Vicki Mooney, Ireland


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My name is Vicky Mooney. I am from the Patient Council representing Ireland here in Prague. I was the first young girl to have surgery back in Ireland, going back to 2005.

I had a BMI of 63. I was at one stage 28, 29 stone in weight. At 30 years old, that’s very, very hard to manage your life, manage your children to live.

Psychologically, I was very depressed. I was very down on myself. I was lost.

And I really thought surgery was going to be the way forward. 18 months later, through the Weight Management Clinic, I had my surgery and I lost 14 stone in weight. I lost half of my weight.

It didn’t fix me. And the repercussions, the mental health aspects of it afterwards were horrendous. I struggle constantly with the psychological effects of having the surgery and the way I’m left afterwards, which is because I didn’t reach a certain weight.

I didn’t have all the loose skin removed from my body. And therefore, I’m actually left with pouches of skin all over me. And as a young woman, it’s embarrassing.

It makes you feel as though you aren’t enough. You aren’t as beautiful as you should be. Your body isn’t right.

I love to swim. I’m embarrassed to go swimming, terrified to take my clothes off in public. The psychological effects of having the surgery, if it is not handled correctly, is quite devastating.

I’ve been depressive for a good eight years now after surgery, and struggling constantly on antidepressants, and always struggling with my image and how I feel about myself. Before surgery, there needs to be more support for people who are suffering with, I suppose, a disease of obesity. People will often say, stop eating, go to the gym.

It’s impossible. You have to eat. You can give up smoking.

You can give up gambling. You can give up drugs. The psychological effects of having surgery as a young woman had left me, I suppose, not the woman I expected to be beforehand.

I love to swim. I love to dress up. And getting naked in public, taking my clothes off, and changing in a public swimming room was terrifying, and still is terrifying for me as a woman of 10 years after surgery.

I’ve been depressive most of the time, mostly since I actually had surgery and on antidepressants. And the reason for that is because I carry so much shame with my body and how I feel about my image and how I look as a woman naked. As a woman who has had three children, I should be very proud of my body and proud of the woman I am.

But instead, when I go swimming with my children after surgery, I have so much loose skin on my body because I did not reach the weight I should have to have it removed that I’m embarrassed. And as a mother, I should be very proud. And the effects afterwards have been devastating to me, to my self-confidence, to my self-esteem.

And that knock-on effect to my children is heartbreaking. The one thing that we do need is more support for patients prior surgery and particularly afterwards. Afterwards, you need that psychological support.

You need to know that this operation is not going to fix your life. It will enhance it, but it is not going to fix it. That your food and your addiction has not stopped.

That you constantly need to work on it. Having an operation and being let loose is not the way to go.