There is something liberating about rock bottom.

Oh sure, it feels pretty awful. And if you wind up there because of a severe clinical depression, it can feel vast and lonely and cold. Which is what you want. Or what the disease tells you that you want. You just want to be alone with your disease so the desolation can be whole and perfect and total. So it can swallow you whole and you can disappear into your disease as though you never even existed to start off with. And you can accept what it tells you, that you were made broken. You were made to be lost.

But something happens when you drag yourself out of that. You start to lose the expectations you always had of yourself, and you start to lose the limitations as well. Maybe you weren’t even aware of the limitations. Maybe it started because someone made a joke about you being uncoordinated. Maybe it started because you didn’t want to compete. Maybe it started because you didn’t want to be on show. Maybe you accepted something that wasn’t true, because it was just easier to do so. Maybe one day you just became what other people perceived you to be instead of who you really are.

At rock bottom, you can leave that behind. You don’t have the energy to pretend anymore. You don’t have the energy to smile, because someone wants you to or build up that pretence that creates the image of yourself that everyone else is so complicated. It strips you back.

One day, you are running along a deserted road, looking at the sunrise burning off the fog and it’s only in the feeling of having found yourself that you realise how incredibly lost you were to begin with.

And when all of that happens, you lose that thing. You lose that part of your internal voice that says this is something you can or can’t do. You lose that internal voice that says you are too fat, too old, too uncoordinate, too unathletic to run a half marathon. Because in the grand scheme of things nothing is as hard as rock bottom. Not running, not crossfit, nothing. It doesn’t even scratch the surface of hard.

I had a major disagreement with a box at Crossfit the other day and managed to fall over it. Luckily my shins survived and I just kept going. It would be easy, given my history to use that as some kind of confirmation of my incredibly uncoordinated self, or beat myself up for humiliating myself in public. But the defining moment isn’t stacking it on a box. The defining moment is getting back up and finishing the workout.

When I hit rock bottom I decided I could not stay there. And it seemed impossible. But so does everything, until it’s done.

That’s what rock bottom taught me.


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Zoey Dowling

Written by: operationmove

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  1. When I hit rock bottom, I learnt that I'm stronger than I thought I was. I learnt that I could be on my own and that I could parent on my own.

  2. We all hit rock bottom at one stage in our lives. I know for me, hitting rock bottom was the wake up call that I needed to change my life. No one else was going to do it for me. If I wanted change then I had to change. So I did, and I haven't looked back.