People Break Down What They Didn't Understand Until They Actually Experienced It

I didn't understand pain–the real, agonizing kind–until I had some health problems some years ago that landed me in the hospital. It was a horrible experience and I remember thinking that I would never experience relief from it.

I'm one of the lucky ones and have since recovered. But the experience was a humbling one, and I can tell you that it changed how I view other people's struggles.

Pain is debilitating! Be kind to the people around you who are dealing with.

That bit about being kind? That's the general theme of the stories here, which people were keen to share after Redditor PhilosoFeed asked the online community,

"What did you not understand until you experienced it?"

"Crippling back pain. Have had to crawl on all fours to the bathroom and couldn't stand up to even pee."


Having experienced it myself, I can confirm that it is HORRIBLE.

"I had always had sinus headaches..."

"Migraines. I had always had sinus headaches and I thought I knew what headaches were like. A migraine is like death."


I know people who experience them with some regularity and the pain is clearly debilitating in every sense of the word.

"You never know what other people..."

"Anxiety/panic attacks and how absolutely debilitating they can be. You never know what other people may be going through. Be gentle with each other people."


Absolutely! They can be terrifying for the people experiencing them. They are no joke.

"It wasn't until my youngest brother..."

"Severe grief. I have had people close to me die before but I never understood it as everybody dies and while it’s sad you can still function."

"It wasn’t until my youngest brother took his own life that I understood. It was like my heart was ripped out of my chest and I was a zombie going through life not feeling anything other than overwhelming sadness."


We extend our condolences.

Grief is horrible.

"I had always wanted to..."

"Living in a foreign country. I had always wanted to escape my home country and live abroad. Now I'm living in a foreign country and I feel lonely and isolated. I don't regret my decision but I miss my friends."


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Add in some xenophobia and it's easy to feel like an outsider when you're far from home.

"The way modern day America..."

"Poverty. The way modern day America views poverty is so immoral it makes me sick on a daily basis. I see cops spend more time harassing the homeless man on the corner then I see them actually keeping me safe."


But why don't you just "pull yourself up by your bootstraps," huh?

See that? That's a toxic mindset.

"I never understood..."

"I never understood why some people don't leave their abusive partners until I found myself in one of those relationships. It's been two years already since I left and I still have trust issues."


We're glad to hear you're out! Best wishes on your continued recovery.

"I've never watched a full game..."

"Going to sports games in general. I recently went to an NHL game. I’ve never watched a full game of hockey in my life and I was slapping the glass with an animal instinct I didn’t know I had."


Sounds like it was thrilling! Hockey games are the best examples of this, in my experience.

"There was a really bad crash on the road..."


"There was a really bad crash on the road while I was driving to work in the early hours of the morning. I stopped and went to help the person that had gotten hit. She had several kids in the car, and she asked me to get them out."

"One of the kids had passed in the crash. I can't even begin to describe how I felt because it was so alien to me, when I went to take him out his car seat."


That poor woman and those poor children. We're sorry to hear about this experience but we're glad that you were able to be there.

"I naively thought..."

"Ageism in hiring. I naively thought if you are smart and someone who works hard you’d never have to worry about finding a job. And then I started looking for a new job in my 40s."


61% of respondents over the age of 45 reported having seen or experienced age discrimination in their careers, according to a study by AARP.

We're sorry if some of these were depressing to think about but hopefully they serve as a good reminder to be kind and to be gentle with the people around you.

Experiences like these can humble you immensely. And the more understanding you try to be before they happen to you, the better prepared you should be to navigate the waters yourself.

Have some experiences of your own? Feel free to tell us more in the comments below!

If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at

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