For the love of Cawfee!

Hi peeps! Wow it’s been ages since I’ve written a post. Bad Nat! Decided to get back into my blogging this year after a not so great first half to the year!
Anyway, that’s another story. For now I wanted to share my little Caffeine withdrawal journey incase it helps anyone out there.

Let me start by giving you a little history about my Coffee consumption, and just why I’m giving it up in the first place!

I had my first cup of coffee when I was about 19 years old, I still remember it (cue music) it was a big ass latte. I’d scoff at that type of coffee now, coffee for wimps I tell ya! Anyway, I wasn’t actually too keen on the taste at first, but as is the case with so many people the taste grew on me.

Before I knew it I was drinking a couple a week, and then when I started my first Systems Administrator post with a local company I started to drink them on a daily basis, then slowly escalated to maybe 2 coffees a day. Nothing too major…But my love of coffee only grew! Aaah nectar of the gods, the glorious smell of roasted coffee beans first thing in the morning practically left me giddy.

Fast forward a couple of jobs and an odd 8 years and I’m on the good stuff, the espressos and espresso macchiatos (I’m craving one as I type dammit) and depending on the type of day I’d had I’d easily get to 4-5 a day. Average being 3 which I suppose is not as bad as some other people. But here’s the thing, and I’d never really noticed this before or thought about it. I don’t know whether it was the stresses of work over the last few years, my decision to go freelance from a full time career, or some minor health issues that had been plaguing me for the last 6 months, but I was having some crazy mood swings, energy dips and the return of some bad anxiety.

I should probably add, if I’m being honest, I’ve had a couple of spells in my short life so far of panic attacks and anxiety issues (coupled with some Adrenal Fatigue from over exercising a few years back), but for the most part this settled in my mid twenties. But lately the anxiety had started to creep its nasty little head again. Darwin knows why the thought occurred to me but I started reading up on longterm caffeine consumption and caffeine sensitivity and just decided from one day to the next to stop drinking caffeine!

I’d heard about caffeine withdrawal and always thought it was people just being pansies, well….let me tell you it’s no cup of tea! (no pun intended) Withdrawal is absolutely real! And pretty damn nasty! So here’s my wonderful first week off the Caffeine :

Day 1 – Tuesday 

So on this first day of my mad journey, I had one last Espresso Macchiato at around 11am, and that would be my last. Not really expecting much to happen so soon I was a little surprised to feel the first effects of a pounding headache come on as I was getting ready to leave the office that day, around 6:30pm. Thought perhaps it was a coincidence so just headed home took some painkillers and carried on. They helped a little but the headache lingered on for the rest of the night. The only other thing I think worth noting is my mood that evening, probably around the time the headache started, and at first I also dismissed this as one of those days when my anxiety wanted to rear its ugly head, but it was a particularly weird mood and at first I wasn’t sure what was going on. Sure, I’d been a little down lately due to some lingering health issues, but this was something different. Incase anyone is interested in the details, it was as if a gloomy dark morbid fog had settled over my mood, I felt detached from myself and there was fear and worry when there was no reason to feel either, a negative scary hopeless feeling I couldn’t shake. Pretty weird! Had been a long time since I felt anything close to that, and I became aware all of a sudden I was having an anxiety episode, and just tried to distract myself and wait for it to pass. Which it did just before going to sleep. And I slept like a baby.

Day 2 – Wednesday – Caffeine 0mg
Woke up feeling relatively ok on the second day, apart from a slight headache, and the slightest bit of unease over previous nights episode. But this increased as the day went to make day 2 the worst mood wise by far. Energy levels are terrible, at their worst mid afternoon (when I normally have my coffee), I was struggling to keep my eyes open. The headache was mild and by late afternoon was pretty much gone. But my mood was really weird for most of the day, peaking at around 9-10pm. Pretty much the same as day 1 with the fear, anxiety, hopelessness, foggy mind, sense of detachment, but add to that a sense of hysteria in my mind that I couldn’t settle. It quite frankly scared the crap out of me, I’d go as far as to say it was like my head was torturing me and there was no hope of any improvement, like I would go mad. But as per previous night, this settled around 11pm. Weird…anyway..slept like a baby again.

Day 3 – Thursday – Caffeine 0mg

No headaches today, woke up worried about last nights hellish episode. Mood was better, but I would say a generalized anxiety had settled over me. It’s a catch 22, day 2’s episode scared me, but when I felt better I ended up remembering and worrying it would happen again! Hey ho…can’t be a coincidence, coffee does alter brain chemistry. Anyway, apart from the low mood, I was still feeling pretty exhausted. Slept well again that night.

Day 4 – Friday – Caffeine 20mg approx

No headaches. Feeling slightly more upbeat, but still feeling ‘weird’. I say weird, and this is hard to explain, but the anxiety attack left me feeling very unsettled, and like the world was a strange and negative place. Anyone that has had this happen will know exactly what I mean, the rest must be reading this thinking what the hell are you on about? Anyway, I made a stupid mistake today! I met up with a friend for a ‘coffee’ and ordered myself a Green Tea…yes…a Green Tea! Hello?!? It didn’t occur to me till I was half way through the cup that Green Tea has caffeine. I ditched the cup and carried on drinking water. Doh!!

It wasn’t too much that I drank, so I didn’t really have any headaches. I did however feel pretty damn good for about an hour after drinking that small dose, I would go as far as to say buzzing…over such a small amount of caffeine! Was more upset with myself for not realising sooner. Anyway…still a massive caffeine cut, but a small setback. Slightly low mood in the evening, but nothing too major. Pattern is it always seems worse in the evenings, then subsides late night?

Day 5 – Saturday – Caffeine 0mg

Today was a better day. Feeling more upbeat. Nothing more to note really, slept really well.

Day 6 – Sunday – Caffeine 0mg

Great. Mood much better, of course there was that small worry at the back of my mind that the crazy mood might return, but it didn’t bother me that much…and that’s the difference. It’s amazing how brain chemistry affects mood, something that bothers you so much in a bad mood is of no consequence when you’re in a good mood. I had to remind myself of this.

Day 7 – Monday – Caffeine 100mg

Another good day. The only lingering effects of withdrawal seemed to be the low energy levels. But I messed it up big time today. I normally don’t take a PreWorkout shake when I workout, but today I did…again…not realising Pre Workout has a pretty decent kick! Here’s the thing I didn’t actually notice the caffeine content until I looked at the back of the tub 2 days later. My energy and mood was obviously through the roof for the hours afterwards, but it didn’t initially click it was the caffeine in the pre-workout dose. Aaaah hindsight.

Day 8 – Tuesday – Caffeine 0mg

Feeling as normal as I have in a while. No headaches, clear head, slight tiredness mid afternoon.

Day 9 – Wednesday – Caffeine 0mg

Felt pretty normal today for the first part of today. Noticeable drop in mood level in the evening, with slight anxiety creeping in. Not sure if related to caffeine intake on Monday?

———

I never finished publishing this article. We’re now fast forwarded 5 months and hindsight has left me with a couple of conclusions about my whole caffeine withdrawal experience. I was a little undecided about whether or not to publish this in the first place, discussing the mental hardships I went through last year is hard. But I’m happy to highlight a few things about the whole experience :

1. Caffeine withdrawal is definitely a real thing, and can be much more serious than people make out to be.

2. I do believe the level of caffeine withdrawal and whether or not it has any effect on mental health is dependant on the persons predisposition to anxiety/panic attacks in the first place. Caffeine sensitivity is higher for people like this in my opinion.

3. There are many highs and lows for weeks and months after cutting out caffeine. I would experience days of clarity and happiness, and have this followed by anxious dark days. This cycle would repeat over and over but I noticed over time, the bad days happened less regularly, and lasted for less time. It’s hard to see this pattern at first but it does happen and it does get better.

4. Caffeine most definitely alters brain chemistry. Being so similar to adenosine it binds to the brains adenosine receptors and overtime our brain creates more adenosine receptors to countaract this effect, so we require more and more caffeine to stay alert.

So it’s now 5 months later and I’m still caffeine free. I still love the taste and smell of the stuff so I have a decaf a day, seems to do the trick for me =)

So there we have it, this is a very different post from me and not at all related to the Aurora Borealis or the Northern Lights, but I felt it was worth putting out there incase anyone was experiencing similar symptoms. If it helps you out at all it was worth it =)

 

Cosmos here I come!

Figuratively speaking ofcourse! So I’ve decided! The decision I wish I’d known was the right one 7 years ago! This October I’ll be starting my course in Astronomy!

If only we had the power of hindsight in the present day we’d make all the best decisions! 🙂

It’s funny, I’m sure it’s the same for a lot of people. You either hated school, or you kind of liked it, or you loved it, but most certainly you never appreciated it and realised just how great a time it was.

So much promise and potential for the years ahead, and an endless array of career choices. But then who makes the right decisions at that age? I’ve always thought its too much to expect someone so young to know what it is they really love.

But anywhoo, here I am 7 years later 🙂 Eager and willing to learn, and with astronomy being a great passion of mine, I decided why not give the Open University a go!!

My first module starts in October, I’ve mapped out the next 4/5 years and hopefully I’ll be able to do all the modules in that span of time! My first course S104 🙂 Exploring Science.

I’m so excited! Woohoo! Hopefully I can juggle work and study commitments, not to mention P90X! Fingers crossed! It’s expensive enough so I’ll have to bloody find a way to make it work!

I shall leave you with one of the best science YouTube vids I’ve seen in a while and one which is positively making me giddy about starting my new course! (Yes I’m a nerd)

 

 

 

We have no time, to Stop & Stare.

I’ve been meaning to write this type of post for a while now, some recent events have spurred me on! It’s something that has always meant quite a lot to me.

See I’m a daydreamer, a stargazer, a wonderer 🙂 When I have a moment to myself, I’m often someplace far removed from where I currently am, with the ‘fairies’ and the ‘unicorns’, beneath the Aurora Borealis, a midst the untouched wilderness, gazing upon snow peaked mountains with nothing but the sound of the rustling leaves and birds chirping.

Some might label people like me lazy, distracted or unrealistic. I vehemently disagree ofcourse 🙂 The only difference between people who carry out their dreams and those that spend their whole lives as slaves to the work system is that one day, the former had the courage to make one of the hardest decisions of their lives, and went against conventions and followed their hearts.

By far the harder choice than to conform and follow a path that’s tried and tested, is to put aside the multitude of doubts and take the uncertain plunge into a better life for yourself.  So please, don’t feel sorry for me for not having the ‘resolve’ to endure 40 years of servitude, don’t pity me, I believe it’s far more likely I’ll like the person I am in 20 years time than you will.

So what is it I’m really rambling on about? Something that really get’s my tail feathers up. I’m talking about the dreamers of the world, the idealists, very often misunderstood and put down by the realists. I’m talking about the oppresive work and no play mentality that’s suffocating our work environments.

When did it become a sin to prioritize life over business?

When did it become wrong to spend the tiniest portion of the work day getting excited about what you might get up to on your next vacation?

After all, we spend more time at work than we do anywhere else in our lives, more than we sleep, more than we dream, more than we have fun, more than anything else. Can’t we be forgiven for living vicariously for just the shortest moments through our possible future holiday destinations?

And when the exciting time comes to book your holidays, when did it become the norm to feel guilty about asking for annual leave??? What’s the business world coming to when being given our leave entitlement almost feels like a favour’s been bestowed upon us?

What’s even worse than feeling this way, is having to worry about people higher up possibly changing their perceptions of you because you prioritize differently.

Bah, maybe we’re all imagining it, being over sensitive in worrying that if we ask for too much leave in one go, or ask too soon in the year, or ask too eagerly, or ask at the wrong time, at a busy work time, it might poorly reflect upon us and our commitment to our jobs.

Or maybe, (lot’s of maybe’s I know), maybe we’re all just becoming a little paranoid. Isn’t that just as bad? What is wrong with wanting to enjoy our lives outside of work. Why does it necessarily make us any less hardworking than the workaholic next to us?

I’d like to note, I’m meticulous, a perfectionist, and very hard on myself professionally. I like to do a good job and feel satisfied, but I sure as hell know what’s more important in the grand scheme of things. I work hard, put in extra hours when needed, try to be flexible with leave when I need to be, but enough is enough. Do we live to work, or work to live?

I know what I do. I certainly shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for feeling that way. At the end of the day, be proud of the work you do, do it well, care about it, but always remember you do it to live (a very fortunate few may feel differently). When did people start to forget this?

It’s easy to forget just how big and beautiful a place the world can be when you’re stuck in a rut, confined to a tiny narrow minded bubble people often create for themselves. Don’t ever settle and certainly don’t ever stop dreaming. I couldn’t imagine being sat in the office without the occasional day dream 🙂

There is a world of adventure out there, a world filled with beautiful crystal clear lakes, uninhibited natural wildlife, evergreen forests, arid deserts, beautiful corals, reefs and a multitude of glorious sea life underneath us, perfect white sandy beaches, green fields as far as the eye can see, all beautifully blanketed under the most spectacular universe one could ever hope to be a part of.

What is happening to those around us? When did we lose the right to just stop and simply be. When did we forget to stop and stare? When did it become so wrong to be idle? I’d like to finish the post with my favourite poem by William Henry Davies (1871 – 1940)

What is this life if full of care
We have no time to stand and stare?
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep, or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this, if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.