Up until January 1, 2013, I would generally enjoy several cans of Coca-Cola a day, since the age of 4 probably (don’t judge, it was the early 80s). When I was in my early teens, I started to see the symptoms of anxiety, although I didn’t know what was going on with me. When I first started suffering, it was really hard on me. I didn’t really know what it was, how to control it, how to get through it; I’d end up convinced I was about to die, and completely exhausted once it passed. Never attributed them to anything but some kind of “chemical imbalance”, or maybe I was “just at that age”. I continued to drink soda and coffee, never knowing I was overstimulating myself and most likely causing, or at the very least, making my anxiety worse. It’s only now that I KNOW caffeine was a prime factor in my anxiety attacks.
When I first started Paleo, I was very strict about not having any coffee, eventually I went to a small cup daily. Over the past couple weeks/months, I have noticed I’ve been drinking more coffee than usual. I’ve had a lot of events taking place in my life, and I’ve been feeling a little worn out, so that might be the reason for the increased intake. Before I thought of the coffee as the cause, I noticed I was having more anxiety attacks, more frequently, and much more severe than I have had in a long time. Thought maybe it was just the stress of life weighing on me. The other day I must have had 3 or 4 cups of coffee (not normal behavior for me), and it was during the last cup that I noticed the attack. I couldn’t breathe, there was pressure on my chest, I couldn’t focus…and then it dawned on me — I’m starting to have a severe sensitivity to caffeine.
Over the past few days I decided to not have any caffeine-or any coffee at all. No anxiety. The withdrawals have been a little rough, but I’m dealing. Today I tried decaf coffee (which can contain small traces of caffeine) for the first time, a small cup…no anxiety, except maybe some self provoked by the anticipation that I may or may not have an attack because of the coffee. I guess that settles it, no more caffeine for me. I should be happy that I figured out a HUGE factor as to why I had anxiety attacks, but I’m a little bummed. I just have to be careful because I read that there can be caffeine in things you wouldn’t even think had caffeine: decaf coffee, chocolate, pain relievers, and some breath fresheners. I’m allergic to a lot of things, so being sensitive to caffeine doesn’t shock me. Just goes to further support my statement that says, we get comfortable feeling crappy, that we don’t know what it would feel like to just feel great. I accepted the attacks as the norm, boy, was I wrong.
“Caffeine, after all, is such a benevolent, socially sanctioned drug – how could those cuddly polar bears in the Coke ads, or Fred, the avuncular Dunkin’ Donuts guy, be pushers?”