Managing Your Feelings after Surgery
Your Feelings After Your Operation
After your operation, your family members, friends or work colleagues may assume or expect you will be "back to normal". But some patients tell us there is no such thing as getting back to how they were before their diagnosis. it's about finding the new normal.
Patients have told us that being diagnosed with a Benign Meningioma can feel like being on a rollercoaster - it can turn your whole life upside down. Most of us have a sense of what is ahead of us; what we are having for dinner, or where we are going on our next holiday. But none of us prepare for a meningioma diagnosis. Being diagnosed with a brain tumour could make you question your beliefs and goals for the future which is inevitably going to cause some distress.
If you take a moment and think about some of the feelings and emotions you have experienced since being diagnosed with Meningioma
These could be positive or negative emotions you've experienced since being diagnosed.
Guilt, Anger, Fear, Worry for others, Afraid, Courage, Reflection, What's really important, Worried about work, Telling family members, Relief, Strength to get well, Positivity
It's interesting that despite us all being individuals you may have shared some of the same emotional feelings, which highlight that these thoughts are perfectly understandable and a natural reaction to what you have been through.
The Change Curve
The change curve was developed by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, was a Swiss psychiatrist who studied terminal cancer patients in the 1960's. She looked at their emotional journeys from their diagnosis and came up with the "Stages of Grief" model. This was initially developed to help dying patients cope with death and bereavement.
Please see the change curve diagram above
The model however ended up having a much wider application. it has now become a useful tool for understanding our own and other peoples emotional reaction to personal trauma and change - such as a Meningioma diagnosis. The change curve today, is now used widely in the business world, changes due to COVID and any other new working arrangement.
You may be able to relate to some of these feelings in the Change Curve from your diagnosis right through to your recovery after your operation. Maybe not in the same order, as the change curve illustrates; you may experience all, or skip over some of these emotions. You may revisit or stay in one stage for a long period of time. If this is the case, you may be wondering what is the purpose of this model, if it can vary so much from person to person.
The answer to this is that the model acknowledges an individuals pattern of reactive emotional responses, which people may feel when coming to terms with a trauma. People have to pass through their own individual journey of coming to terms with the situation after which there is a general acceptance of reality which enables the person to cope.
As the saying goes, Time is a great healer
When should I be concerned about how I am coping?
Stress and feelings of anxiety can be damaging if frequently affecting your daily life.
Questions you may want to ask yourself:
- Are your feelings getting in the way of living well?
- Is this normal for you?
- Is this a normal reaction given my circumstances?
Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety & Depression
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe. Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life. For example, you may feel worried and anxious about sitting an exam, or having a medical test or job interview. During times like these, feeling anxious can be perfectly normal.
But some people find it hard to control their worries. Their feelings of anxiety are more constant and can often affect their daily lives
Some of the signs and symptoms that may indicate you are struggling with anxiety include:
- Feeling worried, nervous, tense and uneasy
- Feeling panicky and / or frightened
- Continual sense of dread
- Muscle tension
- Tightness in the chest
- Racing heart rate
- Panic Attacks
Ways to reduce Anxiety
There are many ways in which you can help to reduce your anxiety.
- Talking to someone who has had a similar experience
- Local support services
- Relaxation, visualisation, mindfulness, meditation
- Yoga and Tai Chi
- Complementary Therapies
- Distraction techniques
- One to One and Counselling support
- Cognitive Behaviour Therapies
What is Depression?
Depression is a common condition with a broad range of symptoms. It is a normal response to any trauma, such as being diagnosed with Meningioma and it can happen at any stage; even after treatment has finished. Reasons for this may include, less frequent reassurance or communication with your clinical team and also other people's expectations about how they think you should be feeling.
What can help?
- Talking therapies - such as counselling or cognitive behaviour therapy
- Peer support - joining a support group
- Speaking to a medical professional
- Practicing Mindfulness
If you feel like you are experiencing symptom(s) of either anxiety or depression for more than a 2 week period please see your GP
5 Steps to help you Improve your Mental Well Being
Evidence suggests there are 5 steps you can take to improve your mental health and well being. Trying these things could help you feel more positive and able to get the most out of life.
- Give to others – even the smallest act can count, whether it's a smile, a thank you or a kind word. Larger acts, such as volunteering at your local community centre, can improve your mental wellbeing – in fact it is known to be particularly beneficial for mental wellbeing. It will also help you build new social networks.
- Connect – connect with the people around you: your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Spend time developing these relationships. Connecting with people helps you relax and let off steam and find an outlet through talking. Share your problems, get a different perspective on your problems and find support.
- Be active - Being active is not only great for your physical health and fitness. For more information on how you could be more active, click here for a link to the Physical Activity page.
- Keep learning – learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence. So why not sign up for that cooking course, start learning to play a musical instrument, or figure out how to fix your bike? Learning something new is motivating in itself. It can build confidence, provide a new sense of purpose, distract from worries and help to build emotional resilience.
- Be Mindful - read below for more information on how to practice mindfulness.
Many people benefit from practicing Mindfulness. This can provide tools to support on-going well being and to help deal with stress and troubling thoughts.
So what is Mindfulness?
- Originates from Buddhist Practices, which is over 2500 years old
- It's paying attention to yourself and your surroundings - all about the here and now
- Medically proven to help live with chronic and terminal medical conditions
- Used as treatment for depression and anxiety
- Recommended by NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence), and is used today in schools, sports and businesses
How can Mindfulness help my mental wellbeing?
Becoming more aware of the present moment can help us enjoy the world around us more and understand ourselves better. When we become more aware of the present moment, we begin to experience afresh things that we have been taking for granted.
How Can I be more Mindful?
- Notice the everyday - Pay attention to your surroundings, the food you eat, the leaves on the floor when you're walking
- Keep it regular - It can be helpful to pick a regular time – the morning journey to work or a walk at lunchtime – during which you decide to be aware of the sensations created by the world around you
- Try something new - Trying new things, such as sitting in a different seat in meetings or going somewhere new for lunch, can also help you notice the world in a new way.
For more ways on how you can be more mindful in your every day life, visit the NHS Mindfulness website - NHS Mindfulness
Watch this short video From Every Mind Mattes on ways you can practice mindful breathing exercise