How to survive Indian weddings (including your own) as an HSP, introvert, neurodivergent or disabled human.
Weddings are an extroverts dream… but an introverts nightmare, especially if its your own! Indian weddings are multiple day affairs with lots of people and incredible amount of stimuli assaulting all our 5 senses. If you identify as a Highly Sensitive Person, introvert (or even an ambivert, really) neurodivergent or have a disability, weddings (your own or a closed loved ones) are going to be difficult to get through. While they can be chaotic and overwhelming, if you’re at the right ones (like I have been recently) they are also filled with abundant love and good vibes. So here are a few tips to survive them:
- A wedding does not a marriage make.
Whether it is your own wedding or your closest loved ones, understanding your capacities and boundaries is of paramount importance. Weddings are very significant, often life-changing days for people, but what is life altering is the marriage — not just the wedding. Your (in)capacity to be there wholly for the wedding is NOT a reflection of your future lack of presence for the marriage. A marriage is long term, save your energies for the whole ride my friends! Recognise your boundaries and communicate them to your loved ones about the big day — yours or another’s.
2. Very few weddings are neurodivergent/disability friendly.
Whether your neurodivergent/disabled identity is private or known to your loved ones, it is unlikely weddings will be accommodating of this. Loud music, strobe lights, lack of wheelchair access at venues, not enough seating etc. is a very real distress. Whether it is your own wedding or another’s, make arrangements for yourself to be able to manage this aspect — it is important. If loud sounds are triggers for people on the spectrum, with ADHD or HSP’s, use cotton/earplugs. Ask your host/the venue in advance about the things that might not work for you — especially if it is your own wedding. With more ‘hidden’ disabilities or chronic health conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, crohn’s disease, incontinence, mental health distress etc, scout the location as soon as your reach for seating, quiet corners, washrooms and position yourself in a space of comfort. Most people who have lived like this do this naturally, but I just wanted to validate this as a very prudent form of decision making for your comfort and enjoyment, not just one made from anxiety. Your health takes precedence.
3. The fight for your mental/physical health is worth it
If this is your own wedding especially, the fight to have a wedding that fits your physical/mental health needs is ALWAYS worth it. Whether it means a smaller or even no wedding at all, make your case for it. This doesn’t mean you will get everything you want, but at least you and your family will settle somewhere in between. With COVID especially, health has to take precedence. It’s the little things, like if you have a strong reaction to any hormonal medication, plan your wedding date based on your period dates. This is all much easier said than done, but it is the essence of placing your mental and physical health at the centre of your decision making process which I seek to validate. That is not a weakness, but something that offers you comfort on important days of your life — for you and your loved ones alike.
4. Set your boundaries — say no.
With loved ones, boundaries are an act of love. They show others how you will not resent them eventually. They are not about absence, but really the ways in which you can be fully present in a space. Figure out your limitations and communicate them with love. Their being upset might symbolise their desire for your presence, but your boundaries symbolise the same.
5. Managing your mental health
People who have been going through a tough time emotionally, people with psychological vulnerabilities etc. might find weddings difficult for a plethora of reasons. One of them might being masking or hiding their distress on these days. This can be exhausting. Weddings might also bring up feelings of loss and grief based on life experiences such as missing a family member, feeling lonely, relationship distress etc. It can bring up feelings of exclusion and inclusion. They can make us angry about injustice (remember queer weddings are still not possible in India). These aren’t ‘bad’ or ‘negative’ but very real ones which belong in these spaces. We can’t ‘stop’ the realities of life for the period of celebratory occasions. Love and grief can coexist and that is okay.
6. Settle into your people (or pets!)
Find the person/people that make you most comfortable. The ones you can be most yourself with and who accept you for who you are. This might be a utopian expectation, but perhaps that person can even be you. Or it might be the little dog/cat at the wedding! Weddings have a lot of force — eat more, drink more, dance more, socialise more etc. But when you are around people that care about you, space will be offered or at least given if asked. Your mental/physical health might be private, but we must find support systems that knowingly or unknowingly advocate for our care.