Ok, so confession time, my name’s ADHD Girl and I’m a coffeeholic!! The strange thing is up until the age of 23, I was a straight up proud English tea drinker. Then I went to the USA for 3 months and I came back obsessed with iced coffee (Thanks to an appreciative counsellor child’s parent and Dunkin donuts).
What began as a small fling with iced coffee soon turned into a full-blown love affair!! Soon it wasn’t just iced coffee I was drinking, but cappuccinos…lattes…you name any coffee; I’ll drink it!! So what does coffee have to do with ADHD? Well as I am sure most of you know coffee is full of caffeine and caffeine is a stimulant, which means it’s a one-shot wonder for increasing concentration.
How does this magical miracle work? I hear you ask! Well just like anything that gives you a feeling of satisfaction or the urge to relax; caffeine increases dopamine levels, which means for people with ADHD it’s like having an instant temporary quicky fix to our brains constantly bouncing.
“The fact I was tired was not why I needed the cofffee”ADHD Girl
Yesterday, my family and I went on holiday to a historic town some 90 miles away from home, but we stopped off at a play centre 45 minutes into our journey. After a few hours of the children burning off some energy and having the time of their lives, we began to continue on our journey at about 2:30pm.
Straight away, I said to my best friend (who happily joined us on the holiday), I need coffee and her response was “You’re tired?” Well despite the fact I’d just spent a few hours chasing the kids around a busy play centre I was ok and it’s not why I needed the coffee.
“It’s not that I’m tired” I explained, “I just don’t feel as focused as I need to be for a long journey!” After 30 minutes of searching, we finally found a costa express and I walked out caramel cappuccino in hand feeling like I had won the lottery. A few sips later, I was more awake and had the instant focus boost and mood boost I needed to get me through the rest of the journey. So caffeine equals win for ADHD?? Ok, let me tell you about the downside.
“Caffine is a great concentration booster, but also risks increasing anxiety levels.”ADHD Girl
I don’t only have ADHD; I have dyspraxia too. It’s a condition which some of you may have never heard of but it basically affects how the right side of the brain and the left side of the brain exchanges signals. It’s a gap between what you want to do and what you actually end up doing physically.
With dyspraxia and ADHD comes a bigger risk of anxiety, because ADHD makes you overthink, and dyspraxia means you don’t always get to do things in the way you want to do them. Caffeine while being a great stimulant can also increase the risk of anxiety too. The bad news is I have to limit my coffee to 2-3 cups a day max or I’d be a nervous wreck. The bottom line is that just like anything, caffeine is a balancing act where I have to pick my moments and utilise the caffeine as best I can.
So, today I have had one cup of coffee for breakfast (Lavazza I might add which I rate quite highly; ok I’m a coffee snob). I can guarantee that by about 2/3 o’clock I’m going to need more coffee. If I, had it my way I’d drink a cup of coffee on the hour every hour, but like anything, ADHD or not, it’s about thinking about the long-term outcomes, and not just the short-term solution of a cup of a coffee…no matter how amazing it may be.