Jealous of someone elses disorder?

I have been having these very strange feelings lately and it would be great if I could have some feedback from others about whether they have experienced the same thing; whether it is a Borderline thing, or whether it is just something I am on my own with.

For my new followers, a brief catch up: I have been suffering for Borderline for many years, including several hospitalisations a few years back. I now consider myself, after years of work, to be ‘in recovery’.

A few days ago, James got a message from the sister of one of his friends, telling him that she had been sectioned and was being held in a secure unit in the city. I felt a mix of emotions about this; I don’t know and have never met the girl, but I finally managed to identify the strongest emotion I was feeling as jealousy (!). I feel jealous that she is in hospital and I am not, that she is being looked after by the staff and she is not, that I have all these responsibilities of life where she has just let go of hers like I did when I was hospitalised.

I even now feel jealous that James is giving her (or I am perceiving him to be giving her) attention. How wrong is that! The poor girl is obviously in a very bad place, I don’t even know her and I am jealous of her! This obviously begs the question, do I really want to be recovered? Perhaps it would be easier for me to be ill, and be looked after? Does this mean I actually WANT to be ill again? I know how much I would lose if I became ill, but why do I feel jealous of someone who is?

Then, yesterday, I find out that my 14 year old cousin is suffering from Anorexia. The whole thing is hush-hush and only certain members of the family know, but my sister told me because she thought I would ‘understand’ and maybe I could ‘help’ (given my background with eating disorders, albeit Bulimia and not Anorexia. This nasty little voice in my head says to me “You weren’t strong enough to be Anorexia, you were weak and disgusting, and had Bulimia instead. Only strong people have the strength to have Anorexia”.

I can take a step back from that and I can see that what I have just said it totally wrong and totally sick, but it just shows that although I am no longer actively eating disordered, despite the occasional binge/purse, in my mind my thoughts are still very much disordered.

In the midst of my illness, I used to feel like I was a member of a ‘club’. I wore my scars with a sick sense of pride, because they gave me membership to that ‘club’ – the club of the Borderline, the mentally ill and disturbed. I would automatically accept anyone if they had scars on their arms or a mental health ‘issue’. Now, I don’t feel so much like I am in that ‘club’. My scars cause me more embarrassment and shame than pride and acceptance, they are something I wish I didn’t have because they give everyone I meet a glimpse into how low and dark my life has been in the past, without me saying a word. They are something I try to make less noticeable, unless I find myself in the company of someone else in ‘the club’, and that is when that pride returns and I seem to, without really realising it, show them off as a badge, as if I am saying “Look! I’m like you! I’ve been there too!”. Maybe my jealousy is over the fact that James friend, and my cousin, are now both in ‘the club’ and I miss that. I miss the feeling of completeness and inclusion that they now may or not be feeling.

Is it normal for me to feel jealous of those who are ill and in hospital? Is it that I am craving the attention that they are getting? Is that why I am jealous? Does anyone else experience this? How can I help people if I feel jealous of them? Is this a Borderline thing or is this just me?



  1. I suspect it’s likely a Borderline thing. We like to be the center of attention and when someone else “steals our thunder” we try to find ways to get it back. In my opinion, the fact that you’re able to acknowledge these feelings is a good sign – one that you really are working towards recovery. You’re not acting out inappropriately based on these feelings, you’re recognizing them and seeking advice, and that strikes me as quite healthy.

    What we tend to forget to take into consideration is how different someone else’s situation likely is from our own. There are times when I think that perhaps it would be easier to be back in the hospital, letting someone else take care of all my needs. But then I realize that even though it’s harder in the “real” world, I have a lot more freedom and that, for me, translates to greater strength. I’m doing this myself, and how awesome is that?

    Stay strong. Keep writing about it, keep talking about it. You’re still part of the club, and we’re still here for you any time you need us.

  2. I don’t believe in diagnoses, so I’m not going to label your thoughts and feelings as anything.

    I do understand where you’re coming from, though, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong or unusual about it. You consider yourself in recovery now, which means at some point you considered yourself “unwell” (or whatever word). Your “illness” (sorry, I just hate this terminology!) was horrible, I’m sure. No mental health issue is fun. But it also came with a sense of community, I think. It was part of who you were and maybe you considered it a part of your identity.

    I can totally understand being jealous of the girl in the hospital. I mean, who doesn’t want to drop everything and have other people take care of stuff? It’s a time out, and an acceptable one at that. I think all people, well or unwell, history or no history, would say that they could use a break. Having been there and having that sense of others caring about us is something that everyone craves; you have been there and experienced it, so it makes sense why you would long for it, in a way.

    As far as the eating disorder goes, I think you are spot on with your interpretation of your thoughts. You no longer have the disorder, and that is awesome, you know? And I think that it also is a good example (for everyone) to know that while people may enter recovery, there really is no “cure” and occasionally, little flickers of our unwellness will pop up from time to time. I think the point to take away here is that you’re able to take that step back and understand that the thoughts aren’t healthy and are irrational. This is the key part.

    I think it might be nice to recognize that while you aren’t in the club of the seriously ill, you will always be able to identify with its members because you have been through it. Your scars, as you’ve said, will be with you, and that is a way to remember and empathize with those that have been there, or are currently there. Also, you are now a member of another club – the club of recovery. You have the knowledge and wisdom that others don’t have yet, and this is a thing to be celebrated. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t think you lost the club at all; you just gained an additional one.

    Sorry this is so long. I thought it was a great post. Have an awesome weekend!

    1. Thank you. I hadn’t thought about the fact that I am in a ‘new’ club (or group of support). That’s a really nice way to think about it.

  3. I think it’s a Borderline thing also … fear of rejection/abandonment when attention goes to someone else. Missing the “being taken care of” when in the hospital, and the sense of belonging with others (even if through shared mental illness.)

  4. All these feelings can be interpreted in many ways and I think you might find out your interpretation, but I can tell you my similar experiences.
    Also, for the one sectioned, do you know her illness or why? That might play a part bigger than you think.

    On to my experiences. I’ve been mental in some regard since childhood, I have such a variety of symptoms it’d be impossible to list here. But the BPD diagnosis has stuck and though I’m much better than in the past it still effects my life. There seems to be a few illnesses that have the “club” mentality and the main ones are BPD and EDs. It seemed these people feed off each other, compete, and are able to offer support and empathy in a way no others can. They are often stigmatized illnesses that come with loneliness that creates the club idea, in my opinion. I’ve never fit in a group with my mood or psychotic issues. But with the BPD I have, I don’t feel jealousy per say but am annoyed and hurt when others are “doing worse” and therefore getting more attention and support– especially if I think they’re playing it up. I’ve never felt this was with mood or psychotic issues, again.
    I think you can look at the situation in many ways: pity, jealousy, empathy, anger, annoyance, wanting to help, wanting to be taken care of again, and I think the list could go on and on.

    I’m not sure if you’re familiar with DBT which is a very popular treatment for BPD. But you are using some of their skills perfectly. Observing what’s happened, describing, asking for feedback instead of letting your mind wrap itself up in everything, and you can even see why you may think/feel the way you do. Most people in the midst of BPD can’t see or do these things. I’ve known those who will make a suicide attempt after one in the “club” gets hospitalized and not even connect the dots as to why.

    Maybe you could explain/suggest to James him having a day where he caters to you. I don’t know call it Valentines day practice. 😉 if I’m struggling my sisters make me queen for the day, and in that time I feel the attention I crave and don’t have to act out or get hospitalized to get the attention/care/support or whatever I was looking for.

    1. I’m not sure what she is hospitalised for, other than ‘a breakdown’. I have done a lot of DBT, especially a lot on mindfulness, and thank you for pointing out to me that I am using these skills – I hadn’t actually realised that I was using them (and in all honesty found mindfulness a little… pointless dare I say it!). Thank you for your input. xxxxxxxx

  5. Yes I can relate and I think it is a common thing amongst those of us with BPD. Whenever I hear one of my friends or someone I know is in hospital, or under the mental health act or unwell, there is a part of me that’s jealous of the care they are getting and I get triggered into wanting to be unwell too so I can be looked after.

    1. I’m so glad to know I am not on my own in this. xxxx

  6. I can also relate to this, I guess it’s indeed the care they are getting and you are not which causes this jealousy. Whenever someone around me has an appointment with a psychologist or psychiatrist I already experience those feelings, I tell myself their problems are less than mine and I should be the one to get that kind of help. It feels so wrong to think and feel that way, and it’s ”good” to know others experience those emotions as well, even though it’s such an unpleasent experience. Love always.

  7. I was experiencing a crushing sense of jealousy over someone who was hospitalized in a psychiatric ward I used to be in, grinning and bearing as he went on and on about how the staff was taking great care of him. I felt inappropriate for having jealous thoughts, especially since this was not an isolated incident for me. I was looking for some clues to help me with it when I stumbled across your article, and I could relate, everything from jealousy, bulimia, to scars on my arm. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I understand the mixed emotion of contentment and disappointment for not being part of the “club” anymore. One thing that has helped me is that, as a recovering alcoholic, I joined a support group, and I feel understood, appreciated, and useful there. In a way, it is a “club”; but a healthier one, and being in this “healthier” club has helped me cope by keeping my focus on recovery and being surrounded by many inspirational people who share similar challenges, and I feel “cared” by them and it gives me a sense of joy when I “care” for others. Once again, thank you very much for your honesty; It gave me strength to know that I am not alone.

    1. Thank you so much for reaching out to me. I still periodically struggle with this, and it is definitely an issue of being “included” in the club. I also think it is about attention, about being cared for and cared out. I am in a different place in my life now, I have a husband and I have two young children – so I am very much cared for, and needed, but in a different way. It feels good, but I do sometimes reminisce about my time spent in the unit. Particularly so at the moment as my brother has entered rehab, and it is a similar set up to when I was in a unit. It’s hard to not feel some jealousy (still) however I believe that now I am content in my life, I can see it in a different way: I can see the hardships and the struggles that have led him to that necessary point and feel grateful I am not in that place. Keep well. xxxx

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: