Giving It Up to Get Down
If your mind went somewhere a little dirty from the title of this post, well, you aren’t far off topic. First, I would like you to think of something you love, something you consume every day that you could not live without, or at least think you cannot live without. Now, I want you to think about something you really want, but you have to give up consumption of this favorite thing. Would you do it for sex?
I did. I gave up one of my most favorite things, coffee, and I gave it up to get down.
Coffee has consumed me for years, cup after cup, day after day. I was held hostage by my coffee addiction for years, and on the rare occasion I didn’t have my typical 2 cups by noon, my body would promptly begin to tell me I needed it , with a pounding headache, that made everything feel like it does when you hear nails go down a chalkboard. Still, why would I give it up…for sex? Fertility is more like it. We were TTC, for you non- TTC’ers that is an abbreviation for trying to conceive.
The Break UP
You know when you aren’t sure if you want to be with someone anymore, and the idea is looming over your head. You know that the break up is bound to happen, but you aren’t quite ready for it, so you drag your feet a bit. All of September felt like that for me. Then, when we visited my grandma in mid-September, she gave Jack and I a Keurig coffee machine as a wedding present. Well, that was a universal slap in the face; the latest thing to hit coffee, plus a box of coffee to go with it.
So I told myself that since I don’t care for all the new digital products out there that it wouldn’t be hard to not use. I just felt badly because it was a gift from my grandma. I thought of my trusty mini coffeepot. I have had it through many, many years. The cord began to spilt a couple years ago, so it has some electrical and duct tape around it. I traded it in once in April this year for a shiny new red full sized coffee pot. It was super cute and sort of fifties looking. It cost at least a few fingers, if not an arm, but it was so cute on my counter along my red toaster and red Vitamixer. Of course it was digital, but it came with a reusable filter. Oh, I loved that! No more “oops, I forgot to get more filters at the store, and now I have to run to the grocery store in my sweats, so I can have my morning cup of coffee. Oh well, I guess I can buy a Starbucks while I am at the grocery store.” Plus, I thought, it’s great for the environment right, no throwing away coffee filters, so now I am being green. Ha! The ways I fooled myself.
The damn thing stopped working two months in, and I couldn’t get any return or repair as I couldn’t find the receipt for it, and it only had a 30 day guarantee. Back to my trusty little mini coffee pot that has never let me down. It has been through thick and thin with me. It’s the one thing that comforts my lack of ability to function in the morning. Not like my fatigued adrenals and sluggish thyroid make it possible to feel human before 10 am and a cup of coffee, or so I thought, until recently, being free from my addiction. After the red coffee pot went down, I pulled my mini coffee pot out from the pantry and thought never again will I go back on my simple, old, little coffee pot. Again, how I fooled myself, but I just didn’t know it yet that I would really be giving up that little coffee pot twice in the same year, and giving up coffee for good.
If ever there was a soundtrack for someone quitting coffee, I am 100% certain it would be like that of an action packed, intense movie about Armageddon, a total apocalypse, end of the world. Yes, because it feels like that. You know those powerful, anxiety ridden musical scores that play fast, hard, loud, and pounding, and then drop off to something dark, filled with apprehension, then loud and fast again? Have you seen San Andreas yet? Yeah, like that, or maybe throw in a sappy break up song. I couldn’t leave my dependable coffee pot in sight. I had to get over it. So I unplugged the duct taped cord from the wall, and gave it a good wash, soaking it in vinegar, thinking about all the times we had together, and if I was sure I really wanted this to end. I dried it off, and set it high up on the top shelf of the pantry in the back corner, knowing it is tough to reach, alongside it a bag of my favorite coffee from Kauai, unopened, staring back at me, next to my clean coffee pot. They were basically begging and crying for me to take them back.
Cue, Whitney Houston’s “I will Always Love you,” as I turn and walk away, turning off the light switch in the pantry. If this were a music video, it might even be done in slow motion for dramatic emphasis. I look over at my stainless steel teapot. It’s sitting there on my stove, heating up water for my herbal pregnancy tea, my reflection distorted on the shiny metal. Now I love a good ice cold glass of black sun tea in the summer, or a cup of chamomile and lavender with honey and lemon when I am sick, or stressed, but caffeine free tea to get my mornings going, is this a sick joke or what? I mean, c’mon Mother Nature, do women not give up enough being pregnant, during childbirth, and well, being a mom, and all I am asking for is some coffee. Geez.
So the break up happened, and the withdrawals were next up to face.
Ok, so I know some of you are saying, yeah but, “yeah but you can have coffee while you are pregnant, I did, my kids are ok,” or something along those lines. True, 200mg or less of caffeine is okay, but it’s also recommended that when TTC or while pregnant to just not have it too. It increases fertility to reduce or stop consuming caffeine, and I really wanted to make sure I did what I could to not face fertility challenges. Having Hashimoto’s thyroid disease already ups the infertility challenges, plus Jack is a bit older, and so not knowing what we might face, I just wanted to make sure that I did the best I could. I am that way through pregnancy too, and nursing. Always looking to do the best I can, and make healthy choices. Some of you may have still enjoyed your coffee through TTC and pregnancy, which is fine; it’s not for me though. I have a problem. I am addicted.
Although I felt irritable through the day I was just too damn lethargic to really care about feeling irritable, so the first day off coffee I felt like the irritability was manageable only because I was so utterly exhausted.I felt so depressed too, but again, too tired to really care about how I felt about anything. My son would talk to me about his school work or some game he wanted to play, and I swear it seemed like he was talking like the teachers on Charlie Brown, “wha, wha,wha,wha.” I had to have him repeat himself a few times throughout the day, but hey he got a taste of what it feels like to be me on any given day explaining things to him, so we are even. Hahaha
I had unrelenting cravings for sweets. I wanted anything sugary and high in carbohydrates. I tried not to cave, but I had four pieces of bread, sweet potatoes, and half a bar of dark chocolate. It still wasn’t enough to calm the urge for sweets, but luckily, there aren’t treats kept in my house, except a small bit of dark chocolate and figs. I drank hot water with honey, and a few cups of pregnancy tea, nothing stopped my insatiable desire to bring my coffee pot down from the pantry. I told myself I can start over tomorrow, but I didn’t cave. Go team, Jessica! Only I didn’t feel like celebrating after gorging on sweets and carbs, and my migraines and muscle pain made sure to keep my ass planted. No celebrating yet.
The depression seemed to feel worsening, and I had to work past that over the weeks of detoxing. I also had really intense heart palpitations. My heart fluttered so much at times I felt like I couldn’t breathe, which made me anxious.
Detoxing from caffeine is no joke. It really screws with dopamine levels in the brain, and I believe, especially after my detox period that it might permanently alter brain chemistry, and I am not alone in thinking that. There seems to be quite a few researchers that believe the same.
However, by the seventh day I noticed the headache wasn’t as intense, my neck pain was getting better, and the biggest surprise was waking up, and feeling ready to go. I felt alive when I woke up, not like a sack of lifeless rocks. For years, I have had a terrible time feeling awake in the morning. Always sluggish, slow moving, not fully thinking, and turned on until 2 cups of coffee by 10 am. Here it was 6am, and I was awake. I could get used to this!
The symptoms gradually and slowly kept improving over the next two weeks, so by the time we were TTC, I really wasn’t affected by the detox anymore. I gave myself 3 weeks to get off coffee entirely before TTC. That means I got through my normal PMS symptoms too, without coffee. Oh, and I happened to have a painful and infected root canal treatment during this time too. Can’t say I would wish that on my enemies, not that I have any known enemies, but still. I came out of it, and better yet, my son and husband are alive and well too. Hahahaha, ok, joking aside, detoxing from caffeine is rough. It does take determination and a plan. So this is what I did.
One week prior to quitting altogether I began reducing how much I drank. So all in all it took me a month to really detox before TTC. The week of reducing that lead to the three weeks of withdrawals. Reducing wasn’t too bad. By the last day of reducing I had a half cup of coffee, took a few sips, and didn’t finish it. I was sad to see my last cup, but ultimately I had a convincing reason to quit. That helped a lot. I think it’s super important to make your list of reasons, or maybe you only have one reason, for why you are quitting. You need to cling to that, because it’s your goal, your motivation, and something you don’t want to give up on. Detoxing is not child’s play and so you need to feel good about your reason for quitting, or you might relapse. Which, if you do, don’t beat yourself up. Try again. If you really want to be free of an addiction, it takes time, support, and a plan. Be compassionate towards yourself.
I made more time for stretching/yoga, cardio, and walks. My muscles became very stiff, and I was in a lot of pain, so making sure I kept my body moving encouraged me to keep going, keep persevering through the withdrawals. I also took a hot salt bath every night. I only use Dead Sea salt. I don’t trust toxic Epsom salt from China, so Dead Sea salt has been my go to for years. It always helps me relax, and eases my aches and pains.
I also kept coconut oil mixed with essential oils of peppermint, wintergreen, and lavender available. I would rub this on my hands, feet, neck, shoulders, and especially across my forehead and scalp to help with the pain and migraines. I also used Arnica gel, and my most favorite thing for pain and stiffness, magnesium oil. I spray magnesium oil on and massage it in to all my aches and pains. That stuff is truly a miracle worker.
I took naps when I could. I am not a napper. I have a hard time letting down and taking a nap, mostly due to guilt issues about taking a break. I’m a SAHM, homeschooling my pre-teen, and a bit of a workaholic, so not easy to stop for a nap during the day. But I took one almost every day for the three weeks when I was heavily detoxing. Even a little ten to fifteen minute siesta helped.
I drank a lot of water. I mean a lot of water, like a gallon a day. I also distill my water. If you can’t get a distiller for your home, then at least filter your tap water. Tap water is nasty, and that’s a whole other post.
I had immediately switched over to herbal tea in the morning on day one without coffee. I knew I would need something warm to replace my cup of coffee. I enjoy having something warm to drink first thing in the morning. So I bought an organic, Non- GMO pregnancy tea, and also chamomile with lavender. Chamomile is great at helping with having too much caffeine in the body as well as detoxing from caffeine. It was tough at first. Even now many weeks later, even enjoying my pregnancy tea, I miss my hot cup of coffee. Herbal tea just isn’t the same as coffee. I like it, but it’s not the same. I also gave up Chamomile once we began TTC as that can cause complications for fertility and pregnancy as well.
These were my most important things I did as I detoxed. I think being patient with yourself is really important. It’s not easy, I can’t say that enough. I drank coffee for years, even knowing I really shouldn’t have with some of the health problems I have, but it was my one thing I totally loved, and I was addicted. Gluten, dairy, sugar, yeah, not easy, and I still goof on those things here and there and have to watch myself, but coffee, oh coffee, it just was never something I could pull myself to truly give up. It was an addiction. It really was. It still is. I have been without a cup for about 8 weeks now, but I still miss it. I don’t crave it, I don’t feel the detox symptoms now, and if I do, well they are probably just going to get confused with pregnancy symptoms. I miss it for the routine I had for so long. I miss it for the way I thought for so long I really needed it to get going. I miss it for its smell and flavor. I miss it for it really had been there through so much, for so many years. I use to smoke a long time ago, like a lifetime ago. I quit that cold turkey, and it didn’t bother me a bit. I don’t miss it. I don’t reminisce about smoking, but not having coffee is like not having a close friend. Maybe it’s still too early, and I haven’t quite let go of my love for coffee, and with more time the idea won’t even be there. I feel its grip loosening still. It’s feeling more like an old memory that is fading away.
My heart has much fewer heart palpitations now, and in the last week my depression has lifted. I went through a patch of depression during those detox weeks. It made me feel really down, and I blogged about that too. My business has been a source of ups and downs for me over the last year, but it became my catalyst for the depression I felt. I know now that it was my brain adjusting to dopamine levels, and the withdrawals of caffeine, but the depression sucked. It really made me feel poorly. Luckily, I had positive things to think about, like getting’ down and makin a baby, and I understand how to combat against depression naturally and through proactive measures, such as making a gratitude list, eating healthy, and exercise. However, it’s important to understand the depression that comes with withdrawals from an addiction is real, and you need to give yourself time, have a plan, and be ready for it if it happens. Even then, the depression might still suck you in a bit. That’s one pf the reasons why I write. It’s one of my coping methods and has been for a long time.
If you are looking to quit an addiction, even if it is not coffee, there is so much information online. Be clear in your goals, have intention, list what you are grateful for, make your plan for healthy eating, exercise, support from friends or family or an online group, take time to rest, take time to meditate or pray, drink lots of water. Take the time you need to nourish yourself, allow your body to go through the detox phase, and don’t throw too much on your work load. Ultimately, you will come out of it, and you will be stronger for it. Coffee jokes float around often online, but truth is it can become an addiction, and when you show yourself that nothing can have a hold over you, when you show yourself you are strong, you will come out on top, and feel better.
Eight weeks without coffee, and aside from pregnancy symptoms, I feel better without it. I am glad I have escaped its grip. I haven’t made a big statement that I won’t ever drink it again after the baby is born and after I’m finished nursing, but I will know if, well most likely when, I ever do pick up a cup of coffee again how much it has manipulated me in the past, and that I am stronger and feel better without it. I don’t need it. Detoxing from coffee showed me how I had abused myself, and I just don’t believe that any form of abuse is okay. I am a strong, intelligent woman, and there is no substance that should have that much control in my life.