Caffeine: the stimulant we take for granted because it’s legal. We go to the local Starbucks or Coffee Bean to get our fix. Caffeine provides a jolt that helps compensate for the typical high school student’s sleep deprivation. It’s accepted by society — after all, society has high expectations for us. We’re not the ones giving out hours and hours of homework.
As for me, well, I never got into coffee because it hurt my stomach. I got my fix with Red Bull. Now, don’t be too quick to judge; I’m not an irresponsible, hyperactive teenager who chugs Monster drinks just to get a rush. It was Red Bull that was my vice junior year.
When the work load was so heavy I couldn’t finish before midnight, and I couldn’t focus any longer, I would go to sleep for three to five hours, depending on what kind of AP English essay I had to write in the morning. Then, before dawn, I would crawl out of bed and finish my homework, but not before I took my vitamins, delivered in a pretty blue and silver can of good ol’ Red Bull. I didn’t feel tired, even after so little sleep, because the Red Bull was by my side, speeding up my heart rate, stimulating my metabolism and tricking my body into wakefulness.
Red Bull has plenty of Vitamin B, so whenever I was feeling sick — probably from a lack of sleep — Red Bull seemed to boost my immune system. Why hadn’t doctors and moms been promoting this stuff?
Then I started having panic attacks. My heart raced. I was anxious. I had the jitters. I couldn’t focus. I talked so fast no one over 18 could understand me. Maybe some Red Bull would calm me down. What? Oh, yeah. Duh. Red Bull doesn’t calm you down.
While Red Bull had been a quick fix for homework management, it was ultimately hurting more than helping. At first, I didn’t notice that Red Bull made me anxious, because I was drinking it so regularly, it became my baseline. A regular can of Red Bull has the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee. Caffeine is considered a drug because it stimulates the central nervous system, causing increased alertness. It increases anxiety, too, because it really does speed up your heart rate.
I realized that I could no longer compensate for a lack of sleep with drugs — even the kind you get at the gas station mini-mart — and I would have to learn to manage my time more wisely. Perhaps I’d have to cut out some TV and Internet time in order to be on top of my work load and get the minimum amount of sleep I need to function. Besides, Red Bull contains taurine, a substance that increases testosterone production, and my friends were beginning to worry that I would grow a beard.