So as promised here I am writing more posts…
The weekend just gone has been crazy! On Saturday we finally held our engagement party- eight months after we got engaged! The reason why we held it so late was because two of my friends been travelling and I wanted to ensure that they would be there because it wasn’t a celebration without them.
The party for me was really important as for me getting engaged is something that I never thought would happen. The man I’m going to marry I keep referring to, around my friends, as my unicorn. he is my wonderful, special, creature that I didn’t think could exist. Even though we got engaged eight months ago it’s not until now that we’ve had the party that I actually feel like we are engaged. I couldn’t feel that way until I had celebrated this special thing the way I thought it deserved to be celebrated. Once we made the outside match what was going on inside my head everything felt way more real.
The party was amazing. It was everything I hoped it would be. All of the people we invited along with each other, there was a piñata; we even had a little singsong.
Planning for the party however was a different story…
It has recently been discovered that I suffer with severe anxiety. Which means planning something like a party, especially for something as significant as celebrating an engagement, was an extremely brain scrambling experience. My anxious nature comes from a need for perfection. I needed everyone at the party to have the best time. I needed everything at the party to coincide with the theme and for it to be tasteful. I needed to convey everything that I wanted to about my wonderful relationship in a party. I needed everyone to have enough food and drink, and there to be enough space for everyone. I was so determined to get everything right we even made a public party playlist because I wasn’t secure enough in my music tastes to please everyone.
You can see from what I’ve just said that there are a lot of things that I needed out of the party based on other people. And other people are changeable. Which makes planning a party virtually impossible thing to deal with for me. Don’t get me wrong; I love planning- it’s my favourite thing to do in the whole world. But that doesn’t mean it comes without price. For the last two weeks, all that my brain has been able to focus on is this party. I have gone over the details and times and I have lost my concentration on a number of areas of my life because I needed this party to be perfect. I’m so thankful it was as perfect as I could have hoped for.
I wanted to write about this because I often think that people don’t understand how anxiety works. People think that if they tell me that everything will be fine because people will be drunk, and enjoying each other’s company, and having a good time then everything will be fine and I will be fine. But that’s not how this works. Reassuring and anxious person does not mean telling them that things will be fine. A lot of the time logically they know that everything will be fine but they can’t help what is going on in their head. When someone is anxious you should ask them what you can do to help them. You can offer to be the rock in the storm that they can bounce ideas off of so that they can sanity check themselves. You can take their concerns seriously. But if you dismiss what they are saying you alienate those people. If you make light of their worries you are alienating those people. You are telling them that you will not take the time to understand, that you will not try to understand, and that you do not understand how important this thing is for them.
Support for an anxious person is not about trying to make the situation appear less stressful. It’s about holding them up and keeping them calm when they feel like they can’t cope. Please remember that when you talk to an anxious person about their worries that they are not controlling what is going on in the brain like a normal person. That no matter how much you reassure them that things will be fine that doesn’t make things fine for them. And instead of giving them what you think they need ask them what they need instead because it is the only you can truly support them.
I was really lucky; I have a system and a group of people who understand me, but there are still those who don’t and their actions alienate me even though they are trying to support me. For some people they do not have the support system or the coping strategies to deal with these things. So next time you see someone struggling ask them what is the best thing to do to support them rather than just assume. You may save someone’s brain space.