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The Pain of Watching My Healthy Peers' Lives Pass Me By

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As someone who’s always sick, it can be hard to look at your life and be satisfied.

Lately I’ve really been struggling with my depression more than I have in quite a while. There are a number of reasons: my medications have changed and I’m working on getting that figured out, but a lot of it is because it’s really difficult to not compare my life to the lives of those around me.

When I talk about this, most people seem to think I’m worried about being like other “normal” 25-year-olds in a general sense. This isn’t the case. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on what I see my peers doing, like people from high school on Facebook and whatnot (there seem to be two groups: the people out at bars and clubs and dating lots, and the people having kids — I rarely go out and am in a very happy relationship, and I don’t want to have kids, so I don’t find myself feeling like I’m missing out on these things!).

The problem isn’t missing out on what seem to be “typical” activities for people my age. The problem is watching the people close to me build their own lives, and build lives that I’m seemingly not really a part of. Lives that are always moving forward while I’m… not. I never am. The problem is that I feel like I don’t have a life of my own.

For example, watching people close to me go away to grad school is incredibly difficult and painful for me. They’re doing exactly what I wanted to be doing with my life right now. I’m not in school anymore, I work part-time, but I want to be back in school now and I can’t go back.

I really shouldn’t even be working if I’m actually honest with myself and if I listened to my body (pfft, like that’ll ever happen — I’d never do anything again). I’m in the process of applying for disability. At age 25. Because that’s what I wanted to be doing at this point in my life and that feels great.

I can’t do what I’m passionate about. I lost my ability to dance a long time ago because of my illness, but I still miss it every day. Writing is becoming something I’m passionate about, but it’s not the same.

The problem is that not only do I watch everyone pass me by, but that I spend my days feeling like hell. I spend all my days in pain. I spend my days at doctor’s appointments. I spend every day trying so damn hard to get better and to move forward and to give myself the chance to make my own life and getting nowhere. I spend every day wondering why and wondering what I’m doing wrong, wondering why I don’t get to live and have my own life to be proud of instead of just barely surviving.

In fact, that’s why I spend so much time upset and dwelling on these thoughts about everyone else and how they’re prospering and pursuing their dreams. I hear their stories, and then they leave again and go back to their lives, and I go back to mine, and mine, well, mine kinda sucks. When I’m busy, it’s rarely doing something fun — it’s stressful, and when I’m alone I’m in pain with nothing but time to think. And that pain is not going to help you stay positive or look for the good.

I have a lot to be grateful for, including the people close to me I compare myself to. I am grateful for them, for their achievements and growth, for their health and ability, and for being able to share in their joy.

But I’m also tired of being made to feel — by others and by myself — that I’m not allowed to be upset about and depressed by the nosedive my life has taken. I’m not ungrateful. And other people having it worse does not negate my suffering.

It should be upsetting to a person to have your future taken away. It should be upsetting to have things you worked towards taken from you. It should be upsetting to watch everyone else move on without you. It should be upsetting to be trying with all your might to get better and not have anything to show for it. Being upset is a normal, sensible reaction.

I shouldn’t feel guilty for being depressed. I think it sucks so much because it’s not a choice — that’s what’s really difficult to deal with, why it’s hard to be satisfied with what I have. It’s hard to watch everyone else be so… free — carefree, even. That is something that’s usually taken for granted.

I hope that I can work my way out of this. I know I have my writing, which is awesome! Especially for where I’m at in my chronic illness journey. I’m not good at giving myself credit for things. It’s because I want my autonomy back. Those things don’t feel like enough for me somehow because I didn’t choose to end up doing them.

But my writing is something I need to be proud of, especially when I think about how I’ve been told that I’m actually helping others. That’s something that I feel is important in life. So maybe I am getting somewhere in recreating a life for myself. I hope my ramblings might help someone.

I’m working on being more satisfied with my own life and on not being heartbroken by what I can’t have anymore. I want to continue growing as a warrior.

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Originally published: February 5, 2018
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