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.