It is normal to experience a variety of feelings and emotions after weight loss surgery. While most patients feel hope, optimism, and confidence about the active, new life they will build, sometimes there can be feelings of anxiety or irritability/confusion in dealing with many new and/or unfamiliar situations. Understanding your own feelings and helping those around you to understand can have a remarkable impact on your relationships and yourself.
What to expect from family and friends
Support and encouragement from family and friends will help you make the best lifestyle changes. Relationships are important and can have a real influence on your life. These relationships could include family members you grew up with, family members created through marriage, friends, or coworkers. Before your surgery, these relationships may have supported or hindered your weight loss efforts.
When you return home, family and friends may have questions about your surgery and weight loss. You might find it difficult to discuss and might prefer not to talk about it at all. In that case, here are some ideas that might be useful to you.
If people repeatedly ask you about your surgery and you would rather not answer questions, you can say:
- “I appreciate your concern, but it would be helpful to me if you didn’t ask about the surgery (or weight loss) for right now. I’ll let you know when (or not) it would be helpful to talk about it.”
- “Would it be okay if we talked about it when I’m ready?”
- Offer a humorous reply…then switch the topic to something else by volunteering information or by asking the other person a question.
If people offer unwanted advice or criticism on your decision, you can say:
- “I really do appreciate your concern for me, and I know you care about me, but I am working closely with my doctor and I’m fine. I really prefer to talk about things other than my surgery and weight. But thank you for your interest in my health.”
The words you use are not as important as the attitude you project. You can be considerate of the feelings and needs of others while acting in your own best interest.
Help educate your family and friends
Those who really care about you want you to be healthy and happy. They are usually willing to do whatever they can to help you reach your weight goal. However, family and friends do not always know how to best support your efforts or really understand the surgery.
In many cases, you need to educate your family and friends about what bariatric surgery is and how it works. They need to know that the surgery is not magic; it is a valuable tool for successful weight loss and maintenance.
Once you share this information, your family and friends can believe in your success. They probably already know about your prior weight loss attempts that have failed. Now, they can help you by talking and acting as though you will triumph.