Confessions of A Recovering Caffeine Addict

Hello, Internet.

My name is Amelia and I’ve been caffeine-free for 2 months and 18 days. Except for 7 unintentional cups of caffeinated tea. And 1 cup of Varun’s chai I couldn’t resist.

Caffeine and I go waaay back. In middle school, I began attending a school that was 45 minutes from home. My brother John and I would drive to school as the sun rose, listening to CD’s and watching the sun rise. Our mornings were often brightened by stops at WaWa for sugary French vanilla cappuccinos. I learned quickly that caffeine, that dark elixir, came in many delicious forms and could add hours of energy to my day.

In high school, I began drinking coffee to study for AP exams, survive long drives home from school and juggle social activities.

In Grade 12, I fell in love with Vanilla Lattes from Starbucks. Amidst the pressure of taking university classes, finishing high school, deciding about my future and saying goodbye to friends, Vanilla Lattes gave a welcome oomph.

In university, my lovely roommate and I perfected making coffee in a pan when our pot broke. We made mochas and sat at our tiny table entertaining friends, practicing guitar and bracing ourselves to walk to class in the frozen Montreal winter.

By the time Varun and I got married, I had learned two crucial facts about caffeine: 1) whenever I needed more hours in a day, I could buy it in a 12 oz cup. 2) whenever I drank coffee, the acid turned my stomach into a pit of torment.

Hello Tea.

I discovered London Fog and a thousand variations of Iced Tea. I learned that making chai Indian style creates a sweet and spicy concoction choc-full of caffeine. If I ever forgot to drink a cup of tea in the morning, by 10 am I would be railing at Varun that we needed to get hot water and a tea bag NOW. The headaches were monstrous. But you know what was glorious? Knowing at 11:30 pm that I could stay up later to get more done, and still wake up on time and be functional the next morning.

And then, I met this sassy sleep Doctor who told me I needed to sleep more and cut caffeine. I know. I had the exact same reaction: what????

Wanting to remain in my caffeinated state of denial, I tried all of his other suggestions.

Vitamin D pills, check. Iron pills, check. No change in my creepy habit of sitting up in my sleep. Finally, I resolved that if there were no change in my sleeping habits by August 1, I would try no caffeine for a month.

Let me describe for you August 1-3:

Okay, I can’t. But I’d guess it was a blur of headaches and naps and ‘why am I doing this??’ texts.

But after a few days, the headaches stopped. 10 AM no longer marked the moment by which my bloodstream required caffeine. And sitting up in my sleep? It decreased to about once a week. I’m still working on figuring out what other factors influence this (I have some theories), but we’re down from 4-5 times a week!

Something unexpected also happened: I found my wall. It turns out, energy is a limited resource. I have fallen asleep accidentally in the past two months more than I care to count (reading, church, riding in the car, prayer meeting). Since I can’t drink caffeine to push through, there’s no recourse. I just get tired and crash.

It might sound absurd, but I think giving up caffeine is actually forcing me to reassess my life a bit. I still have yet to make real changes (as illustrated by my spontaneous nap in class this morning), but I’m at least beginning to think about my priorities and my tendency to operate above capacity.

I’m honestly not sure where to go from here. Caffeine is definitely gone from my life for the foreseeable future. But how do I deal with the truth that I’m overdrawn? More than a decade of caffeine addiction has left me busy, over-committed and needing a nap. Now that I’m caffeine free, I may have to actually slow down…


I Dreamed In Hindi!!!!!!

Every once in a while there comes a moment when something so epic happens that you basically get a Pass for the rest of the year. For me, that was last night.

Buddies, I dreamed in Hindi!! As in, my own brain constructed enough Hindi to speak a FULL sentence in distress while sleeping.

We all know that there are few things less interesting than hearing another person’s dream. But grab your coffee and wake up because I’m going to tell you all about my dream.

I was seated in a room with lots of people, all of whom were chatting casually. It might have been a sporting event. The guy next to me was friendly enough, but after a few minutes, he put his hand on my back. I politely asked him to remove his hand. He didn’t. I repeated more firmly and said if he didn’t, I’d call for my husband. And this is where it gets epic. “Varun!,” I called, continuing in Hindi, “Come over here? This guy has his hand–“. “His hand?!”, Varun asked as walked toward us and saw my predicament. He then beat the guy up. (Which was charming and awesome. But not awesome enough to overshadow the fact that I spoke Hindi while unconscious. BOOYAH.)

When I told Varun this morning, he was minorly impressed with my linguistic genius and highly impressed with his physical prowess. At any rate, I feel pretty pumped because I now have a Pass of Awesomeness for the year.

Perhaps the Indian pillows and blankets inspired me…

The “Varun, Look!” Game

One of the realities of our marriage is that Varun and I have fairly different ideas of how vacations should look. I think this is partly family-culture, and partly culture-culture. In North America, there’s a pretty strong culture of going places and doing things for vacation. In Indian culture, there seems to be a strong tradition of visiting family and spending time with people. This has been something we’ve had to negotiate over the years. Going on vacation to Maine with my family was no exception…

This is a story about a laid back husband going on vacation with a high energy family who has many sights they want to share.

(Or, as my brother Mark called it, the Varun, Look! Game.)

“It’s only a 12 hour drive. Plus a stop in Boston. But it’s SO MUCH FUN! We’ll talk and laugh and eat the whole way. And you get to go through three new states!”, I said, as Varun questioned me closely about the drive. As you can see, he was beyond excited to spend 28 minutes in New Hampshire.

“Varun, Look! There are mountains all around this lake. Except you can’t see them in the fog. But they’re there!”

Amazing view after a long hike. This is basically what we came to see. My family (and the park ranger at the summit) are all very concerned that Varun take note of the awesome vista.

(Later in the hike) “Varun, the water is balmy! C’mon in!”

[In fact it was not. This is the East coast’s only fjord, with water temperatures about 66 F/19 C]

Varun crept in, looked at us in shock upon feeling the cold, and jumped out, unconvinced. (Please note Mark doing his whale imitation)

“Varun! Look! This is classic Maine. See! The rocky coasts, the pine trees and the ocean!”

Luke, Mark and I spent an hour photographing the clouds and the sunset. Varun read. He did look up though when we yelled that there were whales swimming by. (There actually were, I’m not that obnoxious)

You have no idea how hard it is to convince Varun that 3:44 is a reasonable wake up time to see “the most amazing sunrise ever”.

It’s equally difficult to explain that the sunrise is only beautiful when it’s not shrouded in fog and you can actually see it.

Varun agrees, Maine is beautiful. I begin to wonder if all of these pictures aren’t of Varun looking, but of Varun looking for a distant rock upon which he can get a moment’s rest.

Suspicions confirmed.

(The end)

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