A Long Time Coming

Linda's One Year Smoke-Free Milestone Account

Linda Siegel
Linda Siegel

I'd like to introduce you to ex-smoker Linda, a member of the About Smoking Cessation support forum. Linda recently completed her first year of smoke-freedom. If you've ever smoked, chances are something in her story will strike a chord with you.

Congratulations Linda, and thanks for sharing your story. 

LOST, SCARED, THERE IS NO WAY I CAN EVER DO THIS.  

I didn’t know what to do, which way to turn, what to say, how to feel when I quit smoking.

I just followed the instructions I was being told over and over and over again.  It was like being in a trance and just blindly doing what I was told.  Thankfully, I listened.

When told to drink ice water, I drank ice water.  When told to distract, I used a distraction.  When told to take deep breaths, I took deep breaths.  When told to read, I read.  On the bad days, I was told to look for something to be grateful for, and I did as I was told.

I’d been down this path so many times, I lost count.

Was this going to be another failure?  I just had to do this I told myself.  I just had to . . .

I was sick of all of it, the smell, the cough, the not being able to breath, trying to control it so I didn’t look like such an addict.  Using every excuse for everything they did to me. 

I was a 37 year addict.  It started because I wanted to look and be “grown up”.  I wanted to be a “cool” kid. Funny how the times have changed and how it isn’t cool anymore and the grown-ups have quit or are no longer around.

I tried my first cigarette when I was 12!  By the age of 14, I was a smoker.  I tried to quit so many times, the longest was three months back in 2007 with the help of Chantix.  It was the first time I had been on the forum.  It took me weeks to post my first post, but I couldn’t believe the outpouring of support.

  I knew this place was a good place for help and support.

Prior to that, it would be a day here and there.  I think one time I went 2 weeks after going to hypnosis.  I smoked through two pregnancies (very ashamed of that!)  After the 3 months back in 2007, I wanted to quit again so badly, I had gotten a “taste” of freedom.  I took me 7 more years to get to where I am today.  

In March of 2014, I begged my doctor to give me Chantix again, but he told me there are too many side effects.  I said, I took it before and it helped and I have tried everything else (which I had, hypnosis, acupuncture, laser, the patch, and numerous items from websites). He reluctantly agreed and I am so thankful!  I think it helped to get me to the point of thinking I could quit again. As soon as I filled the prescription, I came back to the forum. Although I didn't post, I read and read and read some more. I read Allen Carr’s book twice.  I went to other websites looking for any help I could find.

On March 25, 2014, I quit smoking.

 Then in June (again the three month mark) I slipped.  I started to relapse.  I tried to quit again and again.   I couldn’t believe I blew it again, I was so disgusted with myself.  No one except the forum knew.  I couldn’t tell my family and friends.  I was too ashamed and embarrassed.  

I would stop smoking again for a few days, a week or two and kept falling back into the trap.  I bought e-cigs and they just seemed to prolong the agony and made me want a cigarette even more.  I just wanted to be done with it once and for all!  

I finally read a post where someone said, “draw a line in the sand”.  I went out to the internet and found a picture of a line in the sand and said this is it. 

Come hell or high water, August 20th will be my quit date.

Well the next few days, weeks and months I was a mess.  Some days I didn’t want to get out of bed, but each time I wavered, I told myself I don’t want to open up those receptors in my brain ever again!  

I told myself if not now, when?  I have been telling myself I was going to quit for years!  It’s now or never.  I have the Chantix, I have the forum, I have the tools- I have everything I need to make this work and I am going to do it this time!

I was going to do it differently- I wrote down (from my journal)

  • Try journaling
  • Post when you feel shaky - wait for 3 replies

  • 3 D's (drink ice water, distract, deep breaths)

  • Go on Facebook or Youtube

I started a quit journal and wrote in it periodically.  It helped on the hard days to re-read what I had written about the struggles and how I felt to know I was doing better.  It  was getting easier.  I started a word document and anything I read that I thought might help somewhere down the road I copied and pasted.  I have reread that many, many times and continue to add to it.  It is now a 32 page document!  The very first thing at the top of the document is a picture of a line in the sand.

I found my list of quit reasons (I had written years ago).  I added to it, but also realized that many of the same reasons still stand true today.  Some of them are:

  • I want to watch my kids grow up,
  • I want to grow old with my husband,
  • I want to be able to breathe better,
  • I want to be able to do yard work or walk up the steps and not be winded,
  • I don’t want to be a burden. 

I also had read somewhere about someone who had cancer and she stated how selfish she was to be a smoker.  This hit me hard, I mean, in the gut hard! Selfish?! Selfish?! What does she mean selfish?? I am NOT selfish! But then she described that because of her smoking and the cost of all the treatment for the cancer it caused, her family spent every dime they had to try to help. They lost their savings, home, their kids had no money for college or any future at all. I thought - oh my God - that could be my family if I get cancer. I always thought of smoking as I am only hurting myself, now I see how selfish I was.

I had a list of things to do when the cravings hit.  I wrote down about 30 ideas and referenced that list many times.  I think the best distractions for me were deep breaths, Facebook, walking, reading and watching funny things (whether it be a quick trip to YouTube or a funny movie to watch). 

List of things to be grateful for – this came about at around a month in and I was having a really crappy day. Dee had told me it is just a bad day and you will have those and then she told me to make a list of things to be grateful for.  It did help turn my mood around and the next day was better, but I continued to try to add to that list.  I tried to continue to add to it, so that when the bad days hit I could look it over. 

I made a list of quotes that I found at forum or other sites.  I made it in pretty fonts and different colors and printed several copies.  One for in my journal, one for in my purse and one for home.  I read it over many times to help quiet the junkie within.

I also wanted and watched for signs- don’t ask me why, but I felt that I needed some kind of help from somewhere outside the normal realm.  

  • The first sign was that our quit group name was my idea.  So then I thought, well I can’t fail now, I am “responsible” to keep this group going -  its name was my idea.  
  • I found my old quit list from probably 10 years ago, I had looked everywhere for it (I just wanted to know what I had written years ago as my quit reasons).  
  • We adopted a German Shepard puppy and I remember saying he was a great distraction (but I don’t recommend it for everyone!).  Dee had mentioned that Terry (Forum Mod) had adopted a German Shepard puppy named Hudson and felt it help her with her quit – I thought, there is another sign!  
  • At a health screening, MetLife was giving away stuffed Snoopys that had “I CAN DO THIS” printed on the front, which has been one of my mantras.  All silly, but for some reason they seemed to help on some days when I needed reinforcement.

I promised myself that if I felt really wobbly and on the edge that I would post on the forum and wait for 3 responses.  I did this several times, and each time- without fail, the support and the supportive words were exactly what I needed to hear at that moment.  The forum NEVER let me down!  The people in this place are unbelievable.  No matter what you say or do, they will support you in any way they can.  

I am forever grateful for so-o many people on this forum, for our group mod, Dee and especially for my quit buddies group, AuGust of Freedom – We made it!  Congrats to the Fab4!!!

~Linda

-- Quit date: August 20,2014

-- I would rather be an ex-smoker with an occasional desire to
smoke, than a smoker with a constant desire to quit.

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