I filed chapter 7 in June of last year, got it approved in April. Time frame was the lawyers fault, they screwed up and forgot about my case. Anyhow, I quit a well paying job in feb 07 (due to burn out) and went to work for a friend in sales. The recession was beginning at the time, and being new to sales didn't help either. Just couldn't make any money. I stuck with it for about 7 months and even took on a 2nd job. Eventually I gave up, quit both jobs, moved in with mom and dad, and tried to find a real job with real pay. I didn't succeed, in fact I ended up working part-time at minimum wage, the only job I could find at that point. Kept looking for new work but gave up after a few months and stayed where I was.
Due to credit card debts, a personal loan and my vehicle loan and insurance, I couldn't make ends meet anymore. I closed my checking and saving accounts. Then I returned the vehicle so that I could write it off as unsecured debt and filed for bankruptcy. Since the vehicle was my only asset and I was behind on it anyhow, it made the most sense to let it go. It wasn't easy to let go of it, but it was the adult thing to do. Per the lawyers instructions, I stopped making all payments on everything. The calls were draining but it felt good to have some money again in my pockets. I paid the lawyers around $1500 over a course of 4 months, then another $300 for court costs. The lawyers arranged for me to take the two debtors education courses online (real easy, common sense stuff). Both classes are required by federal law by the way, 1 prior to filing with the court, 1 after bankruptcy approval. I went to the court house, answered a few questions and left. Then I waited. A few months later or so, I got my letter of approval (all debts were cleared).
The whole process from file to approval is simple. It's a little time consuming though. The hard part is that it is very emotionally draining on you during the time, especially with all the creditors calling you. The aftermath is the worst part of it. 10 years it remains on your account. It will affect the type of job you can get (very bad if you do anything in your career that involves money), it will affect the interest rates on any loans you need. Credit cards (at least for me) became a big no-no, I refuse to own one ever again after learning what I've learned about them. And forget about buying a new car or home anytime soon unless you can pay for it in full in cash. After losing everything, You learn how to live an all cash lifestyle and learn that's the best way to live.
Is it worth it? For me, yeah. I reached the end of my financial rope and it was my last, and best, option to get out of debt. It wasn't easy and the path ahead will be just as tough, but it changed my objectives on what I want out of life and how to attain it. It kicked my feet out from under me and I fell hard, but in that fall, I learned what things I did that were wrong and what things I did that were right. I learned a lot in the debtors education courses about things I wasn't aware of, although most of it was mainly a reminder of what I already knew. My wants vs needs have changed for the better. I'm at square one and waiting for the recession/depression to end. In a couple years, I'm moving with my folks to another state where they plan to retire at and I intend to get an associates degree so that I can get myself refocused.
Bankruptcy (especially chapter 7) is not easy. It's rough to deal with but if you follow through, you learn a lot about yourself, the people you surround yourself around, your family, your job, your finances, and your life. It changes you, forces you to evaluate the decisions that lead you to where you are and gives you the tools not to follow that same path ever again.
No matter what you decide, I wish you luck.