Is depression after FFS common?
It is common to feel emotional, anxious or even depressed the weeks after having gone through Facial Feminization Surgery. Addressing this reality is important for future patients in helping them (and their network) prepare for this surgery and the recovery process thereof.
Patients are generally well prepared for the physical side of recovering, but not so much the emotional side. When we know what to expect, we might experience lesser degrees of stress and anxiety. And ultimately, this helps our nervous system create a smoother recovery!
Why can FFS have such an emotional impact? These 5 aspects are important to take into account.
1 Facial Feminization Surgery is invasive
FFS is invasive. It’s a big procedure for your body to recover from and it will take a lot of time and energy from you. People don’t generally enjoy the experience of fatigue, being uncomfortable, or dealing with pain or complications. So expect that it’s probably going to be tough on the mind and soul, not just on the body.
2 Recovery might take longer than expected
Everyone recovers at different speeds. Some women recover so fast that most swelling seems to have gone down within a few weeks and the results are visible almost instantly.
An important side note is that women under thirty to forty generally heal much faster. After the age of forty, the healing process starts going slower and slower. We have to take into account that recovery might take a lot longer than we would like. And that even someone of a younger age might bump into that harsh reality. What takes weeks for some, might take months or longer than a year in others.
3 Unrealistic expectations of instant happiness
Another very important factor is that people are very focused on the end result and the happiness they hope FFS will bring to their lives. It has been proven that this surgery can help bring an end to being misgendered and the feeling of not passing. So oftentimes we expect surgery to be a quick fix for our inner turmoil. For some it has that effect, but for others it does not. This doesn’t mean that surgery can’t be helpful, it’s just not a magical recipe for happiness.
You might just need more time to process and adjust to what’s happening, and that’s okay. Try to reach out to people in your support system and/or seek out professional support when you feel it’s getting too much to handle.
4 Looking into the mirror for the first time is scary
The reality is that it is hard to mentally prepare for seeing yourself in the mirror for the first time after surgery. With all the swelling and bruising, sutures, dried up blood, … It’s not uncommon to feel anxious, or even regret.
Sometimes patients are able to see through it and they are overwhelmed with joy because they already have a vision of what the results are going to be. But it might also just be very overwhelming, and it can take time to adjust to the changes. Remember that all of what you are seeing at that moment is very temporary. It’s going to get better soon!
5 After climbing a mountain, you have to come back down
After having lived for this surgery for months or even years, suddenly it’s done. The surgery is over and maybe you’re left with a gap where your main focus used to be. Combine that with the fact that you’re not entirely healed and happy yet, and still expected to move on with your life, and post-surgery depression kicks in. This phenomenon seems to happen in some patients about three to four weeks after surgery.
The important thing to know is that it will pass, and that it might help to prepare and make plans to take extra good care of yourself before surgery, but also the weeks after.
When things get rough, reach out for help
There does not need to be any shame in admitting you’re going through a rough patch. Sometimes things are just not alright, and there has to be room for that process. Try to reach out to people in your support system and/or seek out professional support when you feel it’s getting a lot to handle.
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