They say the darkest hour is the one before dawn ... But 'they' have obviously never been out on the lash on St Patrick's Day.
Because, as any seasoned drinker will tell you, it's not the hours before dawn that cause the trouble, it's the ones afterwards ... a good few hours afterwards, when the cold light of day brings you back to earth with a bang.
Uff. And bad enough as the physical symptoms of a hangover are, at least they can be sorted with the appropriate combination of Solpadeine, Coca Cola, Motilium and rasher sandwiches.
Worse is The Fear.
Those awful, gnawing feelings that start to spring up the minute your memory of the night before returns.
What did I say? What did I do? What's on my phone? Oh crap, what did I send? Sometimes it doesn't actually matter that the answer to all the above is 'nothing', the hungover mind doesn't work on fact, but prefers to roam all around the place, planting horrid thoughts into poor, suffering heads.
When I think about St Patrick's Days of yore, I cringe. Not as much about the day or night itself, but at what happened next.
I have horrid memories of trying to retrieve a mobile phone out of the pocket of a sleeping 'gentleman' in order to delete some texts, only to block his SIM card in the process (agh, double confession time).
I've overthought trivial things to such an extent that inconsequential issues became paranoid arguments; and I've wasted days and nights behind drawn curtains because I've -- quite literally -- been afraid of my own shadow.
Obviously, the hangover Fear isn't exclusive to St Patrick's Day; but with a national holiday that begs to be celebrated with copious amounts of alcohol, it's hard not to overdo things and thus suffer the consequences.
St Patrick's Day is so deeply associated with drinking, you're a party pooper if you don't join in. It seems to be our patriotic duty to participate in a booze binge of hideous dimensions, and we only really know the one -- or several -- that's the one too many when the horrors appear the next day.
Last Sunday, I got a volley of texts from a friend, who'd been dusting off her recently single status since the previous Wednesday. I so identified with the messages that started to appear as the day progressed ... the self-loathing, the feelings of misery and loneliness, the paranoia about having made a fool of herself the night before ... and then, of course, the inevitable head-melt over the state of Ireland, Japan and the whole world in general.
I guess the only reason I haven't been in the same boat of late is that I've temporarily given up drinking since a belter of an engagement party thrown for Trevor, my fiance, and I last January. It was such a huge night, that I'm still getting over the aftershock.
Thankfully though, I now have a big strong man, who'll keep my feet on the ground and distract me with funny stories until The Fear subsides.
But when those dark moments occur, I always recall a great phrase a friend once told me, when I was crawling the walls one hungover Sunday of yore. "It'll be all right in the end," she would say. "And if it's not all right, it's not the end."
And do you know what? She's right.
So, oh hungover one, if you're feeling a little emotionally fragile right now, put your phone away, order a pizza online, and stick Family Guy on the telly; because tomorrow --I promise -- will be a brighter day.