How much coffee do you drink in a day?
Sadly, usually none. I used to be a very enthusiastic coffee drinker, because I tend to have pretty low blood pressure (or as – dr Jacek, aka “probably the best dermatologist in the county” told me this year when I had a checkup with him, it’s “Unmeasurable” 😀 ) and especially in the mornings, which, coupled with weird sleep patterns and dysthymia, means that most days my brains take quite a while to boot properly, and it’s not just that I feel sleepy – in fact if I had a good night’s sleep I don’t have to feel sleepy at all – I simply have very little energy, physical and mental. – It typically gets better on its own over time, but with coffee it’s faster, which is helpful if you have or want to be more or less functional soon after you wake up. So I developed a routine of having a cuppa strong, black coffee, either before or with my breakfast and it was one of the things that motivated me to get up because I loved my coffee very much. Then, if I woke up quite early, i’d often also have another cup later in the morning or around noon, either because the previous one didn’t quite do the trick on its own or simply because I felt like it, or sometimes I’d have it later in the afternoon instead, but it never was like a fixed part of my routine or something like that first cup of coffee was. Or if my Mum or Dad were having a cuppa, I’d often have it with them cuz why not, even if I just finished my morning coffee. So I’d typically have 1-3 cups of coffee daily. Or sometimes I’d have some iced coffee or something like that, but I don’t really see it as regular coffee.
I always thought I had strangely high tolerance to caffeine, all the more strangely that things have suddenly changed at some point. In the past, I never felt particularly affected by coffee, as in, I never noticed that having coffee later in the day would interfere with my circadian rhythm, or even when I had my daily morning coffee, despite it was always strong coffee, it had never made me jittery or make me feel somehow extremely full of beans, just to a degree that was desirable or sometimes it didn’t even do that. I was actually often quite surprised whenever I heard someone saying that they get headaches from too much coffee, or coffee in general, no matter the amount, or can’t drink it past certain hour. But I supposed I might have it after my Mum, who is also very much dependent on her coffee and it doesn’t matter for her system if she drinks it at 6 AM or 11 PM.
But then, some two or three years later, I started noticing that I was often feeling shaky in the morning, all my muscles felt really tense and some even quite sore as a result, and I had loads of anxiety seemingly for no reason, or for some really trivial reasons that weren’t quite my normal, if we can’t speak about normal here that is. 😀 Despite I was all jittery and jumpy and hypervigilant, I would also feel really weak physically and often had nausea and stuff like that, which I’m not sure if it was the result of anxiety because I often feel nauseated when I’m anxious, or perhaps it was a totally independent thing. I often physically felt as if I was really hungry, but at the same time had no appetite due to nausea and could barely eat anything when I felt like that. I didn’t see the correlation of that and coffee for a long time, but at some point someone suggested to me that if I have an anxious brain, coffee could be making things worse and that’s what is the case with her. So I started observing it and, very unfortunately for me, it started to be clear that coffee could well be a culprit, because my weird symptoms would start soon after I drank it. If I drank it early enough during the day, they would usually dissipate over time, but if I happened to wake up late, or have another coffee in the afternoon, my whole day would be screwed and I had even less physical energy than before I drank the coffee, and all the energy I did have was used on dealing with anxiety, so that sometimes I would just lie in bed and be unable to stop shaking, with my brain racing 1000000 miles/h and every little thing felt absolutely creepifying so I felt like it was some sort of sim game of what it’s like to be Misha so that I could understand him better, because he’s a lot like that. Whenever I did not drink coffee at all in a day, I never had these symptoms. But still, I loved coffee so much that it took me some time to come to the conclusion that, hm, actually, it could be a good idea to quit it, if that’s what it’s doing to me. I really didn’t want to do that, because I didn’t have anything else to wake up my brain in the mornings (not that coffee did it properly anymore either) and I was desperately holding on to the hope that perhaps if I used to have such high tolerance to coffee and this thing has come on so suddenly, perhaps it’s just a phase and I’ll be back to normal soon. ‘Cause I’d never heard of anyone’s caffeine tolerance regressing like that, in fact I still haven’t and I think it would be interesting to know why this happens. But nothing was changing and so I eventually had to make that move and quit caffeine colld turkey. I guess I didn’t really have any particular withdrawal symptoms beyond my normal sluggishly booting brains and really missing the taste of coffee (which I still do very much), which was a nice surprise, as I was suspecting it would be quite nasty after years of daily coffeeing.
I was looking for some alternative and tried a lot of green teas and some even worked and weren’t as yucky as the others, but despite I tried to convince myself otherwise, I don’t really like green teas, and I didn’t like how it felt so much more like a chore compared with drinking coffee. Then I tried cocoa ‘cause my Mum read somewhere that since it also has caffeine, it can be used as a good substitute for coffee. Well, I guess if that’s true, you’d have to drink quite an impressive amount, ‘cause for me it does absolutely nothing. Still, I love to have a mug of cocoa that’s strong enough to taste almost like coffee, and it can be a great flavour substitute for coffee. I’m very envious of people who can just drink coffee no problem and whenever someone says they’ll be making coffee, I still get a bad craving, so then I drink cocoa instead. It’s not the same, but still very good. I also really like Kopiko hard candies which have some caffeine in it. I guess it wouldn’t really work on anyone unless you’re super sensitive or allergic, but it’s always something that tastes kinda like coffee. I never even tried to drink decaf ‘cause it’s profanation. As for brain-booting alternative, I just try to take in a lot of fluids (as in actual fluids, so usually simply water, not dehydrating stuff like coffee) in the morning and will suck on a few grains of our Polish Kłodawa rock salt if I feel like it.
Sometimes I do give in and have a cup of coffee, but it’s very rarely, and I always have to assess beforehand what my anxiety level is to begin with, so that it doesn’t get through the roof, and make sure I don’t have to do any peopling or other stuff for which you at least need to make an impression of functioning, and if I can allow myself for that, I’ll have that cup of coffee on occasion, even if I’ll regret it half an hour later. I remember one time after I’ve already quit coffee, but my Dad was having one on a Sunday morning and I decided I can’t be worst, so I had one too, and then we went for lunch to a restaurant, but I was so anxious and shaky that I couldn’t even hold my utensils properly, and was sure that someone is going to see it and think I’d either had something a lot stronger that just coffeine, or that I’m having a seizure or something like that, which obviously didn’t make me feel any less anxious, even though theoretically I’m pretty sure that people rarely notice my shaking even if it feels really intense from my perspective. So I’ll never do coffee again unless I’m absolutely sure that I won’t be going out anywhere or dealing with people etc.
How about your coffee intake? Or if you don’t drink coffee at all, do you have a drink that is like a part of your routine, like coffee is to a lot of folks? 🙂