The Hangover, Hypermobility Style
Chances are if you’re reading this, you or someone you love is hypermobile. Therefore, there is an even better chance that today, December 26, you’re living or witnessing The Hangover, Hypermobility style.
This kind of hangover is not unlike that of the alcoholic kind. However, alcohol has usually been consumed in moderation, if at all, and therefore cannot be blamed for this hangover!
This hangover is the ADRENALINE hangover.
The ‘I-pushed-myself-too-far-for-too-long’ hangover.
The ‘I-knew-I-had-limits-but-did-not-stick-to-them’ hangover.
Don’t worry, 99% of us with hypermobility are probably in the same boat today. Christmas Day seems to be the one day of the year that all common sense goes out the window, and magical thinking takes it place. We become superheroes with very special powers, or so we think!
“I’ll be OK; it’s just a family gathering”… “It will be OK; I can go out for the whole day and then be the designated driver for the family because I won’t be drinking”… “Having one more alcoholic beverage in this heat will be OK, surely?”
Welcome to this place of hangover-hell. You are not alone. I’m here with you, and so are countless others – they probably just won’t admit it. Some of them probably CAN’T admit it because they’re still asleep, or worse still semi-comatose from too much Christmas Dinner and a few beverages.
What are we going to do to get ourselves out of this place?
We are going to rest. We are going to hydrate. We are going to eat healthy food (or at least maybe ease up on the sugary stuff). Some fresh air, a little bit of sunshine and a snooze may be in order. If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, maybe reading a book by a fireplace would be nice (I wouldn’t have a clue, I’ve never experienced a cold-climate Christmas in my life!).
We are NOT going to beat ourselves up for being in this place. We are not going to wallow in self-pity, nor take our frustrations out on those around us, who are probably also hungover – whether that be of the alcoholic, sleep deprivation, sugar-overdose or food-coma kind. If you need to vent your frustrations, you can do so by commenting on this post.
We are going to get back on the self-care wagon, right now.
The biggest priority is going to be pain and fatigue management. You should already have a pain management plan that you can implement, whether that’s rest, ice, medication, meditation, distraction, or a combination of them all…
And for the fatigue side of things, we are going to need to have a quiet day – perhaps in front of the TV watching the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race or the Boxing Day Test match (which I’m sure will put some to sleep) if you are in Australia…. Or binge-watching your favourite series, something you got for Christmas maybe?
Don’t stay on the couch ALL day. Make sure you get off the couch and break up the TV watching with that little dose of sunshine or fresh air; a change of scenery, a change of activity. A tiny bit of exercise if you’re able would probably do you the world of good. I’m not talking marathon prep, just a short little stroll or a dip in the pool.
Try not to sleep all day, or you may not sleep tonight. Try to maintain your regular daily routine of bedtime & wake up, and mealtimes, but in between allow yourself to rest.
It’s been a stressful couple of days/weeks/month… (life)….. It’s time to give the body and the mind a break.
You have nowhere you need to be, nothing you need to do (jeepers, I certainly hope not anyway, otherwise you definitely failed pacing 101)…. hopefully for another 364 days, right?
Just kidding, you will get over this hangover, it may just take you a little while. Don’t expect to feel better tomorrow, or maybe even the next day. But over the next week, the hangover should pass if you don’t overdo it again too soon. You may even just recover in time for New Year’s Eve…. only to have to repeat this whole process again on New Years Day. If that’s the goal, you better be good at resting. No pushing through today or tomorrow.
Rest is REQUIRED.
Some of you might be wondering why this type of hangover occurs. I tell you what, it took me a few years of not drinking at Christmas to realise that it wasn’t just alcohol that causes killer hangovers. And then it all made sense. Because we are fatigued, because we are in pain a lot, if not all, of the time, our body gives us lots of mini-shots of adrenaline to get us through the day. You know when someone is in shock from an accident or trauma, and they say they feel fine, even though they’re walking around with a broken collarbone or something? That’s the same kind of adrenaline. It’s survival adrenaline. It means we’ve entered fight or flight zone.
Our bodies give us the extra adrenaline to help us survive big days. It’s also the reason we usually have a crappy night’s sleep after a big event or big day – because the body presumes it still needs to keep giving us those mini-shots throughout the night. That’s another reason why a good bed-time routine can be helpful, to start calming down our body and telling it we are ready for sleep, so no more adrenaline tonight, thank you very much!
Once those adrenaline mini-shots start slowing down, we crash into a massive heap of fatigue and pain. Not only did we over-do it while high on adrenaline, we’re feeling deprived of the extra adrenaline we got yesterday. And THAT is why we have to take it easy on Dec 26th and Dec 27th, at the very least. We need to tell our adrenal glands that they can calm-their-farm and just go back to our everyday levels (which I believe are usually higher than our collagen-typical friends and family).
So, the question you’re probably asking yourself is “Was it all worth it?”
I can’t answer that one for you, but I can only hope that you had a pleasant day; that you spent time with the people who matter most to you, or at least got to speak to them or send them a message; and that you experienced joy in some form. That would be a good day, and I would hope, makes it worth feeling like this today. Was it worth it? Did you get out the other side of Christmas Day without the hangover – hypermobility style? Let us know how you’re doing today by leaving a comment.
P.s. Be warned of the delayed hypermobility style hangover!!! Remember how joint dislocations or sprains feel worse on day 2 or 3? THAT can happen with this hangover as well. Go gently, be kind to yourself and practice some self-compassion.
Michelle is a Senior Occupational Therapist working solely with adults with hypermobility and related conditions. Michelle is the owner of Hypermobility Connect, an online platform for people with hypermobility to connect with resources, health professionals & each other. Michelle practices OT in her private practice and provides education to health professionals relating to hypermobility conditions.