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Anxiety with a Stoma

Having received an email asking me to write about my personal experiences with anxiety I will admit to sitting down and thinking as to if some of my anxious tendencies are stoma based or general run of the mill anxiety issues that I have.

Anxiety is not my friend and it is something that I deal with on a daily basis. It doesn’t rule my life but there are times when it can get in the way, and my holiday was one of them. 

My experience with anxiety

My anxiety tends to coincide with stressful times of life. I struggle to sleep, forget what I am doing, occasionally get dizzy and yes, I get the heart racing that goes with it.

It makes me feel worthless and always makes me second guess myself.

All in all, I try to keep a lid on my anxiety and in all honesty it’s not something I am overly open about and I try to keep it buried as a smile on the face is easy to fake and I don’t have to hold my hands up and admit that it’s my anxiety holding me back. I have used the excuse of having a stoma for reasons as to why I can’t partake which is very naughty of me. It is, however, more of an acceptable form of excuse to use as people don’t always understand how something as simple as a fear or a feeling can stop you from doing something. 

My stoma and anxiety

For the most part, Bertha doesn’t hold me back and I have partaken in some rather brilliant adventures with her. My anxiety stems from being able to find a toilet in time and having to think ahead as to what can potentially harm my stoma. 

Whilst on holiday anxiety reared its head. We were having a fantastic time but being on a sunny island where public toilets are a rarity it tends to make me worry. Heading off to remote Coves for snorkeling made me panic a fair amount and there were two days of this holiday where I had to suck it up so I didn’t ruin it for others. I had several tearful moments after and I was chastising myself for having the operation and potentially ruining my daughter’s fun time because of the bag. 

Hiding under a sarong was how I kept my sanity for those two days and praying that my bag wasn’t going to overflow and leak. I was reduced to emptying my full bag into the little black bags and then I didn’t tie the bag properly and it leaked all over the rocky area we had perched up on so I felt absolutely disgusting. 

The following day my stoma was not behaving so we had a pool day. I was in the pool a fair amount for the morning but Bertha being over active meant I had to make between 10-15 trips back up several flights of stairs back to our villa to empty. My penchant for wearing a two-piece meant I avoided the pool in the afternoon as didn’t want people commenting about the heavy sack of spuds on my stomach. I ended up having an argument with my daughter as she said I wasn’t fun and that I was being lazy for not swimming in the afternoon with her. Having to explain to a 9-year old that mummy really wanted to but couldn’t kind of feel on death ears and I was reduced to tears again as my anxiety kicked off again about me being a bad mum. 

What helps with the anxiety? 

There are things that can help with the symptoms. I have attended CBT since 2012 and find that this helps me a great deal. The coping mechanisms that have been introduced to me help with the lack of sleeping. 

Other suggestions are 

  • Self help courses
  • Exercising regularly
  • Stopping smoking
  • Cutting back on alcohol and caffeine
  • Using a mental health app

Do any of you suffer with anxiety? Was yours pre-existing or was it after stoma formation? Would love to hear from you.

As always

Many thanks for reading 

Louise X

Louise uses our Platinum Vitamin E range to keep her stoma site healthy and protected. If you’d like to find out more or order a sample, click here.

*Disclaimer* 

This blog post is intended to give advice to ostomates. The information given is based on Louise’s personal experience and should not be taken as clinical advice.  Please consult with a professional if you are experiencing any anxiety or mental health issues after your stoma formation. 

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