Red Bull

My first exposure to burnout was in 2010, with the pressure of year twelve exams and the necessary study surrounding them leading me to forget the importance of sleep.

Although it hardly outweighed the displeasure of sitting exams, the one benefit of being in exam block was that senior students could come and go from the school whenever we pleased. Well, that's not altogether true; we were supposed to remain at school once we arrived and only leave once all of our exams were complete, but absolutely none of my peers followed this rule.

We went to the Foodworks a few blocks from the school to buy treats like chocolate frosting and Red Bull. The latter tasted like medicine, but I drank it as I leaned against the lockers, grimacing with each swig like it was hard liquor. It helped keep my brain moving too fast through my exams, which must be—at least in part—responsible for the decent grades I ended up with at the resolution of my high school career.

I didn't revisit the joy of Red Bull until many years later, when their Blue Edition was released. I didn't drink any other caffeinated drinks at this time in my life—I disliked the bitter flavour of coffee, and wasn't particularly interested in other softdrinks—so the sickly sweetness coupled with the kick of energy that the Blue Edition brought me was joyous.

And addictive.

I set strong restraints to prevent myself from overdrinking Red Bull and giving myself a heart attack, but I did become somewhat reliant on the caffeine, akin to the office workers who drag themselves to the nearest café before they can concentrate on their computers. I drank cans of Red Bull in the tea room at the Coles where I used to work, which I bought by the handful using my staff discount. Luke used to drink the standard Red Bull as much as I drank the Blue Edition and we'd share guilty laughter when we saw one another carrying baskets full of our addiction to the registers.

During a visit to Sydney to attend a convention for my work in games journalism, I stumbled across a problem: I was relying on Red Bull to help me get through my wild workload, but the local Woolworths didn't stock the Blue Edition. Desperate, I bought a can of standard Red Bull and—recalling those day leaning against my high school lockers—I took a drink of the medicine. But it didn't taste like medicine anymore; it tasted delicious. Potentially better than even the Blue Edition.

This was for the best because, in the coming weeks, the Blue Edition went on Clearance sales in the grocery stores around my house. The last cans disappeared from the shelves and were replaced by summer flavours like coconut and other awful things I refuse to drink. (Incidentally, the coconut Red Bull did taste like medicine—a very particular medicine I had to take as a child to help deal with a nasty case of tonsilitis.)

This may have been the optimal time for me to shake my Red Bull addiction, but instead I transitioned from Blue Edition to the standard flavour. It's much more readily available in vending machines and in bulk-buy packs.

No, this isn't a story of how one young girl cured herself of her Red Bull addiction. Some days these cans of caffeine and taurine and whatever-other-ine are the only things keeping me upright. There's one on my desk right now. But I still avoid having more than one per day, and I still don't drink coffee or other softdrinks, so maybe I'm allowed to have this vice.

Or maybe I should stop relying on caffeine to keep me going when I really need to have more naps and stop overcommitting myself.¹ Perhaps I'll learn that lesson one day.

¹ Alayna, you just started a new blog. You understand that that's committing yourself unnecessarily to yet another project, right?


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