What is an “Introvert Hangover”?


If you’re anything like me, you might be familiar with this – you go out with friends, and before the end of the night, you’re wiped out. You’re exhausted, your head is killing you, you can’t eat, and you feel like you’re hungover despite not drinking. You could be having the time of your life with people you love, but if you’re an introvert, your social battery will run out eventually. This sensation is known as an “introvert hangover”.

It’s worse when you have chronic pain. I’ve always had a problem staying energetic in social situations longer than a few hours. But after my fibromyalgia diagnosis, it became harder to function. I often get exhausted because I need to put effort into smiling and making eye contact. That drains a lot of energy. I thought it was because I wasn’t enjoying the event, or wasn’t in the right mood, but it happened no matter the circumstances. 

My Experience with Introvert Hangovers

Speaking for myself here, the self-inflicted pressure to “mask” and appear engaged puts a lot of stress on my body. My facial muscles are strained, jaws clenched, mind constantly “on” so I don’t rudely miss out on a conversation. The worst part about an introvert hangover is that it happens when I’m with the people I love the most. 

I’ve spoken about D&D before and how much it’s helped me. It’s also been incredible for my social life. My D&D group are my closest friends. I can truly be myself around them. With all of the stressors of adulthood, we spend as much time together as we can before life gets in the way. So I’ll set aside most of a weekend to be with the people I love. We’ll play D&D for a while, then just talk for a while because we don’t want the day to end. But without fail, I get a bad introvert hangover well before the day is out. 

It starts with a faint headache. This isn’t unusual for me; I get headaches all the time. But it worsens as time goes on, until I can’t move my head without splitting pain. I feel nauseous and bloated, and I know eating would probably help but I can’t bring myself to do it. 

How to Treat an Introvert Hangover?

I’ve tried everything I can think of. I thought it was basic self-care, like eating enough in the morning, drinking enough water, etc. But none of that helps. I take painkillers when I can, but by then it’s usually too late. If a tension headache is my main problem, sometimes laying a wheat pack over my face and eyes helps. But the only thing that really seems to work is a good night’s rest (and not just a nap, either – that tends to make things worse). 

If you can control the amount of time you spend socialising, that’s the best way to keep an introvert hangover at bay. But it can be disheartening not being able to spend as much time with people as you’d like. 

How Does an Introvert Hangover Effect Your Life? 

To people who haven’t experienced them, they might seem like a minor inconvenience. But it’s had a very negative impact on my social and mental health. My friends and partner do everything they can to accommodate this, but I feel so bad that I can’t engage for as long as they can. I feel like I’m bringing the mood down, or wasting the time we do have together. My friends love board games and strategy, and so am I, but I just can’t process anything that’s going on when we’re playing. I desperately want to be present but I feel like I’m fading into the distance. I want to be there for my friends and I don’t want to end things early just because of me. 

As someone with chronic pain, I have a very complicated relationship with my body. I want to love the body that I’m in, but it constantly feels like my body hates me; I don’t want to always be on the outside, and I don’t want to be punished for enjoying myself. 

So What Now? 

I’m sorry if you came here for advice – I don’t really have any. The most important thing as a chronic pain sufferer is to take care of your body’s needs, and I have not been good at doing that. I am lucky to have an excellent support system, but I still have to make the choice between caring for myself and having fun. 

The best advice that I can offer is know your limits. Even if you break them every now and then (which I completely understand), if you’re aware of them then you can prepare for the worst. Chronic pain can feel hopeless and miserable, but you’re not alone. There’s someone out there who knows what you’re going through.

The Story Behind The Little Mermaid


Hans Christen Anderson’s The Little Mermaid is a classic fairytale of magic, transformation, and forbidden love. Most people know the Disney version, where the prince falls in love with Ariel and they live happily ever after. The original version was much darker and bleaker, and likely came about because of an event in Anderson’s personal life. 

The original 1837 version includes a few gruesome details that would not have been good for Disney’s family-friendly image. Along with not being able to speak, the little mermaid’s every step felt as if she were walking on broken glass. An important detail of this version is that mermaids do not have souls, so if she dies she will turn into seafoam instead of going to heaven as humans do. 

The mermaids in Anderson’s version visit the surface when they turn 15, returning to tell their families about their experience. The youngest princess becomes enamoured with a human prince, and saves his life when his ship crashes. She watches from a distance as women from a nearby temple tend to him. The prince believes that one of these women saved him, not the little mermaid. 

She returns home and asks her grandmother how long humans live. When she learns that they have short lifespans, she longs for a soul so she can be with the prince. The little mermaid seeks out the sea witch, who gives her a potion to grow legs with the warning that if the prince marries another, she will die of a broken heart and dissolve on the waves. Each step will feel like she is walking on broken glass, and she will have to give up her voice. 

The prince finds her on the beach, and though she cannot speak, she becomes the prince’s constant companion. However, he shows no signs of loving her. 

His parents announce his engagement to the neighbouring princess, who happens to be the woman from the temple. They marry on a ship, and the little mermaid is in anguish. That night, her sisters catch her attention in the waves. They cut off all of their beautiful hair in exchange for a dagger from the sea witch. If the little mermaid kills the prince with the dagger, she can become a mermaid again. 

She enters the prince’s chamber, but seeing him asleep with his new wife, she can’t bring herself to kill him. She throws herself off the ship to become sea foam, rejoining the ocean and sparing the love of her life. But before she dissolved, she transforms into a spirit called a Daughter of the Air. Because of her good deeds in life, she now has the chance to gain her own soul.

This version of the story is certainly tragic, but I find it more poignant. Some people interpret it as a religious narrative, with the Daughter of Air being angels. The storybook that I had as a child cut off this ending, which makes it a tale of tragic, unrequited love without the cushioning of the mermaid’s redemption. I prefer this version – to me, it warns against being taken advantage of by people who will never truly care about you. It is also about self-sacrifice and learning to let go; instead of punishing the prince for loving someone else, she frees herself from the pain caused by pretending to be someone she is not. This fairy tale does not have a happy ending, but it is beautiful in its melancholy. 

As I mentioned before, The Little Mermaid may reflect some aspects of Hans Christian Anderson’s personal life. Theorists believe the story was a love letter dedicated to a man named Edvard Collin. Collin was engaged to a young woman, and around this time Anderson sent him a letter which said  “I languish for you as for a pretty Calabrian wench… my sentiments for you are those of a woman. The femininity of my nature and our friendship must remain a mystery.” 

The parallels are clear. A person falls deeply in love with someone who is unable to reciprocate, despite changing everything about themselves. The story reflects Anderson’s pain in this unrequited love; the mermaid’s loss of her voice might represent Anderson’s inability to confess his feelings publicly. 

As a queer person myself, I loved learning that one of the most famous fairytale authors loved men, and it made me love the story even more. It’s a brilliant story impacted by the author’s own life, and it’s no wonder that we still tell it today.

Things Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Sufferers Can Relate To


Chronic pain is a lifestyle, not just a list of symptoms. It’s hard to see the bright side of pain conditions like fibromyalgia and arthritis, but it’s also not healthy to get bogged down in the negatives. There’s more to chronic pain than just pain, and it can help to look at it in a humorous way. When you’re dealing with a chronic condition, you need to be able to laugh at it sometimes or you’ll never get anything done. Here are a few things that bring me amusement, whether other people find them funny or not.

Blood Tests Are No Worry

Since I started my fibromyalgia diagnosis journey in 2015, I’ve had more blood tests than I can count. I used to be terrible with needles, but they’re not a problem anymore! I know the process by now. Pathologists are often surprised by how quickly I get in the chair and roll up my sleeve. There’s a strange point of pride in getting blood drawn without flinching – it’s a kind of pain that I can tolerate. 

Creaky Joints

Anyone who thinks arthritis is just something you get when you’re old is wrong. I’ve had it since I was seventeen, and it makes me sound like popping candy whenever I stretch. My ankles, wrists and neck are particularly bad. I’ve gotten into the habit of rolling those joints just to feel them crackle. Every person I’ve met with chronic pain is used to standing up with a big sigh because their knees or back wanted to complain; it’s not fun, but it is sometimes funny.

OTC Pain Medicine Isn’t Helpful

I can’t count the number of times someone has good-naturedly offered me some panadol for my pain, and I politely turn them down. While I appreciate the gesture, basic paracetamol doesn’t have much of an effect on me anymore. Unless I take it before the fibromyalgia symptoms kick in, it’s usually too late. I take a lot of panadol anyway because at least I’m doing something to combat the pain even if it’s a placebo. 

Always A New Symptom

Chronic pain and mental health have a heavy overlap. Personally, my chronic pain stems from stress and anxiety, which present in many physical symptoms. I think I know all there is to know about my conditions, but every few months I’ll notice something off and wonder if I need to see a doctor. I do a quick search online (taken with a grain of salt, of course), and see that the strange new sensation I’m experiencing could be linked to fibromyalgia. Do I see my doctor anyway and potentially waste my time and theirs? Or do I just let it be, if it seems relatively benign? In some ironic way, I can always look forward to discovering something new about my illness.

So Many Layers

Like many chronically ill people, I have trouble regulating my temperature. I have bad circulation in my hands and feet, so I tend to run cold. I love heavy jackets and woollen jumpers and I find it hard to change out of my pyjamas during winter. On the flip side, my fibromyalgia medication makes me sensitive to heat and easily dehydrated. Being in a heated room on a freezing cold day, or a cooled room during a burning summer, makes me very uncomfortable. I’ll be taking layers on and off as my internal temperature changes, and it won’t settle. It makes planning my outfits very difficult because the actual temperature tells me nothing about how I’ll feel.

Tossing And Turning

So many chronic pain symptoms lead to terrible sleep. Now, I think I have a pretty consistent sleep schedule in terms of when I go to bed and wake up, but the quality of my sleep is … not great. I need a lot of comfort items to easily fall asleep: I have a pillow under my knees to help my hips, a weighted blanket, and a wheat pack for cold nights. I can’t find a pillow that doesn’t give me neck pain, and my aches make it hard to get comfortable. It turns out that being in pain all of the time makes it hard to sleep. Who would have thought? 


Like I said before, it’s hard to see anything positive about chronic pain. But if there’s one upside that I’ve found, it’s other people who share my experiences. When I was diagnosed I felt so alone. None of my friends understood what I was going through. I was constantly gaslighting myself into believing I was making it up. But when I left high school and my world grew wider, I’ve met so many wonderful people who also have chronic pain. It makes a world of difference to share advice and complaints with similar people; just being able to share your stories with people who truly get it is a wonderful thing. And since I’ve started this blog, I’ve spoken to so many people with the same stories. 

Chronic pain is never easy, but having a community makes it go down sweeter.

How to Survive Winter With Chronic Pain


I would love winter if I didn’t have chronic pain. It’s so lovely to cuddle up under a massive blanket with a mug of hot chocolate. Being warm and cozy is one of my favourite things, and it just doesn’t feel the same any other time of year. 

Unfortunately, winter is the time when my chronic pain decides to rear its ugly head. The cold has a huge effect on my fibromyalgia, making my joints fire up with aches. My relaxing nights snuggled up by the fireplace are somewhat less comfortable due to the pain in my body. 

I realise I might be isolating some of my Northern Hemisphere viewers, but during my summer I never want to think about those miserable winter mornings. 

But this is a problem that occurs every year, so hopefully this will reach someone when they need it. As I’m writing this, I’m pretty deep in a fibromyalgia flare-up, and all of these things are on my mind.

1. Heat Pads

These have been my lifeline through many awful winters. I usually sleep with a wheat pack, but if my pain is bad I’ll heat it up through the day to keep me extra warm. My friend recently made me some adorable hand-warms which are just the perfect size to rest on my hands while I’m typing. Comfortable and functional!

Jokes aside, applying heat to painful spots is the most effective method of pain management for me, personally. Ice packs are also recommended for chronic pain, but in the middle of winter that might not be preferable. 

2. Compression Gloves 

This should be in the toolbox of every person with chronic pain! I’m actually due for a new pair because I wore mine out last year. Compression gloves help regulate the circulation in your hands and reduce inflammation, which makes them perfect for arthritis. They come in all kinds of materials, and you can get them for a bunch of different prices depending on your budget. 

3. Hot Drinks

As soon as I start feeling those winter aches, I go to put on the kettle. There’s nothing better than a hot drink to warm you up from head to toe. My preference is a good cup of English breakfast tea with milk, but there are all kinds of herbals teas that can help with chronic pain and ailments of all sorts. And a decadent hot chocolate is just good for the soul. 

4. Comfort Items 

These aren’t mobility aids or any kind of medicine, but they’re just nice to have. My weighted blanket works similarly to compression gloves; it helps my circulation and is great pressure therapy. Mine has a bamboo cover that stays cool during summer, but it still plenty warm in the winter with my electric blanket. 

As I’m always complaining about my cold feet, my friend bought me some heated socks. These are usually worn by hikers to get them through rough conditions, but I happily use them to warm me up in winter mornings. I always feel that if my feet are cold, it’s nearly impossible for the rest of me to warm up. 

I also like to sit with a pillow on my chair, or one on my lap if I’m using my laptop without a desk. This is because I have terrible posture, and having that extra support can make a world of different regarding my back pain.

5. Comfort Food 

This one falls more under “guilty pleasures” than actual helpful advice, but it gets me through. When you’re having a bad flare-up and can’t do much more than lie in bed and wait for the pain to cease, sometimes you need to indulge into something incredibly rich and chocolatey. You’re allowed to treat yourself on occasion, especially when you’re suffering. When your entire body is fighting against you, it’s not a bad thing to give yourself something nice to ease the pain just a little bit. 

Obviously there are a multitude of ways to help with chronic pain during winter, but these are what works for me. I’m sure everyone with a chronic illness has gone through times when they’ve tried to ignore their pain. Pushing through feels like the pain feels like the brave thing to do, but it’s much braver to take care of yourself and acknowledge what you’re going through. The faster you work on healing, the quicker you can return to your normal pace. Winter is hard, but spring is always around the corner!

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