I had my first coffee the summer after the eleventh grade. Up until then, I had indulged in macchiatos and lattes but hadn't yet tried actual coffee. I still remember that first cup of java. It was pretty crappy instant coffee loaded with milk and sugar, but I was hooked.
Since that day, I've had at least one cup of coffee every day. It has become such an ingrained part of my morning. It's as natural to me as waking up and checking my phone or brushing my teeth. I don't even think about it anymore. I've also evolved from my milk and sugar days to taking it black. On the average day, I have a cup or two of coffee and another caffeinated drink, like a latte.
The few times I've gone without any coffee I'm cranky, headache-y, and irritated. I feel like a zombie. So, when I decided to try and skip caffeine for a whole week (which also meant no mid-day lattes), I knew I was in for a rough seven days.
Spoiler alert: I hated it. Do not try this at home. 10/10 would not recommend.
Not only was this my first caffeine-free day in who knows how long, but it was also right after Halloweekend. I'd spent the past two nights getting hardly any sleep at all, and I woke up Sunday desperately wanting a cup of coffee. I spent the day in bed watching Netflix and feeling like I'd been hit by a truck.
Since I didn't need to function, I didn't notice the lack of caffeine. However, I had one of the best sleeps of my life on Sunday night. I don't remember the last time I fell asleep at 11:00 pm and slept straight through until the next morning. Note: that was the only positive.
I woke up at 10:00 am feeling pretty rested but weird about not being able to grab a coffee with my breakfast. I opted for orange juice instead and it just wasn't the same.
Cue the withdrawal headache. It started an hour after I woke up, and on this day, I really felt the effects of not drinking coffee. I had class all day long, right until 8:00 pm, and by the time I got home, I was ready to fall asleep. My withdrawal headache intensified and it refused to be remedied by Advil.
I also noticed that my brain felt a bit slower. I had a harder time concentrating in class and on my work. I was also quite irritable, with small things bugging me (like my housemate brewing coffee right in front of me). Again, the only positive was another night of deep sleep.
At first, I thought my headache on Monday might have been a coincidence. It wasn't—the headache refused to go away.
I also wasn't focusing very well. It seemed like certain tasks that I breezed through quickly with caffeine were taking me longer and requiring more focus.
I worked out because I read that it could help combat caffeine withdrawal symptoms. While it did help me feel a bit more awake, I was still dying for a cup of coffee. I went to Starbucks to do some homework and wanted to cry into my hot chocolate. However, once again, I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.
The dreadful headache had yet to subside, despite how much water I drank to make up for the lack of caffeine. I must admit, going without coffee was like walking around with heavy eyelids all day. I felt so sleepy, no matter how well I was sleeping at night.
The lack of caffeine also took a large toll on my mood. I was irritable and cranky, two qualities I absolutely attribute to my lack of coffee. I'd warned my friends that I might say some things I didn't mean during the week, but at this point, I was tempted to just lock myself in my room.
Thursday was harder than usual (although every day without coffee is a hard day in my eyes) because I didn't have a great sleep the night before. I had to get through the day on little sleep and no caffeine. Safe to say, my headache remained.
I also began to feel very lethargic and unmotivated to do anything. I couldn't focus on much during this stage of withdrawal. My brain was practically begging me for a coffee. Whenever I could smell my housemates making it, I wanted to scream at them (cue the caffeine-related irritability) because that should be my coffee (cue the delirium). Two days left of this madness, and the normal Victoria would resume.
The upside to today was that I only needed to go one more day without my morning coffee! I spent the day studying for a midterm I had that evening, despite my pounding headache.
This was also the first Friday of the school year I didn't go out. Why, you ask? Because by 8:00 pm, I was ready to fall asleep and my head felt like it was being squished by an elephant.
Today was the last morning I had to survive without a cup of coffee and hallelujah to that. Not only was I tired, in pain, and delirious, but my emotions were completely out of whack. I spent the day at the library writing a 3,000-word essay and started legitimately crying around 5:00 pm because I didn't feel like writing anymore.
Again, I didn't go out. I just listened to my housemates having a great time while I sat in bed binge-watching One Tree Hill and crying because Brooke Davis almost died in the storm but was revived by her heart-throb husband (spoilers). I fell asleep happy, knowing that in the morning, I could finally have a cup of coffee.
Here's my takeaway: this is a horrible idea. On Sunday, I woke up, ran to the kitchen, popped a K-cup into my Keurig and made myself a cup of java. I drank it in less than ten minutes and finally my head stopped hurting. I had this new energy — I was happy! I french-braided my hair! I felt like I could run a marathon! I went to the library nice and early, ready to take on the day.
During this experiment, I did some research on caffeine withdrawal and addiction. Fun fact: it is very real. The side effects are no joke. Despite this being an entertaining article, it took a major toll on my body. I wish I could say that I've decided to become a health nut and keep drinking orange juice and tea and be calm and do yoga, but no. I'm a caffeine junkie. I will never, ever do this again.
Beware: if you're as addicted (or more addicted) than me, don't try this unless you want to be a crying, headache-y, zombie-monster hybrid for a week.