Psychiatric Problems; Or, Why I Haven’t Blogged for 6 Days

March 13, 2007

in Confusion

I have been clinically insane for the last six days. I’m being serious. According to the DSM IV (that’s The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the United States) I am suffering from caffeine withdrawal. Symptoms include headache, fatigue, decreased energy-activeness, decreased alertness, drowsiness, decreased contentedness, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, irritability, feeling foggy or not clearheaded. These symptoms can last anywhere from two to nine days.

I’m now on on Day 6 of attempting to kick the coffee habit, and I’ve finally returned to the land of the living (as well as the land of the blogging). While I experienced all of the above listed symptoms to some degree, the overarching manifestation of the mental disorder for me was complete and utter lethargy.

Which is to say that for 6 days I turned into a slug. All housework ceased. All marketing efforts for my novel came to an abrupt halt. My dog went stir-crazy from a lack of walks. I couldn’t read: it was too difficult to concentrate on the words. I just lay on the couch and let my daughter run circles around me–even the thought of saving myself from this misery and going to the coffeeshop seemed like too much effort.

This was not quite as awful as it sounds. The irritability inherent to the disorder only came about when I was forced to do something. I felt completely serene, almost Buddhist. Unfortunately, when my wife asked me to take my daughter to the park so that she could get some work done, and I, unable to coax my daughter into a coat, simply gave up and returned to the couch, this caused some irritability, as my wife was angry at me and started clashing dishes together in the sink, increasing my headache but not to the point where I could get off the couch and go outside to escape the noise.

So it’s now Day 6 and I think I’ve come out on the other side. I still feel a little dull, especially in my attempts to write, but I did leave the house this morning. In addition, I feel unusually calm and grounded, have an increased appetite and sex drive, and this morning, for the first time in living memory, I woke up not wanting to die (a wanting to die which could be alleviated by coffee, but which was always there until I’d had a cup).

I’ll keep you updated as to how this goes. My writing has been fueled by caffeine for seven years, and I’m not sure what will happen to it should I stay clean…

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