I first started smoking when I was 14 years old, and I quit about 20 years later. Cold turkey. Of course, back then, there weren't many other options for quitting.
My motivation at that time? My kids were young and I had the opportunity to take a few years off work to stay home with them and be a "mom," but we wouldn't have been able to afford it if I smoked and had to buy cigarettes. So I quit. It seemed a fairly easy decision to make, although quitting itself is never easy. As DebiJeanM commented on yesterday's post, there are studies that suggest tobacco is more addictive than heroin, so quitting isn't easy at all. But for motivation, being able to stay at home with my kids if I could quit was the best!
I always enjoyed smoking. Even after I quit, I wanted to smoke, although I thought about it less and less as time went by. Eventually, my time at home with the kids came to an end, and I went back to work full time. In my "free" time (ha!), I returned to school, taking a college course or two each semester. Life went on.
One spring Secretary's Day, my office organized a lunch for all of us at a restaurant on the river, and a bit of drinking ensued. The attorney I worked for was a smoker as was another attorney, and I thought it would be excellent fun to smoke with them--and it was! A week or two later, several of us went for drinks after work, and again we smoked. On each occasion, I drank, I smoked, I went home, and I didn't smoke again--until the next time. But there weren't any cravings in between.
A few weeks after that, I got word my dad was going into the hospital for a quadruple heart bypass procedure. He--and the hospital--were about an hour and a half drive away. On the day of the surgery, I got in my car to drive to the hospital. I was worried and I was alone. I stopped and bought a pack of cigarettes--I thought smoking would help with the worry, and it did calm me down. That day and the several days after, when I made the same drive back and forth, I would stop along the way and have a cigarette. (And yes, I did recognize the contradiction between my dad's heart problems and my smoking.) Very quickly I found I was dependent on cigarettes again. I had been a non-smoker for eight years until that point, but my years as a non-smoker were over.
For some time, smoking was my secret. I didn't want to admit to my friends and family that I had failed. I was spending a lot of time away from home, working full time and going to school, so smoking in secret was easy. I often spent part of my weekends at a local coffee shop, studying and doing homework where it was quieter than it was at home--and, of course, I could smoke there. And, aside from all that, there was a certain allure to doing something secret and forbidden--I understand why married people can get caught up in affairs just for the thrill of doing something they aren't supposed to do!
Eventually, though, my secret was found out, and I was smoking openly again. And, of course, smoking's not a popular thing these days. On the scale of degenerate things to do, it often seems like smoking ranks right up there with picking one's nose in public. So that was one reason to quit. And another reason? No one I know smokes any more! Maybe the most compelling reason for me, though, was the fact that each year my allergies seem to get worse, and I thought that if I quit smoking, it would help with the whole allergy/congestion/icky stuff.
So, I thought it through and set a date. July 3rd. July 3rd was an office holiday, then I'd have the weekend, and I also arranged to take Monday and Tuesday, July 6th and 7th, off work as vacation days. Five days of Hell; five days with few outside demands and pressures; five days to get through the worst of it. Cold turkey. My office manager and my two bosses knew; Hubby knew; and one or two friends I talk to daily knew. I didn't want to have to explain to anyone else if I failed.
Why cold turkey when there are smoking cessation aids available now? I worked with a woman whose doctor told her she'd develop emphysema if she didn't quit, so she quit with the help of patches and gum. A year and a half later, she was still using patches and gum. I was afraid that would be me--or worse. I thought if I did patches and/or gum, I might be lured more easily back into smoking. I'd quit cold turkey before, and I knew I could do it again; and, maybe more importantly, I knew what to expect.
As the date approached, Hubby was prepared to leave town if need be. Hubby told me he was thinking of taking Spike with him, because he didn't want to come home and find her nailed to the wall. Wise man. But it didn't turn out to be that bad for those around me, and other than several hours on the 4th of July when he went to visit his brother, Hubby--and Spike--hung around the house.
I slept a lot during those five days. I drank a lot of water and iced tea. I read a little, I quilted a little, I embroidered a little--mostly I didn't feel like doing anything for very long at all. On the sixth day, I went back to work and had two of the most stressful days I've had in a long time--and that's completely and totally aside from the whole quitting smoking thing. I should have taken the entire week off, but who knew?
If I hadn't quit before and knew what to expect, I probably would have given up this time around the third day into it. Someone asked how I did it, and all I can say is that I just kept going, knowing that eventually--and before TOO long--it would get better. And it did. And it will get even better, I know.
I can't say I'll never smoke again. I'm sure I said it several times during the eight years I was last a non-smoker, and I'm sure I meant it wholeheartedly. But now I know better than to be so cocky and self-assured. Things happen; willpower falters. All I can do is try, day by day, to not smoke. Eventually it will get a little better. But eventually I may let my guard down.
What do I hate most right now? I'm still kind of grumpy and depressed. I don't feel like settling down to anything for long. I'm not sleeping very well, and that means I'm tired much of the time. My appetite is weird--I'm hungry, but after I take the first few bites, I don't want any more; then I'm hungry again in a couple hours.
I don't remember this happening when I quit before, but if it's not related to quitting, then it's a remarkable coincidence! I think it would help if I could get out and take walks or something, but it's been 110 degrees out, and if I had a death wish, I would have just kept smoking, so walks aren't the solution for now. I plan to relax this weekend, take some good multivitamins, drink plenty of fluids, and get some sleep, with the help of Tylenol PM. I have things I need to get done, but I don't want to stress myself out where I don't have to, so I may not post to my blog if I don't feel inspired--and inspiration isn't thick on the ground right now. So if you stop by and I'm not here, you'll know why.
Thank you all for the encouraging comments. It's funny how many of us are former smokers! And for any of you reading this who have been thinking about quitting but haven't so far, I bet you can do it! Feel free to email me privately if you have questions I can help you with. "See" you again soon!