If you read this blog regularly, you would know that coffee is one incredibly big crutch in my life. It is usually the first thing that I look for upon waking in the morning and something that I crave many MANY times throughout the day.
Yes….I do believe that I am addicted and I also believe that it’s going to be quite a large hurdle for me to overcome but understanding the “Why” of my excess caffeine consumption may be the key to understanding my somewhat insatiable desire to pump myself full of the toxic liquid daily.
I noticed something very interesting today as I reached for my 5th cup at only 10am.
I realised that there is a very obvious link between emotions and coffee with me. I guess you could say that it is a similar response to that of emotional eating.
I have been incredibly down for the past few days and spent a couple of hours this morning talking to Mr Patient about it. I sat with him in the sunshine on our front lawn and watched the neighbourhood children riding their scooters and bikes and kicking footballs in the cul-de-sac.
The next-door neighbours were hosting a BBQ (a frequent occurrence that we have NEVER been invited to) and had several cars in their driveway and we could hear the laughter and fun emanating from their backyard.
So….where were our children?
With all the blinds closed and the heater on. One was on the laptop. One was on my iPad and the other was on his Nintendo DS. None of them were interested in socialising with the neighbour’s kids and none of them cared to leave the sanctuary of the house.
We realised that we were actually enabling them by allowing this to go on so we made a decision to go and turn all of them off and make them do outside to enjoy the beautiful day that God had given. The tears, tantrums and moaning started and we were told repeatedly that we were “horrible parents” and that we are “SO mean”. Harley even chipped in with “When I grow up and have kids – I’m NEVER going to be THIS awful to them!”.
Cue parental eye rolling.
Part of the conversation that I had with Mr Patient earlier included me asking him what he envisioned weekends would be like when we had a family. His response was surprisingly very similar to what mine was. It included: taking the kids to their various sporting activities, maybe going on picnics, spending it with other families or going for drives to sight see or visit friends.
But of course-our reality is VERY different.
Sure – we could do these things. We COULD arrange something fun every other weekend but we both know that whenever we have ventured out of the “norm” that we pay for it severely over the following days.
Our kids HATE socialising, we don’t have any “family friends” (meaning other families that we socialise with) – they’ve all moved away, and we are not involved in anything that could introduce us to new people therefore allowing for invitations. Sporting events usually end in tears because most ASD kids simply don’t possess the ability to handle losing. We have spent countless hours trying to teach this foreign concept to the boys with limited success because to them – failure is a blemish on their incredibly high self-standards and perfectionistic natures.
Going to church on Sundays is such a major melodrama that it hardly seems worth the hassle and the aftermath of taking our children anywhere different is always so explosive and ridiculously hard that it’s easier to just stay in our little autism bubble and keep to ourselves.
Sounds great right? Just stay home and it will all be fine and dandy?
Well – yes it’s easier on the children and causes less dramas but it’s absolutely KILLING me. I get so depressed when I hear other people recount their weekend activities to other friends and hear about the exciting things that have planned for the upcoming one.
The stories about their adventures and social gatherings that were spontaneously organised.
My weekends are always exactly the same.
Housework. Refereeing sibling arguments, housework, figuring out reasons for meltdowns, housework and trying to keep the peace amongst children that can’t seem to co-exist in the same 4 walls, and you guessed it…more housework.
Surely this isn’t as good as it gets?
But back to the caffeine/emotions link.
This afternoon, right after we took the electronics off the children and arranged for us all to go for a walk in the sunshine, and the tears flowed and the anger surfaced – I reached for my favourite coffee mug.
As soon as that hot black strong espresso shot was making it’s way down my throat, I instantly felt the rush of adrenaline that it provided and was ready to tackle the meltdown head on.
I carried Lucas to his bedroom and Harley to his and told them both that crying wasn’t going to fix anything and that I wasn’t going to change my mind. The crying eventually subsided and they dressed themselves (well …kinda!) and as a reward for myself, I went and pushed the button on the coffee machine to deliver another shot of emotional comfort.
I was just about to put it to my lips when I suddenly remembered something that I had read years earlier. It came back to me as clear as a bell and it knocked me for six. The phrase that I had remembered related to the link between emotional eating and weight gain,:
“The worst part about emotional eating is it actually causes your problems to multiply. Eventually, instead of avoiding the issues you’re stuffing down with food, you’ve created another one altogether — weight gain, guilt about eating, worsening health … and then it starts all over again.”
I stopped dead in my tracks as I realised that I was self-medicating with caffeine. And the bigger problems that it creates are: headaches, irritability, heart palpitations, mood swings and dehydration to name just a few.
I didn’t particularly “need” that cup of coffee. Sure-I still love the taste and I do believe that I am very much addicted, but the bigger problem is that I usually just drink it to avoid dealing with what is really upsetting me at the time.
It gives me a rush of control that I desperately crave and takes my mind away from whatever drama is unfolding at the time.
I noticed that I rarely drink it when I’m home alone on Lucas’ pre-school days and I drink the most coffee before and after school and on weekends.
And what is usually the thing that upsets me is the perceived loss of “who I am” and “what I think I need to feel happy”.
The sheer stress of the constant tears, meltdowns, fighting, complaining and rigid/frantically obsessive behaviour that the boys exhibit just makes me want to poke my eyeballs out.
But of course it’s much easier to press the espresso button on the coffee machine than it is to endure the excruciating pain that one would experience with the poking out of ones eyeballs! Not to mention the inconvenience of not being able to actually SEE the melodramas unfolding
Ok….Link recognised and understanding established. I just need to figure out the best way to tackle this one.
Oh , who am I kidding! – it’s all too hard…. now -where did I leave that damn coffee mug?…….