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Multiple Sclerosis and Jealousy

Multiple Sclerosis and Jealousy

I recently wrote an article about the loneliness that those of us with MS or other chronic illnesses can experience. After talking with readers who also encounter this loneliness, I realized that there is another feeling that goes very much hand in hand with it: jealousy. This is, of course, something that I deal with as well. I feel a bit embarrassed talking about these feelings of jealousy I have, but I have always made it a point to be completely open about my experiences, so here we go.

I get jealous, insanely jealous at times, of my friends, family, wife, and even strangers. I’m at a point in my battle with MS that I can get out a little bit, but it’s a struggle, and I pay a heavy price for it. More often than not, I have to skip events or cancel at the last minute. Sometimes I know the location will be too warm, have too many stairs, or not have an easily accessible bathroom, etc. Other times, my symptoms just rear their ugly head. I’ll suddenly be in too much pain, or having bad spasms, or unable to use my legs, or any of the other issues that arise on a routine basis. Having to miss out on so much can really take its toll on you. There is the loneliness factor that I discussed before but that can quickly turn to feelings of jealousy as well. I want to go out, I want to do what everyone else is doing, I just can’t.

Sometimes, I can even be jealous of strangers. I used to be pretty athletic; now, I’ll occasionally see someone on a run and I’ll be overcome with jealousy and sadness. I want to pull them aside and tell them how much they need to appreciate that, how it can be gone so quickly. Even hearing people complain about work stirs something inside me and makes me think about how much I’d like to be able to go back to work.

The proliferation of social media has made it much worse. We are all so connected these days that we can see (at least the good parts that people want us to see) all of our friends and acquaintances living their lives. As someone who is home most of the time, I tend to look at social media even more than most. This has become a huge problem for me. I have friends that travel all the time and it kills me. I’m happy for them, but it kills me that I can’t do that. I see friends travel all over the country and world and think, “Wow, it’s a massive struggle for me to travel just an hour and half away, let alone do all that!”. This often causes a fair bit of internal reflection and I can’t help but wonder, “What happened to me? Why can’t I still do that?” There are times when it gets bad and I forbid myself from looking at social media because seeing others live the life I used to live can have strong negative effects on me.

These feelings of jealousy are natural but can be destructive. If you let yourself focus on them, you might end up being extremely angry at people you love. I’m sad to say I’ve had this happen to me. I’ve literally told my wife that I no longer want to talk to some of my closest friends because I see all they do and it makes me jealous. I’m lucky that my wife can usually calm me down and talk some sense into me. I’ve become angry with my wife and family at times because of it too. Never for long, but it’s an awful thing. Aside from anger, this deep jealousy can be a path to depression. This cycle happens to me frequently: I’m jealous, then angry, then crushingly depressed.

I’ve started to realize recently that it’s not just friends, family, and strangers that I envy. I’m jealous of who I used to be. That’s really be the biggest thing in helping me deal with all of this. That this isn’t about others at all, it’s about me. It’s about dealing with these limitations that I have now. I’m constantly on the search for little things and hobbies that I can say are mine and that can bring me joy in my current condition. Instead of thinking about my limitations, I try to remind myself that it’s just a different life, not a limited life. I also try to be thankful for the things I did and the opportunities I had prior to my disability. I try to remember this is a new journey, and to focus on enjoying life now and not living in the past. These jealous feeling still creep up though, so remember, any of you have encountered this, you aren’t alone.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Watermelon
    2 years ago

    Attitude. What’s yours?

  • spacity102
    3 years ago

    Great article! Jealousy is something I’ve dealt with for years…As I’m sitting in the car waiting for my husband to do our shopping I watch people running, strolling or walking and I’m struck by jealousy. And I want to yell at them to appreciate the fact that they can do something I can’t and to caution them that it can be taken so fast so enjoy every minute that they can move so easily. I also get jealous when family members talk about trips they have taken or are planning to take. I don’t say anything, of course, but I feel boiling jealousy that my husband and I can’t take those trips anymore without serious planning and knowing the trip may be cancelled because of the MS.

  • Wayneh143
    2 years ago

    I appreciate and sympathize with you @spacity102, I try to participate as much as I can but need to stay in the car when my ‘gas’ runs out. My wife is understanding but I know it’s a big burden on her!

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    3 years ago

    Thank you spacity102 for reading and sharing your experience. It’s comforting to know that there are others out there that experience it too. That it’s natural and not something to beat ourselves up over!

  • J R
    3 years ago

    This was a great article, thank you. I have only felt jealousy one time in my life and I can tell you it was the most intense, destructive emotion I have ever experienced. I have steered clear of it ever since. But now I think that the anger I am feeling is just a way of avoiding ‘THAT’ word. I am just transferring emotions. I have always said “I am not jealous of them I am envious of them” and that was true until about five years ago when THE walker became a permanent part of my life. It’s time for me to buck up. I am rolling the word jealous around my mind and mouth to put everything in the right compartment. I think this is going to help me a lot. Thanks again

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    3 years ago

    Thanks for reading and sharing your story! I most certainly have gone through an am I angry or am I actually jealous thought process. For me, admitting, even to myself, that I am jealous is very tough. But I do feel a bit better when I can vent that to someone and just admit it. And as I said in the article, it’s nothing to be ashamed of, it’s completely natural!

  • samona
    3 years ago

    This article hit right on with me. When I’m having a hard time managing my life at the merci of my MS restraints it helps me to return to online and other support forums. I’m so relieved that dedicated folks like Devin are here for me. So thanks Devin and everyone else for being on the other side of my computer screen, it takes some of the sharp edges off my loneliness.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    3 years ago

    Thank you too! Everyone’s comments are a major help to me too!

  • RichardC
    3 years ago

    Been there, Devin — and, I expect, will be again at times. I used to be very athletic before MS hit in 2004. At the age of 43 I was training for my fourth marathon, feeling as good as ever, when — bam! — I woke up one morning with numb, tingling and weak legs. I could barely walk. From that moment everything changed. I bounced back, but I’ve experienced a gradual decline over the years. I’m still able to go for long bike rides and walks, and I work out hard at the gym. But every once in a while when I see people playing softball or basketball, throwing a Frisbee, or out for a run, I’ll get hit by a wave of sadness that lodges in my throat — and there may be some jealousy, anger and frustration mixed in there as well. (“Dammit! I was looking forward to doing all those things — and doing them well! — in my middle and later years!”) But, alas, that’s the past. And if we allow ourselves to dwell too much on the past, we get depressed. So, I try to turn some of that negative energy into fuel that will make me stronger. I may not be able to work full-time, I may limp and take longer to get up stairs and get things done, I may have occasional bladder issues, but I can also do 100-mile bike rides and go kayaking for several hours. (I’m also doing yoga and taking an “MS and Exercise” class to try to keep things in balance.) In many ways, I’m in better physical shape than most of the people I know. (Except for an inspirational friend with MS who is now using a wheelchair but can swim 1-2 miles!) And I try to set big goals to keep me going. My wife thinks I’m crazy, but in a couple years I want to ride my bike across the country — and I’ve started some initial planning for it. Who knows if it will happen, if I’ll be capable of such a challenge. But, faced with the unpredictable future that all of us with MS share, I want to do whatever I can now to be able to say “I did that!” And while doing so is mostly for my own sense of accomplishment, maybe others — without MS — will see what I’ve done and be a little jealous too! 🙂 Be well!

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    3 years ago

    Thanks so much for sharing! I mean it when I say you are inspiring and have an outstanding attitude!

  • JanG6036
    3 years ago

    I had to give up driving truck because of the MonSter and all I want to do is work but I get tired fast and with no income ( no disability have been denied that is the only reason I’m stuck in Cali ) keeps saying I can work but I can’t and I know it they don’t see me on good or bad days. So yes I understand this so much

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    3 years ago

    I’ve lost my ability to drive as well, so I understand how hard that can be. I’m sorry to hear of your disability denial. We have a good resource on that here that you may be interested in reading: https://multiplesclerosis.net/living-with-ms/understanding-a-social-security-disability-denial/

  • JanG6036
    3 years ago

    Family doesn’t understand that when I say I’m hot I’m hot or if I say I’m tired they say well I’m not. 90 degrees here with only a swamp cooler because they don’t want to use the AC to help keep it cool in this house. Just because my dad can sit in front of a fan in the line of the swamp he says he is cool, in my room the back of the house in direct sun is so hot I have to use Ice and cold towels just to keep my temp down but still sweating too much and with all this heat the TN kicks in bad.

    Thee cooler isn’t even on t night to keep it cooler to help with sleep and the pain meds I have to take every 3 hours.

    All you can do is try to keep the temp down

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    3 years ago

    Heat really can be a problem for us. Sometimes it takes coming from others to really get the point across. This site has a number of great article about how bad the heat is, I definitely recommend sharing some of those with your family to help drive the point across.

  • TracyBelleLee
    3 years ago

    I had to explain repeatedly to family members that heat doesn’t just make me hot IT IS ACTUALLY CONTRIBUTING TO THE DISEASE PROGRESSION. While this isn’t a wholly accurate statement, it got the point across. The heat does make you sicker for a while even after you cool off, and they should at least be able to see that. You need an air conditioner for your own room so you can keep the temperature SAFE for you. I think the MS society helps get ACs for people in need. Convince your family that your MS will speed up if you don’t stay cool enough FOR YOU. I pray you get AC!

  • lighty
    3 years ago

    “The proliferation of social media has made it much worse”

    Yup. That’s how I feel. I used to cover live music 3-4 nights a week and am connected to tons of musicians. It’s hard to see what’s going on when I know I can’t go.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    3 years ago

    It sure is tough seeing everyone having fun on social media. I’m glad I’m not the only one that thinks that! Thank you for reading and sharing!

  • agarne001
    3 years ago

    Thank you for sharing and I can relate to this feeling
    also. The jealously I feel sometimes is so bad it makes
    me want to cry all the time. It almost hurts to remember
    what I used to be able to do and no longer can, the
    things I am missing out on with my grandkids and life in
    general. It is not that I want them to stay inside and
    not do things, I just want to do them too! I know there
    are people out there who are a lot worse off then me but
    that still doesn’t stop the feeing, but glad to know
    it’s not just me. Thank you again for another great
    article that puts into words what some of us can’t.

  • J R
    3 years ago

    I totally understand about the grandchild gig. I have my third on the way and I can’t even get excited because I know I will not be able to play and interact like other grandmothers. I was going to be the best grandmother ever. I am writing this sobbing.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    3 years ago

    @TracyShort I understand how you feel. I see a lot of stories of people proclaiming far and wide that they “don’t let MS stop them” and it can drive those with more severe symptoms crazy. The differences in symptoms and severity across people with the disease is so wide that it can really cause some emotional issues. I often feel like a loser whenever I hear the phrase “I have MS but MS doesn’t have me”. I have MS and I can’t sugar coat it, it has a major impact on my life. Thanks for reading and sharing!

  • TracyBelleLee
    3 years ago

    Why is it that knowing others have it worse doesn’t make us feel better? I feel like I failed at MS because I can’t cope with the symptoms I have, while people in wheelchairs lead fulfilling lives. The stories about people who “don’t let MS stop them” leave me feeling the same way. I let MS stop me I guess. I have PBA and the loss of control of my emotions is visible on MRI because of the location of the damage but I look normal on the outside. The medication helps but it can’t repair the disconnect between my emotions and my ability to be rational, reasonable and to keep things in perspective

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    3 years ago

    Thanks again for reading and sharing your story! The more we share and realize we aren’t alone, the more tolerable things can become. I think sharing with our friends and family is also important. This was one topic where I shared my article with my family and had a few people say they had no idea. Thanks again so much!

  • tkmaravilla
    3 years ago

    I’m so glad I read this article. It helped me put a name to the unfamiliar feeling I have had watching my husband and children “move on” with activities that we used to do and enjoy all together as a family.
    We loved going on walks, small hikes, to the water parks, any kind of park to play sports, outdoor theaters/concerts, fairs, and most especially camping. We loved to camp. But I just can’t tolerate the heat anymore- it brings a whole mess of other symptoms that just become unmanageable.
    So I told yhem to just go without me.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    3 years ago

    I’m glad that my article has been helpful. I’ve struggled with these feelings the same as you have for a while. It can seem constant struggle at times. That said, knowing that I’m not alone and that these feelings are natural certainly help me to move forward. I don’t expect these feelings to ever go away completely, i’m sure they’ll keep popping up, but I know I can definitely deal with them now in a way that I couldn’t before. Thanks so much for reading and sharing your story, I very much appreciate it!

  • tkmaravilla
    3 years ago

    But I didn’t realize how it would make me feel- when they finally realized, I meant it when I didn’t want them abandoning things we loved to do just because I couldn’t do them anymore.
    I was lonely, then angry, and then depressed. And once I read your article- I now realize it is jealousy/ not with my loved ones- but over the life I once had and the things I used to be able to do.
    Thank you for the enlightening moment. Now that I am aware, I can deal with it better.
    Tami

  • Lisa M
    3 years ago

    Yup….Same here ya’ll! Im a big people watcher, it can make me nuts sometimes watching them effortlessly go about their errands as Im sitting in the car, I admit to snickering when I see them trip.

    Im just thankful for the little bit of walking I can still do, sometimes. Glad its not just me that has these jealous feelings. 😉

  • NLG30
    3 years ago

    I was glad I read this article. There are times that I feel guilty for feeling jealous of the life I used to have. I miss the fun things I used to be able to do. I have adjusted the best that I can and tried to feel fortunate I can still manage to live independently.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    3 years ago

    I think there are many of us who feel that guilty about our jealous feelings, I know I certainly did. I even felt embarrassed writing this article. But it’s a natural occurrence and the last thing we should beat ourselves up over. We have enough issues! Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts, it’s very appreciated!

  • kerrie21
    3 years ago

    I feel the same way. When I watch people walk so easily or stand so easily, etc. I do get jealous. Sometimes that then leads to anger, not at a person, but at the reality that I can’t do such easy, everyday functions anymore. It’s tough not to feel angry at life, and I know it could all be worse, but, it could also be a lot better.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    3 years ago

    It’s very tough. I certainly get angry from it a lot too (which I know can be no picnic for my wife). Thank you for reading and sharing, it is also a little comforting to know we are not alone!

  • donna921
    3 years ago

    Thank you so much for this..I have felt the same way, so many times. You put words to my deepest, saddest, most inner feelings. I am so grateful, it ISN’T just me..

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    3 years ago

    Thank you for sharing! I too am grateful whenever I hear I’m not alone. I knew I couldn’t be, but it’s still so nice to hear from everyone else!

  • Monk
    3 years ago

    Hi Devin,
    I’m so grateful I’ve found you and your blog. Your willingness to share difficult emotions is so honest and courageous. I’ve often found blogs that advise “just stay positive”. And while they mean to be helpful, the simplistic message makes me feel misunderstood and isolated. By ignoring these emotions they can get bigger and bigger. I like your balance of recognizing these feeling and finding ways to bring joy into your life and other people’s lives(including me).

    Thank you, thank you,
    Christine

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    3 years ago

    Thank you so much for reading and sharing! There certainly does seem to be a ton of “just stay/live positive” messages out there. And I do think there is a place for that but you have to accept and deal with your real emotions first (in my opinion, I never claim to be an expert). I often read those things and then feel bad, like it’s our fault that I’m not positive enough. Well, it’s not our fault, we have legitimate problems and legitimate feelings that are important. And we didn’t do that to ourselves. It always feels to me that there is a big stigma about opening up and admitting loneliness and jealousy when there shouldn’t be. There are a lot of us suffering with it, we aren’t alone! Thanks again so much for reading!

  • Lorrie
    3 years ago

    Devin everything you said sounds so familiar I have been battling with the same feelings and for a while isolated myself because it was easier than dealing with the feelings while coming to terms with the changes MS has brought to my life. Thank you so much for sharing I feel optimistic no longer feeling I am on my own with these feelings and will be making an effort to be more honest with those who care about me.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    3 years ago

    Thanks so much for reading. I’m glad I could help you see that you aren’t alone. Many of us with the disease go through this, it just isn’t talked about much. I’m trying to change that! We shouldn’t feel sad or guilty for having these feelings, they’re very natural! Thanks so much for commenting and sharing your experience too!

  • KarenPainter
    3 years ago

    Wow. You’ve said everything I’ve been feeling, but have been too afraid to say. At times I feel like I’m a ghost of the person I used to be. I’ve lost so much of myself over the years and yes, I am jealous of who I was. Thank you for expressing my feelings so eloquently!

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    3 years ago

    Thank you for reading and sharing. As much as I hate to hear about others knowing exactly how I feel, it certainly does make me feel better knowing that I, well, we, are not alone. Knowing that others truly understand is so important. Thanks again!

  • potter
    3 years ago

    We are getting to close to retirement age. We have friends that are planning to travel in their retirement years. Several of them have developed health problems that is limiting their activities. One friend has developed severe COPD and has a hard time leaving the house and another hurt his back so bad he has been unable to drive a car. I figured out that everyone has there problems no reason to be jealous. We just took a driving trip to Mt. Rushmore, my husband loves to drive, I like to look at the scenery. We stay in nice hotels and rent a fun car to drive. After I was diagnosed my husband was sure that we wouldn’t be taking any trips because of my walking. When we got home he wanted to plan another driving vacation. Potter

  • Azjackie
    3 years ago

    I agree. Just the other day I was people watching in the car while my boyfriend was inside the grocery store. I watched a woman run to keep a shopping cart from banging into her car. I started to cry, jealous that I couldn’t do that. It may sound goofy something so simple as that made me jealous but it did.

    Jealousy is a big downfall for me.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    3 years ago

    Doesn’t sound goofy at all! I lose it over stuff like that all the time. It’s those small things that now seem so big to me, those are the things I miss for sure. Thank you for reading and sharing!

  • Betty
    3 years ago

    The Loneliness of MS really hit everything I have been dealing with for so long. My husband would like to go and do things like travel but my first thought has been the same…will I be able to get around, will it be assessable, when and what time of day will I be active? I use a diary to express myself but even with it, my handwriting starts off well and goes down hill. I used to have beautiful handwriting and could spell words and have a job and be able to think fast and be able to walk well, even run or play sports, horseback riding has gone from my reaches. Yet, I try to be happy to everyone because why bring someone else down. This blog really said it all. Thank you for sharing what I have been thinking all this time.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    3 years ago

    Thanks you for reading and sharing. I like the idea of a diary, though I admit, my handwriting is pretty bad too (although it was never really good). I’ve always thought it’s important to have a way to vent about things like this, even if it’s just to paper or a word document.

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