Ostomy and the Blues

Are you a new or recent ostomate? Are you afraid to go out? Do you stay home because you are afraid of leaking or being in public? Do you often wonder why you feel so blue? Know that you are not alone and that this is often a problem experienced by many.

If your ostomy was not planned or wanted, it is not uncommon to feel down in the dumps. Many ostomates take weeks to months to adapt to having an ostomy. Some people are able to jump into their jeans and continue on with leading their life as if nothing had changed. Others are not so fortunate. For some, having an ostomy may be a cure, but others may not feel the same. Please be aware that these are all normal thoughts. Having an ostomy is most likely unforeseen and can be challenging; the additional burden of navigating COVID times doesn’t help and feeling blue is therefore not unusual.

Many factors can affect our mood. Seasons are one of them; BC winters can be extremely grey and depressing. SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a form of depression triggered by environmental factors like low sunlight and harsh temperatures. The let-down of post-holiday weeks and months only worsens the risk of a winter season depression.

To help lift your spirits, the best place to start is by talking with your NSWOC or your GP.  They can help to identify whether this may be seasonal or purely ostomy related. If seasonal, your GP can help guide you to available treatment options such as light therapy. If the blues are ostomy-related, your NSWOC can put you in touch with other people who have adapted to living with an ostomy.  Attending online ostomy support group meetings, such as the Vancouver United Ostomy Association (http://www.uoavancouver.com) can be helpful, as knowing you are not the only one experiencing this can be a comfort.

Nightingale offers one free session of counseling with Christina Chen, M.Ed.,R.C.C..Christina can be contacted at cclchen@gmail.com.

Remember to take it one day at a time. It can take sometimes two or more years to feel that you are back to feeling like yourself again. Above all, know that you are not alone.