Comparison Prevents Me From Treasuring My Progress
Life with chronic illness is a constant game of comparison. I either compare myself with my healthy peers, or with other medically complex young people. Recently, I’ve found someone new to compare myself with: the healthy version of me that lives in a parallel universe.
I’m currently responding well to my new treatment plan. This means enjoying the perks of being less symptomatic than usual. I’m working more hours, and surprisingly, I’m not paying the physical toll in uncontrollable symptom flare-ups. I’m sleeping more, but I can still get up the next morning.
I’m still sick, but I’m not that sick anymore.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be that sick. I relish the privileges I get to enjoy now. I’m just confused by the guilt accompanying my newfound happiness. This guilt then leads to comparing myself with a nonexistent version of me. Ultimately, I push myself to my own extremes.
In turn, this means I’m never realistic about the severity of my symptoms. Feeling better doesn’t mean I’m not still sick. I seem to forget that. I’ll downplay every emerging symptom or make excuses for its presence. This never works. I always end up struggling in a hospital bed, either receiving intravenous immunoglobulin or plasmapheresis.
Why can’t I break this destructive pattern of comparison?
Yes, I am doing better, but I am nowhere close to who I was before illness took control of my life. I know I am enough just as I am, but I struggle to internalize it. Especially since I keep comparing myself with an idealized version of me I’ve compiled.
“If I were healthier, I’d be better,” is a thought that frequently crosses my mind.
I want to believe it’s not true, but a part of me struggles to do so. Then I remember that healthy Retha also based her self-worth on things beyond her control. In particular, I remember always thinking that if I were skinnier, I’d be happier. Honestly, I was definitely skinny enough when I felt that was my shortcoming.
Why do I worship the healthy version of me?
Myasthenia gravis has taught me strength, determination, and courage. It has tested me in ways I could never have prepared for. Yet, I trivialize the value of all it has added to my life by comparing myself with some made-up version of me.
I will try to only compare myself to person I was the day before. Being gentle with yourself is not a weakness. You deserve kindness, too. Life is beautiful.
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