Drinking one or two Starbucks venti dark-roast black coffees a day feels innocent, but when you’re naked, whimpering in the bathtub after quitting caffeine cold turkey, you start to think differently. Caffeine is a legitimate drug.
For over seven years, I’ve been addicted to coffee, Gilmore Girls style. At minimum, mornings started with 16 ounces of black coffee, with subsequent cups of “Hair Bender” throughout the workday. But after reading about caffeine addiction on a questionable medical website, I decided to give up coffee and caffeine once and for all.
The morning of October 1 started like no other. Triumphantly rising out of bed after hitting snooze only a few times, I stood confident, ready to take on the ungodly challenge of facing a caffeine-free world. By 11:00 am, all hope was lost. A headache crept up one side of my head. My eye movement slowed. Why did my eyeballs feel so heavy?
I spent five hours of work gazing mindlessly at a computer screen. Absent-minded cannot define my mental capacity within those hours. It’s all a haze, but I do remember sending two emails and talking to my boss for a minute. Yet the details of the conversation remain elusive. In the end, no harm, no foul. I made it through the day.
I ripped my clothes off once home, changed into boxer shorts, and crashed down atop my roommate’s bed. (I wish the caffeine deprivation explained why I’m horrible roommate, but it turns out I kind of just suck.) I complained ad nauseum about why the world was such an evil place. A hot showered calmed me down a tad, and a dose of melatonin, a natural hormone available over-the-counter, lead me to sleep.
The symptoms lasted throughout the next day, but nevertheless, I knew I slept well the night before. This was the whole reason for giving up caffeine. Sleep has never come easy. As a child, I built forts in my bed until the middle of the night, hours after being put to sleep. During sophomore year of college, I suffered a serious bought of insomnia, sleeping no more than three or fours a night for six weeks. Caffeine can’t take the full blame, but a steady reliance on the substance fueled my inability to fall asleep.
On day two, an hour and a half nap followed my first class. Later, I stared at the floor of Bobst for 30 minutes before giving my parents a call. This was their fault. My mom told my annoying 13 year-old self to drink an iced coffee after I complained about being tired all the time. It was the bitter sip of adulthood, and I was hooked. My parents’ own reliance on coffee turned them into my personal caffeine kingpins. Even now, their kitchen includes two coffee makers–God forbid a pot off coffee isn’t enough! You always need a Keurig on hand.
My mother admitted to also cutting down on caffeine but was attempting the nearly impossible task by waning her intake. She mixed three different batches of ground coffee. For the first two weeks, she sipped on coffee made with three parts regular beans, one part decaffeinated. Every two weeks the mixture changed, having a part less of regular grounds and a part more of decaf. Within a few weeks, the habit would be kicked, she said.
The plan was brilliant but would be too difficult for me. Everyday, I mumbled and wandered into any place until a cup of coffee was placed in my hands. Being a caffeine whore, I never cared what coffee shop. Hot joe from a cart worked as well as humanely harvested beans from somewhere respectable. As long as it was tall, hot, and strong for under $3, I was in. Explaining to the poor barista a need for 25% blonde roast, 75% decaf felt too difficult for the both of us, and I decided it just wasn’t worth it.
Instead, I settled on drinking a daily cup of tea, containing an eighth of my former caffeine intake. Over the past two weeks, the small morning intake waved away the headaches and nausea. Now, sleep is starting to come easier, and mornings aren’t quite as treacherous as they once were. Even focusing my attention feels different but better. By the end of October, I hope to only need water in the morning. I miss my dear coffee, but the love between us just isn’t worth it anymore.