There are a LOT of brand new EXers on the site recently. To all of them, welcome! And congratulations on making the smartest decision you have ever made for yourself!
Before I came to EX, I thought I knew everything I needed to know about smoking, nicotine, addiction and quitting. But I quickly realized how little I understood about what it would take to quit smoking FOREVER.
I came to this site because I wanted to quit smoking. I recognized that many of the people here had already done the thing that I wanted to do. So I read what they told me to read. I did the tracking exercises. I went to the other sites that were recommended.
I was a STUDENT and I learned how I could stop being a nicotine addict.
It was like a lightbulb went off the day that I GOT it.
I understood COMMITMENT instead of "trying", "attempting", "hoping".
I understood taking PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY instead of wishing for "luck", and blaming "stress" "weakness" or "being around smokers".
I understood seeing quitting as FREEDOM instead of seeing it as "sacrifice", "giving up", "suffering through" or "losing" something.
When I quit, it wasn't "EASY". Sorry, Allen Carr, it wasn't. But I had a whole new way of thinking about it and that made it EASIER.
And now, in nine days, I will have 500 days!! But I have more than that. I have the knowledge, the understanding, the thinking, the confidence to know that I will never ever smoke again.
And I have all that because I LISTENED to the people here and I FOLLOWED their advice.
Thank you, EXers!!! You have literally saved my life.
1) Smoking a cigarette does NOT calm you down, ease your stress, make you happier or more able to cope. All that smoking a cigarette does is increase the level of nicotine in your body, which holds off the effects of withdrawal that started when you finished your last cigarette.
2) You do not enjoy smoking. What you are enjoying is NOT feeling a low level of nicotine in your body.
3) Educating yourself about nicotine addiction gives you a HUGE advantage in successfully quitting.
4) The way you THINK about quitting is absolutely KEY.
It is important that you banish the concepts of "trying", "attempting", "hoping it works", "wish me good luck".
It is important that you read enough about quitting until your thinking does a complete 180 degree turn from "giving up something", "sacrificing something I love", "doing without", "getting through this" into "FREEDOM".
Freedom from what? From a life that is ruled by an addiction, freedom to enjoy better health, freedom from guilt and shame, freedom from worrying when and where you can have your next cigarette, freedom from the panic when you realize you are out of cigarettes, freedom from smelling like an ashtray, freedom from hiding and making excuses.
And don't forget to think about all the free time you will gain, the money you will save, and the self-esteem that will rocket upwards when you quit.
So get that thinking flipped around so you are ready to quit successfully!
5) You CAN quit. Your addiction is no stronger and no harder to beat than anyone else's. If we can quit, then you can quit. We can ALL quit.
6) Yes, the first few days of quitting are not very pleasant. In fact, they suck. Completely suck.
But if you prepare in advance for how to handle those first days, you will make the whole process go a lot easier for yourself.
Listen to the advice of those who have already achieved what you came here to achieve.
Then FOLLOW that advice. Don't just read it in the blogs and think, "hmm, yeah, that sounds good".
You must actually do the things that have been PROVEN to help make you a successful quitter.
7) Be HAPPY. This is one of the best decisions you will ever make for yourself. Be excited to do this. And be VERY, VERY proud of yourself. We are. And we will be here to help you all the way...
Gosh, I've been gone so long, I almost feel like a stranger here now. Not a good feeling.
But I'm going to ignore that feeling because I know that all of the wonderful people here on EX would give me a hard time for feeling that way...right?
I've still been in and out of the hospital up here at the University of Michigan. It's an AMAZING health system and far superior to what I experienced back in Reston, VA. My five children were SO right when they insisted upon moving me back up to our hometown of Ann Arbor, MI, to get the better quality care available in a highly-ranked university medical school health system.
Nevertheless, I do not have a final diagnosis. It is an auto-immune disease, but unidentified as of yet. I am finding wonderful relief from the steroid drugs they have been giving me, but I can't stay on steroids forever, as they are so damaging. I have more tests in the Evidentiary Radiology Department this week. I hope to heck for a final diagnosis and just the right drug cocktail after that.
I want SO SO SO much to get my life back. Teddy, I KNOW you get that. Thank Goodness that I have a best friend like you to help keep my spirits up. Even when I don't/can't respond, Teddy keeps sending me texts and I love getting them. I wish everyone could have a best friend like Teddy in their life. I'm so lucky to have you in my life, Teddy, and I love you for all you have done to support me during all this nonsense. No one could EVER ask for a better friend.
When my rheumatologist sees me next, I intend to ask her if I could take a week off from all these crazy medical tests and go to Orlando for a few days. If she says "yes", I could easily fly down because of my flight attendant benefits, but I'd have to beg a place to stay with someone because I haven't had a paycheck since last July (Oh, dear, woe is me...yes, hear the self-deprecation in my voice...because I HATE to not be the one who is helping others. This new role of needing help is very very very difficult, practically impossible, for me.
But I want SO much to come to be at the Second Annual EX Get-Together.) I hope I can find a way to be there. And just a warning, dear friends...if I can make it, you can bet I will show up with all the attendees' early blogs printed out and find some forum to share them with each other again. Seriously, shouldn't "Sky Girl's Annual Tear Fest" become an inviolate ritual of every annual get-together???????
Okay...long enough blog.
I LOVE everyone here on EX. I LOVE my new normal. Being a non-smoker is something I was not ever sure I could do. But I DID it. And ANYONE can do it, if they educate themselves about nicotine addiction and lean on the amazing support you can find here on EX,
Wasn't the EXer Get-together in Orlando last weekend? I was back in the hospital last week, but I've been anxiously awaiting photos from Orlando! It kills me that I wasn't able to make it to Orlando, but I will surely make it to next year's get-together!! In the meantime, as soon as I'm able, I'll be heading to West Palm Beach for some BFF time withTeddy (our wonderful Joyeuxencore)!
But why isn't there anything here on EX about the great time in Orlando? It WAS great, right?
In all this time that I've been, shall I say, not my usual self (hah!), it has never crossed my mind to buy a pack of cigarettes or to bum one from a smoker.
I am 100% FREE. It wasn't an easy thing to do. (Wow. Now there's an understatement!)
At times, I didn't believe I could do it. At times, I still believed that a cigarette was the answer to a problem or a bad situation. At times, I felt like quitting must be easier for everyone else than it was for me. At times, I was absolutely convinced that MY addiction to nicotine was stronger and harder to beat than everyone else's addiction. At times, I believed that everyone here on EX who was succeeding at quitting had some magic answer that I didn't have.
But the truth is that, while it may not be easy, it is SIMPLE: As long as you do not put any nicotine into your body, you are succeeding, regardless of how you are feeling at any given moment.
Now cling to that truth. And believe that every single day without nicotine brings you closer to your NEW NORMAL. And, slowly but surely, that new normal will fit you like a glove. I promise.
xxxooo, Sky. (Feels good to post again, my dearest friends!)
...to be a member of the EX family and to have found so many wonderful friends here. When I received the amazing package of cards and letters from my EX friends that Joyeuxencore (my dear Teddy!!!), it raised my spirits more than anything has since this whole thing started. I feel so loved. Thank you all SO much. And Teddy KNOWS how much I love her!
I generally shrink from sharing medical problems, but I guess some kind of an update is in order, so here goes:
I won't lie; this hasn't been easy. I must have been in worse shape than I realized because, after a phone call with one of my sons in early December, he immediately drove up from NC and took me to the hospital. He was not satisfied with the care I was getting. After conferring with all my children, it was decided to move me back to my hometown of Ann Arbor, MI, and get care for me in the excellent U of M health system. It's been test after test and appointment after appointment while the docs try to figure it out. A pivotal moment was reached a few days ago after a painful test involving needles inserted into various nerves. It seems the docs have decided that I have some form of autoimmune disease. Now, nerve biopsies to try to determine the exact nature of my disorder.
I'm tired, I'm in pain, and I'm scared. But knowing you guys care means the WORLD to me. I love you guys!
Smoking is the last thing on my mind these days...but I'm so happy and proud to be at 464 days and counting!
It's hard to type with my numb hands, but I'll try to post again soon.