My One Year Climb to Smoke-Freedom ... Cleo's Story

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In her one year smoke-free milestone message, Cleo shares how she was able to quit smoking, something she never thought she'd be able to do. 

Where did the addiction start?

Where did the healing begin?

Answers, in no particular order, it all started with the first cigarette when I was too young to know how to say no. The healing began 30 odd years later when I decided that my life was more important than SLOWLY killing myself for the dubious pleasure of the next nicotine fixI also found this forum and all the very very special people who have helped get me where I am today.


My journey started around March of 2014 when I bought every book on the subject of stopping smoking.   I bought patches, bought some herbal things, more herbal things, a couple of hypnosis CDs and a pretty journal to write about my quit journey. Entries were as follows:

"I am so so proud of myself, I haven't had a cigarette for three hours and I listened to the first cd..."

WOW. Not.

Then I tried a patch. Half an hour, bruising, itching, ripped the thing off my arm ..... down to pharmacy "you are very very very allergic to nicotine". Oh right. Best stay on the proper stuff then!

All this just served to tell me (the addicted me) that quitting was too much like hard work and stopping smoking would never work, had already done too much damage , etc. What could my life possibly be like if I didn't smoke? EVERYTHING I did required a cigarette, either as a reward, to comfort me ....

or just be my "best friend" ....

EXCEPT, there was my inner voice wanting more than this nicotine prison. After one attempt around March that lasted 6 days before I went mad, I left it all, went back to the poison and set myself a date. This was October 24th which was the 1st anniversary of my Dad's funeral.

Didn't quite make that one ...still put it off for another 3 days, puff puff puff, oh oh just another one, puff puff puff ...

So, I smoked what was to be my last cigarette on October 27th 2014. I don't quite remember what led me to this forum,  but it was to be the special pill that would enable me to succeed....

Not that I really realised that at the time. Never mind the icky 3s, 3rd day, 3rd week, 3rd month - SOMETIMES IT FELT like I was in a time warp that I couldn't escape from. But I listened to my new friends here (I was very jealous of some NOPETOBER 14s because they had at least a couple of weeks freedom on me), and I took every baby elephant step towards freedom by adhering to the basics: DRINK ICED WATER, TAKE DEEP BREATHS AND DISTRACT!

Before I end up writing a complete book, let me just tell you of one miracle. My partner was a very heavy smoker for 40 years and I never thought he would stop. He told me I was stupid to even try to stop!  BUT, he did. Two weeks after me.

Some days, the best I could do was simply NOT SMOKE. I did put on too much weight, but I had serious health issues for the first four months or so, with infection after infection. I couldn't do much exercise but could still eat!

Quitting poisoning myself  has had a lot of knock on effects for me. I had no idea that standing up for me, as in saying no to nicotine, would mean such a smokescreen would lift. I have had to learn to deal with all my emotions without lighting up, the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, the decisions, the waiting, learning to deal with impatience, being angry, being tired, feeling so incredibly happy at times ..... all this is part of the first year of the climb to freedom from the depths of the cigarette pack.

I learned that you can't skip any little part of recovery ! What you can do, though, is embark on an incredible journey with amazing support from the magical people on this magical forum.

Actually, the bottom line of this addiction is that it is not as strong as the support system here. ALL  any of us have to do is NOT LIGHT UP one minute at a time and then those minutes add up to hours, which add up to days, months and then ONE YEAR .... and onto a new lifetime.

For the new ex-smokers reading this, all I would really like to say is that I did what the successful quitters told me to do ..... drinking iced water REALLY did help! I read and read and read and gained so much inspiration from all of the people who had paved the path before me. I would post in my lovely NOPETOBER 14 group and just rant, or cry across the airwaves ...anything just NOT SMOKE.

The other thing is that none of us can rush the healing process. If I could just go back and tell the me of 27th October 2014 how much better it would be a year from then, maybe it would have been easier .... but then, would I have believed myself?!

So please,  all you brave, strong incredible people out there, BELIEVE in yourself and LOVE yourself enough to give yourselves the gift of what I've got today ..... freedom from nicotine. Wow, who would have thought?! Be KIND and GENTLE to yourself whilst you recover from what is a horrible addiction.

Equally, I don't want this message to make it sound like quitting tobacco is all a bed of roses and walking along the beach on a permanent high. It's not!  It's still LIFE, with all the ups and downs. I still think about cigarettes, but in a disconnected way. Just because I think about it, doesn't mean I have to act on it. Same for anything in life.

I heard yesterday that my sister-in-law has been diagnosed with emphysema and she says she can't stop smoking.

My Mum's best friend has chronic COPD at 76, every inhaler under the sun and she still smokes.

My Mum left this planet at 72 with COPD marked on the Death Certificate.

So today, 27th October 2015 I'm going to make sure that I fully embrace every moment of this day because I have given myself the gift of freedom, with the help of my friends here.

Love to all.


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