Weight Loss Surgery Support Groups: Group therapy and how it can help you

Question Below Submitted By:  

Lonicera The Bandit (a patient from Bristol, United Kingdom)

You’ve taken the enormous step of deciding to go ahead with weight loss surgery (WLS), and perhaps this website helped you make that decision. So you can sit back now and let the effects of the surgery do their work.

Well, no. What you’ve done so far shows your immense commitment to weight loss; from now on you and the lap band (or other type of weight loss surgery) will be contributing 50% each. You’ll still need some willpower, and it’s in your interests to use whatever tools there are to hand.

Group therapy really comes into its own with WLS, particularly because it’s only in the last few years that these procedures have taken off and there still isn’t enough information printed about living long term with the band. However, this isn’t the main reason why you should consider it. Communicating your problems a however you do it a puts you on the road to solving them.

First and foremost it’s the meeting of people with a common goal and the common problems they need to overcome to achieve it. By sharing advice and trading information they inevitably discover that their problems are not unusual, and that they can help others too and this refers both to the difficulties following surgery and to the underlying problem of being overweight. Sometimes the key to rebuilding your self-esteem is to see before you the evidence that there are many people out there like you. Nothing you can say to each other will surprise or shock them or you, and this is such a liberating feeling.

Obese people like us have a tendency to want to hide away and wallow in self-loathing and self-disgust. Most of us watch a lot of television, which promotes subliminally the ideal world where there should only be people who make the best of themselves. TV presenters are chosen for their aspirational image, soaps and sit-coms featuring heavy people either make you laugh at them, or with them because they are comics themselves. Occasionally they are presented in an ultra politically correct way which evokes sympathy. I have yet to see a programme of any description with heavy people where it is not made a feature of in some way. Before I jump off the soap box, let me just add that group therapy helps to ground you, to show you that we’re all imperfect people trying to change, and helping each other along the way.

There are two main forms of group therapy a real and virtual, and both have their good and bad points. By virtual I’m referring to blogging. Chatrooms are brief conversations with strangers where only the problem is discussed and there is rarely a follow-through that lasts longer than a few days at most.

Do give serious consideration to opening a weight loss surgery blog, which requires no expertise or I.T. know-how. You don’t have to be a good writer either a the bandit blogs I know (that is to say blogs written by people in the English-speaking world who have a gastric band) with the most followers and comments are often women who are not great spellers, but their guts are there on the screen. They tell it how it is, sometimes in graphic detail. They’re willing to be heart-wrenchingly honest so that you don’t have to make the same mistakes that they have made. Sometimes the table are turned and they beg for help a and you should see the dozens of replies from other bandits anxious to do so. It’s like having girlfriends crowding around you in a group hug to tell you it’s OK, and they’ve been through it too. And when you’re saying hooray because you’ve done well, they all congratulate you and are happy for you. In two and a half years I’ve never yet read a negative or mean comment.

If you’re undecided, these bullet points might help:

Real group weight loss surgery therapy sessions a good points

1. You are talking to other people about a subject you may have kept well to yourself for too long;
2. Experts or speakers can focus your mind on a particular issue, and you can consult them;
3. The Readers Digest principle: that laughter is the best medicine. You make friends who understand this side of you, and being able to laugh together does wonders for your well being;
4. Nobody is shocked or surprised by anything;
5. Unlike slimming clubs, there are no targets to meet, no pressure, and it doesn’t cost you very much when you get there, if at all;
6. Unlike slimming clubs, if you’re going through a bad patch you know the band is still there waiting quietly in the background, and group therapy might get you going again.
7. It’s common to make a particular friend, and you can support each other by other communication means in between sessions.

Real group therapy sessions a bad points

1. The buddy thing can go both ways a if your friend weakens he/she could tempt you to go the same way, and negative feelings at a group session can unless carefully controlled drag everybody down;
2. Partly reliant on a good and charismatic leader and good speakers;
3. The distance to travel and the expense of getting there;
4. Non-attendance: going through a bad patch, cold/bad weather, clashing event.

Online group weight loss surgery therapy a blogging a good points

1. Convenient if you have no real support groups nearby;
2. You have greater freedom a you communicate in your own time, when it suits you;
3. It’s free;
4. It’s easier to be graphic and frank a and if you so wish it can be totally anonymous;
5. If you enjoy writing, it will be a revelation to you;
6. There’s nobody to interrupt you when you’re in full flow!
7. While virtual therapy tends to evolve into small groups or one to one, by blogging you become part of a community with WLS in common. One person’s experience described on their blog will be read by everyone;
8. You can participate merely by reading until you’re ready to comment a no pressure. Sometimes you’ll read without commenting, other times you’ll read and comment till your fingers are crampeda;
9. If you find another WLS blogger annoying it need never show because you simply drop them;
10. It’s not a gossipy medium;
11. It’s easier to be yourself because no one can see you, and as said above, you can be anonymous if you want.

Virtual group therapy a blogging a bad points

1. It’s easier to lie a though as the saying goes, you’re really lying to yourself;
2. It’s easier to get discouraged and drop out, and sometimes people you consider friends will not appear for a while, or drop out altogether;
3. It takes longer to get questions answered a just asking questions which are of the “FAQ” variety isn’t popular, you’re expected to walk the walk and read back through blogs to learn so that the same ground isn’t covered over and over again with a new WLS blogger.

Has this helped at all?

If you’re willing to give blogging a go I pledge to you here in writing that if you click on the link to my blog on this site, become a follower and give me your new blog address, I’ll be happy to ask the WLS blogging community to visit you and give you support to get it going.

Till next time.

Lonicera The Bandit

Related Pages:
Life After Weight Loss Surgery
Weight Loss Surgery Support Groups
Online Weight Loss Support

Bariatric Surgery Source

Patient Responses to the Question Above


by: Patrick

I love this quote in your post:

"It’s in your interests to use whatever tools there are to hand."

More people should be attending weight loss surgery support groups after surgery. Your advice to start a blog and document your journey is another great idea. Leveraging technology (blogs, weight loss apps) is a great way to get better results.

An often overlooked tool is the use of a diet journal. Patients who use the diet journal are more likely to lose weight.

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