Hello everyone. My name is Sindy and I am a coffee addict (or..was). But…I want to tell you the story of how I stopped drinking coffee and switched over to tea.
Now, I feel like I should start off with a bit of a disclaimer because while I know I have a big coffee problem, there are many people suffering from extremely serious addictions. So, here is a light read for everyone and hopefully a lot of you can relate!
My journey with caffeine started in middle school when I would drink coffee that was 99% milk and sugar. My intake was heavily monitored and in moderation of course because what middle schooler needs to be drinking coffee anyways. I liked the taste of “coffee” and never understood the appeal of black coffee… something that my mom always drank. Now, coffee used to have absolutely no effect on me and I used to pride myself in being able to drink coffee right before bed and sleep like a log. For me, coffee seemed like something only adults would do, at least to a younger version of me. And…even though what I was drinking was borderline coffee flavored milk, I still felt pretty badass.
I even got a milk frother one year in hopes of learning how to make latte art…that didn’t go so well. What came out was foamy, watered down milk. YUM! Anyone wanna come to my cafe? I promise you some state of the art lattes.
Fast forward to high school, I spent a few months in the 11th grade drinking one cup of green tea and one cup of black coffee every single morning on an empty stomach. Healthy, I know. I was scolded at by my mom every morning telling me how bad it was for my body, but I argued- nothing bad was happening to me!
Then one day after going to my favourite deli for dinner with my friend and then to a museum event where I excitedly met David Suzuki, I came home and was hit with what felt like the worst stomach “illness” I’ve ever gotten. Keep in mind that this did happen quite a few years ago but the fact that I remember the details so vividly should give you a taste of just how bad it was.
Now, here’s where things get a little…fuzzy. I really don’t know whether it was my food that made me so ill or the harm that excessive amounts of caffeine did to my body. I had been to the restaurant before so it shouldn’t have been the food, but I also wasn’t sure if coffee and tea could create such a storm. Nonetheless, I stopped drinking caffeine altogether. It really takes throwing up for two days straight to start being careful. Better safe than sorry right.
I never completely cut coffee out because I did have a cup here and there but it really wasn’t a constant in my life. Coffee then was something that I drank if I remembered and sometimes it was a treat if I wanted to get a special drink once in a while.
Lets skip forward again to college. This is really when the addiction comes into play.
This past year was really the peak of my coffee addiction and my body certainly paid for it. It started during the summer when I would wake up to a cup of black coffee every single morning without fail. Then, if I was still feeling sleepy after breakfast, a cup of tea. Sometimes around lunch time, the sleepiness would crawl back and of course, that would call for another cup. Slowly but surely, the dependency started to grow. I would wake up tired, no matter what time I woke up and drinking a cup of coffee was the only thing that could make me feel..normal. My catch phrase when people ask me how I’m doing is pretty much always, “I’m tired.” The thing is, I wasn’t lying. I just always felt…tired.
Because of this daily routine, exams became difficult because coffee stopped having effects on my body and I was starting to get immune to it. All it did was make me feel like a normal human being again. Feeling awake and alert was a feeling very foreign to me. It just meant that I had to double my intake and drink fast to try to “wake up” faster. Drinking coffee was really no longer a leisurely activity but a means to stay ….alive?! Haha. Some people chug alcohol in college, I chugged coffee. Same thing right??
I would make myself a big cup of coffee as soon as I woke up and then get an iced coffee (which was made with espresso) when I got to the library and then another brewed coffee later in the afternoon. I discovered the Starbucks double shot on ice – which if you order a venti, is five shots of espresso (I think). Sometimes when I had a free drink, I would get a venti double shot on ice with an extra two shots. Even then I wasn’t even super awake…But lets just say my heart rate was irregular for a solid month and my hands were shaky as well. It’s not that I never tried to stop, but I really couldn’t! Cut back the coffee and you’ll find me on the ground passed out with a headache and a pile of work to catch up on.
Summer break might mean a break from coffee for a lot of people but I still needed my daily cup. Then I started my internship which meant waking up early and working all day which officially added one small cup in the morning and a mug full during the day to help me stay awake. Even then I was still sleepy by 11pm the latest on my almost two regular sized mug fulls of black coffee.
Here’s where the story gets interesting. There was one day where I didn’t drink coffee right when I woke up but I had a sip an hour later and I was hit with the worst headache I’ve ever had in my entire life. Thank God it was a Saturday but I spent my entire day in pain. Even though I eventually had some coffee later, the headache didn’t disappear. In fact, I feel like it made it worse. I even had a sip of coke in hopes that the caffeine in there would suddenly solve all my problems. I remember sitting in the back of the car in a weird state of nausea, exauhstion and irritation at the same time. It didn’t help that the heat outside was making my headache worse by the minute. I’m not joking when I say that I wanted to pull my hair out I was so in pain and didn’t have direct access to advil or anything to treat headaches. Eventually a few hours later the headache went away but it left me feeling very very bitter and terrified about not drinking coffee.
I went on a short trip recently where there was really not a lot of coffee around and I didn’t have access to any the first day when we got there. I had woken up at 4:30am in order to get on a 7am flight. But even though I didn’t drink any coffee, I fell asleep at 3pm and slept all the way until almost 10pm. Woke up, got ready for bed officially and fell asleep again at 11pm and woke up the next morning at 8am. So, without any sort of caffeine pushing me, my body was capable of sleeping…a lot…my theory is that it was catching up on all the sleep that it missed over the last year, but who knows!
The next day I didn’t have coffee in the morning either, but I don’t know whether it was the fact that I slept too much or that my body started to realize I hadn’t had coffee in a whole day that my heartache started to creep back. I took two Advils and waited for the headache to go away but there was still this dulling pain in the back. I caved and got a small black coffee to share, that made me feel instantly better and happier.
The next day was a lot better, sure I was grumpy but my headache didn’t come back and I somehow survived. The next few days were a breeze and I had zero caffeine in my body! Now that was the easy part because I was on a trip and with no agenda, I didn’t need to wake up early every single morning. However, I decided that when I go back to work, I wouldn’t have coffee in the morning but tea instead.
The first morning was fine, I woke up right before my alarm clock and due to the fact that at that time, I hadn’t had coffee in three days, I didn’t feel immediate fatigue upon waking up. I had one cup of green tea to sip throughout the day, slept at my normal sleeping time and woke up gracefully when my alarm clock woke me up the next morning.
Its been almost two weeks since I’ve had any coffee and I’ve made the switch over to tea in the morning when I get to work. I have been feeling a lot less sluggish and now that I know I can be okay without having coffee in my system, my body seems to understand that it doesn’t have to feel tired all the time. It’s incredible how one small change can change how my body feels on a day to day basis!
Stay tuned for a one month update soon?? Will I survive or not…why knows!!