This is part of my Blog Post Series: How To Thrive As An Adult

I don’t drink coffee, but I love Diet Mountain Dew. And each 12 ounce can, packs a jolt from the 55mg of caffeine, and deposits 10 marbles in my anxiety jar. To be honest, I don’t even need the caffeine, but there’s something absolutely refreshing about its cold sweetness and the tingly bubbles tickling down my throat. In the moment that it touches my tongue, Diet Dew whispers, Even though things are falling apart around you, at least you have me!

The problem is, I can’t just drink it. I gulp it. I guzzle it. In contrast, many of my coworkers, who are self-proclaimed Coke Zero addicts, will nurse their drink of choice and manage to have a single can last for two hours or more. I don’t know how they do it. If there’s an open can next to me, I have to down it.

To make matters worse, the place that I work has unlimited sodas for all employees. (They must buy them by the pallet!) Consequently, there have been days when I drank six cans and added 60 marbles to my jar. On those days, I wound up jittery and speaking fast but unable to articulate a coherent thought. The best word to describe my mental state is frenetic; my wife would describe me as unstable. And if a psychologist were to administer a Rorschach inkblot test, I would probably say that each image is a vibrating insect, and together they’re getting ready to form a conga line headed toward a vine-covered mansion, like the kind in a Southern Gothic tale.

In this state of mind, there’s no hope of going to sleep before midnight. Even when I go to bed by 9 or 10 PM, my buzzing brain prevents me from drifting off to sleep. And once I finally relax and fall asleep, I inevitably experience one of my all-too-common stressful dreams. For example, I had one where I wandered into some sort of Thai bistro, wearing only my underwear, but my chief concern was that someone might see my unkempt hair. I squeezed into a corner booth, hands covering my head, and waited for my pad thai to arrive. But it never did.

These days, I limit myself to two cans per day: one before lunch and one after. This adds twenty marbles to my jar, which is manageable. Someday I hope to avoid caffeine altogether. But like Saint Augustine, who said, Lord give me chastity and self control — but not yet, I am not ready to give up my vice.

Be well, my friend.