I AM YOU AND YOU AM I – Wellbeing and Fun Photography
Author: Mustafa Boxwala
I would like to share my experience in the hope that it may help others. I was born in India in 1955. In 2008 I serendipitously gave up caffeine after almost 50 years of drinking tea daily. It has made a great difference in my life. I had been drinking tea since early childhood, and during high school and college years the intake was more. When I was about 25 years old I started getting aphthous ulcers. Whenever I bit my lip or tongue I would get a deep ulcer that would last for 1-2 weeks, and at times I would use silver nitrate to cauterize it since the pain would be severe. I tried everything including diet changes, zinc, magnesium, etc. with no relief. Then at times I would get severe pain and tenderness in my ear cartilages and over 10-15 years before I quit tea I started getting depression, at times severe. Being a physician I tried my best to control it by exploring self help books, psychology, theology, yoga and meditation. I did my best to keep functioning to the best of my ability, and therefore I doubt anyone realized what I was going through. I also started developing extreme fatigue. In the morning I would wake up tired and with great effort I would bathe, pray and then drink a cup of chai ( two tea bags boiled with sugar then milk added and boiled again) and leave for work. By the time I reached work the fatigue would dissipate. Around noon I would feel tired again and at times I would take a short nap and then some coffee or tea or a mixture of coke and coffee. I would work until five or six. On my way home I would almost fall asleep driving. As soon as I stepped in my house I would need a cup of chai and would be upset if I did not get it right away. I was resigned to the fact that I likely had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and chai and caffeine were keeping me alive and functional. I would compulsively read, meditate and do yoga to help myself. I was disgusted with my dependence on caffeine and my depression and fatigue.
In January 2008 my wife and I were on vacation in Sri Lanka. We were having our morning tea in the restaurant. For some unexplained reason I told my wife that it would be my last cup of tea. Since then I have had less then 10 cups of tea or coffee and a very rare chocolate. My stay was ruined. I had continuous headaches, day and night, excessive drowsiness and thirst for about 2 weeks until the symptoms slowly improved. I drank a lot of water but did not take any medications. I wanted to see what would happen. We went to India and then returned home and back to work. I still had mild headaches and drowsiness which were also due to jet lag. I was able to function so I did not take any medications. One day I was at work in the morning and there was no headache and my mind felt clear. I could not believe that my mind could be so clear. That was good. Then over a few weeks I noticed that my short-term memory was better. Before I was unable to keep 7 digits in my memory to transfer from paper to computer and had to do it in two parts. Now I do not even have to read all the digits. I had a very good memory when I was young. Depression, obsessive compulsive thoughts, procrastination and recurring jingles in my mind vanished. I have not been depressed for a single day since then. Not a single aphthous ulcer or ear pain since then. The rare times that I have had tea or coffee I feel tingling spots in my mouth like I felt before: symptoms of an apthous ulcer but nothing beyond that. No fatigue, and no waking up tired, I sleep well. The only drawback is I am done for the day at 9:30 pm. My day starts at about 5:30 am. I am not going to start consuming caffeine regularly again because of the depression, paranoia, fatigue, obsessive compulsive behavior, memory loss, apthous stomatitis and ear pain. One cup of tea or coffee can keep me up the whole night now.
For persons that have symptoms similar to mine and are consuming caffeine, it may be worth trying to stop all caffeine intake to see if they feel better. I would recommend a slow process of discontinuation over 6-8 weeks. I hope my experience is of help.
One of the books I read was Take Your Time by Eknath Easwaran-(1910-1999) A Professor of English, master of Sanskrit and Hindu legacy, a gifted teacher of Philosophy and Meditation. His writings appealed to me immensely and helped me. Over the last few years I have decreased my reading considerably. One day I decided to take the excerpts from Take Your Time (Take Your Time, by Eknath Easwaran, founder of the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, copyright 1994, 2006; reprinted by permission of Nilgiri Press, P. O. Box 256, Tomales, Ca 94971, www.easwaran.org) and write a few lines of thoughts that came to my mind. I did this with one excerpt at a time over a period of three months. I just typed one excerpt and then typed the thoughts that came to me. I did this first thing in the morning. I did not look at the next excerpt nor did I make any effort to remember or review what I wrote the previous day. Once it was complete then I organized it a little bit and edited it but did not alter the content.
These POSTS are from my reading, listening and living, hope they are of interest and use to you. Photography I am learning, all pictures are my trials and errors and I hope they give you some pleasure.