My Recent Anxiety Struggle :: Time to Talk

February 06, 2014

This is a bit of an impromptu post as today is #TimeToTalk Day in the UK where thousands of people are sitting down to talk about mental health and try to fight the sigma that surrounds it. One out of four people suffer from some sort of mental illness but not enough is done, in my opinion, to talk about it. Whilst I have not been officially diagnosed I have been battling with symptoms of anxiety for about half my life but have only begun to be more open about it within the last year. Yes, it is important to talk about experiences with all kinds of mental illness and it mustn't go ignored. You wouldn't ignore cancer or a broken leg. It is, however, just as important to listen. I am always hear to listen, if you need someone to talk to.

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When my other half called me to tell me his mum wanted an extra forty-three guests to be invited to our small wedding ceremony and dinner, my stomach dropped. I think I uttered the words, "you have got to be joking" while trying to blink back the tears that were already stinging my eyes. Suddenly our numbers had pretty much doubled and I was feeling even more overwhelmed than ten minutes previously.

I wasn't worried about the added cost as my in-laws, very generously, offered to pay for these extras. I wasn't concerned that I hadn't met these people often enough or spoken to them in great detail. I wasn't annoyed that my mother-in-law to be had decided that these people were as important as our few, but carefully hand picked, wedding guests. I wasn't even irritated by the calmness of my other half at the prospect of doubling our numbers for the day. No, I was terrified of having another eighty-six eyes on me on the biggest day of my life.

To some people this might not sound like a lot. In fact, I know that in comparison to other family weddings on his side, eighty guests is damn near tiny but to me it felt like an insurmountable amount. My heart was pounding when I hung up the phone and I immediately burst into tears. I started to feel sick and overwhelmingly worried. I was, and still am, genuinely unsure if I could cope with all these other people on a day which I already knew I would be anxious and nervous.

I have never been good at dealing with big crowds. English speaking tests at school tended to be a mess of stuttering with my heart racing inside my chest, palms sweating, and that was only in front of thirty of my classmates. The teachers' comments would always read, "Great content but you seemed to stutter a bit throughout" and my stuttuering would see my grade drop. I am a wallflower when it comes to social gatherings, finding it easier to blend into the background and observe rather than volunteering my thoughts. Even just thinking of standing up in front of all those people on my wedding day is making me teary.

My friends once threw me a surprise party for what I think was my fourteenth birthday. Whilst this was the sweetest thing anyone had ever done for me, I found it excruciating to be the centre of attention for the afternoon. I remember my best friend saying that if it all got too much to direct everyone's attention to her just so I could have some space. Even just turning up at my friend's house that day had been a battle. I wanted to stay home so badly.

The worst thing about my anxiety is most of the time I have no real idea why I am so scared. I know all of these extra guests that the mother-in-law to be wants to invite and yet the thought of them all being there, watching me, fills me with dread.  Maybe, I'm worried that I'll say the wrong thing or I'll trip walking down the aisle and look like an idiot. Years down the line, someone will pipe up, "Debi, remember on your wedding day when..." and I'll feel so small and stupid. Maybe my wedding will be a disaster and everyone will secretly whisper behind our backs about how dull a day it was.

I've tried to explain how the anxiety makes me feel or how terrifying the prospect of doing something like standing up in front of over eight people is. It isn't easy when I can't quite define it myself. I don't want help from an outsider as, frankly, I find it a bit embarrassing and too hard to explain so I'm learning to try and cope with it on my own.  I won't let anxiety define who I am. It's a part of me that I'm sure will never quite fade but for the most part I can cope with it. So sometimes it stops me from doing something or going somewhere but right now I'm at the stage of taking baby steps towards making it better,

After a bit of a meltdown, and a bit of an argument, I told the other half that all those guests can come to the full day if he wants. After all, it is only one day and the outcome will still be the same. I'll still get to call him my husband. As it is we are trying (and failing) to work on a compromise about guest numbers. Really though, I'm pretty sure they will all be there, watching as I walk down the aisle. As for those extra eighty-six eyes? Well, I'll just have to take some deep breaths and pretend they aren't there. Anxiety won't ruin my big day.



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10 comments :

  1. Well done for realising it. If you ever feel that it might get in the way of your life, or the enjoyment of your wedding, you should definitely think about going to your GP. I'm sure you won't even notice all the eyes on you because you'll be having such a great day!

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    1. Here's hoping. I know I will be nervous anyway but hopefully I won't suffer too badly if all these people do come!

      Debi x

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  2. I find one of the biggest reasons why i feel anxious is the initial thought of it. When someone drops a bombshell that changes your plans and you now have to prepare yourself to cope in a whole new bigger situation. Change is the one big problem in my life. It must feel so daunting at the moment but as long as you're happy with the overall outcome; it's your day after all and if you're not 100% comfortable then make sure you tell your other half until you know you will be able to relax and enjoy the day :)

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    1. Yes! I am not good with change either. I have to work at wrapping my head around a whole new situation and I can sometimes find that overwhelming. I am worried that having all these extra people there will make it harder for me to stay relaxed and enjoy the day.

      Debi x

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  3. Great post Debi, more people should talk more openly about their feelings, we keep things bottled up too much and worry far to much about the stigma attached to being stressed or anxious! At work one of our trainers has a stress, anxiety & low mood blog and she writes about her own experiences as well as her professional training. She gets so many questions every day about how anxious/stressed people are and most of the time they don't need a natural remedy to help them its just someone to listen and offer some support back. Marianna's blog is here http://www.avogel.co.uk/health/stress-anxiety-low-mood/blog/ and she is on Twitter @MariannaKilburn (you might read something you relate too)

    I know how you feel about your wedding numbers, I always wanted a small wedding no more than 50 but our numbers have started to creep up and we are now at 70, I really really hope it doesn't get higher and as you said its not the money its the eyes, but hopefully on the day all I will see if my other half's eyes as I walk down the aisle

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    1. I'll check that blog out. Thanks.

      I always wanted us to have our ceremony at about 50 guests and throw a bit weeding reception in the evening when I wouldn't worry so much about everyone watching me. I do eel like it is spiralling out of control a little bit. I hope you manage to keep your guest numbers at a reasonable level for you so that you can enjoy your day to its fullest.

      Debi x

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  4. well done Debi :) you are probably feeling anxious because of the unknown..because you don't know how its going to turn out.. I don't really know what to say but just keep going & believe in yourself <3 xxxx

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    1. Yip. The unknown terrifies me most of the time. Haha. I don't have any solution for it yet but I guess I'll just have to see how things go and take them as they come.

      Debi x

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  5. I've heard public speaking is considered more frightening than death which is a pretty scary matter. Although it's good to know you're not alone in a sense :) In regards to your wedding just try and take your mind elsewhere, look straight ahead with your head held high. Whenever my minds focused on something else everything around me is secondary I find and it totally takes my mind off that anxious feeling.

    I've always been the shy kid through my life. Being timid doesn't seem to get any praise so as a kid I saw it was a bad thing. I remember being one of those mute kids who never spoke so they got refereed to counselling with some others where we played games and created crafts which as stuck with me until now. Even at 22 now at work I'm known as quiet even though I do like to chat, I'm just far more cautious than others when doing or trying new things which can become a pain. I've not been diagnosed with any anxiety problems as I've never gone to the doctor but I find myself shaking at times in public, mainly in large groups of people, that thought of people staring is what does it to me and I often lose my breath easily. I'm moving away this year to study a graphic design course so I'm hoping the independence will do me some good!

    My brothers are both very out going and have all the confidence in the world, they would stand up in front of hundreds of people and not even break a sweat which I find admirable but also mind boggling! It's odd how siblings can be so different at times I feel.

    I've enjoyed this post very much, again just try and focus on other things on your big day! The guests are all there for you afterall, they aren't like your classmates in school who are forced and are looking for you to mess up!

    Katie » Tattyboots

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    1. Thank you so much for this lovely comment! I'll try just to focus on the other half on my big day. He keeps telling me to think that only us and the registrar is in the room and no one else. I'll give it a shot!

      Being shy isn't easy that's for sure. I would have loved to have been the outgoing, confident person that so many of my friends were but it was always easier just to stand back and observe. I do agree that no one really praises you for being quiet. You're always being encouraged to speak up more and contribute, particularly at school, so being timid does sort of come with negative connotations.

      I have five sisters who are all different amount of confident but I think I am probably the most nervous, anxious and quiet. One of my younger sisters is never afraid to speak her mind which I definitely wish I was too. She's so brave!

      Debi x

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