Bust head blues

Well, I spoke way too soon about avoiding the scoff your face/ develop instant pot belly! Hey its CHRISTMAS, right?! And I had to self-medicate with extra helpings of well, everything, after being stung by a mysterious- and quite large- insect in my bed, yes, in my bed, at 6 am. Cue half-asleep hysterics, almost throwing up from the adrenalin rush (or maybe that was the beer…) and having to get into mum’s bed as I was too scared to get back in mine. Joy the world, and all that!

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Greek bakery temptations all round

Speaking of self-medicating, I have given myself the gift of sitting on my arse all day and moaning, due to not just massive period pains but also a slight hangover, or ‘bust head’ in old(ish) English parlance. It is after all, Frazzled Friday, according to that bastion of truth and accuracy, the Daily Mail; apparently this means we’ve spent too long with family, compromising what to watch on TV (the study was commissioned by some company trying to plug personalized movie downloads into our bloodstreams or something) and having hernias over not being able to fit into our clothes. I’m with them on that last one. Oh and the ‘no money in the bank for January, FAAAAAK’ bit. Maybe they really are a bastion of truth after all. Though signing up for that film service isn’t exactly going to help the bank balance.
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Anyway the PMS suffering means I have something ‘real’ to moan and feel sorry for myself about, because if its self-inflicted, there goes your sympathy vote. I spent a few hours in A&E once with a raging hangover trying to muscle my way in on some treatment, only to be shunted to the back of the queue while people with football/ DIY injuries (i.e. men) got seen first. Which is pretty unfair since they are also technically self-inflicted, due to stupidity or clumsiness. But, the logic goes, you had fun, you deserve to suffer; now get back to self-flagellating about your unproductive day, the inappropriate behavior you can just about remember and your general, all-round Badness. Or I don’t know, do something worthy like alphabetically organising your bookcase to make up for your transgressions.

Coffee on a hangover

Coffee on a hangover

Or don’t actually; research has shown that hangovers are much worse if you jump on the guilt and anxiety band wagon. Being hungover without feeling bad about it is a great skill and one I try to practice these days; I think of it as an extension of my meditation routine. Every time my mind clings to re-running a cringe-worthy conversation, unhelpful overshare or shouty rant, I try to label it as ‘wanting to feel bad about something’ even though whatever it is usually Not That Big a Deal. (There are exceptions to this of course, where, no matter how you angle the mirror you still end up looking like an idiot, in which case, well, commiserations.)

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Drink now, suffer later

 So why do we find ourselves ruminating and stressing over these minor faux pas, when it clearly doesn’t help? It might be that endlessly worrying about things gives a false, but comforting, sense of control over the situation, like you’re ‘taking action’ in some way. Like, maybe if I worry about it enough, the issue/ hangover will go away! Yeah- worry your problems away! Hmm, doesn’t sound too convincing. In my experience, when I was anxious about everything I had truly horrendous, epic hangovers. Nowadays, apart from the anxiety bit, they hardly register; with the aid of a rehydration sachet (my secret weapon for pretty much any ailment) I even go for jogs. Of course the down side is that I no longer have a good reason to not go out three nights in a row or to rein in the boozing; after all, if there’s no stinking hangover to contend with, what’s the problem?

Festive food baby

Hurrah! ANOTHER Christmas spent ill with flu! Lying in bed swallowing Comtrex- a slightly speedy green pill that is Greece’s answer to Lemsip, but far more lethal- with Metaxa, Greece’s answer to brandy. Not exactly what I had planned for Saturday night, but I’ll console myself with the knowledge that insta-illness on immediate commencement of Christmas holidays is a fairly widespread affliction. Weeks of demented multi-tasking in between workload, ‘festive drinks’, awkward colleague/friend-snogs and arctic cycles in the London drizzle detonate into a sniveling pile of uselessness as the body realises it can finally stop for more than five minutes. And I don’t even have kids!
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One year- when I was a student, so I’m not sure multi-tasking or work was really to blame- I woke up on Christmas day to a bout of projectile vomiting which saw me installed on the couch in a semi-conscious haze, a routine that has become an annual tradition. Anyway (segue alert!) I’m pretty sure I was secretly relieved, calculating just how many extra kilos of food baby I’d indavertedly dodged as a result.

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Ah, the dreaded festive food baby. Christmas seems to bring out the worst in even the most relaxed women re the impending doom of gaining a couple of kilos in a week, greatly exacerbated by the media-fuelled schizo switch to a January of repentance detox. I truly wish I could say I don’t give  a flying crap about it- and actually in former years, when I was a bit on the plus-size, I didn’t, because, well, what did a few extra inches matter? Now that I am technically average I actually care more about my body than I did before, perhaps fearing that the flab could break loose at any point and crush any of that (hugely debatable, obv) hotness that being slimmer supposedly accrues.
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 And anyway wtf?! It infuriates me cos I see this as incontrovertible proof of being a drone who has internalized the ideology that says a woman’s body communicates something about her, and (of course!) its usually something BAD.

Too thin? Boundaries like too-tight Spanx, pretending not to have any needs (or, perhaps, having needs, but somehow, knowing how to express them and get them responded to…sigh).
Too fat? Boundaries like old knicker elastic, needs bulging out all over the place and threatening to spill into a muffin top at the slightest mention of any stress (and yet handily, inconveniencing only themselves; emotional eating is the drug of choice for considerate types, as Cailtin Moran has said).
Somewhere in the middle? A tipping point waiting to happen, especially at Christmas, which normally supplies plenty of (under the counter, unspoken) nerve-jangling situations and even more opportunities to soothe them via consumption of vast quantities of booze and mince pies. So what’s a girl to do?

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One thing I won’t do is just throw the towel in and scoff my face the whole of the holiday break. Not because there’s anything fundamentally wrong with doing that,  but because it plays into the fallacious notion that there are ‘special occasions’ and times which allow you to ‘indulge’, thereby suggesting that the rest of the time (read: your actual life) is a kind of dreary, colourfree lettuce zone that is only endured in exchange for the permission to have one hedonistic week of guzzling. Like only being able to wear an outrageous sequined top once a year. Or, come to think of it, like the whole ‘wedding- best-day-of-my-life’ princess nonsense. The Zen saying ‘every moment is the best moment’ is a useful one here; each moment, just like each time period, is intrinsically no different from any other, and our need to categorize them as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is both pointless and, in some cases, pain-inducing.

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Which holds true for the dieting industry as a whole; the designation of certain foods as ‘naughty’- as if we were little girls who just played an X-rated Barbie and Ken game- or feeling ‘guilty’ for eating a chocolate creates a binary whereby naughty/ forbidden = good/ fun, healthy/ low fat = boring, instead of just ITS ALL BLOODY FOOD! JUST DON’T EAT TOO MUCH OF ANY OF IT! Excuse shouty caps, but it’s this binary mentality that eventually leads people to mainline biccies half-way through a supposed ‘diet’- the mind understandably rebels against being deprived the fun stuff (which I reiterate, is only fun/ bad due to our labeling of it) and says, your diet plan can screw itself. And hence that food baby you get stuck with. My advice (to myself) is give it some love, fun and dancing and it will soon melt away. Otherwise the evil diet industry will be all too happy to cash in on the post-holiday weight paranoia- just don’t do it!