A health scare last month caused me to quit caffeine cold turkey. I had the typical nine days of headaches and irritability, but then something strange happened. I’ve been feeling really “off” for a couple of weeks. I’ve struggled with mild depression and anxiety for most of my adult life, but this feels different.
Recently, I came across a website where people were telling their caffeine withdrawal stories. I was shocked at how many people were feeling the same way as me even months after quitting. It is what’s known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome or PAWS. This happens when you quit an addictive substance and your dopamine levels remain low for a long time.
The hardest part of going through this is remembering what normal felt like and wondering if I’m ever going to get back there again. PAWS is a leading cause of relapse for recovering addicts. If I feel like this just from caffeine, I can’t imagine what someone coming off of hard drugs must feel like. I now have much more compassion and respect for those in recovery. I know it will get better with time; I have to remind myself every day. I love this verse:
Psalm 42:5 Why are you downcast, oh my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
If you are struggling today, I pray God gives you strength and peace as you put your hope in Him.