I’ve struggled with panic disorder for the last three years. It sucks. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Driving, struggling to breathe as my heart races and I feel like I’m going to die is one of many little battles I deal with weekly. Around my friends or strangers, I often find myself forcing a laugh to appear normal as unrealistic, awful thoughts play chess on my psyche. This is why it pisses me off that about five years ago, white girls decided, oh my god, I’m literally having a panic attack was going to be their response to the smallest adversities anybody with a nose job could have. I’m not saying that girls don’t deal with the same struggle that I do, I’m just saying many of them have made having “a panic attack” something that it’s not. Having a panic attack is never an oh my god, I’m having a panic attack moment that you say when you’re laughing with your friends; having a panic attack feels like the world is caving in on itself, and you’re the only one that knows it. It’s the worst feeling ever, which is why it would be incredible if there were a magical liquid that made that feeling disappear…oh wait.
Many people like myself have complicated relationships with alcohol because it’s a short-term cure for pretty much any problem ever. Alcohol sales are high when life is going good but almost double when we are all going through some shit, like being in a fucking pandemic. I don’t think I’m ever going to be that preachy millennial guy that goes viral on Twitter once a year for posting a picture with a chip saying how long he’s been sober. That ain’t me. But I’ve also been through the cat and mouse game of drinking a fifth of Burnetts and not being able to go outside without my body feeling like it’s getting electrocuted too many fucking times.
I know the dance of being hungover, wanting to take a nap more than anything, but not being able to do so because it feels like your having an aneurysm in your brain, and then you google symptoms of aneurysm only to find out your definitely not having an aneurysm, but you’re still curious because it feels like something is for sure wrong with you so you go down a rabbit hole on WebMD and you think you might actually need to go to the doctor, and then you go to the doctor who tells you that you need to get an EKG scan because he’s afraid you may have a blood clot, so you Uber to the hospital and you’re crying and the Uber driver asks you what’s wrong and you tell him, to which he replies that he also has a blood clot and he can’t get his dick up without taking Viagra anymore, and then you get an EKG and await the results, only to find out that you’ve just been having panic attacks all day and that mixed with the stimulants from last night was a cocktail of disaster.
I know that game. I will be honest, I hardly use alcohol responsibly, and neither do most of my readers. I wish I could, but I love the carelessness it brings me. It sucks because any guy six or seven drinks in is the person they’ve always wanted to be. Confident, shameless, free-caring, funny. It’s the aftermath of the initial buzz that many of us, including myself, are yet to figure out. I would love to be the guy that can work a room without being the guy that brings down my friend’s uber rating at 2:30 AM. Hangxiety is atrocious, but we’re all going through it every Sunday.
Lately, I’ve been successfully tricking myself out of being hungover. I can confidently say that Sunday is the only day of the week that I’ll eat a salad. In my pea-brain, eating one salad that I drown in ranch makes up for all the cigarettes I had the night before. One of my friends also got me into doing breathing exercises, in particular, the Wim Hof. It’s a stupid little routine I do three times a week that calms me down. And lastly, it’s common knowledge that even the most gruesome hangover can be sweat out through a run or a dip in the ocean(if you’re rich). I know all this shit sounds weird, but would you rather be the twenty-six year old guy that can still drink, or the dude that rides a peloton and spends his whole life salivating for retweets based on his pessimistic opinions on social media because he didn’t know how to control years of traumatic hangxiety? I have a lot of respect for sober people. I don’t want it to be misconstrued that I don’t. Maybe down the line, I’ll even go sober for an extended period. But for me, you, the people that always have a new social event that we feel the need to go to on Thursday nights, that feels like it’s not an option right now.
My point here is that I’m not telling any of you to go sober or how much better people are for leading sober lives. My point is that all those things we shit on girls for doing that keep them healthy…are actually really great ways to combat a weekend of binge drinking. The twelve-year-old version of myself would hate me now because I run and meditate. Every time I order a seven-dollar health smoothie, a little toxic masculine voice in my head whispers dude, this is so gay, but fuck that voice. Many of you are coming back from a bender right now. You could either lay in bed all day, take some pen rips and feel sorry for yourself, or do SOMETHING to combat the waves of anxiety that’ll waterboard you. If I’ve learned one thing this year, you aren’t alone, but you need to put it on yourself to take some steps forward. If that’s therapy, then that’s good. If it’s taking a T-break, that’s great. If it’s me taking an Apple Cider vinegar shot in the morning, then I don’t care that I’m being compared to James Charles in the GroupMe; I’m fucking doing it.
Booze is phenomenal, and let’s be honest, destructive. If you have anxiety, you know that. There will always be a weird relationship between the two, but anxiety is like herpes; it’s manageable. Just because we’re guys doesn’t mean we have to be pieces of shit all the time.