Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: caffeine

The more things change….

I gave up coffee. Again. Maybe not for good, but I switched back to green tea for my caffeine. Why? Because my sleep has been terrible since I started drinking it again. Green tea didn’t seem to have that effect and it’s delicious, especially with pomegranate. I haven’t had this bad of sleep in some time and it’s really messing with my head. Yes, my migraines have been kept at bay, but is it worth it? I don’t know. With the absence of the migraines, I would say yes. But, in the middle of a migraine, I would say no. It’s the duel of the conflicting health issues!

On the weapons front, I loaded up today. I did the beginning of the Double Sabre Form, sword drills, the whole Sabre Form, the Karambit Form, and spear drills. Oh, I forgot to do the one row of the Cane Form I know, so I’ll do it tomorrow. I’m still thinking about about a music/form mashup and we’ll see if I have the energy for that. One thing about going to the demo is that it fills me with possibilities–much like a kid with her nose pressed to the window of a candy shop. I want everything I can see and all at one time. My teacher likes to say that there’s a lifetime to learn things so there’s no reason to rush.

She’s right, but that doesn’t stop my brain from whispering that I’m behind and need to catch up. Not that kindly, of course, as my brain is really mean to me most of the time. Actually, I have to check that. It used to be horrid to me. I had a constant tape of negativity that looped in my brain and it just felt normal. I called him (and it was definitely a him) The Dictator and he was a cruel master. He had so many rules and regulations, it was impossible to keep them straight and not mess up.

Side note: Quick background about the Dictator. I grew up being constantly told, mostly by implication, that my feelings were not valid. They constantly got minimized and ignored, and I was not allowed to show any kind of negative emotion. Negative meaning anger, sadness, depression, etc. Only my father was allowed to show anger because he was king of the castle and allowed to do whatever he wanted. The rest of us had to tiptoe around him and catered to his every whim.

I internalized those messages to such an extent that even now I have difficulty showing human emotions in a natural manner. It’s one reason I prefer writing because it’s easier to mimic through written words than through speaking. I’m better at it, but it’s still not something I can do without thinking. In the past, I’ve been able to mimic the emotions because I’m observant and I used to do some  acting in my youth.

I want to be clear. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel the emotion on some level. If a friend told me they, say, got a great new job, then I felt happy for them deep down inside. The problem was that I had wrapped my emotions in multiple layers of cotton that I could no longer feel them. Not only that, I couldn’t even access them.

I had a flat affect at the time because I was in a deep depression and I felt as if I could never get out of it. Now, I’m still not as emotive as ‘normal’ people, but I can more easily  pass. And I have access to my emotions, albeit muted versions.


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Caffeine, anyone? Oh, and spears.

Caffeine. Let’s talk about it. I’ve had a lifelong fight with it. Wasn’t allowed to drink much pop as a child, then I started guzzling it when I was in college. I was up to a six-pack of Diet Pepsi a day, starting with one when I woke up. It was my replacement for coffee and I saw nothing wrong with it. I wasn’t supposed to drink caffeine because of my thyroid issues, but I didn’t care about that. Oh, right. I suppose I should include that in the calculation. I was hyperthyroid for my early days, had my thyroid destroyed by iodine as they did in those days, and now I’m hypothyroid. I take a pill every day and Bob’s your uncle. There’s more to it than that, but that’s the basic gist of it. When I was dealing with the whole thyroid situation, I was told not to drink caffeine. I think it’s more because of being hyper rather than hypo, but looking it up, it can block thyroid pill consumption, apparently.

Anyway, I started to feel that the caffeine was affecting me negatively and quit cold turkey. A quick note: I do not recommend that. At all. The side effects were horrific and I would never want to feel it again. I couldn’t sleep at all (even more than usual); I was snapping at everyone, and; I was shaking all the time. I really felt like I was detoxing (or at least how I imagine detox to feel), and it was utter hell for two weeks. Afterwards, I didn’t drink caffeine for years. Maybe decades. Then, I started drinking pop again–not sure why–and I was up to three or four cans a day.

As noted before, caffeine is weird in that it’s both a trigger for migraines and a way to deal with them. It’s a matter of when it’s ingested and how much. Six cans of pops a day? Too much. Three or four? Also too much. One cup of coffee or caffeinated tea? Just about right.

This all came about back during the election week. Which, let’s face it, sucked hard. I woke up every day with an incipient migraine and would immediately slam two migraine Excedrin (generic) and pray. After five days in a row of doing this (which is not recommended, obviously. I try to be sparing because I don’t want to overuse it and dull the effects. Also, taking too much migraine meds can trigger a migraine itself. Yay?

Anyway, I’m good with a cup a day for now. Also, I ordered a training staff and I’m stoked about that. Really not in the mood to write today, however, because reasons including going hard for the end of NaNo Rebel. More later!

Changing my mind is hard…and sometimes necessary

I’m a stubborn cuss. Once I make up my mind about something, I’m hard-pressed to change it. If I do, it’s usually after a lot of thinking, musing, and researching. I have to drag myself kicking and screaming into a new idea. To my credit, I actually will change my mind if enough good information is presented to me. It doesn’t even have to be a lot–just solid enough for me to understand a different point of view. In this case, let’s talk caffeine. I have given it up twice in my life. Once in college because I was drinking six to eight cans a day and I went cold turkey. That was hell on earth and I would not suggest it. I was cranky, irritable, and my sleep was fucked even more than usual. It was two weeks of pure hell and this time around, I knew better than to try it again.

I had a plan. I was going to wean myself off caffeine. At the time, I drank probably three to four cans of pop a day. It’s hard to know for sure because I poured it into a big (adult) sippy cup and just drank from that throughout the day. I cut it by an estimated one can a day until I was down to zero. This was a year or two ago and I had a cup of caffeinated tea/coffee once a month or so. One of the reasons I quit was because I was getting a bit jittery. The biggest reason, though, was because I thought I should quit. That’s it. Not for any real reason. But because I was getting the jitters and thought maybe it would be better for me to cut out the caffeine.

However. Here’s the thing. Caffeine is both a trigger for migraines and a prevention for them as well. No one knowns why or in what quantities. It’s different for each person as well. A few weeks ago (election week), I was struggling with migraines and popping my pills as much as I felt safe doing. The main ingredient is caffeine and I thought that maybe my abstinence of caffeine was a hasty decision. I decided that one cup a day (8-12 oz.) would not be a bad thing. I started with oolong tea, which was not my favorite, but I happened to have it on hand. I found a box of green tea with pomegranate that I much preferred and substituted that. Then, I saw that Califia Farms who makes very tasty cold-brew coffee drinks had a peppermint mocha blend (with almond milk) so I’m drinking that every day.

Cold-brew has much less acidity than regular coffee and its caffeine content varies. I feel like there’s less in the Califia than in tea because I feel the migraine bubbling under the surface at the end of a day when I drink the Califa but not the tea. But! Both have been able to stave off a full-blown migraine so I’ll take that as a win. Still. I’m careful to keep it under control and not go back to drinking a six pack of pop a day.

Caffeine and taiji (not together, though)

CAFFEINE!!!!
I need to mainline the caffeine.

Caffeine. Let’s talk about it. It’s been a few weeks of having one cup of caffeine a day (and, yes, I’m putting it that way because it’s all about the caffeine, not about the vessel), and my god. It’s been a bitch, to put it bluntly. I knew it would be hard. I knew I would struggle. That’s why I did a cut-down rather than a cut-out. Vivid memories of going cold turkey haunted me as I started this endeavor. Cue the intensive headaches–had to take my migraine headache Excedrin-generic pills–and the lingering lassitude. Not to mention the inability to focus. I was walking around as if I were in a fog all day long.

The headaches have mostly gone away, thankfully, as had the mental fog. The lassitude, however, it persists. My sleep has been shittier, too, and I’m sure it’s because my body is adjusting to the caffeine deficit. Also, I had to slam down some extra caffeine on Saturday night to pick up my parents from the airport, and I’m sure that didn’t help. The weariness has been so bad, I’ve been tempted to up the caffeine to two cups because that’s not bad for me, right? I know the moral of this story is a hard look at how much I depended on caffeine to get me through the day. If my reaction is this severe, then it means I should not have gotten hooked in the first place. Caffeine is definitely a drug, and it’s frightening how many people are addicted to it.

Now, taiji. There’s no connection between the two, but I want to talk about both. There was a letter to Ask A Manager about the CEO of a small nonprofit making all the employees participate it taiji sessions twice a week for twelve weeks for ‘health’ reasons and for ‘team bonding’. The OP participated in the first session, which exacerbated her* chronic condition, and she asked to be exempt from the rest. The CEO said she didn’t have to participate, but she had to sit in the sessions. She said it made her feel singled out and punished (told the CEO this) and was basically told to deal with it.

I mention it not just because I’m horrified the CEO would mandate taiji but since we’re on this subject, don’t do this, CEOs. Taiji is amazing, and I think everyone could get something out of it, but it’s not helpful to MAKE people do it–or watch it. Being resentful isn’t the right mind-frame to learn taiji. In addition, there are different kinds of taiji, and some are more strenuous than others. This is what my main gripe with the commenters for this post stem. There were several who were like, “Oh, it’s just standing there” or “It’s just meditation” or “It’s just stretching”.

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Baby steps in health

caffeine injection stat!
Yes, I’d love a–GIMME THE DAMN TEA

It’s been a roughly a week since I started my caffeine cut-down. I’m at roughly 8 oz a day, which is where I want to be. It’s been easy-breezy-peasy!

Fuck the hell it has. It’s been harder than fuck, and you can tell I’m serious because I said fuck twice in two sentences. Three times. I knew it would be hard, but I didn’t realize how hard it would be. The last time I did this, I cut out caffeine completely (6 cans of Diet Pepsi a day), it was horrible for a few days. I barely remember because I was in a haze and my head was pounding like it was a taiko drumming. If I had any doubt that caffeine was an addiction, I didn’t after that.

This time, I decided to be smart about it. I cut down gradually, well, OK, not that gradually. I went from 60 oz to about 25 oz (the first cut is the deepest), and then slowly whittled it down to roughly 10 oz. I’m close to where I want to be, and it’s the worst. I’m so fucking tired all the time. I mentioned last time that it’s a weariness deep in my soul. It’s also mad headaches at time, but it’s mostly feeling unfocused and not able to think. I’m drinking the caffeine when I first wake up, and then I’m going the rest of the day mostly without. By the way, I just had a sip of Mango Diet Coke and instinctively made a face. It was gross. I don’t think I can drink them, though I hate just pouring them out. It’s the Taiwanese in me–we loath to get rid of anything.

I didn’t realize how much I rely on the caffeine to get me through the day. I’m draggy most of the time, and it’s hard for me to concentrate. On the other hand, I am less anxious than I was before, but maybe it’s because I’m just so fucking tired. My affect is flat–flatter than normal, which is pretty flat. I think my body is craving the caffeine, and I don’t know how long it’ll take to physically become not dependent.

I also don’t know if my body will accept anything less than going completely caffeine-free before adjusting. I think I might be keeping it in a state of confusion by pumping it up with caffeine in the morning and coasting on it for the rest of the day. I’ll report back in a week or so how the caffeine experiment is going.

I believe it’ll be better overall, but it’s hellish right now. All I want to do is sleep all the time, and I keep nodding off. It makes me think that at least some of my sleeping issues has been the caffeine. Yes, I know that’s a ‘duh’ thought, but I can’t be brilliant all the time. Could it be as simple as less caffeine equals more sleep? Yeah, no. I’ve been sleeping less actually since giving up caffeine, but maybe that’s just because of the adjustment period.  Continue Reading