mental wellness

Mental Health In a Wedding Dress – A Reflection

I did it!

I got married!

*pause for clapping and congratulating*

It was a day that brimmed with warmth and happiness from all directions and I couldn’t fault a single moment (bravo to the individual who planned it all *wink wink*).

But there’s no need for me to run through a play by play account of the day. It was a wedding and we did wedding things: vows, food, cake and dancing.

What I do want to mention and celebrate is my mental health, yep, let’s have another clap for Lucy’s mental health being, well…. healthy!

If you’ve read my previous posts then you’ll know that I live with anxiety, depression and that I’m in recovery from an eating disorder. Now, planning a wedding and actually getting married is obviously quite a big deal (one of the most stressful things you can do apparently) so as you can imagine, I was slightly concerned that my mental health wouldn’t cope under the strain of planning such a big event. I had convinced myself that I would have the breakdown of all breakdowns, but guess what? I didn’t!

Sure, there were days when I became overwhelmed and the odd occasion when I worried obsessively about jam jars, but I didn’t break! (Shame the same thing can’t be said for some of those jars).

My husband (oh that’s strange), of course did help through the whole process and was a massive support, as was my wonderful maid of honour and I think that’s where half the battle lies, having someone, or a few people, who get you! The people who know how your brain works and know how to bring you back to reality when table plans and colour schemes turn you into a stressed out nitwit.

The only thing that proved a slight struggle was dealing with body image. I mentioned it ever so slightly in a previous post and I thought that I had it sussed and in a way I did, just not fully.

After worrying so much about my anxiety, or rather the lack of it (how ironic), I didn’t notice the sneaky thoughts about food and weight that were making themselves comfy in the back of my mind. Before I knew it I was cutting out food groups and changing my diet, letting other peoples idle chit chat about diets worm their way into my brain. I was exercising when my body was telling me not to, just because I wanted to burn calories and look a certain way for the wedding.

Now some of you may be thinking ‘hey surely all of those things are healthy? Cutting out foods that don’t have much nutritional value and exercising, doesn’t sound bad to me?’

Yes you’re right, but not when those actions are jeopardising your mental health.

But one thing I can take from that part of the experience is that I didn’t relapse, I didn’t entertain binging or purging and for that I am grateful! I can also recognise how far I’ve come in recovery, I would never have been able to pick up on these things a year or so ago.

I realise that this blog post is a little different to my normal ramblings, it’s possibly a little more rambley if anything. But I felt the need to sum up the last month of my life!

I will now leave you with some snippets of advice that I learnt during the process of planning a wedding. By no means revolutionary, but potentially helpful for incoming events, maybe even a wedding!

1. ANXIETY! Don’t get anxious about the fact that you’re not anxious. Trust your body, trust it’s reactions and don’t wonder why you’re not panicking yet. Try and enjoy those moments and the fact that you’re not in a state of anxiety.

On the other side, if you are dealing with anxiety and it is something you have previously experienced, try and work on grounding yourself, get out of your head! It’s easy to get swallowed up into that vicious cycle. So talk to someone you trust, reach out for that help, use old methods to bring you back to the now. Just because it’s a different/new event doesn’t mean that those tried and tested remedies won’t work for you! Do them. If you haven’t experienced anxiety before, please don’t think you’re alone, open up to someone you trust or a medical professional.

2. BODY IMAGE! People will give unwanted advice, whether its weight loss related, diet or exercise, it’s something we can’t escape from. But what we can do is listen and just let those words float away, ignore the words, they may sting but remember everything that you’ve already learnt, this persons opinion doesn’t change your progress! You can also gently decline the advice, say that you hear them but you know what’s best for your body: Eating. Your body needs fuel to keep you going. your body needs nourishment no matter what. Your mind needs fuel too! Because without it, you’ll find that your mind will run riot with the negative thoughts.

3. Lean on people, use your resources, reach out! Even if you’re like me and think that no one else will do it right. You might believe that it’s down to you to put it all together, but other people can do a job just as well as you! So use them. Trust me, they want to help.

4. Your mental health matters, I you need a time out, take it. If you feel overwhelmed, walk away. I had to do this a couple times on the big day. I got super overwhelmed, a wedding is a big deal and there’s so many people! So I grabbed my husband and asked him to come and walk with me, I told him how I felt and it worked. Also you don’t get a heap of time alone so it’s great to regroup! Whether it’s on the day or during the run up, take all the time you need, it’s your day!

5. I won’t tell you to enjoy it, you’ll do that anyway! Just remember to take a breath or two (or three) and have a magical time.

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