"It Was Like Everything Clicked": People Are Sharing How They Got Themselves Out Of A Dark Time, And It's Eye-Opening

Note: This post mentions rape and abuse.

If you've ever been in a rut, you may understand how hard it can be to see the "light at the end of the tunnel."

A woman sitting on the couch with her looking upset, touching her eyes
Pixelseffect / Via Getty Images

So, when I saw that Reddit user u/bzzntineempire asked the r/Women community: "Women who were once in a rut in your life, what was your rut and how did you overcome it?" it immediately caught my eye. I also wanted to ask the BuzzFeed Community to share their stories as well.

And after receiving many responses, I gathered some of them just in case someone or someone you know may relate to this in some way or another.

And if you, too, have your own story to tell, feel free to do so — and connect with others — in the comments below.

1."I was in such a rut after my divorce. I didn’t find my routines to be satisfying in the way that I had been. It sucked, and I was challenged about what to do next. What helped me a lot was to get outside. I limited alone time and any time spent with idle hands. I signed up for volunteer activities and participated in community events/fundraisers. Running (my fave) is a solo sport, and at my worst, I started to find it more lonely than helpful. I actually joined a run club to generate more companionship in my life. That was huge. I also joined a women's workout club that met at 5 a.m. for bootcamp-style workouts twice a week.

friends running outside

"That had a big impact in my life because we encouraged one another. Two of those women are still in my life today. I made a point to let new people into my life, opened myself to new friendships, and established new routines.

"It felt like a breath of fresh air, and healed my heart. It kind of showed me that the future holds a ton of potential. My spare time was minimal, and I always kept something on my schedule that I looked forward to — I could depend on that."

u/StopTheFishes

Ridofranz / Via Getty Images/iStockphoto

2."I got out of [a rut] by changing my dynamic with my friends. Either I got closer to some and made a concerted effort, or I shied away from others who made me feel bad often. I also went to some meetups for board games that helped!"

—Anonymous

3."I've got myself out of depressive episodes twice by exercising (I'm currently working on this a third time). It's annoying because it's basically what the 'just go for a walk and feel better' brigade has been telling me to do — and those guys are the WORST. In real life, it's not quick, and it's definitely not easy, but I decided to do it and use any little scrap of energy I get. Some days, it's a 5-10 minute walk, and then I'm exhausted for the rest of the day. The point is encouraging myself to do it anyway, even though I can't do as much as normal, and I'm working, like, 100 times harder for less result.

"Gradually, over weeks, it gets easier. I'm now at the point I've been able to go to activities I'd usually enjoy, like BoxFit or yoga classes — I still hate them, but I know it won't be for long if I keep doing them anyway."

lexnettle

4."I made a list of what I was unhappy or frustrated with, picked the most manageable item on it, and broke it down into baby steps. Then, I focused on doing that one baby step, just one tiny thing at a time."

a woman writing a list in the middle of a living room

—Anonymous

Freshsplash / Via Getty Images

5."When I was having a particularly bad time with my mental health, I found myself unable to get out of bed for weeks. Eventually, I was able to do very small tasks — like just getting up and getting myself a drink, or brushing my teeth — even if it was the only thing I did that day. I told myself that no matter what, I can do one thing. Eventually, I built up those small things and managed to get back into a routine, back to work and back to my ‘normal life’ again. Sometimes, the smallest steps have such a huge impact, and it’s important to remember not to overdo it or rush your progress."

—Anonymous

6."I had to drop out of college to work full time when my dad lost our house. I was 20 with limited job experience and then became homeless. Throughout the years, I job-hopped a lot as well as house-hopped from one extended family member to another. I went to therapy on and off and was placed on different meds to battle the anxiety and depression. When I was 26, I started looking into different job fields that didn’t require a degree or offered certifications. I obtained a certificate through an employer who was willing to train me — and now, I work for a staffing agency who staffs for that field of work. I work from home making what I was before working multiple jobs.

A woman smiling at her desk with a piece of paper in her hand

"Do I make a lot of money? No, but my mental health has improved so much by being able to work just ONE job that also takes care of my needs. I’m off meds, and I finally feel like having 'first world problems' is a blessing after being homeless, overworked, and on the verge of a mental breakdown every day."

—Anonymous

Fizkes / Via Getty Images/iStockphoto

7."I've had a lot of health problems that took years to get treated. Because of my poor health, I couldn't go to university after graduating high school and couldn't get a full-time job because I physically couldn't handle it. It was very depressing seeing all my past school peers starting their careers or getting married and having kids, and I'm not achieving with my life except getting another surgery. I found that social media was a huge factor in my depression.

"I was comparing myself to other people, which was very unfair to myself. We all have our own journeys in life, so there's no point comparing myself to others. Once I deleted my social media, it was like I could breathe again. Jump to seven years later, and I was able to get my health back on track and go to university and start my career at my own pace."

shire7

8."I left my job after 11 years of loyal service — with hardly any raises or recognition or thanks for working all through the panini — for a WFH job making more than twice as much. That did the trick."

a woman holding a box of things outside and smiling
Three Spots / Via Getty Images/iStockphoto

9."Time (cliché, but seriously) and taking chances (even little ones) did the trick. I spent my most of my teen and early 20 years in the hospital/rehab/therapy for my mental health struggles in the aftermath of trauma. I always assumed I'd have a second-rate life because of the past and my mistakes, and I became comfortable for far too long in my pit of despair. Very slowly, something began to click when I realized I do have some control over my life. The patterns I clung to for defense were no longer serving me any good. I went out to get a 'dead-end' job just to pay rent, but ended up meeting some amazing people who really do appreciate and accept me the way I am. This REALLY helped change my mindset. And after a year, I was able to start working my way up, making friendships, and having some semblance of a purpose. Recovering is still a work in process, but learning to accept myself was a game-changer."

—Anonymous

10."I was in a marriage that had long been dead, and I wasn’t thrilled with my employment. I really stuck to myself and felt quite isolated — there was lots of anxiety that kept me from making any sort of life-changing decision. I went in for a consultation for anxiety because I needed a change, and I was ready to deal with it. I got put on medication, and it was like everything clicked. I got divorced and started focusing on me and things in my life that would make me happier."

a woman holding pills and a glass of water
Asiavision / Via Getty Images

11."My rut was a dead-end job, dead-end relationship, and a lot of resentment that came from both. I adored my job, but it had become unfulfilling and was poverty paying. My partner was making a lot more than me, even though he worked at the same place, doing basically the same job (and without the degree or degree debt I have). He was very resentful that I couldn’t just book a holiday on a whim or afford a fancy place to live. He was not willing to split things according to income, so I just couldn’t do it all. He found another girl, started up a relationship with her to make sure it was going somewhere, and dumped me at New Year's while my grandmother was dying in the hospital, so he could have a fresh start to the year with her.

A woman sitting at the edge of the bed while a man lies in the bed

"It was the making of my life. I quit my job so I didn’t have to work with him, pursued a master's to get out of there, improved my chances at a better job, and started living my life for me instead of reigning myself in all the time to keep a very insecure man who wanted a cheerleader to do his laundry happy.

"Three or four months after I started that job, I rekindled some old friendships from university and got chatty with one of them on a regular basis. We’re getting married in 14 days.

"Ruts are awful, but while you’re in that bowl, remember what might be waiting on the other side. The ideal is different for everyone, but time and care for yourself is key."

u/Tinywrenn

Vladimir Vladimirov / Via Getty Images

12."Last March, I was fired from a job I thought I loved and hit rock bottom. I felt like all my education had been for nothing and that I was nothing because I was not good at the thing I had studied five years to do (and spent a lot of money on). It was really hard. The market was tough, I was back at my parents', and it seemed like nothing would get better. I felt like I could keep looking for jobs in my field, feeling unhappy and depressed, or I could try to find a part-time job just to pay the bills and get me out of the house. It was a really good choice. I worked in a sports store, and it showed the value of money, how much I like not being in front of a computer all day, and a lot of other lessons. And one day, out of luck, I applied to a job in a totally different field, got it, and now, I'm switching careers and really happy with the direction of my life."

u/linamatthias

13."I dumped my ex and re-found my libido. Divorce was the best thing I ever did for myself."

a couple getting divorced with rings and divorced papers between them
Cunaplus_m.faba / Via Getty Images/iStockphoto

14."My rut came from just trauma after trauma — so, I finally cut out the one person at the center of all of it. It took over a year of medication and therapy to get to that point of being able to set and maintain boundaries. I have been able to grow so much. I've started school, started my dream job, and my marriage and mental health have never been better. Sucks that the person had to be my mom, though, because I know she would be proud of me."

u/kasaundra13

15."I had two children, a full-time job, and a husband who worked away a lot. I felt like I was just passing time and not doing anything for myself, so I enrolled in a part-time course at a local university where I would go one afternoon a week over five years to get a degree. It was so hard, but once I had done that, the kids were older and more self-sufficient so I went on to do my master's. The kids are leaving school in one year, so I pushed it further and have just started my PhD. Everything I have done has been part-time, fitted around my life, but I knew I had to do something for myself before I lost myself to others."

a cap and degree on top of a books

u/Bseicmkoyn

"That’s huge! Congrats on continuing to set and reach your goals. Can I ask what you got your degree in and if you knew the field you wanted to be in when you began? Your determination is admirable and inspiring. I struggled in school and really came undone when I tried to go back years ago. (I had my two-year associate's and wanted to complete my bachelor's.)"

u/Throwaway33418

"I got my degree in childcare at the age of 33. Then, my master's in education with a language and literacy specialism. My PhD will also be in education. I did work experience at 16 and knew straight away that I wanted to help children be all they can be. It was a passion, which helped me with my motivation. I enjoyed it, so I saw how far I could push it. I figured that I'm going to be six years older, so why not be six years older with a PhD."

u/Bseicmkoyn

Liliboas / Via Getty Images

16."Previously, I was in an abusive relationship. It was right around when the pandemic started, and I was so poor I couldn't get out. I started doing clinical trials for money, and it gave me the freedom to find my own space. I found a lovely property with amazing landlords and was able to rebuild. Without the money from clinical trials, I wouldn't have been able to make it."

a woman talking to a doctor at their office
Natalia Gdovskaia / Via Getty Images

17."Telling myself that the ways to get out of the rut were inevitable and good for me (i.e. cutting back drinking, cleaning up diet, regular exercise) and slowly and sporadically putting these things into practice, having daily talks with myself on meditative walks about habits and hang-ups, journaling, then surprisingly, quickly getting to the point where I must practice these things daily to keep feeling good. So, in short, here’s a list: 1) Fake it until you make it; create these new synapses in your brain. 2) Come up with a realistic plan. 3) Meditate on why it’s important and really internalize it. 4) Put it into practice and watch weeks go by and witness your goals become your new norm! I can’t emphasize how important truly grappling with the shit holding you back is."

u/dr_roxxxo

18."I was working my dream job at a zoo but couldn't afford a life I deemed worthy of living. I worked happily for three years, then I realized I would never be able to buy a home, live alone, or travel at all (domestic or international). I had to choose between car maintenance or food. Even so, I didn't know how to give up what I was born to do. I worked another three years, depressed, and finally left for a financially stable job. I was still sad for almost a year because I was SO ANGRY that my dream job, with a degree, was poverty paying. But then, I realized that other jobs were cushy, and I did a fraction of the work for four times the pay. I got to travel, see more friends and family, and fulfill other goals and dreams. I had to intentionally focus on the good, and I still get royally pissed at low wages, but it turned around."

a zoologist holding a falcon

u/NatureBride

"I have a good friend that is in the financially stressed/depressed/angry phase and having a hard time leaving his dream for a livable wage. Do you have any advice on how I could support him better through this?

It is so frustrating to see so many people struggling to make ends meet. Especially gifted people and/or people that have pursued higher education."

u/Internal_Guidance_21

"I'd say the best way someone could have supported me is by asking what those other goals are. Traveling was big for me, and it's equally fulfilling. Ask what else he'll be able to look forward to with a good paying job."

u/NatureBride

Antonioguillem / Via Getty Images/iStockphoto

19."I got sober. Honestly, my drinking was never 'bad enough' to raise flags for the people around me, but the clinical definition of 'problem drinking' is actually a much smaller amount of alcohol than you’d think, especially for women. Once I quit drinking completely, I had the drive, time, and MONEY to fix the circumstances that made me so miserable in the first place. Drinking is a great way to pretend your life is okay when it isn’t, which will keep you right where you are."

—Anonymous

20."I chased my happiness. It wasn't like things were bad. I had a husband who loved me dearly, who was my best friend. A wonderful daughter. I didn't need to work. I met and exceeded my parents' expectations. Except...I wasn't happy. I was just content. I wanted to work, to have a career where I made a difference. I wanted to not just be comfortable and friendly with my spouse, but also to crave their company. I wanted to be proud of my life and my place in it. I wanted to be a woman who not only my younger self but also my daughter could be proud of and inspired by. I was haunted by what ifs. After trying almost everything to make things better, my spouse and I separated.

"I moved halfway across the country for a job in my field, in our home state but over 100 miles away from anyone I knew. I dealt with all the judgement and shame directed toward me for dissolving my marriage, especially with a child. And you know what? I'm the happiest I've ever been.

"I have a career in public service, in my field. I do work I'm incredibly proud of, that my daughter brags about. I am now married to an amazing man whom I never feel ambivalent about being with (still besties with my ex, but we're way better as just friends). It took a few years to get here, but I am so glad I followed my happiness. It's not worth it to try and fit yourself into a life that doesn't sit right.

"I won't lie, it was terrifying, and I wanted to give up a LOT in the beginning — it's easier to stay with the status quo. But I'm so glad I stuck it through!

"When I was younger, I was both critical and envious of people who would just upend their life and move without a plan. While I had a plan (which changed, but hey, go with the flow), I committed to the unending, and I get it now. Change makes change!

"Take the leap when the opportunity presents itself, then keep climbing up! I wish for the very best for you and hope you find your happiness, too."

u/Saltwaterblood

21."My career and life direction was in shambles. I got diagnosed with ADHD, got on medication, went through cognitive behavioral therapy, and started hanging out with people with the kind of qualities/lives I wanted (which did mean distancing myself from my more negative, going-nowhere friends), and read some time-management books. Once I got myself together career-wise, I turned my attention to my dead romantic life. It's still in shambles, but lots of therapy (and reading, as always!), more effort into my appearance and dating life, and subtle cosmetic work have helped me make tons of progress. It's really important to note that money made a huge difference. I had some money from my parents and job that I decided to 'invest' in myself (e.g., therapy, a bit of life coaching, clothes, etc.), and I acknowledge that it's WAY more difficult to get yourself out of a rut without time and money."

a stack of 20s on top of 20s

u/Glass_Ice7028

"If it is alright, would you mind sharing those time management books? Really curious about them."

u/purple_iam1

"I really liked Deep Work by Cal Newport!"

u/Glass_Ice7028

Maksym Kapliuk / Via Getty Images/iStockphoto

22."Antidepressants. About nine months after my dad died unexpectedly, I didn't even know I was depressed. I was proud that I was keeping up with all of my daily activities, doing well at work, exercising, socializing, etc. Everything was just much harder than usual, and I knew I was feeling miserable, but I thought it would pass on its own. I was getting a yearly physical when my doctor convinced me that antidepressants might help me get through this hard time. Well, she was right. After being on them for about four months, I can say that no amount of positive thinking and vigorous exercise was going to get me out of the hole I was in. From my experience, depression is CLEARLY a BRAIN DISORDER. The stigma surround antidepressants just baffles me. I am back to my old self — and while I will always miss my dad, I finally feel good/normal again. Antidepressants for the win."

—Anonymous

23."In 2015, I moved countries for my boyfriend. I had no degree and always worked retail. I got there and barely made enough to live on. My boyfriend became abusive. When it ended, I came home with no money, no job, and no friends. I was distraught, depressed, and spiraling. I couldn't imagine ever being able to live without my parents, and I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I decided to apply for a degree in information sciences and English literature at aged 27. I got a retail job and worked every hour available. I got accepted to college, paid my own way, and got my degree. Now, I have a full-time permanent job in the public sector, a home that I BOUGHT, and a very supportive and stable partner."

—Anonymous

24."I had a massive traumatic experience when I was 20. My on-and-off boyfriend in high school raped my sister after I left for college as payback for me leaving him. I beat myself up for the better part of 10 years, thinking I deserved every shitty thing that came my way. I had never been able to visualize a five-year plan, I have consistently been in therapy, I still take antidepressants, anti-anxiety medication, and I still have that shitty voice in the back of my head once in a while. Almost two years ago, this man I had been in love with for the better part of five years left me. This was peak COVID season, I had lost my job of six years due to a decline in the economy, I had rented an apartment to be with him that I could not afford, and he moved out while I was stuck in bed with COVID. I remember laying in bed, wondering how I was going to prevent an eviction. I had no support locally, and I was living off of unemployment.

a brightly lit living room

"Then it finally clicked that I need to do something — otherwise, my life was going to go nowhere, and I would just continue a toxic cycle. I messaged a family member and asked if they would sublet a room to me in a city that was 2,000 miles away. I had no idea what I was going to do, but I knew that if I mentioned it to someone else, I would commit to it, and that’s what I did. I made sure to tell my parents, my grandparents, my sister, anybody I could talk to.

"It was a very expensive lesson; however, I love being by myself. I know exactly what I want in a partner and will never settle until I find it, and I am in a job that I thought was way out of my league. In the beginning, it was a lot of fake it till you make it. I was terrified, I felt very lonely, and I was terrified to rent an apartment by myself again, but I am killing it, and I know that was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life.

"I am proud of myself. I know exactly where I want to be, and I know that I am going to have the life I want. I am fucking independent, and that is the most empowering feeling I’ve ever had. Always choose yourself."

u/waveolimes

Josep Gutierrez / Via Getty Images

25."In late 2020, I took a huge leap and risk to move out and away from my toxic family. I had absolutely no clue what I was doing and had nothing to my name, but luckily, and (beyond) grateful, my boyfriend-now-fiancé let me stay with him as I learned and navigated this new world and helped me get established. It’s been two years since moving out: I have my own place, a car, three cats, and most importantly, I am finally happy and at peace. It was not easy getting here, but I would take that leap again without a second thought."

catkittycatcatkittycatcat

26."A big trauma — that I didn't have the support or tools to deal with at 22 — compounded into at least eight years of damage. I had to choose to stop hurting myself and try to get better. I spent a year sober and worked the 12 steps, which was incredibly valuable. I learned to keep my side of the street clean, do only right things, and apologize when I did something wrong. Then, a year of EMDR therapy fixed my brain. I'm now thriving."

u/PhysicalLingonberry7

"Hey. How did EMDR fix your brain?"

u/DellaMaureen

"It changed my negative cognitions like 'I am in danger' and 'I am bad' into positive cognitions like 'I am safe' and 'I am really great.' It fixed my nervous system so I stopped having obsessive ruminations and now just feel very chill and safe all the time. People always comment on my great energy now, which seems incredible because I was so sad and self-destructive for so long. Truly an incredible blessing."

u/PhysicalLingonberry7

27."I turned 30 and realized that my life was staying the same, while everyone’s around me changed. I have a partial disability (mild cerebral palsy), and my twin moved out of our family home, got engaged, planned a wedding, and was ready to start a new life. I, on the other hand, was depressed. I was working in a job that paid almost nothing, living at home, and wanting to get out of the city that seemed to value settling down over anything else. I wanted adventure. I saved €10k, moved to London (one of my favorite cities in the world), got my own rented flat, a great job making double what I did at home, have great friends, and I’m really happy. Not easy with a disability to do this alone — and of course, it’s almost impossible to save anything, but I did it. I got out of the rut and forged my own life. It took four years with the pandemic to fully get a new life together (I just turned 35), but I’m on the path and hoping a plus-one will join me on it soon."

u/LauraPalmer20

28."The last seven years, I had cancer, my fiancé cheated on me, I lost most of my friends, I lost my job, my grandma died, I spent a year managing her estate while unemployed, I was care-taking another fiancé who caught long-COVID and had severe Chronic fatigue syndrome, I lost my savings, I moved in with my parents at 33, and then worked 80-100 hour workweeks while co-building a startup over the course of two years. I moved to Venice, California from Chicago, I bought a car, I lost my job at said startup the same week I went through a breakup. Now, I'm humbled AF.

"I treat everyone with kindness and love. I prioritize spending time in the outdoors (hiking and trail running) and roadtripping to national forests all over the West Coast while I look for a new job.

"And while this isn't how I thought my life would turn out (34, unmarried, still renting, no children), I make the most of every day, learn exciting new things from books I check out from the library, make new friends, and care about the environment."

emsiedearest

29."My personal history is a lot. I grew up in a domestic-violence household. I joined the military at 17 to get away. I was homeless for a bit and went to Iraq. I took a year off before college — then hit it hard. I graduated in 2015 with a bachelor's of science. What gets me out of bed is me. The me that left an abusive home. The me that went to a combat zone. The me that put herself through college. The me that faced her PSTD, and still does. The me that worked in healthcare during a pandemic. The me that isn't traditional leadership. But she leads. Me. Me. That monstrous shadow has a way of pulling me out of bed and moving forward. We aren't done growing yet."

debrahsanders

30."Back in 2003, I went through a horribly rough breakup, the kind of breakup that required a two-and-a-half-week stay in a women’s shelter and a restraining order. Kicking that abuser to the curb and out of my life for good was for the best, but there was still a lot of emotional trauma and grief to process. I had lost a lot, and one of the hardest losses was my relationship with his two kids, who had been a part of my life for over seven years and whom I loved dearly. I fell into a deep, dark depression for three years. I was drinking way too much. My self-identity had been shattered, my hopes and dreams had been blown to smithereens, I felt like an utter failure, and nothing mattered anymore.

"One day, I realized that I had reached a point where, if I continued down the road I was on, I would become an alcoholic. Then, it hit me: Every day that I sacrificed to crying and moping and drinking too much was another part of my life that I gave up to the abusive ex. That realization triggered something inside of me at a very visceral level to rise up and say, 'No way! Not a chance! No friggin’ way am I going to let that happen!'

"Instead of continuing down the road to alcoholism, there was another path that I could take. This wasn’t me being strong; this was more like me being stubborn and ornery and struggling to salvage together something — anything — that looked like a life. So, I sat down and made a list of every little thing that had ever made me happy, no matter how small, no matter how goofy. This took awhile, but when I was done, I read over my list and noticed that very few of these things were still a part of my life. Granted, some of these things, such as playing with my little sister’s Barbies, were rightfully consigned to the long-lost shades of childhood, but other things — like hiking, camping, reading, going to church, drawing, playing piano, taking random road trips, swimming in a creek or waterfall, adventuring with my dog, chatting over coffee with a good friend, dancing, traveling, etc. — were just gone, for no good reason.

"It’s like I was looking at a long obituary of the happiness in my life, happiness that I had allowed to fall by the wayside and die off. And that — right there — was the moment that I decided to take my life back.

"It wasn’t easy. The drinking and the depression had been my closest companions for a long time, but now, I had a plan. I started with one small thing, one tiny sliver of light that I could wrap into my life and lock onto when the darkness overwhelmed. Then, when I was ready, I added another. Then another, and another, until one day, I was looking at me again. I was whole. Not perfect, but whole.

"This was a long road — a long stretch of living in a dysfunctional relationship, followed by three years of depression, and then, at least another three years of climbing out. A long road, but a worthwhile one, because of what I learned along the way.

"This is what I learned: Anyone and anything that diminishes me — my wholeness and my happiness — does not deserve a place in my life. Zip. Zero. Nada. Now, if you will excuse me, my dog, my water bottle, and I have a date with adventure. See ya!"

Have you ever been in a rut? If so, tell us what happened and how you got out of it below.