Chronic Snarkopolist: Survivors Guilt and Jealousy
Hello my loves!
One brilliant amazing patient advocate reported some cancer patients sometimes find themselves emotionally comparing themselves and their stages of illness to other patients during cancer retreats. They then feel both guilt and jealousy depending on how the other patients are doing.
If someone is very ill and not responding to treatment, they feel guilty for being in remission or doing well on that treatment. If someone’s surgery went well or their scars look amazing they find themselves jealous over it. It is an intriguing phenomena because it is rarely discussed.
I have heard similar types of issues from other arenas. Some people report feeling angry for perceived wheel chair abuse. “I am always stuck in my chair and I don’t think she is sick enough if she can go out dancing one weekend and then require a wheel chair the next.” Is this wheel chair abuse? Or is this a reflection of how varying bodies and illness can be. Some autoimmunities like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis can flare unexpectedly or be especially uncomfortable at certain times of the day. If someone needs a cane in the morning to get around but does not need it in the evening, are they faking joint pain? Or is their inflammation simply eased up by the afternoon?
Understanding our reactions to patients who do better, heal, go into remission, or get much sicker than us is important though. It needs to be talked about. It is my belief that we are all in this together. By bringing these topics up and we can openly discuss our own feelings and emotional reactions. We can allow that they happen without judging ourselves or putting more pressure on ourselves to be beyond human. It is already hard enough to navigate the healthcare arena. Now we have to navigate our own emotional reactions to other patients, some with whom we have become very close.
What are our strategies for dealing with our complex or contradictory emotions? Do we express them? Do we hold them inside? Do we blog about them? Is sharing safe? Or is it better to not state them for fear of further hurting people who are already struggling? How do we navigate this?
No one gave us a map to being a patient. And no one told us our emotions would get involved, not only with our own process, but with others healing as well. I would love to hear what you think. These are powerful issues. And we rarely even admit to it, let alone discuss “emotional reactions to other patients” as part of our process. What do you think? Please tell me! I must know!
I will see you same time next week! Kiss kiss!
Tags: comparing health situations to other health situations, discussing all of our emotions with respect to healing, finding our way through a contradictory terrain of feelings, patients comparing diseases, patients comparing wellness and remission, survivors guilt and jealousy