Two years ago, on the 14th of November in 2008, I had my last cigarette. I am very grateful that I rarely even think of smoking anymore -- something I wasn't sure was ever going to happen. Smoking, for me, like so many others, was tightly interwoven with my daily life, with my identity. Now it's something that I simply don't do anymore.
I ran 16 miles the other day (not very fast), and I wasn't ever anywhere near out of breath. I'm not trying to brag at all...just trying to encourage others and let them know once again that, yes, you CAN quit, and yes, your life WILL change.
How I've Gotten This Far
After yet another night of lots of beer and a whole lotta smokes, I woke up, turned on the computer for some gaming, and then I coughed...but this cough made me freeze in my tracks because I had never experienced sharp pain in my lungs when coughing. After my pause, I decided, "Hmm. Maybe I'll have a smoke." The first drag caused two more identical coughs.
I looked at that thing in my hand and made the decision then and there: "I have to be done. Now."
I put that cigarette out, tossed the rest (after drenching them), went to the store for one of those vegetable trays people bring to parties (knowing I was gonna need to eat, a LOT, and I'd feel better if it wasn't crap) and some Nicorette, made a "binky" by cutting a gutted cheap ballpoint to cigarette size, and sat at the computer trying to read EVERYTHING I could about quitting. Whyquit.com and this forum were fantastic and invaluable education tools -- I understood right away that I needed to change the way I thought about smoking, and these resources helped me tremendously.
I think I used the nicotine gum for two days, then decided that it would be better to get the discomfort over with once and for all and not have ANY nicotine. That approach worked for me. As did mentally telling myself that any negative physical/psychological effects of nicotine withdrawal were actually the positive effects of my body healing. While there's no denying the physical addiction, the MIND is where the majority of this war takes place. So I found the battles much easier when I was armed with facts to defeat the lies I was telling myself about smoking.
I don't remember exactly how long I used my makeshift pacifier, but it was as long as I needed to. I just kept saying "no" every time my mind told me a cigarette would be great right now. And it pretty much got easier every time. I realized how much things had changed when, about a year and a half after quitting, I was in a car accident and the guy I ran into (thank you, cellphone map/directions - but at least no one was injured) chain smoked while we waited for the police and tow truck...and I wasn't even tempted to join him. At all.
- Quitting is practically impossible if you're still in love with smoking and are thinking of a cigarette as a treat that you can no longer have.
- Your relationship with smoking built over time, so don't be surprised at the time and effort it takes to reprogram your brain.
- Time is too valuable to spend thinking about how much of it we've wasted. This is particularly helpful after a slip or relapse. Constructive analysis of what triggered it is great - but stop there. Self-flagellation is of no use whatsoever.
- It takes a long time for the smell of smoke to leave leather.