Breast-Implant Illness and Self-Doubt

Written By: Amanda Savage Brown, Ph.D., LCSW

Breast implant illness (BII)-related self-doubt is its own beast. To tame it, you need a different approach. This article reveals why your mind struggles with BII-related self-doubt. It also shares several Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT)-based approaches to ease its continuous drain on your body and mind.

Ethnic woman with a concerned and confused facial expression with text-based thoughts floating around her head

What drives your BII-related self-doubt?

BII-related self-doubt is unlike the self-doubt you experience when questioning your ability to make something happen. When you suspect you have BII, self-doubt may be fueled by any or all of the following:

Uncertainty

Human minds like to be certain. Currently, there’s no known biomarker that identifies BII as the underlying cause of your symptoms. (Learn more about BII testing here.) BII also lacks a formal medical diagnosis. Many times, you consider BII only after a lengthy process ruled out other known causes for your symptoms. For some, this lack of diagnostic certainty fuels self-doubt.

Ambiguity

Human minds like exactness. Unfortunately, many of BII’s symptoms are non-specific and easy to misattribute to things like aging and changing hormones. They also vary in how they appear from person to another. Understandably, self-doubt often shows up when you’re unsure your symptoms are caused by your implants.  

Complexity

Human minds prefer straightforward things. Details around BII’s onset and progression are not well-understood. Though explant often quickly resolves BII’s symptoms, the recovery process also varies by person. These unknowns and variability fuel self-doubt.

Volatility

Human minds are soothed by predictability, reliability, and steadiness. Unfortunately, BII is mired in debate, denial, and dismissiveness. The many reasons for societal denial of BII are beyond the scope of this article, but BII-related self-doubt understandably shows up when you receive conflicting opinions, are gas lit, or told things like: it’s all in your head, BII isn’t real, or there’s no scientific proof of BII.

Social risk

Human minds care very much about social standards. Like it or not, those mounds of flesh are prized in our breast-obsessed society. So, the stakes are high when it comes to removing breast implants. BII-related self-doubt often reflects an underlying longing to know that explant will restore your health and be worth the social risk.

What does BII-related self-doubt cost you?

BII-related self-doubt leads to prolonged exposure to the problematic breast implants inside your body. While you wrestle with confirmation or explore other possible explanations for your symptoms, your body continues losing its battle against the bags. When your self-doubt is high, it also disconnects you from your own inner wisdom around your body’s suffering and interferes with how you show up for yourself.  

How can you manage your self-doubt?

White knuckling your way through BII-related self-doubt only adds to your body’s stress. The following ACT-based approaches may help you be less impacted when self-doubt is with you:

Notice and name

Acknowledge the aspects of BII’s diagnosis, progression, or recovery that your mind struggles against. Genuinely validate that BII-related self-doubt is a natural reaction to a situation with many aspects that the human mind dislikes. Also, look beyond BII for additional reasons you may want to remove your breast implants (described here). Knowing and naming other ways your implants impact you can soften the pressure to be “sure” you’ll recover from BII.

Treat it like you would a butterfly that landed on your hand

Rather than grasping at it or convincing yourself it’s here to stay, curiously observe your doubt while it’s with you. Look at it from all angles. Look underneath it for harder-to-see emotions. Find ways to care for any overshadowed fear, sadness, or frustration that also needs your attention.

Create distance

Be aware of the difference between you and your thoughts and feelings. Self-doubt may be an attention-hog in your mind, but it can’t prevent YOU from pursuing what matters to you. When your self-doubt interferes with how you want to be, treat it like an ad on your phone: see it without acting on its content. This is even more important when you want something that’s not possible right now, like an unambiguous diagnosis or more exacting symptoms.

Connect with others

Support your drained nervous system through connection with others around the mental and emotional aspects of breast implants and their removal. Join Breast Implant Through Explant (BRITE™) Inner Companions.

Use your inner BRAKE

When your BII-related self-doubt feels overwhelming, use your inner BRAKE, a science-based inner skill to steady and ready yourself throughout your journey with breast implants. Download here.

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Amanda Savage Brown, PhD, LCSW, is a self-acceptance counselor & coach. She uses the research-backed approaches from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to help women reclaim their wellbeing from adverse childhood experiences, other trauma, grief, loss, and people-pleasing through mindful self-acceptance and values-guided change. 

She explanted in 2018, recovered from breast implant illness, and now specializes in helping women find their way before, during, and after breast implant removal.

She is the author of Busting Free, the forthcoming self-help book for women whose life journey includes breast implants.

Learn more at amandasavagebrown.com and follow her on FB and IG @dr.amandasavagebrown

Disclaimer: All information shared in these blog posts is educational and should not be used as a substitute for therapy or taken as therapeutic guidance.

© 2022 Amanda Savage Brown

1 Comment

  1. Occam’s Razor. After eliminating every other possible cause of illness and determining that it’s chronic inflammation with an unknown driver, BII is the simplest answer. Learning about lymphatic system overload and stagnation and autoimmune response to foreign objects; it’s just common sense.

    Reply

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