*stands up* Hello, I’m Gcat, and I haven’t had a drink in nearly two weeks.
Oh, did I say “drink”? I meant “drink of coffee”, of course. And believe me, this is much more of a challenge than merely giving up alcohol for a few weeks.
Those of you who know me or who’ve gleaned enough from my previous blog entries will know that I’m prone to stress and anxiety, insomnia and sudden bouts of exhaustion (among other things). When you read about those sorts of thing, giving up caffeine is quite often a prominent piece of advice. But I never really tried it before, apart from a sort of half-hearted and not very successful attempt to cut down from 4 or 5 coffees per day to 2 or 3. I sort of doubted that it would make much difference, plus there was the small matter of how impossible it seemed. Me, get up in the morning without the aid of coffee? I’m a computer programmer ferchrissake. There’ll be multiple homicides before lunchtime if I don’t get my caffeine fix. The advice might as well have said “all you have to do is sprout wings and learn to fly” (something which, whatever the Red Bull marketing department would have you believe, is difficult for most people).
A couple of weeks ago something happened. Namely, I got hit by a horrible stomach bug one night, and by the morning I definitely wasn’t feeling able to stomach a cup of coffee, so I went without. I wasn’t doing anything much except lie in bed and groan anyway so it wasn’t like I needed the energy boost. But then something strange happened. Through the haze of illness that was still clouding my mind, I felt different. Like my mind had slowed down a bit and was stopping to enjoy the view (even though said view currently consisted of my darkened bedroom ceiling) instead of just racing on to the next goal. It’s hard to describe… it felt very weird, in that I wasn’t accustomed to feeling like that anymore, but also comfortingly familiar, like it was taking me back to how I used to feel a long time ago. It was hard to tell how much of it was due to the lack of caffeine and how much because of the semi-delirium from the bug… but it felt nice enough to make me want to try having a break from coffee. Anyway, I reasoned, now was as good a chance as I was ever going to get to try it… I’d already survived the first day without it so that was probably the worst bit over.
(I didn’t quit caffeine altogether. I just switched to tea, which I intend using as a sort of reverse-gateway drug if there’s such a thing).
That was nearly two weeks ago now… and since then I have noticed a change. The first day back at work started off, as I’d expected, pretty miserably without the coffee-kick to get me going. But the tiredness went away more quickly than I’d expected. Then in the middle of the evening I suddenly realised that (a) I hadn’t come home from work feeling completely wired and like I needed a beer to calm myself down, and (b) I hadn’t had a horrendous crash in my energy levels late in the day and was actually still feeling quite awake by about 8pm. Both of which are pretty unusual occurrences. After a few days of this I also noticed I was sleeping better and coping better even if I didn’t quite get my eight hours.
So yeah… I guess those suggestions about cutting down on caffeine ain’t just there to bump up the word count after all. I’d recommend at least giving it a try if you suffer from any similar problems to mine.
(I was hoping to write more about the projects I mentioned a few posts ago before now, but due to (1) the aforementioned stomach bug, (2) work going absolutely crazy in the last couple of weeks, and (3) having an unexpected new toy to play with, I haven’t really got far with any of them yet. I expect I will at some point soon 🙂 ).