Tuesday, May 23, 2006

My stop smoking experience. (as if you wanted to know)

I just read Bitchphd's post about smoking and it prompted me to dig out my stop smoking pep talk, I wrote it for a consumer website ages ago but it could stand an airing...Well it would have helped me to know more about other people's experiences when I was giving up so here goes: (smokers don't take it personally!)

I smoked for fifteen years, 30 a day, through pregnancy, in the rain, on the beach, in the bath, on the loo, full of a cold, during a bout of bronchitis, you name it. I was utterly determined to have my daily allowance. I spent an absolute fucking fortune (I liked the more expensive cigs, you know, the American ones that begin with an M and cost about 5 quid a pack in the UK), not just on fags, I bought loads of perfume and body lotion and mints etc. all in an attempt to hide the smell of smoke. What a waste. But my cigs were so gooooood. Who can resist that feeling of absolute pleasure when you light up after a long, enforced break? It IS good. But it's all an illusion and most of us know that. It only feels so good because we are addicted.

So, after fifteen years of "enjoying" smoking I gave up. What follows is the why, and more importantly the how.

I decided to stop because I couldn't afford to smoke and have a new kitchen. How shallow and sad is that!? There was no moment of crisis in my health, no moment of realization, no epiphany. I just worked out that my home loan payments were about the same as I was spending on cigs and if I didn't stop I would forever be living in squalor. Simple..he he he. It Soooo was not.

I didn't do any of the things you are supposed to do beforehand. I didn't pick a quit date, I didn't get rid of my smoking paraphernalia and I didn't seek advice from a quit group (been there, done that and failed too many times) I just got up, had whatever fags were left in my packet and then resolved not to have any for the next hour or two.

I felt (and still do) that planning the whole quit date shebang would be too depressing, I would worry more as the big day approached and then feel so spineless and pathetic if I slipped up. It’s so much better to catch yourself off guard, take your fags by surprise and jump in at the deep end. Just do it on the spur of the moment because you then have less emotion invested in the venture. We have all tried and failed and tried again and despaired and hated ourselves and smoked defiantly and wheezed and coughed and started the whole cycle again. It is really bleeding depressing.

I say bollocks to the National Health Service approach and just try it this way. Get some gum, not patches because the faffy bit of smoking where you find the pack in your bag/pocket and take out the fag and light up is important to smokers. We like to have something to do. So now you have a blister pack of fruity gum-(Nicotinell is best, trust me) to fiddle with and the whole process of putting the gum in and remembering to chew and park is just enough of a distraction. Wearing a patch is just too passive for me; I want to have to work for my nicotine!

So I made it through my first two hours and felt quite confident enough to do another couple and before I knew it, it was bed time.! Wahay! A whole eight hours fag free and not as bad as I thought. It was bad, I won't lie to you but it was do-able. I didn't die. I didn't even get too upset and wasn't that nasty with my family. Most importantly I didn't set myself any goal that felt too big. I always kept in my mind that I was trying to avoid smoking "today". With each successful day your confidence grows. I have done over 1000 days now. I don't REALLY count them anymore; I just sat here and worked that number out. And I really don't miss smoking at all. In fact I hate it. I regret all those lost years and all that lost money. I regret being a bit smelly. I regret not being able to sit in the library and do any work because I had to get up and go out for a fag every 20 minutes and I curse the days that I smoked around my daughter and sent her to school smelling like an ashtray.

What you can expect when you give up:

Cravings!!! The gum helps but it takes a bit longer than a ciggie to work. You need to be calm and tell yourself to hang on a minute and if it is ABSOLUTELY intolerable you can have a cig. It won't ever get that bad.

You will miss smoking. It feels a little bit like bereavement. You cigs have been with you through thick and thin. They love you and help you out when you need it. When they are gone you feel quite sad about it for a while. Just remember that all the time you thought they were being nice to you, they were actually slagging you off behind your back.

You might sleep badly for a few days. Just have a horlicks and a nice warm bath and remind yourself that when you wake up you won't have toilet breath! It passes.

Now we get to the positives:

You will smell great!

Your fingers will turn a normal colour again. No more yellowy orangey stains. And the same goes for your teeth, eventually,

You feel fitter and can breathe easier. This is such a big and unexpected bonus! You never really think you have problems when you smoke. You only know you did when you stop.

You won't be a social pariah. You will sit through a flight and not be nasty and cranky, you will be able to go to the pictures and enjoy a film.

You will feel so unbelievably, utterly, fabulously proud of your incredible achievement that you will wake up every day feeling smug and satisfied and nothing beats that! Giving up is difficult, if you can do it then you deserve unlimited praise!

So that's that. Long winded but I hope helpful and not preachy. Please try giving up. You are so worth it.


witchy-woo said...

You've inspired me! I may just try it...again... :)

bitchphd said...

Brilliant. I love the whole "they were just slagging you off behind your back" thing. And it's true, sneaking up on quitting and having something to fiddle with is important. My own thing for the last couple of days has been eating way too many jelly beans. Small, fiddly, they stick in your teeth and too many make you kinda nauseated. It's JUST like smoking! :P