I've seen a lot of posts from people who have been failing before and just after they hit the 30-day mark. I'll give you my story and maybe you can relate to it for those of you that haven't heard it already. And this is a long one, so buckle up.
I started my dance with the devil at age 12. Overweight kid, alcoholic father, growing up in the '60s, stay-at-home mom. Didn't have a lot of friends when I was younger, preferred to stay with my mommy. Quite the introvert, but cigarettes changed that. Don on the green army jacket with a cigarette out of my mouth and I was a tough kid. Age 16, I was a full-blown nicotine addict. Back then it was kick the habit. Remember those god-awful Now cigarettes. Gee, those were supposed to be better for you because of the lower tar and nicotine. Mr. Big Tobacco really sold that one.
Just an excerpt from an article from the Reports from the Surgeon General:
The report highlighted the deleterious health consequences of tobacco use. Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General held cigarette smoking responsible for a 70 percent increase in the mortality rate of smokers over non-smokers. The report estimated that average smokers had a nine- to ten-fold risk of developing lung cancer compared to non-smokers: heavy smokers had at least a twenty-fold risk. The risk rose with the duration of smoking and diminished with the cessation of smoking. The report also named smoking as the most important cause of chronic bronchitis and pointed to a correlation between smoking and emphysema, and smoking and coronary heart disease. It noted that smoking during pregnancy reduced the average weight of newborns. On one issue the committee hedged: nicotine addiction. It insisted that the "tobacco habit should be characterized as an habituation rather than an addiction," in part because the addictive properties of nicotine were not yet fully understood, in part because of differences over the meaning of addiction.
The 1964 report on smoking and health had an impact on public attitudes and policy. A Gallup Survey conducted in 1958 found that only 44 percent of Americans believed smoking caused cancer, while 78 percent believed so by 1968. In the course of a decade, it had become common knowledge that smoking damaged health, and mounting evidence of health risks gave Terry's 1964 report public resonance. Yet, while the report proclaimed that "cigarette smoking is a health hazard of sufficient importance in the United States to warrant appropriate remedial action," it remained silent on concrete remedies. That challenge fell to politicians. In 1965, Congress required all cigarette packages distributed in the United States to carry a health warning, and since 1970 this warning is made in the name of the Surgeon General. In 1969, cigarette advertising on television and radio was banned, effective September 1970.
We traveled through life without a care in the world because it was just seen as a habit back then, like biting your nails. Even though advertising was banned on television and radio, the print media was still banging their drum on the tobacco train. Then in the '80s the nicotine patch came out. Hmm what is this new thing. An addict, what in the world are they talking about. Certainly not me.
I think all of my prior quits lasted 5 days. In that span, I talked myself into this is too hard, I can't take this anymore, I'm too stressed, the list went on. Now I understand that's my addicted self just talking myself into feeding it what it craves. Interesting concept, life moved on before I ever smoked, why can't it move on now? Why is the hands of time stopped because I don't have a cigarette in my hand. And let me tell you, I was a big-time chain smoker. When I was conscious of my smoking, I could keep it down to a pack and a half a day. When I was just frazzled (self-inflicted, of course), we're talking 2 to 3 packs a day and then of course alcohol was mixed in there too for good measure.
Then the government decided to hike up the tax on cigarettes. Man, were those things getting expensive. Let's roll our own. What I was thinking there, I have no clue. The worst mistake of my life. That was short lived because guess what? I was having a hard time breathing. Of course, in my mind it was because of the pipe tobacco. It had nothing to do with smoking at that time for 40 years. The rationale is mind blowing to me now that I think about it. But again, enter the addictive mind. Give me what I need at whatever cost it takes. Give it to me and give it to me NOW.
Okay, well, finally I'll get to my first 30 days. I joined this site back in 2015. I lurked in the shadows. I'd log in and then not come back for 6 months or so. I was at that time doing the e-cigs, the drops, the wellbutrin, the cleansing pills, anything and everything that would just simply make this go away, make this easier because those 5 days in the past were not fun. I researched and researched different sites and different theories. I had a conversation with my doctor about it. Talking to ex-smokers about it in the community just didn't cut it because they were of the philosophy of just quit. I smoked my last cigarette and that was it. Oh, I went on Chantix or Wellbutrin and that helped. They mentioned nothing about weird things happening to your body like sudden prickling in your hands, feet, or face. These bizarre mood swings. Being a menopausal woman, I'm a champ at those. This all-encompassing depression. It sweeps over and just drags you down. I was never depressed before.
Then I started at times, wish I knew then what I know now, removing the crazy emotion and just watching at how long these mood swings, sensations, physical symptoms lasted. How sometimes in the beginning of the day it hits and then just disappears. They were almost like having a physical craving in the beginning (the first 2 weeks), then they just went away. Then I started hitting the books on the explanation for that. Why is that happening and why am I seeing it happen to others at approximately the same time. I had this link to another blog I wrote, but it just explained so much, at least to me, that I wasn't going crazy. There's actual science to all this. Here's the article: http://www.achoice2live.com/quitting-smoking-gets-easier/.
As I'm getting closer to my year anniversary, I can see the truth in this article. A lot of people call it NML (No Man's Land), but I personally think it's more than that. Yes, people think you should be over it by now, it shouldn't be that difficult after all this time. But I'm of the thinking that if you don't take the time to look into yourself and understand what you used smoking for, to bolster some insecurity, to replace a loved one, to give you hugs when no one else will, these self-soothing actions or emotions, you're going back to smoking in a heartbeat when one of many reasons you use smoking to replace happens. There's an exercise on here that helped me a great deal to identify when and why I smoked. It actually made me stop and think and put to pen and paper or keyboard to screen my smoking habits. I'm addicted to the nicotine. The smoking is an action I performed every day, multiple times a day. When you separate the two and not see them as one distinct thing, you're on the road to success.
Another thing that helped a great deal is going back in some of the Elder's blogs. An Elder is someone who has a year in of being smoke-free. They are around here. Some have their quit dates as part of their screen name. Go to their early blogs, way back in the beginning of their quit. Read their entries and you'll see yourself there. You'll see that everyone went through the same thing. This is a process that is for the rest of your life. When you get further along, you're going to find you think about it less, the thought sometimes never crosses your mind anymore, but it's always there when you are at your weakest. I call smoking the perpetual band-aid. When we are in need to cover up something we don't like or is hurt, we smoke. Let that settle in for a minute. You have an addictive mind and addictive tendencies and that's just what we do. Is it genetics? Is it a predisposed tendency? Is it something we learned because we were around someone who smoked? Is it just part of our brain chemistry? Those answers are remained to be answered.
Your success to quitting is in your head. It's not from a pill, patch, gum, strip, though those can be used as a tool. But your main tool is your brain, your willpower, your commitment. Are you willing to finally say no matter what happens, no matter what, I will do this. If never is not part of your vocabulary, if never scares the hell outta you, then simply say I will do this today. I will not have a cigarette today. I cannot tell you how many times I chanted either out loud or in my head, you can do this, you can do this. The fogginess was my hardest part. I felt so scatterbrained in the beginning. Drove me nuts. I simply had to start making lists to remember. When I felt super frustrated or angry, I cleaned something or did deep breathing or took a walk, a break. I acknowledged the feeling and I acted proactively about it. I didn't dwell on it. I didn't obsess about it. I acted on it.
I never did that before in my other quits. I dwelled on it and went and bought a pack a cigarettes because it was just easier that way. Take a few minutes and get to know yourself. Develop a game plan. You get to the point in the first 30 days where you find yourself wanting to run to that store, STOP. Say to yourself, what am I feeling right now? Okay, what can I do to fix this? Why is this upsetting me so much? When you are pondering different ways to solve the problem, didn't that impulse to go get those cigarettes pass? I'm sure it did. You don't have to have a Ph.D. To quit smoking. You don't have to be a psychologist. This isn't rocket science. This is all about your resolve to be committed, to be proactive, to treat yourself kindly and not act on your impulses. STOP, DROP and ROLL. Take just a few minutes before you act on those impulses. I'm about 2 ½ months away from being quit a year. Could I easily go and buy a pack and light up today? I most certainly can. I choose not to because I'm never going back to day one ever. How could you even be thinking about doing the same? You know that one leads to 20 or more. Let's be honest now. That's the reality check we need to reinforce to ourselves when in our weakest moments. It is truly worth it??????