Does anyone else get crazy jitters from coffee? Usually one cup doesn’t affect me at all, but sometimes it makes me want to jump out of my chair, twitch my feet, and perform an Irish jig all at the same time. Right now, I am twitching my leg, typing a mile a minute, and contemplating how in fact one does said Irish jig. Basically, the caffeine has hit me hard today.
I got out of work early today for the long weekend – isn’t my job nice? – so I am currently waiting for it to be time for me to board a bus to Philly to go visit my bestie, Kelley. While I wait for my chariot to arrive, I will share my story of my caffeine addled past, how I recovered from it, and how I fight not to slip back under its grasp.
Like many addictions, it started innocently enough. Okay, I guess a lot of drug addictions have nothing innocent about them. So scratch that. Rather, my caffeine addiction started innocently enough. My mother has always been a great lover of a cup of coffee. When I was young and would come home from school, she would always be cup of coffee in hand and ready to hear about my day. I associated coffee with grownup. As a child, I wanted not so much to be a grownup, but rather, to be perceived as one. Coffee seemed like it would do that for me, but my mom would never let me have a cup because “I was too young.”
When I was 13, I was deemed no longer to be too young to enjoy a cup of coffee. So every day after school, my mom and I would enjoy a cup of coffee together. I instantly loved the taste – how could you not the way I made it? I laced it with a galloon of cream and lots of sweetener – and how grown up sipping it made me feel.
As I entered high school, coffee switched from being a one cup of day sign of adulthood to an extreme necessity. A morning person I am not, and for some obscene reason high school began at 7:35 AM. I would start my day with a cup of coffee and end it with at least one more cup when I came home from school and track practice. I spent my weekends fueling myself on ice coffees that were not of normal sizes. I sincerely believe that I would have been taller if it wasn’t for my early intake of too much coffee. My pediatrician had always guestimated my full grown height to be 5’8”, but I never made it past 5’6”. I’m sure there is some science behind my reasoning.
By college, I was a full blown coffee freak. We didn’t get a Dunkin’ Donuts near campus until my senior year, so before that all my money went to Starbucks even though I never really liked their coffee. I just needed their coffee. My coffee problem came to a pinnacle at the end of my sophomore year. I was studying hard for a Roman History final (one of my favorite classes ever) and was determined to make it from Romulus and Remus to the fall of the Roman Empire in one evening. I’m so glad I learned how to not cram in law school, but I had yet to learn that lesson at 19.
I was many cups of coffee in that day, but I needed a push in order to pull my anticipated near all-nighter. I remember I ordered a Venti Americano with an extra shot of espresso and a diet coke. Well let me tell you, one Venti Americano with an extra shot of espresso and half a can of diet coke is the exact equation to make a person hallucinate on caffeine. I was shaking A LOT and seeing funny dots. I also felt like I was strapped to some insane rollercoaster that lacked proper braking. I decided to call studying a night and call caffeine quits after that incident.
I went cold turkey and dealt with the caffeine craving headaches. After a summer free of caffeine, I slowly reintroduced caffeine in non-coffee forms back into my daily routine, but always at much smaller doses. While in law school, I allowed myself diet soda and one cup of tea a day. Coffee was reserved for final periods only, but I only ever allowed myself to order a small latté with more milk than coffee. It was something I needed to do for my health and was a good decision.
Now that I am working, I do have one coffee a day. But that’s it, just one. If I feel like I need something to sip on after that, I will drink as much tea as I need. For whatever reason, tea and I get along very well and it never gives me jitters or makes me see little yellow dots. I am a tea person all the way and love trying new flavors. I love making tea on the stove and waiting for the whistle – that is until my tea pot died in an unfortunate “wrong burner on” incident, but I plan on getting a new one soon. I do,however, still enjoy that one cup of coffee a day. And normally one cup doesn’t affect me badly at all. I suppose today is the exception. Too bad for whoever is sitting next to me on the bus …