Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Brainwave is caffeine-fuelled

I have a problem. I’m addicted to caffeine.

Coffee - I can't think without it. Photo: Alex Fairhill
Coffee - I can't think without it. Photo: Alex Fairhill.
My family has a running gag – if I do something forgetful or silly, it’s because my coffee hasn’t kicked in. I realised today how true that was. 
I’m not an addict in the sense that I must have six cups a day or I’ll turn into a monster – in fact, if I have too much I get jittery. I’ve had one energy drink in my life, while working a double shift; and I couldn’t concentrate, didn’t sleep that night, and vowed never again to touch the stuff.

Using a pod machine, I make one coffee when I get up. I’ll have a second about 10am, but if I have caffeine after 2pm I won’t sleep. Fair warning to restaurateurs – if I order a post-dinner decaf and you give me full-strength, I’ll know. At 3am, my racing brain will be proof.

I recently ran out of full-strength pods and have been drinking decaf, using it as an opportunity to detox and to slow down. I thought I was going well.

Signs of addiction can be physical, like waking up with headaches; or can affect other people – like today. We carpool the school run with another family – and normally they’ll walk to school in the morning and I’ll drive their son home after school. We’ve had terrible weather this week and I offered to drive this morning if needed.

This morning I got a text message: ‘We have a lift,’ and replied ‘No worries. See you at school.’ I took my son to class, and didn’t see the other family but didn’t think much of it – parents were dropping off kids and rushing back to dry cars. I returned to my car, then saw a message on my phone – ‘Are you on the way’. I re-examined the first message – it actually said ‘Can we get a lift.’ I’d completely misread it. Words that I won’t repeat went through my head as I gunned it as quickly and safely as I could in a 40km/h school zone and drove towards our friends’ house, coming across them halfway to school. Apologising profusely, I drove their son to school. Luckily my friend saw the humour in it all, but I felt terrible. We had a laugh about it over a full-strength cafe coffee – my shout – and once the caffeine fired up my synapses I clicked that it wasn’t an isolated event.

On the weekend, I spent half of Auskick watching a kid run around before realising it wasn’t my son. They look similar, especially from a distance, but they were in different groups – and there’s no excuse for not recognising your own child!

Last week I thought Thursday was Friday. I almost took my son to a regular sporting commitment a day early and thought the evening TV schedule was wrong.

On the morning of my recent 40th birthday I got a cup out of the drawer, put it under the coffee machine spout, then got a cup out of the drawer and wondered why there was already a cup under the spout – all in the space of five seconds, but I put that down to ‘age’. And possibly shock at turning 40.

It’s not unusual for me to make coffee without putting a pod in; or make two because I’ve forgotten about the first, half-drunk one. I’ll forget what I’m saying mid-sentence. I have turned up to an appointment a day early. All of this has happened when I haven’t had that caffeine kick-start.

So I acknowledge I have a problem – my brain cannot physically function without caffeine. As far as problems go it’s not a bad one, but I have restocked my coffee supplies today. And I’ll never try the morning kick-start with decaf again.


  1. I'm pleased to report that after switching back to the caffeinated pods I have not forgotten to take anyone to school for the past two mornings!

  2. Hi Alex,
    LOVED your quirky post on caffeine addictions
    I really can relate ... Karen :)