So, I have a lot of vices. Nothing illegal or consciousness-altering, and I'm about as boring sexually as a concrete block, but I've managed to rack up a few bad habits. I'm super lazy. I will nap an entire weekend. I don't really do any sort of appreciable exercise beyond walking the dog and hiking around work. I eat out a lot. When I don't eat out, I have the diet of a college frat boy. Onion dip is a food group in my house.
I am also addicted to Diet Pepsi.
I am not using the word "addicted" hyperbolically. Five and six cans a day. I drink it with breakfast. I can have it late at night and still be able to sleep. I get very substantial checks from can recycling. For a while, I was actually a Diet Pepsi Max devotee, which has more caffeine than the usual stuff. I managed to get myself back down to the regular stuff, and occasionally the decaf. I have clutched the can uttering the phrase "from my cold, dead hands."
I know it's awful for me. My father is a dentist, so I know what it's doing to my teeth. My pH is distressingly low (I lick pH paper once in a while, it always turns orange or red). I'm sure my bones are borderline birdlike. My skin is a wreck. I imagine the aspartame is doing all sorts of terrible things to my brain and heart and pancreas.
I woke up two weeks ago, and discovered that I was out. None in the fridge, none at work. I thought, okay, that's probably a good thing. If I want it, I have to leave the house. For a week, I was Queen of the 7-11.
About 6 days ago, I didn't have time to make my morning Super Big Gulp run (yes, I consume soda by the bucketful). I nearly fell asleep teaching children, and I take prescription meds for ADHD. You know, the sort of drugs that Hollywood starlets like to snort to get high? Yes, I can sleep with that in my system. I needed the caffeine ON TOP of all this in order to stay awake during my job.
I interrupt this narrative to express my disapproval of the misuse of prescription stimulants. I genuinely require these medications to function in society. Because of the recreational abuse of these drugs, I have to jump through many more hoops to get them than the average prescription. The irony is that I cannot focus long enough to jump through the hoops unless I have my medications in my system. If I run out of meds before I can jump through the hoops, my life just spirals out of control until someone reminds me to call my doctor for a triplicate prescription, go fetch that slip of paper, drive it to the pharmacy, wait a few hours, and drive back to the pharmacy to pick them up. Unmedicated, each of those steps is a massive accomplishment. It can take several days. The ethics of criminalizing recreational drug use is a discussion for a different day. Today's message: Stop taking my medications for fun, assholes. We now return to the Diet Pepsi story.
That day, as I was greedily slurking down an unreasonably large cup of bubbly brown aspartame acid at lunch, I admitted I have a problem.
The next morning, I woke up and decided to go just one day without my liquid crutch. I can do anything for just one day, right? Immediately, I became aware of how much fluid I am consuming all the time. If I am not pouring liquid in my face, I don't know what to do. I figured tea was a safe caffeine replacement. I drank about three quarts of unsweetened iced black tea, and I was a little twitchy and fiendy, but I made it to bedtime without straying. Yeah. Go me.
The morning after that, I woke up and decided to go another day. I spent a lot of time white-knuckling my armrests, and lot of time fantasizing about the crackpop-shhhhh noise of a can being opened. More iced tea was consumed. I continued to be a little twitchy. I made it to bedtime again. Woo, I am an animal.
The morning after that, weird competitive pride set in, and I was mostly determined to not break the streak.
I have been Diet Pepsi free for 5 days.
I have ingested a LOT of unsweetened iced black tea.
I'm still a little fiendy.