Post Hysterectomy Grief - Emotional Health
Finding Emotional Wellness
Natural menopause, surgical menopause, hormonal imbalances, emotional trauma of needing surgery or of dealing with a cancer diagnosis can trigger depression. How do I know if that might be my issue?
Depression and Hysterectomy
Many factors surrounding a hysterectomy can trigger depression. It can range from a period of depression to major depression. Major depression is also referred to as clinical depression. It is characterized by the same symptoms but is more intense and lasts for longer periods of time.
Emotional symptoms can include:
- Feeling sad, empty, hopeless or numb
- Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy (including sex)
- Irritability or anxiety
- Trouble making decisions; lack of concentraition
- Feeling guilty or worthless
- Thoughts of death and suicide
Physical symptoms can include:
- Back Pain
- Muscle aches and joint pain
- Chest pain
- Digestive problems
- Exhaustion and fatigue
- Sleeping problems
- Change in appetite or weight
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
You may find that you are suffering from both anxiety and depression which can increase the severity of your symptoms.
If you have a combination of these symptoms you should discuss it with your health care provider and determine if therapy, medication or a combination of both can help you manage and overcome this medical condition.
When to Talk To Your Doctor
If you are experiencing the symptoms on the list above and they are interfering with your daily activities, it is important to talk to your doctor. Do not suffer in silence.
Make an appointment with your doctor and take a list of the symptoms with you. Discuss your feelings. Describe your mood. Talk about your loss.
Medications are available that are safe and effective, even for the most severe cases. With proper treatment, most people with depression improve, often within weeks, and can return to normal daily activities.
As part of the post-surgery follow-up care they provide, at your post-op medical appointments, your physician should inquire about your mood and sense of well-being, and evaluate and treat any condition of this nature appropriately. If your doctor does not bring up this topic, then you need to do so. Help is available, so there is no reason to continue to suffer.
Understanding Your Loss
A woman's emotions are often based on her beliefs about the importance of her uterus, her fears about her health or personal relationships after a hysterectomy, and concerns about her enjoyment of sexual activities after surgery. Grieving the loss of childbearing ability is very common after a hysterectomy, even for those who never wanted to give birth, or who had previously felt their family was complete.
In most cases, as a post-op hysterectomy patient’s physical healing progresses, and her life gradually gets back to normal, her feelings of sadness fade away. As time passes, she starts to feel “like her former self” again, and her emotional health returns to normal. However, those who experience a long-lasting, persistent low mood, should see their physician for a depression evaluation.
Your Are a Whole Woman
After a hysterectomy, many women feel a sense of loss–-no matter what their age, no matter if they have a child or not, no matter if they thought they never wanted to have children. They feel a loss of possibility, a loss of choice.
Feelings range from a sense of emptiness or confusion to numbness and heartbreak at the thought of never holding their own newborn or sharing a child with their husband.
And many feel less of a woman because of this loss.
These emotions can be very strong and if you feel them, it is important for you to know and accept that they are normal and reasonable--especially right after your surgery. You need to allow yourself to grieve this loss; only by doing so will you allow the healing process to start.
Know that our body parts do not define us as real women. We are female in our brains and hearts much more than in our bellies. We are compassionate, loving, and willing to give of ourselves more than any of God’s creation. All women become infertile eventually. HysterSisters become so because they need surgery in order to be healthier.
You are still a woman if you've had a hysterectomy. Don't let anyone make you feel any differently. You are still whole.
We regularly hear from HysterSisters who completely changed the course of their lives during the year or two after their surgeries.
Have you thought about going back to school? Getting more education? Do it.
Have you thought about staying at home, away from the hustle and bustle of the corporate environment? Thought about starting your own business? Do it.
Have you considered writing that book? Taking dance or painting classes? Do it.
Going deep sea diving? Going on a cruise? Touring the world? Do it.
Learning a new language? Gourmet cooking?
Volunteering at a local school? Church?
Have you thought about the extra pounds you are lugging around that drag you down?
It's not too late. Start today with your plan of action. Taking one step towards an exciting adventure is good for the soul.
The Importance of Friends
If you are not surrounded by friends who encourage you, now is a great time to add friends to your "to do" list.
Find friends in activities that interest you. Do you love art? Consider volunteering at a museum. Do you love history and geneology? Consider joining your local historial society. Join a local church. Do you like to travel? Join a travel group and see the world. Do you need to exercise and lose weight? Join Curves or Weight Watchers. Do you love to help others? Sign up to work at a local food pantry or food kitchen.
You will find new friends automatically embedded in your new activities.
Take the initiative. When you meet new friends, take the extra step after the class or assigned time. Invite them for coffee to learn more about them. Learn to become "other" oriented. Learn to be interested in their lives.
The Importance of Hope
Have you met women that seem to be content even when their circumstances aren't good? These women have learned the importance of hope.
Hope is important because it gives us something to talk about and to look forward. Hope gives us something to work towards. And hope gives us something to hang on to when the going gets tough.
Women with hope do not possess a magic pill or a perfect life. They do, however, have the ability to set aside their daily pain and fear and look towards tomorrow's sunrise with expectation that tomorrow will be better. Choose to be a woman of hope. The quality of your life can be better with hope!
Sponsor a child through Compassion International. You can request a boy or girl. You can request a country. You can request an age range. For a small fee each month, you will invest in the lives of children who need to know there are people who care. Write letters. Send gifts. You will be blessed!
Help others. Be a volunteer reader at a local library. Work for a local food pantry or food kitchen. Sign up to teach art classes at a nursing home. Serve at a local Ronald McDonald House. Volunteer to visit patients in a local hospital.
Create a Pay It Forward program in your community.
By choosing activities that help others, your investment in the lives of others will bless your own heart.
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More Post Hysterectomy Resources
Check out these resources to help you prepare for surgery. Don't forget our best resource - our pre-op discussion forum where thousands of HysterSisters participate daily! AND - Don't forget to ask your doctor for additional resources.
Post Hysterectomy Grief Resources
ALL Emotional Health Videos
Grief and Loss After Hysterectomy Articles