There aren’t too many things to experience that are as bad as a hangover. If you’ve ever had too much to drink and then tried to wake up the next morning and try to function like you normally would, you know how rough that is.
This is about a different type of hangover though, the kind that comes from deep work in recovery from abuse. The kind of hangover that makes you feel so unbelievably mentally and physically exhausted, so run down that you just don’t feel like doing anything but sleeping.
Even trying to just veg out in front of the TV or read a book feels like too much work. Your mind is tired and needs to rest. Your body is tired because your mind is tired, and it too needs to rest and recharge.
This situation has been very evident to me since I started my healing journey, and it’s not
uncommon to go through one of these after a therapy or coaching session, or after a stressful situation has ended and you are just worn out.
I’ve talked with many who have similar experiences and we all say the same thing. Our minds and bodies are tired after pouring out so much energy and emotion.
I’ve also experienced a vulnerability hangover after reading a particularly in depth chapter in a trauma recovery book or watching a video on a mental health topic that has triggered me. Speaking of being triggered, we certainly can’t forget that!
As soon as the trigger starts to dissipate, or subside, we are often left with a sense of exhaustion, confusion, deep sadness and frustration. That “oh man is this ever going to stop happening” feeling really does a number on our minds and bodies.
If there’s any advice that I can pass on based on my own experience and that of talking with professionals in the mental health field, is this…
The worst thing you can do is try and fight off a vulnerability hangover.
At first that might sound totally counter productive but it’s really not. In fact, sitting with these types of feelings during trauma recovery is actually very healthy and important.
You don’t want to minimize the stress that your mind has been under, and that your body has endured.
The easiest way to think about it, is when you are really sick. I’m talking like you are down and out with the flu or some wicked cold that has you barely able to move much less go to work, cook, clean, or do anything you normally do.
What’s the best thing a doctor to tells you do? Rest…(and drink lots of fluids). Your body has an amazing ability to heal itself but it can’t do it overnight. The more you fight it, the more energy is spent trying to accomplish whatever task you shouldn’t be doing in the first place, rather than allowing your body to devote all available resources to fight off whatever is ailing you.
The same goes for a vulnerability hangover.
You are putting in the hard work to heal by opening up old wounds, uncovering old memories, opening up that shoe box of thoughts that’s been tucked away in the back corner of the closet of your mind.
That’s deep, deep stuff right there. It was bad enough when you experienced all of that trauma first hand when you were a child (or whenever the events happened in your case). But now you are reliving them, analyzing them, learning from them, and learning to take back the power that they’ve had over you for so long.
You are to be commended and given the biggest High Five in the world, for the hard work you are doing! You Rock!!!
Your mind and body deserve a break; think of it as a “thank you” to yourself.
For me that looks like sometimes foregoing a trip to the local diner with a couple of my kids and my friend, in favor of just staying home and resting. Maybe catching up on some shows that I recorded and haven’t watched yet, kicking back with a book, taking a hot bath, or just simply taking a nap.
This is all a form of self care, let’s not forget that. Self care doesn’t always have to be about doing something, it can be about doing nothing.
In this case, with a vulnerability hangover from trauma work, doing nothing might be just what the doctor ordered.
Feature image courtesy of Pixabay.com – Other images credited in alt text or url.