How Envy Helped Me Learn to Live Life With Lupus

I can’t keep denying it: I am envious. I envy my friends, my parents and my little brother. Not a very pretty emotion. However, it can not be ignored. My envious feelings make me act bitchy, make me upset, frustrated and angry. I experience this feeling because the people around me can live a more carefree life, because they have the energy to go places, and because they can be spontaneous. The people around me can do this because they do not have a chronic illness like I do. They don’t have lupus.

Why I feel envious?
I am sick on a regular basis. I tire easily, experience lots of pain or feel generally unwell. It causes me to be stuck at home a lot. However weird it may sound, at the beginning I could accept this. I thought staying home would be temporary. I thought that I would restart my life after a month, maybe two. I expected to adapt to my new situation and live around my inconveniences. I was convinced, that rest would help me get better and that once I recovered, that would be it. However, it turned out to be more complicated. After two months I still felt sick. I began to realize that this would last a while, an unknown period of time. And this… this scared the shit out of me. I hoped I would be able to keep up with the world, but it turned out that the world was running too fast for me. While I watched my friends move on, go to school, to the beach and to parties, the feeling that I was missing out started creeping up on me.

Angry and frustrated, I started thinking about all the things I had missed. I had not seen that amazing sunset in summer and I had not been able to go to that music festival. I also could not come to my best friend’s birthday. It felt like my life was standing still. And there it was, my envious feeling. I envied what they had and I couldn’t have. I envied their lives, their energy and their accomplishments. Deeper down I knew that I had to accept my new life, but on the surface I just couldn’t.

What helped me?
It has been and it still is a long and uneasy journey. My life needs to be rearranged, my expectations need to be adjusted and my habits need to change. The first step to happiness, was to stop comparing my life with those of others, and to start start focusing on the things in life I still can do, instead of the things I am missing out on. Now, things that were normal before are even more special and beautiful. On some days for instance, I can play sports without pain. On others I wake up and feel rested. Sometimes I can go to school and stay awake halfway through the day. It is the small, simple things in life I am able to appreciate more.

Then I started to look at what I actually needed and what I wanted. I made a list of all these things that made me happy. It turned out that I needed less than I was striving for. The way I schedule my time has changed a lot since then. I schedule my days less full and try not to rush anywhere. I do everything more consciously. I take more time alone, to reflect, rest and check in with the body. Before moving on to the next activity I try to build in a moment of rest. The reflecting helps me focus on my main goals, on the bigger and more important parts of life: My lovely friends, the sweetest doctors and a hobby that I enjoy. That missed party, the pain or a bad day at work — they seem to be less important than the big picture. With some faith in myself and with my values in mind, I have been able to grow a deeper form of happiness.

To all of you who struggle, I know it is not easy. From day to day you will experience pain and sorrow and hope and happiness and disappointment and more. From day to day it might seem like you are drowning. But when you look up and reflect, there will always be this blue sky behind the dark grey clouds.

For me, it was envy — a feeling so dark and negative — that helped me take a deeper look at my situation. It helped me to stop comparing myself to others and focus on the simple things in life. Feeling envious made me realize what I really needed and taught me to check in with my body. With my main goals and the blue sky in mind, I am able to enjoy my day to day activities more. What a wonderful life it is!