I’ve written briefly about hanger before. Specifically, about having a low blood sugar meltdown on a stinky Greek tram. This post elaborates on the factors involved and how to avoid similar situations. Consider it a Public Service Announcement. Sure, hanger can be hilarious, but it can also be hazardous. To relationships. It’s time that society started having frank conversations about this legit medical condition.
While this post is going to make it sound like I get extreme hanger all the time, the reality is it occurs in its very worst form only occasionally. More frequently, I’ll get a minor case of hanger which I can usually manage easily and without incident with constant snackage.
But I have to be honest, sometimes I’m just too tired or sore to spend the necessary time preparing healthy meals and snacks every single day. Also, because I have allergies, it’s hard to find easy to grab food on the run when I don’t. I try to have snacks on me at all times, but then I’ll find a half-eaten carrot nestled in a bed of granola bar crumbs at the bottom of my purse. If I ever get rich, I would absolutely hire a person whose only job would be to procure me food. I would call them Benson.
I also need to get better at eating regularly. You know, you’re at work and you’re like oh I’ll just reply to these 17 emails and THEN eat my lunch. Oh wait now a client is coming in. Shit, now there’s a big delivery and you’ve had two bites of an apple. Then you’re driving home and you’re screaming DIE IN A FIRE!!! at people going ten under the speed limit because they are increasing the time it takes for you to get to food.
Or maybe that’s just me. In any case, it starts with gnawing hunger, and a slowly brewing headache. If I don’t eat something, the headache begins shooting stars into my eyeballs, I start to shake, I get dizzy and nauseous. If I still can’t eat, my brain stops functioning. I literally have trouble putting thoughts together and speaking coherently. Any obstacles in my quest for food results in complete, irrational, intense rage.
Now, I know some people are more prone to hanger than others. It seems to run in my family quite strongly, yet my husband never experiences it. Some of you, while reading this post are probably nodding your head thinking yes, yes, I know what she’s talking about, and have your own hanger stories. Others are probably like, this woman is batshit.
If you do suffer from hanger, it’s important to note that it’s not just what or how much you eat that can affect the occurrence or severity of the attack. Ladies, our reproductive hormones can wreak havoc on how our bodies react to insulin and blood sugar fluctuations. I know that during week three of my cycle, I will be ravenous; like CANNOT get full. This explains why I crave certain foods when I do and why hanger, if it occurs, is typically worse. Sleeplessness also affects how your body reacts to insulin, so you may find that if you do suffer from occasional hanger, it can occur after a night of insomnia.
I’m going to share a hanger story and you’re going to say, wow, she is a huge asshole. But this is the reality of hanger. It has the power to destroy relationships and hurt people. Luckily, this story ends reasonably well for most parties involved but it could easily have gone the other way.
Last summer, my husband and I were driving out to his hometown for the weekend. Of course, I hadn’t eaten a proper lunch and we were going to eat dinner when we got into town. During the ride, I started to feel the early, and then the mid and late stages of hanger. Luckily (or so I thought) we stopped for gas and snacks at an old gas station in the middle of nowhere, owned and run by an elderly couple.
OF COURSE there weren’t any suitable snacks there for me, I don’t know what I expected. Unreasonably enraged that the gas station in the middle of Buttfuck, Nowhere didn’t have gluten and dairy free snacks I could eat, I stormed back out to the car while my husband loaded up on Zesty Mordant Doritos, an ice cream cone and licorice.
Luckily, I remembered that I had a half-eaten granola bar in my purse. But as soon as I got back into the car, I could smell that something had gone awry. Have I mentioned before how much I hate patchouli? No? I FUCKING HATE IT!!! I would rather smell a hundred hot farts than patchouli. I don’t know what it is about that smell, it instantly infiltrates my nostrils, stuffs me up and hurts my head.
Anyway, why did the car smell like patchouli? Well, the week earlier, one of my sisters had convinced me that aluminum-based antiperspirants were ruining my life, and she recommended I try this natural, spray-on deodorant. Well, I had bought it, and had thrown the small bottle in my purse and had forgotten about it.
I hadn’t read the ingredients on the bottle, but OF COURSE the thing contained patchouli, what was I even thinking?!? And, it had been bouncing around in my purse for a week, until finally the top popped off, draining the whole entire bottle of stink into my purse. As I finally clued in to where the smell was coming from, I panicked. MY GRANOLA BAR NOOOOOO! And so of course, with the hanger already brewing and my only food salvation dripping with putrid old hippie, I lost my entire shit.
I rummaged through my purse, getting my hands covered in the filth. The purse itself was soaked, as was everything in it. I found the offending, and now empty bottle of spray deodorant and launched it out the window, just as my husband returned to the car with his delicious bounty, making me even more angry. The bottle bounced off the pavement as I furiously just threw the entire purse out the window.
‘What’s going on’? He inquired gently, sensing something was amiss. But I was now past the point of being able to effectively communicate. ‘Fucking patchouli’! I howled. ‘It’s EVERYWHERE’! Obviously confused, he just sort of stared at me and I burst into tears. I fumbled out of the car and grabbed my purse off the asphalt and flung it toward a metal garbage can on the side of the road in the parking lot. I stalked the purse again, the object of my rage, picked it up by the shoulder straps, and smashed it on the road over and over and over again. FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU! I screamed at the purse.
Now, my husband had previously experienced my hanger but didn’t really get it. Unfortunately, it’s usually him getting in the way of me assuaging my hunger and thus bears the brunt of the rage. Like, he has a nap instead of making dinner when it’s his turn to cook and I get home late and starving and the chicken is still frozen. But I think since this time the patchouli purse, and not him, had ruined my last chance of food for 100 kilometers, it was clear to him that this was not just a bad mood. It was serious and I needed help.
He got out of the car and tried to calm me down as I sobbed and pulled items out of my purse and threw them all over the parking lot. ‘My wallet is damp with FUCKING patchoooouuuuuliiii’! I wailed. All my receipts, chapsticks, keys, phone, EVERYTHING just dripping with the stench. Making me gag. He tried to help me pick it up and sort it all out, and grabbed napkins from the glovebox to sop it up. Tears were streaming down my face and I tried to wipe them away, smearing patchouli and purse crumbs all over my face and causing me to sob even harder.
Just then, I looked up to see one of the owners of the store, the old woman, standing in the parking lot staring at us, looking utterly horrified. She must have seen most of this go down. The contents of my purse were strewn everywhere and I was on my hands and knees still scooping gum wrappers and similar detritus out of the bottom.
‘My wife is having a bad day, could you just give her some space’? My husband asked, trying to spare me the embarrassment. ‘She going to clean up her mess’? The old lady asked. ‘Of course, of course, yes we will clean it all up, please, if you could just give us a few minutes’. He asked, as I continued to cry, although now it was reduced to quiet weeping and red-faced shame. ‘Because she made a huge mess. You better clean it. What is wrong with her anyw–‘. But my husband cut her off. ‘BEAT IT’! He finally barked out. The old lady scurried off.
The last stage of hanger, once your remaining little bit of energy is spent on rage, is exhaustion and guilt. Usually, you have said terrible things and acted horribly, either to loved ones or to strangers. Or to old lady gas station owners. So if you love someone who suffers from hanger, please please please learn to recognize the early signs of an impending attack. They’re not crazy, they’re just hungry. For the love of all things holy, make them a sandwich.
An artist’s rendering of the hanger aftermath