I've always asked is there a timeline of this. The answer was always no. I'll give you my timeline of what I went through and broaded it a little bit to encompass a more expansive range. These are observations I've made of myself and others and they've piqued my interest and insight.
Day 1 - 15 You have the feeling of panic. This isn't going to work. I just can't do this. This is too hard. These craves are coming in hard and fast. They said it only lasts for 3 days and then it's all in my head. Well, it's lasting a heck of a lot longer than 3 days. Just hang in there. you've never made it this far before.
Day 16 - 30 This is getting much easier. NOPE, NOPE, NOPE. I'm learning this. I'm feeling so much better. I think I can finally start blogging about how I'm feeling. I just can't get enough of sugar.
Day 31 to 60 Where are these mood swings coming from? Just keep busy. I wish this eating would stop. If I chew one more piece of gum, I'm going to die. More self-realization. Understanding what smoking was replacing. Those are called the ah-ah moments. Noticing more things are actually getting done. Mood swings again. I've never slept so much in my life. In my case, I'm finally free of nicotine. Last patch was March 20th. I don't think I reached NML until after Day 60. Went through quite a few firsts without smoking. Taxes, mother's death anniversary, father-in-law's death anniversary, business slow down.
Day 61 to 90 Yes, it's a long block of time. This is where the bouts of anger showed up. Some of you had this sooner because you were off of nicotine sooner. Screaming at the dogs. Oh, my god, this is never going to end. Just leave me alone. Super sensitive about life in general. Overreacting to the littliest things. Basically turned into a drama queen. WTH!!!! I was the calm, levelheaded one. The rest of the family was the reactive ones. Where is this coming from? Blog, blog, blog. We're up and then we're down. Where is this crying coming from? I hardly ever cried. Why are you fighting this so much? Am I going crazy? There is no way I'm going on drugs. There's got to be a reason for these insane mood swings. Read, read, read.
Day 91 to Day 106. This is where the lightbulb came on with me. I started reading more blogs than creating them. I started helping more people. Really started to bond. Felt a strong heartfelt sadness when someone relapsed or just gave up. Found myself checking in on people to make sure they are doing okay. The peace finally came over me. My happiness returned. Not a constant happiness because that sadness washes over me from time to time. But I find alone time, let it out, let it pass and go on about my day. For some of you it's probably going to be anger. I'm pondering if it's the emotion that we didn't like about ourselves surfaces just to lure us back in. We'll see what the next 150 days brings. I'm at 106 so far. So many thoughts.
106 to 115 days (present): This has been one hellofa ride. I've never had so many cravings in my life. Days 106 to 114 were daily cravings to almost three a day. I think the depression is from all the weight gain I have. Thank god that sugar addiction is gone. I still crave things sweet from time to time, but not all the time like before. The sadness returned but does pass after about a half-hour. The anger is totally gone finally. I'm dealing with stress a lot better rather than being a raging idiot all the time. Well, let's see what the next 15 days brings. I can see why people fall off during this time. I've had the fleeting thought of just one puff won't matter. You've got this. It won't make a difference. It's been almost 4 months after all. NOPE, NOPE, NOPE. One thing for sure, I'm never going through this again.
115 to 130: this is the end of NML. Personally for me it's more the end of the emotional NML. Between this period I found myself truly struggling with can one really hurt or you know one puff will take you right back, yes, it's still hanging around). The angel and the devil on your two shoulders. I had the demon right in the middle just stabbing me like crazy over the last 4 1/2 months hanging on for dear life over the rollercoaster. He messed more with my emotions than he did anything else. Seemed to like the depressed card and the crying card in this game of smokefree poker. Well, I trumped his hand with a full house and won over that scenario and he seems to be in abeyance at this point. Now at Day 127, (yes, it's been over 10 days) I have the angel and the devil. Daily I've been thinking about just buy a pack and just take a couple hits a day. You'll be fine. You've done this long enough. you know you won't go back. Just remember how terrible it tastes. You won't be back. Well, let's turn to the other shoulder, what, are you nuts? You know what you went through.
It was not a good time and I don't ever want to go through that again. I did not like the crying, the depression, the dark hole. It really was an all enveloping darkness, but then went away after an hour or so. I'm not going there again and one puff is going to send you right over the ledge. I truly believe this is the point (now and 6 months into it) where you are standing on the ledge. you either go over or you step back and go right back downstairs and carry on. I think this is where you start to think more about it because you're trying to be rid of it so bad. OR could it just be that this is the final good-bye, time to shove that boat out to sea. Don't know, but I'll be sure to keep you all posted on where the next 30 days takes me...........
Day 130 to present (160 days): I'm only 20 days away from the 6 month mark. I've had lots and lots of feelings of just a pack and some beer would sure go good right now. I know I won't go back to smoking a pack a day again. I don't want to go through the withdrawls again. I just want this tense, wind-up feeling to go away. I just want to relax. I can keep an eye on it. I'll be fine. It's just thoughts and they will subside. I need to find other ways to relax. Interesting after so much time has passed how I'm finding out how much smoking replaced things in my life or I believe that it did............ (to be continued)
Day 160 to present (180 days): Ah, the magical six-month mark. I've had lots and lots of feelings of I'd like to just try one and see how it goes. I want to test drive this quit to see if it sticks. Then I think of my poor lungs that are recovering from years of abuse, all the yellow gunk that I washed off my ceiling fans and windows and my curtains. How most of my reference books in my office are discolored from years of smoking in my office area. I will resist the temptation, but I would have thought that it would have been gone by now. But then I think to myself, I've been performing the same thing for over 43 years over and over again. It's not going to suddenly go away in a few days. I have to relearn how to live life again. I have to go back to 11 years old before I started test driving smoking. I've only had 11 years of clean lungs for the last 57 years. I always think of that when that nagging thought shows up.
So in conclusion during this crazy time in your life, you will always want to smoke. It was a big, big part of your life. If you need to use anti-anxiety meds or antidepressants during some of this while you are killing off those nicotine receptors, talk to your doctor. They will be more than willing to help you along this process. Pay attention to your mood cycles, note how long they last, pay attention to exactly what you are feeling, i.e. first anger, then isolation/loneliness, then sadness. Then realistically note what reappeared, what dropped off, how long it lasted. If you don't want to blog, then buy yourself a notebook. Make little entries in it like you did many, many moons ago with your little diary. Tab those pages when these moods come around. It could be that women are more susceptible to the mood shifts than men because of hormonal changes or not. Weird thing is mine come around every 25 to 40 days. At 6 Months, they don't stay very long anymore. Usually only last for about a day or two and, poof, they're gone.
I'm looking forward to not having these mood swings. I'm actually looking forward to seeing what personality will reappear. I used smoking to stuff the bad stuff away. I really don't feel the need to deeply analyze myself as I once did when I first started this journey. I don't need to understand the whys, whatfors, becauses. I've done all that. I did my homework. I know what tools I need to combat the cravings, the bad feelings, the lure line that the addiction throws out. You will get here too. You will find the "all is right with the universe" feeling. The chaos doesn't have to last if you don't want it to........ (Hint: for me this all finally ended at day 193, think about it, 130 + 60 (being on NRT still) = 190)
Day 317 to present. I've got 48 more days to go and I'm at a year. I'm going to be so thankful when this year is over with. I've noticed that when an event or holiday shows up, that I'm very emotional during that time. I try to plan ahead by thinking of the worse scenario to prepare myself. I'm protecting this quit with all of my might. I've seen how some have lost it after many, many years of not smoking. How we seem to go toward the thing we know will be the easiest. Smoking has absolutely no stranglehold over me like it once did. I think about it once in a while, but it's only a thought. The realization that I can simply drive up to a store, gas station, liquor store and buy a pack and be right back at day 1 in a heartbeat stays with me at all times. It stays with me because it reminds me how easy it could be to slip back again. To take the easy way out again. The old saying time heals all wounds is such a fitting saying to this journey. I'm finally through the hard stuff. I'm understanding why I react sometimes more than I should. I'm getting it. I'm living it. I'm doing this............
Day 820 something......... Funny how I could remember my dates exactly in the beginning. Now, I have to look at them every time when I post on the train or the daily pledge. I still come to this site on a daily basis. I'm always on the lookout for new folks coming on or those questioning more the psychological hold this crazy nicotine dependence holds. I still have fleeting thoughts of smoking at times. But it's just that, thoughts. When I'm struggling some days, I just pull up my trigger sheet and add to the section what I plan to do to separate from smoking. Trust me when I tell you that the automatic reflex to grab for a cigarette during times of stress, or whatever emotion brought you to smoking in the first place, never appears any more. Give yourself the time it takes. Trust in the process !!!!