(in a nostalgic setting…because…why not)
It’s 2001. You’re off on a night out. You’ve slipped your cheap heels on, the fake tan is positively glowing and your handbag’s packed with Marlboro menthols (cos you want to smoke the night away but you’re hoping for a cheeky snog).
You’re all set – and so is your hair (best not light that ciggie near it…)
You strut into the bar and you suddenly remember…last time you were in this bar, you thought you were going to pee yourself. Last time you were in this bar, you got tongue-tied talking to strangers. Last time you were in this bar, that girl looked at you funny…
That first cosmo (because it’s 2001 and you used to think Carrie Bradshaw was cool. I know, warped) disappears as quickly as your cigarette and the panic starts to cool.
So you have another cosmo. Then another ciggie. A sambuca. Three cigarettes. The conversation is flowing. The strutting morphs into Beyonce dancing. You light the drambuie. You neck the drambuie. You’re Christina Aguilera and you’re slut dropping to perfection. Another ciggie….another sambuca….a Blue WKD….anything….you’re 50 bloody Cent. You’ll look at her funny. Cos you can. FUCK YOU. Another ciggie. A taxi. A pizza……zzzzzzzzzz…….
And it was REALLY bloody funny. Grab the tub of crunchy peanut butter, a spoon and a Diet Coke. Reflect on a bloody hilarious night out. You’re comedy gold. You MADE that revolving dance floor spin. Kylie Minogue – eat your heart out.
Ouch. Your head. Better cancel that hair appointment at your mate’s salon. You’re sweating. Profusely. The toxic fumes you’re emitting when mixed with Wella hair dye could cause a serious explosion. You’re doing your bit for society by cancelling.
You fall back to sleep with the sticky spoon of peanut butter stuck to your duvet and your face in a half empty pizza box.
The world is a very different place when you open your eyes this time. The last little bit of hazy fuzzy fun has lifted and reality hits. Your stomach seems to be enduring the rides at Alton Towers while your head is being twatted by an unforgiving sledgehammer. The dread. HITS. Harder than your hammer. What happened last night. What did I say. What did I do? Oh God, oh God oh God. I feel sick.
The world is a VERY dark place.
Texting texting texting. Whoever was out. Your best mate. Your sister.Some random old school friend you bumped into and haven’t spoken to in 7 years. Just anyone who can tell you every little cringe-worthy detail.
Me: Good night then? My head hurts?
Friend: Yeah. We were wasted. God what a night.
Me: Why what did I do?
Friend: Eh? Well nothing really. You hit the dance floor pretty early…
Me: Was I really drunk?
Friend: Haha yeah. Everyone was.
Me: But who was I talking to?
Friend. Everyone. Anyway…erm…have to go now. Maybe catch up again in another seven years, Lisa?
Oh God Oh God Oh God. I was really embarrassing. She’s being kind. She thinks if she doesn’t tell me that I was pole dancing a la Christina Aguilera and everyone was laughing at me for being an absolute dickhead then I wont remember. I DON’T remember. But I know it all happened. I’m a disgrace. I’m a filthy, living (debatable), dirty, disgrace. And not in a Christina Aguilera way…
I can’t lie still. My legs won’t stop kicking. I’m sweating. My heart is….pounding. Irregularly. IRREGULARLY. Shit. What is going on. I am going to die and the last thing people will remember about me is me puking next to the taxi. Oh God, what if peeing in the Debenham’s doorway was caught on CCTV and it’s used in the Hull Daily Mail when they announce my accidental death?
‘Mum. I think I’m having a heart attack…..! Can you come get me?’
She’s on her way. Everything feels a bit…strange. I can hear the silence. Ringing loudly.
No matter how long I shower, how long I brush my teeth, how much mouth wash I use, I can’t get the poisons out of my veins, the smoke out my hair, the tar out my lungs and the fumes from my breath. I can’t get clean. Damn that drambuie. Damn those Marlboro Reds (you move onto the hard stuff when you’ve had a few).
Mum’s here. But we have to go to Tesco on the way home. There are people in Tesco. There are bright lights and maze like aisles and every chance I am going to bump into someone from last night and I don’t know what I did but I know it was bad. It was ‘Grease 2’ bad. It was 2 Unlimited bad. It was Venga Boys bad.
No, that’s so bad it’s acceptable. It was ELDORADO BAD.
They’re all looking at me. Have I peed my pants? Have I got peanut butter all over my chops? Is there pizza sauce down my top? Ugh mum just grab want you want and get us the hell out of here.
I’m dizzy. I’m swaying. Who knew Tesco was built on a fault line? Why don’t they make trolley seats adult size. Why can’t I go back to the car. The supermarket is to a hangover what Donald Trump is to the world.
I’ve woken up stuck with sweat to my mum’s leather sofa. Check my phone. I’ve upset my friends. It’s the second hair appointment I’ve cancelled this month because I was too bloody ill to make it in. Ah – I’ll just not book Saturday morning appointments any more…
I’m ready to eat.
The fear has gone. But actually, in reality, I was a complete dickhead. Not as panic-inducing dickhead-like as yesterday. Nope. Just like – as a grown up, you don’t behave like that.
Where’s my stop smoking hypnosis DVD…
It’s dark already. I’ve not left the house. Back to that crappy desk job tomorrow.
Roll on Friday night.
(NB – I said this was a guide – but you’re probably wondering where the advice bit was? Simples. Here it is: Alcohol is not your friend. If you absolutely MUST hang out together, just….go steady. Anxiety and alcohol is like vodka and Yakult – as my wedding guests discovered, they don’t really mix well.)
If you want to read more about my experience of Generalised Anxiety Disorder, stigma and stereotypes, you can order my book, A Series of Unfortunate Stereotypes here (for UK orders) and here (for US orders).