If you thought things have been quiet around here this week, you're right. For the last four nights, I've had to work the dreaded vampire shift - the overnights.
Fortunately, or maybe unfortunately, working a freaky schedule really isn't that freaky to me anymore. I've worked everything from days, nights, holidays, weekends. For many journalists, it comes with the territory.
Remember this, circa 2010?
My free time - as in the time I'm not sleeping or working - hasn't actually changed at all during this two week stint of overnight shifts. I simply flip-flopped when I go to work and when I go to sleep. Instead of going to bed at 10:30pm, I'm walking into work and crawling into bed at 6:30am instead of starting my work day.
By approximately 2pm in both scenarios, I'm awake, out of bed, and not at the office, so I thought I could count on little to no disruption to my life whatsoever, right?
Oh how quickly I forgot how working the overnights feels like having a perpetual hangover:
For the last four days, I've been walking around in a foggy daze. I feel the kind of exhausted that no amount of sleep will satisfy, and also anxious to the point that I'm second guessing everything from what shampoo to buy to conversations I've had and emails I've sent. I avoid people, phone calls; hell, I avoid standing and any natural light.
Yet, despite feeling so out of it, I always find myself downplaying - to everyone - exactly how awful I actually feel, the same way I have after a night out on the town.
"Do you feel bad?," someone will ask.
"You know, I really don't," I tell them. (Lie #1) "I actually feel pretty good." (Lie #2)
Everyone who has ever worked an overnight - or had a hangover - will try just about anything to survive it, and no two people approach them both the same. After years of suffering, I've figured out what tricks works best for me.
For a hangover - hot yoga, Goody's headache powers, cold showers, fountain drinks and greasy food.
For the overnights - melatonin, a sleeping mask, and coming home immediately and crawling into bed while it's still dark.
Normal, expected actions such as showering, staying awake at work and taking out the trash feel like HUGE accomplishments.
One day this week, I retrieved my mail and called my insurance company about a bill and was disproportionately proud of myself. You would've thought I cured cancer or met the Pope. I'm surprised I didn't blog about how awesome and ambitious I am.
Exercising - forget it. I know it would probably make me feel better, but the likelihood that I'll do it after too much tequila or a week on overnights is slim.
I eat weird things at weird times - black bean chili at 3am, avocado toast and coffee at 2pm ET - but no amount of food will satisfy me and if I happen to eat gross food all day, then it's OK because I worked the overnights/I'm hungover.
I wear insane outfits, apparently to look the part of "I don't care, but I really care." Last night I wore a sweater vest over a button down shirt that has pockets and forgot to take a picture of how terrible it was because I was taking a walk to stay awake and therefore cannot be responsible for my actions.
Yep - a two week hangover, without the tasty drinks and fun memories to show for it. I did crank this out at the week hours, so I guess it's not all for nothing.
One week down, one more to go.
A huge shout out for all of the shift workers pulling all-nighters on a regular basis. Let's find a bar and do this hangover thing for real.