I’m going to miss coffee


Here I go again.


I had stayed off the mania portion of the cycle for a good long time[1]. I hadn’t been particular up, mostly even with brief dips lower[2]. And, Murphy’s law, today is particularly inconvenient day for this – time commitments in place for later this day that will be more difficult now that my sleep is interrupted.

Without any great solution visible, I’m going to try taking stock of the usual elements and see how they compare.

Caffeine: I was on caffeine for a longer period than I prefer to be as I was trying to get a work project down. As I my mood trended down, one of the changes I made was to take a really long break from caffeine. Initially this didn’t help my mood: I was in a longer down period recently. But my body adjusted to it. And it’s possible being off caffeine helped me level back out.

And then, I allowed myself a small amount of caffeine. Really tiny amounts, like a quarter of a cup of coffee before noon only. It had the obvious productivity boost, and may have boosted my mood. That has been more or less where I’ve been for the last ten days.

And then, I had more and a bit later the last two days.

Hmmm… this could easily be the cause. I’ll come back to this in a minute.

Diet: Again shifting my diet. I had spent a lot of the down time eating “less well” and as a positive outcome of being more up I got back into a better groove. The last few days have been different. Timewise, that correlates positively with this shift but I’m not sure that is the cause or part of it. Interesting data point for future reference: shifting to eating less well correlated with an up period.

Interaction: Unsurprisingly, I spent a lot of the down period without a lot of interaction. And, even while being more level and up over the last few weeks, I haven’t resumed a normal schedule of external interactions. Last week more interaction, this week (including today), far more interaction. Again, positive correlation with the hypo-mania. A data point worth noting for future reference.

Exercise: I’ve been less regular, but doing reasonably well at getting a bit more regular exercise. No particular changes over the last week or so.

Stress: For the first time in a long time, I noted a particular sense of stress a few days ago. I chalked it up to a combination of being tired (hadn’t slept well: possible initial mania coming on[3]), the most caffeine I’d had had in a while (and part of the anxiety was just caffeine-induced), and then a few more unclosed loops – particular around social items and also some lack of tracking things well[4].[5]


Aside on caffeine and sleep. The above caffeine log and my lack of sleep would, for most people seem ridiculous. But this is how I think about caffeine more now: a mood booster. So, it isn’t caffeine’s well known effects as a stimulant on sleep. Since obviously have a quarter of a cup of caffeinated coffee between noon and 2pm today isn’t what “woke me up” directly.

However, as an additional element of pushing my mood into the “up” areas, kicking a hypo-manic period, that is how I think caffeine may be part of the problem. And the hypo-mania has as a symptom, being awake in the middle of the night.

As has been increasingly often, I am thinking of caffeine as a double edged sword: I like it and it can be positive to boost my mood when used wisely. But it seems like it is particularly dangerous.

And it might be particularly difficult to modulate when used regularly. Other than as an occasional boost to mood, it may be best to leave it alone. Not just temporarily, forever. As medicine, it’s useful when used for a specific application, but not something I should ingest regularly.

I’ll probably keep experimenting, but the above paragraph seems like a rational approach.

Not sure why, but this is the music in my brain this morning.

[1] Checking this diary, looks like it’s been the better part of a month since I’ve struggled with a hypo-manic period that robbed me of sleep.

[2] The dips were often less than a day.

[3] A few nights of waking up too early, though not in the dead of night, and without the “instant on” feeling that, together, are symptomatic of the hypo-manic sleepless period. Like tonight. And so many other nights.

[4] leaving generalized anxiety around having to do some tasking but not doing a good job of tracking the state of thing. In GTD terms: unclosed loops where the task then repeats in your brain and you don’t have the “mind like water” state.

[5] Some low-level exercise completely resolved this stress and even bounced back to a great state of contentedness.

Photo Credit: Daniel Go

I’m going to miss coffee

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