I never thought I would want to get married. To me it was something people did because of children, and I never thought I would want those either. Then I met my boyfriend. It was immediately apparent that it was going to be a serious relationship, so we had all the serious talks early on. I sat down and considered the life I thought I wanted, with the life I might have with this man, and realized that I want the whole package with him. On a three-hour drive around the countryside, we eventually talked about almost every detail about wedding planning that we could think of. We were giddy and in love.
The first time my anxiety threw a wrench into our happiness was because of the ring
My boyfriend had bought the engagement ring, and I was so afraid that I wouldn't like it, that I starting getting really dizzy and had to sit on the kitchen floor until he, slightly amused by my perfectionist tendencies, took pity on me and showed me the ring. His laughing comment: “It's just a ring, silly.” (Yes, there's one of reasons I'm marrying this man!) Funnily, I didn't actually like the ring. But it calmed me down to see it, and I soon grew to love it, because it represents a fiancé who accepts all of me.
So all the pieces were lined up:
The girl with a history of anxiety, the small precursor attacks, the big life decision. Then our beloved pet hamster Bobby Singer got sick. We went to the vet and tried everything. So now, sadness and constant worry entered the equation.
I can see now how all the pieces add up nicely and show the inevitable outcome of this cocktail, but it's impossible to predict while you're in it.
…in that state of mind it feels like every thought that enters my head must, by its very existence, be true, no matter how much I love and want to be with him.
The final piece came on New Year's Eve. Alcohol enhances whatever feelings you're already experiencing, so when I went to sleep that night, the full force of a proper pre-wedding anxiety attack hit me and I spent hours shaking and freezing.
My anxiety attacks me where it will hurt the most — my relationship
Anxiety attacks feel like you're being split down the middle, with one half trying to hold on to everything that you know to be true, and the other half screaming every scary and irrational thought you've ever had at you with the force of concert loudspeakers. It is a difficult voice to ignore because it sounds exactly like yourself.
This time around, everything related to relationships scared me to death! Great state of mind for a newly engaged person.
It makes me question my relationship, and now it added crushing doubt about whether I truly wanted to marry the man lying next to me. The very existence of those thoughts crumbled whatever defense I had left, because in that state of mind it feels like every thought that enters my head must, by its very existence, be true, no matter how much I love and want to be with him.
I am still scared that my own mind will ruin my future life and happiness.
Over the first couple of days of the new year, I got worse. As my appetite disappeared, I could not focus on anything but the thoughts. Our hamster was also getting worse, and we had him euthanised. Some of the worst of my attacks went away with Bobby. But once an attack has occurred, it does not just go away. The aftermath can last weeks. I am still scared that my own mind will ruin my future life and happiness. The attack and the thoughts will pass as they always do. But it always leaves a bitter-tasting memory.
I have found a Superman of a fiancé, whom I can actually talk to about my anxiety
He listens and does not hate me or leave me for having these doubts about our relationship. He can see that it breaks me to have those thoughts, so he knows they do not represent how I actually feel or what I want. But it's not easy for him to hear things like that.
I don't take him for granted. Although I do push him to the limit, where he can get so frustrated that I'm not getting better, that he does — in his darkest hour — doubt if I really want to marry him. I do fear that one day he'll be too tired to be gracious and accepting anymore. I hope that day comes after our wedding day, so he will be stuck with me. I truly know how lucky I am.
So why am I writing this?
I guess I'm reaching out to hear if other people out there have tried to combine anxiety with marriage. I want to hear if there are others out there who doesn't fit the stereotype where any kind of doubt is met with the mantra “doubt means you should leave!” I also want to let others know that life comes in many different flavours, and one of them tastes like anxiety and feels more like bats in your stomach than butterflies. But it also means fighting for what I want, even though it might be harder than most people make it sound like, and I want to marry the man who accepts me, bats and all.
Anyone else suffering from pre-wedding anxiety? How does it affect you, and how do you deal with it?