I have a confession. I’m a Caffeine Addict. Seriously. Consume drinks with this in it to much and for to long and I become dependent upon it. I’ve been wondering if this unwelcome state is nature or nurture. After much consideration I’ve decided that it’s both.

My parents have never been especially health conscious. I’m not saying that they attempted to induce heart attacks in their children, only ensuring that we got our five a day was enough for them. This semi-healthy state of affairs led me to a situation in my adolescence that I’m sure many people are familiar with. I had soda for blood and sugar for bones. I subsisted on junk food, eating candy and chocolate like no tomorrow. I had at least six cans of soda every day and steered clear of any that had ‘Diet’ on them. This might’ve gone on indefinitely if not for an occurrence one summer. I went to camp.

My grandmother decided to pay for me to fly to Texas and participate in a month long acting camp. I would be living with a family who’d feed me, shelter me, and make sure I didn’t wander off a cliff. The couple was nice and their daughter and I were quick friends. The problem? They were health nuts. Junk food did not exist in their house. No carbonated can cast a shadow in their fridge. I went from consuming nothing but sugar and caffeine to having none.

Suffice to say, I crashed. I was lethargic and tired with my head in a state that I can only describe as ‘fuzzy’. I was down right miserable for several days until we took a trip to a museum of sorts. In the lobby was a Starbucks and I happened to have money. Five dollars later I had a comfortable buzz in my head and was on the go, go, go. I didn’t get to sleep until two that night, but hey, I felt fine.

Over the years this experience has stayed with me. As my understanding of healthy eating grew and I started to engage in deliberate physical exercise, I started cutting back on my caffeine intake. I imposed limits, specifying certain dates that such things could be consume with exceptions being holidays or really long work days. Hey. If you worked from seven until two in the morning you’d need more than coffee, and more than one caffeinated drink to remain on your feet. Alas, an addiction to caffeine is a slippery slope and can all to easily creep back up on.

About a month ago, I started writing short stories for competitions. The first few had imminent deadlines from when I started and needed to be done pronto. On top of that I had posts for my blog I did on a daily basis, a story I’m trying to get picked up by a literary agent, another story I’m trying to finish in time to submit for a competition in May, and–of course–my part time job. Doing all this forced me to stay up until the wee hours of the morning. I was waking up on a daily basis exhausted even though I work evenings and can sleep in. My solution? Drink caffeine.

Sadly, this had to be done on a daily basis and I got to the point where I needed more than one such beverage just to wake up, never mind getting through the day. This came to a head a few weeks ago when I ended up having coffee, soda, and a Monster just to keep me awake before night fall. This was ridiculous and something had to give.

I’ve spent the past week or so trying to get myself back to my previous caffeine regimen with only minor success. I’m working on getting myself to bed earlier as well. If I don’t stay up half the night I won’t feel so tired and–hopefully–will have less of an urge to reach for a Monster, or the Folger’s can. I’m hoping that this week will be the one where I succeed and place my caffeine addiction in the back seat where it belongs. I’ve promised myself that–if I’m successful–I’ll permit my brain an extra cup of coffee come friday. I don’t know if it’ll work, or if bribing a caffeine addiction with more caffeine is a wise idea, but only the coming days will tell.

I suppose it isn’t that bad. There are–after all–worse things to be than a Caffeine Addict.

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Disclaimer: I do not own the imagery used in this blog post and have no artistic claim to it.

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