07 August 2011

Caffeine Withdrawal, Days Four to Nine

Hmm. Well, I intended to keep these updates daily, but they would have been rather dull if I had. I'll probably make this the last, unless anything surprising emerges later on.

I still don't understand how easy this has been this time round: my previous experiences of giving up coffee (yes, temporarily, obviously) were agonising, and I've been drinking more coffee since R. was born than any previous period in my life (undergraduate termtimes possibly excepted, although a lot of that was going towards counteracting my vastly larger alcohol consumption). I should have had a week of headaches and mood swings and restlessness and lethargy, whereas in fact I've just been feeling a bit tired and snappish for a lot of the time. I suppose I'm just monstrously and undeservedly lucky.

The process of completely eradicating a caffeine addiction supposedly involves eight weeks spent without any source of caffeine (no tea, no cola, no decaff, no chocolate), so I'm not actually finished yet. Still, my experience and all the accounts I've heard suggest that the first three days are the worst, closely followed by the rest of the first two weeks. And, honestly, I've felt worse than this with a mild cold.

I have been combating the tiredness with daily afternoon naps, which has probably been helping (and will be rather difficult -- though perhaps not impossible -- to continue over the next three days when I'm in the office). That's a habit which obviously has to end sometime, although sharing a house with a toddler who currently still needs to do the same makes it both easy and remarkably tempting. Maybe I'll try to manage without one today -- to be honest I think it's the hot weather as much as the lack of caffeine which has been making me wilt after lunch.

My biggest problem has been identifying non-vile hot beverages to make me miss my habitual mug of coffee less. I find mint tea insipid, and fruit teas wildly variable in flavour, although I do find I need to brew them for at least five times as long as the manufacturers suggest to make an impression on my coffee-ravaged palate. Rooibos tea sounds quite desperately unappetising (though I suppose it's only familiarity which makes actual tea sound less so), and when I had a cup this morning I could barely taste it. I'll try a stronger one later.

The best news of all, as far as I'm concerned, is that I'm still able to write, managing two days of 1,500 words each since last Friday. That may not sound like a lot (and it isn't), but it's as much as I was managing before the caffeine supply dried up, and I have hopes I can expand it later on. Given that I hadn't previously managed to write without caffeine since I was about fifteen, it's this that feels like the real achievement.

(All of this does seem terribly self-indulgent, so failing any surprising revelations later on I'll stop here before I start accidentally going into detail about my bowel movements. Twitter has a category tag, #firstworldproblems, for this sort of thing.)


  1. Have you tried fennel tea? That's become my non-caffeine alternative along with decaf tea.

  2. NotInventedHere7:10 pm

    Word of warning - decaf tea is not completely caffiene-free - good to know if you are trying to detox!

    Good luck with the continuing process.

  3. NotInventedHere7:11 pm

    Oops - typo - 'Caffeine'. Sorry.

  4. Nothing decaf is really decaf just really contains a lot less caffeine that caff.


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