06 January 2016

new years resolutions. still no coffee.

So it's been a few months since I've stopped drinking coffee. Five months almost, to be exact. I just felt compelled to write a blurb on my thoughts on quitting addictive substances, since it's quite a process. You would think that by the fifth month, you'd be in the clear from all feelings surrounding the matter, but this is actually far from the truth. In reality, from what I've read, and based on my experience, it can take years to go through all of the withdrawal stages and come out of the other side.

Speaking of time lines, over a year ago, I made an effort to quit all caffeine, but primarily coffee. I held strong from May 2014-October 2014 in terms of chocolate, from what I can remember, and then started having decaf coffee in Nov/Dec 2014 with caffeinated on weekends, and before I knew it it became and every day caffeinated-thing and then one in the morning and a Starbucks at night, and chocolate when I felt like it. That was up until August 2015, when I put on the brakes, because I realized my addiction to caffeine was negatively impacting my life in so many ways.

Since August 2015, I have had maybe 3-4 cups of coffee -- actually, make that 3-4 HALF cups of coffee... a few of those were actually quarter cups. I have also had some chocolate...pretty much once a month until December, where I went a little haywire, given the holidays. However, I've since gotten back on track with still no coffee, and no more chocolate. Of note, even having had the 3-4 half/quarter cups of coffee since August and the few relapses on the chocolate end is a tremendous improvement from having caffeine every day and multiple times per day, prior to August 2015.

Having the caffeine free Ginger Ale soda from Trader Joe's has helped, along with gum. Somehow the addiction to caffeine is correlated with a craving for sugar, I've realized, as having sugar helps abate the caffeine craving. However, I don't have much sugar as is. It's just given that having had chocolate not too long ago has caused me to think about coffee, the sugared caffeine free drinks/gum are the least of the two evils, and I'm better off this way.

I noticed when I had the chocolate in December (some Hershey's bars and some Hershey kiss/pb Christmas cookies), the chocolate provided a momentary lift. Esp the Hershey's bars. Apparently, according to something I read, it has something to do with the sugar being released from the liver or something that produces this effect. Pardon me if I'm scientifically incorrect. It has something to do with sugar being released somewhere though, that causes an instant lift.

Anyway, I find that I have been dreaming and feel much more relaxed off caffeine. I do still feel a pull toward it, esp in this cold weather. It would be nice to have some Starbucks. I have some gift cards to Starbucks, which make it all the more easy access. However, rather than give into temptation, I am going to just get the herbal teas when I go. I do enjoy the Oprah Chai tea, which is free from caffeine.

Basically, the point of this post is to describe how coming off of caffeine is no easy process. There is no quick fix. I have had lengthy periods of abstinence in the past, and notice my willpower has weakened with age. I had quit coffee from 2008 to probably 2013 or so. Still, I was regularly consuming chocolate during that period. However, I didn't notice my addiction to it until I started consuming coffee regularly.

It helps to keep in mind that all will be okay, if I stay away from caffeine for a while, if not for longer than a while. It feels like I'm missing out on something awesome, and in a way, I know I am, because nothing compares to the flavor of a nice dark brew of coffee. However, the momentary lift is not worth the hours/days/months of aggravation that ensue whenever I give into temptation. The sleeplessness, high level of irritation, skin issues, short fuse, reduced appetite, lack of rem sleep. I don't miss those negative side effects.

So, cheers to this continuation of a resolution made prior to the new year to keep on this path of no caffeine and/or chocolate.

One more note, there were a few days I had gone to my parents' house around New Year's and I thought to have some coffee if they had any left over, and those few times, the coffee storage thingy had been washed and was on the drying rack. I guess in a way it was symbolic to me. Like the gods trying to assist me with my efforts to abstain.

Having Starbucks gift cards lying around (as given to me as Christmas gifts) is merely another test of strength. It's like 'can she resist when it's in her hands and the Starbucks is right around the corner...?' Sometimes my emotions get the better of me. Like today. I'm in a good mood and it seems a cup of coffee would make it all the better, yet I'm feeling good because I don't have caffeine in my system, so I'm not about to ruin that.

My goal at the start of this (back in August) was to make it to June 2016, so onward we go, even though I feel like my fingers are crossed at this point.

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