While it’s normal to go through a few rough patches, what people don’t expect is when a low turns into one of the worst periods of their lives.
These people share what happened when they went through the absolute worst phase of their life.
Right now. My mom passed; 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. Right now, I’m waiting for my unemployment to be approved, but it’s been a month, and no money yet. No mom, no job, no money. My vehicle’s alternator clunked out this morning. Sunday is Mother’s Day. I’m a mess.
2016-2018. My wife and I were thinking of separating after moving two states away for her job. Then she got really sick. I couldn't divorce her in those circumstances. Honestly, 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, 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 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 passing away, and worse than my year deployed to Afghanistan.
I was a target of my peers and ended up in the hospital at age 10, ostracized by all my closest friends by age 11, and moved away from my only home at age 12. My mom passed at age 14. Friends, enemies, places, self, it felt like I couldn’t trust anything. I spent most of middle school in burnout and high school on autopilot. I was so messed up that the aftershocks have led me to try and take my life. It took until a few months ago at 23 for me to even start trying to date. That alone took three months to work up the nerve. Trying to learn everything you should have experienced as a teenager in your twenties is hard.
Shortly after turning 25, I got really really sick. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and spent a horrible few years fighting for my life. I experienced pain, nausea and depression when it was supposed to be the best time. Then, 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, five months of being fed through a tube in my arm that kept getting infected. It had to move it to the opposite arm a couple of times. There were then complications such as multiple pulmonary embolisms, which are painful, collapsed lung, etc. I lost too much weight too fast and my face ballooned up. I got acne from all the steroids and mounting medical debts that I stopped counting when it hit $2M. It was the worst part of my life by far.
About two years ago when I was severely depressed, life wasn't going the way I wanted it to. I was verbally abused every day by my boss, hated my life and the decisions I made, couldn't afford rent or food and was starving most of the time. I was seriously considering just ending it all because I couldn't stand my pathetic existence anymore.
Luckily, my old boss needed me back. So, I quit my horrible job and went back to my old one. 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’ve always struggled with that, but I don't want to end my life anymore, which is nice.
1998-2013. I was aged 20-35 and 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 God it's over.
A five-year period of time, starting at age 37, when I was diagnosed. About a year later, my younger brother was diagnosed with glioblastoma. He lived for another two years and a few months. The following year marked five years of me being healthy and a year since my brother had passed. It felt… hopeful, like we were turning a corner into a better place.
Less than two weeks after the five year anniversary of my mastectomy, my mother ran a stop sign. She had both of my children in the car with her, 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 passed instantly. Our kids were taken to two separate hospitals because they were concerned that one was injured more seriously than the other, so we had to decide which injured child to go to. Both kids ended up being okay, a couple of broken bones and concussions, but nothing too bad. So, actually a longer-than-five-year-period, but I can’t really give a specific time the storm ended. It just eventually faded out.
Right now. I’m currently at my rock bottom. I was laid off, my husband left me six months ago and I’m still trying to finalize a divorce from the love of my life. Being alone doesn’t help because all I have is time to think about how bad my life has become. I know that I’m strong enough to get through this but at this point it feels impossible.
Middle school. My parents just got divorced. 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 gym class.
One day in 8th grade, I finally snapped and got into a huge fight. My mom got called into the school, 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 (whom she hated) and I spent the next two years living with him until she finished school.
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Growing up in the two-bedroom trailer with five siblings and only two beds. I didn't have a blanket and I slept on a reclining love seat. It was always cold because there was a hole in the floor of the kid’s room. Eventually, the loveseat broke down and I got in trouble for that. I was always cleaning or watching my siblings.
When my dad and stepmom were both gone, I messaged adult men on the internet, looking for affection. The staying up all night and cleaning made it hard to function in school. I never had time to shower or do homework. No one washed my clothes for me. I was targeted in school and beaten or made to run laps at home.
One night, I wrote a note on a coloring book page in crayon. I put it in a vent so no one would find it immediately, but maybe someday someone would think about the girl who took her life. Maybe care a little. I went into my parents’ room and got my dad’s piece out of his dresser drawer. I wasn’t positive on how to use it but I had seen him and watched movies.
I was crying and thinking about doing it, finally. My little sister knocked on the door and said that she was hungry. I told her just a minute. Then I put it away and made her food. While she was eating, I realized that if I wasn’t here for my siblings then no one would be. I think I was around 9 or 10 when I finally had that breakdown.
If we're going by cringiness, I would say my "tortured writer/poet phase" in my junior year of high school. I had an emo look and wrote terrible poetry that I posted on my Xanga. The funny thing was that even though I looked emo, the closest thing to emo music I listened to was like Bright Eyes' Fevers and Mirrors album. I was more into punk and indie rock. Luckily, I grew out of that phase by my senior year, so it didn't last long.
I was diagnosed with leukemia when I was nine years old. Ever since I was a kid, it was hard for me. I’d have to say that the side effects are the worst. From chemo vomits to being overweight due to being in a hospital bed, and the few times I ate were junk food cravings. It sucked at the time, but I learned a lot from it.
From January 18 - February 5, 2020. On January 18, my husband lost his life in an awful car accident. For two and a half weeks, I had no hope for the future. Then I found out I was pregnant with our first and only child. It’s still incredibly hard, but now I have hope and many moments of genuine excitement and joy.
I had a really stupid phase when I was 13-14 years old. I spoke in a very exaggerated way and wore Wutang jeans that would hang on for dear life off of my butt cheeks. I also wore a shirt longer than my pants and a red bandana. I grew up in that kind of neighborhood. You had to fit in somehow. Thinking back on it, it was embarrassing stuff. I'm so happy cameras on phones weren't a thing back then.
I had just dropped out of college. My girlfriend had left me, I moved back in with my mom and I hated myself. I worked the overnight shift at a Hess and I would spend all my days waking up for work, come home, stare in the mirror for hours and wish myself gone. Then I’d wake up and do it again…. for months. I started drinking, and taking meds that didn't belong to me and becoming a social recluse.
Then, I found music and poetry. I would write my feelings down into rhyme and it was just so therapeutic. Then I found real therapy. I started antidepressants and began looking more forward to life. I’ve been on Lexapro for six years and have a two-year-old daughter. When things get tough, I think about how far I've come. I’m leagues away from that time. If there's one thing I've learned in life it's that even when things seem to be at their lowest, it always gets better.
2008-2011. I was misdiagnosed with a certain mental illness rather than the mental illnesses I actually have. I was put on some strong medication to control the condition they thought I had. Eventually, I got help when I tried to take my life. I don't remember three entire years of my daughters’ lives because those meds messed with my brain. I feel like a horrible mother for not being able to answer questions about this time period. I'm better now, but it sucks that I lost those years.
The transition from being a student with no responsibilities into your first year or so of work. Giving up old habits, losing touch with people and moving away for work, not being able to do as much “fun” stuff as you once could. That time in my life wasn’t really terrible, but it was definitely sad to move on from it.
Now. My husband passed exactly one month ago at the age of 39. We have a two-year-old and I’m in the middle of cleaning our old house to prepare it for sale. Dealing with the bank, the real estate guy, the coroner, the authorities, the lawyer, his parents and my parents… plus, it’s Mother’s Day tomorrow.
Not necessarily a phase yet, but this year so far. In the last five months, my girlfriend and absolute love of my life left me for a guy she was sleeping around with behind my back. I got evicted from my apartment, I'm $700 in debt to my old landlords, my best friend abandoned me in the darkest hour, and then I lost my job.
For me, I’d have to say that it was in elementary school. At that time, I was obsessed with Warrior Cats. I had the cat ear headphones, galaxy backpack, and even fingerless gloves. I used to role-play at recess with my friends and run around on all fours. There was a time when I’d even hiss at bystanders. It was a dark, dark time.
Throughout my teens I had no concept of self-worth. I’ve been overweight for almost my entire life and never viewed myself as anything except a 1/10. I made some terrible choices that I wish I could change due to having such low self-esteem. Honestly, I put myself in danger and was just straight up stupid. I didn’t feel that I deserved any better though.
As an adult, things have gotten better and I have a loving husband who helps build me up. It has been a continual journey towards improving my health both mentally and physically, but I feel much better for it. Also, I had many friends with this same mindset. Friends that were absolutely gorgeous to me felt worthless and made some of the same choices that I did. I never understood how there were so many of us. As a teacher, I always keep that in mind as I try to build my students up.
When I was lying to myself that I still had strong beliefs 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 was not a believer anymore. Looking back on it now, lying to myself was the worst thing that ever happened to me.
Today. My dad finally lost his battle this morning, after eight years of fighting. I’m only 21 — he has been slowly losing his life since I was 13. I’ve been one of his primary caretakers ever since. That means I’ve also watched my 300-lb, 6’3” burly Marine-vet Wookie of a father slowly disintegrate with every passing day. When they came to get him today, he was really emaciated.
Eight years of this and as much as I’ve gone to therapy, been medicated, attempted to even prepare for it, nothing changes the fact that he’s gone. He’ll never walk me down the aisle; will never see me get my doctorate; won’t get to see my future house and the grandchildren he would’ve spoilt absolutely rotten. He won’t be able to watch me grow any longer. Instead, today, I watched him suffocate.
Middle school was rough. I didn't understand empathy, and being 13 with a bad home, I didn’t spare any emotions for my classmates. I've always been very empathetic but between 13-14, I didn't care if my fellow classmates burned alive. I was awful and it was my worst self. I put down people who came to me for support, just because I didn't realize they had things going on too. That and I cosplayed Homestuck characters that year.
Probably 2011-2018 My anxiety was attacking me to the point where I'd be paralyzed with fear. My parents lost their house and we had to move four times. I was in college, wasting time getting an associate’s degree that was completely pointless. On top of that, my parents and I moved into this tiny retirement home with my grandmother because she had dementia so bad she couldn't take care of herself. I had to sleep on a tiny couch and I formed really bad sleeping and eating habits. Three family members passed within that period of time.
When I was 12, I sent a photo to a boyfriend at the time. I really didn't want to, but he was this super popular guy who insinuated that he'd dump me if I didn't. Being a naive kid, I sent a webcam photo to him. The next day on the school bus, my so-called friends had printed off 100 copies of this picture and were passing them around, telling me he'd sent it on MSN to everyone.
I finally got into school and those print outs are everywhere, posted under those glass notice boards, littered on the hallways. There were teachers trying desperately to pick them all up. I got called into the head teacher’s office and he asked me to name everyone involved. I was so scared of losing my so-called friends that I didn't give their names, only my “boyfriend’s” name.
He got called in and basically I got in tons of trouble by the head teacher for corrupting this poor boy (religious school). I was told that I was dirty and corrupt and always would be. The authorities got called in and the same thing happened. I got two weeks of in-school suspension, he got nothing. Not only that, but he snitched all his and my friends out and told them it was me who had snitched.
Que the worst few years of my life stuck in that school. The photo even made it onto websites and I was made to feel like I had done this to myself. To make matters worse, years later, I was on a night out with my friends and was standing at the bar. This kid who posted my photo started hitting on me because he couldn’t even remember who I am. Even when I told him, he just said, “Oh, that was pretty fun times.”
My fiancé at the time was going behind my back for three months. I saw that she accidentally stayed logged in on her Facebook on my laptop, so I saw the messages. I had my first panic attack in my life at that moment. I couldn't work for a week and had to take sick leave. But, I confronted her about everything.
Then she decided to live with the guy and gave me back the ring. I was destroyed, honestly. I haven't felt any happiness for almost two years. At that point, I was just working, eating, sleeping, sometimes playing guitar, but wasn't inspired. There was no joy in my life. I started feeling better and got over it. It was painful, but I needed to get through. Now I'm with a girl for a year and I adore her. She loves me. We plan to move together soon. I don't want to make the same mistakes happen, but I feel I won’t. I'm hardened by that time.
Right now. At the beginning of the year, out of nowhere, I went blind in one eye. I did test after test to find out that it’s optic neuritis, which isn’t too big a deal on its own. But the implication is that it’s often caused by multiple sclerosis. So, I did about 20 blood tests, multiple MRI’s and a spinal tap. They found lesions on my brain, which confirmed the MS. I’m 19. This isn’t supposed to happen.
From 2013-2016, I was going to college and getting progressively worse migraines. I had a hard time committing to anything. I made it to most of my classes, but the migraines bothered me so that was basically all I was doing. Towards the end, I was doing an internship and had trouble sitting in front of the computer for eight hours. My headaches would get so bad that I couldn’t comprehend what I was looking at. I also lost all my friends because I was always at home. I finally found a doctor who suggested Botox and I’m doing well now.
In middle school when all of my "friends" decided to stop being friends with me around the same time. My grandmother, who I was incredibly close to, passed on. I’m in a much much better place now, thankfully.
The year I was diagnosed with bipolar II and lost a job I loved after. I didn't tell my manager about my diagnosis because I was scared and the post-mania depression was so bad that I pretty much laid in bed anytime I wasn't at work. I wasn't sure I was going to survive the months after I lost my job, but I somehow made it through.
Right now. My business was going well three years ago and it has been a downward spiral ever since. I got married and my wife got pregnant within three months, which was great news. My son was born last May. His birthday is coming and I can't afford a decent gift in this godforsaken third world country because my business failed.
It happened because I won't pay-off government officials to get paid for my construction contracts. My uncle swindled me for $20k dollars, all that I had. I’m working at dad's farm now but he just pays enough to make ends meet. I can’t raise enough money for a new business unless my uncle suddenly becomes a better man, which isn't going to happen anytime soon. So, yeah everything is just dandy.
I'm a trans female. The worst phase of my life was easily when I decided to start changing around the age of 19 because I couldn't handle the depression anymore. At that moment, I lost everything I had. I lost my family, all of my friends and the job I had. I actually had to move to another country to start a new life.
Currently. I graduated with a degree in engineering in 2019. I’ve been unemployed for a year every since I graduated. All my friends are successful. A lot of people advised me to move to another city in the U.S., but the problem is that I don't live in the U.S. I did get my degree from a great university in the USA. But I had to leave because I got no job.
In a one week period a few years ago, I had my car break down twice, my long term significant other break up with me (seemingly out of the blue), and I broke my foot. That was the worst week of my life, but the months of financial, emotional and physical recovery that followed those events were pretty bad too.
When I was 13, I became really emotionally distant and could barely connect with anyone, including my family. This 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 so mean.
Probably when I was 16-18. I realized then that I had been hurt as a child and became seriously depressed. I developed an eating disorder, began to drink a lot, lie to everyone, stopped working at school. I ended up failing my final exams and destroying a lot of the relationships I had. I've turned it around now and am on a much better path in life. But even today, I still have to deal with the damaged I caused during that time.
Right now. I dropped out of college just after one semester because they thought it would be funny to condense a full year of material for newcomers. My parents were so upset they threatened me to leave the house. But now we’re cooped up in the same place. I'm forced to listen to those threats regularly because they don't know about the privacy of another person.
I was a pretty messed up kid (all the way through middle school) for no reason. My mom told me recently I wrote a note saying I’d take my life when I was six years old. I can't imagine how strong and patient my parents must have been to handle a hyperactive kid like me. I make sure to show them they did a good job and I turned out okay because of their efforts. I'll be treating them to a two-week vacation in Japan next year.
I'm 15 and I have a teacher who is constantly mean to me and gives me six hours of homework. If I don’t do it, he gets super mean. I feel like I have no control over my life. I can’t focus, relax or think. I've been constantly humiliated in front of my classmates and this has been going on for six months. At this point, I just don’t know what to do anymore.
When I was between 15-17. I lost my legs when I was a kid and use a wheelchair because I basically have no stumps. I was always left out of a lot of activities and made fun of for my disability. That period was difficult for me because I wanted to try on prosthetics to be “normal.” But it wasn’t meant to be for me.
After months and months of fittings and trying, I wasn’t able to make progress. I had back pain, bruises and I wouldn’t be able to walk without crutches, or at a normal pace. I just wanted to fit in. Realizing and accepting I had to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair was hard, but today I have fully accepted it and I’m happy with that.
Before I was diagnosed with and medicated for a mental disorder. It literally saved my life. I finally had the ability to control my thoughts and behavior and no longer had the constant urge to harm myself. I also didn’t have the urge to try and end my life. Before that, I felt like I was going downhill real fast.
The first few years of college. I had to start school all on my own and deal with the difficulties that come as a first-generation low-income student with no resources but your own. I struggled to keep up a job, my grades and my mental health. But, I ended up taking a year off school to really get all my bearings straight. I’m still dealing with feelings of inadequacy and estabilísh my own independence.
For me, it was definitely two years ago when I was struggling with postpartum depression. I never thought having a baby would make me want to end it all. Luckily, I had good friends who helped me seek help and I'm now much, much better. I still have bad days but nothing like the black emptiness I used to get.
Middle school and early high school. I had so many panic attacks and it really sucked. One memory from that time was when I had a panic attack in my school’s bathroom. I tried leaving the stall but it wouldn’t unlock, so I had to crawl through the crack while sobbing and hyperventilating. That really wasn’t fun.
The current one for sure. I started a family against my will and let go of my dreams to get a career that pays for the family that was stolen out of my soul. Now I'm basically waiting for two kids to grow up and for our financial situation to improve to the point where I can afford to divorce the person who ruined my life. Maybe in 10-15 years.
I’d say my teen years, without a doubt. Not for any massive reason other than the fact that my self-confidence was low compared to later years. Well, that and thinking you know so much only to cringe hard just a few years later when you recall all the “pronouncements” and “deep thoughts” you did or said at the time.
After I left college, I had no direction and had spent the past five years as a hotline for a number of friends. It left me with no drive to do anything. The only reason I didn't try to join them was that I felt so little self-worth that I couldn't go and join them since both those friends and family would’ve been crushed. I've never been one to share problems so outwardly either. I looked fine but was waiting for a decent scenario to lose my life and have it look like a genuine accident. I sorted my life out thanks to my brothers and a couple of friends who didn't even realize what they were doing.
Boarding school. Sure, I probably had more exposure to opportunities, but for most of that time, I was really depressed. I felt like an outsider from a working-class background. When I left and went to college, I realized I was an arrogant misogynist who developed a drinking problem to avoid my teenage issues. It took me a few years to sort my life out and emotionally catch up with my friends.
When I broke my back and had to recover from the surgery completely alone. I had only one friend who stuck with me after a nasty break up. My parents were in a different town and my roommates didn’t even fully move in yet. I spent five weeks just laying 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.
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