Here’s something I’ve never seen a blog post about: planning a wedding while you’re dealing with depression. I’ve also never seen a blog post on how to make life altering, important decisions when you’re crippled with anxiety.
Maybe the material is out there and I’m just not seeing it. Maybe one of the 3 people reading this will pass along an article and all of what I feel like writing here will seem redundant. But here I am, 3 and a half weeks away from The Big Day and The Even Bigger Move, and I have something I feel like sharing about my experience.
It’s very difficult to describe what it’s like to go through the happiest days of your life with a cloudy sky above. Now don’t get me wrong, the good days outnumber the bad, but at times it feels the other way around. There are times when everything seems to dictated by how I feel, versus reality. Depression has a way of twisting your perspective, and anxiety takes your alternate reality, blows it out of proportion and makes you feel like the walls are closing in on you.
There are a number of factors that make this time in life uniquely stressful. But there are a few basic rules that help me no matter what- whether I’m planning the wedding, researching visas, looking for apartments, thinking about hauling all my earthly belongings across an ocean and everything in between.
Here are a few (admittedly cliche) things that help me when I’m overwhelmed, when I’m anxious, or when I feel guilty for feeling depressed during what’s supposed to be the happiest time in my life. Maybe they will help somebody or encourage somebody or maybe no one will read this and I’m saying these things to myself. All of the above are okay.
To preface things: There’s ultimately no point in telling yourself “you shouldn’t be feeling like this, you should be overflowing with happiness!” Obviously, in a perfect world, that is true. And for many people that is their experience. But this is your experience. No matter how you should feel, this is how you actually feel, and this is what you have to work with. So start there.
1. Take a step back from how you feel
When I’m depressed, the smallest molehill feels like Mount Doom. And when there are a hundred decisions that need to be made, like the ones that come with planning a wedding, I feel completely helpless to do anything. It’s good to take a breath, and try to identify objective truths about the situation you’re in. 90% of the time, things are not as intimidating or overwhelming as I have initially perceived them to be.
2. Speak truth to yourself
Very cliche. Very important. Sometimes I can’t trust what my brain is telling me because it’s usually telling me lies- “they’re all waiting to watch you fail,” “you’re disappointing people,” “you’re pathetic for struggling like this,” etc. It’s all garbage.
Jesus died for me. That’s a reality. I’m precious to Him. That’s a reality. I have loving, supportive family and friends around me. Every vital need I have ever had has been met. It helps to count your blessings and recognize that everything will be okay because you have felt this way before and God carried you through it. You’ve been low before, and you were carried out of it before. Bear that in mind when you’re facing challenges you feel incapable of handling: you are not alone, you never have been, and you never will be.
3. Take a day off
Iyanu and I have a rule that we don’t do wedding planning or move planning on the weekends. I find that simply taking a break from planning is hugely beneficial. It’s okay to not be The World’s Most Productive Woman. In most cases, what feels urgent can wait until Monday, and when you arrive at Monday, the decisions you face may seem much simpler and more straightforward.
4. Take good care of yourself
Get out of bed. Open the shades. Turn on the lights. Eat something. Drink water. Shower. Clean and organize your living space. It’s okay to cry through the whole thing. But keep going. I get to the end of the day sometimes, and these things are all I can claim for the day. I got out of bed. I didn’t give in to sitting in the dark. Maybe I made no progress on anything else. But I got out of bed. And that’s something to be proud of. Take care of yourself and facing what’s ahead of you won’t seem quite as daunting.
5. Rely on the Friend who’s always there
“Oh what peace we often forfeit, what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.”
Do you ever wish that you could perfectly communicate exactly what you’re experiencing to someone so that they would understand EXACTLY how you are feeling and why you’re overwhelmed?
God created me and knows exactly what I’m facing, how I’m feeling about it and how overwhelmed I get sometimes. He knows. He sees. Sometimes I just want someone to see that I’m struggling with feeling depressed or anxious- I want to feel understood. Well, He understands. He keeps track. He doesn’t forget all the times I’ve felt defeated, or anxious, or overwhelmed. That’s the kind of Friend He is.
When you have a Friend like that, you can tell Him anything. And it really, truly helps. Spill your guts, cry all you want, talk to Him about it all- down to the tiniest little detail. Isn’t that what you’d tell your friend if you were venting over a cup of coffee during a get-together? Get it all off your chest, and move forward.
No matter what happens, on June 10th, I get to marry the love of my life. All the plans will fall into place, or they won’t, and that’s okay too. But God’s given me a really precious person to share my life with, and that’s one of the greatest blessings a person can have. I can’t wait to start a lifetime of adventures and quiet times, laughter and tears, sickness and health and everything in between with the man of my dreams in 23 days!