Mental Aspects of Weight Loss Surgery
Patients who have undergone Weight Loss Surgeries often discuss the psychological and mental aspects of the journey. Prior to surgery, they felt poorly about their size and felt guilty that they could not lose weight by diet and exercise. Some even feel like failures as they go into their surgeries. The fact is obesity leads to depression in a vast number of those who struggle with it, and the psychological aspects must be dealt with so they don't follow you after surgery.
For those who have used food as a coping mechanism, or for comfort often find the lifestyle change to be at the very least daunting, if not heartbreaking. To think of going through their struggles without the one thing that has given them comfort can be terrifying. The lifestyle change can cause depression in itself if not dealt with. A lot of our patients have urged others to deal with their demons and to get the help they need so that the lifestyle change does not overwhelm the process of healing and the enjoyment that a new healthy life will bring.
"Mentally let's make no mistake, it has been a struggle. You are a completely different person. Transfer addiction is a very real thing. I turned to alcohol, and ultimately, I was arrested and convicted of an OWI. It's shameful that I couldn't control my drinking. I did seek professional help, and I strongly urge anyone that has the surgery to please have a therapist. The mental change far outweighs the physical. Take care of your mental health! It is critical." -Doug Holbrook
Another mental struggle those who have received weight loss surgery have had to deal with is self-esteem. One would think going into weight loss surgery that dropping the weight would increase their self-esteem, but that is not always as black and white as it would seem. Some patients have reported their self-esteem fluctuating, and feeling uncomfortable with the new attention that weight loss brings. For those who felt invisible before surgery, the attention can be something hard for their minds to grapple with. Some have struggled with the notion that they didn't receive recognition for who they were but what they looked like. It is essential to find yourself, and find comfort in the reasons you are getting the surgery. Ask for help if you are struggling with depression after surgery. There is help out there. This is a hard change mentally and physically, and it is vital to take care of all aspects of your health.
Some who have struggled with food addiction prior to surgery, if their problems aren't dealt with, can find themselves transferring that addiction to something else to seek that comfort they used to find in food. It is crucial to address the underlying issue so that the problem doesn't persist in other aspects of your life.
"I strongly urge professional assistance with the mental aspect. It's a tough journey mentally, and if you try to do it alone, you may be setting yourself up for a very difficult time. Include your spouse or significant other." -Doug Holbrook
Some of our patients have enlisted the help of others who have gone through the surgery, or spouses who are there to pick you up when you fall. Two of our patients are a married couple who went through the operation together, and they use each other's strengths to balance out their weaknesses. Teamwork truly makes the dream work.
"Having a partner to go through the ups and downs of weight loss surgery is so helpful in the journey to lose weight. I would also tell other couples that you will still struggle with the mental issues that come from food addiction. Just because your stomach is now smaller doesn't mean you won't still have the mental struggles that drove you to overeat in the first place. Take it one day at a time and celebrate all the wins. The first six months to a year are so crucial to learning new healthy eating habits and getting more active, don't waste that time. If you don't change your old habits, the weight can come back. The surgery is just a tool; you still have to do a lot of the hard work. I think we both compliment each other in areas where the other is weak. I think I have been able to help Tracie by pushing more on the physical side of our weight loss and Tracie has been better about having us focus on the mental side of our food addiction and learning what our triggers are and seeking help to deal with the actual addiction to food."
-Chris and Tracie Sizemore
It is easier said than done to focus on the now and get your confidence up and running. We all struggle with things. When you go through such a profound life change, it is reasonable to still deal with the mental struggles even if visually you seem to be doing better. Whether it be food addiction, and adjusting to not being able to eat what you want when you want, not being able to comfort yourself. Or maybe it is that your life feels out of your control because the food was the one thing you could control. It could possibly be shame; you feel as though you couldn't do it the "right" way, know that this surgery is a tool to help you do the work. It is not the easy way out, and there is no shame in getting help for yourself and your future. There are countless reasons one might deal with depression or negative emotions after weight loss surgery; the important thing is to seek support, and not be afraid to ask for help when you feel unhappy. It isn't enough to just take care of your body. Your mind needs to be healthy as well in order to lead a happy life. Don't neglect your happiness because this surgery is only one part of the process. You can do this; it just takes putting one foot in front of the other. It is not going to happen in one day. Give yourself time and take it easy on yourself. It is a long journey ahead, try and focus on the here and now. What can you do to take your happiness in your control today?