Well, friends, I’m a married lady now and it’s pretty awesome.
Anyone who has had any part in planning, being in, or doing behind-the-scenes stuff for a wedding will tell you how stressful and consuming it is, and because of that I honestly expected that I’d be a mess on my wedding day. I was sure that I’d wake up that morning on the verge of a panic attack, that I’d be crying so hard my friend wouldn’t be able to do my makeup, that I’d be vomiting in the dressing room of our venue. Most of the items in my go kit for the day were related to that: ginger pills, CBD, Advil, Imodium… If it had in any way helped with anxiety or its symptoms in the past, I had it with me. I had headphones so that I could meditate. I had alarms set every three hours to remind me to take CBD.
And honestly? I didn’t need almost any of it. I took CBD throughout the day, but that’s about it. Every time someone checked in with me – and I’m so thankful for how many people did – I was genuinely great. It was weird. And surreal. And awesome. And a huge relief.
That’s not to say that there weren’t moments were I was like holy shit this is happening – which is what I actually said under my breath while waiting to walk down the aisle. There were a lot of those. And there were moments when I really didn’t feel great. I woke up at about 2am the morning of the wedding and just couldn’t get back to sleep. I felt fine: I didn’t have any racing thoughts, my chest wasn’t tight, I wasn’t nauseous or shaky or twitchy. I just couldn’t sleep. I took some CBD and melatonin, but was still awake two hours later. I turned over to put my arm around the dude and all of a sudden, I was sobbing. I still wasn’t feeling anxious or scared or upset; I think I just needed to release some of the emotion and stress I was feeling. The dude stayed up with me for a while, and eventually I feel back asleep and felt fine when it was time to get up.
The wedding was pretty much the best thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. Our family rallied around us and got shit done, and it looked incredible. Our photographer was a blast and made us feel really at ease. The staff at our venue paid incredible attention to us and met every need and then some. Our friends cheered for us and our officiant, who is a good friend of ours, could not have been more perfect. The dude and I had written much of the ceremony together, but Canada(our officiant) added in a lot of his own stuff, too, which was one of the most meaningful parts of the day. When he started talking about the dude, I found myself nodding and thinking YES. This exactly. These are so many of the things I love about you. And when he got to me, I found myself crying because I try to hard to be many of the things he mentioned and it felt so validating to hear.
As I said, the dude and I wrote most of the ceremony ourselves, and I went back and forth about how much I wanted to talk about anxiety, if it all. At first I really didn’t want to because I didn’t want it to overshadow our story and the way we feel about each other. But the more we worked on the ceremony, the more I found myself mentioning it. Sometimes because it was a good punchline, like when we said that our first date was a success because he thought we hit it off and I was happy I hadn’t thrown up on him. Mostly, though, it’s because I realized that, not only is anxiety part of our story, in some ways, its integral to it. Without it, I wouldn’t have known how nurturing the dude is. I wouldn’t have watched him put me first time and time again: over sleep, over work, over himself. Dealing with anxiety has bonded us more deeply than I think we can ever know. Without anxiety, I never would have started therapy, or started exercising, and both of those have made me a better partner. Without anxiety, I wouldn’t have fully understood the safe space that his family creates for me and how desperately I needed that. As much as the experience of anxiety sucks, it has given me so much, and has helped us get to the deeper and richer parts of our relationship. It’s given us a path to be vulnerable that maybe would have been more difficult or taken longer in different circumstances. It shows me how lucky I am to have the dude for my husband, and how proud I am of myself.
There was anxiety, though. It showed up in bits and pieces leading up to the wedding and on the wedding day itself, and the day after I hit my limit. We got some sleep on our wedding night but not nearly enough, and I went up to my sister’s the next day to see my mom, aunt, and step-dad before they left. I was super tired and vaguely nauseous and all I wanted was to go to bed for 1,000 years. By the time 9:00pm rolled around I was lying on the bed, not wanting to move because I felt so gross. The dude convinced me to get ready for bed, and as I did I just had this feeling like in about 6 hours this is going to suck even more. And sure enough, I was up sick in the middle of the night. I ended up waking him and he got me to eat some bread and crackers, and then take pain meds to deal with my headache. While I wasn’t 100% the next day, I was definitely much better. A big piece of that was knowing that when I’m anxious, I’m not alone even if it feels like it. There’s some who made the choice to be there with me in those moments even though they’re difficult for both of us.
The wedding was two months ago and the dude has been living up to his vows from practically the moment they came out of his mouth (that’s no surprise, though). I’ve been trying to as well, and we’ve had lots of opportunities to navigate anxiety together: going back to school was the roughest it’s been in my decade of teaching, and this year promises to be my worst in terms of workload and demands on my mental energy. I can barely tread water unless I function at capacity, or close to it, all day every day, and I’m struggling to find the bandwidth for anything else. It’s been hard to find time to do yoga and I haven’t been feeling at all like myself. I’m moody, my sleep has been pretty disrupted, and generally I find that work requires me to give so much more of my time and effort that even when I have time to do the things that I know help with anxiety, I’m so tired and I just want to check out for a bit. I keep forgetting that that’s what yoga does for me: my primary purpose for hitting the mat is to have a break from my to do list, from the relationships that require my attention, from myself. I get on the mat to be quiet, and I miss it.
I’ve come to realize recently that all of the things I do to manage anxiety are really just a way to give myself the space and permission to be quiet. I don’t exercise because I like it – at this point in my life I need a BIG incentive to go to an actual gym – I do yoga because I can get in a state of flow. I get a break from my thoughts. I get a break from the demands of others. I’m not self conscious. I have the space and permission to feel whatever I’m feeling. With wedding planning in the spring and summer and the craziness of school this fall, I need it more than ever.
The wedding was and is a huge reminder to me about what life can look like when I’m really being intentional about managing anxiety. I was saying a lot leading up to the wedding that I’d either be totally calm or freaking out, and while the couple of days after the wedding weren’t so great, it’s because I was being really careful about yoga and giving myself space to be quiet and alone that the wedding day went so smoothly. I feel fortunate, but also proud: it’s one of the first times I can remember really putting my foot down and being like “no, I can’t go to that thing because I have plans for yoga/with myself” or whatever. I’m almost always giving up that time and space for other things, and I’m so glad that I preserved it for the wedding – because clearly it worked. It’s really encouraging to know that I have power over my experience with anxiety. I can’t control everything, but I can do a lot to make it better.