It started 10 years ago, the day before Valentine's Day, but not having anything to do with love or lost love, just a coincidence. I and a friend regularly play a joke on each other by hiding things. When my friend went to use the bathroom and a restaurant, I saw he left his pack of smokes on the table. Hiding the whole pack would be too obvious, so I removed some of the cigarettes from the pack and put them in my shirt pocket. I figured he would smoke again soon and notice some missing, but he didn't and I forgot about them and ended up taking them home. There they sat on the table across from my desk where I typed papers in college. I'd notice them out of the corner of my eye once and awhile, and eventually thought to myself, "I wonder what it is like."
At first, I didn't have the inhaling part down right, but right away, got a rush from the nicotine. Lightheaded, I laid down, then my heart raced. That should have been enough to convince me to not smoke, but a nice buzz after all that and my heart calming down, I enjoyed it. At first, I smoked only 1 cigarette a day. I would do my morning radio show, go to class, go to lunch, come back to my apt and enjoy 1 cigarette on the deck before working on homework. Eventually, I found it useful to take a smoke break when I got stuck with writing to clear my mind. After awhile of that, I found that I resorted to smoking whenever feeling anxious. Then bored. And stressed. It developed into a pack a day habit within a year. A pack and half over the past year as my most recent job is quite stressful.
This is my first post to the excommunity. Over the years, doctors have asked me, "Do you want to quit?" And I'd say, "No, not really." Even though the original buzz was hard to get, I still enjoyed smoking. And my attempts at going cold-turkey failed within 3 days resulting in uncontrollable coughing and anxiety whenever I tried it. One year, I got Rx for Wellbutrin, for depression and it helps curb smoking habit, so I figured why not work on both? I didnt even take them, I was concerned about how my mind would be messed up and depression has been a companion that I've learned to live with anyway. Last year, I reluctantly signed up to get phone calls from a state program to encourage smoking cessation. Sounded like a good idea, but it was lame. I could tell that the 'mentors' who never called at the time period I indicated, were anonymous people filling in a database form. I had failed at quitting before their first call, but the script they read implied that I had already quit. They called me again, even after I told them, please, just stop.
I don't know what is different about this time, but it feels different. Maybe because it my quit date marks 10 years of smoking, maybe it is because of the dental problems due in part to smoking, or the colds, or boredom in wanting to make some significant changes for my health.
I work in mental health. We use a tool called a Behavioral Support Plan (BSP), which is a set of goals the individuals we serve want to achieve, broken down into tasks. With the New Year, 2020, I began writing my own BSP for all my habits and happiness goals, and using a Google Form as a sort of daily checklist to chart my progress. I'm also using an daily habits reminder app. A BSP includes the goal, tasks, short and long term incentives, and a way to track it, and is useful for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in changing behaviors and keeping people motivated to stay on track. The planning tool here at excommunity uses similar ideas. I am using every resource I can to make a real effort at quitting this time around and I figure that among the coping skills, reaching out to others on excommunity is a good way to get support, ideas, and encouragement along the way.
My quit date is February 13, 2020.