Why I Quit Coffee To Cure My Anxiety
By Milly Hailstone
Anxiety. Ugh. We are all plagued by it these days. It only takes a few scrolls of Instagram's explore page to find a great selfie and a heartbreaking story in the caption.
I've been asking myself, why, as a generation, we've all got bad mental health. As millennials, we've fully embraced the internet in all its glory. But, has it come at a price? Recently, I've loved watching the 'Social Media VS Reality' posts come to life.
A few years ago, I would scroll my feed and feel stressed that my life didn't compare to someone else's. But, I was only seeing tiny squares on a screen - only the highlights, the showreel. Now, everyone is opening up with the message 'what you see on social media isn't reality' which is awesome. But, that's just one battle won of a sad war that's still taking place in our minds.
I don't have the answers to why our brains are having a mass panic, but I can tell you a story of something I'm doing to reduce the chatter inside my head.
When I was living in Brighton I began drinking espressos, flat whites, and long blacks. In true English fashion, I grew up drinking tea, but I guess you could say I was drawn in by Brighton's hipster coffee shops and the creamy foam of an oat milk cortado.
My new found coffee addiction was paired with 12-hour days waiting tables. I was soon drinking 6 or 7 strong coffees to get me through life, practically unable to open my eyes unless there was a steaming cup of the black stuff in my hand. I even lived next door to a coffee shop.
Fast forward a couple of years and my anxiety is surfacing daily paired with occasional panic attacks and I'm scrolling Google to find a 'cure' or at least a way to stop screaming internally. And, that's when I see a comment about how coffee, well actually caffeine, magnifies the way a person feels. So, I'm thinking, "if I'm a little anxious, is coffee making that 10x more unbearable?". I grew up as a very anxious child, it's always been there. But is coffee f*cking me over?
I'm feeling betrayed by this point because I'd always considered coffee to be a very good friend of mine. Something I'd used for years to get me through, a faithful pal that would give me all the energy I need. It's actually pretty funny because my friends and I used to meet at our favorite coffee shop to talk about our mental health problems, while downing flat whites, and lattes. Ironic, really.
Since I've moved to Lithuania, my coffee habit has slowed down. To be honest, you can't get a decent flat white around here, anyway. So, when I started a new job in an office with a coffee machine I, naturally, picked the strongest cup - a red Nespresso capsule rated 5/5 for strength.
But in contrast, I was no longer running around a restaurant for 5 days a week, I didn't need the 5/5. Instead, I was shaking behind my desk, staring dizzily at my computer screen with caffeine coursing through my veins. It was like the episode of The Office when they all drink 16 espressos - though I didn't rip the carpets up...
It's been about 2-months since I last drank a cup of coffee, and to be honest, I feel better. My first thought was that I'll never make it through the day without my coffee, but not only has my anxiety got much quieter, I'm also sleeping better. My brain is still a really weird place but now I'm trying to befriend it, instead of dousing my awkward thoughts with sugary espressos.