I’ve been quiet here and for good reason. These past few weeks have been the toughest. A perfect storm of political nightmare, professional setbacks, and personal turmoil set the tone for my days. It seemed as soon as I would recover from one thing, another thing occurred. I couldn’t quite fully recover. So I’ve been trying to keep up with my work, but also practice extreme self-care. I’m trying to ride out this tough moment and find the hope and silver lining somewhere.

I wanted to write an eloquent post about what to do when everything goes wrong, but I realized I still don’t have any answers. I’m only left with questions.

Where do you find the words when words don’t seem enough?

How do you move on after falling on your face?

How do you let go when you’re not ready?

How can you forgive yourself for mistakes?

How do you recover from the hurt, the anger, the fear?

Where can you put all your disappointments when you no longer want to carry them?

How do you get out of bed when hardly anything seems worth it?

How do you stay strong when you feel anything but?

How can you remain vocal when you feel shut down?

How do you get over foreboding uncertainty?

I guess through time the answers will present themselves some way, some how, but for now, I do the work. I show up. I try not to recoil under the stress and difficulties of certain situations. I try to not let certain setbacks affect my confidence or derail my productivity.

But after all, I am human. A sensitive one at that. One of my greatest assets is my ability to feel and be empathetic toward others — I think it’s what makes me relatable and has added to my success. On the other hand, when things go wrong, I feel them deeply. I beat myself up about it and continue to question everything. I want to do well in everything I do. I want people to like me. I want everything to work out. In life, bad things can happen, and instead of dwelling on those things, it’s time to persevere.

As Bukowski said, “What matters most is how well you walk through the fire.”


Melanie is a freelance writer currently living in Portland, Oregon. She is passionate about education, financial literacy, and empowering people to take control of their finances. She writes about breaking up with debt, freelancing, and side hustle adventures at DearDebt.com.

Currently she puts more than 50% of her income towards debt, while living a frugal, fun life. In addition to her love of personal finance, art and music, she is also a karaoke master. Follow the adventure @DearDebtBlog.

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70 responses to “Sometimes Everything Goes Wrong All At Once”

  1. Dyana says:

    I believe that sometimes everything has to go up shit-creek before there’s smooth sailing. If it makes you feel any better, you were the first and only big blogger that even bothered to respond to me…even when I had no website. I studied your blog and tried to replicate what I could in my own way. I still don’t have this thing figured out but people like you give me hope! Everything may have gone wrong all at once but you surely do not show it.
    Dyana recently posted…Can Women Increase Their Retirement Savings? 8 Ways to Do ItMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Yes, I’ve been in similar situations before and know this is temporary. It’s still hard when going through it. I appreciate your comment! I’m so glad you got something from my blog, that makes me so happy. I am trying to balance being professional and put together, while also being honest that it’s been hard lately maintaining that facade.

  2. Nate says:

    Hey Mel, I hear you. My goodness, do I hear you. This is a post I could have written myself any number of times in the past decade (and actually have, heh).

    I don’t have any magic fixes or any great words of wisdom, but I can tell you that you’re not alone in this. Not alone in your struggle or in your thoughts, but ESPECIALLY not alone in your community. You give so much to this community, and especially to the most vulnerable and hurting within it, so I want to doubly reassure you that there are so many people here who will do the same for you when YOU need a boost. So many people love you. 🙂

    One day at a time, one foot in front of the other, my friend. We’re all walking together with you. Don’t be afraid to reach out when you need to (like this honest post).

    Much love,

    • Melanie says:

      Wow, thank you so much Nate. Your words mean so much! I know I have much to be grateful for, it’s just been a lot in a short period of time. I am trying to overcome constant worry and battle ongoing depression and anxiety. It’s a struggle but thank you for reminding me I’m not alone. I am resting and rejuvenating so I can get back to kicking ass in 2017. 🙂

  3. NWOutlier says:

    Hi Melanie, looks like you do have a silver lining! I’m confident some of us, a lot of us, have expierence some level of struggle, and I completely agree working your way out leaves you with more questions. These are the questions are questions us readers need help with too, or could share how we moved through one part of the process. As you work through these questions, we would love to hear your expeirence, blog about each question/topic.


  4. Mrs. BITA says:

    It is hard to remember when times are dark, but there is much truth in “This too shall pass” . You will get past this time, it _will_ eventually be but a memory that can’t hurt you and you _will_ emerge all the stronger for it.

    Hugs from a random internet stranger.
    Mrs. BITA recently posted…Harnessing Geographical Arbitrage for GivingMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Thank you! Yes, I look back at other hard times and knew that it got better. It’s all about doing good things for myself during this time…as that is what it takes, time. No rushing, no fast forwarding.

  5. Avery Breyer says:

    Hang in there – we all go through this stuff, so you’re definitely not alone. Self-employment is glorious in many ways, but also has its stresses.

    I think what you ended with is key: “…instead of dwelling on those things, it’s time to persevere.” I know in my case, if I dwell on the bad stuff that may be going on, it tends to feed on itself and make me feel way worse… better to force my mind on what I can do moving forward (granted, easier said than done sometimes…)

    And when push comes to shove, there’s always chocolate. (I know… the experts say one isn’t supposed to console oneself with food, but for me, it helps haha)

    Keep doing what you’re doing – you’re good at it! <3

  6. I have been thinking a lot about the Churchill quote lately, too: “When you’re going through hell, keep going.”

    I will not try to sugar coat what is happening in the world right now, because a lot of it is truly awful. However, I have been continually reminded these past few weeks about how much goodness there is in the world, which is easy to lose sight of. But fundamentally we are all still the same people — kind, ready to help a neighbor, doing the best we can. I believe that, though the election may be amplifying certain negative voices, all the love and positivity in the world is still here. It’s just temporarily drowned out in the mass media.

    Sending the love! xoxo
    Our Next Life recently posted…Go Beyond Gratitude // With Great Wealth Comes Great ResponsibilityMy Profile

  7. Katasha says:

    Hey, Melanie – I’m sorry to hear you’re going through a rough patch.

    For what it’s worth, I think it’s amazing how you’ve touched so many lives and – through it all – you still have an incredibly big heart, and you’re so full of love and warmth.

    I remember meeting you at FinCon, and I couldn’t even believe that you a) remembered me – I think we’ve only exchanged tweets a few times – and b) took the time to reach out to me, get to know me, and just be such an amazing *friend*, even to someone who, essentially, was a stranger.

    I understand things are rough right now, but I hope you also know that you have an entire community of people who are rooting for your success. It’s people like you that have convinced me it’s even possible to get rid of this awful debt burden and successfully chase my dreams.

    (And, if we’re speaking honestly, I bet hundreds of other women can say the same about you as well.)

    Sending you love and solidarity <3 <3 <3

    I hope you feel better soon.
    Katasha recently posted…5 Steps to Surviving the Next RecessionMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Wow Katasha, your comment has stopped me in my tracks. You are too kind. Of course I knew you and glad we met at FinCon! Keep up the good work with the videos 🙂

      And yes, you can become debt-free. I hope I can continue to inspire others and be a motivation — through good times and bad. Thanks SO MUCH for your kind words and support. You have no idea how much they mean to me.
      Melanie recently posted…Sometimes Everything Goes Wrong All At OnceMy Profile

  8. Hugs to you! I’ve been there, done that, unfortunately there’s no t-shirt. Some years back my husband almost died of septic shock. I was getting my MBA and working full time, with two little kids, and a husband in the ICU on a ventilator. We didn’t know if he would make it, and if he did, how things would change. Everything had gone wrong in the worst possible way. Life changed forever and there were many days I didn’t see how on earth I could go on. Lots of people have told me they think they couldn’t have done it, but I tell them that they could. It sounds trite, but you just accept whatever the “new normal” is, take it one day (sometimes one hour) at a time, and focus on the small wins. Even if you go backwards just focus on continuing to go forward – just a bit. One day you’ll look up and all those little steps forward will have gotten you to a new place. Maybe it’s not the place you originally wanted to be, but it’s a better place. You’re stronger than you think.

    I wanted to add that I’ve heard you and your story on several podcasts recently, and it’s is very inspiring. Just keep swimming, as Dory would say.

    • Melanie says:

      Oh goodness! You are a strong, amazing lady! I lost a close friend earlier this year from sepsis/cancer and it’s awful. My situation isn’t as severe, thank goodness, it’s just about getting out of the fog and darkness…accepting certain things and getting over others. I love what you said about focusing on “small wins”. Earlier this week, I was happy I took a shower and made the bed. That was a start. Getting started can lead to momentum to keep going and doing other small tasks. I’m also glad you enjoyed my podcasts! And I’ll keep swimming!

  9. Sorry you’re feeling down! But you’re right–what matters most is how you deal with what’s going on around you. And you seem to be reacting to all this crummy stuff by contemplating what’s going on and how to make it better!

  10. Hi Melanie
    I think the internal struggle that plays out in our mind when faced with adversity is the biggest one to overcome. Without being carefully mindful our thoughts can go down the wrong path but on the other side it can help us navigate those trouble waters. This article from JD Roth really helped me put things back in perspective and I hope it can do the same for you ,http://moneyboss.com/how-to-be-happy-and-lead-a-meaningful-life/

    I really liked this quote from it

    It’s not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us. Of course, things can hurt us physically or economically and can cause sorrow. But our character, our basic identity, does not have to be hurt at all. In fact, our most difficult experiences become the crucibles that forge our character.

    I leave you with positive thoughts coming your way and hang in there.

    • Melanie says:

      That was a great post from JD, thanks for sharing! It was interesting he mentioned there’s a set point for happiness that’s genetic. Depression and anxiety run in my family and definitely think I’m born with that kind of setup. Takes a lot of work to maintain, so when things go wrong, it’s easy to fall back into old destructive thoughts and habits. But yes, bad things don’t mean I’m a bad person or have a bad life.

  11. Scott says:

    I just wanted to tell you to hang in there with the knowledge that things will improve! It sounds like you are doing the right things–taking care of your self and going through the motions until the positive attitude comes back. It will in time! Best of luck to you!

  12. The strange thing is that reading about someone else dealing with life’s difficulties, even when they don’t have the answers, can be comforting for others. To know that we are not alone, that everyone goes through these times. You don’t have to give us the answers. Sometimes, just letting us know that we are not the only ones, is enough. xo

    • Melanie says:

      I hope so. I know many of my readers have emailed me in dire times…and I’ve always said I’ve been there. Now, I say, I’m here. Nobody is alone. Life can get hard, especially during the holidays.

  13. Mrs. Groovy says:

    I’m sorry you’re hurting. All of your questions are huge. I started to answer one of them with a very thoughtful response but I deleted it because you’re going through something very personal and deep, and I don’t want to say the wrong thing. Just know that I’ve been there – not wanting to get out of bed, feeling things too deeply. Also know that people care about you – even people like me who don’t know you. And I always answer email so give a shout if you need a sounding board.
    Mrs. Groovy recently posted…Are You FI-Curious?My Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Wow, thank you! Grappling with the questions is tough…trying to find the answers, a process. But things will get better. Thanks for reminding me I’m not alone and that you are there! It really means a lot!

  14. Taylor says:

    Sending you SO MUCH love <3 <3 <3 I hope that you continue to take of yourself and slowly recover. You're such an important and inspiring part of this community and I hope you know that I'm rooting for you!
    Taylor recently posted…The Future of TFFMMy Profile

  15. Jim says:

    Many years ago, I read a Seth Godin blog post about this idea of a local max. It’s this little hump where everything feels great, going great, life is great. You can stay there, or you can keep pushing towards an even bigger max… but it means going through a low. (no joke, it’s from 2005 – http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2005/11/understanding_l.html)

    I consider the lows, when things don’t seem to be going well, just part of the journey towards the big max. Keep after it!

    • Melanie says:

      That was such a great post to get some perspective and look at the big picture. Definitely feel somewhere between point B and C, but know good things are ahead if I keep focusing and trying. Now is NOT the time to give up, even if I wanted to. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jim. You’re always so insightful!

  16. The great thing about tough seasons is that they are just that, seasons. And we all know that the next season is just around the corner. Sorry that you are going through a tough time, but I hope that you are learning from it and growing from it to become stronger and wiser for the next round!

    Thanks for opening up and being vulnerable! I hope you come through and see the better side of whatever it is that you are going through.

    Have a great day and happy Thanksgiving!
    Steven Goodwin recently posted…How An Attitude Of Gratitude Can Transform Your FinancesMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Yes, a new season will come. Looking at the lessons, silver linings and focusing on things I can do and things I can control. Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving as well!

  17. Brandon says:

    Melanie! I completely understand this post. Know that you’re not alone but be encouraged. You are unique, loved and necessary in the world and in blogging! People need to hear YOU and your voice. Wake up every day knowing that your messages of encouragement can make someones day or life. Never forget the lurkers that read posts and never say a word. Do it for them because as you know, sometimes the people who need help the most are silent.

    I love the story in Joshua Chapter 4 in the bible. God tells Joshua to gather 12 stones and place them in their camp so that they will never forget where God had brought them. In our life, we must also place stones that help us remember how far we’ve come. Never forget how far you’ve come and the encouragement you are to others!

    • Melanie says:

      Brandon, thanks so much for your kind words. I am in awe. Yes, I have to keep going and stay strong for my readers who are also going through similar struggles. I love the story about the stones. I’ve sure come a long way since starting this blog in January 2013…but as I’m seeing, success can have its own drawbacks and stress, too. But the fight is to keep going and inspiring others!

  18. Melanie, I love your last line: “what matters is how well you walk through the Fire.” Without the rain, we wouldn’t enjoy the sunshine.

    Hang in there, better days are (always) ahead!!

  19. On top of showing up and doing the work, I think it’s also important to know when/how to say “things suck right now” and even ask for help. It’s not easy to do, especially if you’re used to being organized, on top of things and an anchor for others. But it really is important. If there’s anything I can do from this corner of the internet, Mel, please know I always will. Hugs from up north, xo
    Cait Flanders recently posted…The Impact of KindnessMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Thanks, Cait. Yes, I am acknowledging things are tough now. Thanks for the reminder to ask for help. I hate to come off as weak or needing anything, but maybe that will be best. I appreciate your kind words and offer!

  20. J says:

    I’m so sorry to hear, friend. We all love and care for you SO SO much over here and just sending you loads of positive vibes and happiness!! I’m so thankful to have you in my life and to be able to pair up and help OTHERS’ lives too!! We’re gonna do so much awesome stuff together this year, and cannot wait to blow it up!! We need you!! 🙂

  21. Paulie says:

    You are obviously hurting. And none of us can know the depths of your despair, for to you it is more acute than any of our suffering. But I want to say to you that you are doing the right thing: just keep going. One thing at a time. Try not to dwell on everything else, just keep going task by task. Graeme Obree once told me that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, but sometimes we simply cannot see it.

    From a fellow perfectionist, actually a reformed perfectionist who has learned to let things slip once in a while….we are all rooting for you!
    P.s. From someone who has only been going for a month, I am looking at your site and seeing that you are doing amazingly well! It inspires me to continue!
    Paulie recently posted…6 Ways to Cut Costs Without Being FrugalMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Thank you! I’ll be okay…things aren’t terrible, they’re just disappointing and painful. My brain has a way of translating that into feeling terrible though. I appreciate you writing in and wish you much success on your blogging journey!

  22. Emma says:

    This ted talk has been so meaningful to me when going through some of my own dark months: http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/The-Space-Between-Self-Esteem-a

    I used to think that being kind to myself was making a cup of tea or eating ice cream…but there’s so much more to it. Understanding how deeply self-compassion can soothe personal pain has been life-changing for me. Hang in there Melanie <3
    Emma recently posted…Come see me at FinConMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      I am watching this now (after drinking tea and eating ice cream lol). Thanks for the resource and your kind words! I hope we can do something awesome together in 2017 🙂

  23. The first step is speaking up so you can feel our support and know you’re not alone, so check that one off your to-do list! We’re right here with you.

    I feel your pain, sorrow, and discomfort. It doesn’t mean that you’re any less lovable or worthy, just that you’re human. Thanks for sharing and speaking up- you’re in good company although braver than most of us.
    If you haven’t yet read it, check out The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. I have a post on it coming up, but it’s perfect for just these feelings. Have courage, maintain compassion (for yourself too), and build your community. It sounds like you’re doing it all right. Hang in there- it gets better.
    ChooseBetterLife recently posted…DIY: Homemade Household CleanersMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Thank you! I’ll have to check out that book. It’s so easy to feel like everything is your fault or that you can deserve certain things. But I need to let that go. It’s not true. I will focus on being compassionate and strong during this time.

  24. Melanie, I’m so sorry you’re having such a difficult time. I think one way to cope is to reach out to others (which you’ve done here beautifully) and realize that you’re not alone. We all have times when everything goes wrong and it often takes some time for things to work themselves out. Walking through the fire is hard, so be kind to yourself and let others help you when possible. I hope things look brighter soon.
    Gary @ Super Saving Tips recently posted…President-Elect Trump and Your Financial FutureMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Thanks for your kind words, Gary. I know I am not alone and love this community for supporting me. Working on self-compassion and love, regardless of what happens. For me, it’s easy to be happy when things are good and sad when things are not. It’s a failing strategy. So I’m focused on being okay with myself, no matter what happens.

  25. Ty says:

    Personal battles are often so personal that it’s tough to offer someone good advice, so I won’t try. But I will say that the world needs more people like you, so don’t give up. Also, this poem always comes to mind when the going gets tough for me. I quite like it:

    The tree that never had to fight

    For sun and sky and air and light,

    But stood out in the open plain

    And always got its share of rain,

    Never became a forest king

    But lived and died a scrubby thing.

    Good timber does not grow with ease:

    The stronger wind, the stronger trees;

    The further sky, the greater length;

    The more the storm, the more the strength.

    By sun and cold, by rain and snow,

    In trees and men good timbers grow.

  26. Many, many hugs to you, Melanie. So sorry you are having such a tough time right now. I love what you said about practicing extreme self care. That is vital during times like this. Take care, my friend, and stand strong in hope.

  27. There’s always karaoke? Hope things settle down for your soon. Just know we are thinking of you. I know when things get crazy for me I try and figure out is it temporary or long term. If its long term maybe I need to make a change. Good luck!
    Brian @ Debt Discipline recently posted…Holiday Traditions 2016My Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Haha yes, always karaoke! Need to go and sing my heart out soon. Love your perspective…thinking this is short-term, but definitely thinking of the long-term too.

  28. This is a great post about sticking with your character in the face of adversity. Thanks for letting us in on your journey.
    Millennial Money recently posted…$45,000 for MillennialMoney.com?My Profile

  29. Melanie, you are one of the strongest people I know. I was listening to your interview with Farnoosh and it brought back memories of when I first found your blog. I know I say this all the time, but I can’t believe (well, I can!) how much you’ve grown in the past few years. You’re a fricken author, amazinggg writer, and lovely friend. Don’t ever think otherwise.

    I’m so glad you’re taking the time to slow down and just “be.” Regardless of whether we’re experiencing setbacks or too much work, it’s so important to take that time away from a screen and let yourself breathe. Maxing out your mental capacity isn’t worth it. And I agree with Cait – I suck so much at asking for help because I also don’t want to appear weak or needy, but that’s what our support network is for, and that’s how smart businesses are run. No one person can hold the weight of the world on their shoulder, nor should they have to.

    No matter what, you’re awesome, and we all need a break sometimes. I definitely wasn’t productive the past 3 days because I just felt “blah”. I’m riding the wave and doing what I can to make it easier, selfishness be damned.


    • Melanie says:

      Erin, you’re the best! Thanks so much for your note. It’s been a rough time in all aspects, but working on keeping it together and staying strong. Sometimes I’m too hard on myself, take things too personally, and get overwhelmed easily. The work I need to do on myself sometimes feels overwhelming, but life is a process. Thanks for being a true friend in this journey! And yes, I need to remember how far I’ve come! Holy heck, it’s been a wild ride!

  30. Mr. Groovy says:

    If there’s any truth to the notion that you can judge a person by the company he or she keeps, I firmly believe you’ll smash through this low point in your life. You have awesome friends, Melanie, who have provided awesome advice. And they wouldn’t have rushed in with such soothing words if you weren’t an incredible person yourself. So shoulder on as best you can. And when this rough patch is finally in the rear view mirror, we can all head over to Voodoo Donuts for a well-deserved sugar rush. Cheers and hugs, my friend.
    Mr. Groovy recently posted…Are You FI-Curious?My Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Thank you! I am overwhelmed with the love and support. I am starting to feel a bit better, day by day. Working hard on myself and the things I can control.

  31. Ugh, I hope it start to feel a little better soon! I love how you said “I show up.” Honestly, sometimes that’s all we can do – keep moving. At least you can control that. In the meantime, I’ll keep you in my prayers and send you all the happy thoughts I can muster.
    Mel @ brokeGIRLrich recently posted…How Tetris Is Like Personal FinanceMy Profile

  32. Michelle says:

    Sending hugs your way! Always a phone call away.

  33. Melanie, I was not expecting to read this. I have just found out you published a book this year (yes – I’m way behind), and I have also just learned about one of the wonderful ways in which you are reaching out to debtors in desperate situations. You have had remarkable success in ways that must be very meaningful to you. These things don’t add up to a state of constant happiness of course, but let them reassure you that there is indeed something worth getting out of bed for. You have touched more people than you realize and impacted them positively – including me. Keep this in mind as you walk through the fire. Heart felt wishes for your quick return to cooler ground.
    Fruclassity (Ruth) recently posted…Financial Freedom At 92 Years Old: Desire & ContentmentMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Ruth, yes, I have published a book! From the outside, it’s been a killer year with the book, winning best debt blog again and getting a lot of good press. I am thankful for all those things and from a professional standpoint, many things have been far beyond my imagination. What I’ve learned though is that when you reach success, you also have further to fall (and fail). I experienced that recently and it was tough. That coupled with the political climate and some personal health and financial issues, it’s been tough. But nothing is dire. I will be ok. I feel better already from just writing out my feelings and being honest about what depression looks like. Also, the support of this community has been so wonderful. So glad to hear from you again!

  34. I’m sorry that you’re going through some tough times right now. December is a new month and I hope things look up for you.
    Julie @ Millennial Boss recently posted…How to DIY Wedding Flowers – Bouquets and CenterpiecesMy Profile

  35. ZJ Thorne says:

    Empathy is powerful, but it can absolutely hurt. I hope you are doing better now that I am reading it many months after you’ve posted it.
    ZJ Thorne recently posted…Net Worth Week 40 – Birthday EditionMy Profile

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