What should I do if I’m feeling discouraged or depressed?

May 10, 2021

Choose Better NOT Bitter 

There are certain traits that an individual can possess that can help them thrive, not just survive, through times of great challenge and difficulty.  These traits or characteristics affect your mindset, level of happiness and overall success in overcoming difficult times.  Following are 10 characteristics that have been found to bring on the biggest levels of success: 

  1. Remaining Accountable. Don’t play victim, understand your role and be proactive. 
  2. Maintain Optimism.  Regardless of all that has happened, look to the future and believe it will be bright. 
  3. Practice Boundaries.  Avoid those that bring negative perspectives or attitudes and maintain a level of kindness and positive perspective within yourself. 
  4. Asking for Help.  Reach out for support and have confidence that you will receive it. 
  5. Awareness of Lessons Learned.  Keep looking for the lessons in every experience no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. 
  6. Avoidance of Negative Self-talk.  Don’t allow any negativity or self-reproach to enter your mind.  Turn those thoughts around and maintain a level of kindness and patience towards yourself. 
  7. Quickly Correct Negative Behaviors of Habits.  Don’t repeat behaviors that gather negative results.  Identify them quickly and amend. 
  8. Relinquish Control.  Know that we are stronger together.  Allow those with expertise to work with you and maintain flexibility. 
  9. Keep An Eye On The Prize.  Look at the bigger picture and past the fleeting moments of bleakness and challenge. 
  10. Embrace Change.  Don’t be afraid of the differences in your new life.  Tackle them head on and have confidence you will overcome.

Overcoming the Ostomy Crisis - Mental and emotional strategies to recover after surgery 

By Brian Ronnenberg, Clinical Counselor 
Originally published in The Phoenix Ostomy Magazine, www.phoenixuoaa.org 

“Crisis” written in Chinese contains two characters which represent “danger” and “opportunity.” When someone is required to have an ostomy surgery, it may be difficult to see anything but the harm that it has done. This is completely understandable and probably how most would react. Finding opportunity in crisis involves resilience, healthy choices, and facing our fears. “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves”  - Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning. 


Viktor Frankl was a holocaust survivor and his “Logo Therapy” is utilized around the world for people in extreme crisis. Frankl uses the “silver lining” idea to find opportunity for positive change in any crisis. If you have been through a life-altering event such as ostomy surgery, this is a useful perspective.   

This is done by looking at what abilities, talents and resources you have. You still have the ability to create! Some of the best songs, inventions and works of art are created in times of crisis. The blues is an entire music genre made simply out of people expressing their anger, sadness, and fear. Despite our strengths, it’s not always easy to just pick ourselves up. It is completely understandable to have depression, anxiety or even anger toward ourselves or others. That just means we are human. Because we are human, we also have the ability to adapt quickly and bounce back in a variety of ways. 


Resilience is essential for physical recovery and mental strength in a difficult time. Resiliency is gained in a number of ways, but it always comes from a combination of physical and mental health. Studies have shown that high levels of resilience predicted positive mental health and decreased physical complications in those with serious medical diagnoses. In other words, if you are prepared for bad times, you can thrive.  

Think of resiliency as a tool box. The more tools we have, the better we can cope with crisis. These tools come in the form of nutrition, activity, social connections, mental health and even genetics. Are we coping with a bottle of wine or a walk with a friend? Are we watching TV or going to an art night at the local studio? These are the small decisions that will choose our path of recovery. One of the problems with recovery is often self-control. 

The role that self-control plays in our resiliency and overall happiness is proving to be very important. This is applicable to ostomy surgery recovery. When we are depressed, anxious or angry with our life situation, we tend to search out things that make us feel good. This can be comfort food, drugs, certain people, or even binge-watching our favorite mindless TV show.  

What research shows is that these things make us happy for a little while, but in the long run we are just digging a larger hole. What this tells us is that we need to make consistently healthy choices in order to increase our ability to bounce back and in order to put ourselves in a place where crisis turns from “danger” to “opportunity.” 

Making a Game Plan 

Mental resiliency is arguably the most important aspect of our transition from adverse conditions. If ostomy surgery has damaged our self-confidence, mood, or ability to enjoy life, it is important to find ways to heal this. Dealing with stress and understanding the emotions that surround a major surgery are paramount to increasing resiliency. During this time many fears may arise. Will people look at me the same? Will I still have a sex life? Will anyone love me? The answer to these questions is the same as it was before the surgery. In short, YES. 

People deal with stress in different ways, whether it is physical activity, meditation, reading, or talking about it. This is an area where counseling can be very helpful.  

Healing Program 

Jon Kabat-Zinn created an entire healing program based on one simple strategy. Just be here now. The concept is relatively easy, but difficult to master. Unfortunately, when you have just had a life-altering surgery, there may be a lot to think about. Compounding this, our brains are constantly bombarded by media, electronics, and 24-hour connectivity.  

Do yourself a favor and take a breath. What you feel is the present moment. Our breath is never in the past or future. This is why meditation focuses so much on breath. Worrying about stoma complications or quality of life is natural. This is not only exhausting but it also causes stress and affects our ability to recover mentally and physically during crisis or life transition.  

Take another breath. Are these problems real right now? Most of our worry is fabricated. We tend to make the worse-case scenarios in our minds when we are going through a rough transition. Give yourself a break! Meditation clinics are in every major city and can offer a cheap road to relaxation and mental strength. When we take time to cultivate mindfulness, it makes us stronger mentally. This is where resiliency is born. That being said, this takes time to perfect and requires a commitment. This commitment is worth it. 

Sometimes we can’t choose the hand we are dealt. Colon cancer, diverticulitis, and other health complications may be out of our control. What we do after this diagnosis is fully in our control! Looking for opportunity, increasing resiliency, and practicing mindfulness are proven ways to live a happier and more fulfilling life regardless of the hand we are dealt. Sometimes we can’t change our situation, but we can always change how we react to it.

 Click HERE to get a FREE New Ostomy Patient Guide, FREE ostomy product samples and Three Bonus Back issues of America’s leading ostomy publication, The Phoenix magazine.  

For a 25% discount on the printed version, please call 800-750-9311 and mention discount code MAO15 or click HERE.