Guess what I'm doing right now? Drinking coffee!
Guess what I'll be doing tonight? Getting drunk!
That's right, boys and girls, it's been two months--two months and two days to be exact--since my last drunken, caffeinated, stoned binge. And I'm proud to say that I have not consumed a single drop or inhaled a single toke of drug saturated substances (actually, that's not quite true--I did have some decaf--but more on that below).
So what are the results?
Well, last time we spoke was around this time last month, I said this:
I do feel better, but not as much as I thought I would.
I remember from my various 2 week stretches that within the second week, I got my energy back. This has happened, but I was expecting it to be a bit more steady. I'm finding that it's a bit more hit and miss. I'm not fully alert and full of energy throughout the whole day. I'm finding that on some days, still need a nap in the afternoon--not as bad, mind you, and not for as long--but it still happens. I'm finding that I'm usually at my energy peek late in the evening. I remember this from my teenage-hood. I would often stay up 'til 1 or 2 in the morning--I just wasn't tired. I got hooked on caffein in the summer of 98 (I remember because I remember who it was who introduced me to caffein pills), so that would make me 22 at the time. I'm finding that pattern has returned. But it's a mixed blessing. It's not so good on a work night when I need to get at least 8 hours of sleep. Even if I go to bed, I tend to lie there awake thinking about shit until 2 or 3 in the morning. Then I'm dead tired for the rest of the day afterwards.
Why, oh, why could I not have this energy throughout the day?!
As for the moodiness, I'm not really as grumpy in the morning--not really grumpy at all, in fact--but I've found I haven't really become any less prone to depression <-- it's not much of a surprise that this is more psychological than physiological.
At least in the last two weeks, this pattern has changed. I'm not sure why. It's been a lot more steady. My sleep patterns have become what I'd call "normal"--that is, I generally get tired around 10:00-11:00 and I'm able to get a good night sleep--waking up at around 6 and feeling relatively refreshed. Throughout the day I have enough energy to get me through--still needing a bit of a nap in the afternoon, but like I said, not nearly as much or for as long as when I was drinking and caffeinating myself--and generally able to go home, get some chores done, spend some time with the kids, and go to bed at the same time. I wouldn't say I'm overly energetic--nothing like the caffeine highs that would keep me up 'til 2:00/3:00 o'clock in the morning--but I'd say I'm as energetic as I need to be. And what else would I expect? I've given my body a chance to take care of its own sleep and wakeful cycles. It'll manage them in just the right way--just the right amount of energy throughout the day, just the right amount of sleep throughout the night, getting tired just at the right time in the evening, and feeling refreshed from a good night's sleep at the right time in the morning. This also explains some of the more erratic ups and downs I experienced earlier in this experiment: they say that caffeine is like a block shoved behind the breaks of your car--with a block there, you can't apply the breaks, and so your brain just keeps buzzing, your bodily engines just keep churning the pistons--until you crash. But with my body taking over with its natural mechanism, there's nothing blocking it from slowing down when it needs to and speeding up when it needs to. So yes, abstaining from caffeine has allowed my body to naturally boost up the energy levels, but in a controlled
fashion, such that it can turn them down when it needs to--and that's not always going to be at a consistent time of day. On some days I may need more sleep than usual--let's say because I had to get up early that day, or I did a lot of physical labor that day, or because I was depressed--and on those days, my body will tone down the energy levels. Other days it won't--I know that on the days where I couldn't get to sleep at a regular hour were days when my mind was dwelling on something, something bothering me or I was stressed about something--and my body accommodated by keeping me up a little while longer so that I could work those issues through in my mind. The point is, with my body in control of my sleep/wake cycles, it can decide when to put on the breaks and when to step on the gas, whereas with caffeine, stepping on the breaks is just not an option until it has dissipated from my system.
But yeah, I don't completely understand all the reasons for these ups and downs, but I suspect a huge part of it has to do with some emotional trials I've been going through (which tells me that my depression is not
just drug induced). Some days I feel good, some days not. I'm a dweller. On bad days, I dwell over certain issues. This dwelling can go long into the night, and keeps me from sleeping. Other days, I'm feeling good, and this too can keep me up because, well, I feel good and I'm too excited to go to sleep. Another thing I have to take into consideration is that during the first month, I took a lot of time off work for the Christmas holidays--which means a lot more sleeping in and lazing around the house--which obviously does affect my sleep patterns and energy levels--not to mention the unhealthy eating from all the holiday junk food and irregular meals.
But like I said, for the past two weeks, I've been rather steady with my sleep patterns--not quite steady emotionally--but no ups and downs with how tired or wakeful I feel. One thing that I think factored into this was that about two to three weeks ago, I stopped drinking decaf. Before that, I thought, what the hell--I'm on a caffeine fast, might as well drink decaf as a substitute--until, out of curiosity, I decided to google the caffeine content of decaf only to find that there are significant traces of caffeine therein. Who would a' thunk? Not nearly as much as a regular cup of coffee, of course, but sometimes more than tea. Shit! I thought to myself. I've always had my suspicions that my body is extra sensitive to even the slightest doses of chemicals I put into it, and though with this minor amount of caffeine, I'd never get a buzz, maybe my body was still reacting to it. So I decided to lay off the decaf--and about a week later, my energy and sleep patterns began to stabilize, and at a relatively high level (like I said, nothing like the caffeine buzz that would keep me up into the wee hours of the morning, but enough to feel good and to feel that I can take on the day). I think this correlation--abstaining from decaf and my sleep and energy levels stabilizing about a week later--is too isolated an incident to draw any conclusions, but it's a possibility worth testing out again in the future.
So was it worth it? Of course. To learn some things about myself, sure it's worth it. Would I do it again. Yes--that's part of the plan. But based on these last few months, I'd want to repeat the exact same experiment. That is, even though I said in my OP, subsequent experiments like this would involved different combinations of the drugs--maybe abstaining from alcohol and caffeine but not psychedelics, or abstaining from all substances except alcohol--I think this one (in which I abstain from all substances period) needs to be repeated. This time, I'd want to go the full 2 months without decaf. I also want to see how I feel emotionally and spiritually. The drugs I do, and the psychedelics in particular, have always been a source of moral and spiritual inspiration for me, and I imagine a life without drugs would feel empty and meaningless. I have
had feelings like this on occasion throughout the past 2 months, my self-esteem taking a toll in the process, but even without the drugs, there's just too many factors involved to say definitively why I feel this way. Could just be the usually mood swings. I think everyone feels their lives are empty and meaningless when they sink into a depression--that's just the nature of the beast--and as I said in another thread, my self-esteem tends to go all over the map anyway--so I can't just yet pin these feelings all on a lack of drugs. But it's true--on those Fridays, when I allow myself to get buzzed on the caffeine and then drunk and stoned at night, it leaves me with a kind of spiritual boost such that I feel temporarily rejuvenated. I wonder if I need
the drugs for this.
So I want to try this again when there isn't so much shit going on in my life that would seriously confound the experiment (I'm not telling you everything that's been going on in my life over the past 2 months, and that's on purpose, but suffice it to say that it's been somewhat of an emotional roller coaster ride). And yes, I know that we can't control for the emotional intrusions into our lives, and there's always
going to be emotional bombs that drop on us periodically throughout our lives--two months without emotional challenges to deal with? Yeah right!
--but these past few months have been especially trying. I'm aiming for the end of this upcoming summer, not so much because I'm just that good at forecasting when the emotional storms are going to hit and when I'm going to enjoy calmer emotional weather, but because I want to factor in body weight and exercise. You see, it's a pattern with me that in the summer time, I bike to work--and it's a good hour bike ride one way--and I also diet to lose weight. In the winter, I let myself go. I've got an almost insatiable appetite, so when I just give in to my desires to eat, I can get fat really quickly over the course of only a few months (well, not really
fat, but I do develop a noticeable gut). So I get fat by the time spring hits, and skinny by the time fall hits. Right now, I'm fat. I want to try this out again when I'm skinny. This will test two things: 1) how my body weight affects my mood and sleep patterns, and 2) how exercise affects my mood and sleep patterns (btw, whoever it was who said exercise gives you more energy was full of shit
--I'm exhausted on days when I bike to work and back, at least in the evenings, although it is true that for about an hour or two after the bike ride, the adrenaline is still in my system and I feel a bit more energized. But this is just common sense if you think about it--you work your body hard, you're going to get tired. But to be fair, I do have to test this a bit more scientifically: is the exhaustion partly a result of the drugs, or can I pin it solely on exercise?). I think this experiment would fit nicely in the fall season. Why? Because it would be nice to split it up between a period during which I'm riding my bike, and a period during which I've retired my bike for the winter season due to snow fall (I will not
ride my bike after the snow begins to fall). That way, I will have a bit of a period during which I'm not exercising yet I'm still skinny (will have to hold off on stopping my diet so I stay thin for the duration of the experiment--and even there, an even more nuanced factor is introduced: body weight vs. rate of food intake--they say that the body is naturally more energized when hungry--why? They say because it needs that energy in order to hunt for food--which is subtly different from being energize due to stickiness--so I think I'll have to stay hungry for a bit).
Anyway, I'm going to report back in maybe a week or two and let you all know how I'm feeling then. I think this is important because it's not just about recognizing how I feel during the drug fast, but also recognizing how I feel after the fast is over--and well
after it is over (i.e. one or two weeks) so that the drugs have had a chance to return me into my prior state/pattern, the one I was in before the fasting. It just grounds the conclusions I can draw from this experience more reliable... so stay tuned.
Yours truly, Grumpy Cat: