Anxiety? Moi?

We were asked to share our experiences in association with the Lord Mayor’s ‘This is me’ campaign. We feel that it’s so important to end the stigma around mental health. To read more go to

Anxiety? Moi?

Have you ever had a situation where you felt completely side-swiped? Life is ticking along, you know where you are and then – wham!

One of the happiest days of my life turned into a really big learning experience. They do say every day is a school day right?

The Dream Wedding

My daughter got married in the summer. We were all super excited as this really was a match made in heaven. My daughter had moved to Belfast and was marrying the most amazing guy and the whole family had traveled over to celebrate.

We had a great flight over, the hotel was excellent and the day before we’d all had a lovely time. The morning of the wedding was chilled. As the Mother of the Bride, I was hanging out with the bride and bridesmaids laughing and getting ready.

Or Was It?

Just before it was time to leave and my daughter was getting into her beautiful dress one of the sleeves pinged off. There was a gasp from all concerned…except the ‘cool as a cucumber’ wedding planner who calmly asked, “Can someone grab a sewing kit and safety pin please?” without breaking a sweat. In minutes disaster was averted and it was time for me to head up to the ceremony room.

At this moment, completely unannounced, rose utter panic. At that moment I realised that my daughter was getting married and I was handing her over after years of fighting like a mama bear for her safety. At that moment I wanted to give her a dashing smile, a cheery good look and serenely waltz out to take my proud place.

That was not happening.

I tried to talk and tears welled up, I tried again and I couldn’t breathe. I managed to catch the eye of our wedding planner who saw my tears and I gestured, “I’m off!” before dashing into the corridor.

I couldn’t breathe.

My heart was racing.

My throat was closing over.

I felt sick.

I felt dizzy.

I wanted someone to save me.

My logical brain was telling me now was not the time, my daughter was on a time limit and would soon be following. That I had to suck it up and get on with it.

It seemed my body and emotions were not getting it!

Thankfully I have 20 years of working in the wellbeing sector. I teach mindfulness and meditation and mentor people who suffer anxiety and mental health conditions. I regularly listen as people describe how they feel and I have a toolbox of tried and tested techniques that I share.

So I became my best student.

As fight or flight sends adrenaline flooding through your veins I know to walk. So I got my feet moving and used the stairs to get to the ceremony room. I started to count my breaths, making sure my out-breath was longer than my in-breath.

Using my soothing voice I said, “You’re ok. It’s a panic attack and soon you will be calm and able to resume Mother of the Bride duties.”

At last, I felt ok, but as I entered the ceremony room another wave of panic ensued and I saw the worried faces of the hotel staff who offered water.

Time to make another exit.

Again I couldn’t speak, but gestured I was leaving and had another good pace (for what seemed like hours but was probably seconds) along the corridor. More breathing and this time I noticed the colours of the pictures, the smell of the flowers, felt the pattern on my pashmina and generally tried to slow everything down.

Gradually, everything came right again. Gradually I was able to re-walk the corridor and this time when I entered the ceremony room, although not yet able to talk I did manage a thumbs up to the hotel staff and even got my feet to walk me to my place. My fixed smile fooled everyone enough so that I could gather my thoughts and take a moment.

Of course, when my daughter walked down the aisle, escorted by my proud husband I bawled like a baby and hid behind tissues, but that’s what every proud Mama should do right?

Anxiety sucks.

So it seems that anxiety doesn’t care if you’re busy. Anxiety doesn’t care who you are and what responsibility you have. It also doesn’t care what day it is or where you are.

It also seems like learning a few techniques, taking a moment and talking kindly to yourself are keys to bringing yourself back.

And maybe I’m a little wiser for the experience!

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About The Author

Nicky Marshall

Nicky is an international, award winning author and speaker and owner of three companies. Nicky has a background as a Management Accountant but has been running businesses since 2006. Nicky is a wellbeing advocate, passionate to show that people are amazing and capable of great success - when they have the right techniques and enough energy! After suffering a stroke at 40 and fully recovering, Nicky is on a mission to change the wellbeing of the world - one person at a time.