What to Do When You’re Grieving Your Past Self

Grief is an emotion you may not expect as a result of bariatric surgery. However, when you go through major changes in life, there’s always a chance you’ll look back to your “past self” and feel a sense of loss. That person may have felt more fun, more friendly or just different in a way you can’t explain. It’s easy to let those feelings affect your mental health. Here’s what you should do when that happens. 

Understand the Process of Grief

Traditionally, it’s said that grief happens in several stages, including denial, depression and acceptance, and that they happen in a certain order. This isn’t always true. It’s rarely linear, and it often feels like it comes out of nowhere. Understanding and accepting that grief may come over you at any time can help you embrace it and work toward feeling better.

Embrace the Changes You’ve Made

Start by remembering why you decided to make a change in your life. Was it for your health or your confidence, or was there an even deeper reason behind the decision? Now that you’re on the other side of that change, it’s time to embrace it. Learn to enjoy your new, transformed body and all that it has to offer. Focus on your next set of goals that you can accomplish more easily now that you’ve had the surgery. 

Create a New Narrative for Yourself

After surgery, you may feel like a whole new person. However, you need to remember that you’re still in there. The person in the mirror is you. The person from before is you. You’re in a new chapter of your life, and it’s up to you to write it. If looking at yourself in terms of weight is overwhelming, think about the internal growth you’ve made throughout your weight loss journey. Life is all about change, and you’ve just made a big one. Pat yourself on the back for what you’ve accomplished, and keep looking forward. 

Develop Healthy Coping Techniques

Self care is more important than ever after any major life change, especially one like bariatric surgery that impacts your body and mind in a big way. Find healthy coping mechanisms that work for you, like journaling, meditation, and taking walks outside. The more you focus on taking care of yourself, the better you’ll feel. Grief may come around to haunt you, but coping will come more easily.

You’ve taken a huge step for your health by getting bariatric surgery, but change can be scary, even if it’s positive! Now, it’s time to focus on your mental health, embracing the new you while honoring the person you were before the journey started. Loving yourself may be hard, but every step you take toward self acceptance is worth it. 


Bariatric Support Group

Dr. Hodges highly recommends patients attend monthly support group meetings. The meetings are led by Dr. Collins Hodges, both a licensed clinical psychologist and someone who has had bariatric surgery himself. The support groups are offered on the first Monday of every month from 6:30pm – 7:15pm CST via an online GoToMeeting. The meetings are open to the public, and there is no charge to attend.

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