Here are 2 hard to live with facts: I smoked and I have COPD. Now when people see me with my Oxygen Tank they don't have to think : "i'll bet he smoked himself into this state - so he deserves this. I don't smoke (or already quit) so I'm not like him!" I think this stuff for them - I put these thoughts in my head that they are thinking this way! Not on purpose, of course, but subconsciously, I have this narrative with myself! No wonder I get depressed! Sigmund Freud said, "depression is anger turned inward."
I smoked. I didn't set out to become addicted but I did make that decision to smoke that first Sickerette. Little did I know that "10 percent of youth who become hooked on cigarettes are addicted within two days of first inhaling from a cigarette, and 25 percent are addicted within a month."
Regardless of not knowing because until recently nobody knew that, I did know that it was hazardous to your health. So I am responsible for that! Also, once addicted I and only I can be my own way out of Addiction. I am 100% responsible for my Recovery! So I'm not making excuses here. I'm separating Responsibility which is the bottom line to Smoking Cessation from Self-blame which is actually my nemesis for Addiction Recovery and Self care.
"It’s difficult in many cases to find out just what causes a person to develop lung disease. Risk factors include smoking, exposure to environmental toxins, and certain viral infections. But one person may develop a viral infection and go on to enjoy healthy lungs, while another develops lung disease. Scientists still aren’t sure why that is.
Smoking is considered the primary risk factor. Yet only about 25 percent of smokers develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Scientists wanted to discover what would make those people particularly vulnerable to the disease."
When I was smoking I definitely knew about "Cancer Sticks" and "Coffin Nails" and yet, I never knew or understood how Emphysema was related to smoking or that there was an eminent danger of acquiring a progressive chronic smoking related disease - even after I had been told that I had Chronic Bronchitis! That all changed in 2010 and I quit smoking 6 days later.
It's also why I am determined that every single person who comes to BecomeanEX knows, really understands, what COPD is and what it's like. There is more to smoking related disease than cancer and heart disease! Awareness is improving but still abominally lacking among smokers considering that COPD is the #3 cause of mortality in the entire population and costs the United States $36 Billion Dollars/Year.
Am I responsible for my Self-Care? Absolutely! But must I blame myself? What purpose does it serve? Take a look at this finding from a study of patients in pulmonary rehab that was published in The National Center for Biotechnology Information:
"The main theme was a feeling of being exiled in the world of the healthy, because of self-blame and society's stigmatisation of COPD as a self-inflicted disease. The participants experienced feelings of disgrace through subtle blame and a lack of support from their social network, health care encounters and larger society. This seemed to increase illness-related strain and a need for defensive actions."
In order to quit smoking, the #1 most effective known treatment for COPD, I needed support, help and care. I needed to do everything possible to quit and that includes stopping the cycle of Self-blame, unhealthy guilt, and lack of Self- respect. Actually, accusing myself made overcoming my Addiction harder, led to depression and my unneeded guilt might have delayed my Recovery if it weren't for the warm love and support I received here at BecomeanEX.
So while we must take responsibility for the mistakes we made, we need to learn to forgive these mistakes with Self compassion - we are human and humans make mistakes - and focus not on Blame but on Addiction Recovery and Self-Care!
Quitting is within your grasp! You make the decision and honor it! Lifestyle changes that lead to healthier, better quality living is within your grasp! You can choose to work hard being sick (and it's very hard work!) or you can choose to work hard to be as healthy as possible! If you relate to my feelings of Self-Blame it's time to go to the Serenity Prayer:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
I can't change my genes, I can't change the nature of Nicotine Addiction, and I can't change past mistakes! But I can make the best of my circumstances with courage, fortitude, and Self-Love!
Hugs to ALL who seek Recovery from Nicotine Addiction and EXtra Hugs to those of us who suffer this horrible disease known as COPD!