"We’ve got you. You are not in this alone, and I can promise you that the feeling of returning to yourself, the feeling of clarity in your mind and mobility in your body is worth every bit of the anxiety that naturally comes with making such a big decision.
I was always someone with a tendency towards depression. It runs in my family, and through my entire adult life, I have been reading, researching and seeking answers. This eventually led me to start running and weight training. I remember feeling like a new person as my mental health improved, but with my newfound fitness came a new body and weight loss that left my breasts non-existent. I had always been an A-cup, which I didn’t mind; however, having nothing at all and struggling with bras while the rest of my body was getting extremely fit really hurt my self- confidence. I began to look into breast implants.
A year later, I decided to proceed with the surgery. It all went well. I loved the result and felt fine for four years. Then I had my second child and the hormonal changes started triggering a sea of issues. Eventually, I was diagnosed with PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder). Around ovulation, the ten days before my period and the first few days of bleeding, my mental health was so bad I was unable to function normally. Crippling anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation and obsessive thinking would lead to repeated panic attacks. I would cry and scream that I wanted to die and beg God to make it happen. I had never experienced panic attacks or dark thoughts to this extent before getting implants.
My marriage ended. So did the relationship that came after. The PMDD was exhausting everyone around me while leaving me so broken inside I truly thought I’d never live a normal life again. I just kept saying: there’s something wrong with my brain; It’s not working properly. I was getting increasingly worse. I suffered from brain fog all the time and fatigue so severe I would stay in bed until midday or go back to bed at 10 am and sleep until the afternoon. I would then have to work until really late to get my work as a photo editor completed. The most unhealthy cycle of turning day and night around began. In the end, I had to put my business on hold. I felt so sick that I decided to fund my own sick leave and focus on my health.
Within a few days, I found the Facebook group Breast implant illness and healing by Nicole. When I read that implants are big hormone disrupters, I felt the penny drop. The pregnancy combined with the implants was simply too much for my body to deal with. My hormones couldn’t get back to normal the way they had after my first child. Add to that inflammation of my brain and body, and it was easy to see that the implants were the main reason my body struggled to function normally. The inflammation at this point was so bad that I would cry every time I had to brush my hair after a shower. My scalp was beyond sensitive and the brushing excruciating.
I cried for two days as I read all the stories in the Facebook group. Then I decided to waste no more time. My health was all that mattered. Six weeks later, I had explant surgery by Dr. Widdowson on the Gold Coast (Qld, Australia). The pain was the same for me as when I had the initial augmentation done, and the hardest part was getting through the nights sitting up or on my back. Sleeping tablets helped. By the time I was ready for my first shower, I realized the scalp pain was gone. I brushed my hair without any tears. I lost 4 kilos of inflammation in the first three weeks - weight that I had not been able to lose through exercise. After a month or two the brain fog and fatigue lifted. I found myself able to pick up work again and started things like researching mortgages, getting paperwork organized and focusing on securing my future financially with razor-sharp focus. This was an incredible improvement. I hadn’t even been able to manage the admin work in my business months earlier. Receiving emails and the thought of replying had me in tears often in the year leading up to explant. I felt a huge shift in my mental clarity in those first few months after having my implants removed.
I truly believe breast implants force our immune system to work overtime. The following analogy helped me. Imagine your body as a glass and visualize it being filled with all the stressors of life. When life was simple and my glass had plenty of room, it was able to contain the stress of breast implants. When I added pregnancy and hormone fluctuation, it was too much. The glass overflowed. My hormones got really out of whack, and a host of other symptoms followed, like inflammation, brain fog, scalp pain and fatigue. The glass was so full it just kept pouring over, never getting a chance to reset.
I believe this is why some people get sick straight away or not until many years later. Some women already have autoimmune issues, sensitivities and high stress in their lives (full glass) leaving them to become sick immediately. Others have picture-perfect health and low-level stress at the time of augmentation. They have an empty glass as a starting point and their bodies can handle the hard work in fighting the foreign objects - but it will eventually flow over too as the stress on the body builds up. I truly believe it’s just a matter of when for all women.
The PMDD and hormonal issues did not improve much in the first ten months following explant. I knew that this was the tricky part of my recovery and would take longer, but I must admit I was starting to feel discouraged and hopeless. Thankfully I had an extremely supportive new partner in my life who offered to take on 100% of the financial responsibilities, so I could quit work for five months and focus purely on my recovery.
I hadn’t been able to do much in terms of detox and clean eating because dealing with work, kids, exercise and PMDD took everything I had. Once I received the time and space to focus purely on my healing, the changes were quick and extreme. It was a full-time job of dealing not only with the physical but also the mental aspects of healing. I got to the bottom of a lot of trauma, worked on self-love and acceptance. I journaled, saw psychologists, meditated and started practicing yin yoga.
At the same time, I quit alcohol, sugar and gluten completely. I also cut almost all dairy out. I started documenting my healing journey on an Instagram page called @you.me.pmdd, and it became a powerful tool in my recovery. I became passionate about cooking and was able to see the results of my hard work in the daily pictures I posted. As a visual person, this really helped me stay motivated. I noticed the panic attacks going from at least ten a month to one. I am healing more and more with each week that goes by and have been symptom-free for two months at the time of writing this (14 months after explant).
If you are considering an explant, I want you to know that healing won’t come overnight, but it will absolutely come if you commit to it fully. You may think you don’t have the strength, but that is the inflammation and BII talking. Once the implants are out, you gain a new sense of mental clarity and empowerment that will carry you through. You have the support of thousands of women who will be your strength until you get back your own.
We’ve got you. You are not in this alone, and I can promise you that the feeling of returning to yourself, the feeling of clarity in your mind and mobility in your body is worth every bit of the anxiety that naturally comes with making such a big decision.