I have an unhealthy habit concerning so-called energy drinks. Years ago I stopped drinking Red Bull and Rockstar, two goto beverages for me. It was bad, really bad. Some days I would drink nothing but four cans of Rockstar. Or split a case of Red Bull with one other friend.
In the same way that alcohol isn’t given the same scrutiny as other drugs due to its legality and availability, I personally didn’t pay much attention to caffeinated beverages. I of course read the stories about heart attacks in clubs, or mixing energy drinks and booze on college campuses, but I have always been risk adverse in my drug use, so those were anecdotes on usage, not indications of addiction.
I don’t use the word “addiction” lightly. I’ve cared for too many people that have struggled with, lost to, and cope daily with addiction. It is a complex subject that I take serious, to say the least. And I honestly avoid saying that I am addicted to caffeine, because it feels a lot different than other forms of substance abuse, but it is my personal struggle, and this disclaimer paragraph it my way of explaining that my relationship with chemicals is not without context and reference.
Anyhow, caffeine helps me, tremendously. It wakes me up and carries me through my tasks every day. I have all the classic symptoms of caffeine withdrawal if I abstain, but the important thing for me, the one that tips me to the side of continuing caffeine use, is the mental clarity. I don’t know how to obtain that in any other way, lifting the fog from behind my eyes, where I feel my intellect resides in my brain. It is meditation in a cuppa, because as soon as it replaces adenosine my thoughts stop flitting, and my esteem is boosted with the urge to accomplish something aside from drowning in a vortex of half-ideas and self-criticism.
I’ve replayed this conversation in my head so many times: maybe actual meditation would work; or let’s find that therapist; or maybe find some weed and see if that helps; or omg just brew the damn bag already, we have a better world to create!
Abba zaba cha, you’re my only friend!
Okay, so I quit drinking exclusively from a skinny can years ago, and find focus in tea. That was awesome, until I found “organic” energy drinks. That was the keyword that let my brain spin a new narrative of convenience and consumption.
Brewing a cup of tea is an honored practice, because it is sacred technology: we found a way to cultivate a state of mind, and that ain’t nothing. But it requires a modicum of patience and planning, which is the perfect hook for my addiction. I began finding ways to skip my tea and go straight to a carbonated shot of tart juice.
If you asked me on any given day why I stopped drinking Rockstar, I could only answer that it wasn’t healthy for me. The details are obscured through years of bodily experience overwriting the sensations of dehydration and illness. But not today. Today I know that all too well.
It started about a week ago, I needed to meet someone and didn’t have room for my tea cup in my bag, but there is a grocery on the way. Easy choice. And then another meeting. And then renting the car to go on a day trip. And the other meeting, to start off the work week. And of course getting an impatient Clover out the door.
It adds up to not just a lot of crap, but it also escalates. And my body can’t handle it, so it began to crack and hurt, the definitive feedback loop for “drink more/some/any water, idiot”.
As I was up at 5:30AM this morning (not unusual for me), chugging water so I could be comfortable laying down, feeling the guilty glug of liquid in my stomach, unable to drink water fast enough, I decided I needed to document this for myself. There will come times when I feel rushed to get out the door, to turn to a silvery can instead of a dried leaf. I hope in those times I recall that not only did I externalize this memory, but I did so in public, which has been tied to strengthening the resolve of those kicking addiction.
Maybe one day I will be able to walk away from tea, but that is another discussion. Today I need to just find balance… and drink some water.