Something Shifted and I Quit

Debbi's Quit Story

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From Debbi:

One Year, 0 minutes and 14 seconds. 10950 cigarettes not smoked, saving $1,642.50. Life saved: 5 weeks, 3 days, 30 minutes.

I've been "trying to quit" for such a long time. I remember counting my cigarettes for the first time when I was 16 and the shock I felt at the realization that I truly was addicted. I would quit for short periods, like when I was a camp counselor, but whenever I could smoke, I did.

My first serious quit attempt was about 7 years ago. Some of the NRTs were becoming popular, and I decided to try the nicotine gum. I actually quit smoking for 18 months. And then a dating relationship went sour.  In hindsight, I realize that hiding my feelings behind the "smokescreen" was suddenly appealing again. So I picked up "just one pack" with great melodramatic flair, and we all know how that story goes.

As my cigarettes traveled in packs, I also started "trying to quit" again as each pack dwindled. What an exhaustive process! I like to think of my previous quit attempts as "research", and each experience did help me recognize my limitations.

I realized that people would get on my nerves and I would use bad interactions as an excuse to smoke. I realized that I seemed to make it to the three week mark and then falter. I realized that I would go into some really dark thoughts. I also knew that the minute I would start to think about smoking, the battle would be lost.

I could somewhat recognize all of that, but I didn’t know what to do differently to stop the mistakes from repeating.

I made it through the first 13 days of my final quit, and I was starting to go to that stir crazy space where the smallest things would unnerve me. I was driving around battling junkie thoughts about heading to the convenience store.

Instead, I went to a park to pray and I could not find relief, but I remembered seeing some web sites about quitting smoking and wondered if that might help. I could agree (with myself) to at least check it out and then decide if I would smoke.

I had the willingness. I definitely had the desire and the determination...more than any other quit attempt. What I lacked was education. I didn’t understand what was going on with my emotions and my body. I had no idea of any of the incredible coping strategies available to me until I found this forum.

I used an herbal remedy called SmokeAway to get through the first 5 days, but I just had no idea how to do the rest. It was the gift of this incredible forum that lead me through that process and kept me smoke-free in those early months.

One year later, I am completely and totally amazed. The education still continues to serve me. Life still happens – I am looking for employment right now and can get really anxious about it, but I have no desire to smoke.

Instead, I have a calm sense of relief that I am no longer using any of my energy "trying" to quit.

Some of the highlights I've embraced from my education about how to quit smoking: 

  • Drink water...ah, the cool refreshing feeling of water is a good thing. Even with the rare unexpected craves in the later months of my quit, I would go to drink water and I would feel better.
  • For me, vitamins were a really good thing. Magnesium, calcium, vitamin C were quite helpful with the anxiety.
  • Calming teas.
  • Posting, posting and more posting. Whining when I needed to, but also going through the milestone section and just congratulating folks. I think I have over 1200 posts, and most of those were in the first five months.
  • Reading, reading, and more reading. Finding out that there were other folks who went through similar experiences helped me believe that I would survive. Special hugs and thanks to my fellow Mighty Marchers, especially Larry, Terry and Jane who quit within days of me and who often would talk about similar feelings or experiences.
  • Setting a deadline for myself. I was willing to persist through some of the icky feeling stuff until 4 months. If it didn’t get any better, I told myself I would do something else. (it definitely got better!)
  • Learning about the ickie threes...not everyone gets them, but I certainly did.
  • Changing my thoughts changed my life. (thanks T!) I only allowed myself to consider smoking once a day. If I decided I wasn't going to smoke, the rest of my thoughts around smoking needed to be how to stay quit, not whether I was going to smoke.
  • Keeping busy with distracting tasks and computer games. Thank goodness for Nabisco Pengapop, jigsaw puzzles and that tile game, Manga?
  • Being lucky enough to choose a forum with such great moderators! I am amazed at the continuity and persistence and dedication of the moderators. WOW!  What a service.

My heart is full of love (as well as sweet wonderful oxygen, instead of that nasty nicotine!  Wooohooo!) and gratitude for this incredible forum!

Something shifted, and I quit quitting in late December.

I know I had the persistence, willingness and determination, but I also know I could not have done it without wonderful education, support and understanding you all have given me!

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