The Experience of Giving Up Caffeine
Why I Cut Caffeine From My Life for My Own Reasons
Now, before you turn away from what I've to say, there is just one thing I ask you to keep in mind... I'm not trying to tell you how horrible, and evil caffeine is. Or how it will help you eliminate weight, make you a better person, or such. I'm not trying to convince you of anything. This is my personal story, as to why I've eliminated caffeine from my life, and a few steps further into discovering myself. And I've realized that maybe caffeine just isn't for me. As it turns out, caffeine can effect people differently. And it effected me more than I knew, in several different ways.
I didn't come from a family with money. Maybe we were the lower end of middle class, or high end of the lower class. Who knows. But drinking pop (how about I say "soda"? I'm from Buffalo, New York. Can't you tell?) was something we really never got to do. My mom always had her "ginger ale," because it was all she could stand to drink. The rest of us were stuck with milk, juice, water, whichever was in the house. So soda pop (I'm compromising here.) was something uncommon. It was a treat. Although, if we went to Grandma's house, it was a whole other story. There was always my Grandma's favorite drink, Pepsi, in the house. Caffeinated joy. I looked forward to going to her house, because it tasted so good.
At five years old, I had my first taste of tea. Not much longer and I had my first taste of coffee. It was horribly disgusting. So I kept to my tea. I loved tea. And I spent years drinking it. But I noticed, tea calmed me a bit. I was always feeling anxious, nervous, and had these weird moments where I would start slurring my speech and feeling... Off. Not myself. I really didn't know how to describe it. And the doctor was no help, except to feed my mom's belief that I just wasn't all there and that was all I was describing. After several appointments and years later, I eventually blew up on them in the office, screaming that that's not it. I swore something was wrong, I didn't want to feel how I was feeling anymore. I hated the headaches that came after it. I just wanted to feel better. I wanted it done and over. But nothing worked. They just stared at me for a brief few seconds, and started to discuss about mental illnesses. I just cried. They weren't listening. You couldn't imagine how upset I was. I was stuck. Thankfully though, I wasn't put into any psychiatric help. I knew that that wasn't it. I had already confided with my teacher, and other people I trusted. And they helped me keep my confidence that nothing was wrong with me.
As I grew older, I discovered other caffeinated products. Cappuccinos became my go to drink, as I entered high school. On my walk to school, I would always pick up a french vanilla cappuccino with the money I earned, and added anything to it to wake up me up since I wasn't a morning person. i just needed that something that could get me through a bit. And it did. But I just sunk more into depression than the usual amount my teen years provided. My caffeine amount was increasing. But, as long as I was aware and not letting depression get to me, my grades were pretty good. I stayed up late getting my homework done, and listening to music, thinking about life. Relaxing. Little did I know that I became an insomniac. I just figured getting a couple hours of sleep a night was no big deal at my age.
So, pretty negative so far. Right? You would be surprised. Out of the bad always comes something good. I realized that the caffeinated insomnia gave me alone time. It seemed to relieve my depression. And after weeks upon weeks of laying in my bed at night, letting my thoughts run in my head, I decided to get up and start writing. Poems, short stories, novels, whatever I could write. Whatever could come to me. It was then, at fifteen years old, I decided that I wanted to write for a living. My excitement was too much to handle. It just flowed to me, like water flowing deep in an endless river. But where could I test my new found skills? Where could I go with all these words just flowing from my head to hand, to the pen and paper? My high school English class was the solution. And perfect. My English teacher absolutely was amazed. And I took it to my French class, as well. I was finding that this is where I was successful. This is what I wanted to do for a living. And so began my journey.
Until I started feeling as if I was getting worse, with whatever was wrong with me.
I finally had a new doctor. Not the jerk I had before. And he decided it was time to take care of the problem. He told me I was having panic attacks from my depression, and that maybe I had depression longer than I knew. Then began my journey into anti-depressants. And I became worse. I became a monster. I was not friendly towards anyone I knew. If you knew me at that time, you wouldn't of known me after this journey into anti-depressants began. You would question about what had just happened, and never talk to me again. As most people actually did. And my love for caffeine just increased more. All I drank was soda pop, cappuccinos, tea, and energy drinks. No more water. No more milk. No more juice. Just caffeinated drinks. My addiction. And I loved it.
Years passed and I entered the world of adulthood. And this feeling I had since I was a child, came on, more and more. And the weird feeling came even more frequent. Several times a week, not every so often as it used to be. I switched to another doctor and then another, because no one could help me. They assumed the same thing, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and eventually, post-partum from having my son. I couldn't stand it anymore and began searching on my own for a cause and solution. I realized it felt like some impending horrible doom was upon me, for days before this weird feeling would come and go. I noticed the slurring seemed to go hand in hand with it. But I couldn't put a true name to it. Nothing seemed right. What puzzled me more is asking those who were going through actual panic attacks. It was all the same, no matter the person. What I was dealing with, was not panic attacks. I proceeded to break myself off the medications, not caring what the doctor said. I didn't want to be that monster of a person anymore. It just escalated my aggravation at people for not listening to me. It never helped. If anything, I was comparable to The Incredible Hulk.
But a new distraction had come to me. One night I woke in extreme pain and had gone to the emergency room. After hours spent in there, I was told I was passing a kidney stone. "...A kidney stone? Don't older people get those? I'm only 23!" was the thought constantly passing in my head. Unfortunately, I didn't catch it, as was asked of me to do by the doctor. But, I was told that I needed to watch my diet for something I was having excess amounts of. So began a new additional journey. I searched and altered my diet for years, with no success. The kidney stones kept coming.
I was 26 years old, and this has been almost twenty years of feeling this weird disconnecting feeling between my mind and head, the slurring, the headaches that come after the feeling passes. It has been three years since I discovered my issues with kidney stones. And a new light had dawned.
Ash Wednesday of 2014 and a discussion with my fiancé. "What should I give up for lent?" You see, each year for Lent, I give up something instead of meat. Eating meat was a one of the stable ways for me to get iron into my diet, and keep my anemia balanced. As I was talking with my fiancé, he came up with an idea. And it intrigued me. He asked, "What if you gave up caffeine for Lent?" I sat there stunned from that idea. What if I did? How could I? I mean, could I? And I did. So began another journey.
Weeks passed by, and I started replacing soda pop with other non-caffeinated drinks slowly, with drinks that have equal calories and sugar amounts. I changed to one cup of coffee in the morning, and started filling my cup less and less, but with more and more milk. The withdrawal effects were not that bad. Right away, I noticed a change. I went to update my first aid kit and thought to myself as I stared down at my heating pad (I prefer those when in pain, because it causes me to concentrate on something else.), "Wow. I haven't had a kidney stone in a while. Awesome!" and just sat there, basking in happiness. But the thoughts rolled on, leading me to call my fiancé and telling him my wonderful news. I realized that I hadn't felt as off, as much as I used to. My body was changing, and I was withdrawing slowly off caffeine. Could this be it? Could this have been the problem all along? My fiancé had enjoyed seeing me so happy over the mass amount of thoughts that came in. "See? I knew you could do it. Did you notice that you're not biting your nails as much, too? I noticed that yesterday.", he said to me. I stared at my hands and my growing fingernails, seeing how I really haven't bitten them down. He was right about my fingernails after all. Breaking off caffeine was becoming the best idea in so long!
Fast forward a little more, and here I am. I've found more and more drinks to switch over to. I've cut down so much on the caffeine. I only drink a half of a cup a coffee now, and I'm almost done with that. With my wedding dress that came in a size too small, I've decided to think positive and take another step forward, looking at it as a way to keep switching my drinks over. I'm mostly down to drinking water, and have lost a dress size in the process. My wedding dress fits now! But I do admit... I had a relapse. It was one day, but it made me feel horrible. Well, horrible in the sense as if there was some impending doom, leading up to the trigger of this odd feeling, followed by the aftermath of a headache...
I resorted to the internet. I entered into the search bar, "Impending doom feeling, odd feeling followed by headache" and there was tons of results. I too time and went through every link, for pages until I found something that worried me. It was some forum where the person talked of the same feelings, and was wondering if she was having a "walking seizure". I was intrigued and dug around on the internet some more, and it was all the same. It was everything I was feeling. It was everything that I was going through. Every little problem I was feeling, could it really be a "petit mal" seizure? Could it really be triggered by caffeine? The answer? Yes. Yes, that's right. And my journey to control the odd feeling has become to feel like a success with each day that passes. I've even taken the step to connect with others who are dealing with seizures, and it feels good. I don't feel abnormal anymore. It actually feels relieving that after so many years, I've found the problem and people to talk to, about it.
I now realize that caffeine is not something for my body. Now, mind you, here is my disclaimer: I'm not saying you should cut off the caffeine, or that it's bad, that it makes you gain weight, that it makes you fly and so forth with what I'm saying. I'm not telling you what to do. Each body on this Earth is different. Everyone's method of living is different. And mine is one that cannot process caffeine very well, even if I chose to love it. I believe that just because it doesn't process well with my body, that just maybe, maybe, it is why I have kidney stones. Like my body decided to give me a form of a warning. And I should of listened. Caffeine is a trigger for me. I've come to learn I have a lower threshold when it comes to seizures and consuming certain drinks and some foods. I feel so much better now. Caffeine and I have pretty much ended our relationship. It's over. And I'm feeling good. (Although, I admit... I will have something caffeinated once in a long while. But, it's quite rare.)
If You Really Love Your Caffeine...
© 2014 Kryssy Bruckheimer