Utah ‘mommy blogger’ Heather Armstrong, known as Dooce to fans, dead at 47


Heather Armstrong, the influential “Queen of the mommy bloggers” who candidly shared her struggles as a mother and her battles with depression and alcoholism on social media and her website, Dooce.com, has died at the age of 47. 

Armstrong’s boyfriend, Pete Ashdown, told The Associated Press that Armstrong died by suicide. He said he found her Tuesday night at their Salt Lake City home. She’d been sober for more than 18 months but had recently relapsed, Ashdown said. 

One of the first and mommy bloggers, Armstrong started Dooce in 2001. She wrote frankly about her children, relationships and other challenges. The blog exploded in popularity and she turned it into a lucrative career, appearing on Oprah and the Forbes list of most influential women in media.

In 2009 she released her memoir, “It Sucked and then I Cried: How I Had a Baby, a Breakdown and a Much Needed Margarita.”

In 2012, Armstrong separated from her husband, Jon Armstrong, with whom she’d had two children. She later began dating Ashdown, a former U.S. Senate candidate. 

Armstrong became famous for her raw, unapologetic posts on Instagram and Dooce – the latter of which arose from her inability to quickly spell “dude” during online chats. Her commentary touched on everything from pregnancy and breastfeeding to homework and carpooling were often infused with curses. As her popularity grew, so too did the barbs of critics, who accused her of bad parenting and worse.

In her memoir, she described how her blog began as a way to share her thoughts on pop culture with faraway friends. Within a year, her audience grew from a few friends to thousands of strangers around the world, she wrote.

Armstrong suffered chronic depression for much of her life, according to her book. In 2017, after the unraveling of her marriage, the internet star dubbed “the queen of the mommy bloggers” by The New York Times Magazine took a tumble in popularity.

Her depression grew worse, leading her to enroll in a clinical trial at the University of Utah’s Neuropsychiatric Institute, according to an interview she gave Vox. She was put in a chemically induced coma for 15 minutes at a time for 10 sessions.

“I was feeling like life was not meant to be lived,” Armstrong told Vox. “When you are that desperate, you will try anything. I thought my kids deserved to have a happy, healthy mother, and I needed to know that I had tried all options to be that for them.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.