I do! Or, my pre-wedding anxiety experience

Well, friends, it’s less than a week until my wedding. Hooray!

I find that I’m not ruminating about it for the most part (yay!), and then every once in a while I’ll have a moment where I’m like sourceand then I realize what’s about to happen. It’s kind of surreal.

This has been a huge undertaking, and one that I was not fully prepared for(can you ever be, though?). I have plenty of experience will the different things that have come up: emotional stakes, lots of organizing and planning, grief, not having sole control, etc: designing a curriculum is always a huge deal and requires a lot of back and forth with my co-teacher and a lot of organization, but it doesn’t have the emotions tied to it in the same way. Starting therapy and figuring out anxiety was super emotional, but I was really in charge of that. This has everything: intense amounts of planning and organizing, give and take with my fiance so that it ends up being something we’re both happy with, and it’s been way more emotional than I thought it would be. As I’ve said before, it’s brought up some stuff with my family, and I’ve found that a lot of this process has freshened my grief around losing the dude’s dad. It’s a lot, and that’s ok.

I’m also pretty proud, though. I really wasn’t feeling much anxiety beyond ruminating until today, and I totally count that to be a win. If this was five years ago, I would have already been a mess for weeks. But I’m not! I mean sure, my chest is a little tight and my heart rate is a little elevated, but it’s not super noticeable. And I can do a lot to help myself: take CBD, meditate, yoga, etc. Honestly, the thing that I’m most proud of is that I’ve really and truly started to use the Noting technique that I learned through meditating with Headspace, and it’s making such a difference. Basically, when you notice that you’re distracted by or engaging with a thought or emotion, you say to yourself “ok, that’s anger” or whatever it is and then – and this is key – you go back to what you were doing or back to your breath. You don’t engage. You don’t feed it by thinking about it. You don’t put your energy or resources into following the rabbit down the hole. And it’s really helpful. Before, I would have spiraled when I felt my chest tighten up and made myself miserable. And now, the tight chest is uncomfortable, but instead of worrying about it I can be like “I got this!” The shift in confidence is a huge deal, because it feels like control. And for those of us with anxiety, we typically feel most anxious when we feel out of control. Even though we can never truly control anxiety – or any other emotion for that matter – we can control how we respond to it. That’s the thing that can be so hard to understand and so liberating when we finally do: in a situation where we think we have no control, we actually do. Don’t get me wrong – it’s hard and takes a lot of time and practice and I’m still working on it. I’ll always be working on it. And sometimes it feels like it isn’t that effective because I have a panic attack anyway. But over time, my panic attacks have grown farther and farther apart, and the times when anxiety escalates beyond an elevated heart rate have become less and less frequent. It’s not that I’m  anxious less often; it’s that it doesn’t get nearly as bad as it used to. And that means I’m not as anxious about being anxious, so I’m not feeding it.

I’m also forever indebted to Bird for getting me to start taking CBD. I don’t take it every day, but I DO take it when my chest is tight or when I notice other symptoms of anxiety like ruminating or twitching(does anyone else get this? I get it so bad). It helps me stop thinking about the physical symptom so that I can control my breath, which in turn helps me calm my sympathetic nervous system down and stop producing cortisol. It’s been a great tool and I already have alarms set to remind me to take it before our rehearsal dinner and throughout my wedding day.

I know that there’s still time and I might still get anxious and/or have a panic attack, and if I do, then I do. But cheers to feeling a lot less anxious than I thought I would at this point in time!

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