Mental Health With an Ostomy

Mental health awareness I am pleased to say has become part of everyday conversation, not needing an awareness day to start the conversation. I have spoken about how my own has been affected by mine and my sons diagnosis of Hirschsprung’s Disease requiring us both to become fully fledged members of the ever growing ostomy community, of which I am so proud.

mental health with an ostomy

Supporting your own mental heath

This year I wanted to open the topic up to my fellow ostomates to see what ways they support their own and here are their responses:

  • Arts and crafts
  • Walking the dog and getting out into the countryside
  • Having things to look forward to
  • Confiding in family and friends 
  • Running, gym, dance class
  • Connecting with people on social media
  • Going to the GP for medication
  • Joining a group

Finding a new normal

The theme of this years awareness week is loneliness, something that is very relatable when you go through a surgery that is not common place in society. I have documented previously the isolation I felt as a parent to a baby following stoma surgery at a few weeks old. I felt so different to other mums, not being able to relate to them at all and experiencing the loss of the new mum life I had dreamed about. Reaching out to others through my Instagram account @gutsy.mum was the start of overcoming such loneliness. Going to the GP and sharing my difficulties with my own mental health allowed me to take the steps towards getting medication for anxiety and finding my new normal. 

There are so many reasons for feeling loneliness. You may have gone through trauma, a change in circumstances, routine or conflict. If you are reading this and feel lonely, you should be proud to have acknowledging the feeling. You have the courage to admit a difficult feeling and you can begin to research tools to overcome this. You may start some of the things our ostomates in the community have shared above. You may feel it is the right time to talk to your GP. 

Feelings of isolation and anxiety

Covid has driven so many of us into feelings of isolation and anxiety making tasks more difficult that previously wouldn’t have triggered much of a reaction at all. I took my little boy to the cinema this week and a family sat next to us. The Dad sat right next to me and I came over in a wave of nerves. It’s the first time a stranger had sat that close to me in years. It shocked me how alien it felt. It shouldn’t do but it did and it wouldn’t of before. It made me think if I feel like that over a trip to the cinema, then I can only imagine how difficult it feels for ostomates having has surgery with no one to talk to. The cinema trip ended with me having a lovely chat with that stranger about the cinema and its history, I relaxed and enjoyed the film and felt rather silly for feeling so anxious. Nevertheless its hardly surprising the past few years we have had. 

Getting support

Colostomy UK has a 24 hour helpline 0800 328 4257 should you wish to talk to someone who doesn’t know you. For myself, fellow ostomates, family and friends were my support network not to mention my Pelican and Respond family who have supported me and Jake over the years. If you are feeling lonely, I am sending you a big Welsh cwtch and all the courage to seek support and overcome those feelings when you are ready to do so. 

For more blogs focused on support please click the links below:

Reading fiction for escapism Parental Support for Young Ostomates 

Being an advocate for your own health 

Finding confidence after stoma surgery 

Until next time, Rach @gutsy.mum x

If you are struggling with your mental health, please click here for information and resources. 

Meet the blogger: Rachel

Rachel is a part time baker and healthcare blogger who started raising awareness of stoma surgery following the birth of her son Jake. Jake was born with the same condition […]