We’ve all had those days. For one reason or another, we didn’t get enough sleep, on the verge of exhaustion, or worse – near ill, but we need to make it through, we need to show up and be functional.
Every day I read a different article about caffeine, it’s good, it’s bad, tea has more, coffee has more, they have antioxidant effects, people live longer, live shorter. No one study has definitively come up with one right answer.
But here’s the truth: Too much caffeine can cause anxiety.
See me two months ago for my first set of anxiety attacks. There’s a lot going on right now, but I’m usually the queen of calm. But too much caffeine and not enough physical exercise, and the onset of anxiety happens. I know this because my sisters have anxiety and the first thing their doctors said is “cut out the caffeine and chocolate.”
Well, before I let a doctor tell me to cut out chocolate, I decided to ease back. During the summer, I’d been drinking three or four cups of tea by 2pm and sometimes an added cup of coffee by 4pm. I know some people drink coffee all day long and are not affected; it’s what you’re used to and what your body can take. Mine decided too much was too much. I cut back to one cup a day. It wasn’t too hard. I actually still had two cups made from one tea bag; my way of cheating.
Then, school begins. Not related to caffeine, or coffee, tea, chocolate or any guilty pleasures, but to a new schedule and my body trying to get used to it – I spent one night tossing and turning and getting up and laying down, breathing deep and keeping my eyes closed, but to no avail – I ended up falling asleep around 4 in order to wake up at 6am. I felt zombie-like.
I made it through my first class, but had another class to teach after an hour of office meetings.
Starbucks sent me an email (yes, me personally, about their early release of Pumpkin Spice Latte), but I ignored it, telling myself I was off the hard stuff. I didn’t need any espresso and sugar to get me through the day, just good healthy food and clean, clear water. Besides, it’s far too early to imbibe on pumpkin anything.
But, see, it was one of those damn dirty lies we tell ourselves. When our next sleep is off on some unknown horizon, we must continue to function. My car turned, almost automatically into the Starbucks parking lot, and I found myself in a mist, floating to the barista as they handed me an iced-grande-half-caff-PSL-no whip.
The mixture of caffeine and sugar, the delishness of it all, kept me awake so I could earn a living, not fall on my face in front of 30 some students, and hold worthwhile conversations (I hope), with my colleagues.
Good, bad, friend or fiend, crime or not, caffeine isn’t going anywhere. Thank goodness.