Childhood can be traumatic even under the best of circumstances. However, sometimes things happen that you just never shake. These AskReddit users share harrowing stories from their pasts that will make you thankful the worst thing that ever happened to you was that you were always picked last for kickball.

1. The Middle Seat

“When I was five I was in a car accident. The car I was in was rear ended by a bus. This knocked us into the intersection against a red light where we were broadsided by a bus. The only reason I’m not dead is I decided to sit in the middle seat in the back so I could look out the front window. Vehicles terrified me for years.”

2. “Difficult Time”

“We (Americans) were living in Isfahan, Iran. My mom went to France for a vacation. While she was gone our dad packed up his stuff and took me (10) and my sister (12) away, leaving the house empty and no note, so when my mom got back she had no idea where we were.

Meanwhile we got on a plane and deplaned in Madrid, to our surprise. We were met by an attractive woman. Our dad said, “This is your new mother. You’ll never see your old mother again.”

After that it got interesting: We went to Majorca to this woman’s vacation house where her kids were waiting. They had us tell her three kids our parents would divorce and remarry each other, then our dad put us in a boarding school in England that was straight out of a Dickens novel. My sister and I were forbidden to talk to each other, the school grounds were patrolled and surrounded by barbed wire to stop runways, we slept in unheated dorms, we took a bath in an inch of cold water every morning, and classes ran from early in the morning till after dark. I could go on.

After about four months of trying, our mom found us by writing to all the churches of her denomination in England and France (she had found something in the empty house in Iran that clued her in) and asked them to check local boarding schools for her two kids. Around Christmas we were both sent to the office for “a visitor” and there stood our mom.

It was a very odd experience. Years later I brought it up with my dad and all he would say was, “It was a difficult time.””

3. Mental Illness

“When I was 4, my dad went missing for 9 months. I still remember the first time seeing an Ingles store a few towns over (we didn’t have them in my town) while we were out searching for him. I thought we must have traveled very far since I was seeing such a big, unfamiliar store out of the car window.

The reason he left was because he had been working outside at his job, and his bipolar meds basically became ineffective due to how much sun exposure he was getting. In the days before he left, he kept saying weird things that I didn’t know what to make of at my age. Things like “Stop watching Lassie. That show is of the devil” and “You can’t use your Beauty and the Beast blanket because it hints at the number of the antichrist.” Little me was baffled but obeyed. I now know that excessive religiosity is a warning sign to get his meds checked.

His truck was found abandoned and partially wrecked 2 states away about 4 months into his time missing. That was rough for my mom. Our outside cat had recently had kittens so I used to pick them up and take them to her inside to try to help. She thought he was dead for sure. Eventually, he was found wondering around an interstate several more states away with his jacket, wallet, and a bible piled neatly in the left lane.

He was able to sort out his medication levels and has only had a few issues with needed med adjustments since then. I, however, was traumatized for many years after, and I’d latch onto his leg for the first little bit after he got home, fearing he’d leave again…

Worst part? He feels guilty to this day. I’m always trying to tell him, “dude, not your fault! So not your fault!” This is why we need to talk about mental health more. My dad has been a model provider, father, husband, and granddad all these years, but he still carries guilt for circumstances that he didn’t set out to enact.”

4. Worst. Mom. Ever.

“When I was five years old, my sister four, I woke up on a stretcher in the hospital. All I remember at first are incredibly bright lights and sterile, white walls. A pretty nurse with curly blonde hair and bright red lipstick kept worrying over me. I think I may have been strapped down but I don’t remember. I have no idea why I didn’t put up a fight because I do remember there being a tube down my throat. To this day I can’t stand the thought of gagging or throwing up. For some reason I couldn’t understand why she was so worried. I just wanted her to laugh. So every time she would give me the next shot in my arm, I would try to gasp, look at her, then roll my eyes and pretend to pass out. I’d open my eyes and let out a muffled laugh and she would smile.

My Dad would randomly burst into the room. He looked terrified. I didnt understand why he kept leaving until way later when I was told they had my sister and I in opposite rooms. Apparently my heart stopped nine times. It wasn’t long until my sister and I found out our mother had tried to overdose us on her pills. It was another two decades before I realized she didn’t have a psychotic break like I thought; she was just mad at my Dad for drinking and wanted to get back at him.”