How Dealing With My Ostomy Bag Affects My Mental Health by David Lee Chu Sarchet
As some of you may know, as of June of last year I have been dealing with a permanent ostomy bag. An ostomy bag is basically a medical bag that is attached to your stomach where your ileus or colon is and your feces go into the bag. My ostomy bag is an ileostomy bag so it is where my ileus is. At least once a week I have to change the bag out for a new bag. Sometimes more than a few times a week whenever it leaks.
The reason I have to deal with this is because last year a nurse practitioner put me on an anti-psychotic medication that ended up perforating my colon. The surgeons had to perform six or seven surgeries on me in order to save my life. On top of having a perforated colon, I also had a pulmonary embolism and gastroparesis too.
There was absolutely no way that I should have lived through that. However, the Lord had other plans for me and I ended up surviving. However, I have to now live with this ostomy permanently because my specialist says that my surgeries were so extensive that any further surgeries could cause complications like death.
On most days, things are fine, but I would be lying if I said dealing with this has not affected me mentally.
In this blog, I will talk about the different ways that dealing with an ostomy bag has affected my mental health. And then I will talk about the different things that have really helped me cope with the mental ramifications.
My hope is that the Lord will use my words to be a source of encouragement for anyone who is in a similar predicament. I understand that it may seem like it is the end of the world. But we serve a mighty God who is in the business of using terrible things for our good. We can trust in Jesus Christ because He is good and He does not lie. Indeed He cannot lie.
The different ways that dealing with my ostomy has affected my mental health are:
1) My Psychosis
2) My Self-Image
3) My Hope
In this next section I will expound on each of these points and explain how I ended up being able to turn things around for the better. Of course, I could not do any of this on my own though. Everything I am able to accomplish is by the power of the Holy Spirit, who gives me the strength to keep moving. All the glory goes to God alone. I am just His vessel that aims to honor and glorify Him with all that I do.
Some of you may already know that I have been diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder Bipolar Type 1. This means that I have schizophrenia mixed with bipolar disorder. Most days I am fine as long as my medication are working.
However, dealing with this ostomy has aggravated my hypomania symptoms and have made me get easily overwhelmed and frustrated. There are days when all I want to do is cry out of the intense anger that I feel when I am dealing with this ostomy bag. During these times, I cannot help but think some pretty blasphemous and hateful thoughts toward God, even though I know better than to ever voice those thoughts.
What has really helped me see things in a different perspective is being reminded on Romans 8:28 which says,
“And we know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.”
What this means to me is that no matter what I am dealing with, the Lord will use everything I am going through for my good. Every time I deal with a bag leakage, even if its multiple times a day, God is using that seemingly insignificant trial for my good.
I may not understand how He is doing this but I know and I trust that He is sovereign and in control over every single little detail of my life. Everything that happens to me happens for a reason because God has ordained it for my good. I may not fully understand this but I know that if God promises something He makes sure He fulfills His promises because He cannot lie.
I understand that this may sound petty and childish to someone, but please understand something: I am a very conceited individual. That is not an understatement either. Before my surgeries, I used to be so full of myself because I honestly believed that I was the best looking man on the planet and that I knew how to treat any woman better than any other man too.
Basically, I believed that I was the best at everything I put my mind too.
I know this may sound like a surprise to those who thought they knew me well, however, there is a side to me that even they were not aware of, unless they seen my old YouTube videos. Well, after my surgeries, I was really humbled a lot.
I remember as I was laying in the hospital bed, I would look at my ostomy bag and feel disgusted with myself. Every time I would see my poop coming it grossed me out. Today, my self-esteem is kind of repaired but it is not where it used to be at all.
I no longer believe that I am the best looking man. I actually feel like my ostomy bag makes me look extremely ugly. However, I understand that looks aren’t everything. What matters most is how one lives their life for the Lord.
Nowadays, I care more about my character than about what I look like on the outside. I tend to focus on how I treat everyone I come in contact with instead of trying to impress them. Basically, the Lord has really used this experience to humble and help me focus on being more loving and compassionate instead of being full of pride.
I remember right after my surgeries, I felt an incredible anger towards God. My wife would visit me daily and ask me if I wanted to pray with her and I would tell her no. My thought process was that God must really hate me and so I was beginning to hate God. I almost lost my faith during this time.
However, the Lord was very patient with me and He kept bringing to my mind Romans 8:28 and eventually my spirit began to start lifting. Soon I was praying with my wife and alone again, then I started reading the Bible again, and I even began witnessing to a nurse while I was in the hospital too.
What really helped me during this time was remembering the beauty of the Gospel. I really started to remember how I am a sinner who deserves absolutely nothing from God except an eternity in hell, but how God came to this earth as a human being in order to take the punishment that I deserve. He took it upon Himself, and then He rose from the dead showing that death has no control over Him.
The New Heaven And Earth
I started to remember that I am called to be with Christ for all eternity in the New Heaven and New Earth, where there will be no more sorrow, suffering, pain, sin, or mental illness ever again because God will cast the devil and death itself into the lake of fire.
The hope of the consummation of Heaven and Earth where I will reign for eternity with my King is what keeps me going every day. Even when things look bleak, I think about how someday all this pain and suffering will disappear and all I will ever see is the beauty and majesty of Jesus Christ, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
I love Him with my whole being and He is the reason for my existence.
Now, that I have gotten that out of the way
In this next section, I will give some advice to anyone who is in a similar predicament as me. These are suggestions that have helped me and is continuing to help me too. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list so if you can think of anything else that would be helpful please add them in the comments below.
The main things that have helped me are:
1) My Wife
2) My Sisters and Friends
3) My Church
Now, just like the first section, I will expound on each of these points and talk about how they have helped me and maybe they will help you as well.
I am very grateful to have my wife by my side and I appreciate her so very much. I know that sometimes I get on her nerves but she is always patient with me no matter what. The Lord has really blessed me with her. I actually shudder to think about where I’d be if I was going through all of this by myself.
My point is it is very important that when you are going through something like this you need someone your close to to support you. We should not be going through this alone. Whether it is a spouse, parent, sibling, or whatever, we all need someone.
So, if you have this special someone in your life, show them appreciation and do not take them for granted.
My Sisters and Friends
Family and friends are also very important. If I did not have my sisters who are always praying for me even when they do not understand me, I would not be here today. My friends also have been by my side always no matter what.
The bottom line is, we all need to appreciate our family and friends. We only get one family and our friends are our friends for a reason. So, do not be afraid to reach out to any of them when you are struggling. Contrary to popular opinion, it is actually an act of great strength to admit you need help.
My church community has been vital in my overcoming what I went through. If it were not for the faithfulness in helping my wife and I and for their prayers for me, I am not sure where I’d be. They also served a good purpose in reminding me of the Gospel too.
We all need to hear the Gospel daily because we so easily forget. So if you belong to a church that faithfully preaches the unadulterated Gospel message you are truly blessed.
This is by far the most important tool that has helped me the best. Prayer is simply talking to God and you do not need to pray in any kind of way. All you need to do is freely express yourself to Him in whatever way that looks.
Jesus cares for us and wants us to be real with Him.Tweet
I like how I can express my doubts, anger, and frustration to God and He is big enough to handle them. The Lord is incredibly patient with His children too. Prayer has been a major catalyst in my life that has helped me get through many different trials and tribulations.
I hope that this blog blesses you and I thank you for taking the time to read this. May the grace of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ richly bless you all!! Soli Deo Gloria!
-David Lee Chu Sarchet
Christian Mental Health Advocate
For 24 hour peer support, please call the Christ-Centered Mental Health ministry line at 567-343-3727 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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