I underwent a health scare this year, which resulted in me having a double mastectomy. The recovery process following my surgery was a positive experience as I had a lot of time to rest and to reflect about how I was feeling. As my physical pain subsided I genuinely thought that I was okay. However, I am finding it difficult to cope now that I have returned to work and to the routine of normal life.
It is difficult to explain, but I just do not feel like my usual self. I am having negative thoughts about how unattractive I look which I appreciate is to be expected. Yet I am even finding it difficult to get out of bed in the mornings. This week, I didn’t get out of bed and instead phoned in sick for work. I suppose I just find it easier to be alone right now. I have not told my friends or family members how low I am feeling as I do not want to worry them.
I have also gone to great lengths to hide my current sadness from my husband. Although my husband has been very supportive throughout this time, I struggle to discuss my feelings with him and I am dreading moments of intimacy between us following the mastectomy. I fear that he will not accept my new body and I worry that he will not love me anymore as he once did.
Is there anything I can do to feel better?
Your health scare was a life-altering experience and it is not at all surprising that you are still recovering emotionally.
Be accepting of the fact that you are still in a process of recovery. The surgery that you have undergone is a huge adjustment that is bound to impact the relationship that you have with your own body. You have literally lost a part of yourself, therefore it is absolutely normal that your self-confidence is shaken, not just in terms of your sexuality and outward appearance, but in terms of your inner confidence too. In fact, body image dissatisfaction, intimacy issues, anxiety and or depression are common occurrences that follow this procedure.
Counselling support would be tremendously helpful for you during this time as you adapt to normal life and in time, begin to explore with more depth the toll that your double mastectomy has taken upon the way you see yourself and the relationship you share with your husband. If you begin to experience increasing negative thoughts, or thoughts of self-harm or suicide, do not hesitate to seek help. It is so very important Manon that you are aware that you do not need to be alone in this. Confiding in your husband about what you are experiencing or even one family member or friend will allow some of the pressure you are enduring to fall away. There is no shame in what you are going through and you will most likely be surprised as to how understanding people can be.
Phoning in sick for work may well be a sign of your intuition kicking in, informing you of the continued need to rest. Fatigue can make everything you are contending with feel infinitely worse. If it is possible to take some time off work then take it. If it isn’t, be mindful of how you feel each day. If you find yourself struggling, seeking support from a medical professional is essential.
Remember that the steps that you have undertaken to be well and the recovery process that you are in the midst of, are paving the way for your healthy future. Take this opportunity to think about what you want from your life moving forwards. How do you want to live? What is going to make you happy? Do not put too much pressure on yourself to feel better. The road back to yourself does not have a prescribed time frame, nor should it after a mastectomy. Have patience and extend love and kindness to yourself whilst you heal. Take good care.
Wishing you health and happiness,
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