Scarlett Johansson, Johnny Depp and 10% of Americans Have This in Common with Me

By Tessie Painter

What do Leann Rimes, Johnny Depp, Kate Moss, Emma Stone, Joey Votto, Kim Bassinger, Scarlett Johansson, and Charlie Belijan have in common with me; and 10% of America? Stimulant sensitivity. What does that mean? It means that eating or drinking such things as caffeine and MSG can cause anxiety, hyperactivity, excitability, agitation or a myriad of other uncomfortable side effects. For me, it is anxiety and hyperactivity.

My birthday this year was an amazing multi-day celebration with lots of wonderful food and drinks, served with the love of friends and family. I have the most fun and loving people in my life! Amid one of the festive evenings, a friend gave me a frozen fruity drink. I love frozen, fruity drinks! I asked, “what is in this?”; and was told, “fruit juice, ice and alcohol.” So, I drank the entire thing… including the Red Bull, an ingredient of which I was unaware.

The next few days were not even close to as nice as this year and my birthday have been. Day 1 (first 24 hours), everything was in hyper-drive. I talked excessively. It is one thing to have a friend to whom you feel comfortable telling everything. It is an entirely different thing to actually tell them everything… in one time-slot! Day 2, I felt more than a little off; but did not realize what was happening to me. I tried to reframe my mindset and get centered. I was certain I could do it… and I still felt odd. Then, I received a phone call during which I was casually informed that the drink I had been given contained Red Bull. RED BULL??? That is toxic to me! That disrupts my most valuable asset, my brain! He didn’t know that I cannot have stimulants; and he also didn’t tell me that I was drinking one. I felt very vulnerable and violated. I am accustomed to being strong; and I am exceedingly careful of my intake… so I thought…

I suddenly recalled a couple of days in the past where I had felt a little hyped; but at a much lower level. So, I turned to my dear friend Google, to find out more sources of stimulants. Perhaps, I hadn’t been as careful as I previously thought. I found that many “health food bars” contain stimulants; caffeine and sometimes MSG. “Natural Flavors” is a replacement word for MSG, a nasty stimulant to those of us who are stimulant sensitive. I usually have these bars in my purse or car; and often eat half or all of one on my way out if I am super hungry; so I don’t eat like a vacuum on a date or at a meeting.

As much as this experienced was less desirable than hearing finger nails on a chalkboard, it has benefited me in 3 wonderful ways: 1. I have researched and identified multiple sources of stimulants that I can now easily avoid; 2. I have a new and valuable chapter for my book; and 3. I have written this article, which I hope will be helpful to the 10% of the US population that reacts adversely to stimulants; and the other 90% who may now be more sensitive to their needs.

We all have our own Achilles Heels, our weaknesses. No one is Superman or Superwoman. Other than feeling poorly, the only real downside to this is that I managed to totally annoy a very good friend. Of course, the great thing about good friends is that they love us and understand.

So, the bottom line is, “Be careful of what you eat and drink and what you give to others.” Otherwise, someone may offer an impromptu demonstration of “bouncing off-the-walls.”

Tessie Painter
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