Hangxiety

Like most, I love the way I feel when I’ve had a few drinks. Whether it’s a night in with some friends, a film and a bottle of wine, or a night out on the tiles with the girls, I always have a good time. I especially love the feeling of being out on the dancefloor after a few Proseccos. I love getting dolled up and dancing away whilst singing along terribly to the music, and I love the freedom in that moment, of not caring what people think, and switching off from all of the things I worry about normally. As a generally anxious person, I very rarely throw caution to the wind and let go, so it’s really quite a relief to step away from the everyday once in a while.

At the end of a night of drinking, dancing and general debauchery, I usually finish up the night feeling pretty good and on a high – everything is great. We’ve inevitably spent the night laughing, having heart to hearts and building memories to last us a lifetime. After a night of drinking and feeling on top of the world as a 20-something, I expected to wake up with an aching head, dry mouth and aching body parts from the shapes I was throwing the night before. What I didn’t expect, however, is the mental hangover that many of us experience, known as hangxiety.

Hangxiety refers to the feelings of anxiety, stress, worry or low mood that one might experience after a night of binge drinking. For me, it’s often worries about what I did, or guilt about something I said the night before. in reality, I haven’t done or said anything bad at all, I just end up needlessly worrying that I’ve looked silly or said something I shouldn’t have.

They’re often things that I wouldn’t ordinarily worry too much about, but my anxious, hungover brain rings all the alarm bells, which makes it had to relax and let the thoughts pass. Throughout the day, my anxieties grow, and they develop their own anxieties, and I eventually become a big ball of intense worry and panic.

I never used to experience hangxiety as a teenager, which is ironic because I was drinking a lot more. It’s only in the past few years that it’s come along. I don’t drink that often because of the fear of the repercussions the next day, but over the past few weeks I‘ve been on a few nights out – all in the name of science – to try a few different things. I’ve tried sticking to the same drink throughout the night, been on a night out people I work with, I’ve tried a laid back night out with some close friends, and I’ve tried a night out completely sober. All these have been really good fun; alcohol isn’t the key to a good night. Having said that, I don’t want the fear of hangxiety to mean that I miss out on having fun and doing something I enjoy – and I do really enjoy the feeling of having a few drinks; It’s just finding a way to do it that works for me. I’m still trying to find the right formula, but having read up about hangxiety and ways to get through it, I understand it more and things are getting a little better each time. I think there is certainly something to be said about the way that we feel before we drink – I find that if I’m feeling particularly anxious before I have a drink, the more anxious I feel the next day.

After talking to some friends, it became clear that hangxiety is quite common – it’s just not recognised. I also realised that not everyone experiences it… so then, why do I experience it? After some digging, I found an article from The Guardian who answered that exact question:

‘Hangxiety does not affect us all equally, as revealed by a study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences. Researchers quizzed healthy young people about their levels of anxiety before, during and the morning after drinking alcohol. According to one of the authors, Celia Morgan, professor of psychopharmacology at the University of Exeter: “The people who were more shy had much higher levels of anxiety [the following day] than the people who weren’t shy.”

– The Guardian

It makes sense – if, like me, you’re a more anxious person day to day, drinking alcohol, which we know influences the chemicals in the brain and affects the nervous system, it’s likely to amplify the usual anxieties when we recover from it with a squiffy brain. There’s a lot more in the full article about the science behind it – take a look.

I had a great time last night… but now what? If I’ve been out the night before, I clear my plans for the next day. I wake up, test the waters and depending on how I feel, will either go back to sleep for a bit, or get up and have a bath. I listen to my body, and hey, if my body wants chicken nuggets and potato smileys, that’s what it’s getting! I take my time and revert back to all of the breathing and mindfulness techniques I’ve learnt before now. Most of all, if I’m feeling a little wobbly, I have a chat with someone – it always helps.

As with everything in life, we all have limits and there’s no one size fits all solution when it comes to mental health. If hangxiety is ringing some bells with you, take small steps and be gentle with yourself while you find something that works for you. It’s all about trial and error, and ultimately, having fun! 😊

Stay with me here.

We need to talk…

What a day today has been! There’s been a real buzz in the air around mental health, all in aid of World Mental Health Day. It’s been nice and somewhat surreal to hear all of these conversations happening around me.

By starting these conversations and creating awareness of mental health, we can help to make sure that everyone has someone to talk to and somewhere to turn when things get too much. We’ve made really good headway with the awareness raised and conversations started today, let’s keep it going…

Let’s make sure that we are looking after number 1 – by making sure we are taking time out to look after ourselves and really think about our own mental health. Whether it’s a simple bubble bath and a good book, or a long walk in the country that will help you to unwind, try to make time and get back in touch with yourself, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

We all have mental health, whether it’s good or bad, and 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health condition throughout our lifetime. It’s important that we take care of ourselves to help us get the most from life.

What are you really good at? Do that! – It’s proven that doing something you’re good at and you enjoy will boost your mood and self-esteem.

With some good friends? Talk about it! – Spark up a conversation; you can divulge as much or as little as you like, but everyone has mental health and with 1 in 4 people experiencing some form of anxiety and/or depression, it’s very likely that everyone will have something to say on the subject.

Need a time out? Take it! – In a world that has become so fast paced, it’s no wonder that so many of us have been swept away into a whirlwind lifestyle. We seem to be busy all of the time, seemingly, without time to do the things we truly enjoy and love. We miss out on so many of the little things in life because we very rarely switch off from our everyday routines and stresses. Taking a time out will really help you to refocus and might even make your life that little bit easier.

Need help? Ask for it. – It’s perhaps the hardest form of self care, to ask for help. But it’s important that we recognise when we need that little bit of an extra helping hand. It might mean a visit to the GP, a call to a helpline or just a chat over a brew with a loved one. You’re not a burden or a failure for asking for a little extra support, in fact, you’re quite the opposite!

Make some time and make a plan. What are you going to do going forward to look after yourself?

Whilst it’s important to look after ourselves, it’s also important that we look after those around us. Start a conversation, smile at strangers, pay it forward – be mindful.

Stay with me here.

#littlevictories

Would you believe me if I told you that just this morning, I was struggling to get out of bed? That just this morning my life had no meaning and there was no point? Knowing that I needed to get up and have a shower because I needed to pop down to the Post Office filled me with dread and panic?

Welcome to mine and many others’ world.

It isn’t always like this; Some days, I’ll get up and it’ll just be another day on planet earth. I’ll get up, put on my funky socks, go to work, spend my day smiling and laughing, come home and carry on as little old me. I can go months feeling ‘normal’, and these times are great!

Other days, however, I wake up, my brain is overanalysing everything. Irrational thoughts will race through my head. Take this morning for example..‘If I get up and I get in the shower, someone could break into the house and I wouldn’t hear’ orrrrrrrrrr ‘The postman just came, what has he delivered today? unexpected bills?! oh no, I’ll have to pay them, and then I won’t be able to buy food or pay rent…?!’ orrrrrrrr ‘I’m going to go out with wet hair today, if I put the hair dryer on, it’s too loud and there might be someone in the house that I won’t hear’. And that was just an hour of my morning!

Just from that, you can imagine how exhausting it is to be so on edge for so long. That’s before we have even looked at the physical symptoms.

Your body becomes a dead weight, like all the life and personality just leaks out of you. Everything you stand for and all that you’ve worked towards feels like it’s all for nothing. Your stomach cramps and you start to wonder if you have actually swallowed a golf ball and it’s gotten stuck in your throat. You shake and shiver uncontrollably, but you’re sweating, flushed and feel blood rushing to your face. You can feel the adrenaline consume you and all you want to do is get out of where you are. The only way I can even come close to explaining the physical sensation is by asking you this… have you ever walked down the stairs and missed the last step? Leaving you to fall to your doom? Right, imagine that exact feeling for 5-15 minutes. Panic squeezes your heart and chest so you can’t breathe and leaves you feeling like you’re falling to your doom, even though you could be safely sat on the sofa minding your own business.

For all of this to happen before you have even eaten breakfast is exhausting. You’re ready to go back to bed! This goes in circles and circles.

Depression and anxiety often come hand in hand. Like an evil Mental health Villain and a sidekick. They seem to feed off of each other, and I can see how. Feeling like you’re on the edge of dying several times a day is bound to make you hate your brain and start to question why it keeps happening to you and whether or not it will ever stop.

With this duo, it can feel like you’re going in circles; You panic, you get depressed because you keep panicking THEN you panic more because you’re depressed THEN you’re more depressed because you’re still panicking THEN you are more depressed..

Starting to get the picture?

Having gone through all of this, getting up and having my shower today AND getting to the Post Office and back, that was a pretty big win for me. These are what I like to call little victories.

Thankfully it is not always like that, but, it is damn hard to get out of that spiral once you’re in it. For that, I’d love to congratulate and really shout out to all of those people who have done it and continue to kick butt every day. You are so strong. you are never alone, let’s do this together.

It is not easy, but it can be done.

I hope that if you have not suffered from anxiety or depression, I have given you some insight at least as to what it feels like.

As always, if you have any questions, I’m more than happy to help.

There is so much more to talk about and to learn.

Stay with me here.

 

(image credit to The Funky Fork – http://thefunkyfork.com/anxiety-girl/)

 

The ‘This is me’ bit…

I’m 25 and I’m from Kent. I love musicals, sausage dogs and hedgehogs, I always wear funky socks and I am a self confessed Pinterest addict.

More to the point of me starting this blog, I am an anxiety, depression and panic sufferer. I have been for as long as I can remember.

Through my experiences, I’ve learnt just how important it is to talk about mental health and take the time out to look after ourselves. There’s still a big stigma around mental health, and I can understand why – it’s misunderstood. The only way that we are going to beat it is through education. That’s why I’ve started this blog, I aim to educate and share my story to really change the attitude towards ill mental health.

It’s not easy to talk about these things, but my goodness can you reap in the rewards afterwards.

Over the years I have lost lots of people in my life, but I have also gained lots of friends who really mean the world to me. Rather unexpectedly, some of my closest friends were met through starting a simple conversation about our experiences with mental health.

1 in 4 adults will suffer from a mental health condition of some sort during their life time. 

Whether you are one of these people or not, I really do urge you to stay with me and read my story. I want to educate, I want to relate and I want to learn.

I hope to post regularly with different parts of my experience and focus on anything that may pop up from you guys along the way.

Stay with me here.