In my late 20s when I became seriously unwell and diagnosed with schizophrenia, Coca-Cola was like an ever flowing fountain of happiness for me. How I loved sipping it. I would even quickly down it with my meds. I could feel life getting better and speeding up. Having Coke was magic.
There have been plenty of magic moments with Coke throughout my life. From taking it into uni lecture theatres and finding everything much more interesting, to socialising at parties and at all types of special celebrations. I took to the can and shook it even more vigorously with the onset of my mental illness.
I remember even the psychiatric nurses buying it for me when I wasn't allowed out of the locked ward. Them getting me a drink from the outside world really made my day and finally got me out of my cage. I could really engage with people whenever I had the security of a can of Coke in my hands.
Drinking fizzy drinks has sure made a big difference to my life. Although I've spent a fortune on them I've enjoyed every second of drinking them until I can slurp or burp no more. I will happily drink cans one after another, even if the drink is flat or lukewarm. With each swig I can feel myself becoming much more bubbly and alive. With each zap of sugar that enters my body I feel on a real high.
But lately, with all the publicity surrounding the dangers of drinking fizzy, sugary soft drinks, such as obesity and diabetes, I am trying to cut down on my Coke habit. It is not easy trying to fight an almost lifelong addiction. I try to justify my compulsion to drink sugary soft drinks by believing they taste great. I have to keep telling myself over and over again how bad they are for me.
Sugar loaded drinks are now one of the major culprits, along with quick takeaways and lack of exercise, as to why 28 per cent of Australians are obese, as found in a recent report by the Grattan Institute. Worse things have been associated with soft drinks, too, such as heart disease and metabolic syndrome. The report called for a sugary drink tax.
It is an awful fight between my sense of pleasure and my general health to put a lid on all these drinks and even pour them down the sink. I keep trying to justify to myself why I need them. I don't drink beer, I don't smoke, I have never taken illicit drugs. In many ways I am totally clean. So what's the harm in opening up a friendly fizzy drink every now and then?
"As I feel these drinks swimming in my stomach I keep telling myself about all the intestinal damage they can do."
However I know deep down that these drinks which enter my body are a spreading poison. The more serious and voluminous the literature gets about the harmful effects of soft drinks the more I know I have to beat this habit. This is hard given the great exultation that these drinks give me.
As I feel all these soft drinks swimming in my stomach I keep telling myself about all the intestinal damage they can do. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a growing hole in my stomach as well as holes in all my teeth. I don't want to be frail and toothless before my time. I need to take a long hard look at my disastrous relationship with soft drinks. It's time to call it quits.
Isabella Fels is a Melbourne poet and writer. She has been published in various publications including Positive Words, The Big Issue and The Record.
Comments should be short, respectful and on topic. Email is requested for identification purposes only.
02 May 2017
Water is the healthiest choice, much better than Coca-Cola and other sugary drinks. Quitting a habit is hard but worth it, so go for it, Isabella.
03 May 2017
I'm with you. I love the "Black Doctor", too. Remember - a little bit of what you fancy does you good. And good luck.
03 May 2017
What an intelligent, sensitive and important article, Isabella. I love fizzy drinks; as you say the problem is the monstrous amount of sugar in the "cokes" of this world. I have weaned myself onto soda water; which in bulk from (own brand) super markets is cheap.
Andrew (Andy) Alcock
03 May 2017
The Coca Cola corporation uses powerful advertising to attract young people to use their products. After a while, the user gets hooked on the caffeine and the sugar.
In the early days, Coca Cola actually included cocaine until it was discovered how dangerously addictive that drug is.
The large amount of sugar can lead to obesity and the phosphoric acid in CC attacks tie tooth enamel. Some people use CC to clean their baths and basins!
Its relentless advertising around the world means that Coca Cola is available in every country. Many years ago, I visited Cuba and discovered a country free of the stuff. It had its own cola , however, which is part of one of their popular cocktails - Cuba Libre (Free Cuba) which is a mixture of Havana Club Rum, fresh lime juice, cola and ice.
I don't drink CC products because of the health issues and also because of the poor treatment of its workers in developing countries. There is a constant problem with underpayment for CC's Indonesian workers and some years ago in Colombia, CC executives paid hit men to deal with union leaders and unionists who were pushing for improved wages and conditions.
03 May 2017
Love your writing & your complete honesty ,Isabella. It is hard to break enjoyable habits. You have begun by acknowledging that you have a problem. Good luck!
03 May 2017
I know it's not the same, but if you like fizziness, give sparkling mineral water a go.
03 May 2017
Isabella, I have watched the severe pain and suffering of people with schizophrenia. There is very little that eases it. Medication often only helps a little and has its own bad side effects. if Coca Cola gives you pleasure, why not moderate your use? Don't forgo it altogether. The saddest story I know is of a person with schizophrenia who gained some relief from long hot showers, but she gave them up because she thought she was harming the environment by using excess water. The suffering of a person with schizophrenia is so underestimated as is the inadequacy of current medications. I love your writing. Please share more of it.
05 May 2017
I really enjoy Isabella's pieces. I had a very hard Coke Zero habit that was crushingly difficult to break. I am glad I did.