The Green Devil: IBD and Envy
With social media so prevalent in today’s society, it is kind of impossible not to get wrapped up in other people’s lives in some shape or form. It is only natural to scroll through your newsfeed on Facebook or Instagram and compare your life to other people’s. I have done it. We all have I believe.
As someone living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD,) that can be a recipe for disaster.
So much of the time we have all of these goals, hopes and dreams for our life that cannot happen because of our disease. We have no control over it and no matter how hard we work, it just can’t happen.
For example, I always wanted to be a social worker and have a career of some sort. I always wanted to take all of the experiences I have had into helping people. That would allow me to feel more independent plus make my life richer since I would be engaging with people daily, have a schedule and be able to feel like my identity was more intact.
It pisses me off that I spent so many years in high school and college and I never graduated with my master’s degree in social work. There was a five year program at my college but given I was so in and out, it wasn’t possible for me to go through the program.
There was no consistency or predictability in my life.
So, at the end of it all, it took me five years to get through high school and six years to get through college. I spent a total of 11 years in school, pushing myself beyond belief, and still not being able to have a full time career.
Another example that comes to mind is: I am not sure whether or not I will have a baby of my own. After my last operation, because there was so many abscesses and infection that apparently had been there for years and years, it impacted my ovaries and fallopian tubes. I needed to have my left fallopian tube and ovary removed. One of the surgeons on my case also told me he would have probably removed my right ovary and fallopian tube if I wasn’t the age I am because he did see my right fallopian tube being impacted. He couldn’t remove or do anything to that tube without risking hurting my ovary.
A few days after my surgery, he told me that my right ovary was producing a ton of eggs and that I was very fertile in that way. He shared that he would recommend invitro so as not to prolong the process of me getting pregnant (if I choose) and the frustration of it all given how much I have already had to go through. He then said as soon as I am healed up from this surgery, we can begin talking about it.
I haven’t been the best patient in that respect since it is hard for me to talk about having kids. I always wanted one child of my own and the fact that IBD probably took that away from me, or at least changed it enormously, it is hard for me to see other people posting photos of pregnancy bellies or new babies. Even happy families with kids gets me jealous sometimes.
My last example is my inability to plan.
I am sure most of you can relate to this one, unfortunately. I wish I could plan a vacation (or anything!) and know without a shadow of a doubt I would not only be able to go, but I would be feeling well enough to enjoy myself. And, not bring other people down in the process. I want to get out and do things with my life and IBD has held me back in so many ways.
I wanted to give you a few examples of things that I am devastated IBD took away from me. There is a lot more (of course) but those are the main things that I see on social media that make me upset or jealous. Even mad on occasion. Seeing these things forces me to lose focus on how far I have come and how I am doing the best I can under unimaginable circumstances (like we all are.)
If you feel similarly, I want you to know I get it and can relate. It is hard when you had a different picture of what your life was going to be like and through no fault of your own, the path changed dramatically. And not necessarily in a positive way. Seeing other people’s lives blasted all over social media can cause a lot of hurt and anger. It can also make you think of things that maybe you aren’t necessarily focusing on right now. There are many things I believe most people with a chronic illness keep buried until something pushes it to the surface.
Just know that it is okay to feel this way.
It is a normal response to having parts of your life taken away from you through no fault of your own. I hope you know you are not alone if these things get to you in a major way. I just would like to remind you all that when it comes to things like what we look at on the internet, we do have full control over it. If something is upsetting to you, maybe only check it a couple times a week so you aren’t isolating yourself. Or maybe focus on posting things that you want and ignoring what most other people are doing. We may not be able to control much when it comes to our Crohn’s Disease or ulcerative colitis, but we can figure out ways to make the things that may trigger negative emotions in us, a little less present in our lives.