Harking the Kalends of March and to throw shade at a forgettable and freezing February, two friends and I decided to book a long and relaxing weekend break... to Norway. Before arriving at the flat we rented, our host told us to "help yourselves to any condiments or whatever's in the fridge, plus I work for Red Bull so drink as much as you want." In my mind I thought, 'that's kind, but nah, you're alright. I don't touch the stuff.'
We drank 14 cans over the course of just two nights, before heading out for more, comically and cosmically expensive, beverages. Like I said, I never drink the stuff. The first of two nights spent testing to see if we would actually sprout wings, one of my friends apparently lost the ability to communicate in Human and for a good 10 minutes ran around, growling, climbing on things and falling violently off things - a terrifying, real-life, feeding-Gremlins-after-midnight kind of scenario. Red Bull gave us head injuries, ice burn, rage, but not wings.
The following morning, the same friend admitted to getting up, going to the fridge, decanting another whole can into her thirsty maw and going back to sleep for two hours. She claims she woke up desperately craving something sweet and fizzy; textbook denial in my opinion, masking what I believed to be the lightening-fast onset of a pernicious addiction.
Caffeine addiction is something from which more people 'suffer' than would probably care to admit, because really we don't see it as an addiction. Nicotine dependence gives you cancer and emphysema; alcoholism gives you liver disease and driving bans; meth could result in a face different to the one you were born with. Yet cups of tea and coffee and even pints of Monster energy drink on the Victoria Line at 7am are so routine for a lot of people and the only real negative side effect is sporadic jittering and bad breath. In other words, caffeine is one of only a handful of things, along with maybe sport and hard work and Sia, that's viewed as 'acceptable to be addicted to', because the health implications are relatively minor. I certainly would say I was addicted to caffeine, and having consumed my March quota in the icy Oslo nights prior, I've gone cold turkey for the month.
A couple of the proclaimed benefits of a caffeine-free existence struck me, particularly 'increased productivity' (don't we drink caffeine to make us more awake and more productive?) and a 'better mood' (again, don't most people start the day with a hot cuppa something to stop them from yelling obscenities at people bumping into them on the way to work?). I wasn't convinced. Also, to some, the idea of giving up coffee is truly horrifying: Over brunch with a mate, when I didn't order coffee, he said, "I'd rather give up meat." Quite the statement.
Another textbook retort from a textbook addict
Every morning, the activity that comes second only to putting on my slippers, is putting on the kettle. And 11am is coffee time. And then I need another between 3 and 4pm - to keep me productive and to keep me in a good mood. This last week, at almost precisely these times, I start doing the rolling-eyes-and-nodding dance, and where I would naturally sneak out for a flat white or bomb a double espresso (no milk after lunch), I can't. So it's lemon and ginger, redbush or nothing. I have been into the café and asked for a decaf flat white, *whispers* to see if I can trick my slumberous vessel into thinking it's being caffeinated, but it's early days and I'm still not fully comfortable saying those three words, so I'll splash some cold water on my face for the time being.
This, along with those mythical headaches that aren't a myth at all, was always kind of obvious, but what I wasn't expecting was how my body, lethargic, but oh so cunning, was telling me to eat more sugary things. Pretty amazing how a lack of one stimulant can make your body start telling your mind that it's craving different stimulants. Sweets and biscuits. Supermix and Hobnobs for breakfast. I suppose it all makes sense.
It might not be impossible to eschew the coffees and teas, but fighting off these other compulsions, on top of staying alert, is a side effect I hadn't anticipated. So please forgive any typos or grammatical hiccups - I'm strung out on Sour Patch Kids and struggling to keep my eyes opnskwneb3u3 d e..