People Divulge The Things They Underestimated Until They Happened To Them
Claudia Wolff/Unsplash

They say experience is one of the greatest teachers there is and these Reddit users would agree.

It's not always pleasant, but these are lessons these users won't forget.


Reddit was asked:

"What is one thing you underestimated the severity of until it happened to you?"

We're going to talk about those things you see others go through and scoff, wondering why they're being so dramatic about it. We're talking about the things we see on TV and it's resolved in an hour.

We're talking about why it's called "heartbreak."

There is a lot of ugly ahead, we will touch on racism, childhood abuse, trauma, disease, and the very real ways life changes in an instant.

It may not be a comfortable read.

Grief Hits Different

"The grief of losing a parent."

"I lost my dad in August and yesterday at the cinema watching Spiderman: No Way Home I burst into tears 3 times because I realized I couldn't remember what my dads voice sounded like anymore."

- Owlface616

"I inherited my Mom's love of music. The two acts she loved the most were The Eagles and Vince Gill."

"She'd only been gone a year or two when I heard Vince was joining The Eagles. I was so excited I picked up the phone to tell her about it and started to dial her number before I remembered she was gone."

"I broke down crying at work right then."

- rhett342

"I read something similar years ago. It prompted me to save voicemails to the cloud."

"My mother in law passed suddenly in August. I told my husband the voicemail is there whenever he is ready to listen."

"I'm so sorry for your loss."

- iamsuperkathy

Changes Everything

"Car crash. Specifically a head on collision."

"It changed my life."

"I dream of it. I get shivers on the road randomly, when a light post or a guard rail reminds me of what it felt like to be flung into it going 60mph. I think about how I should have died, and why I didn’t."

"I think about it all the time, and it happened almost 8 years ago now. I've been to therapy, but nothing will erase the memory or the way it changed me."

- Maleficent-Tie-4185

"For me it's the emotional trauma that you're left with."

"In the moment there's shock and chaos so it doesn't really register but only later on does the full gravity of it all hit you."

"I couldn't drive along a highway or anything like it for nearly a year afterwards because I would get panic attacks and flinched at the slightest movement from other cars or pedestrians standing on the side of the road; which is extremely dangerous as a driver."

- minimal_effort_done

"I’ve been thinking of my wreck almost everyday for over a decade."

"The degree that my seat was reclined saved my life (from what would’ve been a severely gruesome end). I️ struggle with thinking about ‘what if’ I️ was fully upright."

"Sorry to hear about your experience but it is comforting to know it is at least somewhat common to over reflect on these events."

- F33dY0urH34d

"Puppy Love"

​"I was stalked."

"The guy who stalked me had a crush on me for years (5+) and because of that, no one would take my concerns seriously (“It’s just puppy love!”) and as a result, I didn’t either until years later."

"This kid paid someone to find my address, and would ride his bike back and forth in front of my house every night. We had a window in our dining room, and he rode his bike past our home enough to figure out my daily routine and when we had dinner."

"And every night during dinner, he would ride back and forth and stare at me while I ate. It got to the point that my mother put curtains up, because although I didn’t tell her who it was, she said it made her uncomfortable."

"He would also wait across the street from my bus stop and stare at me."

"In school, he would leave me notes and messages in terrifying ways. Started out with finding them tucked in between my books in my locker (that he didn’t have the code to), ended with finding a single rose in the driver’s seat of my locked car in high school."

"Towards the end of it all, I actually found him sitting in the driver’s seat, and he refused to get out unless I gave him a kiss, and demanded me to get in the car with him."

"Other creepy instances happened such as he wrote an erotic novel, featuring me, and spread it around school. He also hid in the stage curtains during a play rehearsal so he could watch me during practices."

"But everyone said it was 'puppy love.' "

"The last time I saw him in person was right after our high school graduation. I had some 'friends' who thought it would be funny to invite me to a graduation party and not tell me whose it was."

"I trusted them, so you can imagine my anger when my friend pulled us up into his driveway."

"I was furious but she was my ride so I stayed, but kept my distance as much as I could. Shortly after arriving, we were all around the bonfire when he tells everyone to hang on, he 'has something cool' to show us."

"He ran inside and ran back out with a picture of me sitting in my 6th grade English class. He then announced to everyone that he had “such a big crush” on me that he used to sneak disposable cameras into school and take pictures of me in class/the hallways/at lunch."

"Everyone, again, just thought his years of stalking was adorable."

"I walked up to him, ripped the picture out of his hands, and threw it in the bonfire."

"He shrugged and said it was alright because he had more pictures in his underwear drawer. I got booed for being a 'party pooper' and I demanded my friend to take me back home."

"She still thought it was funny, so I ended up calling an Uber to take me home. Never saw him again, or my 'friends' for that matter."

"I ended up moving across the country for a fresh start shortly after."

"It's been years. He still occasionally tries to add me on social media."

- absoboly

Til It Happens To You

"From 2004 to 2010 I had been a registered Republican."

"I parroted all the lines about 'personal responsibility' and 'working hard' and 'entitlement' and 'self-sufficiency' dutifully. Paul Ryan would've been proud of me."

"Then, in 2011, I ended up without healthcare insurance and unable to refill my ADHD medication without spending hundreds per month."

"Even with my state's healthcare safety net, MassHealth, I was unable to get approved for about half a year, and even then, I wasn't able to make an appointment with my doctor until almost the next February."

"I rationed my Vyvanse out for as long as I could, and struggled for the rest of the time."

"I was also unable to go to the optometrist to replace my very outdated glasses prescriptions, or to the dentist when I had a sudden and inexplicable gum infection, and had to rely on constant mouth washing and a mix of leftover amoxicillin I had to source from multiple friends/family members."

"I was an otherwise very healthy 20-something at the time; I can't imagine how bad it would be for somehow who needed lifesaving medications or treatment."

"Needless to say, I did a 180 on my stance on universal healthcare after that, and it led to a domino effect that made me reevaluate my now former views on many, many other things too."

"Responsibility and hard work are good things; but the Republican stance on them is that everything is achievable through those things. They're just not."

- Dahhhkness

"Everyone always thinks all the personal responsibility etc is great until they are the ones who need help. It’s funny how that works isn’t it?"

- HeyZuesHChrist

"Don't get me wrong, it's awesome to see someone change and that's the ultimate goal, but it's beyond frustrating that people don't give a f*ck until it happens to them."

- dmkicksballs13

Not Unscathed

"Chemotherapy."

"Movies made me think I would be throwing up 24:7. Reality is that it’s nothing like they show in the movies and it’s more like a dementor sucking your soul out very slowly over time."

"It’s slow and constant pain. I’ve never felt closer to death. I knew it would be bad but I had no idea how much it would mess with me mentally as well as physically."

"Happy to report I’m cancer free now, but I did not come out of that battle unscathed."

- gamergirl007

"3 years in remission."

"I have severe, crippling PTSD from cancer and chemo. You are absolutely correct. It sucked the soul out of me... and I can't get it back."

"I am a shell of who I used to be with no way back as far as I can tell."

- alreinsch

No Slurs Needed

"Institutionalized racism."

"I’m whiter than the little mermaid. My first name is one of the top five black names in America."

"When I got out of the army, I had to stop putting my first name on resumes so I would actually get call backs."

"If I dropped a resume off in person, I got called. Same resume, initials only? Called back."

"First and last name? Never got an interview."

"It took me about 18 months to figure out why I couldn’t get a job even with veteran status."

"That sh*t was so demoralizing and I’m embarrassed and hate that it took that experience to finally understand how racism destroys lives without uttering a single slur."

"You bet your ass I educated myself on as much as I could and open my mouth whenever I see that sh*t now."

- Severe-Two-7435

Panic Seriously Attacks

"Panic attacks."

"I never fully understood it. Anxiety wasn't my struggle and on TV it looks like no big deal. I never had anxiety or a panic attack until my dad died."

"First day back to work I was heading out of town and had, what I come to find out, was a full blown panic attack. I started hyperventilating. My legs started shaking."

"I very honestly thought I was going to die and had to have my co worker pull over."

"I got out of the truck laid on my back and stared at the sky what felt like forever, might of been 10-15 mins."

"I've been struggling with the anxiety and ptsd it's caused for about 5 years now. I have mostly got it under control and it's more manageable now."

"But before it happened to me I always blew it off as a minor inconvenience at best. It's not a joke, though."

"The panic literally attacks you and it scared the hell out of me."

- donChonalucci

"Before my 20s, I thought I had real panic attacks when I got really nervous, stomach jumped up to my throat, and I would get red and start stuttering."

"Nope. That’s not a panic attack."

"First time I had one I thought it was it, legit thought I was having a heart attack and dying right then and there."

- PoopyInMyPants

"Same. I always thought people could think or act their way out of an anxiety attack, then my husband had a stroke at 34 and I had my first one."

"WOW. My heart and soul sink thinking of how calloused I was about it."

- No-Security-6101

"Panic attacks fully change you as a person and I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy."

- GoingOverTheStars

Heartbreak

"Getting cheated on when you're in genuine love, and the heartbreak that follows."

"The kind where you need to pull over on the way to work as you're suddenly crying so hard you can't see.
You lose weight and people notice. You sleep okay but you look like you haven't."

"You question who you are, what went wrong, why, just why."

"Took me over a year to get over it, like I'd wasted 2 years of my life and lied to myself, was never really happy, and the day I got over it in a truly enlightening experience."

"I cried on and off all day but it was crying while smiling and laughing. Because I remembered what it was like to be happy again."

- Dynasty2201

"This was mine. I understood why they called it heartbreak."

"It felt like my heart was literally shattered. Physical pain."

- queeniesupremie

"Yeah this hits so hard."

"The thing that got me was the absolute embarrassment. I felt so humiliated and just downright stupid thinking back on all the times she said she was one place and I said 'okay have fun, love you' meanwhile she was cheating."

"Sh*t is hard to get over."

- Whitechapel726

I'm Not At That Age

"Getting shingles."

"I'm not in the age this is supposed to happen, it was pandemic stress that activated the chicken pox virus in my body. I was six when I, along with all my siblings, got chicken pox."

"Holy smokes the pain. Imagine your ribs are needles."

"You hurt so badly that you can't wear a shirt. Hurts that bad. And now, a year later I get random tingle on my ribs and get paranoid about another outbreak."

"I'm furious there IS A VACCINE but normally drs don't think about giving it until you are over 50. Get that vaccine now; you do not want this."

- BexYouSee

"I had shingles 2 years ago next month."

"It started on the small of my back and went down nearly my entire left leg. I couldn't wear anything on my legs, couldn't stand up, couldn't sit down, couldn't even lie down comfortably."

"It was agonizing pain and I still get post hepetic neuralgia."

"I'm 30 now. People are always amazed when I tell them I had shingles at such a young age, but the more I talk about it the more young people I find who had it."

"It's ridiculous that there is an age limit on this vaccine. I begged my parents to get it asap because I would never want them to go through that pain. Please if you are able, get the shingles vaccine."

- jordy_lo

"I had shingles abt 3.5 years ago and I’m TERRIFIED of getting it again."

"The pain was unbelievable and lasted months after the blisters were gone. And it gave me a case of post-viral dysautonomia that still affects me sometimes."

"I f*cking hate shingles."

- Send_me_snoot_pics

"In my 20s I was so stressed out from work I broke out into shingles."

"I had just one singular blister on the side of my face and it is the worst pain I've ever had. I can't imagine a larger outbreak."

"I spent days laying on the couch in a Vicodin haze while my husband checked every few hours to make sure I wasn't going blind because that was apparently a worry with it being so close to my eye."

"Every time I get so much as a spot of dry skin near there I panic a little. I never want to go through that again and I wouldn't wish it on anyone."

- mathcamel

Why It's A Big Deal Now

"I underestimated the damage cause by childhood sexual abuse, because I was busy blocking my own experience out."

"I was one of those men who would read about some middle-aged dude bringing charges or accusing somebody of something decades later, and ask myself 'It's been 30 years, why is it a big deal now?' "

"And then I had the moment where I had to admit to myself I was also a victim, and just how much it has affected all my relationships."

"I underestimated what that moment of realization feels like."

- Squigglepig52

"I’ve been worried about this more as I get older."

"I only realized a few years ago that what happened was childhood abuse, but I don’t really feel affected by it even now. It still feels distant and I never thought of it as traumatic."

"I’m scared of the day it really hits me (if that day ever comes.)"

"I’m also a man and I used to think of sexual assault victims, 'yeah that happened to me and it wasn’t that big of a deal, why are they acting so traumatized when it only happened to them once?' and terrible things like that."

"I know now how ignorant that is, but some part of me still feels like it wasn’t that big a deal when it happened to me. Denial and blocking it out is easy."

"Letting it really hit me is terrifying."

- unbridledirony

"THISSSS."

"I ignored/blocked out my childhood sexual abuses and trauma for a long while and never addressed it. It spiraled into relationship problems, low self esteem, eating disorder, body dysmorphia, depression, anxiety…"

"And those are the things I can list off the top of my head."

"Thankfully I’ve been going to therapy and have been doing the ACTUAL work to love myself and reparent myself and learn to handle my emotions. Therapy is great y’all. Go to therapy if you can afford it."

- Ok_Accountant_8716

Menstrual Monsters

"Menopause."

"I now understand why women who have experienced it don't talk about it. It's too damned traumatic."

"But, to be honest, if I would have known what was coming for me in my 40's I would have off'ed myself in my 20's."

- squrlio

"PMDD."

"Premenstrual syndrome taken to an 11. I honestly thought I was maybe bipolar when I was a teenager (starting at 11) but we could never afford to visit the doctor so I never even tried to ask about a shrink. I just lived with it."

"For 2 weeks out of a month I was alternately super happy and just good with life and the other 2 weeks I was suicidality depressed."

"You would not have known it to talk to me. I never burdened anyone else with it so I just planned in silence and put on a happy public face. My goal was that no one ever know."

"I met someone when I was 25 and due to that went on Depo Provera shots. It stopped my period and I was happy all the time. I thought it was just the relationship until I couldn't afford my shot and down the rabbit hole I went."

"I researched and found my answer."

"My husband told me we'd eat ramen all month if need be just to never let my shot lapse because it scared him to see me off it."

"I finally FINALLY talked a doctor into perma birth control in my early 30s and had Adeana and NoVo Shure done and it gave me birth control and took away my periods."

"Without the period I am fine. I can sometimes feel the dark creeping up but I can also see that 'Hey, it must be the time when I would normally get a period.' "

"I let my husband know and he keeps an eye on me and all is well. We just had our 20th anniversary and we back each other up for the hard sh*t."

"If any of you out there have it, you are not alone and you are not crazy. I'm with you."

- Femmefatele

More Sacrifices

"The time you sacrifice being in the military and being a first responder."

"Upon joining the military and police department everyone is told to do their best to prepare for the time they will miss because of the nature of our chosen profession."

"For example, missing life events like birthdays, weddings etc. due to deployments or working crazy hours that constantly change and working just about every holiday and weekend when you are a new guy. Also, being the new guy and working in an undermanned department, it is difficult to take leave since older officers get first pick on days off."

"I understood and accepted that. I didn't think anything of it and it only became clear to me when I attended a close friend's funeral."

"The funeral director reached out to everyone and ask for pics/vids of us with my close friend as they will show them all on a slideshow during the service. A couple hundred submissions were added to the slideshow."

"I was not in any one of them."

"I recognized majority of the pictures and videos were of parties and small get togethers that I couldn't be a part of because of work."

"It made me feel terrible because I kept thinking of how everyone else, especially his family were thinking, 'who the f*ck is this guy?' It took my friend's funeral to finally see how much time I've missed."

- Dookmarriot

"Just A Headache"

"Migraines."

"I used to think people were just being weak; it’s just a headache and you’re acting like a little b*tch."

"God’ll smack ya."

"About 15 years ago, I suffered a traumatic brain and cervical spine injury and, after I recovered, I started getting migraines."

"I felt like I needed to apologize to so many people! I wouldn’t wish them on my ex-wife."

"They’re excruciating and I’m absolutely useless for at least 24 hours. I had a surgery a few years ago that helped somewhat with the frequency, but they’re still awful."

- leadfaucet

Worse Than Childbirth

"Kidney stones."

"I was 19 when I had one. Took the ER docs a while to figure out what it was because they’re primarily an old-people thing."

"I woke up in the middle of the night with excruciating stabbing pain. Tried to let it go away but it got to the point where I could no longer speak, just uncontrollable moaning/screaming while curled in the fetal position on the floor."

"I live literally 1 block away from a hospital but had to Uber there because the thought of walking was inconceivable."

"After it passed, I had like 3 months of deep, unstoppable back pain that was actually coming from my kidney."

"After that entire experience I COMPLETELY understand how people can get addicted to painkillers so easily. They were the only thing that enabled me to sleep."

"Later, I asked around to try and figure out if I was exaggerating my memory of the pain, and two older women in my life BOTH said that when they had kidney stones, the pain was worse than childbirth for them. WTF?"

- Pitiful-Ad815

No Awareness

"Insomnia."

"Because of childhood trauma, I had insomnia from age 5-26. I had no idea how much being tired all the time had impacted my life. I had no awareness of what it felt like to wake up and not feel tired."

"I’ve been shocked at how different I feel."

- shann0n420

Caretaking

"Being a caretaker to my husband whilst he went through treatment and recovery from throat cancer."

"I had never really thought about dealing with cancer from the caretakers point of view until I was there myself. I knew it might be difficult for someone but when I got there it was 'questioning my sanity' hard."

"Not to downplay what my husband went through at all. I'm know he had it wayyyyyyyy worse. But this thread is about what I underestimated, so there you go."

"It was devastating, stressful, draining, and frightening."

"All of this in addition to worrying about him being in the hospital when Covid was strongly spiking and keeping a happy calm face for our 3 year old son."

"But, three surgeries and a round of radiation later he pulled through like a champ and is now cancer free. Yay!"

- SubtleSubstantial

All I Did Was Lean Forward

"Lumbago."

"My. F*cking. God."

"All I did was lean forward while sitting on my bed playing video games. Somehow I threw my back out."

"Went to the hospital and they said it was lumbago and put me on these pain pills and told me to just relax. I couldn’t even sit on my stool in the kitchen to drink anything. Had to sit on the couch while my roommate brought me my drinks."

"Lumbago is no joke, man, that sh*t hurts."

- Xirokami

A Little Gas Pain

"Intestinal blockage and gas pain."

"I wanted to kill myself it was so bad. 36 hours of screaming, puking, pissing myself, no sleep, and more screaming."

"Medical staff could not administer any pain killers as that would slow down my digestive system and exacerbate the situation. It had to either pass naturally or they'd have to go back in surgically for the 2nd time in a week."

"I ended up actually dying for a few minutes, my heart gave out from the pain. When I 'reanimated,' the blockage had miraculously cleared."

"Otherwise, I had literally considered smashing the window with a chair and jumping out of it to end the pain."

"Brutal."

- ZookeepergameSea3890

A Fall

"I fell."

"Which turned out to now be 'a fall' ie what old people have when they fall over. In my case I tore my hip labrum and sprained my ankle and I dunno, disrupted a goblin's lair or something."

"Either way, arthritis that was kinda there anyway just absolutely kicked up a notch."

"I'm constantly sore and arthritic in my hip and knees (the knees, I guess, took all the pressure with me walking funny). And I had arthritic knees already."

"I am 41."

- sjp1980

Now that you know what Reddit has underestimated, it's your turn on the mic.

What's something you hadn't really considered the impact of?

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