After stoma surgery, your body will have undergone quite a significant change and one that might take a little bit of time to adjust to. The effects of having a stoma aren’t just physical and unfortunately, it can sometimes take a toll on one’s mental health. More specifically, body image issues are quite common amongst ostomates.
Having a stoma does impose significant changes to how your body functions, and adjusting to this, both physically and mentally can take a while. Therefore, it’s really important you take all the time you need to start feeling better and more like yourself.
Dealing with body image issues
Sadly, body image issues are a big problem in society nowadays and can lead to further mental conditions such as depression, social anxiety and eating disorders. Body image issues aren’t uncommon amongst those with a stoma, after all, coming to terms with a changed body can be overwhelming.
One of the most important parts of dealing with negative feelings is to be open and honest with the people you care about and who are there to help you. Try to explain how you are feeling and the thoughts you have about your body to your partner, a supportive friend, or even your stoma nurse! Negative body image can quickly lead to depression, anxiety and affect your sense of identity, so it really is important that you talk to your loved ones and give them the best chance of understanding how you’re feeling.
It’s also important to remember that your stoma care nurse is available at any time to help talk through how you’re feeling. He or she will be well trained to support you whilst you adjust and recover from the changes that have been made to your body.
Changing the way you think about your stoma
Your stoma is potentially a life-saving piece of equipment which is significantly improving your quality of life. So, instead of feeling down about how your body has changed, try to focus on the positives of having a stoma, such as being able to get back to the job you’re passionate about, or the activity that you love doing!
Building back your confidence begins with you and by embracing your uniqueness, you can help yourself to adjust to the changes and new routines that come with having a stoma.
It’s also really important to remember that everybody is different and being patient with yourself and the healing process is vital. If you are feeling extremely down about your stoma, don’t hesitate to get in contact with your stoma nurse.
Tips for managing feelings about body image
- Don’t avoid going to new places or seeing new people. Avoidance can reinforce feelings of anxiety in social situations.
- If you feel unattractive now that you have a stoma, think about what originally attracted your partner to you, the chances are it was something other than your tummy! So focus on your strengths and remember that your best features won’t have changed!
- Reframe your stoma into a positive. For example, it can represent well-being and being rid of illness.
You can read more about dealing with your mental health as an ostomate here.
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