What I Learned From Hitting Rock Bottom

by Dee Rene

“When did things get this bad?”

Opening the door to my apartment after a stint in the hospital from a mental breakdown was sobering. Everything was the same as I had left it, a pot in the sink, a jacket tossed carelessly over the couch, and yet nothing was the same at all. There was no work to go to on Monday because depression had swallowed me whole and I was now on disability. There were no classes to prepare for because I hadn’t been able to keep up with the course work when things fell apart. Friends were gone, family deaths and romantic love was nothing but a festering painful memory.

Welcome to rock bottom. Bad days had come and gone but I had managed to find a way to survive. Somehow this was different. I had no idea where to go, what to do, who to call or even where to start.

Rock bottom is that devastating moment where you realize there is no lower point, although you are sure it could be worse and that things are “worse” for other people, this is the lowest it’s ever been for you and moving from this place seems impossible. However, if you resist the urge to make rock bottom a grave, you may see that rock bottom can ultimately benefit your life. J.K. Rowling spoke the truth in her Harvard Commencement Speech when she said, “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I built my life.”

Here are some lessons I learned when I hit rock bottom.

You must deal with yourself. No more distractions. No more money. No more friends and fun. It is just you and your mess. Stop blaming anyone else and stop getting lost in hypotheticals of how things in the past could have been different. All you can deal with is right now. Now what? Rock bottom is not the time to call yourself a failure but it is the time to admit when you screwed up. Separate your worth as a person from the actions that led you here.

You discover the beauty in starting over. Rebuilding is daunting but you can find encouragement in knowing that now you have a chance to rebuild in a way that you truly desire and need. Rebuild friendships or let them go. Find your dream job or finally go after what you really want. Now is the time, as your life has been stripped of what you once held so dearly, you can evaluate what is really important. When you get past the crippling pain, find the strength in letting go and the beauty in starting over.

With your back to the wall, and your resources depleted, you learn one simple truth about yourself – you can overcome the worst moment of your life. It becomes fuel for survival. No one is stronger than the person who reached their breaking point and lived to tell the tale. Limits become fluid and you understand that slamming into the wall of life hurts like hell but recovery is possible.

Rock bottom makes you an example of survival. Someone else is waiting on your survival through your darkest times so that you can encourage them about how to crawl out of the hole.

Although you won’t see it in the moment, hitting rock bottom can actually improve your life. Rock bottom can become a mirror, a clean slate, a testimony and a teaching tool for others. Give yourself space and time to hurt, to understand and assess your pain, to grieve your losses, and then… get up. Get back up and live your life because if you are still breathing, rock bottom is a stepping stone and not a grave.

Photo: Shutterstock
Dee Rene is a connoisseur of snacks and brunch. Her focus is holding onto faith in all the things that make us laugh, cry and cuss. Follow her on Twitter: @deerene_.

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