Excuses For Cancelling Plans & What We Really Mean

We’ve all had someone cancel on us at one time or another and let’s be honest, it can be disappointing. However, nine times out of ten they ‘bail’ because of something deeper than not being bothered.

If you have a ‘flaky’ friend or family member, this may result from their battle with an anxiety disorder.

The NHS website defines an anxiety disorder as: ‘a long-term condition that causes you to feel anxious about a range of situations, leading to both psychological and physical symptoms’.

If somebody continuously cancels your plans together, it doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t care about you or don’t want to see you. Try to keep in mind that there could be a genuine reason behind it, and this reason probably isn’t about you at all.

Anxiety Disorders are so challenging and exhausting. Dealing with anxiety is an everyday fight.

 

Last month on Twitter I created a poll, asking: ‘Have you ever cancelled plans because your anxiety was too debilitating?’

96% of votes answered ‘Yes’ and 4% of votes said ‘No’.

Now I completely understand the difficulty of stringing together the words: ‘My anxiety is really overwhelming today. I won’t be able to make it, but I’d love to rearrange and go another time…’

On the day of said plans, you’re faced with an urgent and deafening fear of something that everybody else seems to do without a second thought. Dealing with anxiety which is so controlling that you have to cancel your plans, can be exhausting in every sense of the word.

 

What Does An Anxiety Disorder Look Like?

From my personal experience with generalised anxiety disorder or GAD, the best way that I can describe it is like this.

Picture yourself driving. Suddenly you see a police car and there is an immediate wave of fear running throughout your body. The feeling is so dominant, even though you haven’t done anything wrong, and it remains when the police car is out of sight. This is an anxiety attack. An excessive worry about something in your life, which intensifies over time and doesn’t seem to pass.

Your body exists in a psychological period of emergency, in the absence of danger. But how do you escape from yourself?

You can’t.

Anxiety becomes deeply rooted in you to such an extent, that you trust it more than your rational mind. It makes you genuinely believe that ‘You don’t look pretty’, ‘No one likes you’, ‘You’re a failure’…

 

Understanding Excuses For Cancelling Plans

Disclaimer: I am writing the following excuses from the perspective of individuals with an anxiety disorder. The excuses listed below don’t only portray, and are not only tied down to anxiety disorders. However, they can be seen as common and go-to responses from individuals suffering with this.

 

‘I’m tired’

For some, feeling tired comes from disrupted sleep, working the late shift and having to get up early. However, for others feeling tired is more than a lack of eight hours. It’s a tired which 48 hours of sleep could never fix. An exhaustion which makes it almost impossible to get out of bed or find the energy to eat, shower and work; to name just a few.

A lot of people are simply exhausted of fighting the voice which makes them feel inadequate.

 

‘I can’t get out of the house today, I won’t have enough time’

Anxiety can sometimes be triggered by change and the unknown. Having limited control over a situation can make some individuals extremely uncomfortable. If a normal routine is compromised unexpectedly, it may completely throw that person off and prevent them from doing what they had planned to on that day.

 

‘I had a really bad day’

After a panic attack, it can be terrifying to face potentially triggering situations. This leads to avoidance behaviours and isolation, because being in a safe environment reduces the risk of something bad happening.

 

‘I don’t feel well’

According to the NHS, the most common selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) for anxiety-related conditions are: citalopram, fluoxetine, paroxetine and sertraline.

The most common side effects of SSRIs include: blurred vision, dizziness, fatigue and nausea. Therefore, some people may not feel well enough to simultaneously battle their mental and physical challenges.

 

‘I have nothing to wear’

The things that you used to religiously wear, you won’t contemplate wearing anymore. Anxiety is a distressing voice in your head, which convinces you that ‘you can’t wear that, your thighs touch’ or ‘your arms are too big’. It rids you of confidence and eats away at your self-esteem, until there is absolutely nothing left.

 

‘I’m feeling sick’ 

I personally suffer with nausea as a result of my anxiety, especially when I feel overwhelmed and stressed. If I have an extremely distressing panic attack, my body feels like it can’t function properly. Sometimes, this stops me from completing my daily tasks and means that I am behind on my work- causing more stress. It’s a permanent, ongoing cycle.

 

‘Homework to do’

People with anxiety are more likely to experience the issues that come with perfectionism. Having unrealistic expectations about yourself, and inevitably falling short of them, can cause increased levels of anxiety, discontent and frustration. Perfectionism means that you spend longer than needed on your tasks, which wastes time and energy. As somebody that regularly feels quite flat, I need all of the energy I can get my hands on!

Although, I feel really uncomfortable with not completing things to my standards of ‘perfection’. This unproductive way of thinking has prevented me from working constructively for years.

 

‘My parents really need me today’

Being around a person or people that know you really well (such as a parent) can make you feel extremely safe. This could be because they are educated and aware of how anxiety effects you. They could act in a way which benefits you, which is near impossible to explain to a kind-hearted stranger, during an attack.

Whereas, being in the company of more uneducated people, individuals are generally more likely to receive judgement, insensitive questions and insults. Most of the time this isn’t intentional, but it is the last thing that anyone needs on a difficult day.

 

A message from your ‘flaky’ friend or family member

Please don’t judge people for cancelling plans with little notice. Everybody has to do what they feel is best for them: sometimes that is taking a mental health day, and on other days that could be facing a triggering stimulus.

Regardless of their decision, I promise you that they DO care. I can’t stress this enough angels!

 

 

For years I have missed out on countless experiences, opportunities and moments that I won’t get back. Anxiety has taken so much from me, which motivates me to challenge my anxiety disorder. I want to break free from my comfort zone and I hope that this post has inspired yourself to do so too.

 

Have you ever cancelled plans because of anxiety, angel? I would really love to hear from you in the comments below!

You can also find me on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest!

Love Casey x

 

Below are links to websites that can support you if you are suffering from a mental illness.

Samaritans
116 123 (24 hours a day, free to call)
jo@samaritans.org
https://www.samaritans.org/

 

Mind
0300 123 3393 (9am-6pm Monday to Friday)
info@mind.org.uk
https://www.mind.org.uk/

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62 Comments

  1. Dan Udale
    20/07/2019 / 5:57 PM

    From someone who has made these excuses in the past, and someone that has struggled going outside out of fear of being triggered, I appreciate this post so much. You did such a great job at articulating yourself and gently approaching this subject, job well done!

    • 21/07/2019 / 3:21 PM

      Hiya Dan,
      Thank you so much for your lovely comment!
      Love Casey x

  2. 20/07/2019 / 8:38 PM

    Not feeling well, needing to focus on homework, and saying my parents need me are probably my most used ‘excuses’ for cancelling plans. There are times when my friends understand this, however a lot of the time they don’t understand and excuse me of making things up. I was even told by one friend that I just need to get on with things and that I should be able to make plans because she also has anxiety and always seems to make plans, but doesn’t understand that my anxiety affects me differently to how hers affects her. I hope more people, particularly those with ‘flaky’ friends, see this post in the hope that they can gain a better understanding of why their friends cancel on them.

    • 21/07/2019 / 3:24 PM

      Hiya Beth,
      If you think it would be helpful, showing this post to your friends may help to educate them. You don’t deserve to be treated wrongly for putting yourself first. Everybody experiences anxiety differently, you are completely right! I really hope that it can give people an insight into living with anxiety disorders.
      Love Casey x

  3. 20/07/2019 / 11:42 PM

    This is all too accurate for me! I even think I voted on your poll, haha. I never want to cancel plans and be a flaky friend, but in the past there have been some times in the past where I purposely have lied because I just couldn’t go out. It’s embarrassing and I feel like I missed out on so many things, but that’s what anxiety does to you. It tells you the worst possible outcome, and you believe it. I wish I had been able to push through my anxieties in the past, but I feel like I’m doing that now and making up for lost time. Thank you for writing this post. I feel like it will help validate a lot of anxious people who have done this and help educate others who have no idea why their friends may be canceling plans all the time due to anxiety.

    Emily | https://www.thatweirdgirllife.com

    • 21/07/2019 / 3:20 PM

      Hiya Emily,
      Thank you so much for participating in the poll and engaging with my blog. Reading your comment truly has made my day and I really appreciate you taking the time to do so. I’m so proud of you for challenging your anxiety!
      All my love,
      Casey x

  4. 21/07/2019 / 7:33 PM

    I think this is such an important thing to talk about, so thank you for starting the conversation! I think some people just don’t think about the fact that ‘flaky’ people might have a reason. The only thing I would add would be: a person’s excuse might be a flat out lie – it might not be related to what the person is feeling, it might just be what they think is most acceptable. E.g. I have definitely said I don’t feel well to avoid going out before when physically, I felt fine, but the prospect of socialising was incredibly stressful and overwhelming. But, I don’t want to offend my friends by saying that I can’t deal with them, so I just say I’m ill.

    • 25/07/2019 / 9:14 AM

      Hiya Naomi,
      Thank you for your lovely comment! A lot of people do think that, which is why I wanted to write this post. That is very true! Society pushes us to act and look a certain way, when it is more than acceptable to say ‘my anxiety is quite bad today’. It’s a taboo but hopefully in the future people will be more understanding and mindful of how their behaviour can affect sufferers of anxiety.
      Love Casey x

  5. 21/07/2019 / 10:33 PM

    Beautifully and perfectly written! This should be mandatory reading for all 😊

    • 25/07/2019 / 9:12 AM

      Hiya Roxanne,
      Thank you so much, that is very kind!
      Love Casey x

  6. 21/07/2019 / 10:51 PM

    I totally have been the one to cancel many times. I hate ther unknown sudden plans springing up and disrupting my routine. Also if I know interacting with certain people will only make me bored and irritated. “I don’t have time” reason is very true when one is calmed by the routine and the comfort that their organized pattern gives. Being too organized is certainly a pain but it works for certain people and all the sudden plans just trigger a sense of chaos that we dislike…🙂

    • 25/07/2019 / 9:11 AM

      Hiya Rasi,
      I completely understand how unsettling it can be to have an unexpected change in your routine! A lack of control can be really anxiety-provoking, so I’d suggest planning things well in advance and reminding yourself that they are coming up. This will help you to feel more comfortable, rather than just throwing yourself in at the deep end!
      Love Casey x

  7. 22/07/2019 / 6:25 AM

    This was such a fantastic and compassionate blog post. I don’t have anxiety myself but I have friends that do and it was really eye-opening. Thank you x

    • 25/07/2019 / 9:09 AM

      Hiya Bronwen,
      Thank you so much!
      Love Casey x

  8. 22/07/2019 / 6:51 AM

    This perfectly puts into words how I feel sometimes.
    The relief of reading about anxiety from other perspectives really helps me contextualise it and think aww it’s not just me that feels this way.

    Love your blog!

    • 25/07/2019 / 9:09 AM

      Hiya Steph,
      I’m so glad that you can relate to this post! As much as your anxiety will try to convince you of this, you really are not alone! Thank you for your lovely comment!
      Love Casey x

  9. 23/07/2019 / 7:48 PM

    Great post and it’s wonderful that you’re spreading awareness of mental health disorders in an educational, constructive and positive way. The examples are really useful to give some insight into what other people might be feeling. I personally don’t suffer with anxiety, but a couple of my friends do, and when they cancel plans I completely get it. You’re allowed to say no and if you’re a good friend, you’ll be more than happy to rearrange and should want your friends to recover and take some time for themselves. Keep doing what you do Casey, you’re fabulous at it x

    • 25/07/2019 / 9:07 AM

      Hiya Sarah,
      Thank you so much angel! I wish there were more people like you in the world, so kind, supportive and understanding. I bet you’re an incredible friend!
      Love Casey x

  10. 25/07/2019 / 10:34 AM

    Not diagnosed with anxiety (though have suffered in the past to the point where I literally had a fear of talking to people but was never given a formal diagnosis. School was aware but never did anything about it so I basically had to fight it myself… ), but I have been having some trouble’ dealing with nerves since starting uni. Completely relate with the whole one social scenario tiring you out for the next few days. I hope this post really helps to open others’ minds to think about the other side of behaviours rather than make immediate assumptions. Thank you for posting and being so honest 😊

    • 26/07/2019 / 6:19 PM

      Hiya Aimee,
      I’m so sorry that you weren’t supported with your anxiety by your school! I really hope that this post helps to educate people and increase their understanding around anxiety disorders. I really am sending you all of my love and well wishes for your year at university.
      Love Casey x

  11. 26/07/2019 / 3:16 PM

    Yes, to all this! So many of us struggle to remember to understand what may be going on for other people and can only see our own annoyance at having someone cancel. A really thoughtful reminder, thank you!

    • 26/07/2019 / 6:18 PM

      Hiya Molly,
      Thank you for your lovely comment angel!
      Love Casey x

  12. 01/08/2019 / 11:27 AM

    My anxiety often results in me cancelling plans (actually happened earlier this week). My most used excuse is that i’m not feeling well which isn’t a lie as my anxiety does make me feel awful! When others cancel on me I try and think further behind the reason and what they may be going through. It is a shame everyone can’t always see it that way though.

    Thank you for posting I just followed!

    Jess x
    http://www.secretdiaryofjess.com

    • 07/08/2019 / 5:29 PM

      Hiya Jess,
      It’s so great that you are so open-minded and able to use your rational brain, which says ‘this isn’t my fault’ when your plans are cancelled by somebody else. I’m so proud of you for that! Thank you for your lovely comment!
      Love Casey x

  13. 01/08/2019 / 5:19 PM

    Thank you for sharing! Many people just disregard these ‘excuses’ but it’s really important, in this day and age, to understand that some people are restricted from leaving their house and exploring the word – due to a horrible mental illness. As much as they’d probably like to, they physically can’t, and I imagine that it’s SO frustrating when they’re ridiculed for this.

    • 07/08/2019 / 5:30 PM

      Hello Nelle,
      It is so important to be educated on how anxiety can affect different people! Nobody deserves to be ridiculed for this, you are absolutely right angel!
      Love Casey x

  14. 01/08/2019 / 5:22 PM

    Mine is usually a stomach bug…partly because I often vomit as well as feeling nauseous from anxiety – and it’s the only excuse that people don’t push against or argue with in my experience.

    Anxiety is physically very tiring – it’s not just a mental thing but the effect of the stress hormones and the adrenalin spikes are genuinely physically exhausting.

    • 07/08/2019 / 5:32 PM

      Hiya lovely,
      I’m so sorry that you’ve experienced this when cancelling plans. Potentially, ask your friends or family members to educate themselves, to read this post so that they have a greater understanding of anxiety. Anxiety is a real illness, and you deserve the same amount of love, respect and support that you would if you had a physical illness.
      Love Casey x

  15. Michelle Blackadar
    06/08/2019 / 7:40 PM

    great post! i have definitely been one to do some of these things. i feel bad because i obviously don’t want the person to think i don’t want to spend time with them and that can give you anxiety on its own but it’s important that you surround yourself with people who understand your mental illness and don’t hold these times over your head. I’m in the United States and i’m currently talking 100 mg of sertraline and it’s one of the best things i’ve ever done. x

    mich / simplymich.com

    • 07/08/2019 / 5:27 PM

      Hiya Michelle,
      Thank you! That is exactly right! Fill your circle with people that understand your anxiety and that push you to put yourself first, but also to challenge it when the time is right. I’m really glad that medication has helped you get to this point. I’m sending you all of my love and well wishes angel!
      Love Casey x

  16. 07/08/2019 / 11:28 AM

    I haven’t cancelled plans due to anxiety but I have cancelled plans due to not feeling well, not having a good day or weather not conducive for such distance or I just want feeling it in my spirit other than that I will show up

    http://www.meilifisayo.com

    • 07/08/2019 / 5:25 PM

      Hello Meilifi,
      It’s important to not push yourself if you aren’t feeling your best! Usually, forcing it just makes us feel worse afterwards.
      Love Casey x

  17. 07/08/2019 / 5:03 PM

    This is such a great post for those who don’t have anxiety to open their eyes to what it’s really like, but also for those who do so they don’t feel alone! I suffer from nausea because of my anxiety too and it’s so hard to explain to people why you cancel a lot, like I did for a while. I’ve greatly improved since going on Sertraline but the first week I was so anxious and ill I couldn’t do anything, and I didn’t know how to put it into words for others to realise what it felt like! There are still bad days and it’s important for others to realise it’s not to do with them when we cancel and we won’t be 100% all the time. Such an eye opening post!x

    • 07/08/2019 / 5:24 PM

      Hiya Chloe,
      Thank you very much for your lovely comment! I can imagine how hard that must have been for you, nobody should have to put social events above both their mental and physical health. I’m sending you all of my love and well wishes Chloe!
      Love Casey x

  18. 07/08/2019 / 8:03 PM

    This is such a helpful post and really gives an insight for those who don’t have anxiety but want to understand it a little better! I hope everyone reads this and doesn’t make people feel bad for not wanting to go out!
    -Kyra

    • 07/08/2019 / 8:19 PM

      Hello Kyra,
      Thank you for your lovely comment angel!
      Love Casey x

  19. 07/08/2019 / 8:20 PM

    Interesting post on why someone may cancel plans. Found it to be informative and inspiring. Anxiety hits us differently and unfortunately may affect our lives sometimes. I am guilty of this!

    I feel like not that many people understand anxiety and how it can be mentally overwhelming. Thank you for sharing your take on Anxiety disorder.

    Sandy

    • 07/08/2019 / 8:31 PM

      Hiya Sandy,
      Thank you for your lovely comment angel!
      Love Casey x

  20. 07/08/2019 / 8:27 PM

    This post has really opened my eyes to those who struggle with anxiety and it makes me understand their mentality a bit more clear. I’m glad you wrote this post because it reminds us to be patient with one another and not judge people because you never know what someone is going through in their life. Thanks for your wise words Casey!

    Natonya | https://www.justnatonya.wordpress.com

    • 07/08/2019 / 8:33 PM

      Hiya Natonya,
      Oh wow, thank you so much angel! Your comment has made my day! I’m really glad that this post helped you to understand anxiety in more depth.
      Love Casey x

  21. 07/08/2019 / 9:28 PM

    This is such a good post Casey! I have cancelled plans in the past and have “I don’t feel well” when in reality it’s because I can’t leave the house because of my anxiety. For those who don’t suffer with anxiety, this should be a real eye opener for them and to remember things may not be as they seem xx

    Lucy | http://www.lucymary.co.uk

    • 08/08/2019 / 8:45 AM

      Hiya Lucy,
      Thank you angel! I really hope that there is a greater understanding in the future. I’m sending you all of my love,

      Love Casey x

  22. 08/08/2019 / 8:30 AM

    This resonated with me a lot! I’ve had some CBT which has helped with my perspective of both thoughts and situations, but I have definitely cancelled plans with these excuses before. I unfortunately drifted apart from one friend of a few years because of situations like this. This serves as a great reminder not to assume or judge when plans are cancelled. We’re all human, just trying our best.

    Paris | http://www.thegirlinflat26.wordpress.com

    • 08/08/2019 / 8:46 AM

      Hiya Paris,
      That is exactly right, and your best is always good enough, always!
      Love Casey x

    • 13/08/2019 / 7:06 PM

      I think I’ve used all these excuses at one time or another. It’s so hard to be open and honest, and just say you’re having a bad mental health day sometimes. Sadly I drifted a part from one friend because of it, she got “sick of it” (her words). It was hard and I know I’ve missed out on so many things in the past because of it.

      • 14/08/2019 / 10:35 AM

        Hiya Kim,
        That’s really okay! I understand how hard it can be, when the reaction of people is usually so negative and judgemental. I am so sorry that your friend said that to you. Don’t be too hard on yourself angel, take things one step at a time and one day you’ll be in control of your anxious thoughts!
        Love Casey x

  23. 12/08/2019 / 5:06 PM

    Oh, I’ve used so many of those.
    Great post!

    • 12/08/2019 / 5:08 PM

      Hiya Monika,
      Thank you angel!
      Love Casey x

  24. April Aleman
    14/08/2019 / 6:11 AM

    I totally get this. Glad to know it’s not so uncommon!

    • 14/08/2019 / 10:36 AM

      Hiya April,
      It’s more common than you think angel!
      Love Casey x

  25. 14/08/2019 / 12:35 PM

    This was so relatable, I’ve used quite a few of these excuses over the years! It’s so important not to force yourself into things if you’re not feeling up to it, and hopefully this post will teach a thing or two to those that have accused their friends or family members of being flaky. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • 14/08/2019 / 9:47 PM

      Hiya Amy,
      Thank you for your lovely comment angel! I hope that this post helps to educate more people on anxiety disorders.
      Love Casey x

    • 15/08/2019 / 7:02 AM

      Hello Radi,
      Thank you for reading! That’s the thing, we don’t know what others are going through, which is why it is so important to always be kind and mindful.
      Love Casey x

  26. 15/08/2019 / 8:22 AM

    Such a fantastic article. I believe most people do suffer from anxiety these days, although there is still some taboo and intolerance about it. Being sensitive to other people’s feelings should be normalized, though.

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this.

    • 15/08/2019 / 10:52 AM

      Hiya Allegra,
      Thank you so much! There is indeed.
      Love Casey x

  27. 15/08/2019 / 12:39 PM

    I’ve used all of these excuses. I don’t typically consider myself to have anxiety, but I can relate to all of these. I love making plans and then when the times comes…I sometimes bail. There’s no real reason I usually just don’t feel like going out anymore it seems. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact why, but I can relate. Great thought-provoking post.

    Also, totally unrelated – we have the same name and spell it the same too! 🙂

    Casey | https://mccourtskee.com

    • 15/08/2019 / 2:28 PM

      Hiya Casey,
      It’s okay to bail angel, there is absolutely no pressure so do what’s best for you!
      Love Casey x

  28. 02/09/2019 / 7:40 AM

    This is spot on. I’ve struggled with my anxiety for years. I have a tendency to avoid making plans so that I don’t have to cancel later. Having to cancel just increases my anxiety so I’ve just removed the trigger. And that’s so sad. Luckily my core group of friends understands my issues and we’re very go with the flow when it comes to plans.
    Thank you for writing this post!

    • 02/09/2019 / 10:33 PM

      Hiya Ashley,
      Thank you lovely! I’m so sorry that you’ve had to do that. I’m so pleased that you have a supportive friendship group!
      Love Casey x

  29. 04/09/2019 / 9:32 PM

    Awesome post lovely! I have used quite a few of these when I’ve been suffering from anxiety attacks and not feeling 100%. People need to understand what it’s like to suffer from it and we aren’t always being lazy or flaky when we cancel plans.

    Shannon x
    http://www.shanylou.co.uk
    instagram.com/shanyloublog

  30. 05/09/2019 / 2:20 PM

    I used to make excuses when I wasn’t in the mood for a party. But now I am just being honest. I just tell the truth

    Bettie

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