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Question for the readers: Doing the Impossible

My friend posted this doozy of a poem the other day:

“Fairy-tale Logic”

Fairy tales are full of impossible tasks:
Gather the chin hairs of a man-eating goat,
Or cross a sulphuric lake in a leaky boat,
Select the prince from a row of identical masks,
Tiptoe up to a dragon where it basks
And snatch its bone; count dust specks, mote by mote,
Or learn the phone directory by rote.
Always it’s impossible what someone asks—

You have to fight magic with magic. You have to believe
That you have something impossible up your sleeve,
The language of snakes, perhaps, an invisible cloak,
An army of ants at your beck, or a lethal joke,
The will to do whatever must be done:
Marry a monster. Hand over your firstborn son.

–A.E. Stallings

It made me wonder what impossible things we’ve all done. When did you defeat the monster in its lair? When did you think something was going to be impossible, only to look up a year later and realize you’d done it already, you’d survived? WHAT ARE YOU KICKING ASS AT THESE DAYS? Tell us your proud moments, people.

274 comments
  1. Puck said:

    Oh this is incredible. Thank you for sharing this poem.

    My biggest impossible thing that I have done is going from “Yeah, my family doesn’t know about my gender and they will never know” to have told them about my gender and having them actually call me by my preferred name a good half of the time. I don’t know how it happened (therapy; lots and lots of therapy)–I definitely couldn’t see where I am now from where I was last spring.

    • sorbus said:

      Congrats!! I remember getting through that with my parents and it feels like scaling a mountain. Maybe I can borrow a little courage from the Awkwardeers when it’s time to come out to my coworkers.

      • Puck said:

        Thanks, sorbus! Good luck and Jedi hugs for whenever you go through that with your coworkers! Deciding whom to come out to / when / in what context is some of the most exhausting mental navigation I’ve ever done.

    • That’s wonderful, I’m so happy for you!

  2. jdmf said:

    My wife passed away from complications in pregnancy. I thought it would be impossible to raise our baby on my own (and still retain my sanity), but, lo and behold, here I am, three years later! He’s happy, healthy and well adjusted, and I’m (mostly) still sane! :-)

    • staranise said:

      That is really, really amazing.

    • Rose Fox said:

      You are incredible. Your kid is so lucky to have you.

    • jdmf said:

      Thanks, y’all! I feel really lucky to have my kid. He looks like his mom and makes me laugh every single day (just like she did)! :-)

  3. DrMcFacekick said:

    I recovered from my binge eating disorder. When I decided to recover, I was so scared that I couldn’t recover, that I’d fail… but now two years later, I’m recovered and over it and thriving in a way that I never thought possible.

    • Congratulations! Eating disorders are rough, from what I understand. I think it’s amazing that you made it through to this point. It takes an incredible strength of character to come back from something like that.

  4. I had this notoriously difficult professor for Calculus 1, and I hadn’t taken pre-calc in about five years (I’m a non-traditional student). My first test score was a D, and my professor and I were both sure I was going to fail. I didn’t give up, though. I put my nose to the grindstone, spent hours in the math lab every week doing homework, and slowly, slowly, forced my mind to remember what it’s like to math. On the next test, I got a C, then a B. On the last two, I got A’s. I never found out what I got on the final, but I got a B overall in the class. It was my proudest achievement to date, including last semester’s straight A’s.

    • Congrats. You are amazing.

    • Emily said:

      Wow, that is awesome. *You* are awesome for working crazy hard at something that didn’t come easily and then succeeding!

      • Thanks. :) It’s good this thread came along when it did, because it’s time for me to do it again with physics and remembering that I’ve done something similar before makes it seem less impossible.

  5. Ibbie said:

    I got the divorce.

    It meant saying no (excruciating). And then saying it again, and saying it over and over for ten months.

    I did it.

    • ReanaZ said:

      That is so hard. Go you!

  6. Myrin said:

    I was severely bullied in fifth grade and after some time (I honestly can’t tell anymore if it’s been weeks or months) I gathered all my courage and told my class teacher – who had also just started working as our school’s first mediator the year before – about it. She called the three main girls out the next day (both figuratively and literally; we others were asked to do an assignment and she left class with my bullies) and at the end of the day they apologised and never did it again. I don’t know if they meant it, but they stopped and I’ve never been bullied again after this. It wrecked me pretty hard nonetheless – there are still situations where I’m so strongly reminded of this time in my life that I become about paralysed with fear – but who knows what would have happened if it had lasted even longer. Apart from that, now, twelve years later, this very teacher now has a group of about twenty student mediators – my little sister used to be one of them, and a very active one at that – and the school seems to take really strong measures against bullies thanks to that group. And I’ll be eternally grateful that maybe that can prevent someone from a situation like my own so that they don’t have to face that particular dragon.

    • As someone who was also bullied relentlessly at school, I take my hat off to you with an enormous flourishy bow! Changing the culture is so hard.

      • Myrin said:

        Funnily enough, I never thought of it in that way, although you’re of course absolutely correct (especially since it really seems to have been the encounter with my class and case specifically that made my teacher work so hard with her group). But at that moment, for me, it was just “I have to do that. I cannot do this forever. It has to stop or I’ll never be able to stop being afraid.” and the only way to do that was to take that step.

    • Sarah said:

      Hey! Congrats on gathering that courage! I’m working on a documentary theater piece opening in Philly that’s all about breaking the silence surrounding bullying between girls, and also about the fact that that kind of bullying is not superficial and meaningless, that its effects can stay with us. So, you’re not alone. The show’s based entirely off of interviews with girls and women of all ages and also on the book Odd Girl Out by Rachel Simmons.

      • Myrin said:

        …the fact that that kind of bullying is not superficial and meaningless, that its effects can stay with us.

        This is such an important thing that seems to get overlooked so often, especially by people who weren’t bullied.

        I’d absolutely say that I’m a very confident person. I’ve been even more confident prior to the bullying. I was a very straightforward child who never feared speaking her mind and who wasn’t afraid of anything other than the dark.

        The bullying changed that. Not in a trauma kind of way, absolutely not, but it implanted a fear in me that, while having considerably decreased over the years, is still with me and will probably be with me until I die. I still hate walking somewhere and having a group of people cross my way for the sole reason that I’m afraid they’ll say something to me, laugh at how ugly they find me. Whenever someone near me starts whispering, I’m convinced for just a moment that they do so because they mock me. When two people in my vicinity start laughing I’m sure they do so because they’re actually laughing about me.

        To me, that is the worst part of the bullying (especially since it was entirely psychological; I’ve always been very good at handling physical controversies and it wouldn’t have left me half as bad as this shit did, probably) – that it never leaves you, that it’s like a dark stain on your soul or your whole person that isn’t noticeable most of the time but it never leaves and can resurface at any time.

        So thank you for doing the work you are doing and helping bringing awareness that that. Thank you so, so much!

  7. In 2010 I slipped on wet marble stairs and sprained my ankle pretty badly at a time I had to walk a mile each way to work each day while living abroad in S. Korea. At my coworkers’ urging, I gave in and tried acupuncture.

    What they didn’t tell me is that after sticking the needles in my ankle, the doctor would attach them to a pulsing electric shock machine and leave me alone in a room for 40 minutes. *deep breaths*

    I survived that shit. I don’t think it helped my ankle any, but I felt like I could SLAY DRAGONS after lying alone in an office, subjected to SURPRISE ELECTRIC SHOCK THERAPY with doctors who spoke little English.

    A few weeks later I ran my first race ever. I was supposed to sit it out but couldn’t help myself and hopped, skipped, and splashed merrily through 5k over hot, sucking mud flats in Boryeong. Stupid, probably, but I completed it and earned my muddy medal and spent the remainder of the weekend floating in cool sea water.

    Now I’m training for a half marathon with an eye toward my first marathon before the year is out and an ultra in 2015.

  8. Michelle Grace said:

    After a childhood spent in and out of institutions, washing out of the military in my late teens, and a bad marriage in my twenties, I got a divorced and spent my late twenties – early thirties homeless or almost-homeless while in university for the first time. I graduated with honors, got a state department scholarship to study Arabic in the Middle East, and was eventually accepted into a PhD program halfway across the country with five years guaranteed funding. I’ve gone from being sure – along with everyone else around me – that I would never even be able to support myself, to working on a doctoral degree and becoming near-fluent in a really hard language.

    I’m more scared than ever before, but that’s because it was so much easier to be “that girl with so much potential if only she applied herself” than actually, you know, applying myself and maybe failing. Anyway, the experience has made me more compassionate, more creative, kinder, and more confident. I think I’m just a better person in general now. :)

    • Erin said:

      Wow, that’s an amazing way to go.

    • ReanaZ said:

      YOU ARE SO MUCH AWESOME

  9. Britni said:

    I’m 2 1/2 years sober, and every day that I don’t want to drink feels like a miracle. For an alcoholic and cocaine addict like me, the fact that I’ve spent any time sober, let alone multiple years, is incredible. At least to me it is.

    • Jen said:

      I don’t know you, but I am so, so proud of you. You are amazing.

    • You are totally awesome!

    • eldelphia said:

      That’s amazing :)

  10. wonderbink said:

    I went through a period where was in treatment for mental illness and discovered much to my horror that I couldn’t get any writing done while I was doing that. (It wasn’t forbidden, I just found my pipes were clogged shut because I was spending so much mental energy on the work in therapy and CBT and so on.)

    Because of that, I’m feeling especially relieved that I have finally completed the manuscript I’ve been working on and am now into revisions. I was worried for a while that I’d never be able to write again. Guess what–I still can! Yeaye!

    • Tallulah said:

      That’s fantastic – it can be really hard to get back into the writing groove, particularly if you have other brain stuff going on!

  11. Emdash said:

    I survived my first winter in Montreal AND the first year of my PhD program while adapting my masters thesis into a book, which is coming out in October. The sun is out again! I wrote my acknowledgments section! WOOOOOOOOOOO!

    • Anandatic said:

      Montreal weather is terrible, so congrats on getting through it! That all sounds amazing, though! Would you mind my asking what your book is about? :)

  12. JJ said:

    I went from anxiety/depression, one way mood swings, not knowing why I burst into tears at seemingly random times and checking myself into a hospital for help to being healthy, happy, living independently and being able to take care of myself, know & manage my triggers and stop being so much of a pushover. Mission frickin accomplished. (medication and LOTS of therapy from step A to step B and amazing support from my Team Me)

    Started working out more and putting a lot more focus on strength training now (haven’t in the past) to hopefully slay the physically “weak” monster.

    Thank you, Captain!

    • Ace said:

      Yay you!

  13. Beth said:

    About a year or a year and a half ago, I was so depressed that I wasn’t sure if I would still be alive a year later. But I worked with my psychiatrist to find a drug combo that worked for me, and I worked really hard in therapy. Together, my partner and I worked through some issues in our relationship. I applied to graduate school in a field I like and was able to leave the job I hated. We got a dog. I continued to work very hard in school and in therapy. Things improved.
    Now, I’m more than half way done with my master’s program and my partner and I are discussing marriage and are building lives that are more intertwined and together. I’m going through a rough patch because school is overwhelming at a time when I have family issues that keep me from being as productive and happy as I’d like (and grad school = money anxiety). But when I look at how much I was able to change my life before, I feel confident that I can get through this. I’m hoping that in another year I’ll be able to think back on this time period and feel the same way I do about last year: That my life is tangibly better and I owe it to my own sweat and tears.

    • That sounds like an exhausting time but I’m glad all your hard work is paying off

      • Beth said:

        Thank you :)

  14. mary said:

    I got pregnant! I’m gay and it’s taken a long time and there’s been a lot of disappointment on the way, and we were pretty much at a point where we had assumed it wasn’t going to happen and were looking at other options whilst we tried for the very last time. And then it worked! Blimey.

    In some ways, I don’t think this is a personal achievement of enormous strength: most of the reason why we finally got to this place has been because we could afford to keep trying, and my heart goes out to people who are in the same position as us but couldn’t afford to do what we did. But I am proud that we’ve been on the same team all the way through: we’ve supported each other and been kind and talked and listened and handled disappointments together.

    • Emily said:

      Congrats on your pregnancy!

  15. Anothermous said:

    I’m fighting (and winning!) against cancer! I’m lucky in that it’s a very treatable cancer, but dealing with cancer in my late 20s/early 30s (I just turned 30 yesterday, haha) was not really something I’d imagined was going to be part of my life. But two surgeries later, and with a radiation treatment coming up next month, here I am. And I’m doing fabulously. I’m going back to school in September for an MLIS, and I’ve landed a job with the department at the university as well which comes with a large tuition waiver. Bring on my 30s, I’m looking forward to the future!

    • Rose Fox said:

      You’re amazing. I hope your future is long and splendid.

  16. amy said:

    I clawed up and out of a bad bit of PTSD. I didn’t even know I’d been having symptoms for years and years until something triggered me so badly someone competent finally recognized it for what it was, and now I know how to manage it better. I think back to what it was like inside my brain a year ago, compared to now, and I am so grateful. I went on the meds, even though I hated having to do it, and it was a long transition and for about four weeks I couldn’t create anything, not a thing, not writing or drawing or anything, but just a few days after starting the meds I was hungry. Hungry! I hadn’t been hungry in months. Now I eat and sleep and my brain doesn’t feel like a moth trapped in a jar anymore. Damn. I am so grateful.

    • amy's friend said:

      I’m your friend who told you about this place, so I know that you are leaving out that you were caring for a family during that time, and that there was a whole additional set of challenges there, which would have been difficult without PTSD. I’m proud of you.

  17. peregrinations said:

    That is one awesome poem!! A couple ass-kicking things I’ve done that I’m pretty proud of:

    – Just a few weeks before I was supposed to leave to do fieldwork for my senior honors thesis project I fell, badly spraining and tearing ligaments in my ankle. I insisted on being given a removable walking cast (they were new and expensive back then, and the doctors initially refused), then went to the field despite nearly everyone’s advice to the contrary. I’d spent a year planning and writing grants for that research, and NO WAY was I going to miss it. Looking back now, it was pretty ridiculous to be hiking around off-trail in the desert wearing that open boot, and my ankle never did fully heal until after the next time I broke it. But, by golly, I did it and would do it again!

    – I wrote the majority of my nearly 400 page dissertation in ~3 months, working through panic attacks in the last week or two.

    – the postdoc I’m in now is really high-pressure. The project I’m doing, while interesting and exciting, is huge and complex to the point of near-infeasibility; I’ve had it handed to me with virtually no advice, mentoring, or support from my advisors (I like the freedom and independence most of the time, but sometimes I could really use someone I could go to with questions); and I – with 1 other person – am the first to ever receive this sort of funding, and we are the test cases for whether this large, national funding body will ever offer this sort of funding again. Things were going great despite the pressure, until I ran into some problems in January that set me back a couple months. My anxiety and doubts ramped up to 11, but I pushed through, re-ran the analyses, and am now writing up my results – which we think can get into some really good journals :)

    Who, me, stubborn? Say it ain’t so! But it’s gotten me through a lot of difficult times.

  18. Sleepy said:

    1. It was a year and a half ago, yeah, but I broke up with my abuser.
    2. I admitted to myself that his behavior was abuse (much more recently)
    3. I am working on getting a wheelchair that will help me live independently and manage my pain. When I first told my parents, they were so vehemently opposed to the idea that I thought it would never happen, but that was back in July and after seeing a new doctor and some physical therapists, they’re coming around.

    • brownstargirl said:

      Fuck yeah chair! Fuck yeah leaving abuser!

    • My partner has started using a wheelchair more often as hir illness has become worse, and hir parents occasionally go “NO YOU CAN’T DO THAT WHAT WILL PEOPLE THINK?!” (Zie has an illness that does impair mobility, but is able to walk most days. “Able” doesn’t always mean it’s a good idea, though.) I’m glad that yours are coming around to the idea and I hope it happens for you soon!

  19. anna said:

    It took me two and a half years to finally finish my master’s thesis. I nearlly killed myself because I felt so belay for not being able to finish and because I thought my thesis was worth shit. I then got very good marks on it which resulted in me wanting to kill myself for having nearly killed myself over nothing (yeah, f*cm you, logic) I was in such a horrible and dark place and it still makes me sad to remember it. I decided not to join a PhD program (I don’t think it is safe for me) but I am working as a freelancer programmer and I am proving to myself that I am good at what I do with every client I newly acquire or a client that decides to book me again. That helps a lot and I am happy that I seem to have made the right choice.

    • Zooey said:

      Can I give you total props not just for finishing the MA (and ROCKING it) but also for being able to choose not to do the PhD. I’ve seen so many smart, brilliant people force themselves to stick to the world of academia because it seems like what they ‘should’ be doing, when actually they are much better suited to applying all those smarts outside the world of academia and will do amazing things in fields that don’t have the same tendency to trigger illness of various kinds (for some people). It’s actually a really great achievement in itself to recognise when a PhD is not the right thing for you and to act on that (not always easy!). I hope you keep rocking your freelance gig!

  20. Aw man, I love you guys.

    I’ve done several impossible things in my life to date. First, I recovered from my life-threatening eating disorder in spite of medical intervention (not because of it). Then I managed to remove myself from an abusive relationship, despite being extremely impoverished and having no support network.

    Right now I’m digging out of depression and trying to get an education, a little late in the game. It remains to be seen if I’ll actually make it, but I’m working on it.

  21. Emily said:

    I got out of an abusive relationship that left me broken in all sorts of ways and went on to build a happy life and eventually a happy marriage. Every day refutes what my abuser tried to make me believe regarding how I was helpless and dependent on him.

  22. botias said:

    We quit ‘good’ but soul-sucking jobs, sold everything, moved a 1000 miles, and started our own small businesses, and we not only paid our bills, but now 12 years in, and one recession later, we are growing and thriving even. I think we did it. :-)

  23. Ace said:

    Looking back it doesn’t feel like a big deal anymore, but then again I know how it worked out now. I moved across an ocean to a new country when I had never left mine before, where the only thing I had was a job. In a few days I had a flat, in a few months a boyfriend, and now 8 years later I’m still here living the middle class lifestyle with husband, house, and child and possibly starting a business.

  24. I had gotten used to the incredibly depressing idea that I would hate my body & have a dysfunctional relationship with food for my entire life, since the issue had gone on for so long. I kept trying to be less broken around these issues but couldn’t get anything to stick, and I’d sort of given up.

    But this fall when I felt like I was hitting bottom in the world of mental health, I started a program that’s kind of half therapy & half nutritional education and while it’s been tough going, it’s also WORKING. For real.

    I’m not angry with myself every time I feel hungry. I’m learning that it really is possible to be fat and not eat enough food, that I shouldn’t tell myself I don’t deserve to eat anything. I don’t feel guilty for having a snack when I need one. It’s not all better, and I still have work to do, but for the first time I have hope that I’m not irreparably damaged around food and body image.

    • This is a huge one to crack and I salute you. That’s tough!

  25. ordinarygoddess said:

    That poem. Just… wow. Yes. It has been made clear to me recently that I do have impossible things up my sleeve, things I never knew I had until I needed them.

    I’ve always been Aspirational Crush Girl, the friend who showed up when there was work to be done, the volunteer, the supporter, the Admirer From Afar. I’ve always assumed that the people I have a deep and abiding love and admiration for, hold for me – a sort of vague fondness.

    Just in the last few weeks some things have flipped around in my life, I’ve gotten to really spend quality time in the company of some of these people, have gotten to be on the sidelines for great things happening in their lives, and have had to ask for a lot of help to accomplish some really ambitious and wonderful projects of my own. And I’ve found out that no, I have a lot of Real Friends, people who think I am as awesome as I think they are. It’s very strange. And glorious. And, weirdly, a little scary.

    • I can relate to this so hard! I always expect not to be very important to people, or if I think I am important to someone it’s always because of what I can offer them. Getting used to the idea that there are people who want to support *me* and care about my well-being and self-actualization for more than what they get out of it has been such a trip.

  26. E. said:

    I preface this by saying that I do not consider myself a brave or courageous person, and in recent years have come to think that I am not particularly strong (what I long thought of as “strength” was really dysfunctional behaviors to deal with dysfunctional situations). I have horrible anxiety issues and massive levels of self doubt; I often feel like I can’t possibly do ANYTHING because I get so overwhelmed by my life. That does mean, though, that I have a lot of moments of feeling like I’m going in to slay a dragon, and thus triumph when I manage to do it. Here are a few really major ones:

    –I ended an abusive relationship. It had taken me YEARS to get to that point, years riddled with fear and doubt and lack of faith in myself (a lot of which had been instilled by the abuser, who gaslighted the everloving fuck out of me from the very first day). And yet, there came a day when I simply KNEW I had to do it, and I did it in a few words, and it was done, and life went on. For a time I was as shaken by how quick and simple it finally was as by how much effort it had taken me to get to it.

    –I chose to undertake study in a physically demanding, mentally challenging dance form as a middle-aged fat lady, and I not only demonstrated an unexpected aptitude for it, I performed in public. I had never thought of myself as particularly physically gifted or athletic, so that was a big challenge, and putting the performance of my fat, middle-aged body on display was ENORMOUS.

    –I’ve made a decision to enter a completely new career field midway through my life, starting almost completely from the bottom. This is major enough in itself, but beyond that, I had to find the nerve and resources last year to attend a conference that would likely be very helpful but at which I would be one of the least-experienced, least-credentialed attendees, which sent my imposter syndrome into massive overdrive. But I made it there, and I had rewarding and useful conversations with people who never once treated me like a lightweight or a poser or an interloper, and I had people who are way more advanced in the field than I am ever likely to be tell me they found my decision to start anew “brave” and “admirable.”

    It is also very likely that soon my partner and I (and our little four-legged family) will be undertaking a cross-country move with no guaranteed jobs or resources on the other side of it. I am utterly terrified by this and my anxiety about it is often crippling. But our current circumstances aren’t tenable and have no good prospects for future opportunities, so this is what we’ll need to do. There’s nothing in life that is certain. There are just dragons we haven’t encountered yet.

    • Professor Mew said:

      Scary stuff. My partner and I did the same thing 3 years ago – moved across the country to Vancouver with no job or security net. We’re were also flat broke at the time, which made Vancouver a particularly excellent choice (!). I regretted it many times in the first year. But we’re much happier now – our lives have been able to take off in a way that would have just been flat out impossible back in Toronto. I hope it turns out the same for you!

      • E. said:

        Oh my-yeah, I’m not sure I’d choose Vancouver as a place to go with no money! :) (Even if it is one of my favorite places on earth.) I am very glad it’s turned out well for you and I hope things continue to go well.

        In our case, we’d be returning to the place we moved away from, so we know the area and do have some social connections and some family members there. But no one can offer anything tangible, like places to stay or guaranteed employment, and that’s the part I freak out about, about affording everything and taking care of my partner and our pets. I’ve actually done this before, but it was a long time ago and I was very young and a lot less experienced about the rough parts of life and had literally nothing to lose. I have a lot more baggage, both material and emotional, to take into consideration now. The anxiety about it is almost certainly worse than the reality will be (although not necessarily–our current circumstances turned out to be even worse than I feared beforehand they were going to be), and I just have to hold onto the things I know I can do and figure out how to manage that particular dragon.

    • treetopfairydust said:

      You *do* sound brave and courageous to me.

      That your strength took dysfunctional forms in dysfunctional situations doesn’t mean it wasn’t strength.

      • E. said:

        Thank you. It is true that sometimes being able to survive a situation is the only real strength that matters. But it was the kind of strength that caused me to shut up and disregard my own needs and well-being and take (and engage in) damaging behavior, and thus allowed the bad situations to perpetuate. I “got through” a lot of bad things in my younger days, but they were things that I wouldn’t have needed to “get through” if I’d had better ideas of self-worth and healthy relationships. I feel less able to just plow through bad times now than I did back then (in particular, my anxiety seems to loom much larger in how I shape my actions than it did when I was younger/less experienced). OTOH, I am much healthier mentally and have far fewer damaging relationships in my life. So I guess knowing something doesn’t work for me is strength of a kind. I suspect I’m mostly still coming to terms with a culture that doesn’t choose to value that or call it “strong.”

  27. brownstargirl said:

    Quit smoking, 7 years this fall. Left the terrible parents. Stopped being disassociated and in the stars all the time. Figured out how to be in my body pretty much am in my body all the time, including during sex. Did things so I didn’t get killed by either of the two abusive boyfriends I had in my early 20s. Not isolated, have healthy relationships with friends. Lambda Literary Award, figured out how to make a living and pay the bills as a writer, teacher and tarot card reader who has zero secret trust fund or family safety net. Have had true love, including all the ones that didn’t last forever. Found my grandparents’ graves, after 17 years of parental estrangement, went to Australia and put flowers down for them. Going to have a god damn baby. I won’t be able to protect them from everything, but their life will be very different than my childhood was.

    • Good to see you here brownstargirl

  28. After seven years of comfortable administrative work (three of those years with a horrible, abusive boss, and the next four years remembering my worth), I took the plunge to seek a different position within the company. Next Friday I’ll be moving out of my home state for the first time to settle into a higher-level position created for me in response to my inquiries.

    I have the Captain and the Awkward Army to thank, mostly for helping me realize that therapy wasn’t the scary bugbear it had become in my mind, the results of which helped me take the first steps towards this new chapter in my life.

    • That’s awesome!! Congrats on your new job and best wishes for your move!

    • That is so awesome! Congrats and best wishes for your new job and your move!!!

  29. Sydnii said:

    I found out I was pregnant shortly after turning 18, in my last year of high school. I thought my life would be over, because no one, and I mean no one, in my home town went on to do much after getting pregnant in high school. I even had a teacher tell me that I wouldn’t go to college when I said I was taking a year off.

    I started at my chosen school a year late, but still with my scholarships. Yes, I had a baby on my hip and I was a year older than my classmates. But I graduated. And I stayed in school to get my Masters. (I am still waiting for an apology from that teacher, who I still see on occasion.) Every day I look at my son and love him more, knowing that it was he who grounded me in school. He was the reason I kept going when it was hard. He was the reason I said no to partying and drinking, even though my friends Erie saying yes.

    • Ennifox said:

      And that boy has the most awesome mom in the world. You are a total Rock star!

  30. Lindsay said:

    I got diagnosed with depression last fall after finally hitting rock bottom. I’ve been in therapy for several months dealing with that as well as my anxiety and I’m on a medication that works for me. The combination of drugs/therapy means that I’m feeling much better these days and I’ve come to terms with the fact that my depression/anxiety will never “go away” but I can cope with them and I can survive, and maybe even LIVE instead of just existing. And I’m about to graduate college in just over three weeks. I made it :)

  31. Bunny said:

    Long comment is Long, sorry.

    This time last year my house was in an obscene amount of squalor. We’re talking entire rooms that couldn’t be used at all, collapsed furniture, and the rooms that were in use were accessed via a narrow path of “almost clear” through the mounting debris. The sort of house TV shows like to poke fun of.

    It’d actually been that way for a couple of years, and had been on the way to that bad for some time before that as well, thanks to a massive decline in my mental health that cost me my job at the time. One of the biggest barriers to getting out of that situation was that everything was just overwhelming – every job was too big for us to do by ourselves, but asking anyone for help was absolutely not an option. I’d try and tackle the mess only to get exhausted and mentally and emotionally overwhelmed.

    Then something changed, and I started the Grand Unfuckening.

    Today, I’m looking around my house and it is completely different. Every room is in use. All the furniture has been replaced or repaired and works fine. Every item has a home, and as the weeks go by I’m improving the way I organise what I own so it is stored more practically and is easier to keep tidy. We always have clean dishes, clean clothes and a kitchen I’d be happy to cook for guests in. We have guests! I have enough clear floor space in the bedroom for me to do yoga every morning.

    Next week I’m renting a rug doctor for a couple of days to make the carpets shine and I know when that’s done, and once I’ve rented a steam cleaner to tackle some ceiling dirt, you won’t even be able to tell this house was ever messy. If you’d told me a year ago that by Christmas 2013 I’d be living in a squalor-free home, and that by Spring 2014 I’d be so used to a clean home that I’d tell my other half off for not putting his used socks in the laundry basket, I’d have thought you were talking nonsense.

    And actually, although I’d been reading UFYH and other sites for a while before the Unfuckening, what actually turned out to be the catalyst that changed my thinking and made it possible, was something mentioned in a comment on this site. I think we were talking about perfectionism, or Gifted Child Syndrome or something, and someone mentioned that the most important lesson they’d learned was that it was okay to do a tiny bit of something – you didn’t have to do it all. That it was okay to fill one bag with trash and stop, even if the room was still floor-to-ceiling with it, and that you could still be proud of that achievement.

    • jenfullmoon said:

      After sixteen years of a driving phobia, I got my license at the end of 2010. And finally got a car last August. And now I’m taking an auto mechanics class. :)

      Bunny, this sounds like the book I am reading on kaizen right now. I really need to plug it to my mom, who has the same house problem.

      • SarahTheEntwife said:

        That is awesome! As someone else with a driving phobia, I tip my hat to you :-) This past November I finally Drove A Car. Very slowly around an empty parking lot, but still, progress!

    • datdamwuf said:

      The Grand Unfuckening, I love this and you rock. I’ve done somewhat the same after divorce.

    • I don’t know that it was my comment that you are thinking of – I’m sure I’ve seen others post about similar things – but I’m so glad to hear that the idea that doing a bit of something is better than doing none of it has been as powerful to other people as it has been to me.

      And although I evangelise this frequently I still sort of forgot and today I read your comment and I remembered that even though I can’t CLEAN MY WHOLE FILTHY HOUSE right now because it’s just too much… grabbing some garbage bags and filling them with all of the things which are obviously rubbish and throwing them out is still something and my house isn’t clean but it’s a tiny bit cleaner. So thanks, pal.

      • SarahTheEntwife said:

        One thing that’s really helped me is to have on my little daily-chores-and-self-care list “clean a thing”. The thing can be scouring the whole kitchen, or it can be putting that pencil back in the pencil jar. Usually once I do one little thing that makes it seem easier to do more things, and if I’m having a hard day at least that one pencil is back in its cup.

  32. arbortrary said:

    Two years ago, I crashed and burned in graduate school. I managed to complete my degree and keep most of it private, but at the end of it, I moved back home, put on my pajamas, crawled into bed, and stayed there for six months. I started to think that I had nothing left and that all the work I had put into becoming a musician had been wasted. My personal life was a mess–I had convinced myself I was in love with someone who had no interest in me at all, and I clung to that because I was afraid of being alone. Feeling miserable was better than feeling nothing.

    Today, I am discovering that passion and energy are renewable resources, if you give them a little time. I am finishing my second semester as an adjunct professor in music. I conduct a percussion ensemble and I’m am starting to teach a brand new class next year in beginning music theory. I have a secondary job that I enjoy and that works with my schedule at the university. I am one year into a relationship with a wonderful person who loves me back and we are slowly starting to make plans for a combined future. Best of all, I am playing my instrument again. Music is the way I communicate best with the world. For a while I thought I had lost that. I’m not back to the person I was before–in truth I may never be–but I like the person that I am becoming.

    • “Today, I am discovering that passion and energy are renewable resources, if you give them a little time.”

      Thank you for this. I’m so glad you’re liking the person you’re growing into. You’re fantastic.

  33. SJ said:

    Found a doctor accepting new clients, made an appointment, went to it, went back to work afterwards.
    I’m a survivor of a parent’s MSBP and I think that visit was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, especially since it was chosen, absent of a crisis.

  34. Miranda said:

    This thread is just the best. Congratulations to you all on your bravery. I’m crossing the pond this fall to go to the grad school I convinced myself was a pipe dream two years ago, and I’m finally dragging my ass to therapy, hooray!

    • mary said:

      Yes, I want to comment on EVERYONE’S posts and go, “yay you! That’s brilliant! Well done!”

      • Puck said:

        Ditto ditto ditto. Everyone is so fantastic and it makes me happy to read this. So inspiring. <3

    • JJ said:

      Yes! I completely agree with you! This thread is terrific! I’m reading through all the comments and I’m just amazed at all the awesome in one thread.

  35. schwarmerei said:

    This question feels so timely. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because I have survived a handful of things in the last few months: 1. My first winter ever! 2. A major depressive/suicidal episode where I had many days of actual wondering: “how am I going to survive this? Will i?” And lo, here I am, somewhat safely on the other end, alive. So busy celebrating that right now.

    Reading everyone else’s stories here has been absolutely gut-wrenching and also full of fabulousness.

    • Yay yay yay you’re here. Thank you for staying. X

      • schwarmerei said:

        Thank you so so much.

        It’s so good to hear that you’ve been doing awesome things like the marathon despite depression and all that stuff. Coincidentally, I came to terms with my bisexuality as well recently! All the jedi hugs.

  36. espritdecorps said:

    I love this thread!

    In the past year I’ve:
    Gone to therapy to deal with my anger toward myself and those I’m closest to.

    Accepted that I had internalized the abuser/victim mindset.

    Gotten better at catching myself in the moment when I am being rageful

    Made long-term changes to my behavior so it reflects the love I have for my family and friends.

  37. staranise said:

    *flops and stares at thread* Oh god, I don’t know. So much feels impossible these days, it’s hard to think that way.

    There is the fact that the last time I could remember not being depressed, I was about 6. It had definitely set in by the time I was 8 and knocked me flat when I was 11. And it was after that that I decided that I hated how the inside of my head felt, I hated feeling sad and miserable and worthless all the time, and I didn’t want to be outcast and bullied anymore, and I started to fight. It was absolutely a long, slow, agonizing process–the first real progress I seemed to make wasn’t until I was 14/15/16, and I dragged myself through highschool and university by my fingernails, spending weeks hiding in my room and flunking classes. My years in therapy had kept me from being totally non-functional, but the depression didn’t seem to really “break” until I first took meds when I was 22. But… by 25 I was happy, I was in school doing what I love and what I’ve wanted to do since I was 12, I had friends. I was where 12-year-old me wanted 20-something me to be. It felt absolutely incredible.

    Now I’m just totally burnt out on grad school and having trouble scraping up my last few degree requirements, My 15-year-old cat died this spring. I’m in a stressful job in a different part of the social service sector than I want to be, and my parents, who had been stably married for years before I was born, have just split up. And my dad’s in inpatient psychiatric care now. And all the family issues I never questioned when I was a child have blown up, and the only thing that keeps me from being a total grief-stricken zombie is raw stretched-out nerve and my friends from fandom. So much of me feels like I can’t do this except I don’t know what I would do other than keep going on. But somehow, theoretically, I seem to be aware of the idea that I have the ability to get through this.

    • Baytree said:

      I am so sorry you are having a hard time. Any one of those things is a big deal. All of them? That must be such a crushing weight of stress. You are such a strong person to be able to keep going through everything, and you really inspire me. I hope life turns around for you soon.

    • EdelC said:

      I know you only from your comments on the threads here…but I know, for certain, that you have the ability to get through this.

      • Sending you all the Jedi hugs, staranise. I think your wisdom and humanity that shine through in your comments will see you through this.

    • JenniferP said:

      And in the middle of all of that, you are generous, you are loved, you are helpful, you are hilarious, and you make a difference to me and everyone you meet.

    • “But somehow, theoretically, I seem to be aware of the idea that I have the ability to get through this.”

      Strange what a difference that can make. You do have the ability to get through this. I hope we hear about it when you’re on the other side.

  38. hi said:

    Caring for my late wife for years, and in particular the last five or six years, which were full of increasing and increasingly complex medical problems, but also with moments of joy and happiness. There were plenty of mornings I lay in bed thinking I couldn’t face another day, but I always did. In retrospect, I don’t know how–it does seem impossible.

  39. Ennifox said:

    Nearly a year ago, I realized that I wasn’t okay after having severe PTSD attack at a convention I was vending at and decided I needed to start therapy to deal with the sexual abuse I suffered as a child.

    It was a scary at first, but now I can’t imagine what my life would have been like had I not made that appointment. I am more confident and self-aware. I am actually living my life, interacting and taking emotional risks I would have never taken before. I left religion I grew up in and joined a Buddhist meditation group. I joined a dojo and started practice Tai Chi, attending a gym, got my first tattoo…doing all the things I had wanted but wasn’t sure how to attain them.

    There were still a great deal of hurdles to face, but I have made progress and I am happier for it. :) Also, thank you captain and crew, for this blog. I stumbled across this several years ago and was a factor in my emotional growth and finding the courage to “save” myself.

  40. Did the hard work in therapy to get past my extreme anxiety about spending the rest of my life without a romantic partner, and discovered that, also, I totally liked myself enough to spend the rest of my life with just me.

    Unexpectedly fell in love two months after that, and remain both in love and still liking myself pretty damn much.

  41. I finally decided to never have kids and I’m taking steps to make that happen. Voluntary visits to the gyno, ahoy! (It’s still scary but it becomes easier each time.)

    I’m very proud of everyone writing in this thread. Cheers for you! Cuddly kittens for all!

  42. spikywren said:

    I’m still not sure if this is an achievement exactly or just a feat of major stubbornness, but I’ve stayed in my PhD program despite 1) spending the entire first year resolving to quit every single night, drowning in depression, 2) regularly re-occurring panic attacks related to living in an earthquake-prone area (“the world could collapse around you at any minute!!!” is not a good thought for my brain), 3) near-total abandonment by my advisor, and 4) more panic attacks over the ethics of the field I’m in. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now and when I’m done, I’ll know I can handle some bad stuff and get through it.

    Oh, and I just took a for-fun vacation that involved four plane flights (which last-minute mutated into five plane flights) and I got on the planes, and didn’t cry, and only hyperventilated a little. One more little delay against becoming The Person Who Can’t Ever Fly On Planes. Not yet!

    • schwarmerei said:

      That reads to me like a major achievement. PhD programmes are hard! Yay yay yay that you’ve stayed. x

  43. olivia0330 said:

    I made, and kept, a doctor appointment. I’ve been avoiding this for years because reasons. I almost canceled the appointment many times. But things were getting bad and something had to be done.

    Turns out that Dr. thinks that me feeling bad all the time might be due to lack of restful sleep, and there are things we can do about that. I had worked it up in my mind so much that I was expecting something to be really, really wrong. Anyway, I’ll have a sleep study, and do some things around here that will make our home more, I don’t know, peaceful and conducive to a good night’s sleep. Then we’ll see what happens.

    Sleep! Apparently it is pretty important!

  44. timemakesfoolsofusall said:

    I made this little girl with my body and then pushed her out of my lady-parts. And now, 22 months later, she sings me the ABCs and can unlock the front door (pls no, thx) and tells me she wants a corgi-doggie. It’s one of those things that seems impossible in the way that finding out you’re actually a princess or have superpowers or something seems impossible.

  45. CJ said:

    I’ve been fighting suicide for eleven years and I’m still alive.

    • Anothermous said:

      This brought tears to me eyes. Jedi hugs and a toast to you. You are amazing. <3

    • Erin said:

      Good on you, glad you’re here :)

    • It’s good that you’re still here.

    • espritdecorps said:

      Thank you for writing this.

    • schwarmerei said:

      so glad. <3

  46. Anonaconda said:

    I quit a job that I hated and let kill my soul for years with no plan except to pursue writing. It’s a few months later and I just interviewed my favorite rock star for my favorite magazine and am actually happy.

    • That is a really brave thing to do and I’m so glad things are better now :)

  47. Urthgrrl said:

    I got through a competitive 2 year college diploma while raising 2 kids and crippling depression. The second year I was hospitalized for a suicide attempt. Somehow, I kept going and managed a 3.9 average. So, managed to survive the last 2 years. I’ll take that as a win.

    • MovingOn said:

      That is a MAJOR win. You are awesome.

  48. Gil said:

    I’ve admitted that the job I loved is a past-tense job, and I’ve begun applying for positions that will pay me what I’m worth. I just got a second-round interview at a place that excites me and that I think will challenge me and push me to grow … and I’ve done all this while fighting crippling suicidal depression.

    • rhc27 said:

      Well done! This is fantastic and you are awesome for doing it.

  49. H.Regalis said:

    2008-2010 I was extremely depressed and by the end of it I knew I would not be able to survive another year if things stayed how they were. I had grown apart from my local hs/college friends and my Team Me consisted of an alcoholic I dated on and off who was in a downward spiral, or at least a downward holding pattern, themself. It wasn’t the best relationship, but they supported me when I had no one else.

    I saw a therapist briefly and started seeing various doctors to get on meds for anxiety and depression. I relocated from the tiny one-bedroom apartment in the shitty college neighborhood I lived in to a way better place–with roommates!–in an awesome part of town. I made new friends, including a new group of friends who I do Social Activities with on a regular basis. I’ve gotten my mental health meds sorted out and am working on handling some recently diagnosed physical problems. I finished grad school. I had to make the decision to put my dad in hospice. I had always hoped he would die naturally so that I wouldn’t have to make that kind of a choice, but I did it. I have a job I like in my field and it pays well and I have good insurance. I have a much larger Team Me now. For the first time in a long time, possibly ever, I’m dating someone who can take care of themself and handle their own problems like a goddamn adult, and who has their own shit under control enough to be there for me when I need them, so that we are truly partners and don’t have a weird parent-child dynamic. I’m making the very scary decision to leave my current life and travel the world before circumstances prevent me from doing so. I’ve grown a lot from the person I was ten years ago. A lot of what I’ve learned has been from fucking things up or being really fucked up, but I’m grateful for what I have and what I’ve learned so far, and I can’t begrudge the path that brought me here.

    A few months ago I found out that the alcoholic I was dating back in the Bad Old Days killed themself. When I look back on things, to me it’s very much a “there but for the grace of God go I” sort of thing. I’m not consumed by guilt, but it makes me sad that I or someone else couldn’t help them the way they helped me.

  50. Kate said:

    I started learning how to play guitar after years of telling myself “That’s too much to dedicate yourself to on top of art, you have no ear for music, you’ll look like a fool, you’re too old to start now.” I was so anxious about walking into the music store, which was full of my ultimate fear – guys who knew more about something than I did. But I got my cheap guitar and I’m practicing as often as I can. I’m no good yet, but I’m better than I was when I started.

    Oh! And I wrote, drew, and self published my first comic book. No biggie. Except that it was something I never thought in a million years that I’d have the dedication, skill, and patience to do, and that it’s been my number 1 life goal since I was a kid. And the fact that people buy it is still astounding to me.

    A few years ago when I was still working in retail I never would have had the energy or confidence to follow my artistic passions (despite having graduated from art school), but since I found a better job that doesn’t eat away at my soul I feel like I have endless possibilities. There are still rough patches, but my overall self-esteem has improved significantly.

    • Puck said:

      What’s the comic book, if I may ask? (Feel free not to answer if you wanna maintain anonymity here or for any other reason.)

      • Kate said:

        It’s cool! Thanks for your interest :D When I finally changed jobs, I just suddenly started making journal comics and kept it up until I filled a whole sketchbook. It wasn’t even my intention to make them into a book. The book is actually one big chronicle of overcoming my impossibles, in a way.

        They’re all here online! http://katebrezzy.tumblr.com/tagged/comics

        • These are neat. I wish I could do this.

  51. Golden Key said:

    Just celebrated a year since I embarked on a journey in which I did the following:

    Decided to move to a new city
    Started moving process before my job was nailed down
    Loaded my possessions into a U-haul and drove them 200 miles to a storage unit all by myself, in the snow
    Found a full-time job with benefits thanks to a new church friend
    Got my own apartment
    Furnished said apartment with six suncatchers and painted two rooms
    Bought a bed
    Established a daily and weekly self-care routine
    Joined a book club
    Joined a writing group
    Made ten new friends
    Paid off my credit card after 10 years
    Started process of getting my student loans out of default, which is almost finished
    Got elected to the vestry of my new church
    Wrote four chapters of my novel-length project and
    Took up the ukelele.

    What’s remarkable about this is that the previous year, I:

    Was long-term unemployed for the third year
    Buried a friend
    Had to quit a program of study
    Was contemplating suicide
    Considered it a good day if I took a shower and/or did laundry.

    Two things of note:

    1) I learned to want something for the first time, which is different from needing it or craving it. In the midst of my depression, I envisioned a bunch of colorful suncatchers in an east window, and did all that I did because I wanted that. I wanted the suncatchers, so that required getting the east window, and the apartment that comes with it, and the income that was necessary for that, and the move to where the jobs were. That was kind of a revelation — to aim beyond needs to something I really wanted, and getting the needs on the way to it, really changed my perspective, and also made it more fun. Now I have the suncatchers, and have found a new thing to want, which is equally motivating.

    2) Just as this is not a year that would have happened without my decisions, it also did not happen without my friends and family. Places to stay, networking, financial assistance, moral support, all of these things came from people who loved me and were in a position to give them, and I accepted them, even if they sometimes also came mixed up with skepticism or, in some cases, judgment. I did it myself, and I was helped. Both are true.

    When I got the letter yesterday marking my cc account paid in full, I stood there blinking for a moment, and thought: well, this is the end of an era. It was quietly awesome.

    • Puck said:

      Your thing 1 is really powerful for me. <3 Thank you.

    • That suncatchers image is the most beautiful thing I have read all week. And it has been a week of reading many beautiful things.

    • “Learning to want things” is so important. I started that process in summer 2012 and I still have a sense of triumph every time I recognize I want something and take steps to get it–especially if it involves making requests of other people, no matter how small!

  52. sorbus said:

    I got a job, in a city I love living in, without having to rely on nepotism or alum connections! And I’m getting new responsibilities and stuff! I finished my first week of prod support on our application recently and oh my gods I didn’t break anything and I actually did a good job of it. I *somehow* got mostly over an outrageous health problem I had been having. I’m very close to getting my legal name changed, and I may be able to start T soon. *And* I’m finally putting together a budget.

  53. MrsMorley said:

    What a wonderful question, what amazing answers!

    In terms of my own miracles: I’ve come to terms with my mental issues. They’re the cause of some disasters, but have contributed to some successes, including obtaining martial arts rank.

    It’s interesting to cope with being a bit off from the norm.

  54. I had to swallow my distaste and go back to work for a company I quit in anger a year ago. My fiancé saw me coming home angry, every day, and suggested I quit for my sanity. Several months of looking for work elsewhere led nowhere. Then she also had to quit her job for mental health reasons. As much as you want it too, pride doesn’t pay rent or cook dinner.

    But now that we aren’t getting deeper into credit card debt or begging from our parents, we can actually start to look forward to the future, especially paying for our wedding.

  55. Thalia said:

    –I up and walked out on a doctor when it was clear that she was not going to be good for me. I’d asked her if she was going to give me shit about my weight (yes, that’s a quote), and when she went into cascading failure mode (holy moly did she ever) I stood up, turned on my heel, and left. And the amazing thing was that I had gotten to the point where it *didn’t* take bravery on my part. I just did it, because fuck no I am not going to put myself through dealing with someone like that.

    –I’ve also gotten to a point where I might actually consider that I am not at heart an evil, bad, no good person whose fault it always is, which is completely at odds with what my parents taught me. Walking out on that doctor was one way of showing that I’ve gotten close to there.

    –And this is silly, but I (an American) drove the famed Swindon roundabout in a standard transmission car using my left hand for the shift. (Google a picture of it, and prepare to be boggled!)

    • H.Regalis said:

      I have had times when I wish I’d told an awful doctor where to stick it. I bow my head in praise of your walking out when someone was a major jerkass. It’s hard!

  56. Whippet said:

    What an inspiring discussion! I grew up in a very conservative, religious household and ended up internalizing a lot of shame about the sexual thoughts I was drawn to as a child. I grew up with adults drilling it into me that kissing a guy before marriage was questionable, so I truly believed I was for sure damaged goods because of the kinky sexual fantasies I had. I spent a lot of my junior high and high school days coming to terms with the “fact” that I was a freak and would never have a normal romantic relationship because I was “so messed up”. With the assistance of an amazing, sex positive therapist, I now love myself , am entirely happy with my sexuality and spirituality, and have an amazing GGG partner. I really wish I could go back and tell sad, little, past Me that she was a TOTALLY normal and good person, and to not waste any more time hating or trying to change herself. When I was a kid I thought unless I was magically cured to be a chaste, good little Christian girl who craved Missionary only, it would be impossible for me to have a happy life, but luckily that turned out to be BS!

  57. Jane said:

    Well, I’m not original, but this time last year I overdosed on my anti-anxiety pills and was losing whole days to thinking about whether I was morally obligated to kill myself.

    And the truth is, while time helped the depression to ease, I also worked REALLY FUCKING HARD to get out of that place. I took up bicycling with a vengeance. I was diligent about therapy. I worked on a farm for three weeks. I journaled hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of pages of stupid fucking feelings. I took up painting and writing fiction again. I put myself out there socially — I hosted twelve dinners last semester, tried five or six different activity groups, and practiced being brave about talking to people I don’t know.

    I guess the best example I can give is that last year when I had a panic attack, it would start a chaining effect, where I was so ashamed and sick about having a panic attack that I would immediately have another one, and another one, and another one, until I’d lost hours on how much I hated myself. This year I have had a few panic attacks where I identified what was happening, waited for it to pass, and carried on with my day.

    • Emily said:

      Go you! I’m so glad that you’re in a better place than you were last year, and really admire the effort you put in to pull yourself out of your depression.

      (My mental health is preeettty good, but sometimes I struggle with slumps. Your comment reminds me that there are concrete things I can do to help myself through sadness and anxiety, so thank you for that.)

  58. Margaret1 said:

    When I was young, after a lover’s quarrel I overheard my love say something about me that was devastating and it took forty years to unravel the mindfuckery that unfolded. After he said it, he forgot it, but his words affected my life profoundly and I said goodbye to my continued dreams of a life together with him and left town. Turned out he loved me and didn’t mean it. (Soap operas are made of this stuff). Anyway, I grew up to be an awesome woman even though he slowed me down: better late than never I say. I’m happy after I never thought I’d be happy again. Because of him, despite what I heard him say, at the bottom was a faith that we once had real love and and this enabled me to leave abusive relationships with a decisiveness that shocked everyone including me. It brought me to the place I am today – a place of peace I thought was lost to me forever. It’s pretty well “enough” to make up for the lost years.

  59. Bibliophilian said:

    After I graduated college in 2011, I was totally burned out. I felt like a failure b/c I got rejected from the master’s program that “doesn’t reject people.” I spent the following two years in a depressed haze, working an awful dead-end retail job. It didn’t help that I was in a bad living situation – living in a tiny bedroom that got no natural lighting and not feeling safe in the main parts of the house. I didn’t see a way out – I didn’t know what I wanted to do, or how I could possibly get there.

    I finally was able to move into a better housing situation (natural light ftw). Just that lifted my haze enough that I was able to make decisions about my future. In less then two months, I completed all the requirements for a teaching credential program, applied and was accepted.

    Right now, I’m finishing up the last of the program requirements (done on Friday!). This program has been the hardest thing I think I’ve ever done. But my relationship has survived my fluctuating mental states, and I’ve never been more certain about what I want out of my life. I’m waiting to hear back from a masters of science education, but even if I don’t get accepted, I think I’ll be OK. I’m so excited to be moving forward, wherever my current path takes me.

  60. Sara said:

    It might just be the glow of the morphine but after seven years of working toward a diagnosis, prep surgeries and one helluva procedure on monday, I am finally free of an airway obstruction which was the root of my sleep apnea. In that time, I’ve been working on the low mood/sleep deprivation symptoms with a great therapist and in no small part emboldened by the community you’ve built here. I have been supported by the nhs and my partner but my own well-tended self-care toolbox has been something I’ve grown so proud of. I am kicking ass at recovery today and want to shout it from the rooftops (but can’t cause my face is swollen to the size of a gruffalo).

  61. BookLady said:

    A much smaller accomplishment, but still one I’m proud of: at age 25, I learned how to ride a bike!

    I’ve also learned how to flirt, at least a little bit (and, relatedly, gotten a lot better at taking rejection), and leveled up about six levels in “using my words” in general. Thanks, Captain and Army!

    • A friend of mine vowed to learn how to ride a bike before her 30th birthday and managed it just days before! Well done :)

  62. Amber said:

    I decided to leave my PhD program with a masters, and am now making plans to move back to the city my family lives in and pursue a career I actually want. Hardest decision of my life, but at least the constant stomach ache I’ve had for the last three years is finally gone.

  63. Last year, I lost three relatives in less than a year while 3000km from home and in grad school. I also had a bully of a professor and a few friends who kicked me while I was down. I developed a full blown anxiety disorder and another bout of depression. It was the worst year of my life, and I thought I would never feel normal again. But my depression is now largely gone, I’ve been to therapy for my anxiety, and I just finished my Master’s degree last week. I now get to build my energy reserves back up and I feel on top of the world.

    • MovingOn said:

      I just want to say, I know what it’s like to lose multiple family members while you’re too far away at a miserable grad school. There are no words for how much that sucks. You are totally awesome for working through that and getting your Master’s degree.

  64. I was always a very good student. But being a good student doesn’t mean that you’re going to be good/competent/successfull in the “real world.” And I always had this intuition about myself that, once I’d graduate, I’d be lost at sea. Because I’m a good student, but not cut out for the “real world”. That’s what I believed to know about myself.

    I graduated three years ago, and it was *exactly* as I had always known/feard it would be all these years. I floundered without any school or academy to hold on to, and I fell into a depression. I was so disappointed with myself. I *knew* that this would happen, I had seen it coming literally for years, but I didn’t/couldn’t do anything about it, and here I was, holding a nice shiny piece of paper with nice shiny grades, and a complete failure professionally and “in life”.

    Then I pulled myself out of my depression, made some relevant changes to my life, started tackling my various problems head-on, and learned to ask for help when I needed it; and a couple of amazing coincidences later, I appear to be on the fast track, career wise, and generally in my life. Complete turn-around in the last 6 months. Still feeling a little dizzy from the whiplash.

    • rhc27 said:

      Aw man, I have that exact same feeling and am in that same place, except that I’m still trying to convince myself that I can make something of my life. Thanks for the encouragement and well done to you for getting there! Sounds like you’ve really earned it.

  65. Kay said:

    In all honesty right now, getting through every day feels like slaying a dragon.

    • well done you for being an awesome warrior

  66. Katamari said:

    I re-united an estranged father and son. (I was dating the son at the time and encouraged him to find his father, and after thinking it through he decided he would. I was there when they first met after 18 years – the reunion went very well – and dad could never thank me enough after that coz without me it may never have happened.)

  67. EdelC said:

    Oh my, jedi hugs to each and every one of you. You have achieved some amazing things..

    the things I am most proud of.
    1) finishing my PhD, I had my daughter right at the end of three years research and had moved country, just leaving the thesis write-up, I was in the really shitty end times of my failing marriage, we moved house 6 times in the first year and I went back to work leaving my baby for the first time.
    My ex husband treated me like shit…then we broke up. I was left bringing up my daughter largely by myself. It was a new academic job, I lived in a run down, rat infested house in the countryside, worked until the small hours every morning preparing lectures for the next day….
    and eventually, I finished my PhD, the day I got the cert in the post (I didn’t go to my graduation ceremony, I had no-one to go with me)…I danced around my car, I was so so proud. It had been a terrible time, but I had done it.

    2) about a year later I was in a new relationship, with a psychologically abusive man. He talked me into emigrating to Australia with him, with promises of happy ever after for me and my daughter. It took about 18 months for me to get everything in place for me to go, a job, visa, etc etc…He went to Australia ahead of me, and while I was en-route, I got an email telling me that we were finished. Having nothing to go back to, I kept going forward. I landed in Australia, not knowing a soul for thousands of miles, except my little girl. I was broken hearted, lonely, terrified.

    within 6 days I had found a home to rent and bought (thrift store) furniture, to furnish it
    Within 6 weeks I had bought a car and had made friends
    within 6 months I had bought a house. and had some wonderful friends and a great social life. We left Australia about 3 years later, it broke my heart to leave…but creating a whole new life, on the other side of the world, from scratch, is the other thing that I am proud of.

    3) my daughter, I made her in my belly, watching her take her first breath was one of the best moments of my life…she has grown and turned into a wonderful, kind, compassionate young woman…she is the thing I am proud of most of all.

    • Emily said:

      Holy crap, what a jerkbag! I’m amazed at your ability to make an awesome life for yourself in a completely new place with no one to help you out.

  68. canomia said:

    This thread is wonderful!
    I’m not in a good place right now and haven’t been for a while now but reading your stories makes me think that maybe I’ll get through it. Looking at my life from the outside it’s never been better. I’m doing my bachelor at a school that is pretty much the perfect place for me, a blend of art, craft and design. At my first meeting for my local branch of the political party I’m in I got selected to be leader and a year later I’m second on the list for city council for that same party. I met one of my favorite dancers at an event where he was my teacher and we are now sort of friends. I even had a request out of the blue from the place where I grew up to have a fashion show there. Which has been a dream of mine for a long time.
    For right now I’m having trouble just getting up every morning and managing everything I need to manage is to much. But you people make me think that maybe I’ll pull through. I made the choice to let myself be worth taking dance classes again, even though I can’t really afford it and I don’t really have the time. It takes me three hours to get there and four to get back. They are the only thing that feels good right now so I think it’s a start for some kind of change. Making that choice was hard. I’ve not taken a class in more than 5 years now because of not having the money, except for camps where I work to pay for the classes. So maybe deciding that I get to do that was my first impossible task.

    You are all so great, brave and just plain awesome. I hope I’ll have a story like one of yours in a while and look back on this time as something I survived.

    • Queen of scarves said:

      Yes you are worth it! Keep going, you will find a way.

  69. letternext said:

    I left abusive relationships and generally OK but not great ones, I’m on my way to having healthy ones. I learned to say no. I learned to say yes and mean it. I learned to recognise toxic situations, instead of going along with the “bad normal.” I learned to pay attention to my fears and honour what make me happy, but I don’t let either control my life anymore. I learned to ask for help and to say no when asked for help I just couldn’t give. I finally stopped listening to people who were telling me my needs didn’t matter and got the fuck away from people who only really seemed to come alive when they were using or trashing or dragging down me or other people. I stopped caring so much about who was cool or who was smart and started paying attention to who was kind. I’ve learned to really value and cherish the good people in my life.

    It took a long time but I learned to find happiness in small, simple things and gestures that are special because they are unaware of their own beauty. I started and gave up and started and gave up my art again and again, I spent so much time encouraging and facilitating other people’s stuff and waiting for support for my own that I just got sick of it and figured out how to do the kind of art I’ve always wanted to do, by myself. I’ve survived too many bereavements. I’ve come along way towards being OK with failure, I haven’t let it stop me trying.

  70. When I was 17 I had a pretty major emotional meltdown. I’d attempted to take my own life when I was 15 and had had “psychiatric problems” (as I saw on a transcript from a court case I wasn’t actually involved in but submitted some written testimony for) since I was 12 or 13. But when I was 17 it got really bad.

    I was in my last year of high school and as someone who had gotten high marks forever without actually putting in any effort whatsoever I felt very pressured to do well while not actually knowing how to study or put effort into anything. I probably could have coped with that if that’s all it was. The year before I had started to become physically sexual with other people and the walls I’d used to compartmentalise my sexual abuse as a child started to crumble.

    While preparing for my final exams I very neatly wrote “I don’t care.” as the answer to every single question on my practice exam for maths and handed it in to my teacher. I was basically a zombie, staring out the window and crying in every single class.

    There was no magic switch that made everything better, I kept thinking that taking a year off or a semester off (once I got to university) would get my brain back in gear – I gave up on the idea of every having a real job because I “couldn’t even” cope with showing up to classes but it was only once I stopped studying that I realised I might actually be able to have some kind of life where I can actually support myself (because it turns out showing up to work every day is WAY EASIER for me than showing up to class a few times a week and getting slowly crushed under all of the reading and studying and exam practice I haven’t actually done) but it’s been a long slow climb with many trips and tumbles back down.

    And these days I can work to support myself and I’m incredibly lucky to have a supportive husband who makes enough that I can work part time. When I was 29 and about to get married (not that she or I see marriage as some kind of mark of achievement of adulthood or womanhood or any nonsense like that – just as a big thing that some people do and can make you think about life and the way things might have turned out differently) my mother told me how proud she was of me, how at times she’d been pretty scared I wouldn’t be alive to see my 30s.

    But I’m still here and it’s still hard and it still hurts. But I’m still here.

    Thank you for reminding me that that’s a big and important thing and a big achievement and worth celebrating.

  71. Rose Fox said:

    My whole life is one big impossible. I quit my day job to be a freelancer and was profitable within a month. Eventually I picked up a part-time job that is basically the only employee-type gig that I’m capable of sticking with and enjoying, and I’ve done kickass work there for seven years as of today. Eleven years ago I got a case of forearm tendinitis that so thoroughly destroyed my ability to work that I actually received a worker’s comp settlement (this never happens); I treated it aggressively and today my arms are pain-free and I can work and exercise and knit and play video games to my heart’s content. With help from some tremendous people, I turned a scandal-beset convention into a safe destination for marginalized members of my community.

    I came out to relatives and colleagues as queer, trans, and poly. I worked really really REALLY hard with my partners to form a stable, healthy poly family. I supported one partner financially through several years of unemployment and crap jobs, and the other emotionally through an abusive relationship with a gaslighting douchebag; now we’re all making an astonishing amount of money at jobs we like and taking really good care of our mental health. I loved an abused, terrified foundling cat until she became an adorable little sweetheart who snuggles me like it’s her only job (which it is). I loved myself until I started believing that I was worthy of it.

    I survived the deaths of my lover and my grandparents and my godparents. I survived sexual assault. I survived chronic depression and anxiety. I survived chronic pain and disability. I survived drugs that made me manic and psychotic and violently ill. I survived losing an entire community in a breakup. I survived college (by dropping out, three times, and don’t ever let anyone tell you that a degree is more important than your mental health, because it’s not). I’m fighting a brand new chronic illness and planning to become a parent, and I’m going to survive those too.

    I love love LOVE that so many of the comments on this thread, mine very much included, come down to “I did what was best for myself”. You are all incredible! We are all impossibly mighty. We win.

    • Gah I’m sitting in a cafe making little noises and clapping my hands. We win!

  72. aethy said:

    I took on the mantle of mother at sixteen and have almost made it entirely through both of my daughters’ teenage years. I escaped from a relationship filled with four years of gaslighting and have slowly patched up many pieces of that damage in the last five years. This morning I experienced the mother of all panic attacks and stayed at work anyway. I don’t feel much like a warrior-woman, but I know that I am – because I’m still here and I still care.

  73. Last year I learned CPR – the hard way. My husband more or less dropped dead at my feet. And I’d never bothered to learn because I couldn’t kneel on my far too painful knees (I don’t even try to dry them with a towel after a shower). Found out that it is actually possible to do CPR bending at the hip from a standing position. Adrenaline is a wonderful thing.

    More importantly, found out that I and the brave, strong daughters we’ve raised could stand up for him when he couldn’t do so for himself when (a few) medical or nursing staff were being stupid and unprofessional. Got through the 3 months of hospital and 3 further months of home based therapy – then gradually found myself sinking into some kind of delayed depression/anxiety. Part of it was due to me not realising that he hadn’t fully understood or remembered what I’d told him about what he was doing at the time he collapsed, so he’d not taken a lot of notice of me telling him I got nervous when he insisted on doing things that were pretty triggering for me.

    But he was able to do the traditional father of the bride thing when daughter got married just before Xmas. Made both of them happy as could be.

    I’m not fully over the anxiety/depression yet and both of us are still learning to cope with his frustration at his one remaining problem from the brain injury. Sod’s Law tells us that we should have expected that if one hand was going to be shaky and hard to manage it would be his dominant hand. Food and drinks spilled on the floor and bad temper when things don’t go right – sudden swearing and stamping around the house are not a peaceful environment.

    We’ve got this far and I’m pretty sure I’ll be OK in a while. Just have to be patient and hope it’s not too long for me.

  74. anonymous.for.this said:

    I loved reading those comments – hats off to all of you Awkwardeers out there! :)

    I’ve been battling drug addiction for about a decade now, since I was a teenager. There’s a few years I don’t remember much of. I’ve been bounced in and out of rehab, but I somehow managed to go to university and complete my degree. I’m on the road to recovery, and after a recent relapse I admitted to myself that there is actually a problem and I’m going to meetings again.

    I cut ties with my abusive family for good. I have friends, a job that I enjoy, and I’m about to move back to the place where I truly feel at home because I want to build a more permanent life for myself there. My life has never been saner, more stable and happier than it is now.

    • Erin said:

      Go you :)

  75. Not_My_Regular_Username said:

    Two things:

    First, a year ago I left my PhD program with a master’s degree, and subsequently found myself seriously under-employed, working as a tutor to scrape up money to live on while I figured out what came next. After several months of no luck job searching, I was thoroughly disheartened and starting to think a) I’d never get over dropping out of graduate school and b) I’d have to tutor for the rest of my life because I was unfit for any other type of work. (Yes, I’m aware there is nothing wrong with being a tutor, it was the having-no-choices-in-the-matter bit that bugged me). In December, I FINALLY got a job, and after a couple of months here I have regained confidence in my abilities and employability, woo!

    Second, my first relationship lasted 6 years, in which time it progressed from tumultuous-teenage-puppy-love to more-trouble-than-it-was-worth to outright abusive. I couldn’t convince myself I deserved to leave “just because” I was unhappy, and only got out (still an accomplishment!) after my abuser started violently damaging objects in his apartment in a way that made me feel PHYSICALLY unsafe. Afterwards, I spent months doubting that decision and berating myself for being horribly selfish.

    Three years later, I am in a relationship with a lovely lady who has only ever treated me well and who I care about very much, but I’ve recently come to the realization that some of the differences in our approaches to relationships are irreconcilable, at least in a primary partnership… so I’ve given myself permission to go. I’m doing it tonight, and though I’m panicking a bit, I don’t totally hate myself for it. Progress!

  76. roramich said:

    “we are all impossibly mighty. We win.” SO MUCH THIS!!!

    I was denied tenure at a former institution, when my daughter was 2. I applied for a ton of jobs, spent a year on the market, had 8 on campus interviews and 4 offers (for those not familiar with the academic job market, that is A VERY BIG DEAL). Took the one that seemed the best, and last year made Associate Professor, thank you very much.

  77. therufs said:

    I decided I was tired of having no marketable skills and (after three humanities degrees) was going to become a programmer.

    That was a year ago. For about five months I was paid actual money to do programming things! I’m now applying to intensive coding programs.

    The part I’m proudest of, though, is that my metric for “I could never do that” has changed significantly.

  78. Laura said:

    A year ago, I was reeling from harassment and betrayal at the hands of a mentor. Nine months ago, I was depressed and couldn’t bring myself to care about anything. Six months ago, I had crippling anxiety and suicidal ideations. Not only did I get myself into a fantastic intensive therapy program with wonderful staff, people, and treatment, but almost immediately upon stepping down from intensive outpatient, I began student teaching.

    And now that I am 8 days shy of being done, I think I can say I did it. I did what I was told, over and over again, was impossible, and could not ever work–I taught with depression. Moreover, I passed my master’s exams with depression. And next week, I’m going to walk into a job interview where, most unfortunately, my harasser is on the hiring committee. And I’m going to march in there with my head held high and answer the questions proudly. Because I did the impossible, and I have nothing to be ashamed of.

    • Queen of scarves said:

      Many congratulations for getting where you are now! And hell yeah to walking in there with you head held high! As they say, the best revenge is living well. Or, as Maya Angelou has it, “Surviving is important, but thriving is elegant“.

      • rhc27 said:

        “surviving is important, but thriving is elegant” – ooh, I like that. Might need to go up on a wall near me. Thanks!

  79. badatlurking said:

    I was going to wait until things got less busy for me to post this to the forum, but I’ll do a quick update here…

    I got a job. An awesome one in my field, with my own desk and phone-line. :) I was unemployed for 9 months after leaving an abusive former manager on bad terms, had to stretch money meant to last 3 months impossibly thin without any unemployment benefits and scrape together rent, had to deal with an abusive mother trying to set back my career and move me back home, as well as a bad housing situation (Cheap rent was a necessity, so hello roaches and obnoxious roommates.)…

    And it all worked out. Somehow. I kept on applying despite knowing I needed the job yesterday, and one of them finally stuck. The last few months I survived on tax return money alone, followed by a (high interest) unsecured loan once I got the official offer- but it worked. I have an amazing boss and coworkers, and just today received confirmation from HR that I’ll be getting my first paycheck in a week. I bought a roast beef and fries from my favorite restaurant to celebrate.

    Thank you Team Awkward for all the support I’ve received. I should be back to posting on the forum once I get internet for my new apartment.

    (Also to Captain Awkward: I wrote in about this not too long ago before getting the job, so if you’re working on a reply I’m sorry if I stole your thunder.)

    • If I were the Captain, I’d love to have my thunder stolen in such circumstances! Awesome job, well done!

      • JenniferP said:

        Yes, this is correct. Go you, badatlurking!

    • JugglingGeese said:

      Congratulations badatlurking! I’m so glad to hear that it worked out. Your situation sounded really hard.

      I also got a job offer! After searching for many months and getting rejected at second interview stage from 3 seperate firms, one of them finally stuck, as badatlurking says. All while struggling to complete my masters and with the onset of a chronic pain disorder. It sucked, but somehow I got through it, and I signed the offer letter this morning :)

      I’d also like to thank Team Awkward from the forums for supporting me with encouragement and jedi hugs. It’s great to have a place for comradeship like that, and it certainly helped in some of my darker moments.

      • Congrats JugglingGeese!! I’m glad an offer stuck to you too! :)

        (And good to know any thunder stolen was happily done so.)

  80. Since the end of January, I have left a bad relationship thanks in large part to JP and this community; moved cities; moved in with my best friend and two other lovely housemates; recognised that I was having suicidal thoughts and started taking anti-depressants for the depression and anxiety I have been surviving for the past 8 years at least; started seeing a new therapist; started dealing with a chronic injury; started dating a lovely new person; and slowly started working in my business again after being totally burnt out and stuck. I’ve started a pole dancing class despite never feeling like I am a sexy dancing type of person, I’m doing yoga and I’m taking care of myself.

    My proudest moments were starting said business and running a half-marathon and a marathon during the lowest low of major depression. I could barely get out of bed and I cried so much during marathon training and fought panic attacks, and every run was a battle, and I learnt that I always have more – energy, guts, determination, gumption – than I think I do, and *I won*. I actually pissed myself crossing the finish line, after 7 hours, because I was so excited and exhausted and exhilarated. My Mum grabbed me in a hug and said she was so proud of me with tears in her eyes. It was so great.

    I’ve also improved my self-esteem and self-image by seeking out online communities around plus size fashion, fat/body acceptance and seeing the fabulous Fat Nutritionist to form a healthier relationship with food.

    I’ve consciously explored my sexuality via kink, and have done some figuring out as to why I have dated and been so attracted to mean jerks and made a commitment to never again be with someone who doesn’t treat me kindly.

    I’ve also accepted my bisexuality, which I used to be so internally ashamed about despite outwardly appearing fine with it, and wrote an honest opinion piece as a ‘bisexual voice’ in the LGBT section of Amnesty International’s Australian mag.

    I’m proudest of my friendships. I sent the people closest to me an email about my mental health flare-up, and they have been incredible about supporting me in the way I want to be supported. I’m surrounded by so much love, from such extraordinary, brave, humble and generous souls. I’m so so so so blessed.

  81. Also you all inspire me so much and I’m feeling so much love and pride for everyone who is slaying their dragons. Thank you so much Jennifer, you’ve changed my life in so many ways and you give so much. This community matters so much.

  82. Amanda said:

    I am starting to really and truly get over my boyfriend’s death (suicide) and the associated guilt. I’m finally seeing a therapist about it, but I think I’ve put him away, for the most part.
    I am starting to make friends at my work and at school. Maybe not permanent friends but I’m okay with keep-the-crushing-loneliness-at-bay temporary friends. I’ve come from that person who clearly desperately, desperately wants to be your friend but not too clingy and ha ha, it’s like we’re friends already, LOVE ME! to a little more laid back and able to form relationships.
    I’m starting to accept that my sister has become my mother (who every therapy book ever labels as “toxic”). I’ve started to let go of that relationship. I couldn’t show her how not to be mom and she didn’t want me to and it’s not my life to control, except how big of a part I play in it.
    I notice all of these start with “I’m starting” but these are things that, at one point or another, I thought I could never manage at all and I was doomed.

  83. macarons said:

    Thank you, Captain Awkward, for posting that poem. I’ve been having a really tough time lately and it was really helpful to have this pop up in my inbox and remind me to reset my inner dialogue. So, I survived childhood abuse, bulimia, a date-rape, moved past my agoraphobia and now I’m halfway through undergrad. I’m still struggling with feelings of woeful inadequacy as I haven’t finished yet (!’m 26) but I’ll get there some day. I only went back at all because I had a “therapist” who said university isn’t for people like me, and I wanted to prove him wrong. I have a 3.8 and am functionally trilingual. Now, on to the next beast’s lair. :)

  84. Laurenji said:

    This:

    – Become Pregnant
    – DH hospitalized, 2 months until baby
    – DH hospitalized again, 1 week until baby
    – DH gets out of hospital, have baby 2 days later
    – Figure out how the hell to be parents
    – DH passes semester of grad school with flying colors
    – I go back to working full time
    – Take baby to the hospital 3 days before Christmas
    – Spend Christmas in hospital while baby has surgery
    – Baby comes home from hospital.
    – DH has surgery #1. Is told he must have another one in 3 months.
    – DH has surgery #2

    What a list. What a year. What a million filaments. But we’ve made it (mostly). DH’s stitches are gone, baby is healthy, and I don’t sit on the kitchen floor every weekend and cry anymore.

    • Laurenji said:

      Forgot to add, just after DH got hospitalized for the first time, we also moved out of my in-law’s house into our own apartment, after two long years. !

  85. SK said:

    Everyone on this site is amazing.

    I graduated college. Even though my grades were always good, there were points in that last year where I wasn’t sure I would make it to the end. I’d already had anxiety and depression issues — compounded by a bad reaction to birth control pills that made it hard to do anything but cry in my bed. An acquaintance killed himself, sending a ripple through our friend group and existing together at our school just started to feel impossibly terrifying and fragile. And my condescending academic adviser didn’t help matters. I still feel like my college was a hellscape. But I graduated. And so far almost a year after graduation all my friends are still alive.

    I moved to a new city, and I have a full time job that I’m mostly happy with, and even though it’s stressful sometimes, I’ve only cried at work twice in the nearly six months I’ve worked there. That’s a big achievement for someone who in a fit of desperation, convinced I’d fail at anything I tried and that I didn’t deserve any of my achievements, googled “jobs for people who cry a lot.” I’m working on making friends, and I’m making plans to get a dog.

  86. JenniferP said:

    You guys, you guys, I have been in class and then caring for the Gentleman Caller after a minor oral surgery today so have not had time to respond to every comment, but I have read every single one and I love them all and you all so much right now.

    • Bah my heart is assploding with love and joy! ASSPLODE!

  87. cd said:

    I’ve made a lot of progress since depression-failing out of grad school.
    * I’ve gotten out of an emotionally abusive relationship.
    * I’ve gotten a real job that pays substantially more than I need to live on and that offers opportunities to learn more (it’s a job where programming is not expected but turns out to be useful, and I’m learning).
    * I’ve started doing things because I want to do them, not just because I think I should.
    * I’ve gotten rid of most of my self-hatred and social anxiety. I don’t engage in “who’s dumber” arguments anymore. I’m still probably depressed, but I’m on the upswing.
    * I’ve started a somewhat technically challenging hobby (growing mushrooms (no, not that kind, but oysters and lion’s mane and wine caps and such, some of them my very own culture lines cloned from mushrooms I hunted in the wild)), and it’s going well! Having projects where I can see progress every day seems to be great for my sanity. AND I have the ability to turn junk mail into dinner.

  88. MovingOn said:

    Reading this thread has made me realize that something I used to see as a failure on my part was actually a pretty good thing to do, though not necessarily impossible.

    I moved to a different country to go do a PhD. I was miserable there. I worked roughly 9-5, all the other PhD students worked roughly 15-midnight, so I didn’t see a lot of people. The university was in the middle of nowhere and I felt isolated. I tried my hardest to integrate, joined a dance class and an art class, but no one would ever want to hang out outside that because we had different ideas of what’s fun (i.e. getting drunk was usually a big part of it and I don’t drink), and besides I always had to catch the last bus home because I lived in the next town and couldn’t afford taxi’s. The absolute low point came when it was my birthday, and I had made cakes and brought them to work and sent round an email to the entire department saying ‘There’s cake for my birthday in the coffee room! See you at coffee break.’ And exactly 1 person showed up (there were plenty of people present). I felt so, so lonely there. I was miserable. On top of that the program wasn’t actually that great and I felt I didn’t get any support from the university, even though this was supposed to be a great university.

    So, after a year, with my tail between my legs, I had to move back to my home country, move back in with my parents, and start job hunting. I had thrown thousands of euros away, I felt, on tuition and the international move (twice!). I always saw giving up on that PhD as a failure, even though it was the right decision because I had never been so unhappy in my life. As a young teenager I was depressed with suicidal tendencies, and in my mind even that time wasn’t as unhappy as my year alone.

    But then – I did it again! After ca. 8 months of job hunting, I found a new PhD position. A paid position this time, again in a different country. And I packed up my things and moved again. And now, a year later, here I still am. I have friends, I enjoy my hobbies, and even though I’m going through a very painful break-up right now, I am enjoying life. I don’t feel trapped, or lonely, or miserable. I now know it wasn’t me that caused my ‘failure’ at my first PhD, but circumstances. Because my current situation proves that I *can* do it.

  89. I wrote a song.

    15 years ago, while musing about things, I sang three words. I had not been thinking those words, and I had not been thinking about singing, but there they were. I thought of a few more words, and what might go next melodically.

    Huh, that’s kind of catchy. It could be a song.

    “That’s stupid. I don’t write songs.”

    Okay. But if you don’t, nobody else will.

    The odds weren’t good. I had some musical talent, but I’d never been able to create an entire set of lyrics from scratch. If I’d tried to pep-talk myself into trying, I don’t think I would have succeeded. But the idea that this thing could only exist if I made it exist, that got me to look beyond confidence and ability to the reason I would want to write a song in the first place.

    I never committed to finishing. I just wrote a tiny bit at a time, here and there, now and again.

    About a year after those first three words, I decided to work on the song some more, and I realized there was nothing more to write. At some point, I had finished it without even noticing.

    That song set everything else in motion, as I …

    * Made an effort to connect with other musically minded people.
    * Asked my parents to ship my old upright practice piano to my house
    * Cowrote a song with a new music friend and realized I actually kinda knew what I was doing now
    * Wrote more songs
    * Bought a keyboard
    * Joined a band
    * Started voice lessons
    * Started performing at open mics instead of just sitting in the audience
    * Wrote more songs
    * Left the first band, started another one
    * Recorded an album (my first song is on it)
    * Kept going

    I’ve written 79 songs now … and it will be 80 just as soon as I figure out one line. The band is going to Nashville in a week to record some more songs. I live a life in which music is something I do now, every day, instead of something I was kind of good at in high school.

    And it all started with one song.

    To this day, I don’t know where the first three words came from.

    • This is such a great story!

  90. Jiggs said:

    I’m late to the party but I oh well. Like many of the previous commenters, I have had depression since I was a little girl. I literally had no game plan for my life because I was sure I would be dead by 21, and I had no problem with that. Somehow it didn’t happen. A friend took me to the emergency room for a suicide attempt (attempt seems too strong; I wrote a note which was discovered before I’d even left the house) when I was 22. By 25, I was a runner/yoga doer/martial artist, which I believe led to my episodes getting slightly less intense than I remembered my teens being. So I was really unprepared when it hit me like a freight train in December.

    I stopped showing up for work. My sleep patterns were everywhere. All I felt was pain. And this time it didn’t quit after three weeks of misery; it went on for two solid months. I remember thinking I was going to die, that there was no way I would make it out alive. I had already spent two desperate evenings in a crisis chat. I had tested the strength of my robe sash hanging from the pull up bar in my office doorway. In a brief moment of clarity, I went to see a doctor who put me on an antidepressant. For another month I fought nausea and sleeplessness along with my depression. Barely any change.

    In a hail mary pass to save my own life, I upped my own dosage. I know you’re not supposed to do that without a doctor, but I couldn’t get in for three more weeks. I felt I was slowly being crushed to death, and if you’re going to die the possible consequences of your decisions don’t really matter. Another ten days of nausea and insomnia and yup, more depression, went by. My doctor’s appointment is still two weeks away today.

    And I feel AMAZING. I have feelings again! I can get up when my alarm clock rings! I remember what it’s like to be me. So I’m proud I went to the doctor after ten years of this. I’m proud I disobeyed all the rules and messed with my dosage because I couldn’t live like this anymore, and it was better to try than die. I’m alive. Sometimes I hardly believe it.

  91. Ms. Kittenwhiskers said:

    I escaped my parents’ home. Two decades of abuse serious enough that my therapist said to me, “if I’d known about [it] before you turned eighteen, I would have encouraged you to press charges”. I rent a flat all by myself, with my own money, filled with my books and my clothes and no yelling. I visit my parents when I feel like it, and when I don’t want to see them, I don’t have to.
    I’ve only been living here eleven months and it feels like home, in some ways more than my parents’ house ever did. I don’t own it, technically, but it’s still my space. Nobody can come in without my permission. I have the keys, and nobody else does.

    And if I have to move back to my parents’ house – a possibility I’m keeping open just-in-case – I know now I CAN escape. I’ve already done it once. I can do it again if I need to.

    • Toestands said:

      That is amazing and I admire you a lot for all of it.

    • Molly Grue said:

      That is fantastic.

  92. Erin McJ said:

    This post is great, and so are all of your stories. It came at a good time for me: I am taking my last class of a degree I’ve worked really hard for, and I am just barely hanging on with my fingernails. Let’s hope I can emulate you all and pull off the requisite B, which sure feels impossible on this end.

    My benchmark for “impossible” is my mother, who spent twelve days in a coma and had to relearn how to do everything, I mean EVERYTHING. They told us she’d never wake up and yet five months later she was back at work. It wasn’t easy, some things are still hard, but I am so proud of her.

  93. If you’d told me 5 years ago that in 5 years I would be done with abusive relationships, done with pretending to be straight, living on the other side of the world, with my crushing credit card debt fully repaid… no way would I have believed you. Add in that I have a wife, my kitchen is (mostly) clean, my house is neat enough that I wouldn’t be appalled if friends dropped by, and I am able to get up early and go to bed at reasonable hours? Extra unbelievable.

    Packing myself up and moving from Perth to London, telling a couple of family members that I was bi (I thought I was then, although I call myself lesbian now as that’s more accurate) practically as I left for the airport, trusting myself through the scary freefall of supply (relief, substitute) teaching, learning to be me right out to the edges… I still can’t believe I’ve done it.

  94. eclipse said:

    First off, as someone who 1) loves fairy tales and 2) was celebrating their birthday the day this was posted, well done, Cap’n. (I’d love to see the full version of you Bluebeard adaptation–that’s one of my favourites!)

    “Doing the impossible” is technically what I’ve done all my life–I’ve been in survival mode from childhood onward.

    In fairy tale jargon, I grew up the child of an ogre (abusive father) who counted his wealth but refused to share it. I was shunned by others (bullied, then ignored/isolated as a gifted kid), which made me nervous to go out into the world. I was lucky that in a hellish childhood, I had a kindly fairy (loving mother) who did what she could to help, offering love and support, shielding me from all sides, and fighting for me when she could.

    After a lengthy and brutal divorce in my teens, my mother and I escaped and tried to start anew elsewhere. Now that I’m older, however, I’ve spent more time “fighting the ogre” to protect her. It’s close to a decade since my parents divorced, yet my mum’s still traumatized by my father; he looks for petty loopholes to sue her into bankruptcy and homelessness. By proxy, I’m traumatized because I can’t stand seeing her get destroyed and because it spurs me on to try being the knight or brave soul who will stand by her side and help her fight back.

    I’m trying to venture out and build a life for myself, but it’s tough to relate to people when your personal history has taught that other people will hurt you and can’t be trusted, and your mind is constantly swarmed with thoughts of financial and legal troubles while others around are comparatively safe and comfortable. (I seem to know lots of people who don’t and wouldn’t recognize their own privilege.) It’s also tough for me because I don’t feel comfortable always being the one to reach out to people–it feels one-sided, creepy, and desperate on my part to always have to initiate messages, conversations or meetups because I don’t get invited or what-have-you. (That last part sounds entitled–I meant that I appreciate and prefer reciprocity.)

    My “happy ending” would be to find people I could relate to and form relationships with (a loving partner and some close friends), but that seems more and more fictional and impossible as the years pass. I have instead learned to live with and fight against the constant fear of being forgotten…that’s why I’m posting here. This space has been one of support and respect, and I needed that to finally pour out my heart somewhere.

    • Greenie said:

      Your ogre is my step-ogre in every detail! My mother left him eighteen years ago and this year the last of my baby brothers no longer lives with him and therefore they are relatively free of his abuse.

      It took me ten years after my mom left and seven years after moving to a new city and being an autonomous adult to find my heart’s home in a huge loose group of friends and acquaintances and lovers who all care for me in a variety of ways. It started out being really scary to relate to people as if they weren’t all like my stepdad, but I’m finally getting the hang of it and trusting where appropriate, setting boundaries where appropriate, and no longer having to prove my worth our have other folks prove their live to me all the time.

      My mom finally filed for bankruptcy and it helped her get out of the crushing legal debt from responding to step dad’s lawsuits and now she’s traveling to Europe with a close friend and having fun and not worrying all the time.

      This year I’m finally almost feeling ok being my pagan, kinky self on the internet without fear it’ll launch legal repercussions at my mom or brothers.

      It’s such a long road but the end for me is so so worth it, I can’t wait till you get to your happy ending too, whether it’s what you expect or whether it’s a surprise twist one. And congratulations on taking your life back a piece at a time from the ogre! Every step of that road is a victory.

  95. SarahTheEntwife said:

    1) About a year ago I finally looked at a list of ADHD symptoms in adults and went “oh yeah, that’s me…and that…and all those other things” and brought up to my therapist that part of my problem might be ADD rather than just depression. And she was open to looking into it, and we tried me on Adderall, and lo, my brain does not feel like cold oatmeal anymore! After years of “well, *maybe* I’m slightly less depressed now, I guess” experiences with antidepressants/antixylotics it is amazing beyond words to try something and have it actually-no-really work. And with basically no side effects so long as I don’t take too much or take it at silly hours of the night.

    2) And this is kind of minor compared to a lot of things on this thread, but feels really dragon-slaying today…I coded something in Python yesterday! The intro to programming course I took back in college was the closest one I came to failing of anything I studied, and it was one long slog of eventually stumbling onto the right code but not really understanding it. And I’ve since tried to teach myself various programming languages on my own (human languages? Awesome. Markup languages? Look at my pretty websites! Actual code? Not so much.) with no success, but I decided to do another actual structured course this spring and the imposed deadlines and discussion forums gave me the impetus to push past the frustration and stupid-feeling and now it’s actually starting to make sense! Computer programming is one of those things that’s tangential to about five different things I like and am good at, so it’s always been intensely frustrating to me that I have so impressively little natural aptitude for it.

  96. A few months ago I moved back to a remote area after wanting to be here for a year. At first it was extremely lonely and I felt like I had no friends and no-one was going to bother to make friends with me, because of my only being here for a short-term stint. But now, I feel like I have a great group of friends, something I haven’t had in a while, and so many social engagements that I have actually had to turn some down to allow myself some introvert time. Two months ago I was bawling my eyes out on the phone. Now I don’t want to leave!

  97. fussbot said:

    I got out of an abusive, gaslightey-as-all-hell four year relationship with a psychopath. I’m just starting to think about dating again after a couple of false starts with successively less shitty people, and I feel so great about where I am with my boundaries and how much I deserve someone who respects me and treats me well.

    I quit a job that I loved at a company that was making me miserable and moved across the country to a job that I love more than I thought possible at a company that is in the process of a deep cultural transformation into a healthy, diverse place in an unhealthy, undiverse field.

    I faced a confrontation a couple of months ago with someone I’d been dreading interacting with, and stated flat out: “you already know my opinions on this issue and I don’t think it would be a good use of either of our time to go over it again”. I have never dropped the mic so hard in my life. It was terrifying and I felt so relieved to be able to summon those words on my feet, rather than freeze up and try to Make Everyone Happy (TM).

    Over and over again I keep running into situations like that where the powers of sitting with awkwardness that I’ve learned from this community have served me well. Thank you all.

    • Ceanothus velutinus said:

      This is so very badass. <3

  98. I saw a problem in my sport, came up with a solution for my own dog, made it myself, and it worked. Other people saw my fix and wanted it, so I started making and selling my product. Filed all the paperwork and got the permits to make my business legit. Bought the machinery to make my products, sourced the best materials and taught myself to work accurately and efficiently to produce quality. Built a website, learned to make brochures, business cards and gift certificates. Learned the ins and outs of shipping to the USA and internationally. Expanded to add new products. Brought my daughter on board to offer hand painted customizing.

    Turned around ten years later and realized, holey sheet, I built an international business from the ground up. Go me!

  99. This thread is just….augh, I’m so happy now. It’s inspiring and beautiful.My impossible things are small, but they’re mine and I’m proud:

    I decided to go to a college far, far away, surrounded by nobody I knew. My first year I discovered a martial art and how much I loved struggling at it, struggled with and overcame disordered eating (partially because of my martial art), made a great friend and then had the strength to voice my concerns and break up with said friend.

    My second year I made it through a chronic pain condition. I finally swallowed my fear/anxiety/dislike of previous experiences and talked to a counsellor on campus. I allowed myself to be angry, and I also allowed myself to forgive.

    This year? I still made it through my pain condition. I made it through a semester that made me sad for no reason. I applied for a study abroad program where I didn’t know the language. Or really much about the country. And then I had the courage to go.

    I learned how to live with roommates. How to be in a group…and how to be by myself. The impossible thing I am proudest of is that I have said yes to so many things, so many scary, uncomfortable, confusing things in this new country. I don’t speak the language perfectly, but I try and I keep trying. I’m taking my martial arts class in a new language, and I try to speak to the people in my group every week, even if I say the words wrong. I am allowing myself to thrive in a place where it would be easy to hide away among all my fellow Americans, or in my bed. I didn’t realise how impossible that was until I wrote it.

  100. mimsy said:

    The day I went to formally declare my intention to enter the long and drawn-out process of becoming a Professional Religious Person, my mother received her first cancer diagnosis. I went to school nine hours away from home to get my masters’ degree and my second year got a blood clot out of nowhere which led to a diagnosis of lupus and being visibly Not Okay for the rest of the school year (and also drugs that fixed my truly shitty arthritis pain). I got to where I could walk and jog again, managed my medical business on my own for the first time, and caught up with my school work all while interning at an institution of organized religion.

    My last year in seminary, my mother’s cancer came back in lots of new places. She was given six months to live, I came home for serious interviews, and she drove me to the airport and told me to go and live because it is *so* worth it. At the same time I was writing approximately 100 pages in essays and such for the PRP governing body and interning at a different place that required giving up my weekends (and social life) every week while balancing a full class load and my new companion, chronic fatigue. I graduated, was given an award for all my interning, received a job placement back near my family, and introduced my mother to all my friends at graduation.

    Then her cancer came back…but much worse this time. I took the time off that I was offered and spent a month living at home with my parents and my sisters. She asked me to speak at her funeral, and let me hold her bucket when she was sick. She died in February. I’ll be ordained in June. I’ve been given a promotion of sorts, been asked to join a young PRP leadership group, and learned so much about the necessary intersection of confidence and vulnerability in the past five years. I’ve found my strength and I’m still moving forward.

  101. koach said:

    I’ve gotten out of bed every day this week. It’s a huge accomplishment.

    It’s huge partially because of the big thing I did last week: I broke up with my girlfriend. She and I were pretty good together, but not great. Not the right fit. Rather than trying to force myself into a not-me-shaped hole, and forcing her to do the same, I ended it. That took a lot of guts.

    • Toestands said:

      That’s great! Well done you. :)

  102. OneTwoThree said:

    I said “No, that’s not okay” when my brother in law was being inappropriate with my daughter, and I kept saying “No” even when everyone screamed at me and told me I was crazy and broken and wrong and I kept saying “No” when everyone was willing to ‘forgive’ me for being crazy and seeing things that obviously weren’t there and no one could ever possibly see and I kept saying “No” even though all the class & social structures dictated that I’m supposed to say yes because rich people are right and poor people are wrong.

    I said “No” and kept saying “No” and it has been years and I will never be forgiven for that. And the amazing part, the part that took all the work, is that I’m at a point where I’m okay with never being forgiven. I might be crazy. I might be broken. But I am not wrong, and I’ve kept my daughter safe.

    • Erin said:

      That’s really great :)

    • Molly Grue said:

      You did the right thing and you are a hero. Being the hero sucks; it’s not like in the stories. But you are one and you did the best possible thing for your daughter.

  103. emily_of_athens said:

    I have two amazing partners, and not only do they love me, but I am able to trust that their love for me is secure and that I deserve it. I’m growing a baby in my body and it’s going to become a whole person. I haven’t had a real depressive episode in almost four years, but if it happens again, I know that I can get through it and get better.

  104. DFTBAwkward said:

    In exactly one month, I’ll be graduating law school! I started law school in the fall after a summer where my house burned down and I lost the majority of my possessions (no one was hurt, thankfully). After a ROUGH first semester breakdown I started going to therapy, was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and also PTSD from the events of the fire. Over the past three years, I have gone from REALLY, REALLY LOW to getting my mental health under control and manageable, getting better at being on top of my school work (my GPA has continued to go up each semester!), and have gone a long way in figuring out this “adulting” thing. For the past year and a half I’ve been in a wonderful, stable relationship. I’ll be done with all my school responsibilities within the next two weeks and then DFTBBoyfriend and I are moving in together as I start a new phase of life. WOOOOOOO!

  105. sparklingstars said:

    I survived the death of my sister, my only sibling, eleven and a half years ago. For a very long time, I did not see how I could possibly survive such a horrible experience – but I’ve made it through to the other side.

    I think about her a lot this time of the year, as we both have mid-May birthdays. She would have turned 35 on May 19th this year.

    • *Jedi hug* My oldest brother died in a helicopter wreck in January 2008. Surviving is indeed an accomplishment.

  106. Laurel said:

    I had internalized the “girls are bad at maths” nonsense and got 6s and 7s (out of 10, I think it would be equivalent to an C grade?) in maths and physics all through high school. In my senior year, I had trouble deciding what I wanted to study at the university. Nothing sounded interesting and I didn’t want to go for an MBA like most girls I knew.

    Out of the blue I came up with “I want to study engineering”. I got excited by the idea because it was so silly. Choosing engineering was something nobody would expect from me, especially as it’s still seen as a male profession in my country. (Also, I’d heard that engineering students had lots of parties… which turned out to be true.)

    I taught myself the whole of high school math and physics curriculum, got the second-highest grade from both in my baccalaureat exam, and nearly full scores from the university entrance exam.
    I went on to finish my M. Sc in automation engineering with good grades and today I’m one helluva proud lady engineer.

    Oh, and the lecturer had to explain to me what programming even WAS, when I started the first compulsory programming course at the uni. After I graduated, I worked for a couple of years as a programmer. Coding wasn’t what I wanted to do long-term, but today I design HUGE information systems (think “calculating the social security benefits of an entire nation” huge) and I really kick ass in my job.

    • Emily said:

      Go you! As a lady in science/engineering, I’m always excited to see other ladies kicking butt in STEM fields.

  107. E. said:

    I feel the need to note that after I posted my original comment yesterday, about how I’d managed to do these big impossible things despite my anxiety and other issues, I promptly went and had an anxiety attack over it. :P Sometimes simply saying “I did something really hard” is an impossible thing in itself.

    As many others have said, I am so impressed and awed and humbled by what everyone is sharing and so grateful that everyone feels safe and strong enough to say it. Life can be really, really hard sometimes, and the definitions of “hard” are so numerous. Hurrah to everyone, every single person, for getting through their impossible things, whatever they are.

  108. twomoogles said:

    10 years ago I failed badly out of college, and was stuck living at home in a not-great situation, with no job and few friends. I moved out, and got an amazing group of friends, as well as a job. A minimum wage job I didn’t love but it got me out!

    I built up my life until i was super happy with everything except the job. I didn’t want to be working in food service when I was 50 with no opportunities to try anything else, but I didn’t see any way that I could ever find something better. it was easier not to try. About a year ago my boyfriend and my best friend insisted I apply for an online program that would let me work something else; it seemed way outside of anything I could ever do, as I had no experience, as well as a total terror of school after what happened before.

    I got in, graduated in September, and have been working a new job that I love ever since! I still do a day a week at my old job, (credit card debt to pay off etc) and now that I feel I *do* have other options and I *can* do other things, I don’t hate that job either!

  109. OTWF said:

    I have two from my recent life history.

    1) I completely altered the life path I’d been set on for years. I got into the MS program that was supposed to be my stepping stone to the PhD that would result in being able to practice clinical psychology, my childhood dream. I hated the program. It was hard, boring, unsatisfying, completely detached from the people I wanted to serve. After a semester of panic attacks, I quit. I switched to a program that I’d known for years was the better route to my general goals, but had been biased against. I’m about to finish my third semester, and I’m so much happier than I could have ever imagined. I love the classes and my cohort, and I’m looking forward to starting in the field sooner.

    2) For four and a half years, I had all my eggs in the basket of one relationship. I was mostly convinced that I would never be able to find someone else for a long-term relationship. I became so desperately unhappy, though, that I turned back to myself, put the relationship on the back burner. It ended entirely a few months ago. Since I distanced myself from it, I’ve been so much happier. I’ve felt like a better person. Even people who weren’t particularly close to me have commented that I’m more vibrant. I’ve learned that I’d rather be alone than keep suffering like I did before – and I know I don’t have to be alone.

  110. Cyberwulf said:

    I’d been gaining weight since I left college in 2004. Three years ago I reached the stage where I was so heavy I could barely walk my dog, who I love and who depends on me for his physical exercise and the mental stimulation that goes with it. I started going to a weight loss program with the attitude of “the worst that can happen is that I’ll keep gaining weight, which is happening anyway”. Since then I’ve broken a lot of bad habits, relearned how to eat more healthily, and can almost – almost – run with my German Shepherd now.

  111. PandaGrrl said:

    After my friend died, I decided to honour her memory by doing something that always seemed out of reach, and that was to start bellydancing. It took a couple more years to realize how much I loved it, by looking and comparing how hard it was now to how had it was then. The level I’m at is much harder than those first weeks, but by golly, look what I can do once I gave myself permission and the tools to do it! I even enjoy performing it and I have absolutely terrible stage fright.

    I applied for and got into a writing workshop, where complete strangers read a part of my novel and gave me feedback on it. I barely let my friends read my writing, never mind complete strangers. I was so scared and I am so glad I did it. I’ve yet to start the rewrite process, but I’m going try to get it into a publishable state by next fall. Even if I never shop or publish it.

    I acknowledged and started to talk about my depression. It hits me the worst mid-February, lingers for about 2 weeks and then I have to spend most of March getting back to pre-February levels, and it’s preceded by a manic up-cycle in which I accomplish lots of things and then feel bad when nothing gets done once the lows hit. I hope to remember this next year and stock-up on frozen dinners and get the house ready beforehand, so I can give myself permission guilt-free to eat bad things and spend evenings lying on the couch doing absolutely nothing. I consider myself lucky that it’s not as crippling as it could be and I’m generally doing OK in managing it, but finally acknowledging the cycle was a huge step. (I will have to watch next year too to see if the secondary pattern repeats, which was after 5-6 weeks of not being hungry and eating only to keep myself from having migraines, I suddenly wanted to eat EVERYTHING, and massive portions of it. I wonder if that’s how bears feel when they come out of hibernation. Food. Face. NOW.)

    Finally, I found this blog and was about 95% of the way through the archive when my best friend had a mega-awkward situation pop up, and I felt much better prepared to encourage her to set and maintain boundaries, remind her that it’s not her fault that other people are douchebags and to take extra good care of herself. She thanked me specifically for things I said while I was wondering what the Captain and the Awkward Army would say, so thank you, all of you, for being so awesome.

  112. Yesterday I couldn’t make myself get out of bed. Today I got out of it and went to work. I’m playing whack-a-mole with my dragon — it still pops its head up in new and surprising ways — but slowly, very slowly, I am racking up more hits than misses.

    • blif said:

      Love the picture! Go go, never mind the misses, just gather engough hits!

  113. I finished law school and passed the bar on my first try while I was still in law school. I then completed my master’s degree a few years later. Those are the things I’m most proud of.

  114. Brigadier Overshare said:

    I started having hope.

    Just about exactly a year ago, I didn’t think I’d ever feel accomplished or hopeful ever again.

    • Ibbie said:

      Go you!

  115. the quiet one said:

    Long-time lurker here. Last spring, I graduated from college with a whole bunch of honors shortly before my 17th birthday, then moved across the country to start a challenging Ph.D. program. After years of sort-of-coping with depression and an eating disorder, things got to the point where I couldn’t handle it on my own. I told my mom for the first time, and she’s turned out to be an amazingly supportive person who’s helping me (slowly, intermittently) get better.

    I didn’t have the programming background I needed for my research, so while dealing with all that stuff, I’ve caught up on the basics I need to start serious work in a few weeks after my classes finish. Sadly, my hunch that this program and field is not for me has been confirmed, but when I eventually change careers, it will be my own choice.

  116. Emily said:

    I did well in college, but was worried about how I would find gainful and interesting employment after I graduated this past May. I eventually got a paid internship with a software company. I like my coworkers, I can probably stay on as long as I want, and I’m learning useful skills that might translate into a salaried job in the future!

    …Except that my time at my company is limited because I’m leaving in August for a fully funded Ph.D. program! I’m so glad that I had this job before I got accepted, because it’s empowering to know that I have a choice – I’m attending grad school because I’m excited about the program, not because I can’t survive outside of academia.

    • storyranger said:

      This is so cool! Congrats. Learning is awesome!

  117. DaFunk said:

    Five years ago I was thinking about killing myself several times a day, as a “comforting” thought; that at least stopping was an option, so I could make it through another dreadful hour. My marriage was a wreck, my heart was broken, and my soul was in fragments. I’d just moved to another country, which I didn’t want to do, for said wreck (lie) of a relationship, leaving my cozy home and all my friends, and had no job, no money, and mounting debts.
    It took several years and a LOT of work to scrabble out of that hole, to get to a point where my marriage is reasonably functional, I don’t about killing myself, I’m on the right meds (another fight and lots of money), I’ve made many good quality friends, and I have a a job in my field on a project I have spearheaded which has involved learning a whole new (to me) branch of knowledge.
    When I look back on it, it’s pretty amazing that I managed to cockroach through nearly all the top hits on the stress inventory (minus death of immediate family members, plus a few not listed) while: finishing a PhD, moving across the sea to a huge city, getting a new job, buying a house, coming out Q, not getting divorced, submitting original research for peer review.
    I’m really hard on myself for not having accomplished all I wanted to by this age but I should probably give credit where it’s due.
    Thanks Army, for the inspiration.

    • Toestands said:

      I know exaclty what you mean about thinking of suicide as a comforting thought. I’m so happy you’re doing so well, surviving all that is definitely an achievement!

  118. Malin said:

    Nine years ago, I was visiting my abusive then-boyfriend for the last time. Reader, I broke up with him, just a few weeks later.

  119. I thought it would be impossible for me to leave my abusive husband without suffering crippling guilt and anxiety over separating my son from his father. It’s nine months since I left my husband and I have realised that my son gets more positive attention from his father in the two days a week he now sees him than when we were living with him full time, and that the relationship is more honest. It’s clear from the way his Dad doesn’t initiate contact that there are limits to his love in a way that would not have been overt or as easily understood before. I still have my hours of angst, but my point of view has revolutionised and I am not crippled.

  120. I dropped out of college. When I transferred in to a local college my advisor laughed and told me it was a stupid idea to try and get in to my program of choice because my gpa was so low. I graduated from my program of choice with a 3.8 within 3 years while working full time and not accumulating any more debt.

    I still don’t know how I did it.

  121. whistlewren said:

    Getting out of a 7-year abusive relationship was absolutely the hardest thing I have ever done. That was 2 years ago. Yay! I also thought I could never go to full-time study while raising two kids and working 4 days a week, but I did, and it is going pretty well!

    I think we might all be kind of awesome.

  122. ambivalentacademic said:

    There is SO MUCH WIN in this thread – thanks to everyone who is commenting here. It is totally inspiring!

    My former dragons:

    Major undiagnosed depression and anxiety all through grad school, exacerbated by being in a relationship with an emotionally abusive, gas-lighting, Darth Vader. By some small miracle I managed to hang on to my sense of self-worth (at least in the context of human relationships – all the damage was manifest in my professional insecurities) and DTMFA.

    Bright spot #1 – shortly thereafter met amazing future spouse!

    But…..the depression and anxiety continued into my postdoc, due mostly to habit and the stress of financial insecurity that comes with said career trajectory.

    Bright spot #2 – got engaged to amazing future spouse and began saving for and planning our international wedding!

    Then spouse lost his job (oh shit! because we’d already put down deposits for the wedding in spite of financial insecurity, and thank gods! because his boss was a monster)…and we got in a big fucking car accident that wrecked me both physically and emotionally for a while (thankfully he was mostly OK – thank gods because he didn’t have health insurance). Meanwhile my postdoc position got worse and worse in terms of enjoyment and sustainability and future spouse had to start looking for jobs overseas (scary! What if I couldn’t go with him!?!).

    Bright spot #3: I went into both physical and cognitive behavioral therapy and got medicated and started to feel lots better…and mustered the energy to look for a way our of our untenable situation.

    Bright spots eleventy-million: with the help of some generous family and much belt-tightening we had an awesome wedding anyway, went on a fantastically fun honeymoon, and then came back and moved across the country for an awesome new job that I love and that pays what I’m worth!

    Current dragons: Currently looking for a new job because the one I love has an expiration date – I’m pretty optimistic about possibilities, but it’s still a bit stressful and scary until the decision are made and tied up in a pretty bow. Meanwhile, amazing spouse hasn’t had much luck finding employment in new city, so we’re looking very seriously at him going into business for himself, which is both exciting and terrifying. But I’m confident we can slay these dragons too!

  123. camerynmoore said:

    A little over five years ago I lost my job. I hated that job. That job, and my boss, made me cry on a regular basis. But it had been steady income, at a time when the recession was really starting to take hold, and there were no jobs to be found. I threw two rent parties in rapid succession, begged my husband for help (we live separately and more or less independently), and did not know what I was going to do in any long-term way. This felt particularly crushing because I had a fucking masters in a field (arts administration) that was never going to open up for me, especially during a recession, and I was left with a black hole of student loan debt and sharp stabbing midnight bouts of “what the fuck have I done?”

    Then a friend suggested that I try phone sex. I brushed it off, at first–it wasn’t the first time someone said I have a great voice for it–but then, yeah, I can’t keep throwing rent parties forever. So I got hired. Anyone who wants to read about that work, you can check out my (extremely forthright) blog. The first couple of months I felt like I had really hit bottom, then I … I don’t know. Something clicked. I started thinking about what I was doing, and writing about it. I’ve always been a good writer, but it turned out that I am really good at phone sex, too. The combination of phone work and writing ended up changing my life in so many unexpected ways:

    – I wrote a solo play, Phone Whore, and toured it around North America. I’m still touring it, and this summer I’m touring to the UK for four months. It has won awards and gets walk-outs and catalyses conversations everywhere I go. It is exciting to be part of that.
    – I kept writing, and now have three other solo plays under my belt, with another on the way and two more in the wings. No, wait, three. I know how I create. I know what I want to say and show. I know how to tour and self-produce. It is all very shoestring and punk rock and DIY, but I’m fucking doing it.
    – As a consequence of all of this, my husband and I have had to carefully renegotiate our marriage. Asking to open our relationship was one of the hardest conversations I have ever had with anyone. The challenging conversations keep happening, but we’re getting better at them. I think we’re going to make it. It won’t look like what most people think of as “wedded bliss”, but it’ll be ours.
    – As a result of this, I have been available to be in intimate relationship with some other amazing people, finding more love and wall-pounding fuckery than I could even imagine. (And I am pretty good at imagining.)

    Every goddamn day I feel like I am laying down the path brick by brick in front of me. It feels exhausting sometimes, trying to create out on the margins like this. But it is absolutely my path. I didn’t expect this at all when I lost that shitty job. It is all the more magical for being a surprise.

  124. thekatcameback said:

    I moved from Canada to England for my phD. All my friends told me it was brave, but I told them that it was just that I didn’t think about it, that it was the first impuslive thing I ever wanted to do. That was partially true, but I also wanted it. I wanted to be somewhere new and important, and I wanted to be better than I was– and maybe part of me wanted to be better than my peers, too. I knew that this was the program and the advisers and the sources I needed.

    And the first three months have been damn hard. The culture is tricky, because it’s like home but not– the politeness thing comes from a different angle, the school structure is surprisingly different. I felt (and will definitely feel again) like I had no direction and no friends, and that I might have made the biggest mistake of my life walking away from a program and a bunch of friendship that I KNEW made me happy and stronger, on the off chance that the new place would be even better.

    And I admit, I still have days where I feel hopeless and lost and overwhelmed. But today, I watched Frozen Planet with my roommates and laughed my butt off, and I wrote a thousand words of historiography for an adviser who has made it clear that she just wants me to succeed. I called home and didn’t cry. So today, I’m counting myself in the win column too.

    • I hope it works out for you over here xx

  125. I’ve been having a really rough couple of weeks (depression and anxiety flareup plus life stressors). When I realized I was avoiding human contact because I was afraid to get emotion on other people, I kept the massage appointment I had been planning to cancel and told the therapist, “I have been feeling sad and confused and might cry on you. Please don’t be alarmed.” Then for the next hour, when my brain tried to get back on the hamster wheel, I told it, “That can wait. Be here now.”

    I am still sad and confused, but now I remember that I can accept love and care even when sad and confused.

  126. newlife said:

    I am in the midst of divorcing my abusive husband.
    It sounds bizarre, but I did not know I was being abused. I thought his verbally abusive, emotionally manipulative, passive aggressive ways were normal. I thought that most people were like that when they were alone with their families and there was nothing to be done about it (thanks Mom & Dad!) – that’s how life was. I thought I was just a generally sad person, constitutionally unable to be content with life. I had been reading Captain Awkward for a few years (often wondering why I was so fascinated by the site) when an incident happened that triggered my realization that I was being abused and my husband was unlikely to ever change. I pretty much instantly gathered a Team Me from my actually really awesome, not abusive, totally shocked by how much of my home life I had unconsciously hidden from them, friends (Thanks Captain Awkward and the Commentariate – knowing I needed to do this and how was a life saver!). I got a lawyer (Thanks Mom & Dad! ( I’m dealing with how much they love me and support me, even while being the people that indoctrinated me into this way of thinking)). I also called a domestic abuse hotline and started going to domestic abuse counseling as well as two group therapies and continuing with my current therapist. That was/is up to 4 1/2 hours of therapy a week. It was/ is exhausting, but it’s really helping. I’m learning that the abuse wasn’t my fault. I’m learning how to set boundaries and use my words (techniques that were useless with my abuser). I’m learning how to weed out the bad coping mechanisms I have used all my life to protect myself and replace them with good coping mechanisms. I’m learning how very powerful Letting Things be Awkward is. I’m planning and implementing my awesome, scary, hard, new life – day by day, step by step.

    • CoolNewAnonymousNickname said:

      Go, newlife, go! My story was similar; I just thought I was the ‘bad one’ in my marriage and my poor, long-suffering husband who barely tolerated me was the ‘good one’. You don’t know you’re being abused or if you have an inkling, you push it back down. I just want to say, having divorced my abuser 4 years ago (after 20 years of misery), it will only get better from here on out. Really, truly. Not ‘Hollywood Ending’ better, where the curtain comes down after you ride into the sunset and this stuff never comes up again. But real-life, day-to-day, honest-to-Pete better. The kind where the occasional down day or bump in the road is just part of the process of living. So, so proud of you, and of all the Awkwardeers who have been brave enough to tell their stories here.

  127. storyranger said:

    I never thought I could survive failing a course, let alone first year Engineering. But I did! Three years later my Iron Ring still feels a long way off but I keep going, slowly but surely.

    And every time a frosh comes to me freaking out about, well, everything, I sit them down gently and remind them that it’s only a year. We can do this, one day at a time. As we say in engineering, Quis Dolor Cui Dolium :)

  128. lowbudgetspaceship said:

    I used to love math, but eventually ended up deciding I had no math skills and going to college to learn something completely different. Well, for a year and a half.

    Eventually I got miserable enough that I decided to transfer, even though transferring scared the shit out of me. And I brushed up on my math, eventually changed paths, and am about to graduate after studying math and computer science, and writing the mathiest comp sci thesis possible.

    Same person who broke down sobbing after taking a placement exam to see if I could get into a summer course for calc 1. (Turned out I did, anyway…)

    Before I transferred, I wasn’t planning on living past 30. I’m only about to turn 23, but a few years ago, the world felt like it was closing in around me. Now there’s so much life left that I’m trying to figure out what to do with, and while it’s scary as hell, it’s also pretty damn cool.

  129. Queen of scarves said:

    In the final year of my PhD I was triggered by some material — bursting into tears in my supervisor’s office ftw! — which prompted me to set about getting proper therapy and confront a) my stress/procrastination around work and b) the sexual abuse inflicted on me as a child and a teenager.

    Completed the PhD, got a job in my home town (yay!) where I ended up being very isolated, as I’d been away for so long and my family had moved away (not so yay). But that’s also where I started getting weekly psychotherapy not just infrequent counselling.

    In the next 3 years I: managed to build up a social life and made some great friends; confronted my parents on their total silence regarding the abuse even though they’d found out about it a number of years before; admitted that I didn’t actually want the career I had been working towards for 6+ years and went through the process of figuring out what I really wanted.

    And that took about a year of being unemployed, which was not very comfortable and also quite scary.

    The last quarter of 2013 was one of the most difficult times of my life, as I got to a major root of my issues in therapy and also went through pretty crushing heartbreak. The measure of how far I’ve come is that, although all of that was very painful, I dealt with it really constructively, giving myself permission to feel my feelings and keeping going.

    I also decided that since the job I wanted was going to be in Big City in The Next Country Over, that’s where I was going to go. I managed to organise my move to get there by the deadline I had set myself.

    And now, less than a month after the move, I’m starting a job in a company that was at the top of my list of places I wanted to work.

    Couldn’t have done it without the help of my friends and family, but as another commenter said above, it’s both things: I did it by myself, and I had help. Also, this blog and community have been a constant source of inspiration!

    I’m amazed at all the stories in this thread. You are all mighty impressive and deserve all your successes, whatever they are!

  130. Skittles said:

    A year ago I packed up my life in Australia and moved to Canada, to try to start a life with a girl I met online. I got a work visa, jobs, car and even a few friends. But after ten months, I had to end the relationship. It was one of the most painful and messy breakups I’ve had, but I finally felt strong enough to leave. My anxiety and depression were skyrocketing and I was being emotionally manipulated.

    I now have an awesome job, a new place to live, am making new friends and even going on dates! I’m exercising, seeing a therapist, and have made plans for a short vacation for my birthday.

    I’m living in a country on the opposite side of the world to every person I have ever known, but I have recovered from a shitty breakup and made it through the worst winter. And I’m going to have an awesome summer here!!!

  131. Naphtali said:

    I was in and escaped two separate abusive relationships (the second one was radically different from the first, and I felt like if I admitted it was abuse, I had failed. Again. Also, he was totally the Saddest Panda, and it took a long time to understand that, yes, it’s horrible that his parents were abusive and that’s how he knows to love, but I deserve happiness and safety, and fixing him was not my work). I moved on and dated better people, and now I’m in a poly household that makes me feel safe and loved and supported, we play D&D and nerdy board games whenever we want, and last year I proposed to my primary partner onstage at a major improv theatre festival and they said “yes!”

    I participated in demonstrations supporting gay marriage even though it was scary and a little dangerous (we got stalked back to the car and threatened once, and my boss and coworkers were standing across the street at the *other* protest), and last year the bill passed and there have been beautiful rainbow weddings all over our state. :D

    I came out to my parents as queer and also as a rape survivor and they were way more supportive and loving than I had allowed myself to even hope they’d be. In retrospect it almost seems silly that I didn’t trust them.

    My dyspraxia has made me fearful of a lot of physical experiences, but I’m learning to say yes to scary-sounding fun things, and push myself outside my comfort zone. I’ve ridden a mechanical bull, slid down a four-story waterslide, got tied up in suspension bondage and hung a few feet off the ground, learned to shoot (and teach safety about) handguns, run an obstacle course while firing a pistol, ridden a zipline, and probably a few more things I’m not remembering at the moment.

    After a massively unsafe theatre professor killed my fragile love of the stage and rekindled the stage fright I had been trying to conquer, I’m finally getting back into the theatre community, as evidenced by the proposal mentioned above

    • Emily said:

      Oh, wow, I would be scared to demonstrate against my own boss and coworkers, especially for something so (unfairly) polarizing and personal. Yay for marriage equality passing in your state!

      Also, so much congrats on all of the other things you’ve accomplished – you are awesome!

  132. Ceanothus velutinus said:

    Four years ago, I entered grad school, planning to earn my PhD in a physical science field. Two/three years ago, I left my (first) abusive PI and transferred departments so I could pursue that PhD in a field I’d already kicked ass in and knew I loved. Two years ago, I earned my MS from my first department while kicking ass in my second department and trying to use my rockstar status to protect my labmate from my second PI’s abuse.

    Three years ago, my long-distance girlfriend moved in with my partner and me, and the two of them started dating. I buried my ooky feelings about this and my suspicions about the ways our relationship wasn’t working in my worries about grad school until I left the emotionally abusive lab group and had space to breathe. Two years ago, I realized that I didn’t have to keep trying and broke up with my girlfriend. Not wanting to both break up with her and kick her out, I moved into a room in my friend’s house while my partner and ex continued living together in the house we’d all shared. Out of my guilt, I compromised far too much, and for that year my partner continued to date both of us despite the fact that my ex and I needed incompatible things from the larger relationship, justifying his choice to do so with “I don’t want to choose”. He and I fell into a don’t-ask-don’t-tell relationship re: my ex/his girlfriend.

    Fifteen months ago, everything collapsed. My grandmother died; I finally started to see my place in dysfunctional family dynamics; and my partner’s relationship with my ex took priority over him helping me get through that. I finally decided I was willing to break my stated commitment to him and leave. I took medical leave from my program and contemplated suicide for the first time. (That leave was an even better idea in retrospect, considering the hazards I worked with and the lack of built-in failsafes for some of them.)

    A year ago, I started a geeky community workshop and continued to take an active role in running it. I went to my first tech conference. I took a bunch of amazing fiber arts classes and found a mentor who’s one of the best in the field. I researched and leveled up in spinning, dyeing, and knitting. I came up with so many project ideas. I met and then strengthened my connections with strong, compassionate, capable technical women. I decided that I would leave the career I’d worked towards for the last decade–that the sacrifices I would have to make were simply not worth it. I was angry. I grieved some more.

    This year, I distilled those painful learning experiences into a couple of damned fine articles. One of them reached more people than I ever expected it to, and I’ve been approached about speaking about the topic. I brushed off my programming skills, started volunteering as a developer for one open source project, and applied for a technical summer internship with another. I submitted technical and nontechnical proposals to speak at two tech conferences. I will receive my second MS this quarter.

    After so many years of pushing my desires aside, I am slowly learning to listen to and act on what my soul and my body want. The last four years have burned away a lot of what I thought I could count on, and it turns out that I am still here. That fire softened the shell that had kept me safe, and I’ve been starting to sprout. I look forward to being settled enough to flower.

    • “That fire softened the shell that had kept me safe, and I’ve been starting to sprout.”

      I am appreciating this metaphor! Beautiful!

  133. BitterAlmonds said:

    Three years ago I left my very dysfunctional living situation after an extremely ugly fight with my mother. By the end it was so bad that at 18 I wasn’t allowed to leave the house even for a walk without permission or I risked being kicked out again. I had to spend five weeks living with my abusive stepfather in a corner of an efficiency apartment, off my meds schedule and without transportation, but eventually my father got a job in my city and offered to let me stay with him. I took it, and got my own apartment with my student loan money 5 months later–against the wishes of my mother, even. I successfully came off my antidepressants and got a job that same year.
    Now, I just finished a certification course that’ll hopefully get me a job that pays an actual living wage. I’m slowly figuring out what keeps me functional habit-wise. In a little over a year I’ll be moving to another city entirely while my wonderful and loving boyfriend goes through grad school. I’m not sure what’ll happen to me after the move, but I’m okay with that.

  134. Ali said:

    After dropping out of grad school and wandering aimlessly from crappy job to crappier job, I picked up and moved to Australia from the US. My only long term relationship ended, but we made it through and are working to friends. I got a permanent job that pays more than double what I made at home. I realized my exfriends were abusive and done a lot of work to heal. I got an autism diagnosis after a lot of work.

    In the middle of it, I’ve managed to turn a tiny hobby into a fledgling business. I’m gearing up to finish grad school after all and am considering a PhD. I have plans. I can see far enough ahead to make plans.

  135. datdamwuf said:

    March 23 2011 I got a PO on my abuser, I made it out and I was able to renew the 2 year “permanent” order last year. I am becoming me again, I almost am me again, a better mightier me. Through the help of a EMDR therapist I have overcome nearly all my PTSD related issues. I no longer have to look carefully before opening the door to feed the birds. I don’t think about the ex much any more. I have started hanging out with neighbors at the neighborhood bar on trivia night. I have an OK Cupid account and right now I should be calling the guy who gave me his number but I’m not feeling it and that’s OK.

    I started a website for my neighborhood and a year later 70% of my neighbors have signed up. It’s cool, we all share stuff, sell stuff and help each other through the site. Mostly due to the website and attending meetings, the Civic Association made me an at large board member. I’m getting out some and meeting people and it’s cool.

    I renovated the kitchen after 23 years living with grey cabinets and linoleum, every time I turn on the LEDs and see the awesome tiles I smile. I am now building a deck out back. Having denied myself anything I really want for so long, when my old car lost it’s shit I finally bought a used corvette despite everyone telling me how impractical it is. It rocks! And this summer I will learn to drive it on the track, zoom!

    My work contract is up for re-compete in June, we may not win it and I have not freaked out despite the above cleaning out my bank account. I am sure I’ll be just fine, if you’d told me I feel this way 2 years ago? I’d say that’s “impossible”.

  136. blif said:

    I’ve been this intelligent, timid and awkward boy. At the age of 18 I decided to change. Ten years later I’m an actor, teaching groups and also feeling pretty good at using my words with people I like. Lot’s of little dragons on the way, but the way itself is what would have seemed impossible ten years ago.

    • This made me smile :)

  137. Part-time Jedi said:

    Last year, I finally got my depression diagnosed, went on antidepressants, got a teaching job after 3 years of part-timing and freelancing, and invited one of the kids I had worked with at summer camp to leave her abusive home and come live with me, and she accepted.

    Now, I’m a month an a half away from making it through my first year of teaching at a school where 99% of the students are below the poverty line. I am a mom, at least 10 years before I thought I would ever get the chance to be. My kid doesn’t hoard food any more, because she trusts that there will always be food. My kid trusts that when I leave to walk to the store and get milk, I’ll come back. My kid has stopped saying “Please don’t hit me” when she sees me get annoyed, because she knows I won’t hit her. My kid doesn’t think that it was her fault that she was raped anymore. My kid is graduating from high school in June (on time, despite dropping out for a semester when her depression and PTSD got bad.) She is not 100% healed, and she may never be, but she is better.

    I made someone’s life better last year. I made a lot of people’s lives better this last year, and I finally made progress on my goals, instead of feeling like I was stalled.

    • That’s amazing. Did you need the state to intervene to allow the kid to live with you, or was she over 18 and able to simply make that decision for herself?

      • Part-time Jedi said:

        We were able to convince her mother to sign a temporary power of attorney document that covered until she turned 18. That way, we didn’t have to involve the state, and she keeps her eligibility for Pell Grants since I’m not technically her legal guardian.

        Not only is my kid doing well, but her mother is, too! She’s been clean a year, has been drinking less, and has a full time job. She now makes enough that she’s able to go off food stamps for the first time in over a decade. She took it as an opportunity to stop relying on her oldest child, and to take some more responsibility, and it has worked out really well.

        • Even more amazing. I’m glad it’s worked out so well.

        • Erin McJ said:

          This is a great story.

  138. deinosor said:

    I turned 30! I never had a plan for this stage of life because I thought I would have killed myself by now. Ten years ago I was hiding in an apartment by myself, not turning up to any classes, surrounded by stinking bags of garbage that I had no energy to throw away, drinking alcohol for breakfast, knocking myself out with codeine at night, alternately starving myself and bingeing, and fantasizing that everyone would stop loving me so I could commit suicide without hurting anyone.

    Now I have a husband and a beautiful daughter. My house may be cluttered but it is a nice, safe, comfortable home for my family to live in. I passed that degree with good marks. I have been successful in my professional life. I have amazing friends. I have made it through some really tough upheavals in the last few years and I’m still here. And, after quitting alcohol, tobacco and a couple of prescription drugs to boot, I’m now kicking that disordered eating to the curb and making the last few changes I need to improve my physical health – because I want to do anything I can to improve my chances of being alive for a really long time. Fuck those dragons.

    • blif said:

      I never thought I’d make it to 25, now I’m 37 and I’m glad that I’m alive.
      – Kimya Dawson

  139. Sarah said:

    This is amazing and so needed! Lately I am kicking butt at actually submitting my writing places. If they take it or if they don’t, whatever, I’m conquering the fear of sending it out! (But I hope they take it.) Nobody will ever see it if it just lives on my hard drive, right?

  140. SacherTorte said:

    I’m currently doing the impossible.

    Two weeks ago I was offered and accepted a job waay up in the north of Canada – straight up Arctic Circle style. In two weeks I’ve: rented out my apartment, had my taxes done, opened up a new bank account, switched cell phone providers, quit my job in my current city, listed my car for sale, had multiple people have FEELINGS conversations with me, and begun the process of severely weeding out my personal belongings. All these things were accomplished while working full time and trying to get a replacement hired/trained there.

    Now that I’m done work I have ten days left to: rent a storage space, get my car sold, finish packing/throwing out/donating all of the things I own, stock up on things that aren’t available or are super expensive in the Arctic (clothes, personal grooming items, etc), go get a physical, and have a few more conversations with people that will probably result in FEELINGS.

    All of this while going through a really bad depressive downswing and a bad body time (I have chronic pain problems, so my range of motion and strength is really touch and go right now).

    And at the end of all of this I’m ending up in a town where you can only fly in and out for portions of the year, where I don’t know anyone, and have never experienced the surroundings and culture.

    I’m excited and terrified by turns. If I pull this off I’m going to officially give myself the badge of BAMF.

    • Datdamwuf said:

      From where I sit you already earned the badge, you are grade A badass.

      • Sarah said:

        I second this. You have already reached BAMF status.

    • Best wishes to you! My Sister-in-law spend a year in northern Labrador under similar circumstances, and it was an incredibly rewarding experience for her. Challenging, but rewarding.

  141. Calluna said:

    I’m going to graduate. It’s been hard and it sucked and there were whole semesters where I thought about dropping out every single day. I worked while going to school. I left an abusive relationship while going to school. There have been days where it took me 30 minutes to talk myself out of bed so that I could go to school.

    I never truly thought I would do it. I’ve never finished anything important in my whole life. I was pretty much just waiting for the day when I stopped going.

    That day never happened. Twenty-eight days from now, I’m going to put on a silly hat and I AM GOING TO GRADUATE.

    • Loretta said:

      You did it!

  142. Last year, a series of events led to constant nightmares and insomnia that nearly wrecked my physical and mental health: breaking up with the person I thought I’d be with the rest of my life and the only partner who had ever treated me well, two unexpected deaths in my family, a car accident, a bed bug infestation (as if those aren’t bad enough on their own, I have a phobia to the extent that I actually imagined setting all my possessions on fire and/or killing myself), being kicked out of my apartment with no real explanation and having one week to find a new place (I suspect the reason was “bringing attention to the bed bug problem and demanding the apartments treat it”…….), and my bank account hitting zero due to the aforementioned clusterfucks and other unexpected expenses.

    I survived. I got up and went to work every day. I additionally planned an activity or saw a friend every day for a few weeks after the breakup and deaths. I researched the fuck out of bed bugs and treated/inspected/washed/dried literally everything I own and put everything I could in hundreds of large ziploc bags (not my fastidiousness but an accepted protocol…and a shit ton of work). I managed to find and move to a new apartment that I love without bringing any bugs with me. I started dating someone else who is a better fit for me in every way and actually also treats me well, and broken through a lot of my trust issues. I’ve (mostly) followed a budget and made back what I lost. Just recently, the nightmares have stopped.

    I’m now dealing with something else, which I suspect will require therapy (narcissistic parent), and it’s seeming an impossible task. To be proud of: I am fighting back against denial. I am talking to my best friend since childhood and trying to repair things with my almost-estranged brother. I have gotten a recommendation for a therapist. Trying to think beyond that is overwhelming, but it’s something…

  143. Eight years ago I moved abroad to do a PhD in England. I’ve suffered from depression (still do, but it’s well medicated) and anxiety. I was unhappy in my marriage and had fallen out of love with my then-husband. We tried and tried, went to counselling but it didn’t work. Finally saying, ‘it’s not working; I care for you deeply but I don’t love you and we need to end this’ was the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I am still hurting from the pain I caused him. But it was the right thing to do, and I’ve not regretted it. He’s happy in a new relationship, I’m happily single and enjoying my growth and independence.

    I finished the PhD and managed to go straight into full-time employment. Half-way through the PhD I also decided to pursue a life-long ambition of wanting to learn the piano. At that point it was just a vague idea, just something I’d wanted to try out. Almost five years ago I took my first piano lesson and it’s grown into a strong, fulfilling musical passion that has extended beyond the piano. I’m still taking lessons, I practise daily, I’ve joined a community band … half a year ago I’ve taken up the cello and I’m eyeing the descant recorder to add to the mix now.

    Ten years ago I hated my job, I was starting to feel unhappy in my marriage and I had panic attacks (night terrors) a couple of times a year. Today I am deeply content with my work and what I do with my life. I enjoy my independence and clarity of what I need to be happy, and my anxiety has lessened substantially – I haven’t had night terrors in almost two years now. I don’t think they’ll ever be gone completely but I finally feel I can manage.

  144. Cafe said:

    For the first time in my life (28.5 years) I have a job. And on top of that I’m happy. I used to think that this were something imposible for me (depression, ocd, bipolar disorder) but now I’m here, I have a job and I’m recovering from depression and bipolar (ocd is a difficult thing sometimes) but I’m ok. There is still so many things that I want to try and live, and for the first time in my life I am ready to live my life the way I wanted.

  145. sjv1983 said:

    I handed in my e-Portfolio for my library degree, yesterday. It was accepted and this means that I am graduating in August. I have been working full time and going to school part time for the past three years. I was not sure that I would be able to finish my e-port but I did. I am happy that I finished it. Now, just one class left over the summer and I am done.

  146. MamaCheshire said:

    I fired my doctor! And got a new one who so far seems so much better!

    Short version:

    Ex-doctor came recommended by a friend who knew the practice to be reasonably size-accepting and LGBTQ-friendly, which was important to us. And he had a collaborating nurse practitioner who was lots of awesome. But then the awesome NP left and Spouse and I started having problems with the doctor himself, and with his medical staff, who were really bad about keeping medical charts updated properly, as witnessed by them asking Spouse if he was still on a med he hadn’t taken in the past 18 months. (And refusing to remove meds not currently taken from Spouse’s chart makes it look like he might have a substance use issue, which he does not. He’s had some stuff happen that necessitated brief use of opiates while the worst of the pain healed – as in he was off them in less than a week but the chart was showing them as if they were a regular prescription. NOT COOL.)

    Final straw came when Spouse ended up in a psych hospital for reasons that had at least 75% to do with undertreated/improperly treated physical medical problems, but they took the medical stuff seriously and found underlying physical problems that ex-doctor had not taken the symptoms of seriously. Enough was enough.

    I was really, really scared to go to a new doctor. I’m fat and I was diagnosed with ADHD in my 30s, which some doctors seem to think is a pill-scam device (though I take Strattera, not anything controlled). But I decided to give the practice attached to the nearby urgent care my family sometimes uses a chance.

    My new doctor ROCKS, y’all. Properly sized blood pressure cuffs without asking, which is always a good start. No crap from her at all regarding my weight. An ACTUAL explanation for “weird blood test result that runs in my family that nobody can explain but it’s a thing, so don’t panic when you see it”. Another actual explanation, after an actual exam, for a sudden onset of serious pain and difficulty using my hand that I had almost gone to urgent care for the night before but decided to wait until I saw her (“oh, that’s a pinched nerve in your neck, feels and sounds like C6, here have some physical therapy exercises and medication to help with the healing, and let me know if it doesn’t work”). And that’s a really big deal because I have this issue with believing that I am malingering pain and it’s not really that bad, so having the reassurance is much appreciated.

    • Emily said:

      Yaaaay! Good doctors are so important, and I’m glad you found one who respects and helps you.

  147. Laurence said:

    My life was going in the right path and seemed all figured. In fifteen second, the car in with I was passenger got in the ditch, my back broken in two. I could’nt feel my legs or move them. I’ve seen my life in a weelchair and said no to this possibility. The doctors were doubthing about a possible recovery, I didn’t. Two years later, I’m walking. My surgeon said 35% of people wouldn’t walk at all with the same injury. Most of all, in the path of recovery I’ve learn more about life and myself. I’m not less scared about what is coming ahead, but I’m determined. It’s been a bit more than two years, and I’m now surrounded by love like never before, because I put value in the right relationships. I’ve lost lost four vertebraes, but learned to stand up by myself. Because nothing is impossible.

  148. Gallantqueer said:

    I changed the path that I was on drastically.

    I went to prep school in New England then did a year and a half at an Ivy League University. I left because I was loosing the battle with depression and anxiety and needed to go home. During my year off I decided not to go back to school right away.

    When I was in school I thought that I had to be basically perfect at everything, and “pay back” the system that gave me a “good” education by getting a proffessionalish/intellectual job doing something that would Change the World.

    Now I’ve stopped requiring so much from myself. I’ve developed a flexible vision of my life going forward thats true to my interests and abilities. I like books. I like sex. I like taking care of people. So I want to write and take care of people- probably through sex work, sex therapy, and nursing. The next step for me is learning how to do things. I’m used to being a high achieving slacker. But I’ve already made progress, and I’m happy in a way I never thought possible a year and a half ago.

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