Dealing with negative emotions while having an ostomy

Dealing with difficult emotions

Having a stoma can be exhausting, and it's not unusual to be affected or feel low from time to time. Here are some strategies for dealing with those emotions.

Going through the changes you have been through is not just a physical, but an emotional challenge as well.

Going through any big change in your life can be a shock. This is true for everyone – not just for people with a stoma. Many people associate the way they look with who they are, and when that changes radically, as with stoma surgery, it can shake up your understanding of yourself.

grieving over your body change is a natural part of the recovery after having stoma surgery

Allow yourself time

A change, like having a stoma formed, can spark feelings of isolation. Many people will have some level of struggle coming to terms with their stoma.

With time the feeling of isolation will go away, but until it does, it is important that you allow yourself to grieve over the changes. This process is a natural way of coming to terms with the changes that have happened to your body, and is a positive and necessary part of the process – and not something you need to suppress or fear.

Of course, if you are experiencing extreme stress or a feeling of hopelessness, you must seek help immediately. Start with your family and friends. If you are unsure of what to do, call your doctor or stoma care nurse and let them know as honestly as possible how you feel.

Will I be a burden?

A common worry for people with a stoma is that they will be a burden to everyone, leading some to keep their stoma secret. However, letting people who care about you in, and allowing them to help you, will likely make things much easier.

Your friends and family are probably looking for ways to support you - so never feel bad about letting them, as they will want to be included.

Will I ever be myself again?

When you are going through the healing process, it is very normal to begin to wonder if you will ever come to terms with this new version of you.

Try to allow yourself some mental rest by not putting pressure on yourself to feel a certain way. People adjust in different ways and at different speeds. There are things you cannot simply rush through or will into happening.

The mind is a strong and beautiful thing, and it can heal in extraordinary ways if we let it. But just as the physical healing process after surgery took its time, so does the emotional healing. You will be yourself again – albeit a slightly different version, perhaps even stronger than before.

Feel like you're stuck?

If you feel you have waited a long time and are still struggling, do not shy away from seeking professional help. Your doctor or stoma nurse can no doubt help point you in the right direction.

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