Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Play Of Light During Caffeine Withdrawal

(enlarge webcam photos for full effect)

Last night as I was about to go to bed after my third day of a steady headache from caffeine withdrawal, I looked at the webcam of Yosemite Valley and Half Dome and ended up staying awake for another 45 minutes to watch the play of light that held my attention despite the headache and my weariness.

This is the 4th time I've gone through caffeine withdrawal.  Until I was 30 years old and was in the process of returning to college to finish up my Bachelor's degree in English Literature and Art, I didn't drink coffee at all.  I had lived with low-level depression and lack of energy all my life, and the discovery of the positive effects of coffee seemed to be like magic.  Suddenly I felt better than I had ever felt.  I could stay awake all day long and was full of creative energy.  Then I began to develop withdrawal headaches if I missed my caffeine dosage and developed gastritis with accompanying nausea and lack of appetite.  I continued using caffeine for at least a year beyond the onset of those symptoms until I felt ill on a daily basis -- worse than I had ever felt.  After the first 5-day withdrawal from caffeine, I vowed never to drink coffee again despite how much I missed the lifting of my spirits that coffee gave me.

In the late summer of 2007, in hopes of becoming a massage therapist, I was studying for an anatomy and physiology challenge exam and experimented briefly with caffeine.  I decided against taking the challenge exam, and instead made plans to undergo an intensive yoga teacher training.   In late September of 2007, while taking that rigorous yoga teacher training, I began using caffeine again so that I would have enough energy to wake up before 5 a.m. and go to sleep after 9 p.m. Again, I was delighted by the feeling of creative energy.  I did experience headaches, but I continued using caffeine until 2009, when recurring headaches were undermining my sense of well-being.  I knew what to expect from withdrawal and vowed again that I was through with caffeine.

In 2010, while starting a new job after being unemployed for several years, I chose to use caffeine to keep me awake for the entire workday and to give me that added sense of well-being.  It seemed like a good idea at the time, but the job didn't turn out well, and I ended up quitting the job in despair.  During this time of caffeine use, my pulse and blood pressure began to rise alarmingly, and I suffered from recurrent headaches.  Once again, I withdrew from caffeine.  My pulse and blood pressure returned to normal, and the frequency of headaches lessened.

At the beginning of this May, during a stressful period where I was called for jury duty, I decided to try using caffeine again. In addition to needing the energy for the days of jury duty, I was and am acutely aware of my need to find a job, and I question whether I have the energy for even a part-time workday. At first, I had that wonderful lifting of my spirits and high energy. Then I began to wake up in the mornings with a dull headache that would leave only after I had some caffeine in my system.

Given that I had been waking up feeling unusually good for the past few months, the artificial lifting of my spirits from the caffeine didn't compensate for the dull headache I was having upon awakening, and so I decided to go through caffeine withdrawal again.

I know that in the next few days I will be feeling much better than I do now.  Will have to find another way to a sense of well-being and energy that lasts the whole day long.

I am grateful for that play of light during caffeine withdrawal.

"When one finally arrives at the point where schedules are forgotten, and becomes immersed in ancient rhythms, one begins to live."
(Sigurd F. Olson)


Anonymous said...

I have never tried to give up caffeine. It does sound difficult. I have heard of caffeine withdrawal headaches. I hope your transition goes easily. Take care.

am said...

Thank you, robin andrea!

The headache lasted 4 days. Yesterday morning I woke up elated to be free of that headache. I'm feeling much better without the caffeine. Wish I could use caffeine without the negative side effects. It seems that most people can.

Anonymous said...

photos remind me of monet's waiting for changing light at another cathedral, thanks for this, always some light here on your blog.kjm

Nimble said...

What gorgeous pictures. Slightly related: I was trying to remember how waves at the shore look as I was falling asleep last night. My imagination/memory isn't very good at recreating the movement which repeats while constantly varying.
My friend gave up coffee in favor of ginseng tea this spring. She found coffee made her feel very aggressive while the ginseng tea makes her feel more receptive and well balanced.
(I came here via One Word)