Rock Bottom: The Darkest Periods In People’s Lives
We’ve all had bad days, weeks, or months that felt like life was at its absolute worst and there’s nothing to do about it. Tragedies happen, sometimes in quick succession, testing a person’s mental strength as they get through each. But people have come out of what they thought was the worst phase of their life for the better. Online, these people have shared their success stories to inspire others feeling down that it gets better.
1. A Whole Lot of Nothing
The worst phase of my life is right now. My mom passed from bone cancer; I left a high paying job to be her full-time caretaker over the final two years. That left me living in her house with only a struggling consulting business. 2020 ended that. Right now, I’m waiting for my unemployment to be approved, but it’s been a month and no money yet. Now I have no mom, no job, no money. My vehicle’s alternator gave out this morning. Sunday is Mother’s Day. I’m a mess.
2. At a Loss and Then Another and Another
When I was 25, I lost my boyfriend to a pulmonary embolism suddenly on Thanksgiving. He was my best friend and the love of my life. After that, I gave up—like just plain gave up on everything. I lost my job, my apartment, and my parents had to come get me to take me back home an hour away because they were afraid that I wouldn’t be okay. That lasted 5 years. It still has some effects today.
3. Aloha, Ew
In my freshman year of high school, I wore a Hawaiian shirt every day for about two weeks. It was when I was walking home in the rain and saw my reflection in a puddle that I realized how dumb I looked. I took it off right then in there.
4. Really Stuck in There
When I broke my back and had to recover from surgery completely alone, I had only one friend that stayed around after a nasty break up, my parents were in a different town, and my roommates didn’t even fully move in yet. I spent 5 weeks just lying in bed with occasional movement. I lost 60 pounds during that time because I couldn’t painlessly force my 6’7″ frame into my car in a small town that doesn’t have any meal delivery services.
5. It’s Just High School
I was unpopular in high school. I lost weight and got contacts thinking it would help. It didn’t. My senior year was a very lonely year. I wanted to be part of the wonderful events offered to seniors in high school. I wasn’t asked to the prom. I wasn’t invited to graduation parties or senior trips either. I dealt with it. College was much better. I had good years in college and made good friends.
I finished college, got married, had kids, and a career. I learned that things do get better. And it’s only a phase.
6. Comes in Twos
The worst phase of my life was from 2016-2018. My wife and I were thinking of separating after moving two states away for her job. Then she got diagnosed with cancer. I couldn’t divorce her in those circumstances. I felt like I was essentially losing her twice while working 56-hour weeks to keep us afloat when she couldn’t. I was alone except for her, struggling not to resent her and repair our marriage.
I was exhausted and anxious all the time. I dropped 30 pounds without intent and was at some points selling my plasma to make rent. But she survived, so far cancer-free, and so did our marriage. We moved back home and now I have custody of my son from my first marriage and we each have better jobs. We’ve forgiven each other and built a comfortable, stable life for our family. I would do it all again if I had to.
This was worse than boot camp, worse than divorce, worse than my mom dying, and worse than my year deployed to Afghanistan.
7. Too Young for This
Shortly after turning 25, I got really, really sick. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and it was a horrible few years fighting for my life. Pain, nausea, and depression when it was supposed to be the best times. I was forced to drop out of grad school shortly after getting accepted because I couldn’t do it from the hospital. I spent more time in the hospital than at home.
14 months of morphine and 5+ months of being TPN, being fed through a tube in my arm, which kept getting infected so it had to be moved to the opposite arm a couple times. Then there were complications such as multiple pulmonary embolisms which are painful, collapsed lung, etc. I lost way too much weight way too fast. My face ballooned up and filled with acne from all the steroids and mounting medical debts that I stopped counting when it hit $2M. It’s been the worst part of my life by far.
8. From Hatred and Emptiness to…
About 2 years ago when I was severely depressed, life wasn’t going the way I wanted it too. I was verbally abused every day by my boss, hated my life, and the decisions I made, couldn’t afford rent or food. I was starving most of the time and I was seriously considering just ending it all because I couldn’t stand this pathetic existence anymore.
Luckily, my old boss needed me back so I quit my toxic job, went back to my old one, and I started making money again. Eventually, I moved into my own house and things have been great ever since! I still go through periods of depression. I always have struggled with that, but I don’t want to kill myself anymore which is nice.
9. Paternal Deflections
During the worst phase of my life, my mom passed from a blood clot, which was extremely unexpected and sudden. Then my dad remarried 5 months and 29 days later to a woman he met online but not in person until a month before the wedding when mom was cremated and wasn’t even buried yet. I found out from my friend’s parent about the marriage a week before the wedding.
13 months later, as I was getting used to having a stepmom, she left us. Dad chased after her, disappeared for 2 weeks, and left me without a license by myself. He came back alone and told me he didn’t want to be my father anymore. I considered emancipation as another bad thing happened, but I was turning 18 in less than a year.
What got me through it? I honestly don’t know. I was a cutter, which of course offered no help. When I turned 18 and moved out, I realized I had control over my life finally and didn’t have to put up with him. I speak to him, but we have a very superficial relationship. I’m much happier now and no longer have depression once I stopped letting myself get disappointed by him.
10. Welcomed Amnesia
The worst phase of my life was from 1998-2013 when I was 20-35. I was in a terrible, loveless, painful marriage. I was trying so hard to raise two kids, build a career, make a home, but I had nothing…every one of my successes was systematically diminished. I spent 15 years barely breathing. When I think of my ex-husband, it’s like thinking about an unpleasant stranger I met in passing many years ago. It’s like my mind won’t let me return there. Thank goodness it’s over.
11. Rejecting Rejection
I spent 1 year getting rejected at interviews during my worst phase in life. I used to be excellent at academics and went to a prestigious university, yet it was hard to get an interview call and even harder to crack the final round. I have a huge student loan and was crumbling under immense pressure. It seemed like it wouldn’t end, but I kept working on it thinking I just need to crack one interview.
I dealt with it by letting myself cry. It hurt a lot. When I received a job offer, I cried out of exhaustion. It felt like I had been running a race. I just want you to know that this will pass and there’s something good in store for you.
12. Annual 5% Decline
There was a 5-year period which was the worst phase of my life starting at age 37 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. About a year later, my younger brother was diagnosed with glioblastoma. He lived for another 2 years and a few months. The following year marked 5 years of me being cancer-free and a year since my brother had passed and it felt…hopeful, like we were turning a corner into a better place.
Less than two weeks after the 5-year anniversary of my mastectomy, my mother ran a stop sign with both of my children in the car taking them back to her house to make Christmas decorations. A truck hit her and t-boned the driver’s side of the car. We received a call from someone at the scene, my mother died instantly, and our kids were taken to two separate hospitals.
They were concerned that one was injured more seriously than the other so we had to decide which injured child to go see. Both kids ended up being okay with just a couple of broken bones and concussions but nothing too bad. So actually, it was longer than a 5-year period, but I can’t really give a specific time the storm ended, it just eventually faded out.
13. Know Your Worth
The worst phase of my life started when someone I loved very much cheated on me. It just completely tore me up. I felt like I was walking along dazed like the living dead with a gaping hole in my chest for a long time. Basically, there was one point where I couldn’t go more than a few hours without bursting into tears.
I eventually tried to kill myself because my self-esteem and self-image were so low. I felt so unlovable that even the closest person to me who I lived with, slept next to every night, and knew me better than anyone, could rip my heart out in favor of some 19-year-old stranger he’d only just met that week. That’s how worthless I felt I was. I already had been cheated on by my previous relationship. Twice in a row was too much for me to take.
In retrospect, I feel sad that I nearly threw my life away for that, but I couldn’t have expected myself to have dealt with it any better. The last time we ever spoke I told him I forgave him and that I didn’t hate him. I didn’t burden my friends or demand any ultimatums from our mutual friends. I just quietly dealt with it slowly on my own. I’m glad I don’t feel that way anymore. That was horrible.
14. Anything It Takes
The worst phase of my life is happening right now. I’m currently at my rock bottom. I was laid off due to COVID, my husband left me six months ago, and I’m still trying to finalize a divorce from the love of my life. Quarantine doesn’t help because all I have is time to think about how horrible my life has become. I know that I’m strong enough to get through this but at this point it feels impossible.
15. The Weight of it All
I was anorexic for a long time from about freshman year of high school until sophomore year of college. My weight fluctuated and my messed up goal for myself was to be at 80 pounds. The lowest I ever achieved was 89 pounds at 5’2″. I was absolutely miserable and hated not just my body, but myself. I have always been a perfectionist, and food was something I could “perfect,” which in my mind was eating the least number of calories as possible with some days eating no more than 600 calories.
I’d also exercise a lot—a lot for the caloric intake I was getting. I was cold all the time, I was never satisfied with my body or with my hunger, my heart palpitated a few times, which was terrifying. I didn’t go out with friends drinking or to eat because of this fear of calories. It was a really dark time. How did I recover? Well, it was a slow change.
Somehow, I got it through my head to go to an eating disorder therapy group on my college campus, thank goodness. This made me realize I wasn’t alone in my struggles and I learned some helpful strategies for coping. A huge part of my recovery was also telling my significant other a few months into when we were dating. He was my first serious boyfriend and one of the few people I confided in this secret.
He was a million percent supportive and I definitely leaned on him calling me beautiful a bit more than I should have to get me through the stresses of putting on weight. But, I did, and I love my body and myself so much more now. At about 120 pounds, I have curves that my significant other appreciates and loves my newly-found endowments. I have energy. I can be social without as much stress and I have a much better outlook on my life.
However, my significant other wasn’t entirely responsible. Ultimately, it was up to me to change. And it’s hard. Restricting was such a control comfort for me; when other things happened that stressed me out, I knew I always had food or my weight in my own hands. Two epiphanies came to me, though. First of all, I began treating my body more like a car and food as fuel.
Cars can’t run without gas, and food became my gasoline. I imagined my internal organs grinding and struggling without the energy to function, and this terrified me. The second light bulb moment was thinking about stress in my life. I can’t always control what happens to me, but what I can control is how I react to what happens to me, and that is so empowering.
16. It Wasn’t Me
All my life I’ve been the nothing but A+ student, smart, kind, generous, generally the dream kid for every stereotypical mom. But around senior year of high school, which is the preparation for our country’s SATs, I started gaining a lot of weight and becoming sleepier, lazier, and getting regular headaches. That resulted in me getting terrible grades that barely got me into a “decent” university.
All year I got yelled at by my family for not studying enough, for sleeping too much and being lazy, bullied at school for getting fatter and fatter. That continued at my university as well. During the second year of studies, I couldn’t take the mocking anymore and went to a doctor. It turned out that I had a severe thyroid condition, which explained all the weight gain, headaches, and inability to focus.
Thankfully, it all went way better from there.
17. Losing Everything for the Better
In 2015 when I was 22, I just finished my degree and was accepted into a PhD program. My sister was terminally ill, which was obviously awful, and then she passed the day I started the PhD. Two weeks earlier, my boyfriend of five years dumped me. He moved in with my friend a couple weeks later, and they both swore blind that nothing was going on.
Of course, they’re engaged now and, in retrospect, they were probably carrying on for a while before we broke up. I just felt like I’d lost everything in that time, my sister, my boyfriend, and a lot of friends. I was pretty low then. I considered just dying, but my dog stopped me. She wouldn’t understand and I couldn’t do it to her.
Since then, I’ve made new, amazing friends and kind of found myself, which sounds tacky, I know. And I am honestly so much happier than I ever have been. Sure, there are ruts, but there are so many reasons to be grateful! So, if you find yourself struggling right now, know that things do get better :).
18. Ball of Health Problems
Mine started in November when I got hit with epididymitis, which is the worst pain ever. It turned out the pain was caused by varicocele, which is basically like a varicose vein to your balls. In the process of all of this with having had blood tests and urine tests, it was found out that I have a kidney disease too. This, hypertension, and genetically high cholesterol meant that whatever I eat, my body fills my arteries with cholesterol regardless.
So, my varicocele operation was postponed and replaced by a kidney biopsy. They jab a massive needle in you and take some kidney for to find out what’s up. Also, I found out that I have IGA nephropathy, which is basically an immune disorder. Intermittently I have ball pain and in my final months of an adult apprenticeship, I have my exams and project stuff due next month.
I push through all of this knowing that I have a 2-week holiday coming up and maybe then I can deal with the emotional trauma of having a chronic diagnosis. The first week my country went into lockdown, my varicocele operation was postponed again and I was left freaking because I have a disease and the ‘Rona is out to get me. I finally had that operation.
I’m currently enjoying my pain medication for breakfast. These past six months have been the weirdest, scariest, most bizarre ever and I have a feeling everything isn’t over. I’m concentrating on the end of June when all my exams are over, and hopefully, life will seem a little more hopeful.
19. Here’s to New Beginnings
The fall semester of my freshman year of college in 2017 was the worst time of my life. I was lonely and depressed at a college that I hated and all of my friends from home were having the times of their lives at their dream schools. My best friend was also battling his own demons: His brother had taken his own life. I didn’t want to be an extra burden on him.
All I did was go to class and watch movies on my computer in my dorm. I had zero friends and gained a bit of weight. The lack of friends wasn’t worth trying. I tried mingling with people during welcome week and our early classes, which was something that was very hard for me because I’m extremely introverted, but it almost felt as though everyone turned their noses up and walked away.
I was majoring in film, but all of the kids made fun of me for being a sort of Hermione Granger figure who knew all the answers. They’d always make fun of me. I thought college was supposed to be exciting, but it almost felt like those corny high school movies. I constantly referred to that period as “the 13th grade.”
During winter break, my parents asked me how college was and I burst into tears randomly. They said it was fine for me to transfer. They really liked the school so there was some guilt there too. And now, three years later, I’m at my dream school, NYU. I’ve made lots of lovely new friends, I have professors who know what they’re teaching, and there’s lots of opportunities.
20. Freedom of Religion
The worst phase of my life was when I was lying to myself that I believe in my religion. My mind was occupied with so many questions that I could not answer. The best sleep I ever had was when I said to myself that I am not a believer anymore. Constantly lying to myself was the worst thing that ever happened to me.
21. Falling for the Nice Guy
I went through a Nice Guy phase when I was like 19 or 20. But that’s not the most shameful part. The most shameful part was the righteous indignation that came along with it. The girl I was fawning over was a survivor and she might have been in an abusive relationship at the time I was friends with her—though perhaps I only perceived it as abusive because I had Nice Guy goggles on.
Her whole sad story sent me to a dark place. I started having gruesome fantasies about hurting the guy, and I lashed out at her boyfriend publicly on Facebook. He and I had been friends, which was how I met her. I was an absolute mess. And it finally came to a tipping point when, under circumstances I can’t remember, I said something or other to her expressing disapproval of her relationship.
She accused me of only wanting her for myself, which was obviously true, and after that I had to step back and re-evaluate what I had become. I call that part of my life the Dark Period, and I look back on it often to remind myself of the completely terrible things I’m capable of, so that I never go back to that place.
22. I Think I Can, I Think I Can
The summer after high school and into college was pretty rough. I wasn’t ready to move on in life after graduation. I didn’t want to have to worry about getting a part-time job, having to work really hard in engineering school, potentially lose friends because of school, or having to think about a future 9-5 job. So, I spent most of the summer really depressed and anxious.
I ended up getting a job offer from Home Depot, but I declined the offer because I was too scared to go through with it. I just told everyone that no job ever contacted me and I just sat around for most of the summer by myself. Then about twice a week, I’d hang out with my girlfriend who lived 30 minutes away.
Mid-August rolled around and my girlfriend dumped me. We had been together for about a year and a half and she was my first love, so it didn’t go over too well. I spent the next month hanging out with friends every day to take my mind off it until they left for university. Once community college actually started, I hated it. I was alone since all my friends had gone off to university, and I was out of a girlfriend.
The entire first term of college was just extremely depressing for me. I did fine in my classes, but I just didn’t do anything since there was nothing to do. Ultimately, this rolled over into my second term as well, but my workload was much higher. I just dedicated myself to my school work. If I did schoolwork 24/7, I didn’t have time to think about my ex or my friends not being home.
This went on until my second year of college started. By that point, I was used to being mostly alone and was no longer afraid of the future. My recovery was just chugging along until enough time passed.
23. Halfway There
Middle school was when all of my “friends” ditched me and it was around the same time my grandmother who I was incredibly close with lost her life to cancer. Then the kids spread a rumor about me and I lost all self-respect and self-confidence. This was the lowest point I have ever been in life and it feels like a glossed over haze when I try to think of that time period.
I’m at a much, much better place now thankfully. I don’t know how I lived during that time but somehow, I did and I’m very happy I did.
24. Brought to Tears
The worst phase of my life is probably right now. I am still in college and this semester was supposed to be my last. Last semester I got into the student teaching program at my college. Everyone warned me that it was going to be hard and very stressful but I felt ready. Then at the beginning of the semester, one of my uncles passed, which was probably not a good omen. So, the course was hard and extremely stressful.
I mean I broke down into tears multiple times during the semester. Fast forward to the end and the professors decided that the work that I was producing was not satisfactory to move on to the next semester of student teaching. I once again broke down in tears. I had been banking on becoming a teacher since the start of my college career. Now I don’t know what to do.
I seriously think that that class gave me PTSD as I still have panic attacks. I am tired all the time. I’m snapping at people and I just don’t care anymore. Add to the fact that my parents have been getting me through college and now have almost no money. Luckily, I have great friends with whom I can talk. I haven’t left this dark period of time, but I am moving towards the light.
25. Both Inside and Out
Late 2009 through early 2013 was a rough phase in my life. This span of time covers 6th grade to freshman year of high school, which was a period of time where I was rude, obnoxious, unpleasant, and gross! I was so mean spirited at the time, and constantly making fun of people, even though no one was on my side. I was just that kid nobody really liked.
While I really felt sorry for myself about it at the time, I realize now it’s because I was such a jerk to everyone. I also had a very limited scope of hygiene; deodorant was often forgotten and my nose was always filthy. Literally, I had so much filth on my nose that it turned into a huge blackhead. My hygiene improved quite a bit by sophomore year, although I was still pretty rude.
Then slowly but surely, I became nicer to people and they were nice back. Sure enough, I finally found a solid group of friends like I always daydreamed about. But those years…I shudder every time I think about it. I often daydream of going back in time just to apologize to everyone who had to put up with me.
26. The Pain of Teen Angst
When I was thirteen, I became really emotionally distant and could barely connect with anyone including my family. This in turn led to me constantly feeling alienated. I lost touch with all of my friends and was unable to make any new ones so, I spent the entire year alone. My grandfather also passed during that period of time.
Things were difficult and I was miserable, but in retrospect, I just wish I had not been such a jerk.
27. Falling for My Best Friend
Honestly, when my first real relationship ended. We had almost dated for six years since we met in high school when he decided he wasn’t happy anymore. It crushed me and it was also when I was trying to finish college, so I was really stressed out on top of everything else. Four months down the line during the time I was trying to heal myself, he messaged me on Facebook on Valentine’s Day and told me that he was going to start dating his best friend.
I was so depressed, I turned to drinking and being promiscuous. It was the hardest time of my life so far. The best part of this story along with a lot of stuff in life is that it gets better. Your mind has a great way of healing itself and moving on. I’m in a great relationship now and I graduated college. I’m in a way better place right now that’s for sure.
28. Fate or Destiny
My mom has PTSD and Bipolar. She’s attempted suicide twice and I had to revive her and call 9-1-1 both times. I was 11 and 16. I moved away from her when I went to college and knew that I’d get married—I’m an okay looking, nice guy with a good work ethic and no debt. I genuinely care about people. I knew it’d happen eventually just didn’t know who or when—I told myself to marry a healthy person emotionally mentally and physically because I didn’t want to repeat my childhood.
I married a woman who is beautiful inside and out. Then my wife of six months became chronically ill, depressed, anxious, and developed insomnia. I was 20. We just decided to work for a charity, and I was raising money. She got sick, transported to a different state with her parents who were well off but super unhealthy emotionally.
I spent the next year sleeping only 3 hours a night massaging her muscles, researching her illness, taking her to doctors, working from home, and holding her through panic attacks, depressive episodes, and familial disputes. I missed my best friend’s wedding, my grandpa dying, my best friend being sent off to boot camp, graduating, and deploying. I had $7,000 in debt to medical bills. Worst. Year. Of. My. Life.
29. Making Better Decisions
The worst period of my life was the 6 months after I graduated college. I had just been fired from my serving job, my boyfriend had stolen $10,000 from my college fund account without my knowledge, I had no job prospects, and I was still trying to party like a college grad meaning going out 3-4 times a week, daytime drinking, getting stoned, etc.
I was making really poor decisions and as such, my dad refused to give me any money to help me out. It got so bad that I was stealing food from the grocery store, which is actually remarkably easy. How did I get out of it? I changed pretty much everything about my life. I kicked my loser boyfriend out of our two-bedroom apartment, got a new serving job at a better restaurant, moved into a house with 4 strangers for a quarter of the price of the apartment, and got a whole new set of friends who weren’t so heavily into drugs.
I worked really, really hard at changing everything for about a year and a half. I stopped going out so much, stopped doing hard drugs, sold my car and bought a bicycle, started actually paying my bills with the money I saved. I got my life on track. And when I say I worked hard, I WORKED REALLY HARD. No one else was going to help me.
I didn’t have anyone to rely on or give me handouts. I feel so much better about myself and who I am and the life I lead now because I created this life.
30. Love Lost
10 years ago, I was engaged to my first love and we were about to be married. She was pregnant and we were going to have a little girl. Three months before the wedding she called me and told me the baby isn’t mine and she wants to break up. Apparently, she was cheating on me and eventually married that dude. A month after the breakup, my best friend was helping me get over it and we were going to movies and concerts and just hanging out a lot.
Then on Memorial Day 2010, he drowned in a lake in Iowa. We had just gone to see The Book of Eli the night before at the theater and the next day he drowned. My life has gotten much better. I joined the navy and sailed the world. I met the love of my life and now have a couple beautiful kids. Life sucks sometimes, but it can always get better.
31. Cash Ruled Everything Around Me
About 3 years ago, I left a wonderful girl with whom I just moved into a new apartment. I had a buddy who wanted me to live with him and another friend. Long story short, we ended up doing lots of drugs and I used up all my money and couldn’t afford rent and food. We ended up getting kicked out and I lost 60 pounds.
I also took lots of fast loans, you probably know which kind, and used them all on drugs. I lost my apprenticeship and friends along the way. “Lucky” for me, I found another girlfriend who offered me to move in with her in the basement of her mother’s house. It was the most toxic relationship with both mental and physical violence from both of us.
Her mother had six dogs and every day I reeked of dog, and depression kicked in hard. We got in a big fight, and I moved out the next day. I really loved the girl, but my toxic tendencies ruined both of our spirits. I found a small room at an old lady’s home who I adored and she did back. I landed a new job and found a new girlfriend there. And to this day, she is the most wonderful, loving, and beautiful human being.
She taught me how it feels like to be loved unconditionally and we just moved in together. I am now debt-free and bought my first car.
32. Starving for Validation
The worst phase of my life was during my gap year after I had just had a really painful breakup. During the relationship, I had started to work out to be more attractive and to have my then-boyfriend notice me again. That obviously didn’t work and I just kept looking for the fault in me not wanting to admit that it just wouldn’t work.
Just a few weeks later, I flew to Australia for 6 months, so I had a new “family,” no friends, and nobody I knew…I was terrified. It didn’t help that I get really awkward when I want people to like me, so making friends was really hard for me. That led me to think, “If I lose weight, I will be pretty and everybody will like me.” But doing just that is not how it works.
I didn’t realize that at the time though and I was eating less and less every day and working out multiple times a day. I lost a lot of weight and went from being at a normal weight to being underweight. I was still not able to stop. Not having a period anymore, losing hair, almost passing out just from getting up, I still didn’t stop. I spent my days tired, unable to think about something other than food, getting nauseous from walking up stairs and still forcing myself to go to the gym, and being unable to sleep almost every night because I was so hungry.
People started to notice something was off and I just pushed them away. I don’t want to imagine how many people I have hurt during that time just because I didn’t want to admit that there was in fact something wrong. What hurts me the most is thinking about how many girls started complimenting me on my new body and being so “healthy” when I couldn’t be further away from being healthy. I feel horrible thinking that I might have inspired others to go down the same path as I did.
33. Dragged Towards the Finish Line
The worst phase of my life was from January 2013 to January 2014. PTSD finally jumped up and bit me. HARD. The reasonable part of my brain shut down completely. I stopped listening to good advice started making every bad decision possible. I was dishonorably discharged from the military and my friends continued to kill themselves. I started destroying relationships one by one, starting with my girlfriend. I broke everything and gave up on all my hobbies.
Everything that made me happy was pushed away or destroyed as quickly as possible. I started to believe that I was meant to be angry and sad always. I reached the bottom of the valley in less than six months and culminated in a solo hike into the middle of the woods with a field pack containing the following items: 1 length of 50-meter rope. Obviously, I didn’t go through with it.
And for that, I was grateful because a friend phoned my sister and told her where I’ve been for the past year. He bought a bus ticket and put me on and then found somebody riding the same way and offered him $200 to “drag him through the transfers to Thunder Bay. He’s a dead stick right now and can’t do it himself.” The guy stayed true to his word and dragged me back to my home town.
My sister and mom took me back in. I spent two months crying and hyperventilating. My sister and old friend from back in the day refused to give up on me. They dragged me to every appointment and constantly checked to make sure I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. They babysat me and put up with my temper tantrums until the anger and sadness FINALLY started to abate.
I was able to manage a job interview and landed my first gig since the army. I started paying rent and my bills and bought food instead of booze. The feeling of control over my life was re-established. I started longsword fencing in earnest with the intention of opening my own school the next year. Slowly but surely, I hate myself less and respect myself more.
Things are still not 100%, and there is no getting back what I had, but the past is the past, and all I care about now is TODAY. I ate today, there’s a roof over my head, and I can actually hear what people around me are saying again. The fog has lifted. Today, I don’t feel too bad. No matter what you’re going through, DO NOT STOP. It’s a period in your life—nothing more. It WILL be different. Push forward, regardless of how much it hurts. DO. NOT. STOP.
34. Symptoms of Rebellion
I was 17 and was trying to be a rebel, but it backfired. My dad kicked me out of the house to live with my mum and stepdad. And boy, what a rough 6 months that was. It was a downward spiral. I gained over 50 pounds and was now 230 pounds, failed almost all my assignments and pretty much didn’t even go to school. I was forced to get a job. I worked at KFC which attributed to my weight gain.
To make matters worse, my stepdad is a jerk, so I had a room for about a month, and then he kicked me out of it. I slept on the floor in the living room because I spent $40 on KFC, yes all for myself. I also had depression to which I will never loudly admit. There is way more but those were the big ones. And I’m back on track, I’ve moved back to my dad’s and lost 35 pounds. I’m doing a bridging course to go to university to work with my dad and I’m just generally happier.
35. Wasn’t Working Out
I was unhappily married after only 3 years, but from 2017 to 2018, my ex decided he didn’t need to work anymore, so he just didn’t. It wasn’t a mutual decision. He didn’t do anything around the house. I had a busy period at work and he made it worse. I asked if he was ok, needed help, etc… he always refused. He started drinking excessively. Libido tanked for both of us.
I drank too much and slept with someone. Initially, I was mortified, but eventually, I didn’t feel bad about it. I filed for divorce, but couldn’t kick him out of the house even though he wasn’t on the mortgage or deed. I spent months living with my hopeless, unemployed soon-to-be ex-husband while working crazy hours. He made my life a living nightmare. What’s worse was that I had to pay him alimony, which he spent on all kinds of substances.
I started getting weird calls from him at all hours saying things like the “Israeli mafia” and “Rihanna’s bodyguard” had a hit out on my dad. He wandered around town with a weapon and basically got chased out of the state by the authorities. He maxed out his credit cards and somehow put my phone number on his accounts, so I got tons of calls from debt collectors.
Luckily, I wasn’t liable for it. A few months after he moved out, I started dating someone who ended up cheating on me with multiple people. Needless to say, I’m very happily single right now.
36. Not a Small Town Boy Living in a Lonely World Anymore
When I was 15 years old, I was a socially awkward kid at a strict Catholic boy’s school living in a small village full of extremely narrow-minded people. EVERYONE hated me because I was different. I really mean everyone. I had people slowing down their cars and lower their windows to yell hateful things at me. Teachers would tell me that I didn’t belong in front of the entire class and would ignore whenever other kids picked on me daily.
It was popular for kids my age to love sports and drink, but I loved anime and video games. Things got so bad that I couldn’t sleep anymore because I was too afraid to go outside. My rather conservative family was absolutely no help because they also felt that I was weird and “just going through a phase.”
And you know what? I got out of it! Things got so bad that I had not slept properly in about half a year, secretly skipped school to the point of being threatened with ejection, and severe depression starting to creep in. One night lying in bed wide awake with stomach cramps due to the thought of having to go to school the next day, I simply had an epiphany, “I’m going to put an end to this!”
Next day when my parents got home from work, I asked them for a few minutes to hear me out. I told them that I was not going to go back to school until it was a different one in a different town. And that was the deal with no other options. Mind you, this was a HUGE deal for me back then. Usually, my siblings and I simply did as we were told.
After talking it through, my father pulled a few strings with an old friend of his who worked at a school in the next biggest city and a day later, I was welcomed to my new school. Life skyrocketed upwards. Girls? Guys who didn’t hate me? Other kids who loved anime and video games like I did? Teachers who liked me? Girls who LIKED me? Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! And YES!!! I had the whole social butterfly situation and in hindsight can confirm that I avoided having to deal with depression.
37. Blooming into a Beautiful Social Butterfly
SO FAR in my short experience of life as an 18-year-old, the worst phase in my life was 9-10th grade. In 8th grade, I started high school with the thought that I’d be more social and will make a lot of friends. And I did. But in 9th grade, everything changed for some reason. I started talking to only one person and slowly developed a fear of talking in front of people. This continued til about the end of 10th grade.
Why I think this was my worst phase is because I missed out so many good opportunities like bonding moments, projects abroad, interesting competitions, etc. I missed all of that because of my anxiety. What helped me were the projects my physics teacher kept giving us that we had to read in front of the whole class. It showed me that talking in front of people is not that scary.
That summer I became a volunteer in the library’s foreign language department where I helped the librarian with the English club and was also a host of a few meetings with some Americans. When 11th grade started, I decided it was time to change, and I did. I was more social, wasn’t scared to join new clubs, went and won some school competitions. It’s safe to say that this was the best year of school.
Now I’m 12th grade, next week is my last. I’m so thankful that I decided to come out of my shell and made some nice memories.
38. Futility of Hatred
Definitely my self-deprecating phase was the worst. A lot of my friends would make jokes about wanting to die so I didn’t see anything wrong with doing it myself. I would make fun of my body and habits and joke about wanting to die because it was just a thing that we all did. I didn’t realize the harm in it, but it severely damaged my self-confidence and gave me a lot of issues with suicidal ideation.
It makes me sad to know that it’s normal for so many teenagers to do. It can be really dangerous and unhealthy, and I’m still trying to unlearn all the negative things I’ve said and be nicer to myself. I’ve learned that I don’t deserve that kind of torment even if it’s framed as a joke and perpetrated by myself.
39. Teaming Up
When I was 13, I moved to another team to play football. At the beginning, I was doing well, scored goals, controlled the ball easier, and passes were perfect. But the longer I stayed in that team, I realized that some of my teammates started to not like me. They hated when I managed to dribble past them and score goals.
One time, to my surprise, they even tried to brutally tackle me in training. They started calling me bad names mostly due to my short height. I just ignored them or even fought back. They couldn’t risk hurting me while the coach was around, but once in a locker room, these five of my “teammates” started throwing stuff at me.
I started playing badly. My “teammates” wouldn’t pass to me anymore and they mocked on little mistakes I made. When I finally reached 18, I just quit football. I was depressed and had trust issues. Now, I am studying civil engineering in university, and I am still recovering from the past mistakes I made. My dad who knew about this recently told me that this wasn’t my fault and helped me get over my depressed phase.
40. Even Worse Than Middle School
From 2012-2018, I fell deep into depression, but I have functional depression so it went undiagnosed for at least 6 years. I got into medical school during that time and was thrilled to have reached a goal I worked so hard for. I moved countries to go to school as a dual citizen and was in a class of less than 50 students between the ages of 25 and 45. I mention the ages because it was the worst school experience I’ve had, including middle school when I was bullied for wearing hand me down clothes or because of my haircuts and size.
I had a friend who spread lies, and I got shunned. I got cyberbullied by my classmates. I didn’t have people I could study with or eat with. The person who I thought I was best friends with chose her narcissistic boyfriend, turned her back on me, and then made my life a nightmare. Looking back, I don’t know how I made it through. I had no support system there.
The best thing I did for myself was take a semester off and get help. I moved home for a couple months, spent real time with old friends and family to recharge, and finished school. It’s been a few years, and I’m a doctor now. I LOVE the hospital I work in. They, along with others, helped me to realize that I wasn’t the problem and that some people are broken and they break others because misery loves company.
41. High School Dropped Rock Bottom
I dropped out of school at 17 with more than the usual arrogance of youth and was sure that everything would be great. If the band didn’t work out, there was always acting… anyway, there were alternative ways of life that sounded appealing, but in practice never amounted to more than sketchy flats and either buying or selling drugs.
A couple of years later, most of my friends had left to go to university while I was still living at home and spending whatever I earned on hash and alcohol, no band, no drama. I became nocturnal. My last remaining friend was basically Matthew McConaughey’s character in Dazed and Confused, as in he hung about with graduating kids trying to impress the boys and sleep with the girls. Even my dealer friends were doing better than me or were locked up. I started wearing a woollen jumper as a kind of skirt. Hair was matted in a single lock.
Then someone told me about an alternative way to get into university. At that point, I was ready to say whatever and signed up for four years of academia. Looking back, I know why I failed: I was completely dedicated to a dissolute lifestyle. There are people who can combine high levels of drug use with other things like art projects, bands, or jobs. I couldn’t. So, I had to clean up my act pretty much completely.
42. Hunk of Change
I’d say about 6-7 months ago was the worst phase of my life. I was pretty overweight, doing terrible in school, severely depressed, ended up in a mental hospital for a week. I fell behind in school more because of it. And then boom. I decided to make a change and put some effort into my life and I honestly feel so much better now.
I have lost at least 40 lbs. in fat since I started hitting the gym, and now I honestly feel like I look like a hunk. My depression is still very much there, but I’ve found new healthy outlets like longboarding, weight lifting, and dieting. I have a job somehow making decent money and junior year is almost over. I’m chilling honestly.
43. Soured Sixteen
The worst phase of my life is easily the year I turned 16. I should have realized it was going to be bad when my then-boyfriend brought me a gift excitedly telling me his mom picked it out and bought it. After that, I found out my parents were splitting up because my dad had cheated on my mom with my other Scout leader. Then, my grandfather passed and I was diagnosed with mono. The year rounded off with me losing my very first job at the video rental store and the boyfriend dumping me. Sweet sixteen…totally.
44. A Wise Owl Once Said
The worst phase of my life was during grad school. It coincided with a particularly long and hideous bout of severe depression—I have the extra-fun sort of depression where it’s chronically moderate called dysthymia but I also have these horrible dark months and years where I can barely function. I’ve had a few of those; the most recent was when I was in grad school.
I’d also recently lost a job that I had loved and sort of built my life around. I didn’t have any friends in town. I had had work friends, but once I left, we lost touch and my best friend lived 5 hours away. My grandparents passed, my dog passed, so I was lonely 100% of the time. I was in therapy but I could only afford to go every other week.
Basically, I just hid in my apartment and did nothing. I self-harmed, occasionally…ah, who am I kidding, it was pretty frequent. I went to class when I could, and I had an awful part-time job. I don’t really remember what all I did with my time and I also don’t remember much of what I learned in grad school. It was all a miserable haze.
One of my friends encouraged me to try volunteer work. If anything, it would get me out of my apartment. I kind of brushed off the suggestion because I knew I barely had enough energy to brush my teeth, let alone be a good citizen. And then one day I was visiting my parents, I got bored and started rifling through the newspaper basket in search of a crossword or something. Instead, I found an article about barn owls.
I’ve always loved owls—like, since I was a toddler. Barn owls are my favorites and I was so excited to see them in the newspaper especially since they were endangered in my state. I read about how a wildlife rehabilitation center in my town about an hour from my parent’s house was caring for a ton of baby barn owls. I immediately found the center’s website and filled out a volunteer application. It took me a couple weeks to actually go turn it in—barn owls are great, but they aren’t a magic cure for depression-induced lethargy—but I did and it changed my life.
3 1/2 years later, I’m volunteering there 7 days a week. I figure it’s probably 25-30 hours a week on top of the full-time job that I eventually got. I work with our non-releasable education animals, which are mostly owls. I train a barn owl and a great horned owl and I care for a little eastern screech owl. I work with a few other birds too, but the owls are obviously my favorites. I’ve made a lot of close friends there and while I still have to be vigilant about my mental health, I feel much better and I’m starting to be able to say that I’m actually happy. I get to spend every day with owls! And teach people about them! I love it.
45. Newlyweds Interrupted
After I got engaged in September 2018 and was married in October, my husband’s dad passed. We were on our honeymoon at the time, two weeks after our wedding, which he wasn’t able to make unfortunately, which broke my husband’s heart and we didn’t know until the ceremony started. My husband was laid off December 30. I’m a per diem employee at the hospital I work at as an SLP, so I don’t get PTO or any benefits like medical insurance even though I work 40 hours a week.
I haven’t seen a doctor in 3 years since grad school. I feel guilty about taking time off and not making money to support us. Then my mom was diagnosed with a reoccurrence of the stage 4 glioblastoma in her brain and given 12 to 18 months to live. Her cognition, mentation, and physical abilities took a complete nosedive due to the tumor and the anti-seizure meds she has to be on.
She declined so badly that she called me names and said that my brother’s wife was more of a daughter to her than I ever was. She treats my dad, who is the kindest soul in the world, like garbage. I know it’s not her. It’s the tumor. But it doesn’t hurt any less. My husband and I bought a house in June of 2019, but we’re staying at my parents’ house to help because my dad also has medical issues.
He had heart surgery this past January, which oddly is just a tiny blip in comparison. My mom was tumor-free after a craniotomy, radiation, and chemotherapy, but the surgery was planned for Wednesday. She had to go in for the craniotomy on Tuesday because of how badly and quickly she declined. The neurosurgeon said if he had done it two hours later, she would have been dead.
No one can visit her because of quarantine so she’s confused, scared, and angry that she’s all alone in a hospital ICU. We’ve been able to FaceTime with her, but it’s not the same. She still hasn’t recovered cognitively and has been pretty mean, especially later in the day. My mom has a long, hard recovery in front of her. The doctors aren’t sure if she’ll be herself again due to a second brain surgery.
Quite honestly, she wasn’t 100% herself after the first one. She’ll be in an inpatient rehab for 2 to 3 weeks where again we won’t be able to visit her. Though at least she’ll be getting the care she needs. Meanwhile, when the world went crazy with COVID in March, my patient caseload was almost completely decimated from about 30 to 2. Because I’m not a full-time employee I do not get their emergency pay.
I have hustled doing odd jobs around the hospital. I originally was on a COVID response line but they removed me after 2 weeks due to being per diem. Now I’m working UV lights inpatient at the hospital; we use them in patient rooms after they’ve been discharged. I’m often in COVID rooms and though I get a surgical, not N95 or N99, mask, I am still terrified of picking something up and giving it to my family.
But I can’t avoid it because my dad just can’t do it on his own. Heck, my husband can’t even do it on his own though he’s tried. Because of these odd jobs, I often work with no days off. I’ve been working 12 hours on Sundays, which is brutal because you’re on your feet all day going from room to room and running around the entire hospital.
Things are starting to get better, I can actually treat patients again next week, but because it’s so sporadic, it means working a couple weeks straight and continuing to work the lights. I’m unbelievably grateful for the opportunity to keep making money, trust me, I am so appreciative. I’m just exhausted physically and mentally all the time. And of course, I’m also stressed and paranoid that I could pick up COVID.
This is supposed to be a happy time for us, planning babies, enjoying being married and young. We’re hoping for better days ahead. The only thing getting me through this is my incredible husband who has been so supportive of me and helps out with my mom anyway he can. Oh, and Animal Crossing.
46. Admitting Your Faults Well, Actually
Back in high school I was a full-on neckbeard and it was the worst. I bought a fedora, started most conversations with, “Well ACTUALLY,” gave rambling speeches about how women should stay in the kitchen while also begging them to pay attention to me. I was just a charmer overall. Crawling out of that mindset took a long time, but I got there in the end.
Now when I look back at myself, I can say, “I may be a mess, but at least I’m not that guy.”
47. Mental Age Progression
2019 was rough. We were trying to conceive our first child and had a miscarriage in March, then a successful pregnancy in June, but the umbilical cord was in the wrong place and if my wife went into labor, the baby would bleed out in 3 minutes. She was on pelvic rest, no relations for what ended up being 10 months. She had to stay as close to a hospital as possible at all times.
At the same time, my 83-year-old father was living with us and was declining quickly from dementia and unable to walk due to a blown-out arthritic knee. He refused to do anything because “God would heal him.” I would come home from work and empty the coffee cups he would use to pee in. It happened so fast he was hospitalized by the time the government folks came to assess him. He was in the hospital for 4 months before they could place him in a facility.
My wife had to live in the hospital for 30 days and my dad was in the same hospital. I was working, but barely sleeping. Then I was diagnosed with situational depression. The baby made it. My wife gave birth to a beautiful girl 5 weeks premature. She stayed in NICU for 2 weeks but everything turned out fine! I feel like I grew 20 years’ worth in 2019.
48. Oh Cultish Practice
Early in my adulthood, I lost my religion and joined a cult. Up to that point, my entire identity had been based around an evangelical Christian church. All my friends were there. I attended multiple times a week and prayed daily. So, I not only had no worldview, but also no identity for the first time in my life. I came across what I can only describe as a secular cult.
There were no gods involved, but much of their practice was centered on rituals. It was a very insular community, and they welcomed me because I was well-spoken and bright. I was there for five years. Toward the end, I was being groomed for leadership. It was an open secret that when the current leader retired, I was going to step up. I was already filling in for him in ceremonial ways.
I became disillusioned and realized that the insular nature of the community, the customs and rituals made it seem a lot more important than it was. In fact, over the five years I was there, we were no closer to affecting the outside world than we ever were. So, I left and dropped off the grid. I had no social media for years because I didn’t want to risk being found.
The brainwashing faded slowly at first but the less I was around that community the faster it went. I was eventually able to see the echo chamber I had been in and how tiny and delicate it actually was. Again, I found myself adrift without identity. This time however I built it back up based on empathy and compassion, humanistic values. It’s serving me a lot better this time.
49. Sleepover of My Nightmares
Middle school was honestly awful. These girls invited me to a sleepover and then duct-taped me to the ground and told me the house was on fire and I had an asthma attack because they taped my mouth shut, being a girl in middle school was rough. This was 17 years ago and it did teach me what I would allow “friends” to do. I’m sure these girls had severe issues. One apologized about four years ago.
50. Parental Guidance
Middle school was the worst time of my life so far. My parents just got divorced and my mom was going back to school and working two jobs, so I never saw her. We lived in a bad part of town and I was a morbidly obese, pale nerd. Kids literally punched me in the stomach as hard as they could when we changed classes. They’d take my backpack and throw it in the shower and turned the water on. They’d grab my stomach and my chest when I would change in Phys. Ed.
One day in 8th grade, I finally snapped and got into a huge fight. The school called my mom and when she got there, I broke down hysterically crying about what had happened to me for years and how I couldn’t take it anymore. She called my father who she hated and I spent the next two years living with him until she finished school.
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