Yes, coffee withdrawal is real. I know because I went through it without even realizing what was happening to me.
I wasn’t always a coffee drinker. In grade school, I remember having hot cocoa in the morning. In college, it was loose leaf tea. It wasn’t until I was in law school that I started consuming copious amounts of coffee.
Late night partying and early morning classes just didn’t go well together, and I needed a boost before my first class. Coffee drinking turned into a habit and, eventually, I became psychologically dependent on it to get through my day everyday. The time came when I didn’t even have the energy for my morning shower without having downed a cup of coffee. After giving birth to Sam, we had a coffee maker installed in the bedroom. The girl just had such peculiar sleeping hours and I so needed to stay awake.
In time, coffee drinking became an obsession. It wasn’t just about drinking coffee to get a boost—it was as much about consuming good coffee. Instant powdered coffee gave me neither the mental nor emotional high to start my day. If anything, bad coffee made me feel down.
By the time I started working from home, I was consuming an average of six cups of coffee per day. I could work for 12 hours (with meal breaks, of course) without slowing down and still sleep soundly for eight straight hours.
It worked fine for me until I realized how much extra sugar I was consuming with my coffee. I’ve never drank black coffee. I want sugar and Coffeemate in my coffee. I calculated and that’s one teaspoon of sugar plus the sugar content in Coffeemate per cup of coffee. My, bad.
On the other hand, I’ve never taken my tea with sugar and milk. I take my tea plain. So, I figured that if I could have just one cup of coffee upon waking up—just for the boost—and have tea the rest of the day, that’s a lot less sugar in my body. And since tea has caffeine too, well, there was no reason to feel like a zombie without the usual six cups of coffee everyday.
Two days ago, I made a decision. One cup of coffee first thing upon waking up and freshly-steeped loose-leaf jasmine green tea the rest of the day.
Yesterday, I cooked three dishes for lunch. I made poqui-poqui for no-meat-eater Sam, and fiery adobo with coleslaw on the side for us omnivores. By the time I was done, my knees hurt, my hands were shaking with fatigue and I was irritable as hell.
Worse, I felt and acted depressed. Alex asked what was wrong, I said I was tired and I was sad. She looked and sounded worried because that was so unlike me. I went around moping for a few hours until, out of the blue, Alex asked how much coffee I’ve had since I woke up. One cup, I said. And the significance of her question sank in. I was going on withdrawal.
You’d think that “withdrawal” is the wrong word because that’s a term used for drug addicts trying to kick their addiction. It isn’t the wrong word. A heavy coffee drinker does go on withdrawal if the usual consumption of coffee is drastically cut down. The caffeine in coffee (also found in tea and soda drinks) is a nervous system stimulant. Take it away abruptly and the effect is withdrawal. I know. I went through it yesterday. Apparently, the amount of caffeine in the loose-leaf jasmine green tea was not enough to offset my usual supply of caffeine from coffee.
I had to rethink my resolution to drink only one cup of coffee per day. When I woke up this morning, I had my usual cup of coffee. But, instead of pouring myself a second cup like I usually do, I made a cup of tea instead. I had my second cup of tea after lunch and, an hour later, my second cup of coffee for the day.
That’s what I’ve consumed as I write down this post. There’s no fatigue, nothing in my body aches and I’m in a jolly good mood. I do intend to have a third cup of coffee after dinner and a third cup of tea with our before-bedtime-movie.
I think that makes better sense. Halve the amount of my coffee consumption until my body can handle just one cup of coffee per day. Not bad. That’s minus three teaspoons of sugar in my body today.
BUT if I can learn to drink coffee black, then there’s no reason to slash down my coffee consumption. Some say it’s just a matter of getting used to. If I learned to drink tea with neither sugar nor milk, perhaps, I can learn to appreciate coffee in the same way.
The stock photos in this post are from Pixabay.