Throw your mind back to almost a month ago, where I shared with you a goal that Mr OneBigStressball and I were working toward – trying to stay off the booze for as long as possible and steer clear of junk food, chocolate and crisps.
We did this after coming to the realisation that we drink far too much, and often use the excuse of ‘Well, I spend so much time working hard in the gym,’ as our green light for reaching for the nearest bag of crisps and capitalising on Lidl’s own brand chocolate that goes for 47p a bar. A steal and a delicious reward for squatting a PB.**
Okay. The above things were mainly me- Mr OneBigStressball is usually quite healthy and doesn’t take drinking too far like I almost always do. Actually, he’s surprisingly good and not letting me indulge my temporary ‘need’ for pizza and cheesecake, and is always ready to put up with any grumbling from me when I’m ‘not allowed’ to buy ice cream, because he knows that if I do end up eating junk food, I’ll inevitably get upset about it and blame him for letting me buy it. Complicated? Yes. Has he got it figured out? Also yes.
I basically decided to go on a detox last month, and just see how long I could last, and Mr OneBigStressball was a wee babe and said he’d support me by doing the same… and we did so well! As you all know, I work in a pub, which is both stressful and tedious, so to be honest with you, I thought I’d succumb to a bottle of wine before the weekend was out- as usually happens after a long Saturday shift.
We conquered it though, and for almost a whole month, had next to no alcohol, and I, for one, was feeling a whole lot better about myself.
The lack of alcohol, paired with me re-found love of running long distances meant I lost a little bit of ‘podge’ I’d been carrying since getting back to Scotland. No hangovers meant less anxiety overall and zero days lost to sleeping in bed trying to rehydrate and recover. I saved a little bit of money by not spending any loose change I had on beer and wine, and put all these little savings into our joint money jar, which we’re using to save for our next holiday. Ace.
Then came last weekend. Mr OneBigStressball and I realised that we were much more social and busy with our friends when we lived in Glasgow, and hadn’t had the chance to really host anything since we moved in together here in Edinburgh, so we decided that we could host a wee games night- get some couples over to the flat, have some drinks, and have a giggle. And we did just that! We had two other couples over to the flat, slapped on some tunes, and got super competitive over some classic card games, and I introduced Monopoly Deal to our little friendship group.
We had so much fun!
We’re all quite competitive in our own ways- some of us quiet and sneaky, whilst others (mainly me) are incredibly loud about it and will throw a strop if they don’t win.
The drinks flowed, I met a couple of Mr OneBigStressball’s friends I’d never spoken to before, and we all had a jolly old Saturday night. People didn’t stay very late – we are all adults after all, and most had commitments in the morning and therefore relatively early nights were called for all round- but I found out the hard way that people leaving your house does not mean that the night is over.
Nope. The night was far from over for me. The pork scratchings and my dinner, as well as the concoction of a bottle of wine, a beer and a half, and some cider, churned in my stomach for what seemed like 27 years (it was, in fact, a few hours) before making a reappearance in my toilet. Twice. Two times. Deux fois. Dos veces I had to see regurgitated broccoli and pork belly.
If I were on my own, this wouldn’t be that much of a problem… but living with someone has taught me just how much of a nuisance I am. On a normal night, I usually get up at least once to go to the bathroom, but this is fine, I am usually quiet and Mr OneBigStressball is probably used to it. *** What he isn’t used to, though, is someone scrabbling over him and crying because she knows if she doesn’t make it to the bathroom within the next 5 seconds she will have to mop up spew from the floor.
So that happened.
Then the morning came around. And my body just wasn’t having it.
On a daily basis, I do not like staying in bed until any later than 8am. To me, it’s just a waste of a morning, especially if the weather outside is nice. On this particular morning though, I finally realised something.
I. Am. Too. Old. For. This.
Gone are the days I could go out two, three, even four nights in a row and still make it to lectures. I had one night of bevvying and I felt like complete and utter shit. I could barely move, I couldn’t stomach much more than a cup of tea, and my head hurt like someone was prodding my brain. I was irritable, and honestly, it was during this morning that I realised how lucky I am to have Mr OneBigStressball. He was also hungover, and had loads of studying to do, but still took time out to go and get me some paracetamol, crisps, orange juice, and Berocca.
I know what you must be thinking.
‘Stop being melodramatic. You’re simply describing every hangover anyone has ever had.’
And to be honest, I may well be. If I was looking for silver linings, I’d say I was lucky I wasn’t spewing all day. And that I was fortunate to have someone to look after me.
But when you suffer from anxiety, hangovers dominate your brain and send it spiralling into the worst downward spin you can imagine.
As my body was trying to get rid of the previous night’s poisons by excreting them (the hangover shit is a real thing and it is not pleasant) and making me feel as physically uncomfortable as possible, my brain didn’t help in the slightest.
All I could think was how I’m supposed to be starting my own business and here I was, lying in bed at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. I felt pathetic that my boyfriend had to feed me crisps and orange juice and coax me into drinking an energy supplement. I cried because I knew it could have been avoided, and I spent hours beating myself up about not sticking to the plan and not drinking. I looked in the mirror and despised the utter mess with dark circles and matted hair that was looking back at me, and, at the height of the panic stricken thoughts and feelings, was convinced Mr OneBigStressball didn’t even want to be with me.
When thoughts hit you like this, it is mirrored in your body physically. Your heart rate rises and you feel like you’re out of breath, but there’s nothing you can do. That’s how it feels anyway. I don’t know if anyone else out there has any more effective ways of dealing with panic attacks and anxiety, especially when they’re served as a side to a hangover, but all I could do was sleep it off, as that’s the only way I know how to shut out negative thoughts and protect myself and thankfully, after a three hour in the afternoon, I woke up feeling somewhat refreshed and ready for our planned date night at a new Argentinian Steakhouse Restaurant near the flat. (I was heavy worried throughout the day I’d have to cancel, but thank goodness I didn’t because we haven’t had a proper date night in ages.)
The whole point is, after this weekend I’ve learned that binge drinking just isn’t for me anymore. I’m not at uni, I have a business to develop and grow, and I can’t be working 2 jobs, maintaining social and family life and have a day a week spent in bed because I’ve made a bad choice. Social drinking and a glass every now and again, yes, but in the words of Gallant, I have to ask myself,
‘Is it worth the episode?’
If the episode is the hangover and the accompanying onslaught of anxiety and relapse into negative thought patterns, then no, it’s absolutely not worth it.
Stay healthy and happy guys!
**This means personal best, for all you non-gym goers. I thought it meant Peanut Butter for ages, so no sweat, you’ve learned something new!
***Or he probably hates it… but that’s what happens when you don’t let your night-time peeing girlfriend sleep on the door side of the bed.