What is Rock Bottom ?

You will find in the ‘Cambridge Dictionary’ that ‘Rock Bottom’ can be defined as ‘Unhappy. The most unhappy someone has ever been in their life’? But for many people, rock bottom is more than that. Truth is that anyone who has ever felt like they have hit rock bottom will have a different view, and as with alcohol abuse itself, the journey to and from rock bottom is also divergent in nature.

Let me generalise. Rock bottom refers to a time or an event in life that causes a person to reach the lowest possible point in their lives, due to their actions, emotions, or circumstances. It is a time when the person feels like things cannot get worse for them and their life has been damaged so badly that it seems like there is nothing good left to destroy.

This generalisation could be circumstantial such as a marriage break up, an accident or some other unfortunate event, but for the purposes of this article it is addiction to alcohol (the same for drug abuse and gambling). Addiction is what many people will think of when using the term rock bottom.

Personally, I like to use the phrase ‘I never hit rock bottom, but I could see it from where I was standing’… which basically is my rock bottom, I guess.

You could also define it as that point when there is only one way to go if you want to change, or, not go past the point of no return, and that is upwards. Whilst you don’t necessarily have to hit rock bottom to have a positive realisation, many people do. For example, I could have lost my job, my wife, my home, everything, but my positive realisation was in fact how very close I had come to it. This realisation and the anger I felt towards myself, somehow drove me on to a period of reflection where I knew I had to change or the even deeper rock bottom I could see in the distance would become a certain reality, and who knows where I could have ended up.

The fact that everyone’s rock bottom is so different means that escaping it is too, but why does it take such a downward spiral to make one realise the devastating effect we are having on ourselves and those around us? In the case of alcohol, it is the addictive nature of the substance itself and there are those who hit their rock bottom quickly. Others don’t hit a rock bottom for years. Therefore, you don’t need focus on developing a bottom that looks like someone else’s (how true this is for other topics too!) and you don’t need to sink to a specific deep, dark depth in your life before the afore mentioned positive realisation. If you can spot where you are heading and have the mindset to see it coming as in my example then great, but obviously this is not always the reality, and I wish that I didn’t have to see it, because it was pretty damn scary. But there is light in the darkness!

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What is similar for everyone I am told is that when the bubble bursts, whatever stage of life, addiction or circumstance you are at, it is a time where you really see what is happening, or at least finally admit to yourself the predicament you are in. You may have been addicted to drugs or alcohol for many years, you may feel like your situation is so dark or hopeless that there is no bottom to hit and you couldn’t give hoot if it is a rock. Maybe you have gone through addiction treatment before, only to relapse almost immediately after your discharge from the program, thus finding yourself asking what kind of tragedy it will take to make you give up your addiction.

Yet whilst these feelings are overwhelming, at times unbearable, they can also be a sign that you are starting to look forward toward the steps to seeking recovery or change. In some situations, you may even avoid landing in the worst rock bottom scenario because you frightened of what has happened before. For example, drinking has caused such an impact that the last time you exploded, it had a severe impact on your family with your marriage nearly ending, or you getting kicked out on the streets. The very thought of not being part of the family, divorced or not having a roof over your head may be enough to make you seek help.

Important point alert: No matter what your own rock bottom is, it’s never too late to reach out and ask for help. If you feel you need help and support, whatever the circumstance: Visit ‘mind’, mental health support website. It has excellent links to available resources.

There’s a positive?

Surely hitting rock bottom is a terrible thing to happen. Well yes, of course it isn’t nice, however for some people it is the major aspect of the journey that just had to happen, and from it only positives shine through. I mentioned earlier about realisation, anger, and reflection. It is the reflection which I found a major part of turning my life around and with it came a new perspective on what really is important. For me, it wasn’t the money, success at work, or the lifestyle of binge drinking all the time. It was my family. For others in the sober community, who many have been in far worse throws of addiction than I, it has given a new trust in life, humility and compassion. Above all, it has offered gratitude.

Finally, if you can see rock bottom from where you currently are, then look to skip a few steps and save the heartache because who knows, you may already be at rock bottom, and not even know it!

Remember, everyone has a different story.

All the best… Darren

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