In October 2019, my husband and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary. If you’ve been following my Wedding Series, you’ll know that my anxiety played a pretty big part when it came to planning my wedding. While I was yet to be diagnosed for another year, looking back, it’s become apparent that the severe wedding anxiety I was experiencing was actually morphing into OCD.
Looking back, I wish that I had listened to my Mum and my husband and actually saw my doctor before things got as bad as they did. While this post isn’t necessarily part of my wedding series, I wanted to write one about my experience of planning a wedding with OCD. There’s no tips here as such, but I’m hoping that maybe I can raise awareness of OCD, and perhaps inspire others to seek help if they’re struggling. Not just for those planning a wedding, but anyone who is suffering with this bully of an illness.
So, let’s start with the main one. Illness. You hear those classic tales of brides worrying about the catering, the flowers not showing up, the dress not fitting etc. Not for me. The one thing I was convinced would ruin my wedding day was illness. It got to the point where I would ‘cancel out’ these thoughts with the ‘touch wood’ expression. It’s what it says on the tin – I’d touch some wood. But I couldn’t be negative about it – I had to be positive, so rather than “No one will be ill for the wedding.” I had to say “Everyone will be healthy and happy for the wedding.” You name the scenario, I worried about it. Here’s just a handful of scenarios that would run through my head on a daily basis:
- Either me or Liam being ill on the day
- My bridesmaid or the best man being ill on the day
- Literally any other family member or guest being ill on the day
- One of the kids at the wedding being ill on the day
- Anyone involved in the wedding picking up an illness in the run up to the day and subsequently giving it to me or Liam
- Someone coming to the wedding with an illness and giving it to me or Liam so that’d we’d be ill on our wedding night
- My make-up artist/hair stylist being ill and passing it on to me before we headed off on our minimoon
Seriously, the list is endless. In addition to the ‘touch wood’ thing, which I would do multiple times throughout the day, I adopted plenty more rituals to keep my anxiety levels down. The main one was hand washing. I destroyed my hands. For most of the year running up to my wedding, my hands were red, sore, cracked, and in some cases, bleeding. If you look really closely in some of the wedding photos, you can see the red patches on them.
So what was the problem with illness? Why was I so desperate to stop it from ruining my day? Well, there were a few things – the main one was that I didn’t want what was the best day of my life to be spoilt by being unwell. Your wedding day should be 100% perfect. Every bride deserves to have the perfect wedding day. Nothing should go wrong, every single thing should be perfect. I know for a lot of people, having a cold wouldn’t necessarily put a dampener on things, but for me, it did. It wasn’t just colds either, ever since I’d watched Bridesmaids, the fear of having any stomach related illness was permanently etched in my mind.
So, what other stupid shit did I do? Well, I ruined a friendship. It’s a very long story, and I don’t want to go into too much detail, but the gist of it goes like this. This particular friend would post on Facebook every single time her kid was sick. It seemed like he was ill A LOT. Colds, sickness bugs, you name it. I expressed my fears (as stated above) to my Mum, who messaged her and politely said to not bring him to the wedding if he was unwell in the weeks running up to the wedding, because of how bad my anxiety was. It was all fairly innocent, and she came to the wedding, as did her child. However, not long after, things kicked off big time. Long story short, we’re no longer friends. I sincerely regret how everything went down, and given the choice, I would go back and handle it differently. It’s a learning curve. A very painful learning curve.
The other stupid thing that I did? I refused medication. My Mum dragged me to the doctor on several occasions, and each time, I was offered medication. I was also offered CBT, which I accepted, but the waiting list was stupidly long, and it was going to be at least 6 months before I even got an assessment. I was offered medication so many times, and each time I refused. If I could go back and give past me a slap, I would. She was a fucking idiot.
There were a number of reasons why I didn’t want medication, and my wedding was a factor in some of them. The first was that I wanted to be able to drink at my hen party and on my wedding day. I know drinking isn’t the be all and end all, but as I’ve mentioned before, getting drunk with my friends is a way that I can feel normal. The second? I hate myself for being this shallow, but it was because I didn’t want to gain weight. I had a wedding dress to fit into. I’d heard from numerous sources that anti-depressants can make you gain weight, and I didn’t want to risk paying out even more for my wedding dress.
Of course – on the medication front, I can drink. I’ve been able to drink for the last 3 years on my medication, and I’m fine. Also, I haven’t gained weight. If anything, I lost weight because of the initial side effects. All I’ve gained is my recovery, and I regret not doing it sooner.
Like I said, the point of this post wasn’t to give tips or advice. I just wanted to give a little insight into how OCD can have a huge impact on major life events. If there’s one thing you take from this post, it’s this. Don’t let denial get in the way of things. If your loved ones think you should get help, get help. Yes, your wedding (or whatever event you’re planning) is important, but nothing should have such a negative impact on your mental health.