Bachelorette parties, anxiety and the art of saying ‘no’.

Hello anxiety. AGAIN. I have had roughly three anxiety-less, calm, delicious weeks, and now? Back to square one. At least it feels that way because nothing I drink, eat, think, do or listen to can stop this feeling of panic. To those of you who can’t relate — though statistics say most of you can — anxiety is the feeling of driving whilst talking on the mobile phone and then noticing a cop car drive up beside you. Or the gut wrenching, I’m-going-to-spew feeling you have right before a really important exam. Or the I’m-drowning feeling when your supervisor puts you in charge of something you have no idea about. Panic. Inadequacy. Disbelief in thyself. It’s debilitating. I manage to go to work with a combined fever, head-cold and nasty cough, but can barely drag myself out of bed when I am experiencing an anxious episode.

So why has anxiety kung-fued back into my life after three blissful, dreamy weeks of calm? It starts with an invitation to a friend’s bachelorette party….

Background

This year’s new year’s resolution was to karate chop my anxiety into little pieces, deal with each piece at a time, then wrap them up into a tight bundle and send them packing. Done and dusted. Dealt with. But no, no, anxiety, I discovered, doesn’t work like that. There is ‘no getting rid’ of it. Anxiety is like a high maintenance child who sometimes chooses to sleep through the night and be a perfect angel, but at other times kicks and screams until it’s utterly exhausted my body and has no option than to give up the assault.

So a quick overview of the story — friend invites me to bachelorette weekend; I say no due to alcohol enhancing anxiety and causing huge unbalance in body, specifically nervous system; I offer the reason of anxiety to said friend; friend has not spoken to me since. This is majorly crap for two reasons.

Analysis

Reason no. 1: This year has been the biggest struggle with anxiety of my life. I have poured everything I can at it, financially and mentally. I’m seeing a chiropractor 2 times a week who doubles as an emotional blockage remover and almost spiritual guide (the man is incredible — no emotion can be hidden from him because he picks it up in my reflexes- no damn privacy whatsoever!). I’ve been going to hot power yoga also twice a week, meditation podcasts, eating organically, etc. the list goes on and on. And for a friend to know that, and still be upset with me because I have made a conscious decision to look after my mental wellbeing and nervous system really makes me sad (and anxious).

Reason no. 2: I’ve really done some soul searching (something this magical, god-like man the chiropractor has assisted me with), to understand how some of my choices are affecting my nervous system. Turns out I’m a yes person (officially diagnosed by chiro) who likes to say yes, despite the decision having negative impacts on me (if it helps someone else out it’s ok….right?!). The chiropractor tells me this stems from an event I experienced at a young age whereby trauma was inflicted on family members and seeing their distress caused trauma to myself. This has resulted in a completely self destructive and over-sympathetic approach to everyone I come in to contact with. In other words, I bend over backwards to help others, even when it is detrimental to myself. Mr magical chiro gave me a stern warning “Get selfish or risk having a constantly fried nervous system”. Yikes! So this year I have learnt to say NO. No, no, no. No to extra work at work. No to my partner. No to social events when I’m feeling panicky. And no to this damn bachelorette party. Which has landed me in trouble with my friend.

And now anxiety has weaselled it’s way back into my world, where I start questioning my decision and analysing then re-analysing whether or not I am a good person for saying no to someone.

My logical brain tells me that this friend will eventually get over it and things will go back to normal, just give her time. My panicky brain says “say sorry and that you’ve changed your mind and you will pay the deposit for accommodation and food tonight”. My gut churns.

Conclusion

But alas, my decision must stand because it is the right decision. It is the decision that serves me best. It is the decision that I, my nervous system, and my complete wellbeing, will benefit from.

In the meantime I’m going to have to accept this little anxious devil on my shoulder. Oh…. and hope my friend realises that this isn’t about not supporting her on her road to marital bliss — it’s about loving and supporting myself.

It’s the art of saying ‘no’.