I have always had a fascination with cults. As you can imagine, I've read a fair amount of books on the subject. Helter Skelter, which tells the story about the Manson murders and was written by the lead prosecutor on the case, is highly recommended. Raven, a deep dive into The People's Temple and the notorious Jim Jones, is another stellar read. Films on the subject, including the recent The Endless, are well worth the watch.
But what makes people join these cults and what would get them to leave?
After Redditor theotherweatherguy asked the online community, "Former cult members, what made you realize you were in a cult and that you had to get out?" people shared their stories.
"My mother realized..."
My mother realized there was something wrong when our head minister publicly called her a wh*re, because she was one of the few women who WOULDN'T cheat on her husband with him "in the name of Jesus." She left, taking us (the kids). My father, the husband she refused to cheat on, stayed in the cult for a couple more years.
"After this got to be too much..."
I was born and raised as one of Jehovah's Witnesses. Got married to another witness when I was 19. Around age 23, I started questioning the intense level of control they have over our smallest choices: What we wear, look like, what we watch or listen to, who we spend time with, etc.
Things really started falling apart when my cognitive dissonance was reckoning with the fact that I've worked with several hundred non-witnesses, and they were every bit as intelligent, compassionate, and loving as the best witnesses I knew, yet the Organization taught me that non-witnesses were selfish, horrible people, and they were all going to die at Armageddon (which has been constantly and urgently imminent for the last 150 years), I'll drop a link to some of their quotes regarding this in case you're curious.
After this got to be too much, I finally decided to research what ex-witnesses had to say. The Organization called them "Apostates," we were trained to be terrified of them and what they had to say, to never listen to them. Once I gave them a chance, it clicked instantly. Our leadership told us to never listen to "Apostates" because they knew the whole time that the apostates were right about everything they say.
My wife was not thrilled, to say the least, but I convinced her that truth stood up for itself, and she had the right to examine all the evidence and decide for herself what was true. We've been happily out for a year and a half, making new friends, having the time of our lives and we are buying a house this week.
"I felt insulted..."
They told me I devoted too much of my time studying instead of praying/proselytize/going to gatherings/so-called 'family time.' I even explained that I study because I want to one day contribute to the alleviation of poverty in my country. They confronted me one day. They said that studying is more important to me than God, that it would be better to save myself a seat in heaven, and that all I could do is pray for God to provide for the poor.
I felt insulted because they were Americans and it seemed like their privileged life blinds them from how humiliating it is to not be able to eat. I personally know how many generations that have passed that have prayed for poverty in our country to end. After that exchange, I was so shaken with disgust from what I just heard. It was then that I decided I should get out. I'm a spineless coward, so I composed a letter detailing my leave and handed it to them rather than confront them directly.
"When they told me..."
When they told me I couldn't leave and if I did defy them and leave, I would be excommunicated.
"By the time they let us go home..."
In the early 2000's I went to the Church of Scientology as a 20-year-old. My dad was an Evangelical pastor and I was really turned off of Christianity (still am, even more now). I had heard that Scientology was kind of crazy but hadn't heard anything about what we now know their beliefs to be. When I first went, I really liked the idea behind how they viewed it as "tech" and not really religion. They start you off slow and you don't necessarily get into doing auditing right away (unless you have a bunch of money). I also ended up working there to pay for my classes since I was a poor college student. I actually really liked the people there and had a good time for the most part.
After a couple of months of spending a few days a week there, going to classes and working, I got past the intro classes. That's when the crazy started to show itself. I remember having discussions around how basically, you have to follow what Hubbard said to the letter. Well I'm a bit of a free thinker and that didn't sit well with me, but they would just respond with "Well that's how his 'tech' works!".
A week or so after our discussions around following things to the letter, they had a big event. I don't really remember what it was for, but it ended with trying to sign people up to go on a Scientology "cruise." If you couldn't afford it, you'd have to join the Sea Org and work your way through. Being as it was a pretty expensive cruise (more than normal since you were paying for the classes too), they were having a hard time getting people to sign up. They had a quota they had to hit for the meeting and wouldn't let us leave until they met their quota. So they'd hound people in the audience (maybe around 40 of us) until someone would finally relent and sign up. Then they'd do it to someone else.
It was getting to be around 10 pm and I had to be at my real job at 7 am so I asked if I could leave. They said no, just wait until they finish signing people up. Well, it kept getting later and I kept asking. Finally, after another 45 minutes, I tried to walk out. They physically barred me from leaving. Oh, and not to mention, this entire time they were trying to get me to drop out of school to go. The program I was in had a 2 year waiting period and if I left it would be quite a while before I would be able to get back in.
By the time they let us go home, I hated every person in that place. The people I was starting to like were the ones telling me to drop out of school. I never went back. They called and called begging me to come and talk to them. I finally ended up talking to who had been my favorite person there and explained how upset I was that they were asking me to drop out of school etc. They just doubled down and kept trying to get me to come into the church. At this point, I knew if I went back they probably wouldn't let me leave. So I never went back. Told them never to call me.
I've gotten mailers from them over the years still and they'll find my phone number and start to call. Well, a couple of years ago I had finally had enough of the calls as they would call almost as much as the car warranty scams now. I had already told them nicely to stop calling but one day I lost it on someone. I went ballistic on the phone. I don't remember what exactly I said but they haven't called me since and I haven't gotten anything in the mail.
"They control everything..."
A friend from the same church explained it to me when I was young. They control everything from our money, marriage, thoughts, actions. But growing up in such a church makes it feel normal, you know? I couldn't question it.
"When I realized..."
When I realized that forcing everyone to legally change their last name, not leave the building, not take pictures and not say certain words was not normal, dude. Also the mandatory viewing and the evening classes for those inexperienced in the cult's niche (paranormal).
"I left when my partner..."
I was in an offshoot of AA for drug addicts called DAA. They treated the AA big book as gospel and they encouraged absolute control from your sponsor (mentor). You had to tell them every grisly detail about your life. They refused to allow people to take mental health medicine.
The group took up all of my time and spent hours trying to go to NA meetings to recruit people. They saw Bill Wilson as almost godlike. At the top of the organisation in London was a figure who subtly placed himself as the cult leader, and took advantage of young newcomers.
I was 17 and had begun questioning the doctrine. When I requested to meet with the pastor of our mega-church to discuss my questions, I arrived to find that he'd brought in several other men to the meeting, leaders in the church, as the doctrine did not allow a man to meet with a woman alone. Again, I was 17, a child, not a grown woman. I was curious about contradictions in the church teachings and wanted to discuss. Instead, the pastor and deacons berated me for questioning "God's Word" and told me I would go to Hell if I did not accept what I was told at face value.
I was expelled from the church for questioning and informed that, because I had questioned, I could not repent. No matter what I did, "God" would no longer accept me into "His kingdom". I could not pray for forgiveness or be baptized again. I was a lost soul.
I went on with my life and my parents left the church not long after. About a decade later, the pastor was accused of embezzling from the church and was hit with federal charges. Even though he had claimed to have a PhD, it turned out he didn't even have an undergraduate degree. He was a con-man and many of his family members, who were in leadership positions in the church, were part of the scam. They'd used millions of dollars of tithes to fund their lifestyles, hired bodyguards and lived in a secret compound.
He's still preaching, sometimes moving to another country when he comes under fire again. I pity the people who fall prey to his and his family's schemes.
They cast every problem in your life as your fault. You'd be lacking faith, or not doing the right prescribed cult actions like meditation or writing down your failings in detail and sharing them. Sponsors often told other people what their sponsees told them - there was no privacy.
I left when my partner, now wife, managed to show me what was going on. Unfortunately, she read a lot of my graphic writings about my past and we struggle to repair trust.
I hate them - they prey on vulnerable people and make the cult their lives. If you leave you're isolated and bereft and alone, because your entire life is in there.
Please avoid. Happy to answer questions about them. I'm UK based but they're worldwide.
"I felt a lot of pressure..."
I was raised in a group that many consider to be a cult. My parents are still involved. I felt a lot of pressure to not finish college and instead do missionary work and so I stopped attending. They kept scheduling me for things despite my no-contact, no-show and they thought I would just show up whenever they said. When no one reached out to check on me or make sure I was okay, I realized I was just being used.
"But to answer the question..."
The cult I was in never acknowledged it was a cult but after reading up on how cults operate I'm convinced that it was one. It was located in a farmland area of Tennessee and called The Farm. Here's why I felt it was cult like.
Both me and my husband and our daughter were forced to either change our names (me spelling only) or completely (former husband and daughter).
The amount of shame heaped on anyone who snuck off the property and broke dietary rules was insane. If you went to town and drank a cola or a candy bar it was a breach of conduct and public shaming occurred. If you wore glasses for nearsightedness that was called something- I can't recall but mine were taken from me. People were always confronting you about any you said or did that they thought was not copping to the vibes.
There was a pervasive mindset and a ton of jargon that you couldn't shake off even after leaving. But leaving for me was the most controlling event. I got very sick from bad water and had been forced by my husband into a 4-way marriage. I didn't want it and was outvoted so I went along for a while, just getting more and more disgusted by the sexual relationship with this second husband and watching my husband and the other wife, so I was told I could leave but never to return. That felt ominous.
I went to the guru at the head of this disaster and said I wanted to leave. A plane ticket was bought for me after extraction of a promise to repay it. Since I had nothing but the clothes on my back I agreed. Thinking at the time that my parents would reimburse it since I had nothing, not even a pair of shoes or a coat and when I got home my dad said no effing way will I pay them a cent. So the group wrote cajoling letters which I ignored. Those were followed by threats of legal action and finally a visit from my husband begging me to either cough up the bucks or return. I countered with a divorce. I never saw this as a cult until I got home, to be honest, but the jargon and group think tactics made me feel crazy. I got counseling. It helped me see that my 19-year-old self was in no position to stand up to a quasi-religious spiritual system.
But to answer the question I felt it was a cult after I left because I was expected to act, eat, procreate and work according to the dictates of the leader. I was not permitted to question the rules or authorities. And when I got hepatitis from polluted water I was told it was all my own doing.
"They called anyone outside the group..."
I was part of a South Korean Cult called Shincheonji. They called anyone outside the group betrayers and destroyers, even one's close family and friends. They also demonise internet and prevent us from reading news especially during the pandemic when the church was exposed. They keep a tight schedule for us; we need to recruit almost everyday, and meeting and gathering to a point that we only have 4 hours sleep. I realise it's a cult after they changed their doctrine a couple of times in order to control its members. They talked about how Korea is going to be the centre of the world and everyone is going there to see the Founder - Lee Man Hee. Now the founder was charged with embezzlement, however, this information is controlled and people inside have little knowledge of it.
"When there were rumors..."
When there was rumors going on saying the cult leader was in a relationship with an ex-member although they were both married. Also, notice that the doctrine kept changing. There was zero compassion and love there. I was constantly monitored and controlled. Also, after I left the cult the leader was arrested for embezzlement. I was in Shincheonji a Korean cult very present in the U.S.
I was struggling with my religion (raised as a Mormon) for multiple reasons throughout high school and things only got worse after I came out as gay, including my mother trying to set me up with a man that was five years my senior as soon as I turned 18. The missionaries were teaching my Sunday school class and the very next Sunday after I came out to my parents they taught a lesson about the Family Proclamation and started attacking the LGBT community. I managed to drown out the majority of what they were saying but the damage was already done. A couple of months later, I cut my hair in a style that I had been wanting for months but my parents wouldn't let me even though I was 18. When I came home my parents were furious with me. My mother started telling me that if I kept going down the path I was on, I would never be able to see my deceased family members ever again. That completely broke my shelf and after that point, I refused to go to church for any religious activities.
"Once I learned about the true history..."
I went door to door trying to pressure people into joining my cult. We were explicitly taught to target vulnerable or lonely people in ways that are textbook predatory, psychological manipulation. I slowly realized that 90% of the "lies" all those "anti-Mormons" tell were 100% true, and it was the people I had trusted my whole life who had been lying.
Once I learned about the true history and evolution of a church founded by a con man, the spell was broken. I tried to get answers from their best apologists, but quickly learned that they were intellectually sleazy and obedience was valued, not the truth they claimed to hold. I realized it was a fraud, despite the shiny veneer of goodness, and I walked away.
It was quite the existential shock to have your whole reality turned upside down like that. To add insult to injury, you're then completely shunned as an apostate by all the people you've known your entire life.
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And there are just as many grievances for which we are not at all sorry.
Curious to hear about people's track record of their questionable behavior, Redditor NanoPKx asked:
"What is something bad you have done with no regrets?"
Is it petty theft or flat out stealing? You decide.
The Parting Gift
"'Forgetting' to bring back a company ipad after they forgot about me having it. Actually they never asked for it back so I still have it and use it."
"I stole a barn kitten while delivering packages for FedEx. He kept climbing my legs and getting into the van, sitting under the wheel when I tried to back out (it was a steep driveway, no way to swing the van around). I called the number on the package, looked the name up on facebook, called the local non-emergency to get contact info, all failed."
"So I took him. Now, if you're not from a rural environment, you might not understand that barn cats like that are 'no-man's-cats.' For all the owners know, he got sick or got got by a coyote. And he would have died, because when we got him to the vet he had a nasty upper resp infection and some other nasties."
"Now, one deformed nasal passage and the cutest snore later, we have a bonkers little orange cat with the heaviest penchant for snuggling I've ever seen (his name is Monty btw)."
"Edit: I forgot to pay my Cat Tax: https://imgur.com/a/HIXS4us"
"Edit Part 2: Monty loves the attention. Thank you for loving him as much as we do :3"
"MmmmMMMMRrrrrrrrrrrAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAW" -Montgomerey Valentine, 2022
The Dirty Treat
"A housemate of mine kept eating mine and my girlfriends food and even though I asked him to stop the only thing he would ever say is 'I thought it was mine' then keep eating it."
"Well I bought my girlfriend some ice cream she really enjoys and she put the half she didn’t finish back in the freezer. Well when she want to get the rest it was gone and it made me madder than I think it probably should have."
"The very next time I saw him and somehow keeping a straight apologetic face I told him how he accidentally ate our sex ice cream and that bits of it had been on our parts etc. I told him I felt guilty not to tell him and that I had to apologise for him to eat such a thing."
"I will never forget the face he made when I told him. A face of pure self disgust and shock to which all he had to say was 'I wish you never told me that' and proceeded to move out around a month later."
"Although he didn’t actually eat sex ice cream, like why the f'k would you put it back after use anyway? Sometimes I wonder if I went to far but in that moment I just did not care at all. He still doesn’t know it isn’t true and I’ll probably never see him again."
"F'k you Vitas buy your own food."
Vengeance is sweet.
"A drunk driver hit my parked car, left a huge dent in the front driver’s side door, and then drove away. I happened to be looking out the window at the time and saw the whole thing, including his plate number. Cops got there not long after and took my statement. After a couple days and a couple phone calls, I found out nothing was going to come of it because he was the son of the sheriff the next county over."
"Fast forward a couple months, I see his car parked behind a local bar within walking distance of my apartment. I got out my hunting knife and sliced all four of his tires, and made a couple trips around it destroying the paint job. Yellow Pontiac Sunfire, and I still remember the goddamn plate number even after almost 20 years."
For The People
"I was a GM for a retailer that was going out of business. During the liquidation I let my employees that worked until the end store product they wanted to buy in a closet I claimed I didn't have a key to. Oh the final days I sold them all the items they requested for 95% off. 70" tvs, ipads, gaming laptops whatever they requested."
"Years ago I worked for a wealthy dude who was married to someone semi-famous. He would waltz in every morning and talk about the fantastic dinner he had the night before, how he hung out with some other famous person or whatever else."
"He paid me peanuts. I had a hard time making ends meet."
"I was the office assistant and IT guy. So it comes time to get a new computer for one of the designers. I spec something out, and show it to him. It was a ripper of a machine for the time (early 2000s). But it wasn’t expensive enough for bossman."
"So I added a really high end graphics card. Boss was happy then. The card added nothing for the designer: they only did illustrator and photoshop."
"So I came in that weekend and swapped the graphics card for my aging one from home."
"No one ever knew. Or cared. And I got a new graphics card."
When times are tough, people had to do what it took to survive.
"In college I was so poor I would steal toilet paper from the supply closet in our major building."
Hungry College Buddy
"I stood watch for a college friend who was going hungry because he’d been disowned and his roommates had made living with him intolerable after he came out."
"I was loosely affiliated with an off campus program with local churches that gave free student dinners on Thursdays. We would go to church to eat, then bring dishes into the kitchen."
"Anyway, he would go in there and steal stuff like peanut butter, literal bread (not an allegory), granola bars etc. while I watched out for the pastor."
"Eventually we both got caught, the pastor for the college students got a bit mad because he was responsible for us while we were there to eat. And I think it was offensive on some level to steal from church. But then he saw what my friend was taking, and asked him if he had enough to eat. My friend shamefacedly said no, not usually."
“'Okay, fine. Put the food back, and come with me.' Took my friend grocery shopping instead, got him connected with the food pantry and community garden at church instead."
Based on these examples, people didn't twice about their actions in the heat of the moment.
Within reason, we all gotta somehow get by.
But do you think their actions deserve punishment?
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When a person sees someone they care about going through a struggle or crisis, their instinct is to uplift them with positive advice.
But sometimes, the wisdom imparted by friends isn't always helpful or relevant to the situation.
Curious to hear from strangers online who could do without specific knowledge, Redditor Saibotnl1 asked:
"What life advice can just f'k off?"
These Redditors have a problem with how certain people have on outlook on life.
Time To Rest
"Sleep when you’re dead."
"Cool, but you’re going to be dead a lot sooner."
"People have it so much worse than you so don’t be sad!"
"To that I like to say, 'people have it so much better than you so don't be happy!'"
Your Life Path
"Almost anything relating to what age you must be in order to buy a house, have children, marry, have a profession, or do anything else. Seriously, everyone's life is different from everyone else's. Make your life the way you want it to be. If you so desire. Up to you."
On The Contrary
“Cheaters never prosper”
"Yes, they f'king do."
People can get out of any situation they find displeasing.
But others feel people should just "stick it out."
"Just ignore bullys or get someone else to handle it for you. I have never seen this work, only makes it worse. The only effective way I've seen to deal with them is by not making yourself an easy target and make them scared to f'k with you again. If going psycho on their a** is the only thing they'll respond to that's their fault. Also want to add in schools they will punish you for self defense but that punishment is only sitting around a few hours in detention or sitting around at home with a suspension. The punishment is temporary boredom, it's absolutely nothing compared to being bullied and when it's over the important message will still stand that you will not tolerate being a victim."
– User Delted
Remain to be Miserable
"Stick it out"
"Whether that's sh**ty jobs, shi**y relationships, shi**y living situations..."
"By all means don't just give up on things when you face challenges, but if something feels wrong or is wrecking your peace then take some control and change it if you can!"
"Easy for you to say," might be an auto-response to these suggestions for many people.
Invitation For Recklesslessness
"Live like everyday was your last"
Yall know what people do when they learn they have a single day left to live?"
A Possible Consequence
"I did that as a teenager and ended up homeless and addicted to heroin. Didn’t pan out for me too well."
"19 years sober though today."
A Practical Approach
"If I knew with certainty that I had one day left, I'd double-check all my financials, my will, and my insurance policies, make sure my wife had all of my passwords and knew where all the money was, spend the rest of the day with her and the kids, then call the medical examiner and ask to lie down on the gurney so that when I die they won't strain their back moving my remains out of my house."
Nose Stuck In A Book
"Work while they sleep. Study while they party"
"That's not a recipe for success, that's a recipe for a lot of white hairs, burnout syndrome and a stroke before your 40s..."
Doesn't Apply To Everyone
"Do what you love and money will follow"
"I love walking my dogs and grilling food for my friends but That sh*t doesn't pay the bills as well as my engineering degree!"
While people's intentions are good, they're better off keeping their two cents in their own pockets.
Not everyone likes to hear platitudes.
Sometimes, people just want to know they're not alone with their problems over listening to unlikely solutions that are nothing more than superficial pick-me-ups.
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Kids start going to school from the age of five, and for the most part, they spend more time at school than at home. Because of that, teachers can become very important figures in the lives of their students.
Some students don't have the best home lives. Some keep it to themselves, but others confide in their teachers.
Curious about various situations, Redditor Delicious_Mastodon83 asked:
"teachers of reddit what is the saddest thing you found out about a student?"
In Need of Parents
"Not a teacher but was a school-based therapist. Had a student (7 -8 y/o) I didn’t know knock on my office door and ask if I’d adopt her and “if you have room, my brother too, but if not, that’s ok, we can be split up. We’re split up now. And I don’t take up space. I just need a sleeping bag”. Broke my heart."
Heartbreaking, But Industrious
"My mom taught at a school in a bad neighborhood in Chicago in the mid 90’s. There was a second grader that would save his milk and ketchup packers from lunch for his mom so she had something to eat when she got home from work."
"Not a teacher but a parent with a 9 year old son. Every day I pack extra in my sons lunch because he tells me he has a friend that never has anything to eat. It's winter and my son came home and told me his friend was turning up with shorts and shirt and holes in his shoes. So I sent in a jumper and long pants for him to wear and some slightly used but good condition shoes. I have been up to the school recently and the teacher pulled me aside and thanked me profusely for helping this child. Apparently teachers are not allowed to aid kids they teach here in Australia and they have already reported the issue 3 times to child welfare without results so I was the only one helping this child. The teacher told me before I started sending in more food and clothes, this child would steal others food from their lunches and look through the bins because he was so hungry. They doubt he gets fed at home. So now I make sure to always send an extra lunch and some school clothes/supplies when I can. I can only hope child welfare eventually does something but it breaks my heart."
Amazing Big Sister
"It was right after winter break and before class started I was just talking with some students and asked if they got anything fun for the holidays. One girl said on no, I don’t ever get presents, my mom is a drug addict. But I went out and got some stuff for my little sister so that she can have a real Christmas."
"She just said it so matter-of-fact. She was so used to being the parent to her little sister that she didn’t even care about her own childhood. It totally broke my heart."
The Importance Of Human Affection
"Second hand story from my mom, elementary teacher for 30ish years. She had a hug or a handshake out the door policy, just some small contact and a proper goodbye, and had this young boy who always picked the hug. She wondered why he always went for it, most kids would go back and forth depending on their mood that day, so she asked him why he was always so excited for the end of day hug? His answer, "It's the only one I ever get.""
Coming Out The Other Side
"Two teenage boys (16/14) with learning disabilities were on my caseload, they never missed school but often ditched class. They were homeless mid-year after they went home from school to find the locks changed, their Mom had abandoned them for a new boyfriend. She didn't leave an address for them to find her."
"*Edit: both eventually dropped out, however a couple of years later the younger brother came back to visit. He and his brother were both working construction, and his brother had gotten married, had a child, and was living with his wife’s family."
"The younger had roommates and was saving for a car. He told me it was a shame I didn’t have kids, because I would make a good Dad."
"People often persevere, even with the odds stacked against them."
"Not me but my daughter is a teacher, she has lots of stories but one that stands out for me is one of her kindergarten kids saying she was tired and her asking why, the little girl explained that she had been up all night with her mums newborn baby. She did this every night, fed her bottles and everything."
Luckily, He Was Resilient
"This year I had a 17 year old kid enroll at my school. He was sitting in my math class and I could tell he was struggling. After class I took some extra time to go over a concept with him. I asked him to read the question to me, and he sat there silently. He then looked at me and said “I’m not going to lie to you, I cannot read. I have no idea how to say these words""
"Turned out at age 17 he was illiterate and had been kept out of school by his very religious, controlling parents. Over the past few months he has worked very hard! Now he can finally read at an 8th grade level and he is STILL improving!!"
– User Deleted
A Heroic Teacher
"I worked in an inner city charter school. One of my students (`M10) had a sib (M8) in a lower grade. The mom was there every day in the beginning of the year encouraging them, helping them and generally being very supportive... until a CPS agent spoke to me asking about her behavior. After CPS left things went downhill. The boys showed up late to class even though they lived a half block away from school. When in school both boys were tired from sleeping in the car while their mom "went fishing". She also had two very young girls which she dragged around making the boys take care of them. One day the boys didn't show up and their teacher walked over to the house to find the mom had loaded up the fridge, paid the rent for the month and abandoned them. The teacher (a candidate for sainthood btw) took them in, adopted them and grew them up to be great men."
This is really heartbreaking stuff! Luckily, teachers aren't just another adult in your life; they can be your saving grace as well.
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TRIGGER WARNING: This article contains sensitive content about depression and mental health.
As the stigma around mental health lessens (however slowly), people are more forthcoming about the problems they are facing. One of the most common mental health issues is depression.
Depression can affect many different types of people. Factors such as gender, race, nationality, and even age have no bearing on whether someone suffers from depression or not.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), globally, "...an estimated 3.8% of the population affected, including 5.0% among adults and 5.7% among adults older than 60 years..."
Depression displays in certain patterns, such as mood changes, physical difficulties, and social isolation. However, depression manifests differently in different people and feels different to different people.
Reddit users divulged what depression felt like to them when Redditor iodineseaspray asked:
"What does depression feel like to you?"
Some of this is sure to sound familiar.
The Worst Kind Of Boredom
"Like being more bored than you could imagine but also not wanting to do anything at all, even breathe. So you want to do something, but you can't imagine anything that you would like to do so you're just sort of stuck."
"So you then spend literally hours staring at a blank wall hating yourself, your life, and everything around you. Well, as much hate as you can summon in the absolutely mentally numb state you find yourself sat in day after day."
Lack Of Motivation and Energy
"Complete lack of motivation."
"Ignoring people that I love, and who are trying to help."
"I feel it extra at work. Letting things slide until you either get into trouble or trying last minute to prevent it."
"Funny those times when I'm working to save my butt, the depression goes away and i feel super focused and motivated."
"I try to carry that energy over but no, it's rinse and repeat."
"Insecure about absolutely everything, no hope for the future, dissociation from society and not knowing how to “act” anymore, feeling like I’m not as good at the things I always thought I was good at or that the “talent is wasted on me”, only food cheers me up and sometimes even that doesn’t work"
Loss Of Creativity
"This. It's like some numb fuzziness you feel in your brain. It's the worst thing ever for an artist who just wants to create but your brain comes up dry with a dense fog that wants to just lie down for a few hours"
A Mental Inability To Breathe
"For me, it feels like I’m in a lake with a ball chain tied to my feet, desperately swimming up for air, the only problem is the chain isn’t long enough. I can only get an inch of my head out of the water to breath, and as soon as a high tide comes, the water just floods over me and I feel like I can’t breath again. I live like this, constantly feeling like I’m struggling to breathe, weighed down by my own mind. It’s a struggle and I can’t really describe it in any other way, I’m jealous of people who don’t worry about depression"
"Like suffocating under a heavy cloak"
"Like being crushed. Like if the air was crushing my muscles and bones and I can’t breathe because I’m being crushed…"
"Kinda like that."
"Scrolling thru your steam library. Thinking you want to play something, either not settling on anything or not wanting to put the effort into the game. Going back to the scrolling."
"It feels like you're forced to play a game of Monopoly (represents life) and your just rolling the dice to appease everyone but you genuinely don't care about where you go, where you land, what you pick up, what you pay, what you gain."
"You kind of just watch it happen without interest and while people are cheering or oh no-ing for you, you genuinely don't care. Everyone is a piece on this board that hardly matters and you feel like we're all just running in a circle over and over again and it's boring and disinteresting as hell."
"You lose all curiosity for everything and just let everything happen and pass by you. No motivation, hardly any love, hardly any care. Feels like the world is in black and white and your waiting for the game to end became it's so absolutely boring and disinteresting, but it never does."
"You come to resent the game and eventually hate it because it feels like you're being forced to play it and suffer it's consequences when you never asked to play it in the first place."
"That's what depression felt like for me. Since then I've been medicated and recieved therapy. I'm doing a lot better now and I don't feel this way anymore, thankfully."
A Relation To Fantasy
"You know that scene in the Lord of the Rings where Bilbo is describing to Galndalf what having the Ring all those years felt like? "I feel thin. Like too much jam spread over too much bread." That's honestly the best way I've seen to describe it."
"I always say the closest thing to compare it to is a dementor in harry potter. It sucks every ounce of happiness out of you until there is only darkness left."
"Side note: chocolate always helps"
Fear Of Lack Of Justification
"Like someone close to you died yesterday. Expect no one has, and nothing has happened to justify how you feel."
A Physical Pain
"Physical pain in my heart, will start crying just by attending to the physical sensation in my body."
"I've always described it as having a shadow fixed to your brain which fuels things like indecision and negativity. You can do things to temporarily help but you can't truly shift it. Previous normality is forgotten. But it's amazing how much you can mask it."
"I found I didn't realise how bad I was until I started to get better"
"For anyone suffering with depression. Please, please speak to someone. Best thing I ever did"
Depression isn't something you can just deal with or get over. Learning to cope is not easy. However, as Redditor DavosLostFingers pointed out, talking to someone can literally save your life.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with depression, contact the American Psychological Association by phone at 800.374.2721 or 202.336.5500.
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