My Obsessive and Compulsive Caffeine Quandary

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I have a rather extreme proclivity to anxiety. You name the type of anxiety, I have it. I could write only about anxiety and fill as much space as I do with OCD, but it would be far less interesting. It is a fog, how much more do you need to know about it? It is just a fog of worry attached to everything from the mail to potential fires in the house.

Caffeine is not good for anxiety.

I’ve cut my caffeine down to one small cup per day. I was drinking a lot more. A lot. I don’t want to mention how much because I feel—even in writing to strangers I don’t know—I will be judged on doing the precise opposite of what one with anxiety issues should do. All day, every day.

Cutting down the caffeine worked. It actually does. Oh, if you’re looking to try this—prepare for a few days of headaches that feel like bricks to the back of the head. Scratch that—bricks in the back of the head.

Getting over the headaches and some minor adjustments to being tired in a different manner weren’t too difficult, and once I accomplished this all—the anxiety issues have muted a bit.

Oh, but enter mood. I also have issues with mood. Here’s the thing: caffeine at a certain level lifts my mood, as I thrive on using energy. And caffeine is energy. No, I won’t entertain other methods of getting energy—caffeine is it. At a certain level. So that seems easy, right? Find the right level, and stick to it. So much caffeinated coffee (my caffeine delivery mechanism of choice) at specific times of day, and I’m good.

Not so easy. You see, with my OCD, this becomes something very akin to a science experiment. That isn’t a metaphor.

The one thing I deal with in relation to my OCD is a very acute sense of time and my mood at that time. I obsess over needing to feel my best in the future and the past. The part about the past is the most difficult, as I cannot travel back in time. But that does not stop me from thinking of actions I took in the near past and how they are affecting me now. And then the future—obsession mostly lies within the constructs of the future. I am obsessed over something that will occur in the future. I am obsessed over what I am doing in the present, with nearly one-hundred percent of my focus being on how that will affect my future.

Back to caffeine. It is a drug, a substance, with effects. Therefore, with the way I think, measurement is something I obsess over. I won’t stop drinking coffee, so I’ve gone to mixing caffeinated grounds with decaf grounds to attempt to come up with what is the perfect mixture that:

1. Gives me the energy I need, keeps me not tired
2. Mitigates the anxiety as per doctor’s orders

These are constraints. They can actually be measured, or so I am positive of. I am, in fact, positive that all things can be measured.

What does this have to do with my OCD? Well, when faced with constraints I am naturally faced with decisions that involve time. Decisions happen and cannot be taken back. My OCD hates this. I am obsessed, in this case, over how much caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee grounds to put into my mix at different times of the day.

And by obsessed, I mean I have taken it to practically the individual ground of coffee. Or, more accurately and truthfully—the pinch. I will take pinches of caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee and throw them into the mix to be brewed, or from the mix to be brewed into the garbage. Back and forth. Over and over. Obsessing over the end result as per the two criteria mentioned before.

Once finished and brewing, I’m not happy. I want to perfect it more, but there is no way to rewind time and re-engineer my mix of coffee grounds. So I drink my coffee and worry1 that I am either drinking too much caffeine and will feel the ill effects of such, or not enough caffeine and will not receive the energy—and thus mood—boost I need.

I do this every day. I do this sometimes two to three times per day. That is the OCD part.

So if in a hypothetical world you were to ask me if I wanted to grab a cup of coffee, just know that… this… above… is where my mind will be.


1 Yes, the irony of worry in this situation is not lost on me  [BACK]