Quitting Coffee Is Proving Impossible

I have some health problems so I went to the doctor. The doctor ran some tests. He asked if I see a therapist. I said I do. I said it’s for severe anxiety. He said, how much coffee do you drink a day? I laughed in his face.

He, a medical professional, did not also laugh. He said, if you have anxiety it’s probably not good to drink so much caffeine. I said, Oh? He said, Start by drinking your normal amount. After four days, cut that in half. Then wait four more days and cut that amount in half again. Until you get to no coffee.

I asked if energy drinks and soda count. He gave me a look.

Here is how miserable I feel without coffee:

I wake up and want to barf. I am exhausted. My head hurts. By around 4 p.m., I am so tired I am dead on my feet. I feel nauseous. I feel slow and fuzzy. I want to sleep all the time. I nap on the train. I wake up tired and then nothing helps me become productive. I am a robot and coffee is my fuel.

I went back to see the doctor and I told him I did not last. He had also asked me to cut out dairy and though I love cheese and pizza and cheese pizza, I have been able to do that with little problem. But the quitting coffee thing is not working out. He did not seem surprised. He said he can’t force me to change anything, unless I was like, doing heroin or murdering children — but he still strongly recommended I quit.

I have heard this before. I am a workaholic and I love stimulants. For a while about two years ago, I tried to drink green tea instead. I guess it’s better for you. But green tea is not coffee. Even my occasional Red Bull or Pepsi isn’t coffee. Coffee is special.

Here’s what I love about coffee:

The smell. The ritual of preparation. The taste. The comfort. The convenience. The warmth of the cup. The cool of the ice. The jolt that starts your day. The pick up at the end of a long day. The taste. The smell. The association with love and social interaction. The way my dad would always make a big pot of it because he’s an alcoholic and they love coffee and so in some weird way, maybe I associate coffee with my dad and with his sobriety, which ended a long childhood period of anxiety for me and so probably when I drink or smell coffee I instinctively calm down because it’s okay, little girl, Daddy isn’t drinking anymore, it’s all going to be okay and other deeply ingrained psychological truths. Also, the taste.

Dear coffee, I miss you babe. We’ve been through more together than I can say about any other beverage. Please come back to me. I feel like crap. My brain hurts. My mouth hurts. My body hurts. I understand this to be withdrawal symptoms but I don’t care. I love you, coffee. It is impossible to leave you and I don’t know why I even tried. I am silly. Please forgive me. I’ll never try to quit you again. TC Mark

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