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It sounds kind of weak to be writing up a journal on this forum to quit something so trivial as caffeine, but caffeine has never been trivial for me.
I guess the worst thing about caffeine, aside from the addiction, is the terror and fear that I feel when I'm unwell in some way. Recently, I experienced a rather unfortunate bout of illness that started with a bacterial infection, involved a foot injury and later continued into a terrible flu where the symptoms would play musical chairs for what new ailment wanted to be the king of the hill for a day.
During the above illness, I went through minor panic attacks where I would 'over feel' issues with my body and my mind would link them to worse illness that I don't have. I'd sit or stand or, a little gingerly, pace around my room crying or verbally expressing my fear. It would last an hour max and then subside. (I'm still suffering from the foot issue and experiencing this still.)
These panic attacks are a throwback from my one and only major withdrawal (kratom). It's that little feeling of sensational change followed by a welling fear and an attachment to a topic related to my unwellness and then either crying or me verbally calming myself down that follows. I had this at exactly 6pm (sometimes a little later) every single day during kratom withdrawal and for a week or two after in a lesser, more manageable form. This panic has returned this time around during what has, honestly, been quite an ordeal already.
The second worst (group) of things that are really bad about caffeine for me are (in order of agony) vertigo, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, increased social phobia, the crash, and so on.
Every 1.5 months (on average and more so of late) I'll run into a wall. Caffeine is wonderful for 3 days after getting clean and foolishly returning, but after awhile it's toxicity starts to overwhelm me. Maybe this is lack of sleep or using it to hide fatigue, but I always eventually break, swear myself off it, recover some and then listen to the voices in my head (addicts will understand this) that tell me quite rationally that I should have a coke or a Red Bull because "I'll feel so much better".
The brain tends to lie.
What ensues on breaking down is vertigo such that walking across the road is a wild theme park ride and dizziness that makes room spin. This occurs whether I increase or decrease the amount of caffeine I am taking.
Withdrawal this time won't be pleasant. Withdrawal doesn't mean a headache or two for me. I experience terror. Everything is scary. Sometimes I'm scared and I know there's no reason. Sometimes I cry and there's no good reason. I'm needy and seek pity and a sniveling, greasy addict when I'm coming off. It's always been the emotional element that attaches itself to the minor physical withdrawal symptoms that gets me and ends up making me give in. The amount of times I have been staring up at the ceiling and decided it's either all night insomnia and terror (a wd symptom) or no terror and some mild insomnia and chosen the later are quite a few. Staring at the ceiling becomes a new pastime and you wouldn't want to be whoever I'm dating at the time. I'm both needy and a pain in the ass to be around (people don't like dating someone who is no fun for long).
I guess what is important for me to remember going forward is that caffeine was good when I was a young man and my body could tolerate it but all things have to come to an end sometime. Honestly, I used to love coffee ('used to' because I've become allergic to it in my old age) and it still smells and looks so good, but now I'm addicted to crap like Coke Zero and Red Bull and I could do without the extra expense when these two substances taste really bad. I can't keep on thinking like I used to.
Caffeine makes me dumber. I can't study for the fear sometimes and for the mental fatigue and brain fog it gives. It's always been a mystery to me why I can sometimes be so super fluent and articulate in English (my mother tongue) and several times better when I'm in withdrawal in my second language. It's not so much anymore. Caffeine makes me dumber. I make worse decisions, I can't think clearly and, with a valid reason to fear, makes me unable to act sanely when sanity is welcome.
Caffeine also makes me socially weaker. I can't meet people's eyes on caffeine. My work suffers, my relationships stagnate and are disrupted (often by my retarded strung out behavior or irritability when I'm breaking down), and I'm generally just living as good a life as I would like. When I'm clean or in withdrawal, this is usually not the case. I'm better than what caffeine alone can make me. Without caffeine I have the chance to be a reasonable, normal (far less moody) person. It's something I'm genuinely looking forward to.
Caffeine also does a lot of other things that don't really help (e.g., makes me speak to fast when I need to be articulate).
Right now (at the time of this post) I'm still suffering from foot issues that need to resolve before I can put myself into a place where I'm going to be emotional and terrified now and then. Hence, this journal is mostly going to be me talking about that before I do a slow but forceful tapering off Red Bull and Coke Zero. That will be documented here as well. After that, the real battle begins. Staying clean is hard when I can walk to the bottom floor of my apartment and buy a Coke Zero from the vending machine. There are dozens of stores selling this stuff. Unfortunately, it's not quite as bad as coffee, which was genuinely making me mentally ill for a while at the end there. The battle to stay off is always harder than the battle to get off for me. We'll see how I go.
Thanks for reading. Most of this, bear in mind, is for my future self: The one that will come back and read this and remember that caffeine was that bad and he needs to come off and stay off once more or just plain stay off (whatever might be the case). To my future self I say, "Don't go back down that road. It's not worth it. It never will be again."
JackHolmes added 1 Minutes and 33 Seconds later...
To any moderators that see my journal, if you could disable the post editing function on my account, that'd be great. I tend to parse out things later and, in this case, that probably is a bad idea. I'd like to talk impersonally about my personal life.
JackHolmes added 15 Minutes and 19 Seconds later...
I'd also like to add another point for why caffeine is terrible for me.
I've gained so much weight from binges inspired by not having enough caffeine in my body. This stuff is just about as bad as alcohol for me in the sense that it can dull out my eating inhibition and make 2000 calories of junk food or 'those extra few items' (read: mass calories) a good idea.
I need to remember how I went from 72kg after a good diet (in the days where coffee was around and I could use it to blunt my appetite) to 82kg. So many days I did well for myself. It was those days when I forgot to drink enough or the 'impossible to calculate' needed amount of caffeine was 10-20mg too low (seriously, 10-20mg...) I could have done great all week at maintaining my weight, but one 2000 calorie binge was enough to ruin all that adherence.
Caffeine, above most other things, has made me fatter than I feel comfortable with. It's also contributed to health issues from being fat that I could have avoided had I kicked this in the butt some time ago.
Without caffeine (after the withdrawal binging) I can control my weight because brain chemically induced binges won't be something I have on a regular basis. Without caffeine I might actually be able to be the man I really would prefer to be (on the outside).
Last edited by JackHolmes; 08-01-2017 at 12:41.
Reason: Automerged Doublepost
It doesnt sound like caffeine is a trivial thing at all for you JackHolmes. What you describe sounds pretty horrible (both the effects of caffeine itself and what you experience when you stop taking it). I don't think you are weak at all for writing about this and trying to find ways to deal with it so it stops being the cycle of use and attempts to stop and relapses. Regardless of the substance, if you are having these difficulties then it is serious and you are right to try to find better ways to deal with it!
Have you considered seeking help with the anxiety and panic attacks? I wouldnt recommend use of drug therapies for those unless a doctor who specializes in such things recommends it. Even then I would advise real caution since dependence on benzodiazapine's is something I would not wish on my worst enemy. It is hellish beyond any other I have experienced. However, for some people the use of benzos to deal with panic attacks is very useful and doesnt lead to increased dosing and tolerance and the markers of dependence and addiction. A good therapist may be able to give you some cognitive behavioural techniques to help you overcome the anxiety, avoid panic and deal with the way caffeine has become intertwined with these problems for you.
Best of luck with this, and never feel you shouldnt write about this, the forum is for all of us with whatever drug not just some subset!
Thanks, Calliope. It really means a lot hearing that here.
The main issues with the therapy route is cost and language. I could try something internationally, but again cost comes into it. I would have done this quite awhile ago if I had the resources to make it happen.
On the benzos I couldn't agree more. Kratom withdrawal was far worse than caffeine withdrawal and that doesn't come close to what harder medication would be like for me. A drug based treatment route probably wouldn't be something I could consider either.
JackHolmes added 63 Minutes and 35 Seconds later...
Today I woke up to fear - again.
The thing about being actually, legitimately scared AND having caffeine withdrawal from overnight abstinence is that it can be fairly overpowering. On the one hand, I know that I'm not really in my right mind and I should be careful and, on the other hand, my mind has some legitimate sounding concerns. That's the double whammy of caffeine withdrawal and the mind's general trickery.
Today's bout ended in me going to the doctor, who was closed for reasons I'm not privy too (no reason given). Instead, I went to my other doctor who doesn't speak English, but has a much better grasp of bedside manner and who I pretty much asked the questions I want to ask to (not really understanding the answer fully) and got some help. He recommended me to another doctor for some adjustments that he believes will help the healing process and I'm with him as the adjustments he made himself really helped.
So, I guess sometimes this whole fear thing can be a good thing (this has happened a few times lately, but I still don't like being terrified).
Today I think I really recognized that I can be afraid and act correctly and that sometimes that fear is good, BUT that the caffeine adds a side to things that isn't really needed. Part of trusting myself is realizing that I will be afraid and I will seek help responsibly. Stopping this addiction isn't going to somehow make me fearless. It's only going to remove a good hefty chunk of the unnecessary fear that I feel. I feel, after today, that maybe that's something I'd like to experience: Being afraid and acting responsibly without the 'extra' terror.
Another thing that came out of last night is that I realized that there is ONE thing I can do when I'm terrified out of my wits and that is cry.
I can cry.
That's doing something about my problems.
Crying is a solution.
It seems strange as a guy to say that, but I'm fine with not being tough. What I'm not fine with is powerlessness. Crying is a choice, an action, when there is nothing that can be done to ease things. I'm terrified. I cry and feel better.
Realizing that I can just sit there and sob my ass off until I feel like I'm ready to stop is a good thing.
I will never be a movie star hero who takes a cancer proclaimation on the chin with a stiff controlled face. I'm always going to freak out and feel fear. Definitely, that feeling will be less without caffeine in my life, but it's not going to magically go away. Probably it'll be more managable and I can make the right decisions when I feel it instead of the wrong ones.
That's all for today's wisdom.
Aside from that I'm thinking I'll try to stabilize my intake right now to two 500ml bottles of Coke Zero and one 185ml can of Red Bull. This might not seem a lot to normal people, but the 170mg of caffeine it represents is a mountain for me. (Shockingly, that's less than a cup of coffee.)
After I've stabilized for awhile (probably until I'm comfortable with being injuried for a good while), I'll start cutting down gradually and start recording that here. As I got of coffee by tapering down from 1 cup to zero by cutting in 1/4 increments for 10 days at a time, I'll probably just do that. It always sucks for a few days, but after day 7 or so I'm ready to drop down. The first drop is always the worst for me. The only thing I didn't do well last time was to not stabilize at a cup first. I was drinking maybe 2 cups a day (?) and that really kicked my ass going down to 1 cup (a 50% cut rather than a 25% cut in intake).
Otherwise, I'm considering joining the online service Talk Space for US$128 a month for one month to get me through the worst of it. They offer a text based service for that price where I can interact with a properly certified therapist via text message and they have some addiction specialists as well, so I probably can find someone to help me with my specific issues. I think it would really help to have a professional to talk to in conjunction with this online forum thread to remind me of what I'm going through and what I went through when I'm suffering from withdrawal.
That's all for today. Thanks for reading.
Last edited by JackHolmes; 09-01-2017 at 13:36.
Reason: Automerged Doublepost
I'm allergic to coffee nowadays. This developed last year. It's something that happens as people get older. It's not super common, but considering how sensitive I am to these kinds of substances I suppose it's more likely.
Unfortunately, it's not the caffeine that I'm allergic to in the coffee, but something else within it. Decaf also makes me feel terrible (I get the classic itching around the lips and nose as well). Soft drinks containing caffeine don't have a negative effect, however.
Tea dehydrates me pretty promptly. I also get stomach upset. I don't get this with most herbal teas, but the main ones that taste okay with caffeine in them all make me nauseous.
JackHolmes added 15 Minutes and 42 Seconds later...
This will probably merge with my previous comment.
I decided to take the leap of faith and joined Talk Space (an online therapist and client matching service mainly focusing on message based therapy with the option for video therapy at a higher price). My therapist seems nice. We haven't really got talking yet, but it's nice having a private space to talk about my health anxiety and the issues surrounding it.
One thing that I've started to realize is that I am going to have to deal with why I drink caffeine as part of giving up caffeine. An example is that I frequently drink caffeinated beverages to overcome the anxiety I feel in some social situations. However, often it's tiredness or lack of caffeine that causes this anxiety. Underlying this is the belief that I can't get by in social situations without caffeine in my system. This said, I have evidence in the form of hundreds and hundreds of experiences (or at least dozens) where I have been able to perform just fine in social situations without having had caffeine recently or being in withdrawal.
In some ways I feel like this kind of thinking is cyclical. One thing leads to the other. It's like a snake eating it's own tail. Considering how that must hurt, I figure it's a good example of how these things can feel.
What I'm hoping is that therapy will uncover some of the core issues that are keeping caffeine in my life and help me to see them in a more realistic light or move past them. I think without that (or at least a reduction) I will always be going back to caffeine the moment I experience something where I would usually make use. I think a lot of addicts can probably relate to that. There'll be a trigger then use. That's, at least, how it has been working for me.
Otherwise, today I went to the doctor and got some clarification on my foot issue and am now spending most of my time between lying in bed and sitting against the wall in any position that doesn't cause pain. The key with recovery is rest in my case. The doctor told me that to reach the first point of recovery I must work towards reducing those things that irritate my foot (walking, standing and moving without caution) and then work towards reducing the core issue for the goal of getting pain free. After that we can work on making sure I stay pain free.
The journey isn't really one that I'm confident about. I suffer from a lot of anxiety about medical situations that makes it hard to be positive and realistic about where I am right now in my recovery from my injury. Removing caffeine from my life will pretty much have to wait until I'm mostly or fully recovered. However, I plan to keep this diary to discuss in an impersonal way some of the addiction related stuff I discover as I go along in the recovery process.
Here's hoping my recovery from my injury goes well, so I can undertake the harder recovery that caffeine will require.
Last edited by JackHolmes; 12-01-2017 at 12:47.
Reason: Automerged Doublepost