This year, in 2023, when I finally manage to give up caffeine, it will be the first time in my adult life that I have been completely drug free. I didn’t know this. I just realized it.
At one point or another in my adult life, I have either been drinking alcohol, using caffeine to pick myself up in the mornings and in the afternoons, eating sugar when I felt down or wanted to celebrate, or been on Lexapro for anxiety. I have used all of these drugs to manage my mood and energy for 30 years.
I realize that the word “drug” is a loaded term for some. Some might not want to consider sugar a drug. And that’s fine. I’m not trying to preach to anyone here. I am only trying to share what affects my energy. When I read that studies have shown that sugar is more addictive than cocaine in rats, I had to consider its affect upon me. I don’t know about you, but I have certainly treated sugar like a drug, using it to eat my feelings and avoid/emphasize certain moods. I’m trying to find new, healthier coping mechanisms now.
I don’t know what this new era is going to feel like. In the past, when I have approached this level of health, it has felt like being on a snowy peak, exposed and chilled. When I have given up these safety nets in the past, I’ve felt scared and alone. There is comfort at the bottom. There is a comfort in giving up. But that comfort is a lie. It masks so many more problems than it even pretends to solve.
So I have to brave the cold until I can grow acclimated to it. But this time it doesn’t feel so bad. I don’t know what’s different. Maybe it’s because I took it one step at a time. I gave up each drug on its own, as soon as I could. Perhaps the order I quit in helped too – first alcohol, then Lexapro, then sugar, and last caffeine. I’m not sure the order matters though. I’m also not sure I needed to come off of Lexapro. I’m just tired of being on drugs.
And my work does not stop here. As soon as I have removed all the drugs, I will have to replace them with healthy habits. I have been exercising every day for a couple weeks now, but I will have to increase the dose of exercise, especially high impact. I will also need to increase the amount of meditation and breathing exercises I am doing. And I think I will need to spend more time in nature and going for walks.
The drugs I did were a form of self-medication. I believe they were needed. I believe they pointed out real issues I have, such as being able to deal with stress well. I am starting to suspect I am not as resilient as I thought I was. I must learn why and what I can do about it. This is exciting and scary at the same time. As Joseph Campbell wrote, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”
I feels as though I am on the verge of being able to enter that cave. It hid upon the top of that snowy peak.