My future husband proposed two days after my first ever self-harming incident. Thus, a time that was incredibly exciting, joyous, and meaningful was also confusing, alarming, and difficult. I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder about five years ago, and while I knew plenty about depression, I didn't know anything about how to deal with it while planning a wedding.
You can find a thousand and one articles that debate the merits of chiffon vs. satin or tell you how to pick a good caterer, but there's not much out there that tells you how to reconcile wedding planning with severe depression. With that in mind (and knowing that no two cases of depression are exactly the same) these are a few things that have helped me balance the two…
Talk to someone you trust
Making sure that someone I trusted knew about my struggles with depression and self-harm was key for me. That person could be your spouse, a close friend, or a licensed therapist. For me, it was my fiancé, and it was extremely helpful to know I didn't have to hide what I was feeling from him. I didn't have to make excuses on the days it was difficult to get out of bed; he knew why I had feelings of guilt I couldn't explain.
Take advantage of the good times
When we started wedding planning, I knew I couldn't be productive every day. My own mental health dictated that, sometimes, just getting through the day was the priority — leaving no time or energy for designing place settings or looking for DJs. So when I felt happy and content, I committed to getting as much done as possible. On good days, I was a tornado of wedding planning efficiency, which gave me some leeway on the not-so-good days.
Find the fun
Everyone enjoys different aspects of a wedding. For some people, it's fantasizing about The Dress; for others, it's creating the perfect menu. For me, it was dreaming about flowers. Glorious bouquets, lush centerpieces, creative arrangements. Le sigh. I focused on the things that made me happy. My Pinterest board filled up with images of dahlias and ferns, I visited local nurseries, and chatted with anyone who would listen about the pros and cons of DIY-ing my wedding flowers. I enjoyed it, and focusing on the parts of wedding planning I liked helped to keep the cloud of depression at bay. Of course, there were things I didn't like, which brings me to…
People want to help you. So when friends offer to help with aspects of the wedding — let them! If you don't care about the cake, let a friend bake it for you. If writing your own vows makes you squirm, let your officiant handle the script. I had issues with catering. Just thinking about how we would feed 150 people on our budget sent me into panic attacks. So I washed my hands of it. My fiancé was willing to take on the responsibility of finding a caterer. I didn't know if that meant he'd do it himself or we'd hire an outside vendor, but ultimately I had to trust him and let go of the feeling that I had to do it all myself. Put your trust in your future spouse, your friends or a wedding planner, and know that it's okay if you don't do it all on your own.
Remember, you are not alone
Depression is quite common, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 90 percent of people with severe depression reported difficulty with work, home or social activities. Struggling with wedding planning because you're depressed is nothing to be ashamed of. Most importantly, when it comes right down to it, your future spouse loves you and accepts you the way you are — depression and all. That's probably why you're marrying them!
What are YOUR tips for wedding planning with depression?