Christmas is a time where many people cook turkey. As a consequence, the days after christmas is a time where many people have cold turkey. A cold turkey sandwich. For example. I did not cook any turkey this christmas. Yet I decided to go for the cold turkey.
For many years, I have been physically addicted to caffeine. If I do not get my daily coffee I get a headache. Therefore I have a cup of coffee every day. Usually several cups. For many years, I have thought about going cold turkey and get rid of the caffeine addiction. I have heard that it only takes a week, but it must be a week where one has nothing to do and is willing to waste. For many years, that week has never arrived.
When drinking my third cup of coffee at a local bar in the afternoon on christmas day I thought to myself whether I should use my week-of-rest between christmas and new year to get rid of my caffeine addiction. It was true, I had nothing to do that week, except I had some plans to work on my novel, write a few short stories, read a few books, write a few hiking blogs, work on my website, buy another pair of glasses, have a haircut, do some hiking, go clothes shopping, and perhaps some other things that I have fortunately forgotten by now.
Anyways, since none of the things mentioned above are essential I decided to go for the cold turkey. I decided to have a decaffeinated week and see if I could get over my caffeine addiction. To make things more interesting, I decided to keep a log book. But first, I went home and made myself another cup of coffee. For some reason I argued that it would be best to go into the cold turkey loaded with caffeine.
Day 1 (December 26th)
9.00: On a normal morning, the first thing I do is to unconsciously go into the kitchen and make myself a cup of coffee. Now I am conscious of not making myself a cup of coffee. I feel that I don’t need one. But, man, do I want one!
13.30: Spent the morning at a cafÃ© without a coffee. Proud. I feel no withdrawal syndromes yet.
18.30: So far so good. Maybe those lack of caffeine withdrawal syndromes are just a myth.
22.00: Nothing really. Maybe a slight headache, but nothing to write home about.
On this first day I found hardly any withdrawal syndromes. Spent the day wandering between cafÃ©s and editing one of my novel drafts. Mostly recapping what that story was about — I had not touched it for months. It felt a bit odd going to cafÃ©s without ordering coffee. Instead I replaced it with bubbly water and beer — not as a mixture though.
Day 2 (December 27th)
9.00: I got headache. I am feeling dizzy. The withdrawal syndromes have arrived.
13.20: Headache. Dizziness. The condition seems to be stable though. It is perhaps not the most productive day of my life but I managed to work a bit on my novel. And cook eggs … we’ll see if I can now slice some bread and chorizo.
21.00: I slept quite a bit today. The headache almost gone but I am very tired. All in all though, I am not feeling bad.
Today I felt the expected withdrawal syndromes. Although, they were not as strong as I had expected. I had headache most of the day and felt very tired. Yet I managed to do some editing of my novel and some reading. I must admit however that I was very tired all day and the siesta was a long one.
Day 3 (December 28th)
14.00: Only a slight headache but tired. Nothing that will tie me to the bed today. I am getting disappointed in this experiment. I thought it would be tougher. Maybe I have seen too many movies where heroin addicts go on cold turkey. I guess caffeine is a bit weaker drug. Anyways, I guess I should not complain too much.
22.00: Tired. I can feel a slight hint of headache, but nothing much.
This caffeine cold turkey is turning into a total disappointment. It is too easy. Ok, I admit that I did not do much today and was tired all day, but it is far from the ordeal I had expected this cold turkey to be.
Day 4 (December 29th)
9.15: Slight headache comes and goes. Everything happens very slowly.
21.15: Extremely tired. Did manage to go for a four hour hike in the mountains of Montseny — more precisely to the top of Tagamanent (1056m). The tiredness is probably a combination of two factors.
I had set myself the goal of staying awake beyond 11PM. At 10PM I was completely exhausted and decided to go to bed with the current book I am reading — The manuscript of Ã–rn Featherby’s and JÃ³n MagnÃºsson’s movie about the commotion at the restaurant by JennÃ½ Alexson by Bragi Ã“lafsson. Although the title is long enough to put me to sleep right away on a good day, I managed to read one chapter before falling asleep.
Day 5 (December 30th)
10.15: Feeling pretty fresh after sleeping 12 hours.
15.00: It was really really hard to say no when the waiter came and asked me if I wanted a post lunch coffee. To add an insult to the injury, the second waiter came by as well to ask me the same question. At that point I thought it would be best for me to pay and run out before it was too late.
17.15: Only an occasional slight headache in the afternoon but still a bit tired.
Today was another lazy day. The highlight was that I could manage to stay awake until midnight. When I decided to write this log I thought it would be a story of an epic journey through the pain and suffering that follows the battle with caffeine addiction. Instead, it is turning out to be a fairly boring tale of a tired guy. Oh, well …
Day 6 (December 31st)
9.00: Woke up with a massive headache. Hurray! Something is happening.
15.00: Headache is gone. Tired though. The beers I had before lunch might have contributed to either (what can one drink but beer when one cannot drink coffee when meeting an old friend in a bar).
21.30: Feeling pretty good after a two hour long siesta and a nice meal. Tired, but determined to stay awake past midnight and go out to celebrate the new year.
I made a significant milestone today as I managed to stay awake until midnight. Now, going out to celebrate the new year.
Day 7 (January 1st)
6.00: Feeling fine. Who wouldn’t after celebrating the new year all night. I have a hunch that the headache might come back later today. Not entirely sure if it will be entirely due to lack of caffeine. But first … some sleep.
13.00: Feeling fresh. No headache. Neither from the caffeine shortage nor the excess of some other chemicals. Maybe there are some complex cancellation effects.
The surprise of the day was the rather smooth recovery from the new year’s eve/morning celebrations. I had guessed some caffeine would be needed to get through the day. It wasn’t. Perhaps the usefulness of caffeine in that sort of situations is overestimated.
Day 8 (January 2nd)
According to the rule of thumb, my body should be over the caffeine addiction by now. Is it? On one hand I would say that this is plausible since I do not feel any serious withdrawal syndromes (such as headache). On the other hand, I am rather tired. Not super tired. Just rather tired. Since the tiredness could just as well be due to general laziness, I will have to admit that the results of this experiment remain inconclusive.
Before going cold turkey I had expected to spend days in bed suffering from extreme headaches. This did not turn out to be the case. Only on the 2nd day did I feel a strong headache. For the rest, the headache was mild and occasional. The main withdrawal syndrome I felt was the extreme tiredness. I slept a lot. I did things, but everything happened very slowly. Except the hike to Tagamanent — we managed a decent pace.
In sum, the whole affair was not as exciting as I had expected. I had wanted to do this for years. I had feared this week for years. I had looked forward to this week for years. For years I had procrastinated. I can thus understand why I became disappointed because the week did not live up to what I had expected. Ok, it is perhaps a bit sick to say that one is disappointed that one did not have to lie in bed — in pain — for a week. Yet, in a sense I am disappointed. Yet, in another sense — and a more sensible sense — I am very glad I went through with this. Now there is one item less on my to-do list. One thing less to procrastinate. And yes — not to forget — I may have overcome my caffeine addiction.
What will I do now? Will I continue my decaffeinated life? Will I go back to drinking coffee? I am not sure. While I like the idea of not being addicted to caffeine, I kind of like coffee. If I go back to drinking coffee I will feel like I have failed. If I do not go back to drinking coffee I will feel like I am denying myself of a pleasure I have no reason to deny myself. Dilemma.
Anyways, this whole exercise reminds me of something that a wise man once told me. One’s bad habits are a constant. Loose one and you’ll for sure pick up some other. I guess that coffee drinking is not the worst of bad habits. As with so many things in life, the art is to walk the thin line between addiction and pleasure. Only time will tell where my shoes are headed.