married Jon Armstrong, a web developer who met her in college who left the Mormon Church too. They reunited three mutual friends who lived in California, and they soon went back to Salt Lake City to start a family.

When Armstrong gave birth to her daughter Leta in 2004, Dooce was all about a mother. Armstrong certainly had the privilege – she was white, straight, rich, beautiful – and she was waiting for her until 2014 to face her blog, pretending she was not comfortable first discussing issues like to race. But his blog had a large and diverse audience because he had no master's contacts with motherhood.

“It is clear that a man wrote no tits what I had ever read about breastfeeding, as everything says, as long as the child is in the right position he should not breastfeed,” she wrote shortly after your Leta was born. “I'm here to tell you that there is no possible way to have an 8 pound creature that will give you the uncomfortable donkey. The only way to describe a man is to indicate that he sets out his naked body on a chopped block, that he would place a manual stapler on the head of a sacred helme, and put it in a few hundred staples . "

She blogged about the good thing – “I never knew how funny you might be noise until you were laughing at it, or how exciting your father was to I saw your profile beside her, ”she wrote about her daughter. She also wrote about the bad. Six months after Leta was born, Armstrong informed readers that she had voluntarily checked a psychiatric ward because she was struggling with post-natal depression.

“When Leta was born, all these mothers were transformed into the AR position: the order to protect, nurture, comfort,” she wrote on Dooce, describing her postpartum depression. “Six months later and I can't turn them off, or even put them down. These instints have gone towards the demons who excited me from the moment I go out of bed. ”

Armstrong was as honest about marriage as she was in motherhood. She described her dynamics as Jon as an unusual one, in which the duo drove each other's crazy but was still in love and there together for the long run. She also wrote a lucky thought that she had a partner who was stuck through depression. Jon shared himself with the readers as he was married to her: “Our life is so great that we need to be trained in crisis management. This is not easy. I must also be strong and assertive for most of the time or else I will have breached the power of illness. ”


Sailor's home walls Heather Armstrong are decorated with Instagram printed photographs and a needle-sewn point.
Kim Raff for Vox

The Doo seemed authentic for readers, many of whom were also moms, and a community was born. Armstrong continued to be present in the comments section and wrote regular positions on the site to answer questions posed by the reader.

“Dooce was stored in the‘ friend 'parts of our brain because people were involved in her experiences, ”says Anita Blanchard, an associate professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina Charlotte who studies virtual communities and is a long reader of Dooce. “We would be standing around for parties talking about it as we knew it.”

Small stories about raccoon were found in a chimney and new kitchen appliances bought by an audience, but it was the honesty and humor that Armstrong wrote about parenting that was very strong for readers.

“I rarely ever go to the bathroom without Leta in the room because of what she does,” she wrote about bathroom tours which most moms are familiar with but don't share openly on the web . “I can't close the door because she will start screaming, and can YOU be hit when someone is screaming? YOU MUST SO. ”

Dooce's rise came at a time when readers were turning to the internet for material they couldn't find elsewhere; mom blogs in particular had emerged in response to the negative impact of women's magazines on how women lived.

“Heather was the best,” says Lisa Stone, co-founder of BlogHer's women's blogging platform. “There were tons of women who we can thank now for the way in which women's lives are represented today.” T

Dooce had colleagues like Shannon Rosa, who blogged a parent with autism on Squidalicious, and Melissa Ford, who wrote about IVF on her blog Stirrup Queens.

Dooce was one of many blogs that Mormon women also wrote. In recent months, many Mormon women who were married and had young children turned to blogging for both income and compliance. According to Armstrong, they also practically promoted the job to the job, as Mormons are taught to magazines from an early age, and focus on creative pastimes such as scraping and sewing, which was making gold for the DIY trend.

These Mormon bloggers resolve, among other women, the way for a huge lucrative industry through platforms like BlogHer. Stone says there were 6,000 bloggers over $ 50 million paid by the company in 2014, including advertising and brand dealings with companies like Procter & Gamble, Microsoft, Ulta, Target, and Coca-Cola.

However, when Armstrong began to advertise his blog in 2004, she recalls that there is great criticism.

“Fans were pissed by fans,” she says. “He was empowering, however, because I realized that I didn't need some male executives in New York to tell me that my story was important enough to publish because I can do it myself.”


Heather Armstrong's office has an insight into her life, including photographs of her two daughters and her husband, Pete Ashdown.
Kim Raff for Vox

By 2011, Dooce was a successful business that could support five staff: Armstrong, her husband Jon, an assistant, and two childminders.

Jon Armstrong made a comedy about the Times magazine that the second child, Marlo, was good for the business, although the hostility towards Dooce was even better. Water trolls put water and angry views in Armstrong, and set up their own blogs to choose Dooce. She has always been a topic of conversation on GOMI, a website with forums aimed at lifestyle bloggers who were talking to trash, and a sub-characteristic of Blogsnark. As a result of the resulting pages, it helped raise Dooce's advertising rates. Armstrong started a website called Monetizing the Hate, which was taken down, where she collated the main comments and made money from the site's banner ads.

Detractors felt that Armstrong tackled her depression (“I'm Depressed, who brought Meow Mix,” one GOMI member wrote) and she presented her life through a desperate lens (“Heather has to get the f ** ka) with a dude, you have 43 and you spent half your life in therapy. You have a sweet life, ”another commenter wrote on GOMI).

The internet has always been grain, but then it was a different place back. Armstrong was not subjected to tremors from men's rights activists, but others. The readers were critical of what she shared about her children's lives and showed her parenting options, such as sleep training.

“The audience was very much about her mother,” says Blanchard, professor of the UNC. “And there are very judgmental people about mothers' choices generally. People felt that they were entitled to have an opinion about it. ”

As Jezebel put it, “The problem is that Heather Armstrong, the owner of a careless dog, an arrogant vessel, a bad writer, or a bully – is not a bad mother.”

Despite all the hatred, Armstrong considered that his readers were worthwhile. There was a mood like “You can't honestly explain how much helped your sharing, humor and hurt me with mine” often and often.

“We can't thank you enough for your support,” Armstrong wrote to an audience once, after blogging about her depression. “I have received comfort in the stories you have sent me, comfort and knowing that I am not in this struggle. I might not be able to see your face, but I can hear your voices. ”

In 2012, the Armstrongs announced that they were separated into individual blog posts.

“The only way out of my dissatisfaction was to take myself off, ” Heather wrote. “I'm sad and spoiled, but I'm not sure I was more stable than I am now. I hope you will try and at least be worried with me as I go about under water. ”

“I am not sure that I have the words to explain the destruction, pain, sadness and sadness that I felt over the past few months,” wrote Jon. “I've tried. After a very painful holiday season, this is where my life is: away from my children; from my wife; away from my dogs. ”

Dooce fans thought they knew everything about Armstrongs marriage. Armstrong had spent many years praising her husband as a hero who supported her through her mental illness. She was written that she liked a good father, and that he was a good partner too.


Armstrong's latest book

The Válictorian of Being Dead, Armstrong's latest book is a crude account of his experience of depression and how he has been helped by a psychiatric trial at Utah University. | Kim Raff for Vox

Actually, however, the couple had been in counseling for years. Reflecting on her marriage now, Armstrong says that “a former husband” was controlling and punishing, and that there were fundamental differences that they could not cope with, as Jon hoped to “go over”. over ”the constant hatred came on the internet. (Jon Armstrong did not respond to requests for comments.)

“I felt so bad about the idea,” said Armstrong about divorce. “I thought,‘ Do I want to do this for me? Do I want to do this with my children? Do I want to do this with my career? '' The decision to share with its audience was also exciting, and the response was seismic.

Publications such as the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Huffington Post, and Jezebel covered the split. Some fans it took hard (“This is the biggest bet, we are investing our time with you when we have been following other bloggers,” read one angry email), and others told the couple to work out . Non-fans openly wrote that the news had been cute.

“People were just horrible to me, asking me for fraud, liar me, saying my kids were not safe with me,” said Armstrong. “It was all broadcast on the web and I was reading about it every day, and it was a hell. It brought me from one unhealthy case to the next. ”

Armstrongs divorce was completed in March 2013, and Jon moved to New York a year later with a new girlfriend. Armstrong now has two daughters for most of the year (they spend summers with their father).

Armstrong's marriage was not the only thing in the Dooce universe which had gone south. By 2012, the Dooce audience – like so many blogs – was scattered to social media, thus reducing readership. Blogging began to grind out as a medium, and advertising money raised up.

Dooce had a slightly different income stream; Armstrong started making sponsorship materials as early as 2009. She would pay for brands from blog posts that promoted their products, but says that brand demands started crossing a line.

“It involved products in jobs, a manufacturing experience I couldn't have, and then included photos of my children,” said Armstrong. "He went very quickly and I didn't feel comfortable with him."

Dooce's blog lived a little after the divorce. Armstrong filled it with recipes, shopping directions, and lone parenting stories. In 2015, however, she announced that she was taking a break.

“Many of my colleagues are closed in a shop completely, and I have an insight and understanding of why they would make that decision,” she wrote to readers. “Líne Living online’ looks very different now than we did when we wanted to build this community, and the emotional and physical toll is a rapidly rising health hazard. ” T

Armstrong says the blog was convenient – at least first. She went on international tours, booked events, trained marathons, and began marketing independently for animal non-profit interests.

But the list that is not evolving keeps single mothers “things that need not be done,” as she calls it in her book, it was inadmissible. Armstrong felt that he was lying on washing and carpool tasks. She felt the pressure of a keen ranger at Salt Lake City's not-for-profit sight and sight that she calls for a "beautiful backdrop for suicidal ideals," as well as a public divorced trauma and her daily hatred, and she has become depressed. invaded her.

By the time she enrolled in the University of Utah psychiatric study, she says, “I had a lot of attention.”

Lifestyle bloggers like Armstrong made a career – a whole life, really – by sharing that life with others. They concerned their identities and experiences by giving their viewers an authentic (or at least authentic) offer at their often viable lives. No matter how true Armstrong or any of his colleagues got, air remained ambition.


Heather Armstrong took a break from blogging at Dooce when she fell into deep depression that cannot be handled.
Kim Raff for Vox

But what happens when things go from the script?

Armstrong is not the first person to put their lives on the internet. A small number of her colleagues soon went through some of their own public divorces: Natalie Holbrook from Hey Natalie Jean, Brandi Laughlin from Mama Laughlin, Jill Smokler from Maryy Girl's Scary Mommy, Maggie Mason. Perhaps the evangelical mom blogger, Glennon Doyle of Momastery, became a gay person and was now a social justice actor and a wholesale author.

Divorce, come out, mental health crises, family deaths – these are the things that create anyone's life, and the only intense compounds when you live that life online. But many of these bloggers found that, instead of unloading their professions, their experience reinforced their authenticity to their key lecturers.

“The beauty of the relationship between a writer and his audience is in blog communities that have been past decades, the trust,” says Stone, who was an early internet blogger who went through a public divorce. . “The journey changes, and this still reinforces our reality more uniquely.” T

Armstrong returned on full-time blogging in 2017, after the experimental treatment to relieve depression. She lost the writing act, which helped her to process her feelings during the divorce. When she came back, she was very surprised that her loyal fans were still waiting there.

“I have lost my other family very much and I can't wait to start giggling again,” wrote a commentator named Susan when Dooce returned in 2017. Heidi, another commenter, wrote “I'm lost at you! Like, make dinner that turn and be thinking about my friend, Heather, and why she's not so long you missed. "

At the time Armstrong was absent from this site, the bloggers were almost entirely with the social media stars who were relying on Instagram to get the following. The word “impact” was accepted and quickly. Bloggers were renowned for personal jobs; Instagram personalities were operating in a much more visual medium, depending on photographs of cute children and beautiful houses for good.

“Confessional bloggers are no longer the biggest stars on the Internet. They are life keepers. It has an impact, ”wrote Washington Post in 2018.“ They are fantastic. And with all the photos of minimalist kitchens and the affiliate links, we lose a source of support and community, a place to share vulnerability and find women with a mind, and a forum for women's expertise and wisdom. "

The lifestyle blog has grown, as quartz last year, and Armstrong says she is desperate for today's economy. On her blog, she describes it as a “hashtag that you know you want me to put your product on my baby and take advantage of millions and millions of dollars.” She's on Facebook and Twitter, but that's primarily to drive traffic to his blog, and uses Instagram as a day scrapbook of a kind of his family. (Their following is small, by 50,000 trailers, replaced by mega-influences mom Rachel Parcell, at more than 1 million.)

But when in Rome, right? Something must pay the bills. Armstrong sponsors FabFitFun and Hyundai on his blog and Instagram, and receives affiliated income from Stitch Fix and Amazon, earning commissions from shoppers who click through and buy purchased products. In line with the times, she also has a podcast about lone parenting, sponsored by Canidae Pet Food.

Still, Armstrong is not interfering with her outfits with brand credits so that they sponsor her jobs, and she is not giving free tours to glamorous locations for beauty brands. Dooce is still about dental visits, therapy sessions, and life as an old Mormon.

“Being a person who influences him today means sharing some ideal moments, not that I signed,” she says. “Mommy blogging is dead, and I think most of my colleagues would agree.”

At some time around 5 pm, the truth in Armstrong's house varies from a calm and relaxed chant to dancing.

Ashdown will join groceries and start making fresh pasta for dinner. Marlo, as Pippi Longstocking in honor of his school's story book week, makes it into the living room after neighbors have completed a play date. She goes over Ashdown as he cycles his dough through pasta making, and finally he goes on to his homework, which is crafting involved Very hungry caterpillar from Play-Doh.

Leta comes to Armstrong's mother and stepfather, who has just chosen her from a dance class. She is describing the living room sofa and the plays with her iPhone, constantly interfering with the conversation of Armstrong and her mother about changes at Mormon Church. Armstrong's mum is still involved in the church, explaining that the LDS leadership recently announced that it will allow its young missionaries to return home each week, leaving its previous rule just twice a year.

“This will have a major impact on the mental health of these children,” says Armstrong with her mother, who thinks.

In the next iteration of his career, Armstrong hopes to focus on mental health and is interested in starting non-profit mental health.

“Heather has taught me that not only about depression but about love and joy, and to understand life when you are faced with a child who goes in one direction when you want her to go in another. , ”Says her mother, Linda,.

Armstrong's book is devoted entirely to depression and to the clinical trial, with little comment on her blogging days; Dooce fans say it is a great fault, but Armstrong says he was intentional.

“So many readers have already come to me for reading my blog, asking for help and advice,” she says, “but now I want to see people who wouldn't show me in the first place, they don't see mom at blogging is part of the story. ”


Heather Armstrong leads her younger daughter Marlo in a spring morning school in Salt Lake City.
Kim Raff for Vox

Armstrong's life has changed. She is still blogging to around 500,000 readers; it's not close to her old audience, but it's where she lends a conversation about mental health and she's promoting her book.

Children's lives are also changing, as is the relationship between children and the internet. Leta was a child when Dooce became famous, but now she is a clever teenager and thinks she loves the Netflix show. The OA. Marlo may only be 9 but she also got internet access, although it is under strict time screen rules.

“I don't know anything other than blogging,” says Leta as a subject of Dooce. “It's all my life. It's kind of strange because I have friends who have Google themselves and nothing shows them, but when I myself, all these pictures and stories are. But I love reading old posts about myself as they are so funny. ”

Armstrong says she is still investing in maintaining the family liaison that Dooce offers to readers, but she now does so with the permission of her children; her daughters receive initial approval for any photograph or news about them receiving the mail to the blog or social media. Ditto goes from her partner, Ashdown, who says he does not intend to be a topic on Dooce. His experience as a Democratic candidate twice for the Seanad meant that he was comfortable in the eyes of the public.

“Chaith mé go leor airde orm,” a deir sé go bhfuil sé ar siúl i 2006 agus 2012. “Bhí orm foghlaim conas teacht amach taobh thiar de mo scáileán ríomhaire, agus mar sin d'ullmhaigh mé go hiomlán mé as a bheith amuigh faoin aer.”

Ní go bhfaca Ashdown aon rud gar don ghráin riamh, d'fhan Armstrong, agus is dócha nach raibh. Tá a fhios ag Armstrong go mbraithfidh sí, arís eile, ar slua de haters a fheicfidh an leabhar agus béim níos mó ar a meabhairshláinte mar bhealach eile a bhfuil sí ag baint leasa as a dúlagar.

Ach creideann Armstrong freisin gurb í a gairmréim bhlagála, go bhfuil trolls san áireamh go mór, rud a d'fhág go raibh abhcóideacht sláinte meabhrach aici. Chomh maith leis sin, déanann sí aoibh gháire, “Tá na rudaí is measa a dúradh fúthu ráite cheana féin.”


CREIDMHEASA

Eagarthóirí: Julia Rubin agus Eleanor Barkhorn
Leagan Amach: Alanna Okun
Grianghrafadóir: Kim Raff
Eagarthóir cóip: Tanya Pai

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