People Share Things They Didn't Realize Were Truly Horrible Until They Experienced It Firsthand

Have you ever watched someone go through something and think they were overreacting? Or think that if you were in that same situation you'd handle it differently? News Flash. You can never truly understand what anyone else is going through until you take a step in their shoes and experience it for yourself. 

The following Ask Redditors shared their responses to the question, "What's something you didn't realize how bad it was until it finally happened to you?"

Interested in more responses? Find the original thread at the end of the article. 

There was a hike I was on, a few summers ago, about an eighteen mile loop out in a scrubby, hilly country. I usually bring a 4 litre whenever I go out, but that day I only brought about 1.5, I have no idea why. Temperatures were in the high-nineties without a cloud in the sky. I was running out of water about nine miles (four hours) in and out completely by twelve.

It got very bad, very quickly, a real unique species of torture. First, there's the thirst, and it's an angry thirst, it takes root in your tongue and spreads to your throat and grips your nerves like panic. It doesn't let up and you become hot and fatigued as your regulatory systems start to break down, I was plodding along at a snail's pace and stopping every 100 yards or so. I kept thinking that I just have to make it back to the car, just back to the car, but the thirst unrelenting, blots out your reason.

Finally, I made it to a road and just kept walking down it until I found a house. Drank like a full litre right out of their garden faucet, soaked my hair, head, clothes everything. Luckily no one was home. The next day I could barely move I was so cramped.

The lesson here is that dehydration can kill you and will hurt you the entire time you are dying. It's one of the few direct threats the average person are likely to encounter even in a civilized country.


It comes with having your body fall apart and knowing you've got maybe a couple of years left. It sucks especially realizing there is so much more I wanted to do. On the other hand it was a pretty good ride. Hell, if I'm lucky I'll get another 10 but that's a really long shot.


My dad getting a terminal cancer diagnosis and being one of his primary caregivers. It's everyone's worst nightmare, right? Yeah, it's worse than that.

Within three months he was on a walker. Four months wheelchair. Five months bedridden. Six months couldn't wipe himself or feed himself. Delirious. He couldn't get his pain under control. His arm broke from a metastasis to his humerus. 

We had to wake up all night to give him pain meds. He cried sometimes, but not as much as I would have. I spent three weeks sleeping with him in the intensive care unit. I poured my heart into those weeks and now that he's gone it feels...empty.


I knew it was emotionally heartbreaking and financially crushing. 

But I had absolutely no idea how hard it is to recover, how long it takes, or how much work is involved.

Dear lord, it is miserable.


Hemorrhoids and anal fissures. Mother of mercy.

I had the full on surgery about 12 years ago. I cried every time I pooped for weeks. I had to sleep standing up a couple nights because it was the least agonizing position. It was a godawful recovery, but not even a hint of trouble since. It was hell, but a relatively short hell. It took two weeks to not be in agony, three to return to work, six to poop without screaming "nooooooo" when the action started. Time passed, though, and now it's just a bunch of gross stories I can tell and a roid-free butthole.

Doctors do not tell you how bad recovery will be. They shrug and say, "a couple weeks" and you think it'll be alright. They do this because hemorrhoids do not heal and you need the surgery, but if you really knew what you were in for, you would not do it. You can't do anything that won't hurt your butt. The butt is majorly underrated in terms of life. That thing is freaking crucial. But I am not trying to dissuade you from the surgery. 

Hemorrhoids are like a stretched out balloon - it's never going to un-stretch, so any relief is going to be temporary unless you cut out the stretched spot. Good luck and godspeed.

hezod & Dawnchathink

When my son died. 

I thought I understood the concept of the pain, but the actual feeling is something I never could have imagined.


Getting fired for something you didn't do. Currently fighting it in the employment court of New Zealand. It's expensive as hell, and I shouldn't have to fight this b.s at all.

Can't talk details as it's still ongoing but it sucks. Sitting at home not being able to move on (no references yet, and reason for leaving last job is "fired for theft") so I have to get it done.

Although, I know that I will win the case and that's what keeps me going.


Realizing your parents are going senile. It hurts because you start to see the beginning of the end.

The last time I talked to my dad he didn't know it was me on the phone. He talked to me about a fishing trip he took with his sons (my brother and myself) a few months prior. He told me all about it as if I was a random friend. A day later he was gone. I'm not mad he didn't know it was me. He told "his friend" that fishing trip was the best thing he'd done in years and if he died tomorrow he'd be happy.

It was my birthday weekend and I figured that's why he called. Now I'm crying again and miss my dad so damn much and am just rambling because I know as soon as I hit submit I'm gonna lose it again. 

shadynasty90 & intensenerd

The pain was unreal. I had no idea what it was and started to piss blood. I thought I was dying.

Kidney stones are crazy. I remember a boss calling out for a week and I talked a ton of crap about him. "It's just kidney stones, not even like serious surgery, he's just milking it."

I was so wrong. I played baseball throughout college, I've torn ligaments, dislocated joints, broken bones, had a 94 miles per hour fastball hit me in the jaw, had a severe concussion (to the point that in my sophomore year I had to sort of relearn how to speak. I knew what I was trying to say, but it always came out in a jumble, think dyslexic but speaking). Anyway, I'm really not a stranger to pain. I never really ever cried though I just always downplayed pain and would sit in the emergency room and joke with people while they fix whatever is detached or broken...but HOLY CRAP.

My first kidney stones were terrible. At first I thought it was just a random cramp and tried to go take a hot shower to relax my body. Five minutes later I'm balled up in the shower holding back tears. I tried to walk out of the shower and get dressed and collapsed half way between the bathroom and my room. By the time my (ex) girlfriend got me into the car tears were running down my face and I could hardly talk.

I will never, ever, ever judge how much pain someone is in ever again. Kidney stones were the closest thing to hell I've ever experienced. Second point, Karma is a female dog.


I used to think it was kind of silly that people were so insistent that they were a serious concern. I figured it must be like having fleas, you know? Kind of annoying but easy enough to stop. Now? I can't even read an article that mentions them without getting itchy and angry. Bed bugs straight up ruin lives.


It's not just like being tired. It's so much more than that.

I was sick last year and at the time I didn't know what it was. I was so unbelievably tired. Colleagues would be like 'I'm tired too'. NO. I was sleeping at work when no one was around because I just couldn't function and I have never done that before. It turns out I had a virus that then attacked my liver. I had nearly a month off work and slept for most of that, getting up only to go to the toilet then needing to rest after it. Again, it is so much more than just 'feeling tired'.

quirkyknitgirl & Carliebeans

Being in an abusive relationship as a man. As a kid I used to think it was horrible for women to live through that but was convinced that men couldn't possibly suffer through that the same way. Needless to say, it's a horrible experience either way. It's something that sticks with you forever.

It is also hard to talk about with people because of your own perceptions of masculinity and it will leave you with some deep emotional scars that take long to heal if ever. If anyone is dealing with this, I hope you find help and happiness.


I thought one was just were sensitive to loud noises and things that triggered them. And that they only had flashbacks if you had been in combat. 

Boy, was I in for a surprise.

PTSD triggers the 're-living', body and memory of 'the trauma'. The process is hell. Who can understand living out the worst moments of their lives...over and over again? Those of us who suffer from it.

michaelad567 & DeanSmartin 

I literally thought I was going to die - it feels like a heart attack: chest pains, palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath, your vision starts going. It's really surprising what mere fear can do to you.

I'm a military guy and never got one during my time in the military. I only had one as a civilian and it does make you feel like you're about to die.

When it's happening you will know enough to know that something is very wrong.

If you've never had one. Be glad.


In the hospital they told me that coughing, gagging, and especially sneezing was going to be excruciating. I did all 3 of those things in the hospital and I was ok. I felt completely normal because of all the pain medication they had given me.

Then a few days later I get discharged and go home. A few hours later, when the meds wore off, I sneezed and it was the worst thing that has ever happened to me. 

100x worse than when I got my wiener stuck in my zipper.


I had headaches as a teenager and always said, "I have a migraine!"When I was in my late teens I think I actually experienced my first migraine. It's completely debilitating. Any source of light would make me want to retch and vomit.

I haven't had a full on migraine in over 2 years. A couple times I've felt them coming on and would lay down in the dark; but they never came on. I hope to never have one again. People who get migraines and stay productive truly impress me.


One of the things about depression is that even if you have had doubts before you somehow convince yourself that it was all in your head and you never actually felt that way. Until it happens again. 

So basically all the time, you're thinking about how it probably wasn't that bad and you made it into something it wasn't until it comes around again, making you realize just how messed up it really is.


I knew about the being dirty and in pain and all but the depression and anxiety was a surprise.

It's exhausting. Walking for miles every day to the soup kitchen, then work (I worked nights for 9 months while homeless and still didn't make enough for a place) then the shelter or a hidden, grassy area if they shelters were full, being out in the elements constantly.

Especially towards the winter...or even the rain. That wet cold gets into your bones, muscles clenched up and teeth chattering for hours and sometimes you just wish you would finally succumb to the weather.

I honestly think after awhile the brain just switches and you become numb and almost feral, just to be able to mentally and physically survive.


It feels like one day, suddenly, a switch was flipped. And the girl I loved was gone forever, replaced by this heartless witch that just destroyed me because she was through with me. And I couldn't just say "well, she's a female dog or whatever" because in my mind the girl I loved didn't do it to me. The girl I loved could have never done that to me in a million years. And then you're stuck wondering what happened to the one you cared about.

Then you see her living happily with her new guy, like nothing ever happened, and I'm trying my hardest to make some sort of connection with anyone so I can feel less alone. Why am I the one who is still feeling terrible? Why does she get to be happy?

It really is the worst. 


I literally had no idea what it felt like when it became problematic. Then I got a serotonin issue and had the crippling physical side effects of anxiety with a slight bit of paranoia. It lasted about 3 months.

It was hard to eat anything, often hard to breathe and I would wake up in the middle of the night having to throw up and xanax medication did very little. Lexapro got me back to perfect and I have a new appreciation for it as well as a little more understanding of mental illnesses.


It's crippling and it hurts. A lot. You can't sleep, walk or sit. It hurts 24/7 until the antibiotics kick in.

No one ever told me to pee after sex until AFTER my first two UTIs.

So much pain could have been avoided. They are the worst.

Minyak & grandpabobdole

I just figured you'd get a poor feeling tummy and do a bunch of wet bathroom runs and maybe some vomiting.

But no. For a week and a half it felt like I was juggling hot knives in my intestines. I had to be hospitalized due to the amount of thick black gunk coming out of me. 

The pain was awful and lasted so long I almost felt ready to die.



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You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, or so the saying goes.

The same can be said for your interactions with cops, most of whom are perfectly happy to let minor infractions slide––When was the last time you were actually ticketed for jaywalking?––provided you're not a total Karen should you interact them.

Your local police officer likely doesn't care about jaywalking or the fact that you went five miles over the speed limit unless you give him a reason to, as we learned when Redditor Takdel asked police officers: "What stupid law have you enforced just because someone was an a-hole?"

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