Getting married while mental

There are lots of things a bride-to-be has to consider.  What will I wear? Are people going to fight?  How on earth will I be able to wee in a giant dress?  Is it acceptable to be drunk at your own wedding?

But with our wedding day speeding towards us, there are things I have to consider which, quite frankly, I wish I didn’t have to.  Mentalism.  Butt out!  Can’t you just go one day without bothering me?

The first big piece of advice I got about wedding planning was, “Make sure the excitement and stress doesn’t make you ill!”  Well meaning, of course, but it’s not what you want to hear.  Of course, weddings are stressful (I had no idea how much until I got engaged, if anything, it’s the politique that is the most stressful, especially when you do not want a big wedding and are doing it on a shoestring but a lot of cultural expectations dictate this and that) and you hear about people turning into, “Bridezillas” and having a breakdown before the day, being carried down the aisle with a limp arm resting on their minivan-size dress.

The sad thing is, though, I knew they were right.  I have spent nights up frantically clicking on photos of dresses and poof! A night’s sleep is gone, just like that and the next day I am a bit, OOH.  Worse, though, is the happiness side of it, the excitement which can tip someone over the edge, but it’s okay, my deadening, zombifying medication takes care of that.  I’m allowed to be stressed, but not excited.

We are having our wedding at 3.30pm on a Friday afternoon, not because we particularly wanted a late afternoon wedding, but because there is the very real possibility that if I take my stupid medication I will either sleep in or be so drugged I will slur, “I do” and panic my soon-to-be-husband’s family that he is marrying an alcoholic.  Or worse, be so drugged I haze through it, unfeeling and unthinking, as I do a large proportion of my life. I am genuinely afraid I am going to be absent on my own wedding day.

There’s the other consideration, “Oh shit! My arms!” Besides what I wrote in my last post, I really don’t want to have my arms out, I would just be too uncomfortable.  They look frigging awful in photos, too.  So I am less thinking, “I’m going to get a pretty dress” and more thinking, “In what way can I cover my arms and not bake in August?”

And, of course, the expectation that a bride must be A BEAUTIFUL FUCKING PRINCESS and, for someone with body dysmorphia and a past eating disorder, it’s unsurprising that some of my latent anxious behaviours have kicked right back in.  On this count, at least, I have finally admitted some uncomfortable truths to Robert, which is the first step in me taking back control.  But I saw myself on video a few days ago and went into a mad tailspin of being unbelieving I looked like that, and suddenly could not bear the thought of people looking at me, and they will be.  Unless I staple a veil to my face. And body.  I find social interaction incredibly nervewracking too so what the hell am I going to do?

I also worry that I will wake up two weeks beforehand and be nailed against the wall by depression.  Robert knows how swiftly, how severely it can hit me, out of nowhere, like the big stupid wanker it is, and says it’s fine if we need to cancel the wedding because of it, knowing the day will not cut through the fugue (because absolutely nothing does). But that is kind of my worst nightmare.

All this said, though, I am delighted to be getting married to the love of my life.  Urgh! I hear you boke, but he really is.  He is my messy, silly other half, my first love, and my last.  He is wonderful and he makes me extremely happy. I am excited about getting up in front of my family (alas, Granny Molloy-less, she is too frail to come, and minus my dad) and friends and saying, “THIS ONE HERE, I LIKE THIS ONE THE BEST”.  I’m excited about having our first dance, eating cake, buggering off back to our hotel and then frigging off on honeymoon for a week.

(We are going to Rome. We have a honeymoon register as we don’t need household stuff here: which apparently you are supposed to post on your wedding website?  Who has one of those? All this stuff is an etiquette minefield.  But I’ll be 27 while I’m in Rome!  I lived to 27! Jesus!).

And most of all, of course, I am delighted and excited to be marrying Robert, and to be spending my life with him.  He is pretty cool.

But this all brings uneasy questions to the fore.  Uneasy in their, “This should be easy” and it’s not.  Children, for example.  I do really want to have children.  I have had “those” discussions with doctors that have ranged from, “NO” to, “Be careful”.  And we will be careful.

But can we handle children?  We are intelligent, mature and loving people, but one of us has the tendency to go a little mad.  I spent some days in perinatel psychiatry lately.  And it was terrifying to be confronted with my possible future.  It was another imagining- like my wedding- were mental health makes an unwelcome intrusion.  If you have a history of manic depression (technically, I’m not sure I do, but it is probably that, let’s face it) or if your mother has had postnatal psychosis (mine has), you get an automatic referral to their services.

“Services”.  I spent such a long time worming my way out of them, and I may worm my way back in.  I am glad these places exist, I think perinatal and postnatal illness is something that should be given more attention.  But to exist within them?  It is not how I imagined my pregnancy.  I thought it would just be me, the dad and our big lovely belly.

I have been pregnant once before.  And the circumstances were very different, so it probably affected my mental health with them being as they were.  But hormonally and physically, within a very short period of time, I was a mess.  I was crying constantly. I found what was happening to my body utterly distressing.  I lost my shit and it took a very long time to recover it.  But again- could have been the circumstances.

But I have also seen my mum when she was ill and it was extremely frightening.  And with lack of sleep being der rigeur in new mums, I wonder if I will go the same way as her.  It scares the shit out of me.

And then as a mother.  I know lots of mums with mental health problems who are great mums, but there is a chance I won’t be.  I had a shitstorm of a childhood which has given me a fuckload of issues. I don’t want to repeat those things, I don’t want to give my issues to my children (for a start, I will REALLY need to sort out my body image). Then again, every one has that worry, it’s not just people with mental health problems.  Who may be viewed by others as an incapable mum.

Well, balls to them.  We’ll be great.  We have love! Creativity! And very sweet cats.

And if I do go psychotic and mad (and it’s quite rare so what’s to say it could happen?), at least there’s the Mother and Baby Unit at the Bethlem.  I’m lucky to live here.  Couldn’t go mad in a better place, really.  Bright side, eh?

It does, though, bring things into sharp and happy relief.  I never imagined my life would be where it’s at now.  Or that I would feel capable of having children, or even committing to another person, one who doesn’t worry about me topping myself.  Or that me topping myself is now a remote possibility, and not a concrete immovable object on the horizon.  To be sane enough to even organise the damn thing, to be sane enough to do it while going to university.  There is the trade off-medication, and I am going to need to have a serious discussion about it because the compromise is becoming too great- but all in all, I’m alright.  To be planning a future, even a rather scary one, is more than I ever expected.

(Although he is quite dangerous, judging by this video)

16 Responses

  1. I’m not going to say I know how you feel because no one can know your individual emotions but I had to go through the same kind of thing. Will my dad be well enough to even be at the wedding or walk me down the aisle? Will he be in hospital? I had some really stressful days and I planned my wedding alone while my now husband was studying. I remember on our wedding night, we got to the hotel and I just burst into tears, it’s not what you want to remember but I was so emotionally exhausted by trying to hard to be alright I broke down. But remember that he knows you and he will support you. I may have cried on my wedding night because of my huge emotional fears of change and the stress that comes with it but my husband didn’t judge me and he knew what I was feeling and how hard it was for me to make this big change and that was the most important thing. As long as he knows how you are feeling and why you may be behaving not like the “NORMAL” bride then screw everyone else. I had so many people telling me what I SHOULD do on my wedding day and in the end I just said “It’s our day, we do whatever we want”. Don’t feel pressured into all of this etiquette and tradition unless you want it. We didn’t have a first dance or a disco we just had a meal with family and that’s what WE wanted. Others were disappointed but it was our day. It can be hard to get caught up in what others want and yes it will be tough and it will be stressful but if people can’t accept you, madness and all then they don’t deserve you. The fears in the end will be what makes you stressed, the thoughts not what actual happens! I thought I would be a complete wreck standing infront of everyone as I embarress really easily but I was so focused on him that I was fine, I didn’t cry, I didn’t care about anyone else. My body and mind loved him and decided they wouldn’t fuck up my day. So just remember that he loves you whether you run down the aisle screaming something about killer cakes or not. xx

  2. Hi, really good luck with it!
    I’m quite envious of you, to be honest 🙂 I’m 36 & pretty much feel I won’t have/be able to have a relationship. I think it’s just the way it is for some people. I’m in the middle of a down swing at the moment so it particularly feels like things like this are for other people, but I thought you might like to know, even if I can’t have these things, I’m glad some of us can 🙂

  3. Right now I am a bit too emotional to respond directly to you, S, because what you say rings so true for me with any big social event. Meeting new people is a trigger. Being in a crowd is a trigger. Moving away from my in-laws was a relief NOT because I didn’t want to be with them but because all of the social functions made me really ill, both mentally & physically. It was simply too much. Now that I’m back on meds (and recently increased them) I hope that the wedding we are going to in Dublin doesn’t turn out to be another one of those situations where I end up shutting down and/or alienating others. It ought to be a glorious, happy time and I want to experience that with those I love.

  4. wish I had wise words for you about weddings, life and stuff etc but sadly nothing springs to mind BUT to pee in a big dress invest in a shewee or a Whiz then you can pee standing up. I wish you heaps of luck with the wedding xxx

  5. I wish you a lovely wedding and a happy marriage. You deserve both, as does Robert.

  6. How to pee in a big dress: roll up the skirt, throw it over your shoulder. It works for me – tested in a wedding dress as well.

    [Marta, who sent you a long letter – via Honeyfund – full of suggestions on Italy you did not ask for. ;-)]

  7. Hello Seaneen,
    Try to as they say to, Keep calm and carry on.
    I still find your personal blog highly intellectual, interesting and entertaining.
    I wish for you and Robert to have a lovely wedding day.
    Kind regards
    David Gosling.

  8. I hope you have a lovely, fun and survive-able wedding, and a wonderful, happy, fulfilling marriage.

  9. Hi, Seaneen
    Ij just wanted to wish you and Robert all happiness for the future. I’ve been reading your blog for a few years now, and you’ve helped me through some bad times.
    I’m sure everything will go well for you, and I hope you get to have kids, too. They can be more psychoactive and better for you than anything pharmacology can come up with..

    Christian x

    • I agree with Christian regarding having children I was commended not to have them due to the disorder but you I am sure will make a good Mother.


  10. Seaneen: You are the recipient of an I Choose to Live Award. To get a copy of the award for your blog and to read the write-up go to: and scroll down to the new award recipients for 2012. 🙂

  11. Seaneen, Fix your eyes on Robert and the marriage you can build together. Screw all cultural expectations that stress you out too much and just begin. My fourth marriage has lasted for a really blissful (overall) fifteen years. THAT’S POSSIBLE !!! And there’s no end in sight. I hope for you that yours is based upon our basic ace in the hole: we are married to each other’s best friend. Not that we don’t have other friends…I even have a girl buddy he can’t stand….it’s just that he is my first, last and always companion. Oh, and we are really different (I’m a writer and musician, he’s an engineer and outdoorsman) but we completely respect each other. That respect requires a lot of self-control on my part, especially when I’m manic and I just don’t care about anyone else’s needs.

    Finally, I hope you find peace in regard to children. Strangely, my surprise pregnancy at age 35 was the calmest time in my body’s life. I got huge, had a fine chubby girl who, at 21, is psychologically and physically fit and accomplished. Totally unlike her mother…and obviously the product of her stepfather’s loving devotion. I hope, again, for your peace in regard to this. Cats are very very good for your health, too!


  12. Hello Ciao, very well stated love is love and no man shall put under sunder for any other form or image. David.

    • Hello Seaneen , I have been married on a roller coaster of life for over 33 years their is hope for us all! David

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