Tag Archives: Anxiety

Hangovers Suck: Existential Anxiety

Hangovers Suck. Obviously. If there was ever a “low-hanging fruit” post on this blog it would be about hangovers. What is really shocking is that it’s taken over a year for me to actually acknowledge that Hangovers Suck. Why’s that?

The fact is that since hangovers are so obviously shitty there’s little point in writing about it. And like most things in life you probably have to experience one to fully enjoy appreciate how shitty they are. I could go on and on about headaches, aversion to light and sound, dizziness, shaking, nausea, and all around “feeling shitty” but that won’t make you feel how physically awful a hangover really is. And even if it did, most people probably know it anyways so whatever.

In my 20s hangovers were primarily a physical phenomena. I’d feel like shit as described above but that was it. I would take some pills to help the symptoms, drink some water, take a nap, and I’d feel much better. At the very worst I’d just drink more as that instantly cures hangovers if you can believe it. Something happened when I made it into my 30s though; hangovers have suddenly became much worse and not just physically worse. Now they have shitty mental effects too. And boy, those make the physical effects seem like nothing.

Alcohol, being a depressant, makes it quite a bit easier to fall asleep. Hell, the term “passing out” is what happens when you just randomly fall asleep because you’ve gotten to drunk, although you probably wouldn’t qualify it as a healthy normal sleep. Alcohol is a depressant and it makes you sleepy. After a few days of drinking I find I that can’t fall asleep as easily for the next day or two. I’ll be tired and sober but unable to sleep. What happens is usually this: I lie down and then I think and eventually a thought like this comes into my head: I’m going to die someday.

What?! Where did that come from?

What’s worse is that the train of thought, once started, continues down the tracks towards total and soul-crushing existential anxiety:

I’m going to die someday. What’s that going to be like? I’m not going to exist? What? What does that even mean? What will not existing feel like? It’ll be like before I was born I suppose. Huh?!? Do you know you’re dying when you’re dying? Will I die in a surprise accident or will I waste away from cancer fully aware of my impending doom? It seems so far away but it will happen eventually. Hell, I could die at any moment, even right now. I could have a heart attack in the next few moments. What if I do? Listen to my heart, it’s beating pretty hard and fast now. Oh shit, what if I do die right now? What happens to my family and friends? They’d be destroyed like I would be when my loved ones die. Oh shit, when’s that going to happen? My family will die someday. Even my kids. HOLY. FUCK. LIFE IS TERRIBLE.

It’s not a fun time. Try to fall asleep after that flies through your mind.

I mean I’m aware of that stuff because it’s simply part of life but usually I don’t think about it in that way. Usually it’s there as a sort of background or backdrop to everyday life and I continue on aware of my mortality but not burdened by it, if that makes any sense. I know I’ll die but I just don’t worry too much about it. In a way I think it’s nice being aware of your mortality because you enjoy life a bit more. You don’t sit on the couch and piss your life away if you know you’re going to die eventually. It keeps you motivated and it shouldn’t leave you crippled like my random overnight, hungover thoughts do. They’re just a whole new level of anxiety from what I usually experience.

I blame this on being hungover because there’s nothing else to explain it. When I haven’t recently been drinking I go through life pretty happily. I go to sleep at night. If I can’t sleep for some reason I go play video games or read a book until I am tired. I don’t lie in bed and think about how and when I’m going to fucking die. It only happens a day or two after drinking so of course I’m going to blame the alcohol. I always feel “off” a few days after drinking so it’s no surprise that my existential anxiety is probably due to drinking. And I should probably quit drinking.

Everyone knows hangovers suck and they usually bitch and whine about the physical aspects of it. The physical aspects of a hangover aren’t shit though. The really terrible part of a hangover is the feeling of being “off” and the random existential anxiety I get at 3 a.m. that makes it impossible for me to sleep or feel comfortable. Once again, I’m pretty average so I assume this happens to other people as well and it’s no surprise if no one really talks about it because it’s terrifying. Hangovers Suck.