Do you feel like everything in your life is chaotic and spiraling out of your control?

Have you lost someone close to you and you feel as though your world is crumbling and you can’t stop it? I’ve been there as well, not knowing how to defeat depression and the darkness. Feeling lost. But there is a way to rebuild your life, to live in the light again. It isn’t a cure, but it is a way to start living positive.

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What comes to mind first when you think of chaos? Maybe it’s a void absent of all light; a black hole sucking everything into an abyss with no bottom — just nothingness. Maybe it is destruction; crumbling buildings and burning trees and hope lost.

Maybe it’s just that vein-bursting-stand-still traffic on the way to work that makes you punch the horn of your car like you are Mohammed Ali, combine every fucking-shitty-asshole-damned curse word in your vocabulary, and causing you to clench your Starbucks cup so hard it begins to bleed caramel latté all over your starched slacks — pissing you off even more.

For me? My comical chaos was the job I did in the past as a cashier for an angry consumer mob that is ready to kill another human just to buy their shiny thingy-mabobber first. Did it for years. Of course, this real-life scenario always seemed that everyone had a wailing baby in the clutches of one hand and their Dolce & Gabbana clutches in the other hand.

Been there, done that.

But really, what the hell is real chaos? Life Chaos?

Some scholarly somebody (probably Greek) who sat somewhere important (probably under a tree) at some point in time (probably a long ass time ago) came up with the definition of “chaos” that went something like this:

“Chaos is a bottomless pit, or also a chasm that may lead to the underworld, the ocean floor or hell.”

Well, that doesn’t sound pleasant.

But what about real and tangible chaos? What about your own personal chaos you feel throughout your lifetime? Not that everyday mumbo-jumbo like job annoyances, but the real shit-storms that make us feel like our own life is coming to an end. Or the world around us is crumbling.

Something recently got me thinking about personal periods of chaos. Today I saw one of those feel-good inducing Instagram photos with a quote on it by Deepak Chopra. You know that fella’ that goes on stage to speak and you suddenly think he has fallen asleep standing up — and then WHAM! He exhales and whispers words that inspirationally slap you across the face.

Words like this…

“The night is darkest just before the dawn. And I promise you, the dawn is coming.”

Oh wait. That was from The Dark Knight. Still a good quote, right?

Okay, here is the actual quote from mister Chopra:


“All great changes are preceded by chaos” -Deepak Chopra

Ah, there we go. Kinda’ gives you some butterflies huh? When you read that quote, did some period of personal chaos course through your mind?

What was that chaotic moment?

Maybe it was that time you lost your job; bills piled up and you felt like you would drown in collections calls.

Maybe it was that time you didn’t know what to do with your life; so much pressure in society to do something stupid that somebody deemed important. Your parents pestering you to get your shit together and start a career — yet all you wanted to do was listen to house music and slap acrylic paint on a canvas and hold a gallery show.

Maybe the love of your life broke up with you; your heart torn from your chest, thrown to the ground, urinated on, and lit on fire.

Maybe it was when you lost a loved one; everything in the world seems to lose its smell, taste, feel, and beauty. A deep and dark sadness filled you up, consumed you, and caused you to consume alcohol and drugs at a deadly pace.

It is those tumultuous times where everything is spinning.

Everything is crumbling.

Everything is loud and confusing.

You can’t think a damn clear thought.

You want to curl up into some dark hole.

You don’t have the energy to care any more.

Booze and drugs and partying are the only friends that care about you.

The world is against you and shitting on you at every turn.

Your energy is nothing.

You are defeated.

This is personal chaos. This is what depression feels like.

We all go through chaos at some point in our lives to some degree — whether it is the death of a family member or heartbreak or career set-backs that are the cause. It doesn’t matter what, pain and suffering aren’t more or less based on the person or circumstance. We all feel pain at some point. We all suffer loss at some point. 

What can be measured is your effort to turn things around while suffering through this chaos and depression.

It’s only up to you what happens after.

That effort can only be measured by yourself and only given by yourself. It is up to you to turn chaos into motivation and to give it all of your damn strength.

Or not.

So how the hell can you turn the worst period of your life into something that rises you up?

Easier said than done right?

Well, it’s also easier to sit on your ass and sulk but that doesn’t help anything. And ignoring the depression and problems plaguing you don’t help either.

I can empathize. I know what it feels like when everything seems lost and you don’t know what to do.

I struggled through a dark depression for years. Some of that chaos was brought on by outside forces. The other chaos…the amplifiers and the additional factors that made the chaos even worse? Yep, that was my own doing.

I did a lot of things that negatively impacted me when I was at my worst. Making it worse.

There was a period in my life where I felt the world was inherently against me as if the fates had decided specifically to torture me for their pleasure. That period came after I had found my father’s lifeless body one summer afternoon; a heart-attack had killed him and sent my life spiraling into oblivion.

I discovered how comforting one black-out boozefest after another could be, and how if I did that every night I didn’t have to think about the situation any more.

I ignored everything and formed it into a series of unfortunate events that didn’t happen in my head.

Then I decided to run. Instead of facing the chaos and depression, I ran from it. And you better be damn sure if ya’ run from the chaos, it’ll follow.

That storm will grow and grow and just when you think you’ve escaped it, it’ll hit you like a slow building tsunami when you least expect.

I ran from the chaos, and in turn it sent me into that “bottomless pit, or also a chasm that may lead to the underworld, the ocean floor or hell” described by that scholarly somebody.

Actually, it didn’t send me there — I put myself there.

When things turn to hell and you think that all is lost, you are the only one that can either make it better or make it worse.

Sure, feelings of defeat or sadness or other feelings are totally warranted in certain times of chaos. But if you allow it to, it will consume you, and getting out of the chaos will be a life or death struggle.

After I left the United States for the first time and traveled to New Zealand, I thought it would be the end to all of my woes. That chaos that hit me after my father’s death would be left behind as I began to travel and chase my dream.

I was finally free, chasing a dream, and becoming a different me! Except not.

What happened? That chaos followed me and hit me when I least expected when I was traveling alone and feeling lost.

Travel didn’t heal me, it amplified the things that haunted me because I was suddenly alone and exposed and facing the feelings I had never dealt with. Now in an unfamiliar destination with no close friends or family.

The darkest period of my life followed because instead of standing and facing the chaos that was destroying me, I ran away. I ignored it. And because of that, because I ran and ignored it, I landed myself into the abyss.

When I returned early from traveling because I had run out of money I felt like a failure. I drank just to not feel like a loser by failing at traveling. I partied just to be around other people.

FOMO – Fear of missing out. That stupid feeling ruled me.

I faced jail time for drunkenly breaking into a house I thought was mine after a night of partying. I woke up on a piss covered jail cell floor and all I could do is feel pity for myself. I contemplated suicide because everything was crumbling around me and I felt like there was no way out and all was lost. 

I was giving up.

Why? Because the world was against me? Because I had gotten drunk and broken the law? Because I had failed at traveling and something I always wanted to do? Because things had become really hard after I had messed up? 

The world wasn’t fucking against me.

The world doesn’t give a damn about us — it has bigger things to worry about like orbiting the sun.

Stop blaming the world for your problems and own up to them. If they suddenly hit you when you weren’t expecting, don’t make excuses.

Fight it head on!

Snap the fuck out of it Ryan!”  I growled at the mirror at one point while nobody was around. That was right before I went to my first court hearing.

I slapped myself across the face as hard as I could manage. I stared at myself in the mirror  breathing heavily, red in the face, eyes watering, teeth bared, and asked myself over and over, “what the fuck are you doing?

Why? Because if you are allowing yourself to drown in the chaos and doing things to make it worse, you need a good slap.

Why did I tell you this?

You need a pep talk from yourself. Everyone does once in a while. That doer, that fighter, that deep down desire to LIVE needs to come out and look you in the face and tell you that you need to turn this shit around.

I don’t want you to compare your personal chaos or depression to another’s. Whether or not your experiences are similar to mine or others or in a different form. Nobody’s is worse than another, we all go through something, and we all have a choice.

Snap out of it.

Wake up.

Stop sulking.

Stop blaming.

Stop the excuses.

Act now.


This is a time of do or die.

This is the chance for personal growth that happens after you’ve reached rock bottom. It’s true what they say about the only way is up once you’re down so low. The only thing that will keep you down or pick you up is you.


QuotationmarkFrom there I could look around see exactly what I had done. I was on my hands in knees in the field of sorrows looking down at my reflection in a murky puddle. My image was unrecognizable. The only way out of this sad and miserable place created by a self-made shit-storm was to stand up. Pull myself out.”

This is an excerpt from an article I wrote, “How travel blogging saved my life” about my own self-induced chaos — a storm that I had created that destroyed everything around me, and struck me down. At the lowest point in my life, in that stinking mud, I had two choices — stay down, or pull myself out.

Chaos happens to us all, depression can hit certain people so hard it feels like a one-two knock out punch. But in this chaos you can find this freak Hulk-like strength that you never knew you had.

You are at the bottom and the only way to go is up.

So get the fuck up!

After I chose to pull myself out of the chaos, I found a new drive.

I began to finally face the root of all of the chaos, my past, and by doing so I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulder. That drive led me to get my act together and start saving again for travel. To find joy. 

I saved for travel with an obsession because my focus wasn’t clouded by outside forces or internal wars, and I managed to save $6,500 in 4 months.

I reconciled with my brother whom I hadn’t had a healthy relationship in years because of the chaos I was relishing in, the chaos that made me blame him for setbacks in my life as well.

I started the blog again and began sharing these stories to show others how to combat these trying times.

Then, I left to travel again. 

Yet this time, I left without phantoms of my past tearing at my soul or stalking me around the globe. I felt freer and lighter than ever.

The bottom line is that I chose to act.

That is the only way.

To act.

To change.

To claw your way out.

To fight.

To use the last bit of deep down energy to rebuild yourself piece by piece.

It’ll only happen piece by piece, but after you begin, the momentum of each step will build you higher and higher.

Don’t think you’ll get a fresh new slate or a new clean start with a snap of a finger. This is your life and everything that came to be has happened. There is no hiding from it. But it doesn’t mean that what has happened is all that is you. You don’t let the chaos and depression consume you.

When you choose at that moment while in the metaphorical stinking mud pit to pull yourself out, that choice alone is one of the most profound moments of your life.

You are facing one of the most difficult and demoralizing and depressing moments and you choose to stand up and fight? You choose to not hope for it to disappear, but to face it and rebuild your life better than ever?

Fuck yeah, you’ll feel like a badass.

But more importantly, you’ll feel something electrifying surging through your body — a feeling of self-worth and drive to live.

Is all personal growth stemmed from moments of chaos?

No. Personal growth can happen at any moment, but it only happens by acting. Especially after you have faced the darkness. Then you must continue to grow. But coming from the bottom of the abyss and fighting your way out — that takes a tremendous amount of blood, sweat, tears, willpower, fortitude, and spirit. And you can see when you decided not to stay down, but to get up, the enormous growth that happens in that moment.

Are you free from the chaos after you’ve faced it? Nope.

It’ll be around, lingering and waiting for you to falter again. But as long as you know that this storm exists you can choose to give it the middle finger and snarl at it and know that you will not stay down ever again.

So, how do you truly turn chaos into motivation? How to rebuild your life when everything seems lost?

It is hard. But not impossible. And it will change you for the better…forever.

You’ll need to accept what has happened.

You’ll need to blame nobody.

You’ll need to fight strong urges that tell you just to give up.

You’ll need to stop making excuses.

You’ll need to act.

That is what surged through me when I saw that quote today. I remembered the chaos that hit me and the further chaos I caused on my own.

And I immediately became filled with a renewed urgency to continue the growth.

Has chaos consumed you? This is what I want you to do.

Look in the mirror.

Think about the things that are falling apart around you or that are pulling you down.

I want you to say out loud what is holding you back.

The only thing that you should say is, “I am holding myself back“.

Why? Because bad breaks at jobs and sulking about girlfriends and drinking to oblivion because of death and loss — these are holding you back from living the life that you want. From living in general. From being happy. And from honoring those whose life was cut short.

You are holding back yourself from an opportunity for the biggest growth and achievement in your life.

So look in the mirror.

Tell yourself, “I am holding myself back

Then ask yourself, “What the fuck are you doing?

Slap yourself if need be.

Tell yourself, “It is time to change. I can fucking change this. I can come out of this better than I’ve ever been. I need to do it for myself.”

I want you to bare your teeth.


Shake your head around.

Get crazy.

Be fierce.

Yell at the mirror like you aren’t fucking scared of anything.

Chaos is your bitch. 

It’s caused by many things; failure, loss, uncertainty. But turn it on its head instead of it turning you on yours. Use failure as motivation to do something better than before. Use loss as a motivation to live more than ever before in that person’s memory, and to love fiercer than ever. Use uncertainty as a period of endless possibility.

I want you to let that animal, that fighter, that person that wants to live — let them come out and look at you in the face in that mirror and I want you to choose…

Two choices: Stay in the mud or pull yourself out.

Are all great changes preceded by chaos? I don’t think so. But what I do know for a fact is that if you are experiencing a truly chaotic period in your life or if you have in the past, that is an opportunity to prove to yourself who you truly are. That is an opportunity to change your life around 180 degrees and move in the right direction. That kind of turn around takes courage, but it also will give you the greatest growth in your life.

It did for me. I believe in you. Now you must believe.


DEFEAT DEPRESSION. How to rebuild your life when all seems lost.

Have you ever been in such a chaotic period? When you began to fight and pull yourself out, how did it feel? Did you notice a tremendous growth once you began working to rebuild your life? Are you still struggling to take control?


  1. Beverley - Pack Your Passport March 5, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    Ryan this might just be my favourite post on here! I love this, I love how you’ve written this.

    As soon as I read that quote I did think of a personal chaos. Nothing in comparison to yours but that’s the thing about personal chaos, it’s different for everyone.

    And the feeling you get from overcoming those things and moving forward? Amazing 🙂

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author March 10, 2014 at 10:39 pm

      Beverly, I’m so very glad you are overcoming the chaos, it does feel great once you do! Thank you for the compliments, so happy you loved the article!

  2. rebecca March 5, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    A great personal post, really enjoyed reading. Sometimes chaos needs time to heal… its always good to have a creative outlet as you did.

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author March 10, 2014 at 10:42 pm

      Hi Rebecca! Yes the chaos does need to heal and lessons learned from it as well, but the decision to change has to happen as well. This outlet definitely helped me overcome a lot of the chaos by talking about it!

  3. Lisa - Wee Wanders March 5, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    Ryan thanks for your honesty in this post. Your posts are always inspirational and I think this post acts as the gentle reminder that so many of us need to step back and assess what we want out of life.

    I’m currently building up the courage to write about my own personal chaos on my blog and hopefully I’ll get there soon.

    Thanks for sharing bud, appreciate it!

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author March 10, 2014 at 10:45 pm

      Lisa, I know the courage will come some day no need to rush it. But I do hope that you came out on top of it as well. Thank you and I’m so very happy you enjoy my writing!

  4. Ian March 6, 2014 at 8:59 am

    Dude that is a really well written and really honest post, nicely done!

    You’re so right that change can come at any moment but sadly it usually takes a bit of chaos for people to make a change. And to think of what could’ve been avoided if people acted sooner…

    Also love the quote “The world doesn’t give a damn about us — it has bigger things to worry about like orbiting the sun”. So true! Now we just need more people worrying about the world.

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author March 10, 2014 at 10:48 pm

      Thank you so much Ian, really appreciated! I fully agree with you and it is unfortunate that some of the biggest changes happen after disasters, but I’m always very happy to see someone come out on top of the chaos when it does happen.

  5. [email protected] Set Karina March 6, 2014 at 9:04 am

    You have an amazing gift for writing and for being real and understanding that sharing pain is a way to heal it. I am in a very chaotic period of my life right now and sometimes it seems it would be just easier if I stayed in bed all day. But I don’t, because I have to face it. Some of it is out of my control, but it exists anyway. Thank you for writing about this and giving some tools and strategies to help manage it, and most of all realize that we are not alone.

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author March 10, 2014 at 10:56 pm

      You are so wonderful to offer such a rad compliment Karina! I’m sorry things are quite chaotic for you at the moment. But in happy you are laying down and giving up. Keep your chin up and fighting forward. Though the chaos may be from outside forces as well, you can still change it. Stay strong my friend!

  6. DonnaM March 7, 2014 at 8:02 am

    Ryan, thank you! Feeling the chaos lately and your post is just what I needed today.

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author March 10, 2014 at 10:57 pm

      Glad I could help even a little, try to keep your spirit high and know that you are in power.

  7. Taylor March 7, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    Thanks for getting back to me! Can I ask why you chose Thailand over China? After researching this it seems China would pay more and set you up with more things (flight reimbursement, apartment etc.)

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author March 10, 2014 at 10:59 pm

      Hi Taylor, honestly I chose Thailand because I had some friends who had been there and loved it, and because it seemed like an easy country to begin my teaching endeavors in.

  8. Mary @ Green Global Travel March 10, 2014 at 10:48 pm

    I love every bit of this post. It is so inspiring and so true. You have to get up and act in order for anything to change. 🙂 Thanks for posting this. I’m glad you’re in a better place now! :;-)

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author March 10, 2014 at 11:00 pm

      I appreciate the encouragement highly Mary, and for the kind words. Yes, you have to get up and get moving and act to change anything!

  9. Sally @ thewinetraveller March 17, 2014 at 9:03 am

    An excellent individual publish, really experienced studying. Sometimes disorder needs time to heal… its always excellent to have a innovative store as you did. thanks for your loyalty in this publish. Your content are always motivational and I think this publish functions as the soothing indication that so many of us need to take a phase returning and evaluate what we want out of lifestyle.

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author April 2, 2014 at 4:23 am

      Sally, thank you for the kind words and I’m glad you like the article. Definitely takes some time to heal, and is always a process of upkeep and repair mentally and physically. I do hope that this publish will go on to motivate people as well!

  10. Kristen March 24, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    Congrats on passing the TEFL exam, I bet you are so excited! I hope things are going well with your travels! Great posting, glad to see things are looking up for your future.

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author April 2, 2014 at 4:20 am

      Kristen! Thank you =) Super excited. As you know it took a lot of falling down and is still a work in progress, but things are looking up for sure!

  11. tammyonthemove March 26, 2014 at 9:56 am

    Love this! My escape out of chaos was to travel and lead the life I am leading now. My chaos was by no means as bad as yours, but I was unhappy with my previous life and the only way to change it was to finally stop talking about my dreams and just start doing what it takes to make them a reality.

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author April 2, 2014 at 4:19 am

      Glad you enjoyed this piece Tammy and so happy it could help a little. I’m very stoked to read you are on the path of life that you truly want and have overcome the obstacles you needed to so you could change it. Rock on!

  12. Jen April 1, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    Very well done Ryan. Bravo for putting that out there and for doing it from a place that helps others. Do you do any freelance writing for online outlets yet?

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author April 2, 2014 at 4:10 am

      Hey Jen, thank you for the compliment! I haven’t begun much freelance for travel companies yet but I am always looking!

  13. joe April 13, 2014 at 3:20 am

    I am currently starting over again rebuilding my life (if you want to read about how it is going, I am writing a blog about it at The only reason I even blog is because I lost all of my friends, not to mention my dog, my car, my house, my girlfriend, my money, and my self esteem. It took years to get to the point where I was even willing to rebuild. I don’t know how to do it, if I can do it. I am scared to be honest with you.

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author April 19, 2014 at 5:54 am

      Joe, it can be very scary, such a transitional period and everything is chaotic and especially when you lose so much at once. Kind of throws you into a spiral. But you’ve got to pause and allow yourself just to find grounding. You need to stop and go, “Shit is fucked up, I need to take control and try harder than ever to make this right for me.”

      I hope you are rebuilding and keep rebuilding. I am honored for you to share this with me. Feel free to reach out anytime.

  14. Jess April 28, 2014 at 1:52 am

    Hi Ryan, I’m the chick from Kelly Tarltons you met that time in New Zealand! I’ve been subscribed to your blog ever since and shit you’re an adventurous dude! Thank you for sharing this post…life is so elusive and you named a lot of hard truths in there. Love it. Need to make some hard drastic changes methinks. Mmmm. Life.

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author April 28, 2014 at 9:39 am

      JESS! Wow, it ha been so very long! You were one of tmy first friends in New Zealand! I’m happy that you liked the article, if you are going through the same thing or just a chaotic period I really hope it helped a little! Take care, great hearing from you!


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