Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Caffeine Withdrawal: It's Like Having the Flu

If I ever write my memoirs, a long chapter will be devoted to my tortured relationship with caffeine.  I first became addicted to caffeine in high school thanks to a Pepsi machine located near my locker.  Since then, I have quit and then become readdicted to caffeine at least a dozen times.

Last summer, before I got married, I controlled my addiction and was down to one can of diet soda every morning.  During our honeymoon, I stayed clean.  Who needs caffeine in Maui?  Then, we returned to Pasadena and normal life.  Things went to hell in a hand basket.

By December, I was imbibing at least 100 ounces of diet soda every day.  (Probably more).  I know, from experience, that when I am living a caffeine-free lifestyle, I glow with energy and health.  Caffeine-free Courtney is a much better person than Caffeinated Courtney.  For example, when I'm consuming too much caffeine, I suffer from debilitating periods and PMS.  When I'm clean, the PMS disappears.  

There are two ways to quit caffeine: cold turkey or gradually.  I am not brave enough for the cold turkey approach, so I cut back to 24 ounces of diet soda every day.  In a couple of weeks, when my body has adjusted to the caffeine reduction, I'll start to wean myself, ounce by ounce.  By the end of February, I should be decaffeinated.

But right now, things completely suck.

Even though I'm still consuming a significant amount of caffeine, my body is going through some serious freaking caffeine withdrawal.  It feels like I'm getting the flu.  I have body aches and I'm exhausted, as if I ran a marathon without a day of training.  I am dehydrated, as if I've been crawling through a desert for days.  Two nights ago, I woke up at 3 a.m. in a cold sweat and for about five minutes, all color drained from my face. 

I have had some headaches, but miraculously, they are manageable. 

This article about caffeine withdrawal has been uber-comforting.  In the comments, readers post about their symptoms, including depression, fatigue, body aches, upset stomachs, joint pain, restless legs, fevers, and nausea.  When I woke up at 3 a.m. and felt like I was going to die, I read through the comments of the article and confirmed this is just caffeine withdrawal, which sucks, but no need to go to the ER. 

Right now, I am suffering, but my physical ailments are actually encouraging.  If the caffeine withdrawal makes me feel this crappy, then what the hell was the caffeine doing to my body?  I'm excited for the morning that I wake up and do not need a single sip of the poison.