I went drinking last night. Today, I have a hangover of the mind.
People talk about hangovers. They talk about feeling sick in the morning, or the headaches, or thirst. I can deal with that. Those are things you can take care of. A tall glass of Emergen-C. Excedrin. A greasy breakfast packed with enough carbs to knock you out for another three hours. Water, and lots of it.
But there’s another sort of hangover I can’t deal with: the dread. Hangxiety. Shame shudders. THE FEAR. Whatever you want to call it, it’s killing me.
I used to only get it occasionally, but lately it’s happening every time I drink. Deep in my chest, it feels like it’s constricting my heart and I can barely breathe. An intense feeling of guilt and regret, for no reason other than existing. When I pull the blankets over my head, it’s not because I’m sick and the light hurts. I’m hiding.
See, the physical hangover goes away. The mental one does not. Long after the headache has dulled, I reel in self-loathing for days. Conversations from the night before play over and over in my head. I pause them, zoom in, analyze reactions and find everything I did wrong.