My love/hate letter to caffeine

An article written while under the influence

Kyra Price

More stories from Kyra Price

Across the Pond
April 17, 2024

Photo by Olivia Mathie

I was under the influence, not of alcohol, but of the most easily accessible drug: caffeine.

When I chose to pick up a third article this week instead of my usual two, I was not in a sound state of mind. I was under the influence, not of alcohol, but of the most easily accessible drug: caffeine.

My addiction to this drug started in my senior year of high school. I needed a pick-me-up to get myself through the three grueling hours I spent in that federally-mandated, educational prison every day.

At 17 years old, I kept it classy, consuming a single cup of black coffee every morning, preferably a dark roast. 

Toward the end of the year, I discovered the joy that is cold brew. As someone who already lives in a state of high anxiety, the amount of caffeine in cold brew pushed my pre-existing jitters over the edge.

I knew I had to quit.

I endured a week or two of headaches, then returned to life as normal.

After the cold brew incident, I avoided caffeine at all costs. 

I ordered my lattes decaf. 

That was the only effort I made to avoid it, actually. I am a lover of dark chocolate and iced tea, and I will, under no circumstances, sacrifice those things.

I became a huge fan of Starbucks iced chais and Pink Drinks, which both have caffeine, but from my extremely limited research, I think they have a pretty small amount. I’m honestly not really sure. I should probably Google it.

Now, let’s take this story back to the present day.

I usually end up doing at least a solid chunk of my drive from Eau Claire back to my hometown in the dark. I always plan to leave around noon, but end up waking up then, instead. Then I remember all the things I need to do before I leave and don’t actually walk out the door until 4 p.m.

This leads to a rough four hours on the interstate. My already waning energy levels — from where I’m at in the semester right now, and honestly life in general — could not survive the drive alone.

There was one specific day when I genuinely feared I was going to fall asleep behind the wheel, so after about an hour-and-a-half on the road, I made the fateful stop at KwikTrip.

I don’t know much about energy drinks other than the whole being caffeinated thing and the little sips I’ve taken of my friends’ drinks, so I felt like I was going in blind when I walked up to the — I really don’t know what to call these — refrigerated shelf things.

I picked up a peach-flavored Bang and hoped for the best.

It was gross, honestly, but it kept me awake. I quit about halfway through it, when I stopped feeling like I was getting more awake and started getting jittery.

My next trip home, I felt the same sleepy feeling take over as I was cruising down the interstate in the dark, so after a mere 30 minutes on the road, I readied my pepper spray and made a stop at a random gas station in a random town.

I took a look at the cased-in, refrigerated shelf things (do these have a name?), dreading the Bang, Monster or Red Bull I was about to consume, when I spotted something shinier and cheaper, Celsius.

I had a vague memory of hearing about a recent Celsius recall, but I also remembered that these contained caffeine, and they looked way more appetizing than the other battery acid on those shelves.

Anyway, I purchased a wildberry Celsius and went on my merry way.

It was a little too sweet to have only 10 calories, but overall I really enjoyed it. It was pretty decent-tasting, and it kept me awake without giving me the shakes.

So the point of this story is that I picked up this opinion piece while under the influence of Celsius. I have three cans of it calling to me from the fridge at home. 

Celsius makes me a much more productive member of society, and there’s a decent chance you’ll be seeing another op/ed from me next week, depending on whether or not I have time to stop at Kwik Trip before the Spectator meeting.

Price can be reached at [email protected].