Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, I am just a person sharing my personal story after undergoing bariatric surgery. If you believe that you are presenting Depression or Anxiety, similar to the ones I mention here, please consult a therapist.
When I started considering bariatric surgery, my biggest worry was that I would die on the table and leave my son without a mother. What I didn’t really weigh in, though, was the increased risk of depression and anxiety among bariatric patients. I brushed it off as something I would manage – if it happened.
As you start the process to get weight loss surgery, it seems you’re moving up a ladder meeting with various medical professionals to evaluate your case. Far from popular opinion, weight loss surgery is not a joke, it is irreversible, and doctors need to explain the possible risks and side effects you’re likely to experience: vomiting, pain, acid reflux.
You also need multiple tests to see if you are fit to undergo this kind of procedure. Bariatric surgery shocks your body, and it is an extreme measure that makes it so that your calorie intake is super low. And low-calorie consumption brings many issues such as vitamin deficiencies and hormonal changes.
One of the visits you must have is with a psychologist who makes sure your mental health is in check and you’re informed about what could happen. And as it goes with many, I nodded, said yes, received the lecture and crossed it off the list. I was just so ready to get rid of all this weight.
Depression & Anxiety: The Downsides of Bariatric Surgery
If you’re thinking about getting weight loss surgery, you’re probably focused on all the weight you want to lose. Actually, after a quick Google search, I came up with stories upon stories that focused on weight loss amounts and before and after pictures. It seems as though not many people are willing to talk about the negative sides.
To me, bariatric surgery is the most extreme measure you can take to lose weight. You should only have bariatric surgery when you’ve exhausted all the options, gotten all the tests, and received all the information. Also, I suggest you really get informed about the mental repercussions that stem from these types of surgery.
As I write this, I am going through a very difficult time filled with mood swings, crying bouts, heightened insecurities and lots of mental struggles. I am a very logical person, so the realization that something that is not under my control is affecting my life – has been a treacherous path. I didn’t want to accept that I had a real problem, I ignored that it could have something to do with the surgery and I tried to focus on the number in the scales and my ability to be more active.
But, sometimes you need to stop yourself and recognize that something is off – even if there’s no immediate explanation or reason for it.
Is my life falling into pieces?
For the past 2 months, I’ve felt my life disintegrate little by little. I was hurt and offended more times than I could even count. I have seen myself as the worst human being in the world and lost joy in my everyday life. You know, the reality is that hard things have happened to me during these past months and they are not related to my weight loss surgery at all. I have been mistreated and taken advantage of.
However, my reaction to these difficult situations has been completely catastrophic, I have felt the hurt in a way I couldn’t deal with, I have had multiple anxiety attacks, I have cried so, so, so much.
I have also noticed that things that happened many years ago have started to sting again, I remember them, I acknowledge them, and I suffer through them again. I have been working on those things with my therapist, but I’ve also been thinking about the “why”, why did I allow all of this to happen? Why does it still hurt?
Did I use food as my comfort before bariatric surgery?
Something I think could be one of the causes (other than an obvious chemical imbalance in my brain) is that I had an outlet to deal with difficult moments. Just like some people turn to alcohol or cigarettes, I turned to food for a feeling of coziness, calmness, and consolation.
This means that I have many unresolved issues in my mind that have been triggered by my depression after enduring bariatric surgery. I am also in a vulnerable position with no way to let my feelings rest other than actually managing them. Because of this vulnerability, I have allowed people and situations to hurt me more than they would have in the past.
I know that using food as a way to ease my issues, was what led me to morbid obesity. Of course, I need to find a completely different outlet this time. I am meeting with a therapist every week and now I have decided to write whatever is on my mind on this platform and on Instagram. Because of my depression, it has taken me months to write this post, but I want to win this, I want to help others and get motivated to get better.
Have you dealt with depression and anxiety? What small steps did you take to manage them?