Monday, 16 February 2015

Re-LENT-Less

Hi all. As tomorrow is Shrove Tuesday, I've finally scraped together the guts to do a post that I've been thinking about for months now. I wasn't raised Catholic so I guess I don't have to give something up for Lent, but after 13 years of Catholic education, it's been drilled into my brain that it's simply what you do, religious background aside. So let's get down to it, shall we?

My name is Sophie and I am an addict. Not an alcoholic, nor addicted to smoking, drugs, gambling or sex. I'm a caffeine addict yet I've never once drank a full cup of tea or coffee. My poison? Relentless.




When I was at uni, I used to drink energy drinks a fair amount. Initially, it was because usually the choice was that or Coke, and I hate Coke. I wasn't fussy, anything from the Red Bull if I'd just been paid to Tesco Blue Bolt when the purse strings were tight, but honestly, anything in between would do. At the time, my uni mates would slag me off and it was all a bit of a joke - 'oh look, Sophie's on it again' - and I, as much as everyone else, would laugh along cause it was kind of funny I guess.

As uni pressures increased in my final year though, and most of my days consisted of lengthy library sessions, with short blasts of sleep or work in between, a can of artificial, sugary caffeine was as routine a part of my library survival pack as my USB drive with all my work on it or a notebook and pen. I didn't really feel like I needed it as such, I just bought it every morning almost absentminded. 

It'd be easy to say it was the stress of deadlines, but since graduating though, I've not really made any effort to try and drink it less of it and it's just as much of a part of my routine now as it was two years ago. Currently I drank at least one can 500ml can every day (sometimes more) and I definitely do feel a certain level of dependency and possibly addiction. 

It's not even just a tired or stressed thing any more. It's almost something I just do as a little treat whether I'm dealing with good or bad. You hear about alcoholics drinking to both celebrate and commiserate and although I'd wouldn't consider my habit to be on the same level or severity as alcoholism, I definitely think I do that too. In a good mood, maybe got out of work early, feeling excited for a night out or finished up for a weekend off? I'll have one, just as a little treat, not because I'm feeling particularly tired or in need of energy. On the opposite end of the spectrum though, if I'm feeling down or anxious, it's my go-to pick-me-up. I guess it's probably the same as people who're addicted to eating. Chocolate for happy times, chocolate for sad times.

In the Summer of 2014, I moved jobs, the same company but a different branch. When I started there, I thought that might've been an opportunity to 'reinvent' myself in regards to my soft spot for caffeine, drink more water and just generally have a healthier approach to my hydration habits but it was only a matter of weeks before even my new team had picked on it the fact that I almost always had caffeine on call and it became a bit of a running joke there too. Although the the new environment and new people were nice, the change was more difficult for me than I expected (I left my old branch with a mere two days notice) and I spend a good few months experiencing really bad anxiety. With my heart rate like a train rattling down a old wooden track, I knew the amount of caffeine I consumed was even worse than usual yet I still didn't make any proper decision to stop or at the very least, cut down. 

On top of that, the insomnia which I sometimes suffer from as a result of my back problems and depression was more frequent, I was either exhausted and sluggish or I was physically restless while mentally drained. For one of the first times in my life, my mental health and my physical health had actually intersectioned and for some reason, this came as a surprise to me. 

Now though, it's nearly Lent and I have no reason not to at least try and curb my addiction. I'm in a much better place at work, I'm happier and love the people I work with and look back on my snap decision to move branches with no regrets whatsoever. I no longer have such direct sources of stress and worry from work or uni and while my anxiety is still ongoing, this limited time period of 40 days and 40 nights makes the decision to cut back seem a little more manageable. While I'm at it, I've giving chocolate the boot too and I'm deactivating my Facebook.

Wish me luck...