“Caffeine Will Kill Ya!”

“Caffeine Will Kill Ya!” I love that line. It’s taken from Jim Carey when he played the Riddler in a Batman and Robin movie many years ago. Watching him throw a coffee pot at Batman while saying that line brought on a chuckle for me back then. My viewpoint on caffeine has changed dramatically today where ironically, I feel that same way.

When I was growing up my mother generally bought caffeine free sodas. I never drank coffee as I thought the taste was awful. And other than around Halloween, I wasn’t allowed to have tons of chocolate. In college, I was too busy drinking alcohol each night so my body craved a lot of water during the days to make up for the dehydration I brought onto myself. Everything changed when I graduated from college and found sobriety.

I’m not sure whether it was the need to have something in my hand after quitting alcohol or the long hours at boring corporate jobs I was working at that drove me to drink coffee and consume so much caffeine. Either way, I quickly became addicted to it. According to research I did on the internet, 90 percent of the world’s population consumes some form of caffeinated beverages daily. What’s even more interesting, caffeine is considered the number one addiction in the world.

Those who can be classified as caffeine addicts often feel that without caffeine, they can’t get through the day or they find it hard to concentrate. Caffeine is considered a stimulant and regular consumption of it can lead to dizziness, headaches, high blood pressure, increased respiration rates and insomnia to name just a few symptoms.

For years, I consumed highly caffeinated coffees, energy drinks, large quantities of regular and dark chocolate, and teas. It’s been almost a year now that I have been free from caffeine consumption. I didn’t realize how much it affected me until recently when I went out for breakfast with my partner. I ordered a decaf coffee as I’ve found the percentage of caffeine to be infinitesimal and not affect me. Usually I make sure when the decaf coffee is brought to the table that it truly is decaf. So many times I’ve ordered it and the servers have to go back and get me the right beverage as they’ve made a mistake. That morning I forgot to ask. By the time I finished my cup, I was talking much faster like Speedy Gonzalez. I suddenly felt like I was a in a better mood quite different from the one I had begun my breakfast with. And then, I was having all these ideas of things I wanted to do for the day begin to spin around in my head. When she returned with the pitcher asking if I wanted a refill and I said “Decaf?” She responded, “Oh, I didn’t hear that, I’m so sorry, the first cup was regular.” And then it all began to make sense.

I am quite sensitive to many things that I consume, especially caffeine. When I used to drink it often, the affects were dulled down because of my regular consumption. In the case of breakfast that morning, it had been more than 10 months since the last time I had consumed any. I tried not to get angry and started drinking a lot of water. For about 3 or 4 hours I felt like I had a ton of energy and much of the pain levels that I endure everyday with the toxic clearing process I’m going through had diminished quite a bit. And then, like it always does, the “buzz” wore off, and a brick landed on me. I say a brick because it felt like that. All I wanted to do was sleep. In the past, I would have consumed another caffeinated beverage to keep the “buzz” going. For a long time in my life, that’s how I got through the day. The worst part about caffeine consumption is the withdrawal from it which usually hits me between 24 and 36 hours after my last consumption. And like clockwork, around that time frame, my head started to pound and for about 5 to 6 hours I have a massive headache that prevented me from even thinking or sleeping. Thankfully, this accidental ingestion didn’t drive me back into my caffeine addiction as the side effects and withdrawal were enough of reminders of how much I didn’t miss it.

There’s a funny story I’d like to share about how bad my caffeine addiction got at its peak. One night I went to my home group in AA which was then on a Friday night in West Bridgewater, MA. A group of us had planned on going out dancing later that night and I had spent most of the day drinking several Pepsi Max’s which had double the caffeine. I had wanted to keep myself going. During the meeting, I was eyeing the coffee pot like someone I was attracted to and making frequent trips to it, going from single fisting to double fisting so that I could continue to get my fix throughout the evening. Upon the meeting’s end, I announced that we needed to make a Dunkin Donuts run and get coffees for the hour drive down to Providence, RI where we were heading to go dancing. Of course I got the largest one possible. I forgot to mention that high caffeine consumption also correlates to high bathroom trips and that had already started back during the meeting and continued for the drive down there. When we got down to the club and realized it was too early, guess what I announced then? “I know of a great place to hang out and get some dessert!” What I really wanted there though was the dessert coffees. And I did just that. I got a coffee beverage named something like the “chocolate zombie” and proceeded to down it like it was a hot day drinking cold water. And that’s when it really began to hit me. I felt nauseous. I thought I was hyperventilating. My heart was racing too fast. I could have sworn I was seeing trails like I had been tripping on acid. And my anxiety was going through the roof. When we arrived at the club, while my friends all were able to enjoy the dance floor and have fun with each other, my evening was spent on the top floor of the club drinking water and listening to a guy play the piano while I battled nauseousness and frequent trips to the bathroom.

Do I miss that at all? Not a bit. Having that mix up at breakfast the other day was enough of a reminder that I don’t want to go back to it … EVER…

Most people don’t realize how dependent they are on caffeine. And if they do, I’m not sure if most people care. Many say they need it to get through the day. Some say it gives them that extra edge they need. What I say is why does one need any type of stimulant to function at all?

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

There Are No Quick Fixes…

I’ve made a lot of entries about the health and healing process I am going through and while I would love to say it’s been a stroll through the park, I can’t. Getting my mind, body, and soul into a healthier state has been the biggest undertaking I’ve pursued in this lifetime.

My Shaman friend always tells me I didn’t become unhealthy overnight. It took years and years of me living in addictions, hanging out with the wrong crowd, lying, stealing, cheating, being jealous, lustrous, envious, judgmental, and egotistical to get that way. I’m convinced that as soon as I came out of the womb, I was exposed to toxic elements in my family that began to take me away from my connection to Source. As life went on, and I began to mature and make my own decisions, self-will took over and many poor choices were made by me that were filled with quick highs and awful lows. I believe that this world has moved a lot in that direction with all the advances. I don’t think anyone really wants to suffer, to be unhappy, to feel pain, to be sick, or be alone. With the growth in medicine and technology, advertising is everywhere about some pill or gadget that will instantly make one feel better. And believe me, over the past few years in my journey to heal, I tried a lot of them. And what I found out is that just about everything numbed me from feeling anything, from the pain to my emotions. It was as if I was on autopilot just going through the motions of my day, carrying out my duties, and completing task after task with no real sense of connection to anything.

As I mentioned in several previous postings, a year ago I made a decision to stop looking for those things that might quickly take the pain away. I stopped taking medications that weren’t healing me and were only band-aiding a deeper problem. I stopped hanging out with people that brought me those addictive highs and terrible lows. And I forced myself to start feeling everything that I believed my body was meant to experience naturally. I’m a firm believer that our bodies are quite knowledgeable of how to heal. A century ago before all the advances, people had to rely on holistic healing, hope, prayer, and love from others to get through difficult trials and tribulations. Today, society has somehow shifted to seeking whatever it can to take any pain or feelings of sadness away. It’s as if no one wants to feel any emotion but happiness.

I’m not sure if that’s possible here on Earth. If I didn’t experience sadness, how could I ever truly appreciate happiness? If I only ever lived in the light, how would I ever have known what the darkness felt like? What I know is that while the body’s natural healing process is a slow one, it is also long lasting. There are an infinite amount of quick fixes that exist but none of them ever truly bring healing to the source of imbalance. While I’ve sought out too many of those throughout my life, I’ve come to learn that if I truly want to heal at the core within me, I must endure what it is I feel each and every day. I must not seek to quickly rid or numb myself from what it is I’m feeling. And I absolutely, positively, must thank God for the abundance of healing happening within me each and every day, with every single breath I take.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Everything Happens For A Reason…

Much of my healing process I’ve been going through in the past year is centered around my desire to heal holistically from the numbness and sciatica I have on my left leg and foot. From something that originally started in 2010, my perspective on it has changed dramatically since then.

I believe strongly today that there is a mind-body connection. Having read a few books on this subject by a Dr. John Sarno many years ago, I learned that the mind can create pain in the body due to emotional turmoil. Essentially, when an emotional trauma is too painful to deal with consciously, the mind creates a pain or pains in the body to shift the focus away from it. The more that a person focuses on the emotional trauma, the more the pain dissipates. The more the person focuses on the pain itself, the more it increases. For years, I followed this theory, and consistently was able to combat various phantom pains that came about in my body as each of them were connected to one of many emotional traumas that I had endured in my life. But then April 27, 2010 arrived and I developed sciatica and numbness in my left leg and left foot.

When it began, I tried to apply the same principles from the mind-body connection, but as time went forward, I lost faith in what I had learned. As days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months, and months turned into a year, I lost confidence in the path I had followed for so many years and figured it was something more serious. I went to the doctors and had test after test done and then had an MRI which showed a minor protrusion in L5-S1 on my spine. I consulted with the best back specialists in the Boston area at Massachusetts General Hospital and was told that the disc may or may not be causing what I’m experiencing. Even worse, I was told that if I pursued surgery, it may or may not alleviate the symptoms I was dealing with. I opted for a cortisone shot path with physical therapy instead. Neither helped. I then went to chiropractors, took pain meds and anti-inflammtories, and followed the doctor’s orders explicitly on his other suggestions. None of them helped. In fact, more pains developed as time moved forward.

What I didn’t understand then that I do now, is that I was focusing on everything that I could do externally to treat it. I would go to this doctor or that doctor, take this pill or that pill, have this test done or that test done, and was getting nowhere. After a year of doing this and a seonc year had gone by with me enduring so much pain, I realized that there was one path I hadn’t tried. I hadn’t gone within to look at some very deep seated emotional issues that I have avoided for all of my life.

In the first two years of enduring this, I was engaged in highly sexual addicted based behaviors. I spent most of my time toxically with people that were active alcoholics and drug addicts. I didn’t follow any spiritual routine or seek God’s will on most days. And I continued to look for quick fixes and highs in my life to make me feel better. Worse of all, I hated to spend any time alone and had no relationship with myself and soon came to realize I never did.

So at the two year mark, I then made the decision it was time. Time to get to know me. Time to go back to the last memory I had of when I did, and start again. The first action I took was telling all the people in my life that were part of my addictions that I had to say goodbye. Then I started removing friends in my life that were codependent with me or vice versa. And then I began following a daily spiritual practice that I maintained diligently with God at the center of it. I started going deeper within myself in therapy and began spending time alone doing things that I might normally do with someone else. Little by little, I began to develop a relationship and best friendship with me.

It’s now been almost a year of following this spiritual path and I definitely am noticing a difference. Spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, I have had many better days and feel a lot lighter more than not. Since the end of 2012, I have even begun to have a few hours here and there where the physical pains in my body seem to disappear. I’m confident that these are all signs that I’m on the right path now.

Where I once looked at the sciatica and numbness as the end of my life, I now look at it as a gift. I was on a serious path of destruction where nothing was slowing me down. I’m convinced that I would still be on that dead-end path if this had never happened. I use a comparison today that seems to make sense to others when they ask me how confident I am that I’ll heal in this way with God’s help.

For a cancer patient, most times the course of recovery is through chemotherapy. Week in and week out their bodies are exposed to the radiation to eradicate each and every cancer cell. There are times during that process that the patient wants to give up and feels it’s just not worth it. The truth is that if even one cancer cell is left within the body and not eliminated, that full blown cancer could return. So they trudge on, trusting it’s helping, and for many, the chemo ends up working and they return to a life free from cancer. I believe that the same thing holds true with my sciatica and numbness. I look at God now as my chemotherapy. I believe God knows exactly when to stop it. I am convinced that God knows when the last bit of toxins and poisons from my life are gone and at that moment, I believe that’s when I will see the sciatica and numbness lift.

The first year I had this, I was angry, I begged and bargained with God to remove it. I busied myself with addictions to pass the time by. And I watched 365 days go by with no avail.

The second year I worked with every doctor and practitioner I could afford with both time and money and focused all my efforts on getting it out of me by all of their help. And I watched another 365 days go by with still no improvement.

In this third year, I have done the one thing I never wanted to do throughout the whole process and throughout my whole life for that matter, I remained still and have begun to get to know me. And now I can say that in this 365 days that are passing, I am healing.

Be still. For a body in pain, that’s tough. Especially in that I don’t take any medications. How much longer must I endure this pain? I don’t know. But I believe that God knows. Until then, I believe I have one job and one job only and that’s to continue to do what I can to stay healthy on every level and place God’s will before mine. And as much as cliches can be annoying, everything really does happen for a reason.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson