One Year (mostly) Without Caffeine

August 2015, I was in Brazil with a headache. I had been in Colombia prior to arriving in Brazil, and while both countries export a ton (actually, many tons) of coffee, the coffee in the hotels where I was staying was terrible. I could barely stomach it, so the early withdrawal symptoms of lack of caffeine were starting to set in. The flights to and from Brazil suck. They are overnight flights in crowded airplanes. On the flight home, I flew from Teresina, Brazil south to Sao Paolo, then north (over Teresina) to Miami for over eight hours. While on that flight, I contemplated my headache and decided that since I was already a couple days into withdrawal, I may as well give up on caffeine; something I’d been thinking about for a while.


I’m a pretty anxious person. My mind is always racing, chasing the branches in the decisions in front of me as far as I can. When I lay down to sleep, I’m thinking about the next morning, creating mental checklists, which sometimes make their way to paper I keep in my nightstand. I don’t need chemicals to enhance the racing. I need sleep. I need clarity. But I love coffee and Lapsang Souchong tea and Chai Lattes.


Since last August, I’ve had very, very few caffeinated beverages. I have probably had about 15 Chai Lattes and maybe one or two Diet Cokes. I’ve found a couple of teas I really like, but my favorite, Bengal Spice from Celestial Seasonings, still is not as satisfying as good coffee in the morning. I still drink decaf coffee a few times a week, which I know (stop reminding me) has a very small amount of caffeine in it.


I miss the caffeinated beverages I love, but I feel better. I have slept better this year than ever. It has been easier and easier to get up before dawn to go running. When I read at night, my mind focuses on what I’m reading instead of tomorrow. During the day, I’m always fighting A.D.D. but the battle is a little easier now.


Coffee and caffeine aren’t bad things. It just turned out that they were bad things for me. This realization has led me to question a lot of other things that I do that may help me feel better and perform better. I’ve radically increased my vegetable intake and reduced my cheese and bread consumption (though, tonight, I am having grilled cheese for dinner). I don’t bring my phone in the bedroom and I’ve taken social media and news apps off my iPad. Basically, the iPad has become a fancy Kindle that I can also read Marvel comics on.


What good things in your life aren’t good for you? Join me on a journey of self-evaluation.


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