What I don't like about the "what I gave up to be an academic" meme is the contrafactual nature of it. The idea that having what is potentially one of the best, most stable and interesting jobs in America involves only an act of renunciation of some better life.
Of course, I do not object to what anyone has said about his or her own experience. People do give up other things to pursue academia, and it may or may not have been worth it. Nothing is more gratifying than hearing the story of someone who wasn't suited to academia and left it and found happiness elsewhere. Well, what might be more gratifying is to hear about someone having a magical career within academia, accomplishing everything she wants to.
I think there is a structure of disappointment built into the very texture of academic life. In graduate school the future might seem to be a continuation of the seminar: a place for intellectual dialogue. Yet the reality of working conditions in the profession are never going to live up to that. Possibilities of intellectual dialogue often seem to dry up. Your colleagues might be dullards or actively hostile to the intellect. Department politics might suck the life out of you, as happened to me at Ohio State in my first job.
Because academia is supposed to be wonderful, but isn't usually, the disappointments are much harder to bear. We imagine a life where we have no expectations that our job will be interesting, but where the money is going to be abundant. That kind of fantasy is not one I'm interested in.
I do have advice for someone who is hanging on the edges and has little chance to make a career of it. Leave. Do something else if you are young enough. Don't be an adjunct more than three years. If you are getting none of the benefits of academia, but only the suffering, and are giving up a real life in order to do this, what is the point?