If you ever see a of a mug of tea in the vlogs/blogs/insta it has been decaf since 2014. If you are thinking about giving up caffeine or just intruiged as to what sort of person would give up such life blood then this post is for you.
Do you know how your body functions without the help of any stimulant? This post isn't going to be preachy, telling you that you should quit caffeine, I am simply going to tell you my little story and how it has affected me.
I would describe myself as a 'headachy' person. Loud noises, bright lights, not eating properly, over stimulated, can all cause headaches to come on very quickly. I remember getting them at school frequently if we were using overhead projectors in class, in drama if it was loud, or if my eyes were tired by the end of the day. Often a nice warm meal and some quiet would resolve them but sometimes they would end in full blown migraines. These migraines didn't have a particular pattern and they saw me all the way through uni. Have you ever had a migraine whilst in halls of residence? I genuinely wanted the world to swallow me up.
It wasn't until 2014 when I went to the doctors, she suggested giving up caffeine for my anxiety. I wouldn't say I was a caffeine fiend, maybe 3/4 cups of tea a day with the occasional coffee but I did use caffeine when I had a headache. Caffeine really shouldn't be part of your life if you suffer from anxiety, it blurs the line and makes it hard to tell what your body is actually doing. The palpitations, the jitters...was that because of your 10am double shot latte or is it anxiety? I will tell you now, and you will know from reading this blog that quitting caffeine has not rid me of my anxiety but it did have a positive affect, and a side effect I wasn't expecting.
Since giving up caffeine I have had 3 migraines in 3 years. And all of them had a very big trigger. One was from excessively crying when I found out my mum had cancer and I didn't eat for 24 hours. Another was when Michael left for America. And the other was after my 30th birthday (too much fun!). All came with the same aura type symptoms and last 24 hours. Before quitting caffeine I would get a migraine every month or so. Sometimes more.
So what was it like to give it up? I went cold turkey. I just gave all my caffeinated produce to a neighbour after my doctors appointment and went straight to Tesco to buy herbal tea. It has taken me a few years to perfect what my palette prefers but I know what I like. I still have a morning ritual of 'making a cup of tea' but mine is a fennel rather than English Breakfast. The first few days were hard, lots of headaches, zero energy, very grumpy. The main side effects lasted about a week and then it got easier.
When I wake up in the morning now I know what my energy levels are and reply a lot more on decent sleep to keep me going. I get the afternoon slump like anyone and it took me a while to not use chocolate as an 3pm pick me up rather than a tea but after a while I got used to it. My body now functions on its own energy (or what I put in food wise) and I rely a lot more on water. Water was what helped the headaches and lack lustre energy in the first few weeks after quitting and now it comes naturally to me to reach for a glass of water rather than a tea. Though I think my herbal teas also count as hydration.
Socially it is sometimes a little weird, I have to remember to go out and buy tea and coffee if I am having people round. The builders for the kitchen starting bringing their own coffee when they got bored of my poorly made nescafe attempts. It is quite common place to "go for a coffee" but on arrival (and depending on the time of day) I will chose something herbal, a soft drink or maybe a gin. People look at you a little weirdly when you say you don't drink tea. I drink decaf tea, but it isnt the same. I also don't eat dairy so to be honest, I can't remember what a decent cup of tea tastes like.
Do I feel better for it? Absolutely! Do I miss a spiced pumpkin latte? Absolutely. But taking that little bit of control back over my body has helped me mentally with my anxiety but most importantly physically. I no longer crave caffeine and my migraines have drastically reduced. So all in all it has been worth it. Would you consider giving up caffeine?