• Haulwen Nicholas

The Introverts Hangover and why we need superhero's


Hello, today I want to talk about hangovers & superhero's.

Not the alcohol type of hangover you all know, but the overstimulation hangover.

And not the Marvel comic Superhero's but those true ones who know you.

For those of you who don't know, I am an introvert who has spent her life operating as an extrovert, 7 years ago I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/M.E.) and I now realise that operating outside my preferences is what drove me to burn out.

I'm currently suffering my overstimulation hangover. My symptoms now amplified with my chronic fatigue. Though I've always felt some of this even before I was diagnosed with CFS, but then I didn't understand what it was or understand that I should stop and rest.

I knew this week was going to be an overstimulation week, hence why I'd already blocked out my diary for today, to just rest. And I so need it.

Think about a hangover you've had. A headache, slight nausea, feel like you've been run over by a bus, every fibre of your body aching. You're thinking it isn't a hangover you've got the flu, but after a few hours and a goodnights sleep you start feeling better.

My hangover is similar, it normally arrives 24 hours after the event. The event I attend was on Wednesday evening (its friday morning now) and it was alot more stimulation than I expected it to be. It was an amazing night, a night I'll never forget as I was given the most prestigious award in the packaging industry, outstanding contribution to the industry award. But today I pay for it.

Today I can barely walk down the stairs, My fingers ache and feel stiff as I type. When I'm tired I type backwards, words all muddled and back to front and inside out. My head is foggy, a dull thud in the background. My nose is running, my eyes are streaming. When I stand up I feel like I will faint. Every joint, every muscle, every cell hurts. The lights are too bright, the central heating too noisy, my body feels like lead. Yet I was awake at 6am because I cannot sleep.

I will probably just lie on the sofa and stare into oblivion, even reading, my normal solace, is too much.

It's these days I long for my dream house in Wales overlooking the sea, I want big skies and no people. And just to be.

Yet I could be much worse. Because there are things I've learnt. I know to keep alcohol levels low. I still drink, but not as much. I don't need an alcohol hangover on top of this. I need to stay hydrated and I need to ensure I eat good wholesome food, even though I don't feel like eating. The other two thing I have learnt is I also need to ensure I have a band of superheros with me at these events and to be true to myself.

Now that I can be true to myself and not be the face of an organisation, just me, these big awards events are easier. I only have to be me, not the organisation I work for. As rarely do my values link with theirs.

I've noticed the organisers often sit me next to people who have a similar interest, so no painful small talk but deep and meaningful conversations, this makes life easier for me.

I dress like me, so even though a black tie do, I wore Dr Marten sparkly boots with my comfy dress.

It was a busy night. Even before the award was announced I had streams of people coming to say hello. The gentleman I was sat with joked I was a celebrity. It's interesting that my Myers Briggs Type, INFP, is often mistaken for an extrovert.

When the award was announced at the latter end of the evening, I was physically shaking. I dearly hoped for an earthquake at that very moment in time. Before my name was mentioned the audience had already started to figure out, as had I, that the person they were speaking about was me. Everyone was pointing at me mouthing 'its you'.

The rest of the evening went into a whirl, up on stage, photos, applause and then the acceptance speech. And this is where my superheros were needed. Everyone said I gave a speech from the heart, thats what I do, and no one could believe I didn't prepare for it. I just spoke, but when I did my speech I only saw certain people, my superheros. I spoke to them, as far as I was concerned and even when I think back now, I only see them.

I was whisked off the stage for interviews and more photos, and then was stopped by all the many well wishers, everyone wanting to shake my hand, wish me well, introduce themselves.

For me a sea of faces, a sea of voices and a real feeling of being lost and lonely. Lonely in a world full of people talking about you and to you. But then my superheros appeared. My superhero friends are extroverts. The ones who look at me and say 'shall we go', who chaperone me out of the crowds and into a taxi. Who circle around me, butt into a conversation to get me away from people I'm being too polite to. Who know I need to get out, who know I need to rest. The ones who get me a drink, who hug me for a little bit longer than most to give me the space and to protect me from the energies of the world.

In a few weeks or months time I'll celebrate properly, with my Superhero's in a small restaurant, where they can all be delightfully loud and I can just be me.

And now I need to rest, because for this introvert there will now be more events like this to come, but I know to ensure I rest before and after and to always have a band of superheros to protect and support me.

So if you're an introvert. Always book time out the day after big social events. Its OK to hide in the toilets when you're there. Let your friends know you're an introvert and tell them how they can be your superheros. Leave when you need to.

Finally remember, they may be loud and brash superhero's, but you are their superhero, the one who listens and doesn't judge and you use your superpowers in a quiet one on one situation. So you support & balance each other.

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