A Month Without Caffeine
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
Introduction: The Problem
For a few months I’ve been getting headaches at weekends; they’ll usually manifest in the morning but occasionally continue throughout the day. I thought I was just getting old but after a while I realised that it was because I’d started taking a drug at work that I didn’t take at home over the weekend. I was getting caffeine withdrawal at weekends because I didn’t have the habitual routine at home that I had 'in the office.'
After deciding that I’d had enough, I went cold turkey. And let me tell you that it was hardcore. At first, I did some in-depth research (Google) on the subject of detoxing and found it all pretty scary. Terms like mind fog, drowsiness, brain blur, severe headaches, severe fatigue and the rest gave me pause for thought: Should I bother with this or should I just maintain this addiction for the rest of my life?
No way; I wanted out. I hate the idea of a dependency on something to make me who I am. I don’t mind the idea of having a perk like that but the dependency is a turnoff.
A couple of hours later I let my wife know and then strapped myself down (not really) and just stopped with tea, coffee, chocolate, cola, Sprite, 7up, Lucozade and quite a lot more. It’s absolutely insane how much stuff they stick caffeine into; I actually struggled to find a non-alcoholic non-caffeine drink that I actually felt comfortable drinking when I went to the pub a few days later.
Day 1—Oh this isn’t too bad
The next morning I woke up preparing for a horrendous headache and was thoroughly overjoyed when I felt fine. 3 weeks of migraines my shoe! I must confess to being a little tired and grumpy in the morning but I kept my nerves in check and got through it.
Day 2—Oh my brain
I woke up with the worst headache ever and that wasn’t the worst of it. The headache paled into insignificance alongside what I’ll forever think of as the brain fog. The brain fog is a range of symptoms like an inability to focus on a conversation; an overwhelming magnetic attraction applied to your eyes from the ground when attempting to make eye contact; memory loss and short term memory trimmed down to minutes; and a general feeling that your ears no longer understand your native language.
This was my lowest day; I nearly went to the kitchen to make the strongest brew ever. I resisted, went to buy some ibuprofen and got through the day
Day 3—Road to recovery
Day 3 was surprising. I still had a headache but the fog already began to dissipate. Partially thanks to some pain relief, I was able to actually do some work. Result.
Day 4 to 28—Light at the end of the tunnel
Throughout the next 24 days I talked a lot about how I was going to enjoy a nice brew at the end of it all. As the days progressed I lost the desire to have that trophy cuppa. In fact, at day 28 (last Saturday) I didn’t bother. I wish that I could say more about caffeine cold turkey but the mind fog was the easiest thing I ever beat.
After all that trouble
I don’t think I’ll be bothering with tea at all. I had a cup of tea yesterday and it didn’t blow my mind and I didn’t descend into craving caffeine either. I like the idea of it being a weekly treat be it a bar of chocolate or a cappuccino at a café.
Give it a try at some point. I think that the detox itself is quite revealing and, while I don’t think it’s something that everyone need endure, if you’re one of the small number of people who just did it for the routine then I you’ll benefit; try replacing it with something healthy like a fresh fruit juice.
Next week in This Week in Detox…
Alcohol? Been there done that you weaklings. Fatty food? Internet? Hah. Cordials? Who knows ;)