Quitting Smoking Might be Hard, but Do it Anyway

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From ex-smoker, Steph:

One year down!

I remember the first moment of my quit very clearly.  I put my last cigarette out while sitting on the front porch and my husband said “so that’s it, that’s the last one forever?”  My mind completely rejected that thought as it was too frightening to contemplate. My mindset was more….”I’ve quit but I’m just concentrating on the next two hours right now."  

And so it began, I took it moment by moment that first day and hour by hour the next.

After about the second smoke-free week I started taking it day by day.

The first week is hard, uncomfortable and sometimes painful, Do It Anyway.  Freedom is so worth it.

Let the mind games begin…… I recently saw an interview where Opera talked to an Olympic champ (Flo Jo, I believe).  One of the questions went something like this: “I understand many Olympic athletes feel guilty about how selfish they need to be to be as an athlete at this level”. Flo Jo responded “that yes, it is a selfish existence for a period of time.  There is this black tunnel and you are in the zone."  Everything falls away and nothing mattered except her body, training, and complete focusing on the goal.  

I think smoking cessation is a lot like that.  Get in the tunnel, ignore everything else and focus on the goal.   Give in to it, nothing is as important as slaying the dragon.  During the first week or so I had this picture in my mind.

  Whenever I wanted to have a cigarette,  I imagined myself with a tracheotomy while explaining to my kids why I never stopped smoking.  Graphic, I know.  But this image in my mind scared the thought of a cigarette away many times and may have saved my quit. Be prepared to play some mind games, whatever it takes to quit for that day.

Do not expect this to be easy, Do It Anyway.  You have to work for the best things in life.

When I decided to quit, my smoking had become so bad that for the first time I was occasionally short of breath, which scared me.  Also I was smoking so much that I would want another cigarette even BEFORE I put the last one out…..what!? That’s just sick and it was the last straw.  

I quit cold turkey.  That same week my Mother in Law (beloved) was diagnosed with leukemia, I started my period and there was a lot of stress at work. There were a lot of reasons to throw in the towel.  I kept asking myself though,  “if not now….when?”  Assume that when you quit the smoking gods will throw a lot of bad things at you. 

If you give in just because of stress or just because you have a crave……. when will there be a perfect time?  There isn’t.  Do It Anyway. 

Don't look back - you're not going that way.  

After a while I continued with my quit simply because there was no way I was ever going through that first day, first week, first month again.

  I was in it to win it, baby.  

During this “middle period” (months 2-6) I felt like crap, my body did some pretty weird things, I gained weight, I felt spacey, and I was tired. I was tired of thinking of smoking, and I WAS TIRED OF THE CONSTANT CRAVES.  The craves weren’t as “desperate” as that first month, but they were constant and irritating and I was ready to be done with them.  I was worn out and tired of the whole process.

Everyone said “be patient, peace is right around the corner”, but time crawled by at a snails pace.  Some moments were agonizing.  Do It Anyway. 

Time, let’s talk about the importance of time during a quit. They say that only time heals “the crave."  I've learned it’s true.  Do what you need to do to pile time onto your quit.

Some of my favorite sayings about time are….. 

"If winning isn't everything, why do we keep score? That is the reason we count time. Cause time is what heals us.”  

"Discomfort is temporary -- You are in recovery. Any discomfort is because we smoked, not because we quit.”  

“Today may be really tough but battle out each minute, which becomes an hour, then a day.  With each battle won you get closer to finding the peace.  Pile on the days because this game is all about adding time to your quit.  The only people who crave forever are those who never quit.”

Are you worried about the amount of time smoking cessation will take?  Do It Anyway.  Considering the amount of time we invested in smoking, feeling poorly for 5 months is a cake walk.

Somewhere around month 5 or 6 I turned the corner and felt so much better.  At some point the idea of smoking melted away and I woke up one day and realized it had been days since I last thought of smoking and it had been a while since I had a crave too.  It was not this joyous, loud, happy moment.  It was more of an, "oh yeah, that’s nice” I had officially moved on.  The ebb and flow of the quit had moved into just a regular, everyday life.  

You spend 5 months obsessed with this big huge thing and then it just dies a slow quiet death.  Like many, I did have a couple of sudden craves after that but nothing that you can’t handle by this time.  Just know that you must be vigilant because those sneak attacks can catch you off guard. All those “old timers” were so right, there is peace and it feels as good as you can imagine. 

No matter where you are in the recovery process, just do this.  You already know the benefits of quitting, the personal and physical. It is the best thing I have ever done and I don’t regret one moment of the last year.

A little about me: I started smoking when I was about 16 and I’m currently 45.  I have a wonderful family who have been very supportive; husband (who still smokes), daughter is 12 and my 19 year old son has just taken off to college.  

The sheer amount of topics that I did not touch on but were important to my quit is enormous.  Things such as how important the About Smoking Cessation support forum was to my quit and the quality of support that I received here, friends that I made over the last year.  

There could be a whole conversation on commitment, Junkie Thinking, quit list, owning your quit, nicotine addiction, how much water can one person drink?,  endorphins, What’s this crying thing,  the importance of staying busy that first week, I’m going for another walk, yes I may have had some gas, deep breathing (I still use this), closing the door on smoking (making it not an option in my mind), Yes, I know its 4:00 but I’m going to bed anyway:),  NOPE, posting, educating yourself, The list could go on and on…..but you get the idea. 

Give yourself a year to heal from this addiction and you'll be on your way, too.  It might not be fun to begin with, but Do. It. Anyway.

Started this new chapter in life on September 15, 2011 and never looked back!

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