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2019
Ladybug--7-3-12

Piece It Together

Posted by Ladybug--7-3-12 Apr 30, 2019

 

How hard or easy it is for you to quit does not predict the long term outcome of your Stay Quit.  All quits are NOT the same either whether it be our own quits or others quits.  In my experience I found that the harder it was for me the more personal work I had to put into it & the firmer I built my foundation.  It was a good thing for me although I didn’t feel that way at the time.   

 

Education, mindset, commitment & perspective made a huge difference when I quit smoking this time.   It helped me understand & overcome the initial “Lizard Brain” most of us have as active addicts which told me many things including that I could not quit cold/smart turkey.      

 

I didn’t appreciate & value my first quit (of a year & a half) because it was so easy for me to quit (sorry, but true).  This time it was hard.  Much, much harder.  Chosen meds were removed from my Tool Box one after another.   I felt great anxiety just at the thought of quitting without “help”.  

 

Chantix (my miracle drug for my easy quit) was stopped on Day 6 (a day before the actual quit day) because of an extreme side affect.  The patch was stopped after 11 days due to a severe allergic reaction and then Wellbutrin had to be discontinued on Day 32 also due to an extreme side effect.  (I realized much later that I had truly taken smoking as an option off the table from Day One because smoking never entered my mind with my initial setbacks.  It really worked!)    

 

My point?  If you are using a aid & it “fails you” it does not mean you have to return to smoking.  Instead piece the different methods together & use your other chosen tools from your “Tool Box” and keep moving ahead smoke free. Your doctor can also be a great resource so I highly encourage you to get your doctor on board with your quit.  Mine was with me every step of the way.      

We never know how much harder it may be for us the “next” time so I encourage you to just hang on & keep building on your smoke free days. Piece your aids together if you have to & don’t return to smoking.  It doesn’t matter how “ugly” you do your quit because if you don’t smoke the days count the same.  In fact, the harder won it is the more you may appreciate your Stay Quit.     

 

No matter how I felt or what happened to me or what I thought I cemented my quit foundation one hard day at a time in the beginning.  I appreciated any smoke free time.  It was my most precious gift to myself & I treated it as such and hung onto it for dear life.      

 

It’s hard when you’re an active nicotine addict.  No doubt about it but if you don’t smoke and give yourself time you can regain control of your brain … or at least to the point that the Nic O. Demon is no longer whispering constantly in your ear.  (By the way, the reason those whispers are so powerful is because the Nic O. Demon is YOU (your self-talk) and knows all your weaknesses & likes to exploit them fully to try to bring you back to Nico Land.)  

If you are going through hell with your quit recognize that it’s because of your smoking and what you are going through is the price we pay to rid ourselves of our active addiction.  It’s temporary.  Focus on the goal … to be smoke free and to achieve peace & gratefulness about it.  The when for each of us varies. Don’t smoke & give yourself the gift of time to reach Freedom for yourself.

  

If you have to keep piecing your quit tools together … do it … it all counts.

 

Knowing about PAWS helped me. I hope awareness of it helps those who are wishing for it to just be all over. Patience. You'll get there! I promise; if you just don't smoke.

 

FOR THOSE IN THEIR "STAY QUIT" MODE (Approx. 4 MOS to 2 YEARS QUIT towards FOREVER!):

 

*** PAWS -- The 2nd Stage of Withdrawal ***

 

The first stage of withdrawal is the acute stage which usually lasts at most a few weeks. During this stage, the physical withdrawal symptoms experienced may be different for every person.

 

The second stage of withdrawal is called the POST-ACUTE WITHDRAWAL SYNDROME OR PAWS. During this stage you will have fewer physical symptoms, but more emotional & psychological withdrawal symptoms.

 

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) occurs because your brain chemistry is gradually returning to normal. As your brain improves, the levels of your brain chemicals fluctuate as they approach the new equilibrium causing Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms. Most people experience PAWS.

 

The most common PAWS symptoms are: mood swings, anxiety, irritability, tiredness, variable energy, low enthusiasm, variable concentration & disturbed sleep. It feels like a roller coaster of symptoms. In the beginning, your symptoms will change from minute to minute and hour to hour. Later as you recover further they will disappear for a few weeks or months only to return again. As you continue to recover, the good stretches will get longer & longer. The bad periods of PAWS can be just as intense and last just as long.

 

Each PAWS episode usually lasts for a few days. There is no obvious trigger for most episodes. You will wake up one day feeing irritable and have low energy. If you hang on for just a few days, it will lift just as quickly as it started. Each episode is time limited.

 

Post-Acute Withdrawal usually lasts for 2 years. This is one of the most important things you need to remember. If you're up for the challenge you can get through this BUT if you think that PAWS will only last for a few months, then you'll get caught off guard, and when you're disappointed you're more likely to relapse.

 

* BE PATIENT. You can get through recovery one day at a time. If you resent or bulldoze your way through it, you will become exhausted. PAWS symptoms are a sign that your brain is recovering. Don't resent them. Remember, even after one year, you are still only half way there.

 

* GO WITH THE FLOW. You'll have lots of good days over the next two years. Enjoy them. You'll also have bad days. On those days, don't try to do too much. Take care of yourself. Focus on your recovery and you'll get through this.

 

* PRACTICE SELF-CARE. Give yourself a lot of little breaks over the next two years. Tell yourself "what I am doing is enough". Be good to yourself. Sometimes you'll have little energy or enthusiasm for anything. Understand this & don't overbook your life. Give yourself permission to continue to focus on your recovery.

 

PAWS can be a trigger for relapse. You can go weeks without any symptoms & then one day you wake up & are hit like a ton of bricks. You'll have slept badly. You'll be in a bad mood. Your energy will be low. If you think that PAWS only lasts for a few months or that you'll be different and it won't be as bad for you, then you will not be prepared for it & will get caught off guard but if you know what to expect you can do this. Relax. Don't get caught up in PAWS.

 

Remember, EVERY RELAPSE, NO MATTER HOW SMALL UNDOES THE GAINS YOUR BRAIN HAS MADE DURING RECOVERY. WITHOUT ABSTINENCE, EVERYTHING WILL FALL APART. WITH ABSTINENCE, EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE.

 

(Modified Source: addictionsandrecovery.org)

Ladybug--7-3-12

Help Yourself

Posted by Ladybug--7-3-12 Apr 12, 2019

 

One of the first things I recognized in my smobriety journey was that it didn't matter how many resources I had or people who wanted to help me out of my active nicotine addiction. The most important help I always had was the helping hand I found at the end of my own arm.

 

Help yourself. Educate yourself. Commit yourself. Choose for yourself. Do it for yourself. The common denominator is always YOU.

 

Everyone wants to help you but by the very definition of the word "help" we are secondary to you choosing to help yourself first. Who else is with you 100% of your time? Who else creates & listens to your own self-talk? Who else will be with you from birth to death guaranteed?

 

Help yourself first. You must always be your own best supporter. It's important & only you can provide this ongoing support for yourself.

 

Make it a great day for yourself!

Ladybug--7-3-12

Mini-Quits

Posted by Ladybug--7-3-12 Apr 11, 2019

 

What the heck is a Mini-Quit?  It’s not a “practice” quit but it sure can help you begin a quit if you are having trouble launching one for yourself.  It helped me. 

 

A Mini-Quit is changing up WHEN, WHERE, and WHY you normally smoke.  It’s purpose is to give you a head start on breaking some of the smoking behaviors, habits and associated cues you made for yourself.  As smokers we all had our rituals, patterns, and pacifier moments when we used smoking to soothe & calm ourselves.  

 

Although not the purpose of a mini-quit, a normal consequence is usually less smoking because it does not feel normal or as satisfying.  Smoke as much as you want just not in the normal places and at the normal times.  

 

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Change the When.

 

If you smoke right after a meal for example, or first thing when you wake up … don’t.  Wait 30 mins instead.  Do something else first to distract & delay smoking to change up your normal routine.  Do the dishes, brush your teeth, take a shower, exercise, meditate, whatever you choose.   

 

Change the Where.

 

Smoke in different places.  If you have a specific place you smoke at home outside, don’t go there.  Smoke somewhere else.  Don’t get comfortable either. Don’t listen to music, read, text, or talk on the phone.  In other words, don’t multi-task; just smoke.  Keep your sole focus on smoking.  Observe what it looks like & notice how you feel when the smoke swirls around you. (Personally, I felt an overwhelming sense of all the time I was wasting just smoking.)

   

I’m assuming you already don’t smoke in your home or in your vehicle.  With all the known health hazards nobody should be exposing their spouse, children, pets, loved ones, or friends who visit you in your home or ride in your vehicle to second & third hand smoke.  If you do smoke in your home or vehicle, stop it!  Make those places off limit now for smoking.

 

Change the Why.

 

Change your smoking patterns/behaviors.  If you are used to smoking when angry or upset, to concentrate or think, while stressed or talking on the phone, etc., (and who of us as smokers didn’t) … don’t.  Wait 30 mins.  Do something else to distract yourself & delay smoking.  Walk around & breathe to give yourself time to let the “go to” ingrained smoking behavior pass.  The only way to change is to make/do the changes.  Don’t focus on wanting to smoke either during the wait.  Kick the thought(s) to the curb.      

 

   

Try changing up 3 or 4 of your cues/smoking association behaviors for a few days or a week.  Then add 3 or 4 more change-ups.  It takes 3 weeks to change a “habit” or before we become comfortable or “normalized” with it so I don’t recommend using the Mini-Quit process for more than a week or two (but whatever, it’s your quit; do you!).  The ultimate purpose is to launch your quit with fewer cues/smoking associations.

 

It IS important & necessary to replace the old cues/smoking association behaviors with something else to fill the void.  Strictly speaking, we don’t eliminate our “habits”  …  we change them into something else.  Make sure what you choose to replace them with is positive and can be sustained for the long term regardless of mental & physical status.

 

As far as being “ready” to quit smoking goes many of us weren’t ready or even wanted to but we chose to quit anyway and made the commitment not to smoke.  It’s not about will power either.  It’s WILLINGNESS, CHOICE & COMMITMENT.  If you can quit for one day, you can quit for two days, and so on.  One day at a time in the beginning.  

 

Again, the purpose of Mini-Quits is not smoking reduction although as you learn about yourself & change it up it is a wonderful side effect.  Be aware that If you intentionally focus on just reducing the number of cigarettes “way down from normal” (especially if it is 5 or less cigs/day) you may be putting yourself into constant nicotine withdrawal or you may be treating cigarettes as a reward which is the last thing you want to do.  You do not want to make a cigarette a “precious” commodity to yourself.    

 

Remember you are a nicotine addict; it’s not just a bad habit.  

You might want to consider doing Mini-Quits and then “just” jump off the scary cliff whether you feel ready or not & build your wings on the way down. That IS how it’s done.

Ladybug--7-3-12

Common Courtesy

Posted by Ladybug--7-3-12 Apr 9, 2019

 

This is an edited version of a blog I posted "elsewhere" about 3 weeks ago when a lot of new members & returning ones started migrating back for Spring.   

 

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Just some quick thoughts for consideration (in no particular order).

 

* You don’t have to like all the advice you get from community members (and chances are you probably won’t especially if you’re in the early stages of your quit) but common courtesy should be a given for those taking the time to respond to your post.

 

* If people respond to your SOS post you need to at least acknowledge them. People care & want to know if you were helped through your crisis. Don’t just disappear. It’s rude.

 

* I encourage you not to outright dismiss responses you don’t like. Those may be the ones you need to listen to the most. Kudos received over & over again may not help you achieve & maintain smobriety which is what you say you want. Give it a try listening to other insights.

 

* This is not a professional/medical site for advice regarding your depression, diet, bi-polar, breathing, or other medical conditions, diagnosed or not. Members may share their own experiences regarding a topic you post about but the best advice is always to seek professional help if the issue is a real concern of yours. Be safe.

 

* Treat people how you would like to be treated. Disrespect is one thing I do not tolerate well. I’m not here to waste my time on those that don’t’ appreciate it. I will simply choose not to support that person & move along to someone else. No skin off my backside! I’m already quit.

 

* Participation on-line is a risk & you never really know who you are “talking to” but if you hang around for a bit you can see who are the regular supporters. If you receive private mail from someone soliciting you personally (that you do not want of course!) notify admin. Help keep this site a Safe Zone.

 

* Don’t attack people. If you really don’t like the community or its members you can always choose to move on. There are many resources/sites out there one of which may be a better fit for you.

 

* If a post/poster/response rubs you the wrong way you have the option to scroll. Your input is not necessary. Let others respond to it. I do admit I tend to believe people when they show me who they really are in their post(s) the first time & they go on my ignore list.

 

* A good litmus test for making a post or while responding to one is to ask yourself … Is it helpful? Is it thoughtful? Is it inspiring? Is it necessary? Is it kind? If it doesn’t meet one of these criteria, you might want to choose not to make it.

 

* AND finally, take what you can use and leave the rest (notice I didn’t say take what you “need” because early in a quit it is questionable if we even know what we need).

 

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It’s always your quit, your life, your choices, your consequences. Take what you can use and leave the rest! 

     

 

An addiction is an addiction but all addictions are also NOT exactly the same. Some are socially acceptable, some affect only you, some are visible and some are not; some have dire consequences, some are good for you and some are bad.

 

I can never have just one ‘Cookies N Cream Hershey kiss (lol).  If I have one, numbers 2 & 3 will quickly follow.  If I refrain from having one though it is easier not to have any.  I have never been able to have just one.  A chocolate addiction fortunately only mostly affects the person who eats it.   It can become addictive in a bad way.

 

Sometimes its hard to keep physically active during the winter time.  Once I get myself out the door into the fresh air & start off on a 10k walk it is so invigorating, both physically & mentally, that I am glad I made the choice to just do it.  I have found that if I say no one day that it is easier to say no the next day too and if I’m not careful it will become my “go to” choice.  On the other hand, a 10k walk done one day helps me choose it again the next day too.  It can become addictive in a good way.

 

We all know those addictions that are not good ones for ourselves, others in our life, or for society.    Alcohol, cocaine, heroin, prescription drugs, excessive on-line presence, gambling, shopping, and overeating to name a few.  

 

Addictions love to piggy back onto other addictions.  If you get one under “control” another one likes to bulge out.  Dual diagnoses are common. Addictions cannot be cured only arrested so it is not uncommon to extinguish one (let it become dormant) and then see another one previously not a problem (or even known) come to the surface with a vengeance.  

 

Physical exercise/activities can become a good addiction but … ever notice that those who choose to only exercise exclusively to redirect themselves away from smoking have a hard time or even relapse when they are physically compromised.  Smoking thoughts become rampant in their minds again as a good “go to” soothing choice.  Often they relapse back to smoking when their chosen physical activity is no longer an option whether it’s only temporary or permanent (ie walking, running, biking, etc.)

 

Replacing smoking behavior with healthy physical endeavors is great but don’t forget to include activities that you can do for the rest of your life if you become limited in your mobility.  Things like meditation, listening to music, knitting, taking a class, reading, playing an instrument, whatever you are interested in learning, doing & spending your time with that you can continue to do if you become incapacitated (now or later in life; temporarily or permanently).  

 

It’s important, because if we are fortunate enough to age our status will most likely change, mentally and physically.  Interests & activities should be in place which allow us to make a peaceful transition so we can stay on the road to Freedom when life changes things up for us.  Expect it.  Plan for it.  Keep yourself safe from relapse.