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crazymama_Lori Blog

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Yes, I was once like you. I was petrified at the thought of quitting. I was a chain smoker for 43 years. I lit up once I woke up until the time I went to bed. Since 1996 I've owned my own business and sat at my desk in my office and puffed away all day long. My life consisted of basically emptying ashtrays all day. My keyboard was always covered in ashes. Not completely, I do have to see what I'm doing.


I remember contemplating quitting. I searched and searched for the cure all, end all. The painless way to quit. It was only a habit, you know. Kick The Habit was the campaign years back when they first introduced Habitrol and Nicoderm. They professed to be the answer. I wanted the easiest way to quit, because after all it's only a habit.


I researched all the different sites out there. Back in the early years, they didn't have websites. Those were the days of these huge cell phones with these ginormous battery packs that people hauled around. Nicotine dependence was only added as a diagnosis to the DSM-IV in 1994. I guess it really is much more than a habit. I remember ordering cases of Habitrol to quit smoking. They always said smoking was hazardous to your health. Never said it was addicting. Think back in the last 1800 and 1900s, most of their cough syrups contained opium. Who knew any of this was addicting?


It wasn't only the smoking I had to quit, but I have to also give up nicotine. As time went by and as more and more research was performed, there was studies to prove that there is chemical changes going on in our brains. An excellent article to read that I found is written by Cynthia Perkins, M.Ed. I'm always on the search for more of the brain war that goes on, the explanation for it. I'm more successful at something when I can understand the reason for it so that I can find my own solution.


Take the time to find your solution. I believe a successful quit is one when a person understands what brought them there in the first place. How can you identify the warning signs when you don't even know what they are? Once you get past the physical withdrawal (2 weeks to a month), and then you're done riding the roller coaster of up one day and down the next (another 3 to 4 months), you're finding yourself thinking is this ever going to end, find your reasons for why you smoked to find your solutions. Don't go back to the go-with-what-you-know mentality. How do I do that? Go back to tracking your cigarettes or even fill out a chart and place those triggers on the left side and label the right your solution. Have a different action for each of your triggers.


You find you are struggling, identify the source. Are you struggling more when you feel the need to relax; try meditation. After a meal; chew gum, go for a walk. Anger; buy a stress ball, get a punching bag. Boredom; get a coloring book, load up some puzzle games on your tablet or phone. We have so many electronics at our disposal. There's got to be something to distract you.


Train your brain to steer toward something else instead of the act of smoking. We weren't born this way. We conditioned ourselves to automatically think of smoking when something/anything comes our way. When you have increased thoughts of smoking suddenly, take a minute and see what's going on around you. What is it that's making you want to retreat back? Think back to how you felt during the first week. Do you want to go through that again? If you want this to be your new lifestyle, what are you going to do about it?  Do you want this or not?  What do your nonsmoking friends do, those who never smoked in their lives? Ask around. Be proactive in this game we call quitting. You'll be glad you did.


The notorious slip, relapse, fall from grace... the classic answer, I'm too stressed, I don't know why, I live with a smoker, this is too hard. The honest answer is you allowed yourself to smoke. Somewhere, somehow you gave yourself that permission. You told yourself that just a couple will be fine. Complacency, the mother of all ends, has landed on your doorstep. What brought him a knocking on that door?


For many years, we were of the misconception that smoking can be cured. We can just simply quit and it will never be with us ever again. We will never be tempted again. Those are the people that don't understand why they relapsed. Why do I keep doing this? Some of them are of the belief that I'll just quit and it will be gone from my body in 2 weeks and I'll be just fine. Somehow someway the emotional aspect of smoking is taken out of the equation. The situational aspect is taken out of the equation.


Slowly as you progress along the quitting spectrum, you will have what some here call stinkin' thinkin'. After you get through the physical withdrawal, you have association urges. It could be the first spring, the first holiday, family gathering, some event in your life that happens in a cyclical pattern. It could simply be when children come home or are home from break when you're first quit or just a change of season. These are the times you need to be on the lookout for. These are the sneaky triggers that will prompt you back to smoking thoughts, association urges. Your brain associates smoking with a certain event because you've been doing that for the past how many years. That's all it knows.


I go back to the example of check writing. We wrote out a certain date for the past 12 months. Suddenly when January rolls around, you wake up half asleep yet making out the monthly bills and you automatically write out the previous year's date. Your brain has been trained to do that because you've been repetitively been doing that over and over. Apply smoking to that equation. The first year you are creating new memories or associations without smoking. You will find in your second year that those events that you were dreading the first year are so much easier in the second year. Why? Because you've created a different association, a memory with that event.


It doesn't have to even be an event. It could be simply dealing with your triggers. You need to train your brain to do something else other than grab for that cigarette. If you fail to do that, you'll be twirling around looking for that cigarette because you haven't taught yourself to do anything else. When you're angry, grab for a stress ball. You're frustrated, click a pen. You're feeling anxiety, rub a smooth rock between your fingers or massage your palm. But pick a different thing for each trigger you're having a problem dealing with. Train your brain to do something else other than grabbing for a cigarette.


A smoking thought hits you out of the blue, take a few seconds and see what it is that's triggering it. Close your eyes for a second, take a few slow deep breaths in and deep breaths out and think about what it is that's causing this anxiety. You have the answer. You just have to allow it to surface. We ran to the cigarette because it was easier to do that than to deal with whatever it was we were choosing not to deal with or have no clue how to deal with it. Take the time and find the answers from within yourself. Quitting smoking is like someone is handing a journal to you with all blank pages. There is no index. There is no table of contents. There's only little helpful tips along the way. The tips can be found on this site by using the magnifying glass (search) function. Type in your question by using keywords, anxiety, depression, anger, frustration, fear, loathing, guilt. There's over 28,000 people on this site, there's bound to be someone writing about these topics. Use this site for what it has. If you work it, it will get you to where you want to be.


My Stages of Growth

Posted by crazymama_Lori Champion Mar 13, 2018

When I joined Ex back in 2015 was after I did approximately a year's worth of research. I wanted to understand smoking on the same level of alcoholism and drug addiction. I read up on how the brain interacted and reacted in the stage of withdrawal. Not pertaining to smoking, but just in general. What is it that makes you keep coming back. I thought of myself as a science experiment as time went on. What is it that makes me a smoker? Why is it a problem for me and not for others? What is it that it appeals to some and it repels others?


Well, as everyone knows, most smokers are born in adolescence. We use it as a status symbol or even peer acceptance or approval. We just thought it made us look cool. Some of us had parents that smoked or one of them. It's something we remember when we were children. Most memories are created by the senses when we can't form those memories into words. Babies cry when they're hungry or hurt. Smile when they see a familiar face. Laugh when amused. With some, senses is what drives us. In my case, my father smoked. I don't remember much about my childhood, but I distinctly remember that smell of that '65 station wagon with the stick on the column.


My father was my hero. I never wanted to disappoint Dad. I wanted to be just like him. He was my icon. He also was a very heavy drinker and smoker. He was a master plumber and always had a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. He was my first introduction to smoking. I don't think we wake up as smokers. Back in the '50s and '60s everyone smoked. I'm just using that as reference because that's a period I can relate to. Smoking was in movies, commercials, magazine and newspaper ads. It was an accepted and portrayed as a glamorous habit. People holding a cigarette holder, leaned back leisurely blowing out smoke. Brain associates relaxation with smoking, stress relieving with smoking. We learned it somewhere. Smokers are not simply born. We learned and used it for something in our lives.


I think the key to quitting is learning about yourself and why you pick up that cigarette. Your first six months to a year you really don't think about the reasons. You're just concentrating on staying quit, maintaining your quit. I know in my case my first year was a blur. I went through so many different emotions then. This wasn't right, that wasn't right, why was I in this relationship, why did I put up with this, that and the other thing. I never noticed them before, because I was too busy puffing my way through them, the difficult things, the hard things. I was just thinking the other day how fuzzy the first year was and what a difference this year is. I'm more calm. I'm not as anxious. I'm not as tightly wound as I once was.


I started at Ex reading and reading. I went through the steps in the My Quit Plan. Printed out my tracker tool on how I plan on separating from my triggers. I even added more on as time went on. There's just little things that pop up over the ensuing months that you never realized how much you puffed your way through them. I went back through the Elders' blogs and read how they evolved. Most are not active on this site any longer, but their blogs are still there. I read their struggles and read all the responses. It comforted me then to know that what I'm going through is normal, it's a stair step process.


I refer back to relapse prevention and read how at times people do struggle to maintain their quit, that this truly never goes away. I read also on how they accepted that and respected it. Know your foe and respect the beast. Embrace each day and learn from the bumps in the road. Use this site for everything it has. If you're having a rough day, pop over to Laughter is the Best Medicine or check out some groups that interest you and read some there. Reach out to members, people you feel comfortable with. We'll help you get there. All you have to do is take our hand...........



Ripples in the pond

Posted by crazymama_Lori Champion Dec 31, 2017

Every New Years Eve, I have had a ritual here for the last 22 years of closing out my books for my business. Starting a new binder for the next year/years. One thing I've never changed is keeping hard copies of invoices from my business. I've had way too many computers crash over the years. And the one time that I'd forget to back up something is when it was certainly going to die on me. So every year, I pull out that empty binder that I'll use for the next two years, transfer over the dividers for the months, label it and put it on the shelf.


I just finished off my two-year binder. Will finally be printing my last invoice of the year. Printing off my year-end summaries. Filing them away. While I was opening up my storage closet and looking at past years, the pages look so different now. They're no longer yellow stained and absolutely reek when you open them up. All those years of chain smoking in my office left a mark in those books. My daughter came home after being at a neighbor's house. They both smoke in their house and she just absolutely smelled. I just looked up at my husband and said, did I smell that bad for all those years?


When we're smokers, we never notice those smells. We're too busy killing off those cilia hairs to really notice the fantastic smells of the world around us. I've found a great article,How Smoking Harms Your Sinuses | Everyday Health  which discusses how smoking affects your sinuses. It amazes me what those little hairs do that we were destroying every day. Take a peek at the article and see what you think.


So to close this out, I want to wish everyone a very happy, prosperous new year. If you're new to the site, stick close to us here. We will help you along every step of the way. Before you light up again, come here and discuss your feelings, your frustration. I know with myself, way back in the beginning, I'd start writing a blog all frustrated and chasing my own tail. And by the end of it, I was calmed down. I was seeing things differently. I've learned over time that problem was just a small ripple in the pond, getting further and further away............


Always around this time of year, as I'm sure a lot of you have, reflect back on the past year or even over the last couple of years and gauge how far or how back you've gone.  Resolutions were never a thing for me.  I knew I would never keep them and usually was a promise of an unattainable goal.  I look back this year the same as last year and remember the struggle I went through  back in 2015 trying so hard to quit smoking.


I read all that I could possibly read.  I was going through the steps slowly as they suggested under My Quit Plan.  I was trying so hard to cut back on smoking way back then to make it easier on myself when I finally hit the scheduled quit date of 12/31/2015.  Two more days I kept telling myself.  I was even having nightmares about the impending date.  I was seeing it as a death sentence.  That little nagging voice in the back of my head kept telling me, oh, you can wait for another year yet.  Cigarettes aren't up to $70 a carton yet.  You know you set that measure of when you were going to quit.


Oh, how I tried to talk myself out of quitting.  Took me until January 25th, 2016 to finally do it and never blogged until I had a good solid 30 days in.  Somehow in the back of my mind, I knew I was going to fail.  I actually think I set myself up for failure.  My mind was going overtime replaying the same scenario and making one excuse after another.  You see, two years ago I was just like you.  I was hopping on that gerbil wheel and spinning myself into a tizzy.  I was petrified because of all the horror stories I heard of quitting.  All I heard was it was the hardest thing I ever did, but the best decision of my life.  If I only had a crystal ball then to see what I am today, I wouldn't have put it off for so many years.


I'm happy that I dug my heels in, I stuck with it.  Instead of twirling telling myself I couldn't do this, I said I'm not going to let this control me.  I am in control.  Not a substance in a cigarette.  It's the substance, nicotine, that controlled my existence for so many years.  Cigarettes just happened to be the delivery method.  I finally separated the two and it all began to make sense.  Yes, quitting is hard, but that's what keeps me from ever going back.  It's nice not to be a slave anymore............


Sink or Swim

Posted by crazymama_Lori Champion Sep 22, 2017

Well, I started off for a while here telling people to give it 6 months, it gets better. After a year or so, you even out. Well, then the comments came of if it takes 6 months, why bother. If it was that easy to quit, we'd have serial quitters all over the place.


The first 30 days suck. You have the physical, the mental all at once. Your daily life collides with not doing one thing, smoking. Well, think about it, you performed that act at least 15 to 40 and sometimes more times per day without even thinking about it. I can't tell you how many times I reached for that pack of cigarettes and it wasn't even there.


In the beginning, they kept telling me it gets easier, hang on, you can do this. I've come to the conclusion now that it only got easier when I finally was able to make it easier. I was able to finally realize that this is a problem, an addiction, whatever you want to call it, that I need to control. I need to understand that the act of smoking will pop up from time to time, but only because it was part of my life for so many years. I associated it with so many things that I did day in and day out. It popped up over holidays, anniversaries, birthdays, any other thing that I celebrated during my years.


I have friends that smoke and some that don't. It's just something they do that I don't do any longer. It doesn't define me as a person. It doesn't give me stature in life. It simply is not part of who I am anymore. Don't just jump in the pond and think you can automatically swim without learning first. Arm yourself with knowledge. Go the groups that they have here and read some articles there. Go to some of the member's profiles and read their blogs from the beginning of their time here. You will see very many similarities. You will begin to see yourself in those pages. Now, imagine yourself swimming......


When it comes to quitting anything anyone is dependent upon, addicted to, wouldn't it be wonderful to have a cookie-cutter solution to take it all away and never have it pop up again. A magical pill to make everything reset, take the cravings, the urges away never to return again. There is no such thing and there will never be such a thing as quitting is not a one-size-fits-all solution. We all, every single one of us, had a different reason to start smoking and to quit smoking. Statistics may say that most smokers started in adolescence due to peer pressure or acceptance. But to me, those are just numbers. I'm not a statistic. I'm an individual who has a problem with a substance. I used this substance for all kinds of personal reasons. As you have used or still are using this substance for your own reasons.


I used support to validate my feelings. To have someone tell me I'm okay, this is normal, it's just a stage, a step in the process. You're doing great. Yeah, I went through something like that similar to yours. I needed support because I needed people around me who understood exactly what I was going through. They've been through it, lived it. I had people around me that were of the thought of well, all you have to do is not smoke, don't buy any more, you'll be fine. That wasn't the case for me at all.


I have a few people I know who have been through in-patient rehab for drug addiction. They move through the motions. They show up to their meetings only to relapse a few months down the road. For these people, what happened? Where was the ball dropped? I can only speak for myself and my experience with quitting smoking is that if I didn't take those few seconds later in my quit when a craving came out of nowhere, was an all-consuming urge, if I wouldn't have taken a deep breath and simply said to myself, what exactly is bringing this on right at this moment in time, identified the problem and saw it for what it was and not acted on it, I'd be puffing away on a pack right now.


I don't want to be tied to a lighter, designated places to smoke, which way the flipping wind is blowing. I will never go back there again. I'm going to see that trigger for what it is and do something about it. What am I missing, what in my little addictive brain is telling me that that cigarette is going to solve “IT”? You see, those urges go away after a few moments. Next time you get one, distract yourself with something else, physically get up and move away from where you are, finding something else to do that requires some sort of attention, some detail you have to concentrate on and give it a few minutes. Went away, didn't it?


Now, let's take the flip side of that coin. You're about 2 weeks into your quit. Why isn't this going away? When is this ever going to end? You come to the site. You blog your frustration. You feel a little better, but it's building all over again. OMG, stop !!!! Get up, get your hands busy doing something. It may be working in your wood shop, cleaning out your frig, ripping out shelving paper, cleaning cupboards, something, anything. Get those hands and get your mind working. Take up a new hobby, go for a walk, buy yourself a coloring book. Youngatheart has a blog entitled 101 Things to Do Instead of Smoke, pick a few off that list or off of this one, Additions to The List of 101 Things to Do Instead of Smoke a Cigarette . There's all kinds of great ideas on there.


I asked myself very early in my quit why this was coming back and coming back. The closest I came to an explanation was . That article also has many, many different topics covered. Another perspective, another way of looking at things. So to close out this blog. When you first quit, you're just like the little gingerbread man, "Run, run as fast as you can. You can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man ."  Is that what we're doing as we're thinking of quitting? Some find it overwhelming to think of it as 30 days, 6 months on up. Just take it one day at a time. Wake up everyday and say to yourself, I'm not smoking today. Go to the pledge page, The Daily Pledge September 2017 every morning to state that fact. Every evening, go to the freedom train and proudly announce every day how many days you have overcome. Make that your new ritual. Gradually as the sand falls through the hourglass, it gets easier and easier. Instead of having a stranglehold on that cigarette, you find yourself helping others, cheering them on. Every day you're getting stronger and stronger. Give it the time it takes. Trust in the process..................


You Said WHAT?

Posted by crazymama_Lori Champion Aug 20, 2017

I distinctly remember when I first joined. I read and read blogs. I even created a few of my own but never published them. I didn't trust in myself. I firmly didn't believe that this time will be the time that it stuck. This will be when the switch is tripped and I finally get the hang of this. I didn't feel comfortable opening up to people here on the site.


I searched and searched for sites. In my town, there is no quitters group, smokers anonymous or whatever they call them. Many of the sites out there will only allow you to join if you are doing it cold turkey. Well, that I knew I couldn't do. I tried my best and just couldn't do it.


I'll be honest, I came here and there were many I clicked with and a few that I didn't. But I realized that I was in a hypersensitive state and everything anyone said or did, I took to heart. I felt it as a personal attack and half the time I even read the response wrong. At times I overreacted and at other times I did not.


I mention this because I've seen this happen quite a few times on the site over the past year. If someone is being abusive or harassing, then report it to the admin so that he can investigate it. If someone makes a comment on your blog and you don't care for it, simply scroll past it. You'll find there will be many different comments following it. It's an opinion of one among well over 20,000 people on this site. We tend to be in tunnel vision at the beginning and don't see the group as a massive congregation. Think of when you were in school and there was always that certain someone that just irked you the wrong way, the same applies here. Take a deep breath and scroll past it.


I left all the comments to my blogs, the ones I don't care for along with the ones that have pushed me forward. I left them all there so that they could help someone else along the way. Another thing I've also noticed is at first when I read some comments and I was actually offended or hurt by it. Now that I go back and read them over again, I read them now with different eyes. I see what they were doing. If I would have deleted those comments, I wouldn't have had to chance to look back and reflect, learn and grow. I understand now what they were saying. Sometimes it may seem like it's the mood of the day or a snowball effect of something that happened on the site a few days earlier.


I have tended to create my blogs ahead of time on my computer. I add to it, delete from it constantly. It helps me to gather my thoughts, to categorize them, if you will. Prioritize at times when I'm struggling with something. Always remember the saying of take what you need and leave the rest. If you are unable to make your own journal at home and wish to do it here, all you have to do is restrict the comments at the bottom of the page. I hope that you choose not to do that, because there's so much knowledge to gather from the members as a whole. We can be your vitual cheerleaders. Here at EX, we're all just like a bowl of fruit. Some like bananas, some like apples, oranges, whatever. Just pick your favorites. Pass over the ones you don't care for.

I've often wondered if there was someone who monitored this site. Not just for content, but for correctness in the advice given. If there was a counselor or addictionist or social worker, a Ph.D. Someone who was fact checking advice being given. I come from a research driven occupation. I have to fact check at all times and verify information. I have to be the perpetual doubting Thomas in what I do.


That's what makes quitting smoking so difficult. There is no set timeline on you will go through this for a week and then progress to this for a week, kind of like a personal trainer who is trying to whip you into shape. This is such a personal progression. I think the reason for that is, is the emotional ties we have to smoking. My doctor told me that smokers are the pleasure junkies. We're always looking for the next hit of something that will take us to where we need to be. We've all heard it. I hate being tired when I quit. When is this fogginess ever going to go away. I can't seem to concentrate. Well, think about it. You've been zapping your brain for YEARS to get it going on a daily basis.


Nonsmokers, people who never had the desire or thought of even smoking, do have the same complaints EXCEPT they deal with it differently. They're not running to that one solution to solve the problem of the day. They're tired; they nap. They have a hard time concentrating; they divert their attention for a while and refocus, regroup. They feel foggy; they get some fresh air, exercise. You see you have to develop the thought patterns of a nonsmoker, a life without smoking. Get your dopamine fix in other ways. Research it, find one that fits your lifestyle.


Never take the easy road. Never throw in the towel. Take the time the figure out what is stirring up the thoughts of smoking again for you. Trust me, it's either something physical, hunger, lethargy or some memory that's being sparked that makes you instantly THINK of smoking. Again, think of all the zapping you've done through the years. I read a very good article the other day that can be applied to smoking and thoughts of smoking. Give it a read and see what you think:


Blessings to all and hope this finds you all in good health,



I want to thank everyone here for their insight and tips and tricks on how to fight this battle with smoking and how to remain smokefree. I am proud to announce that I am still smokefree and fighting this battle with less of a deathgrip than I once had.


I will tell those of you beginning this journey, there will come a time when you finally stop thinking about smoking, wanting that cigarette constantly. There will come a time where you find yourself saying I'm so glad I don't do that anymore and mean it. Just the other day I decided to treat myself to lunch and was sitting at a drive-thru and this woman in front of me was smoking. The cigarette smoke was wafting out her window. The only two thoughts that came to my head was “oh, somebody must be smoking” and “boy, I'm so glad I don't do that anymore.” Now, a year ago, I'd be gripping the steering wheel thinking, I've got to have one; boy, I could really go for one; why do they have to be smoking in front of me, blah, blah, blah.


I'm very glad that I took the time to figure out when I lit up, what the reason was for it, what I thought it was replacing. I never knew what anxiety was and how to deal with it until I quit. I realized my triggers, my smouldering points. I knew if I wanted this to stick, I needed to think of ways to overcome this anxiety or manage it somehow. Even now at 500 days, sometimes especially during the times when I'm so tired and I need to get work done, I think about it would be just so much easier to just buy a pack and keep going. Just throw in the towel, give up and just go back to what I've always done. I was never tired when I smoked. I have insomnia at times. And I remember back when I used to chain smoke at least 2 to 2 ½ packs in one day just to keep going, gotta get the work cranked out.


They have just increased the price of cigarettes again in some states range from $1 to $2 a pack more. I remember a long time ago when a pack was only 50 cents. Don't let the vapers fool you into thinking that's the way to quit, that it's the cheaper alternative. Remember that it's the nicotine you're addicted to, you crave, you want. The cigarette companies just like to throw in all those wonderful chemicals to the mix, as do the e-juice companies. Here's a good article to read: Be sure to go to a trusted site or a known and established organization when researching things. The internet can be a tricky place with lots and lots of articles of what I call fluff. Simply articles to boost sales of their products.


So in conclusion, to all of you that have helped me along the way, thank you. For those of you that are just starting, don't give up. Go to some of the oldtimers on here that have a few years under their belt, heck even go to my profile, click on content and sort by date created; oldest first. Read some of their earlier blogs, when they first started this journey. You will find many similarities to what you are going through and what they have went through. There's certain stages that you go through during the course of about a year. We all go through them at different times. Eventually you do plateau off and reach the smooth sailing. There's a few bumps in the road, but those bumps are just life. Life does continue to throw you some curve balls. Just remember smoking never solved any problems and is never going to make problems go away. The only thing that can do it is YOU. Believe in yourself, trust yourself, love yourself. Quitting and maintaining your quit is doable. ... Blessings, my friends


On the road to 500

Posted by crazymama_Lori Champion May 2, 2017

It's been a wild ride, this whole quit smoking train. The ups and the downs and the twists and turns. We can only go off of what other people have experienced and reported to somewhat understand what is going on and the similarities we all go through. The main theme throughout and what everyone agrees on is you have to educate yourself on the quitting process and put together what I call your game plan.


The first couple of months when you begin your quit is when some white knuckle it. You are hanging onto that cigarette with all of your might and just don't want to let go of it. But then again, my friends, we have clung on to that magical thing to solve our problems of the day. We looked to it for comfort, reward, calming device. It's a personal thing that we use smoking for. Everyone has their own reasons for continuing and also for going back.


You finally reach the plateau of around 130 to 190 days and you look around thinking so where do I go from here? There, the ride is over and I'll somehow be over it. That is so far from the truth. So many that I've seen on here panic at the thought of when the crave or urge to smoke suddenly comes over them out of nowhere. My goodness, I should be done with this already. The truth is, is that it never does go away. The psychological hold is something that will linger for quite awhile.


Do you notice that certain songs or smells will spark a memory, something from your past that made you feel good or made you smile? The brain is a facinating thing. It stores things. It's a virtual file cabinet of information, unique to each individual. Hence why smoking is not a one-size-fits-all “habit.” You have periods during the first year where you will smell smoke clear out of the blue or sometimes even see it. You will find yourself reaching for the phantom pack or performing the hand motion almost subconsciously. Have you ever while daydreaming while driving finding yourself traveling on autopilot to a familiar destination or a place where you've been going for years? Welcome to the filing cabinet.


Another thing that I've noticed in my year plus quit is somewhere around 400 to 430 days the cycling finally ended. The crying jags, bouts of depression, bouts of anger, extreme frustration. I'm wondering if it's because I find myself now saying I'm just really irritated right now instead of saying I'm having a nicotine fit or I could really go for a cigarette right now and that's WHY I'm irritated. It doesn't pop in my head anymore. I just found myself the other day saying, well, that's not true. It has nothing to do with smoking at all. It's not part of who I am any longer.


I'm on my second go-around of milestones in my life, experiencing birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and such for the second time as a nonsmoker. I can tell you all that it's much easier this time. The first time was the anticipation of the event which made dealing with it so much harder. Now it's just a birthday, holiday, anniversary. It has no association with smoking. Nothing in my life has an association with smoking. I removed the association. I stopped putting two and two together. That is just something that I used to do. It's not part of who I am any longer. It no longer has to define me. It no longer has to label me. It no longer has to control me.


So for you newbies out there, use the search box on this site and look up things, arm yourself with knowledge, gather your arsenal to fight this for the next 6 months. Take the time to figure out what you've used smoking for. Go through the steps they have outlined on the site, especially tracking your cigarettes. Understand what you use smoking to replace and develop a game plan to substitute something in its place. Create a permanent file in that filing cabinet. You can do this, really you can.

Back in 2015, in November, I vowed I would quit smoking when my last child left the nest.  She was my drama queen, my stressor.  She's always had troubles with anxiety ever since she was small.  She finally went on anti-depressants and began to calm down when she reached 18.  It was a long road for that girl.  Back in 2015 I had the alcohol licked and didn't use that as an excuse anymore for dealing with my stress.  The only thing left was my cigarettes.  I clung on to those with all of my might.  In my mind at the time, that was keeping my sanity.


I began cold turkey and was crawling the walls.  Just too much going on all at one time.  I knew if I wanted this to stick I needed to concentrate on one thing and work on the reasons first why I smoked.  During most of the month in January I tracked those cigarettes.  It gave me a summary at the end when I was most likely to smoke, what was triggering me the most.  One thing I never filled out at that time was how I planned to separate from them.  I was of the thought that 3 to 4 weeks this will all be gone.  Make it through NML and it will all be gone.  Somehow someway this will all disappear.  It's only smoking.........


The emotional ties and ritualistic behavior is what makes quitting smoking so difficult.  My life at one time evolved around smoking.  For most of my time so far here on earth, since I was 12, I used smoking to replace "things" for me.  The biggest "replacement" was a stress reliever.  When I was angry, frustrated, worried, I thought smoking calmed me down. How many times I've said, OMG, I need a cigarette right now, I have to have a cigarette to calm down.  I think I realized that more clearly one day about 2 or so months into my quit and my youngest called me because she was fighting with her fiance.  Stressed to the max.  I got frustrated, got off the phone and the first thought was I need a cigarette.  I got up and did something else and the thought passed.  That was elation for me later.  I thought to myself, see you can do this.  Those things never did anything for you.


So in closing, listen to the elders when they tell you this gets easier.  This will never go away; it just gets easier.  I remember writing to you all last year around this time, A flick of the wrist, the slightest of hand, it's all an illusion.  Life pretty well stayed the same but I just look at it differently now.  My daughter moved back home but it's only temporary until she gets back on her feet.  She's grown, I've grown, we've both grown.  It's calmer here now.  I used to use this time every single year to mourn my mother's death.  I changed things last year and planted a tree in her honor.  Her body is gone but her soul lives forever.  Whenever spring arrives, it will bloom again.  That one red cardinal will come back and land on that tree every single morning until the snow flies again.  We can't stop life; we can only appreciate what it teaches us......   

So many new members joining again. It amazes me how many join the site and then just stop. I think they don't last because they don't take the time to read and learn. I researched all different types of programs for quitting smoking. There was the herbal method, the hypnosis, the e-cigarette, the drops. I can't even begin to tell you how much money I've spent over the years just to quit smoking. But you see, that's what I did wrong. I was quitting a habit. Something I was doing every single day sometimes without even thinking about it or even needing it. Years ago they would pound into your head it was the tar that was killing people. So they made these funky air filters and created these ultra light cigarettes. Basically smoking air, but with a few thousand chemicals and the drug thrown in there for good measure.




I mean, think about it, the patch wasn't available to the consumer until the early '80s. I remember trying that back then. It was marketed for “kicking the habit”. Did absolutely nothing for me, but then I didn't have any knowledge about addiction. How nicotine works in the brain. How we use smoking to replace things. Why it is so difficult to stop. No one gave me any reading materials or even directed me to any resources. Back then the internet was pretty sketchy and very slow. I called the 1-800 line that they gave in the little trial box they gave me at the doctor's office and it was a recorded message. I failed and I failed until finally in the '90s they decided to have more and more information about this thing called addiction. Pfft, that can't be me, I only smoked. That's for alcoholics and for drug addicts. That can't apply to me at all.




I researched and researched and found this site and read the materials they had on here while I was still smoking and failing on quitting and smoking and failing. Well, you know what, I never faithfully tracked my cigarettes AND completed the section about beating my triggers. My triggers would show up and boom, I was right back to smoking again. I can't tell you how many times I started and stopped in the month of December and most of January until I finally got the hang of it. They've got steps listed on here for a reason. You can't just magically decide one day, I'm joining this site and magically I'll quit smoking. There's work to be done here.




There's the first 30 days where you're crawling the walls, don't want to go anywhere, isolating yourself. The next 30 days you're angry, you're sad, you're sadgry (angry and sad all at once). You're tired and can't seem to sleep. You're pacing the floors. When is this ever going to end !!!!!! Then the lightbulb comes on and you start to reflect inside. You figure out some of your personal demons or issues. You start helping people. You still ponder in this time, and we've all done it and I have no clue why, if I try just one, it won't stick. I won't go back. Ah, yes, that happens before the first year. Well, that's just our addictive brains giving it that one last shot, one last time. We've all been there. The smart ones just smile and grumble nice try and go about their day. The unsure ones will obssess about it and remain having a stranglehold on that fleeting thought. The uncommitted ones will give in.




You see you have to commit to never ever smoke again because it will always be there. They stare at you in grocery stores, liquor stores, gas stations. They do that little can-can dance when you're checking out. I remember in those first 30 days just simply staring at those things. I would purposely go to another checkout lane so that I didn't have to look at them. I remember the first time they threw a carton in front of me thinking that was what I was in there for. It was like hot lava. Oh, no, I quit. Ah, the look in their eyes like yeah, right. 40 days later, hey, Lori, how's the no smoking going? Absolutely great, have almost a month and a half in. Instead of the tobacco section loving me, the bakery section became my best friend for a few months.




But to wrap up here, I remember when they would tell me it would get easier. I would roll my eyes and not believe them. I would grumble to myself, yeah, when. They would tell me to make it through NML (130 days or so), it will get easier. I'm a late bloomer. It took me until day 195 to finally feel normal, back to my old self. This you cannot rush. This you cannot take a pill and it will be gone in 10 days. This you have to take your time and learn from it, experience it, nuture it, beat the heck out of it. You have to learn that you are driving this bus. You are in control. You are your worst enemy. You are the one who will make or break this. If you really want this, you are willing to commit, you are going to stick by it no matter what it takes, you, my friend, will be an EX-smoker. It's just something you used to do.......

Ready....... here, let's go over to this side over here.  The success to quitting is  YOU.  Only you can make you quit.  Not a patch, not a pill, not a lozenge, not gum.  If you believe that those things will make you quit and keep you quit, I'll guarantee you that you will go back to smoking the minute something frustrates you, angers you, upsets you, depresses you.


Just this morning the dogs were not cooperating with me.  Barking their full head off.  I don't need that over these next couple days because I'm tied to my computer doing daily copy for my job.  I have a specified time period I have to get work completed.  I don't have time to screw around with them today.  


Now, I can take the easy way out, run to the store and buy a pack of cigarettes because I'm frustrated, but I know that that's not going to make them stop barking.  That will not make me calm for the rest of the day so I can concentrate on my time sensitive material.  A Xanax might, but a cigarette won't.  There was my trigger, frustration, anger.  But you know what, it doesn't bother me now.  I've proven to myself that that cigarette doesn't make this all magically go away.  I, me, myself, makes this easier, makes this go away.


Do me a favor, will you?   Instead of impulsively running to go get a cigarette because you're bored, depressed, angry, upset, etc., STOP, deep breath in for 8 seconds, hold for 5, deep breath out for 6 to 8 seconds, rinse and repeat.  Now, get up and do something else.  YOU can do this......... psst, it's all YOU

I've seen this time and time again.  Granted I have not researched smokers for 10 or 15 years.  I am not a psychologist, doctor, research analyst.  I am simply a nonsmoker trying to help others with their quit and stay quit.  There is no right or wrong way to do this.  I will tell you that I have spent a huge part of 3 years reading everything I can to understand why the brain works the way it does in the addictive mind.  Why people are drawn back, what causes them to relapse.  There's so much information out there on the web that can be found about why the brain works the way it does.  Going to the library or reading the encyclopedia to find information is slowly drifting away.  We're in the electronic age.  Everything is on Kindle or PDF, downloaded in an electronic format.


There so much information that can be found on this site by using the magnifying glass, the search feature.  Wonderful articles written by Dale and Giulia who have spent an enormous amount of time sharing their wisdom with you.  Nobody wants to read the scientific articles with using words that most do not understand without at least some level of medical knowledge.  Again, there is no right or wrong way to quit smoking.  There are websites out there you can join that only believe in cold turkey.  You slip up, you are kicked out.  That would have never worked for me because I am the type of person that doesn't like the do it my way or the highway type of attitude.  For some that's the only way to do it.  For me, it would have never worked.  I tried to quit cold turkey.  The longest I made it was 10 days, My 10-day fail, but boy did I ever change that.  


You see, there are the happy quitters and the "other" quitters.  I never found that I had increased energy.  My sleeping never went back to normal.  I'm not elated that I quit.  I just simply conquered something that was controlling me.  Telling me it was my way or the highway.  I'll admit, I like the smell of smoke.  I don't like the smell of smoke on a person.  I like the smell of a freshly lit match.  I don't like the smell of an ashtray.  But you see with me, I see these statements of I like the smell of a lilac tree.  I don't like the smell of those old Avon sachets that they used to have in the liliac scent.  To me those things are saying the same thing.  They are only statements of my likes and dislikes.  I don't see me saying I like the smell of smoke is going to have me running out and lighting up again.  I just like the smell.  It reminds me of my father when he was alive.  When I first quit, I panicked at the thought of enjoying the smell.  But I've learned it's only a thought; it's not an action.  You get my drift, right?  


I'm not a super calm, happy person by nature.  I'm in awe of those people that finds good in everything.  I am a Type A personality all the way.  I have to excel at what I do.  I'm a workaholic.  I don't have a lot of patience sometimes.  I see a wrong or something I find offensive, I speak up about it.  I'm the bull in the china shop.  I have a very strong personality.  I have very strong morals.  That's probably why smoking worked for me.  My little addictive self told me it was calming me, consoling me, telling me I'll fight the fight with you.  Stop the Ride, I want to get off !!!!!!!!!  or I'm tired 


I think I actually saw the nicotine addiction/dependence more clearly when I was researching addiction in general.  I read blogs of people addicted to heroin and oxycodone and trying to get clean.  All the advice, some good, some really crazy.  But I saw a similarity of what they thought that drug was doing for them and what drew them back.  For oxycodone, it's physically out of your system in three days.  From then on is all the understanding of what made them go there in the first place.  Conversely, alcohol is out of your system in two to four days when you're an alcoholic.  Again from then on is the understanding of what made them go there in the first place.  For nicotine dependence, nicotine is out of your system in two weeks.  From then on is the understanding of what made them go there in the first place.  Do you see a pattern forming here?


Think about it, if you weren't addicted, then tell me why it's so hard to quit and for some to stay quit for a length of time.  Isn't this food for thought.  Plain and simple, a cigarette, that little white stick, is your habit.  The hand to mouth action that you perform every single day for almost 20 to 40 times a day.  We have the capacity to relearn a habit and break it.  If not break it, replace it with something else.  Oh, there's some naysayers that will say, well, then I'll just buy an e-cig with 0 percent nicotine and I'll beat this.  But aren't you reinforcing the hand to mouth habit?  Here is an article by the American Lung Association concerning this latest fix-all solution, E-cigarettes and Lung Health | American Lung Association.  I don't know if any of you have tried those, but they're just plain old nasty.  By taking that route, you are still performing the hand to mouth motion and thus retaining the association with smoking.  So how is the habit being broken?  Another interesting article from Harvard University E-cigarettes: Good news, bad news - Harvard Health Blog - Harvard Health Publications.  Further into the article is a study they performed using different testing groups:  

Studies about e-cigarettes and smoking behavior show conflicting results. E-cigarettes were mildly helpful in kicking the habit in one clinical trial. In other studies, e-cigarette use did not increase quit rates, or was even associated with a higher risk of continuing to smoke. A recent review concluded that real-world use of e-cigarettes is associated with lower quit rates.


Nicotine by nature is in tobacco that's put into that white tube along with all those wonderful chemicals thrown in for good measure that you are addicted to.  It's the nicotine that makes you warm and fuzzy.  Not the cigarette; it's what is in it that does.  It's the nicotine that gives you the rush, the hit of dopamine, the good feeling.  There's other ways of doing that, 10 Ways to Increase Dopamine to Boost Your Productivity - Endless Events.  Expand your mind to find other outlets.  Believe it or not, you don't need that cigarette to do anything for you.  You're just allowing it to make you think that it does.........