The Stressies, OR, Explaining Anxiety to a Normal Person


Remember when I was Little Miss Breezy about the ever-dwindling number of weeks until my wedding? That was fun while it lasted.

Collin and I had a date night last night to commemorate the one-month-to-wedding mark. He sent me red, white, and blue flowers; I wore a dress covered in kitties. It should have been a joyful, giddy occasion, full of giggles and jokes about living in non-sin. But before we even reached the restaurant it took on a tone of stress.

“You haven’t sent out thank you cards for the shower yet? You better get on that!” Collin joked. I glowered. “I’m joking! I’ll help!”

“But then people will think I’m a bad bride.”

“What does THAT mean?”

“I don’t even know, but it worries me.”

We sat down at dinner. Collin suggested we make a list of everything we still have to do, so that when we cross things off we feel better. How practical of him. How sane. My reaction?

“I can’t look at that list, I’ll have a stroke.”

“I’m under the impression that almost everything that needs to be done is already done.”

“It’s not.”

“OK, name a few things we still have to do.”

“The programs. The GD DJ lists. The thank you cards.”

Collin looked relieved. “That’s only a few things. We can do the thank you cards tonight!”

I looked skeptical. “There’s still A LOT to write. And those are only the things that we have to do ASAP.”

Collin maintained his chill demeanor. “Well we’ll just go home and do them.” Like it is the easiest thing in the world.

It’s moments like that I hate my anxiety for crippling me the way it does. When I am overwhelmed with stress, every task feels insurmountably difficult. I end up getting much less done than I could without the stress holding me back. I lose so much time to ill-fated efforts to relax and to self-doubting pauses. And then time passes without me improving my situation much, and I end up much more realistically in the shitter. And the anticipation of that common problem ratchets up my present anxiety. Cycle, meet vicious.

But with one month to go, I can’t change who I am. I need to make allowances for my anxiety no matter how much I wish I could just will it away. I need to do more yoga and schedule time to not think about the wedding and follow my gut to give myself what I need. And I need to refill my Vistaril RX. Yay, modern life.


  1. I feel like you just wrote an entry from my own journal.

    For what it’s worth, making lists always triggers these emotions for me: anxiety (thinking about it), panic (while writing one), relief (once written), and glee (while checking things off). I’ve trained myself to just hunker down and do them, and I’ll admit, this has made the panic stage of list writing lessen over the years. Before I regularly made lists, my anxiety ruled me into becoming a class-a avoidance specialist. That really only made things worse.

    My other survival mechanism is allowing myself to have F*** It moments. Sometimes, I can just tell when I’m going to tip over the edge and fall into a spiral of seizing anxiety… and in that quick moment I decide I don’t care, I give up, “f*** it.” I walk away. Because there are very few things in life that are worth an episode, and it makes me feel much happier & more powerful to do without whatever that thing was than to fall victim to my anxiety disorder. Obviously, there are some things where this is not an option, or not appropriate, but there are things that will go wrong. And f*** it, that’s OK.

    Also, you will not be a bad bride if you have help writing your thank yous. And if anyone says differently, f*** it. Your guy has your back, and there’s nothing but good things to say about that.

  2. Robin, I am exactly the same way! My anxiety usually flares up the most when major life changes are about to happen. Then I do everything I can to avoid them. So a wedding, with all the big change that comes with it and all the little things you have to do in preparation, is totally crippling. I too have been putting off all these things which, when I take a step back, seem so easy — like calling and scheduling a hair appointment, making the playlist, figuring out what readings we’re going to use, etc. I even made a to-do list but I avoid looking at it because it makes me feel so guilty and incompetent.

    I know you are getting down to the wire, but it has helped me to just try to accomplish one wedding-related item per day. If it’s something really small (e.g., ordering bags for our party favors, which I’m doing right now), then maybe two things per day. It may seem like there are a million things that need to get done, but a lot of them get taken care of all at once (like, determining the seating chart and making placecards is something you can get done in one shot, even though I put them on my list as separate tasks).

    I’ve also been taking comfort in the “So what” approach. So what if I don’t ever put a playlist together? Our DJ will still have music and we can request songs as we think of them. He/she might play the same songs you hear at every wedding, but everyone likes those anyway. Or, so what if I don’t even get around to scheduling a hair appointment? I can make my hair look presentable enough that my fiance will still marry me. Etc., etc.

    And if everything still seems daunting, just remember that if you wait till the last minute, it takes only a minute!

  3. Oh man, that exchange is all too familiar. I wish I could remember how I got through those conversations and long to-do lists without losing my mind, but I honestly can’t. On the upside, I know that I did, and that my wedding weekend had moments of high-stress go-go-go but was overall a beautiful wash of love and laughing and getting down with our bad selves.

    My biggest struggle with anxiety, I think, is getting too far ahead of myself. Most of the time, my weekends are already over before they’ve even begun, in my head, because I’m already fretting about something tedious in the next week or farther down the road. I guess my advice would be to take it a day or two at a time. While it probably won’t stop that cycle, it could possibly slow it down or make it less overwhelming.

  4. Why does it seem that all women suffer from crippling anxiety these days? Intellectually, I know this is an obviously self-selecting sample, but still. Here we all are, saying me too, me too!

    You are very brave (and wisely medicated) to write so honestly about this, Robin.

  5. Ugh, The Foliage and I have this conversation basically every other day. Luckily (?) my wedding anxiety started over a year ago, and by now he knows better than to act like it’s all no big deal, and everything will get done really easily. So that’s handy. I guess my suggestion is to terrify Collin into submission. At least re: wedding tasks.

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