I am writing this down because otherwise I am going to forget.
It’s really fun running on the adrenaline. I can do ALL THE THINGS! I am PRODUCTIVE! I feel so ENERGIZED! I love it. I feel like my old self.
Okay, some of the time I also feel jittery, and some of the time my chest hurts, but that seems a minor inconvenience, barely noticeable. Because I am GETTING STUFF DONE! And Getting Stuff Done is, somehow, ranked as the optimal state in my mind.
The thing is … the hangover.
I get all kinds of stuff done. I go and go and go and go … and yeah, in the evenings I have a bit of trouble getting unwound enough to sleep, and maybe I’m a little bit stiff if I’ve done a lot of standing or walking or whatever, and maybe I’m a little bit tense in the shoulders and ankles but it’s not really all that uncomfortable.
Until I stop.
I stop … and I still have momentum that carries me for another day or two. I came home from the festival and did all the unpacking and sorting the day after I got back, because I was simply not able to sit still, even though somewhere in my head I knew I was very tired … I couldn’t feel tired yet, or, even more strangely, I could feel it but at the same time I felt all wound up and unable to hold still. I went to BC, worked hard at the festival for three days, came home and unpacked everything, spent a day running errands, a day sorta resting, then spent two more days felting and demonstrating at the alpaca show – which was lots of fun – and came home and tidied the house and did some work on the computer and puttered around for another half a day because again, sitting still made me feel like I was coming out of my skin.
Eventually, I did sit. I got myself into the recliner yesterday afternoon and worked on my knitting – and made mistakes and had to take out five or six rows and do them over … and then made more mistakes and undid yet another row … but I did, finally, sit. My ankles were all tight (I will be sitting comfortably then look down to see my feet pulled up towards me, rather than just at rest … a sure sign of the increased muscle tension that is a part of PTSD – and, I have just realized, part of my body memory from the old trauma). When I got up to fetch more tea, I noticed how sore my legs and shoulders were, from all the standing and scrubbing of the previous two days. I could feel the weariness, the need for rest … and I could not get unwound enough to rest.
I took my medicine (although I forgot my evening dose and took it later than I should have), I took extra herbal sedation, and I was still awake, shuffling my feet and aimlessly roaming the halls of my brain until two in the morning.
I did sleep – though I dreamed of being chased through my old neighbourhood, hiding in an abandoned gas station, trying to protect a tiny old woman and her grandchild from some sort of evil men – and woke up around the usual time. I didn’t get any extra rest, but at least I got some. I’m staying in my pyjamas as a reminder to myself to take it easy today, and I will go back to my knitting.
But I need to remember how I got here, and what it feels like. Because next time I am tempted to be energetic, to push that rush of productivity and power, I need to remember what the hangover is like.
It’s uncomfortable. I could handle exhaustion – working hard and then being tired afterwards is a good feeling, that nice sense of having earned your rest. But I don’t feel tired, or like I have put in a good day’s work and now can sit back and relax … that’s just it, I can’t relax. Even my meds barely put a dent in the sense of being on edge, scattered, like there is something I need to be doing but can’t quite remember what it is, and even if I did remember, I’d be distracted from it by any shiny thought that happens to trip through my head and I’ll be off on another tangent in no time flat.
Face it: I’m a junkie. I’m hooked on the rush of energy I get from going hard, and like any junkie, I forget just how awful it is to come down from the hit. Worse, I don’t know what doses I’m getting, so I can’t calibrate my hits: my drug is invisible, unmeasured, immeasurable. How much is too much? How much is okay? What’s the not-hangover-inducing-acceptable dose of activity and stress?
Clearly the past two weeks are well over the limit and into overdose: a twelve hour drive followed by three days working on my feet followed by a twelve hour drive followed by a day of cleanup and sorting followed by a day of errands followed by a day of mostly quiet followed by two more days on my feet followed by a half day of doing stuff at home in an effort to unwind … right. Too much.
The five million dollar question is: how much of that could I have done without it costing me a hangover? Half of it? Any of it?
Maybe there’ll always be some amount of hangover when I am energetic. I certainly hope not … but right now, I just don’t know. Maybe what I have to figure out is how much hangover is a reasonable price to pay … a half day of the jitters followed by one evening where I need a bit of tincture in addition to my meds to kick me over into sleep … that’d be okay, I think. That doesn’t feel like it’d be doing any long term damage to the system, or piling up to push me over into the Darkness, as long as I don’t do it too often. But what’s too often? What’s enough?
I need to pay attention to how long this particular hangover lasts … I have some calibration to do.
I also need to talk to my care team about this … which is why I’m writing it all down. In the same way that the only true mystery of alcohol-induced hangovers is why anyone who has had one ever has another … I need to figure out how to stop doing this to myself.
And how to stop it from being so damnably uncomfortable when I do.