There are few amputees who don’t struggle with body image issues after limb loss. Although many people assume women’s body image struggles are worse than men’s, this isn’t really the case; men have the same problems women have.
Even if your amputation is planned and you feel like you have mentally prepared for what’s coming, you’ll probably still get hit with body image issues. So what’s the best thing to do if this happens? How can you learn to love your body again?
Embrace Your Individuality
The first thing to know is that everyone’s path to acceptance looks different. We wish we could outline a step-by-step program that would have you loving your body in 3 weeks or less! But that’s just not reality.
Whether you’re in denial about what’s happened, or you’re just beginning to glance into the mirror for the first time, accepting your new body is going to take some time – and it won’t happen the same way for any two people.
Process Your Feelings
Others may applaud you for your bravery, especially once you begin returning to work or school. You might be tempted to “fake it” for a while – acting like you are fine with your new body, even though you aren’t.
While total transparency may not be an option for you in the workplace, you should seek out a safe space in which to express how you really feel, deep down. Maybe you feel a lot of self-loathing because of your amputation, even though you’re not to blame for it. Maybe you can’t look in the mirror without crying. Maybe you are struggling to even get through the day.
This will get easier, but in the meantime, a counselor or trusted friend can help you vent your fears, anger, and frustration in a safe way. Give yourself the resources you need to move through this process – don’t stuff your feelings away.
Give It Time
As you learn to live with limb loss, you will become accustomed to your new body shape. You’ll learn to give yourself grace as you deal with difficult, sometimes irrational, emotions. By putting words to your emotions, you will find that they become easier to handle – which means you’ll move through them at a healthier pace. Soon, you will see strength and resilience in the mirror instead of an incomplete body – and that’s when you know you’re well on your way to loving your body again after limb loss.
Happy Valentine’s Day from BioTech!
No matter where you are in your limb loss journey, BioTech is here to show you some love! Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day, and contact us for all your prosthetic and orthotic needs!