Emotional Rollercoaster after a #Liposuction?
Grief at the loss of a loved one - yes, of course. But after a liposuction? Emotional chaos and even sadness after the long-awaited liposuction for lipedema, why is that? Which phases of grief do I actually go through? And how do I best deal with this?
The Lipedema & Me
How often have I had the thought that the protective armor in the form of the lipedema felt like something additional that didn't really belong to my core. Like a diving suit that I could no longer take off, like a knight's armor in which I stumbled motionless. And yet lipedema has been a part of me for so long. My lipedema and I have built an emotionally intense relationship with one another over the years. For many years, my lipedema believed that it was quietly and secretly accompanying me. It protected me when no one else did it and spoke to me in a language that I didn't understand at all at the time.
But I noticed, felt, puzzled about the lipedema right away, felt ashamed, doubted myself - without knowing its name at the time. That should take a couple of decades. I tried everything, fought against it, scolded it, was sad, angry, cried, clenched my teeth when I was in pain, kept going. I've been in so much pain that I didn't even know I was in pain anymore until it was finally gone - didn't this was even possible. Doing more sports, meticulously counting calories, adhering to a disciplined diet, avoiding the most delicious desserts and listening to bad things.
So I've been busy with my lipedema armor, asking myself: Why me? What's wrong with me? How do I get rid of it and how do I expose and live my core? I have paid a lot of time and attention to my lipedema. As well as when it caused me increasing pain and triggered so many emotions in me.
With the diagnosis, the phlebologist advised me, based on my personal situation, that I should have my #liposuction for lipedema performed as soon as possible. After extensive research and completed consultation appointments, I decided in favor of my health and against my retirement provision or a possible home of my own and had an operation.
The surgery phase - an emotional rollercoaster ride
I was excited about my surgeries, longed to finally have this pathological fat removed, looked forward to the possibility of pain reduction or, in the best case, even freedom from this chronic pain. On the day of the first operation, tears of relief ran down my bed in the hospital. I was delighted to know that an important milestone had been reached. And the next were already within reach. The next few days at home I recovered physically day by day, my operated areas changed the color to "rainbow" and I felt like riding a roller coaster perpetually. I jumped from euphoria, through hope, frustration, pain, impatience, to zest for action and sadness, in order to start all over again, sometimes within a few hours.
What can I say? These feelings confused me! I experienced the following thought: Wait a minute, the surgery was exactly what I had worked towards for so long, saved up, looked forward to and counted the days, in order to then collect all my courage and my confidence and to have professional "Swiss cheese" made from my extremities. So why did I experience such an emotional chaos and not just pure happiness? At times I even felt guilty for these feelings. I felt privileged that I had the opportunity to have liposuction at all, when there are so many women who are denied this option by health insurance companies and can't afford to take out an additional loan for this purpose. And now I was not filled with pure gratitude and anticipation for the result, when at some point the swelling, itching, and hardening should be a thing of the past. Was I sad? I found myself attendin my Aqua Fit course, had fun, felt how good the water was for me, enjoyed the exercise in the cool water and at the same time experienced how I cried in the midst of the predominantly retired people around me. It was good that tears in the water were not noticed and the other participants lovingly accompanied my process by letting me just be. I just let the tears flow. In the next few weeks I cried sometimes because of a film, sometimes while watching a video about squirrels, sometimes because my sweatpants finally seemed three sizes too big and sometimes - on the outside - supposedly for no reason.
I wasn't alone - neither are you
My small survey recently carried out on Instagram (comtesse24x7) showed: 86% of the participating women who had already had at least one liposuction experienced emotional chaos after their surgeries. In my opinion, that is a statement in itself. 86% !!!
Nothing that should stop a woman with lipedema who has planned liposuction, on the contrary. But in my opinion it is good to know in order to be prepared for it. And then to be able to remember it when you are in the midst of it.
Phases of grief
In psychology there are different models of how the progressive process of coping with loss - grief - is described. Verena Kast differentiates between four phases: not wanting to admit it, erupting emotions, searching and separating, new self and world reference. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross differentiates five phases: denial, anger, negotiation, depression, acceptance.* In addition to the mourning phase models by Verena Kast and Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, there are also other more modern models of the course of mourning. According to the US psychologist and grief researcher George A. Bonanno, grief runs in waves: it comes and it goes. And in between there are definitely positive feelings. Over the course of time, the intensity of the waves then gradually decreases with each new wave until it finally fades.** I think this model is particularly helpful.
Now you ask yourself, just as I asked myself in the situation: Yes, well, but I haven't lost a loved one, I've finally got rid of my pathological lipedema fat. So why do I find myself in the middle of this mourning process?
""Grief is regularly the reaction to the loss of a loved one or an abstraction such as fatherland, freedom, an ideal, etc." (Freud, 1916). This concept of grief, defined by Freud, indicates that grief is not is only a reaction to the loss of an important person, but can also be a reaction to parting with an important idea, an ideal, an "abstraction." Freud sees pain and sadness as affect reactions to a separation (Freud, 1926, p. 161)."*
Psychologically, we mourn everything with which we have built an intense emotional relationship. Be it that this relationship was particularly positive and loving or negative and sometimes also hateful.
And from a systemic point of view: An important element in our systems has changed. The affected systems are rearranged.
Even if we get rid of the lipedema through the surgery, there is perhaps or in my opinion most probably still grief and at first we don't understand why, because we have worked so intensively towards this goal. And then we all too easily forget that we can still mourn it. And maybe even should, so that we can look to the future and our goals. I also believe that all these negative emotions are contained in this armor and are then "sucked off" with liposuction in a fast run. And the soul travels a little more slowly.
*Trauer in der systemischen Supervision –Oder: Der Tod klopft öfter an, als man denkt von Ulrich Pfeifer-Schaupp, pp 33, 37 f.
How can you deal with these emotions?
- 1The first and, in my humble opinion, the most important of all: allow yourself to be sad.
- 2Allow yourself the upcoming thoughts and to feel all these emotions connected to this sadness.
- 3Don't judge your feelings. Let them come and let go again.
- 4Approach your feelings in a creative way. Write them all down on a blank piece of paper until your head is a blank space. And even if a single thought comes back many times write it down over and over. Make a collage. Draw a picture. Write a farewell letter to your lipedema fat. Organize a symbolic funeral.
- 5Do something that gives you strength. Do something that makes you feel good: maybe it`s a walk in nature, maybe you watch your favorite movie, maybe you let yourself be hugged, spend time with your partner, your best friend(s), listen to your favorite music...
- 6Observe yourself from the eagle's perspective, as if you were a journalist or if it were your girlfriend who experienced this right now - not you. Stay lovinlgy connected to yourself, because if it were someone else, you absolutely would without a doubt.
Unlock your inner beauty, your path of life!
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