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Confessions of a (Former) Caffeine Addict

This kitty drank too much coffee.
This kitty drank too much coffee.

I’ve always thought that caffeine addict was just a phrase. Sure, you might find it necessary in the morning, maybe in the afternoon too, but to be addicted to coffee to the point of suffering severely if you didn’t get your dose? I had no idea that was possible.

Guess how I found out I was wrong.

The hard way, of course.

Sometime last year I noticed I was snapping at people. On a certain Internet forum, not offline. They were acting like (enter a few expletives here), but how someone else acts on an Internet forum is not my concern. My own behaviour is. And I was snapping at people. So I wondered if drinking more coffee (and energy drinks, also with caffeine) had something to do with it, and I used my Google-fu skills.

Sure enough, I’ve read a few things about chronic caffeine poisoning, and had my Aha! moment. Nervousness, check. Panicking for no good reason, check. Restlessness, check. Anxiety, check. Feeling cold in the middle of summer, check. Gastrointestinal problems, check. Difficulty concentrating, check. And so on and so forth.

Since I do pay attention to my body signals, I never got to tachycardia.

So, I was taking too much caffeine. It puzzled me a bit because the most I took during one day was two small cans of energy drinks (it says on the cans themselves you shouldn’t take more than two a day, and I was usually taking one) and one cup of coffee. It adds up, I guess, if you take it day after day after day, for several months.

No problem, I thought to myself, I’d just stop drinking coffee and energy drinks. I’d work without them somehow. I used to work without them, I can do it again.

Yeah, right.

During the first half of the coffee-quitting day, it wasn’t so bad. In the afternoon, I got the worst headache ever. If you suffer from bad migraines, you know the kind of headache I’m talking about. There was also nausea — strong and unpleasant, though it turned out I could eat without vomiting.

The headache was a caffeine withdrawal symptom. I was addicted without knowing it. This sort of addiction happens fairly often to computer programmers, writers, and many others who spend a lot of time sitting at their desks — hey, you need to stay awake and alert to do the job properly, even though sitting all day (and night, and who knows for how long) does nothing to keep you awake.

It turned out you can’t just quit drinking coffee if you’re addicted to caffeine. Err, you can, if you’re willing to suffer through an entire week of a terrible, terrible headache. I had a book to translate, so that wasn’t an option. Truth be told, that wouldn’t have been an option even without the book, not unless that was the only way. I’m not a masochist.

Fortunately, there was another way. It’s possible to gradually reduce your caffeine intake, and that’s what I did. I started with two big cups of coffee a day, and no energy drinks, and worked from there. After a while, I also started taking fencing lessons, and I believe intense physical activity helped (what a surprise, physical activity being good for you! 😆 ).

It took me several months to get rid of the addiction. It took a while just to reduce caffeine intake to one cup per day without a headache as a result. It took some time, but I knew what I was trying to achieve, and didn’t give up.

And it worked. I’m no longer addicted. I can go weeks without coffee, and now drink it only sometimes, for pleasure or in the company of others, no longer because I have to do it to avoid a headache.

Coffee is, once again, a pleasure, just the way it should be. And I’m careful not to turn it into something else.

Have you ever had problems with too much coffee?

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Do We Have To Look Busy?

Do you ever just look around you and do nothing special?

There I was, sipping McDonald’s cappuccino (not much of a choice, I know), and looking around me. It was somewhat early, so there was no crowd. Some teens were surfing the Internet — some people come to McDonald’s for free Internet alone. A middle-aged gentleman has finished reading his papers and was going through his phone. Two young women were talking and laughing.

Then I remembered other times, and not just in McDonald’s. Folks sit in such places, eat and/or drink, read newspapers, go through their phones, some have their laptops with them, some talk to other people (and check their laptops or phones at the same time)… They are all either engaged in a conversation (which is perfectly fine) or otherwise busy. It’s quite rare to see someone just eating or drinking and being idle, looking around, thinking their thoughts… It’s like everyone must do something, like it’s a crime not being busy. I caught myself thinking about tweeting, even though I had nothing to tweet about. Or thinking about reading a book, except that I had none with me.

It made me wonder: what is it that makes us believe we have to be busy at all times? Sometimes we do have to check our phones or mail or whatever even while grabbing something to eat, or prepare ourselves for some business task, but all the time? Why? Why can’t we just sit, look around ourselves, watch people, birds, cats, dogs, sunshine, think our thoughts without thinking about grocery lists or jobs?

How about you? Do you ever just sit alone with a cup of coffee or a snack and allow yourself to get lost in thoughts, or to just look around you, without the need to take a picture of it?

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Still Looking For Coffee Cats, I Guess

Listen to the zen kitty.

Every once in a while, I check out what keywords people used and ended up here. I wrote about the results here — basically, people look for coffee&cats and find me.

So, here’s a new round of the keywords people used and got here, it’s from the last month.

– coffee cat
– cat coffee (yeah, you can try it like that too)
– need more coffee (try making some?)
– cat with coffee
– coffee cats
– 10 matchstick triangles (probably because of The Bone Cathedral)
– blue and white animated bird (this one, perhaps?)
– how do you find me? (heh)
– ivana skrobonja (sorry to disappoint you, but that’s not me; my name is Ivana and I translate and sometimes write for Goran Skrobonja, who’s a writer, a translator and a publisher, so maybe that’s what confused Google to lead you here)
– kitty doing zen (I agree, cats are totally zen)

The first results were from March, and these are from June; do you think I should be writing about other things, not just cats and coffee?

Oh, wait, I’m already doing that. Google Almighty doesn’t seem to notice, though. Not that it troubles me; cats and coffee and zen are fine subjects, and if that’s what I’m recognized for, nice.

And, since you’re here, would you like some coffee? Take your pick:

Coffee?