Dr. Aisha White offers 5 pieces of advice for women trying to heal after a traumatic health struggle.
By Aisha White, Photo by Aisha White, Illustration by Madison Weakley.
Dr. Aisha White has spent much of her career helping women who have survived breast cancer become reacquainted with their bodies. As the owner of Quintessence Plastic Surgery, White has performed various types of breast surgery, including reconstruction. For her, beauty isn’t just skin deep. Beauty is in the autonomy a woman has of her own body, the power she has to control her destiny. In her own words, “For some, plastic surgery is about beauty. For me, it’s about strength. When you are comfortable in your skin, you are empowered. Beauty shouldn’t fit a mold.”
White has never presumed to know the extent of someone’s situation. Nor has she ever tried to give empty words of encouragement. This list features just some of her tips for healing the mind and spirit after surviving a traumatic health experience. With these five tips, she hopes to encourage women to embrace their strength and allow themselves permission and time to heal.
Give yourself the time to heal; it’s a process.
“Women are very often the caretakers for their families. Given that, they often put everyone else’s needs and care before their own. In order to heal, it’s important to optimize your mental and physical condition. Slowing down and focusing on yourself is a necessary part of that process. And give yourself grace and patience. Healing takes time.”
Explore available clinical and support resources.
“Often patients don’t realize how many resources there are available to them when going through a health struggle. There are numerous organizations developed to provide information and support for people experiencing specific health conditions. There are also various support groups focusing on specific health conditions. Tapping into those resources can lead to a wealth of knowledge and a community of people who understand what you’re going through.”
Don’t be afraid to ask for help or accept support.
“Your friends and family want to be there for you. Be open to them providing support. It is common for some people to disconnect from their usual support system when they are suffering health challenges, despite the fact this is likely a time they need them most. Establish whatever boundaries you are comfortable with, but don’t shut them out.”
Find a hobby that allows you to have a mental break from the stress of what you’re experiencing.
“Having an outlet is a great coping mechanism. Consider journaling. Take up yoga. Find a good book to read. Carve out a relaxation space in your home or a local park. Being in the right frame of mind is an important part of healing and getting yourself through mentally.”
Allow space for the idea that your body may not be the same again.
“Women are susceptible to so many body-image pressures. So when health conditions result in undesired body changes, it can lead to a lot of stress. Sometimes these changes are temporary, but sometimes they’re permanent. It’s important to remember that you are more than your body or any body part. I know that’s easy to say, but finding a way to embrace that mindset can be critical to your mental recovery.”
Just Do It
“If you have an idea, I think you should just do it and don’t let yourself self-sabotage. Just start and see what happens. In the beginning, no one is paying attention to you yet. Just do it for yourself and do it for fun, and then all of that other stuff will come. I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make things really perfect and amazing. It doesn’t really have to be perfect and amazing, because you haven’t even done it yet.”