"Back when I was about 6 years old, my family lived in a house with a large hill behind it. There was a lot of dry brush back there but enough clear ground to make it an ideal setting for games of make-believe involving mazes, labyrinth-like fortresses, or curiously well-lit sewer systems. I got to know the area so well that I scarcely needed to look where I was walking and I'd frequently rush around without paying too much attention to my surroundings. As a result, I have absolutely no idea where my assailant came from. One afternoon, while I was using a stick to fight imaginary monsters, I felt a sharp sting on the side of my neck. I quickly slapped and squished whatever had attacked me, then went back to my quest, more irritated by the interruption than actually hurt. It wasn't until later in the evening that I gave the assault a second thought, when my parents -- who had noticed the wound -- scolded me for picking at what they assumed was a mosquito bite.
'You need to keep your fingers off it,' my mother told me. 'It already looks like it's getting infected.'
I insisted that I hadn't touched my neck, but nobody believed me...and I continued to receive admonishments over the course of the next two days. During that time, a growing section of my skin started to look like it was literally rotting away, which prompted a number of home remedies to be attempted. When none of them seemed to have any effect, I was finally brought to the hospital.
The nurse took one look at my neck and called for the doctor.
The doctor took one look at my neck, expressed his disbelief, and called for the surgeon.
The surgeon took one look at my neck, booked an operating room, and told my parents that I'd be going under the knife inside of an hour.
I've since been told that the progression of the venom -- an unwanted gift from a brown recluse spider -- had come dangerously close to entering my bloodstream. Had there been any further delay in excising the lesion... well, it might not have ended well for me. I still have a rather large scar on my neck (along with an acute case of arachnophobia), and I've learned to be much more diligent about examining those places where I might encounter a web.
Unfortunately, I didn't get any spider-based superpowers, so I still feel like I got ripped off."
"I was living in Central America for a winter in my mid 20s. I made friends with a local family who had twin boys, around 18 years old. We had a beach day with a bunch of friends and family. Everything was great, lots of us were playing in the surf and the waves were pretty intense but the water was only neck deep, so no big deal. Suddenly, I looked around and realized we were 50-100 yards out into the ocean, with the water very deep, I assume it was a rip current.
I was fine, I'm very comfortable swimming but neither of the boys knew how to swim, apparently. Everyone was able to swim parallel to shore and get out of the current except one of the boys. He was silent with wide eyes and softly said, 'Ayudame' or help me before he disappeared underwater. I was pretty tired from fighting the current but I couldn't leave him. I was able to find him underwater pretty quickly. He was awake and kind of stunned and still, but never fought me thankfully. I started swimming backward towards shore but couldn't swim fast enough against the current and we kept getting pulled out. Another friend swam closer and helped me time my swimming with the waves to save energy. I was beyond exhausted however and seriously considered needing to leave him to save myself.
Somehow I kept going and finally felt sand under my feet and we were able to crawl up out of the water. He rested for a while and was ok. I had to lie on the beach for 20-30 minutes and had the most intense heart palpitations I've ever felt. He thanked me profusely after, of course, and all was well. I have always felt tremendously guilty for seriously considering leaving him to drown so I could live. Scariest moment of my life for sure."
"While I was working as a merchant navy officer, our vessel was about 60 nautical miles away from Somalia, our course took us through the sea of Aden and into the Mediterranean from the Suez Canal. It was my shift at the time, 16:00 to 20:00 hours. It was a calm afternoon. As we approached the sea of Aden, we were ambushed by two large boats from starboard (the right side of the ship).
Around 20 Somali pirates (10 on each boat) attacked us. Some of them had AK'47s and they fired immediately at the bridge. We had armed mercenaries on board, so we were protected, but nevertheless in danger. A stray bullet flew straight into the bridge (even to this day, I can't even understand how that happened) and got me on my lower left leg. A burning sensation rushed through my body, I lost a lot of blood. Our armed security drove the pirates away with no casualties, and I got immediate health care from the captain and the second officer.
I survived and now I have a good story to tell."
"When I was 5 or 6, my oldest cousin (15 at the time) walked into my room while I was laying down and smothered me. She held me down, put a pillow over my face and sat on my chest while she tried to snuff the life out of me. And she almost succeeded. I lost consciousness and woke up to my grandmother and aunt (cousin's mom) timing my pulse and screaming that they may need an ambulance. This would become a theme with her. The adults caught her crushing pills and mixing it into my food one night. After that I was told to never eat or drink anything she gave me. I had to be with an adult 24/7 or she'd attack me. When I couldn't swim, she pushed me into the in-ground pool and went inside. I almost drowned. I have no idea how she never actually killed me. That entire side of my family was extremely abusive and were deep in the trade. Cops were never called for anything.
She was heavily abused by her dad and I assume took her anger out on me. My bio dad was abusive in his own ways but nowhere near as awful as her dad, so I can see how that would make her snap. She had a sad life and has been missing since 2012."
Lynne Ann Mitchell/Shutterstock
"My 'I survived' moment happened when I was fourteen. I was hanging around the pool with my friends playing Marco Polo. I was out of the water trying to get away from being tagged by my friend. 'Fish outa water!' he screamed. I dove head first with my arms by my sides into the shallow four and a half foot end of my pool. I awoke later that night in the hospital not able to move anything: legs, arms, lungs (on a ventilator at that time), scared with no answers.
Twenty-four years later, I still don't know what I was thinking, doing that. I'm now in a wheelchair with most of my mobility intact. I'm depressed at times about the incident but I can say, 'I survived!'"
"I was at Pillow Rock, which is a rapid on the Upper Gauley in WV. That part of the river is only open in October for around three weeks. They opened the dam, it was all class 4s and 5s. One of the rapids, Pillow Rock, is the most fun. You could basically go full speed toward this giant rock and, when guided properly, you kind of wall-ride it, land in some fun rapids, and then you would high five everyone because what you experienced was sick.
Well last year, Pillow Rock wasn't sick. We hit it head on, the boat flipped, and all of us went underneath the water. There's an undercurrent near the rock called 'The Toilet Bowl' that basically kept pulling us down, and eventually, we would pop up. However, I did not get that great of a breath before I went under.
It seemed like I was there forever, but I was probably only under for 12-15 seconds. I felt the water pulling me along. I was covering my balls and my face, and I prayed that I wouldn't hit something that will cut me. When I finally popped up, there was another raft nearby and all of the people on it yelled, 'SWIM! SWIM!' at the top of their lungs. I was headed toward a giant flat rock the size of a storage unit. After I made it to the raft, they told me getting pinned to that rock is not fun, because it pins you and then pushes you under.
I'm going back to do it all over again and I can't wait, but I'm not too stoked about Pillow Rock this time."
"When I was 8, my biological father came to my house in east Texas. He had his brother's weapon from his safe. My dad had bipolar disorder. After physically and mentally abusing my mother for the two years after their divorce, he finally snapped and decided he was done with her. It was only supposed to be my mother, my two sisters, and me in the house, but my mother had called my grandfather to come to our house for the night even though he lived two hours away.
My father showed up at the door and my grandfather answered, he told my father to go home but my dad refused. My mother came to the door and my father pulled out the weapon. The men wrestled on the front porch which ended with my grandfather getting shot where his appendix would be. I assumed it didn't rack itself because they were all holding the weapon when he pulled the trigger, so he wasn't able to fire again. After he shot my grandpa, he dropped the weapon and ran. He didn't expect any resistance or for anyone to be there to protect us, he only brought five bullets and planned on using all five: one for my mom, two for my sisters, one for me, and the last for himself. I had no intervention in the situation and slept through the whole thing. I had no idea that when I went to sleep that night, it very well could have been my last.
He only got sentenced to twenty years for assault with a deadly weapon because my grandfather survived. He's 11 years in and is eligible for parole. I still think of it as an 'I survived' story even though I wasn't able to do anything to prevent it."
"I'm an avid skier and former instructor. One night when I was skiing (they use lighting on the mountain at night), there was a nearly invisible patch of ice across an entire corner/bend on a trail that I usually hit around 35-50mph on depending on the day. After a long day of instructing, most of us would have some drinks/tokes and then go shred for a bit. So I was barely tipsy and zoomed down the slopes. I hit this corner and immediately heard one of the scariest sounds in skiing. It was the sound of my edges sliding across the ice, with almost zero traction.
Now normally, a good skier would have razor sharp edges to catch almost any surface, but after instructing for weeks my edges were dull due to being used and beginners who ran into my skies. So at that moment, I was painfully aware of the ledge that was to my left and how if I went down it, it would be a significant way down the mountain with rocks, trees, and ice. Plus there would be no hope of help until my family decided I'd gone missing at some unholy hour and it was already about 8 pm. So in those few seconds, I contemplated a slow, cold death or frostbite at the very least while I leaned into my turn so hard that my right leg was at a 30-degree angle to the ground. I managed to catch a small snow-pile that other people had pushed to the edge and cut all my momentum as I threw myself down. I didn't want to immediately fall at that speed because I would have just slid right off or seriously injured myself by catching an edge and tearing a muscle.
Adrenaline was pumping inside me and those few moments felt longer than the 9+ hours of skiing I did that day. But I survived, it was the isolation that was the scariest part.
"This just happened not too long ago. I was at someone's house with with a few of my friends, it was pretty late so we decided to take off. Right when we got into the car, another one of our friends called. She sounded hammered and like she was on the verge of crying. She said she was hammered in the city and her phones at 1%, so of course, I told her we would come to get her. I was driving down I55 into Chicago and at one point the 4-lane highway splits. I needed to go left at the fork but I was in the right lane, so I checked my mirror to switch into the left lane. The second I looked up, I realized there was a guy that was going right at the fork who'd changed his mind last minute. He was less than an inch from smashing right into me but luckily I had already begun switching lanes. Everyone in the car screamed while I casually kept singing the song on the radio. My friend who was in the passenger seat went quiet for a second and then said, 'Let's never talk about that.'
It turned out that the guy actually grazed my bumper but it wasn't really damaged at all. He was clearly inebriated."
"I'm someone who is not afraid of spiders. When I was a kid a group of other kids were huddled in a corner, so I went to see what was going on. All these kids are staring in awe at a small spider. Then I had the brilliant idea to pick the spider up to impress everyone.
After everyone started freaking out, I put the spider down, and that's how I learned what a Black Widow is."
"I was 7 and was at a swimming pool. I didn't know how to swim, so I just walked around in the pool. There was this one girl who swam pretty well. So we were playing, she was chasing me, and I was running in the pool, which my dad explicitly told me not to. So I slipped while running in the water and almost drowned, I still remember what it was like to almost have fainted. Luckily, my dad pulled me out at just the right time.
I coughed out water that day. I survived that."