caffeine withdrawal

I decided this week that it was probably NOT a good idea to be drinking the equivalent of four cups of coffee a day. My current habit is to get up, make two cups (with freshly ground coffee beans, of course) and consume them with low-fat milk. Then, in the afternoon, since Peets has been running their “Free Coffee From 1 – 3PM All Month” promotion, I’ve been going for another medium cup of coffee. And even before that, I’d get another cup of office coffee around 2pm anyways.

I have a caffeine addiction. Everyone knows this. I tell a cute little story all the time about how I started drinking coffee at the age of 11. It started when I went to my mother, and asked if I could have a cup of coffee one morning. She said, “no, dear, it’ll stunt your – ”

She paused. Then she said. “Here’s a mug, and there’s the cream.” I suppose when Mom realized that she’d effectively turned me into an Amazon in the making, stunting my growth wasn’t a bad idea. After all, she’d been feeding me extra vitamins as a child, and it was her DNA that has the height genetic in it.

By eighth grade, I required coffee to get up and get going. By the time I was sixteen, the summer between eleventh and twelfth grades, I was consuming coffee, Turbo Truffles, espresso shots, and Jolt Cola. I was studying at the University of Washington that year, after all, as an advanced placement high school student, and living in Seattle, the Mecca of coffee, just put me in the center of a caffeine culture. When the local Seattle sketch comedy show made jokes about Seattleites caffeine addictions, I laughed, because it’s true.

So coffee has been the cornerstone of my personality for more than half my life. I worked at a Starbucks when I was in first year at UBC. I can tell you the difference between a light and dark roast, between a Central American, an African or a Pacific Islands blend. I know that Kona coffee is not all that. I even known that espresso drinks have less caffeine than coffee – unless, of course, you are consuming straight espresso in mass quantities, like the eight shot drink that used to be served at my favorite cyber/bohemian cafe in downtown Dallas.

Then, in 2003, I tried to cut back. And it was ugly. And I realized, I will never be able to quit caffeine. Or rather, I could if I wanted to. I just don’t want to. I like it. I like the way caffeine feels when it hits my blood, the change it has on my outlook. And I’ve given up sugar and smoking already – can’t I keep my coffee?

But I did succeed in getting down to a half cup a day. The problem is, it’s too easy to get back up to high levels. I’ll stay up too late, and need extra coffee the next day, and then get less sleep as a result, and keep the cycle going. And that’s how I get up to the four cups a day I’ve been consuming for months. And the result is something like Shane discussed on Nickerblog – a cycle of little sleep, which cuts down on my efficiency during my (albeit extended) waking hours.

So I cut out my afternoon cup today, and now I have a headache. I’m also tired. Which isn’t good, because I’m at the laundromat, with wifi and my laptop, and I need to find the brainpower to do the reports that have to get done between now and tomorrow. My job is kicking my ass for me right now, so while it probably wasn’t the best time to cut down on the caffeine intake…if not now, when?

So this is day two. My goal is to phase out coffee, week by week, until I’m down to that cup of half-decaf in a few weeks. After all, caffeine is technically a poison, and I do need more sleep, and it can’t be healthy to respirate myself with a Peets habit, can it?

I think I’ll finish the last of my decaf mocha (I’m at the cafe by the laundromat) and go shuffle my laundry, and then procrastinate by reading Anne Rice vampire books rather than actually working.

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5 responses to “caffeine withdrawal

  1. Pingback: cutting back on caffeine IS KILLING ME | Jillian's Blog

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