6 Tips for Coping with Emotions after Hysterectomy
A hysterectomy can be a very emotional surgery for many women. Though it can bring relief when it resolves a medical issue, it can also tug on your heart strings and play havoc with your mind because it involves an organ that can be deeply connected to your sense of womanhood. Your womb may have held your child or betrayed you by not allowing you to conceive. There can also be hormonal upheaval that contributes to a roller-coaster of emotions after the uterus is removed. All in all, you may find you feel confused and emotional after your hysterectomy, but you are not alone.
Emotional distress does go away after hysterectomy; it just takes a bit of time and patience. Whether you feel like laughing or crying after your hysterectomy, or if you feel like screaming or hiding because of depression after your hysterectomy, here are some tips to help you with emotional recovery after your hysterectomy.
1. Don’t play the blame game.
Grief, emptiness, and guilt after hysterectomy can be part of the healing process, but now that your hysterectomy is over trying to place blame won’t give you your uterus back or undo the past. Rather than blame yourself or your doctor because you didn’t know your diagnosis sooner, weren’t aware of other options, made poor lifestyle choices, had the wrong genetics, lived with too much stress, avoided the doctor, didn’t get a second opinion, or whatever other reasons you think led to your hysterectomy, choose instead to move forward. There were likely several variables which came into play, and neither you nor your doctor could have controlled all of them. Rather than try to place blame on anyone or anything, choose to move ahead and take control of what you can change–your future.
2. Don’t dwell on the what if’s.
Trying to figure out who or what to blame for your hysterectomy won’t bring back your uterus or change the past. Rather than wonder if you should have seen the doctor more often, ate better, exercised religiously, managed stress more effectively, or 101 other things, focus on the future. You don’t know that losing weight, being more calm, or eating only home grown food products would have prevented your hysterectomy. Your hysterectomy is now behind you, so you work to move forward with your heart and life. Instead of wondering “what if” or “maybe if” or “if only”, choose to move forward and leave your past behind where it belongs.
3. Don’t compare yourself to others.
Every woman is a unique individual, as is her doctor. Thus, even with the same diagnosis and the same hysterectomy type, there can be different outcomes. It’s okay if you take longer to heal or if you never feel a twinge of pain. Hysterectomy recovery is not a competition and there are no awards for healing the best or the fastest. You are you, and only you can be you, and you only have one chance to heal right the first time. So, follow your doctor’s orders for recovery and take it one day at a time no matter what others say about their experiences–good or bad.
4. Don’t forget to give yourself time to heal emotionally as well as physically.
While you are healing physically, allow yourself to heal emotionally, too. A uterus is the womb that either held your child or refused to hold the child for whom you had been longing, so it’s removal can affect your heart and emotions along with your physical being. Your uterus is also one of the organs that help identify you as a woman, so you may mistakenly feel like less of a woman after your hysterectomy. In addition, whether or not you have your ovaries removed, your hormones can be affected by a hysterectomy. As such, having your uterus removed can create a swirl of emotions which can leave your heart sad and hurting. Give yourself permission to grieve your loss and even go through all the stages of grief. You may even want to find a way to symbolically grieve your loss. It’s okay to feel sad, angry, and confused, but you won’t want to let those feelings take control. Acknowledge them and your loss, but then work to heal emotionally so you can move forward with your life.
5. Don’t underestimate how much your hormones can affect your emotions.
Whether or not you have your ovaries removed during your hysterectomy, your hormones can be affected by the removal of the uterus. The blood supply to the ovaries can be interrupted during a hysterectomy, causing them to temporarily not function as they should and thus not provide you with the right hormonal balance. If you do have your ovaries removed, until you can find the right hormone replacement therapy (HRT) you’ll be trying to cope with no or low hormone levels which can affect your emotions and sense of well-being. Whether it’s no or low hormones or temporary hormonal imbalance, you may experience emotional turmoil after your hysterectomy that leaves you with mood swings, tears, depression, and more. Knowing there can be a definite reason for your roller coaster feelings and wide range of emotions can help you cope better with them following your hysterectomy.
6. Don’t do it alone.
You may find it easier to cope with your emotions if you surround yourself with a solid support group of people who care about you. It can include close friends and family as well as medical professionals such as your doctor and a counselor. You may need to connect with several who will support you, or there be one or two particularly close friends or family members you can lean on during this time. Whether you choose family, friends, or medical professionals, it’s important that you choose those who can offer a shoulder to lean on, a listening ear, or a hug to sweeten your day
7. Do move on!
Finally, move on. No matter why you had surgery, how you could have done things differently, or if you have 101 regrets, move on. Your hysterectomy is over and nothing can change that. You can, however, choose today move on. Today, you can determine that you will do all you can do to be a better and healthier you–physically, mentally, and emotionally. Learn to nurture the inner you, reach out to others, set health goals, plan to eat well, and overall make better choices for better health on a day to day basis. You can use your hysterectomy as an opportunity to become a better you with a brighter future. You can’t change the past, but you can change your future so start today!
Browse through the HysterSisters Hysterectomy Recovery Articles covering a variety of topics to learn more valuable information about your hysterectomy recovery.
This content was written by staff of HysterSisters.com by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support. Reprinted with permission: 6 Tips for Coping with Emotions after Hysterectomy