One Socially Anxious Woman’s Experience Planning Her Indian Wedding
by Raj Desai | 3/5/19
A Brief Introduction to My Anxiety
My name is Raj, and I suffer from omnipresent, sometimes debilitating, and always annoying social anxiety. Simple things like going to the grocery store, walking outside with my dogs, and being in crowded social settings…not a problem for most people. For me? I’d rather be tortured in a scene from Game of Thrones. Anxiety makes my day-to-day life complicated. So it’s not a surprise that when it comes to a big production like a wedding, my anxiety reared it’s ugly head and took on new life.
For the record, I haven’t always been the best at managing my anxiety. My go-to is to self-medicate with some herb (LEGALIZE IT) and it gets the job done. But there’s only so much Mary Jane can do for you leading up to your wedding, especially when so much of the anxiety comes from outside sources like friends, family, and vendors. It also doesn’t help that Indian weddings are filled with endless events where you’re put on display like a celebrity – a dream for a lot of people, but a nightmare for someone like me.
Social Anxiety and Wedding Planning DO NOT Mix
Let me backtrack a bit and start from the beginning. I got engaged in June of 2015 to my best friend and now husband. I decided I wanted to get married to him ASAP (that’s love, y’all!) which gave us about 8 short months to plan a big fat Indian wedding. We dove into the process and I quickly learned what I was in for.
I come from a very loud, opinionated, and at times obnoxious Punjabi family. And BOY were there opinions on what I needed to do! And because Indian weddings, for better or worse, are so heavy with family involvement, the noise that came from them was endless. I wish I could tell you that I came up with a way to manage it, but I didn’t, and ended up getting in a ton of family fights.
Then there was the safety net of friends, or in my case, a lack thereof. Because of my anxiety I tend to close myself off to new people and friendships, so all of those articles about ‘leaning on friends’ and ‘giving them tasks,’ yeah, not so much for me. Anyways, that was what my vendors were for, right? Well, half right. A lot of my vendors were saints and went above and beyond to support and look out for me (SO to Vesic Photography and Eric Weiner at The Westin Charlotte!). But there were a couple who fell wayyyy below the mark of doing the bare minimum of their jobs, which only exacerbated my already out-of-control anxiety.
Fast forward to 8 months later to the start of our wedding events. My body has always betrayed my mental health status; the more weight I lose, the more anxious I am. And as someone who has been pin thin for my entire life (the kind where people give themselves license to be cruel about it), by the time the wedding rolled around I was barely eating. My wedding hadn’t even happened yet, and I couldn’t wait for it to be over.
Whenever I think about my wedding weekend, I remember it as the loneliest time of my life. The wedding, which was supposed to be about my best friend and I starting our family together, wasn’t really about that. It was about the guest list, and the outfits, and the budget, and the food, and the décor. A guest came up to me during the wedding to joke about how tacky the wedding welcome bags were that my sister-in-law and I spent a day putting together. A family member criticized the lack of décor at our Sangeet and complained that the bar closed too early. And a random uncle was caught trying to redecorate the event space where the Anand Karaj (Sikh wedding ceremony) was going to take place. The stress of these situations broke me and I spent the remainder of the night before my wedding in a beautiful hotel room, alone and in tears.
So What Can You Do About It?
Now that I’ve sufficiently depressed you, I’m gonna spin it around and give you some hope, positivity, and love. If you suffer from anxiety or any other mental health issues, do what you need to do to stay healthy and happy. Here are 3 tactics that may help you accomplish just that:
- Are you stressed about being in front of a room of hundreds of people? Consider eloping (TRUST me, I wish I did). Have an intimate and meaningful civil ceremony with your partner to help alleviate some of your anxiety for your endless wedding events. Knowing you’re already married and sharing that secret with your partner may help you stay calm and relaxed come your wedding weekend.
- Are you having difficulty dealing with friends and family? Find one ally, your partner, a parent, or even a vendor, who will not only listen, but help you get through it. Keep that person physically close to you the weekend of or ensure that they’re a quick text or phone call away.
- And if you can afford it, seek help from a trained professional. Nothing beats the help that you can get from a therapist. They can help you with the mental and emotional tools that can make a difference between sheer panic and all the physical symptoms that come with it, or you actually enjoying your wedding weekend.
There is nothing in this world, not even the superficiality of an Indian wedding, that is worth more than your mental health. Who knows, if I had the tools to better manage my anxiety and response to every curveball wedding planning threw my way, perhaps I would have had a completely different experience.
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