5 Levels of Hungover

Sometimes a fat grin streaks across my face at the thought that I default to “happy.” My depression has only been in remission for about two years, and I’m still incredulous. I think I try to kill off all this bliss with alcohol. I’m just not used to it.

"Guys, we won't get drunk if we drink tiny beers."

“Guys, we won’t get hangovers if we drink tiny beers.”

When I was still recovering from my depression, I used a 10 finger system to indicate my emotional stability to my dad. 10 fingers would represent the kind of happiness my Pollyanna mother achieves daily. 1 signified abject misery. He’d hold up his fingers and I’d mirror with mine less a digit or two, and he wouldn’t have to ask me how I was doing. That question was met with a blank stare, a grunt, a painful sigh. I rarely presented above a 5.

So, without further ado, let me present my 5 levels of hungover:

5 Fingers – Not too bad, not too good

Bleh. Everything is Bleh. I think I used up all my dopamine last night. After a cold root beer I’m mostly healed.

4 Fingers – I feel blue, but I cling to a shred of optimism

I pick through boxes of microwave meals and look for something with a high caloric content, like pizza. I need something fatty to absorb my suffering.

3 Fingers – My happiness was a red balloon and it escaped into the endless sky

This one lingers, even past dinnertime. It’s almost enjoyable, because it gives me an excuse to complain all day. I tell everyone I see that I’m hungover. PITY ME.

2 Fingers – I wish I could sleep all day, but I’m in too much pain to sleep

I’m so desperate for relief that I resort to watching television.  But then everything is too loud so I sit in a dark room. Everything is too dark so I move to a dimly lit room. My blood is uncomfortable.

1 Finger – Suicidal

I keep a running monologue in my mind to distract me from the horrible feeling that my organs will slide out of my body. I can’t even choke down mac n’ cheese, so I sip a can of Jumex (25% juice, 75% sugar water) and contemplate sobbing. But that’s too much effort and requires too much liquid that I don’t have in my dried up face so I stare stoically at the cluttered coffee table and feel sorry for myself.

Hangover cure: beer and mayo.  1. Put the mayonaise in the pantry.  2. Drink a beer.

Hangover cure: beer and mayo. 1. Put the mayonaise in the pantry. 2. Drink a beer. When I bought these, just these, the cashier told me, “I think you’re the winner.”

So I wake up with yet another hangover and wonder why I do this to myself. It’s not just about having fun. I was having fun at swig three. I didn’t need to polish off that pint of Jim Beam (don’t worry, I had helpers). I really do think I need the hangover in a way. It helps me remember the sadness buried under the fog of memory, and continue to value the happiness that I have earned. In other words, life is pretty great if the worst thing I have to deal with are my gnarly hangovers.

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