Caffeine

Today, we have a post from our brilliant co-ordinator Katherine. Thanks very much to her for sharing her writing with us!

I love coffee. I have a silver percolator which makes the most beautiful, strong coffee that I used to drink on the weekends as a free time treat, normally with proper cream. Coffee cake is my absolute fave, chocolate ice is superior, so all in all for my child-free years, caffeine and I got on rather well.

After baby number one, caffeine and I stepped up a gear in the intake department. I was running on empty with the lack of sleep and caffeine had my back.

My relationship with caffeine changed when I became unwell. I was diagnosed with post-natal depression when my second-born, my son, was six months old. Caffeine didn’t help with the exhaustion this time: this feeling was deep and cold, and a pick-me-up wasn’t going to help. I still kept going with my daily coffees, but suddenly they weren’t making me feel good anymore. In fact, it was having the opposite effect. It was making me feel anxious.

It took me a long time to realise the link between a morning cup of coffee and a really horrible day. I would be snappy, on edge, worried about nothing, couldn’t sleep and a little bit paranoid. This was just on the instant stuff; the shop-bought or percolator variety would turn my mind into a whirlwind. Racing thoughts and catastrophizing would make things even worse when I was exhausted and had young children to look after. I also started having some social anxiety as well, something which had never affected me before.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, I decided to switch to decaf and the results were instant. I felt better for not having caffeine, I was no longer on edge, worrying or catastrophizing and was generally able to cope so much better with what life had to throw at me. I had to make quite a change: tea, coffee, cake, chocolate and fizzy drinks all have to be decaf now, and it’s been the biggest change in how I feel about life and myself since I took anti-depressants.

The reason I’m writing this is because I had no idea this was a thing. I hadn’t made the link between a mild stimulant and anxiety (which can go hand in hand with depression) and I wish I’d known this years ago, it might have prevented all of those awful days. 

If you are feeling a bit on edge, finding the adjustment to becoming a mum hard or just finding pandemic life all a bit much, perhaps make the switch for a few days and see how you feel?

The Motherkind Café is a post-natal peer support group for women and females to explore motherhood, the highs and the lows in a safe space just for us. We are now meeting inside again at Flo’s Café in Florence Park on a Friday morning. If you would like to know more, please get in touch: hello@themotherkindcafe.org.

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