Growing up, Barbara Handelsman often felt out of step with her family.
"When I was really little, I thought my sister always had all the power because she was pudgy and cute, where I had all elbows and knees," Barbara says. "I was so shy. I had no idea how to be the popular kid, and so I felt incompetent when it came to trying to be an A+ anything."
Dawn Burke had always thought of rats as filthy animals, she says, until her neighbor introduced her to his "soft and cuddly" pet rats. Years later, she stopped by a pet shop on a whim — and ended up coming home with a rat of her own.
From there, says Dawn's husband, Don Burke, "it grew very quickly from one rat to 72." Before long, the couple had opened a rat sanctuary in their home in Boise, Idaho.
Josh Lampert started having psychotic episodes in college, when he was 19 and living in Seattle.
"My diagnosis was psychotic depression," he told his father, Chuck, during a visit to StoryCorps. "You can hallucinate sounds and smells and tastes. And my mistake was doing drugs, because sometimes the line got blurred of what is real and what isn't. Other people seemed like they had so much — social relationships and girlfriends, and I was just trying to function."
When Dan Miller was growing up, his family lived about a mile away from Wisconsin Rapids, Wisc. He had eight siblings and the family was poor. His father, Robert, supported them by working at Consolidated Papers Inc.