A Nonsmoker's Observations on Dealing with Anxiety

Blog Post created by djmurray_12-31-14 on Jul 16, 2018

Good afternoon, all.  First of all, I love that I think of myself as a nonsmoker before I think of myself as a successful quitter (not that I don't love that, too).  Again, I know there are many here who don't know me at all, but it occurs to me that I have something to contribute from this perspective.  I know to an absolute certainty that for the first 66 years of my life (well, I wasn't smoking as a baby, but did start at 13) I thought the antidote to stress and anxiety was -- you got it -- smoking!!  It never occurred to me that I was smoking but the stress and anxiety didn't magically go away no matter how many cigarettes I smoked.  When I first quit 3.5 years ago, I realized that I had used smoking and the actual physical smoke to divert from dealing directly with emotions and issues.  It was something to do instead of facing these emotions and issues.


I retired on June 22 after doing a poor job of planning for retirement.  I'm five months away from turning 70 and truth be told it wasn't entirely my idea to retire.  I wasn't performing up to my own standards -- I was getting confused, making mistakes and missing things.  I had a wonderful manager who really tried to work with me, but in the end it was for the best.  And it relieved that constant stress of going to work every day thinking "what am I going to screw up today?"


But there are other stressors now.  Life is hard sometimes.  Emotions are heightened sometimes.  I am experiencing pretty high anxiety as my condo has been on the market for almost a month and I haven't gotten any offers, and we did an open house yesterday to which NO ONE showed up.  I am scheduled to move August 6 but had to take possession of the apartment I found in Richmond (where I'm moving to be near my daughter and her family) on July 3, so for July and now it looks like August, I'll be paying rent and my mortgage and my condo fee, which is crazy expensive.  I'm going to be living on my social security (which has been seriously diminished monthly because they take my Medicare Part B, on which I pay a penalty because I made too much money last year and my part D, also with a penalty).  I was going to have taxes taken out of it but I can't afford to.  I had hoped to get settled and look for a part-time job in Richmond in September, but I'm thinking I should start looking now.


So the point of all this background is that I am not worrying about losing my precious quit, even though I will be around more smokers when I move.  My daughter and most of her friends are smokers, and I wondered if it would tempt me.  But having spent almost a week down there for the 4th of July, I know my quit is solid.  I grasped very early in this quit that I am not deprived by not smoking.  Smoking was NEVER my friend, even though I wouldn't have believed it for decades of my smoking as much as I could.  I smoked 3 packs a day from the time I was 18 to 40.  From 40 to 64 I smoked roughly 2 packs a day because you couldn't smoke everywhere all the time anymore.  Then for the last couple of years I smoked it was 1 pack a day when I decided I would only smoke outside and you pretty much couldn't smoke anywhere.  I am so lucky I have lungs left, never mind that I have COPD and require oxygen.


So, to old friends and new ones, know that we are stronger than the little addict we have in our brain.  He or she will always be there and will spend more and more time asleep.  Don't be surprised if you run into a new situation, a new emotion or a new stressor to hear a little voice in your brain reminding you that you'll feel better if you smoke. That's just an echo of an old voice and we can smile and say "I know that isn't true.  Go back to sleep."  And then we go back to dealing with life.  As nonsmokers.