I Feel The Need For Speed

…….in caffeinated form only, of course!

My love affair with the stimulant began way back around age 8, when a somewhat older boy I had a crush on gave me my first cup of coffee. It was loaded with sugar and Cremora, but I felt sooo sophisticated and grown-up that I actually bragged to my parents that I’d taken up the “habit”.

Well, they were decidedly less enthusiastic about this development than I, but before too long I was allowed to have small amounts on weekend mornings. By the time I was 13, I was drinking coffee, tea, and Coke more or less all the time, decades before coffee became the drug of choice for anyone tall enough to peep over the counter at the espresso bar. Eventually the cream and sugar went away and my preference changed to straight black coffee that’s strong enough to get out of the cup and walk away on its own…..and forty-odd years later, that’s the way I still drink it.

I truly can’t get enough of the stuff. While I drink a fair amount of sweet tea and caffeinated sodas —and the occasional Red Bull—I also down about three-fourths of a pot of coffee every day, winter or summer. My caffeine habit is so bad, in fact, that I literally go through withdrawal if I don’t have any over the course of a day. I mean, I’ve been known to come out of general anesthesia begging for a cup of java so I don’t get the headache!

Unfortunately, however, caffeine consumption is not recommended for the bipolar person who happens to have mania as her predominant “pole”. I have a friend who works in a psychiatric facility, and she tells me that the patients aren’t allowed ANY caffeine during their stay; talk about cruel and unusual punishment! I wouldn’t make it through the first 24 hours—it’s got to be bad enough being in there anyway, but to have a thunderstorm raging in your head at the same time? Perish the thought…..{{{shudders}}}

Which brings up a chicken-or-the-egg kind of question that I asked my private Facebook group members today: does caffeine contribute to the exacerbation of mania, or do manic people take in more caffeine to keep the rush going? A couple seem to think that it’s the first rather than the second, although there is an argument for the latter hypothesis as well. Probably it’s a combination of both, because I’ve noticed that when I drink a lot of coffee I get really wired, like I could thread a sewing machine needle while it’s running. However, I also tend to drink a lot of coffee BECAUSE I’m wired, and I like the feeling of it (even though I know this is not a good thing).

What do you think? Do we love our cuppa joe because we’re manic, or do we get manic because we love our cuppa joe?

Published by bpnurse

I'm a retired registered nurse and writer who also happens to be street-rat crazy, if the DSM-IV.....oops, 5---is to be believed. I was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder at the age of 55, and am still sorting through the ashes of the flaming garbage pile that my life had become. Here, I'll share the lumps and bumps of a late-life journey toward sanity.... along with some rants, gripes, sour grapes and good old-fashioned whining from time to time. It's not easy being bipolar in a unipolar world; let's figure it out together.

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