Jealousy and chronic illness

The lingering question of the day is if it’s hard to see others get better while you have a chronic illness. Honestly, the answer is both yes and no. Jealousy is such a complicated emotion. It can make you do and think things that you normally aren’t capable of. I feel jealousy, and I think that it’s a normal emotion to feel when others get better and you feel like you’re stuck in slow motion. But for me the feeling is temporary. I try to be self aware, and reflecting on my feeling usually means that jealousy gives way to being objectively happy for other people’s good fortune.

It happened to me recently. Someone with Paraneoplastic has been getting better and starting to live life again. At first I had negative, overwhelming thoughts that brought me to tears. Eventually I realized that my feelings weren’t really about this other person. I was upset with myself and with my own limitations. I was jealous, but more than anything I was sad and feeling like I let myself down because no matter how hard I try, my health doesn’t really improve. I haven’t had the energy to work out for a while and I feel like I’m back where I started. That’s a really frustrating feeling. I thought about the things I was grateful for, which gave me some perspective. I’ve found ways to be more independent. I have a great, supportive family. We’re financially able to buy a treadmill so I can practice walking in my own home. I have lots of things to be thankful for.

There are so many reasons why you might feel jealous when you’re chronically ill. You can be jealous of someone else who is chronically ill. Maybe they get more attention or support than you. Maybe they can do more than you, or you’re jealous of someone’s recovery, or maybe you’re jealous of other people’s abilities. Whatever the reason, here’s some strategies for dealing with your jealousy:

Reflect. How is your jealousy affecting others? Your attitude can affect everyone around you.

Be self aware. Try to figure out the reason why you’re jealous. It might make it easier to deal with those feelings.

Remind yourself of the positive things in your own life. Try writing down the things you’re grateful for. It can be so easy to fall into the habit of being negative, try to remember that you have a roof, food, nutrition and clothing.

Be aware of resentment. It follows jealousy and can ruin relationships.

Realize that social media can have a strong influence on your emotions. A online community can be supportive and social profiles can be a great way to curate your life and your experiences, but the anonymous nature of the internet can bring out negativity in people. Try not to engage with negativity and take time away from the internet if you’re feeling attacked. Sometimes a mental health break is the best solution.

Maybe these things will work for you, maybe they won’t. Consider talking to someone. It can be really helpful to talk to a professional.