10 Thoughts on Being Six Months Smoke-free

Today, dear readers, marks six months since I embarked on my most successful attempt to quit smoking since I started just about 15 years ago. I’m proud of myself and the people close to me are too but I won’t pretend it has been an easy or pleasant experience. It was very hard and I learned a lot about myself in the process. Here are my feelings on being smoke-free so far:

Every was right, cigarettes smell horrible. I never noticed very much before. I mean I knew I smelled bad right after I smoked but I didn’t think I did all day. When I first quit, when my sense of smell began to return to normal, the smell of cigarettes triggered cravings. Slowly the smell began to revolt me. I get why people do everything they can to keep smokers far away and out of smelling range.

There can be a social life outside of “The Smoking Area”. It might sound weird but my biggest road block to quitting was my fear of being alone. The smoking area of any workplace is where all the fun happens. It’s where people let loose and say all the things they can’t inside in front of the boring nonsmokers. It was hard giving that up but I actually enjoy the quiet time away from the loud mouths now.

I have so much more free time! When I quit I knew I needed to find something to do with all the time I used to fill up with cigarettes. Boredom is a chance for the addiction to wear you down so you have to avoid it at all costs. I started learning Spanish and putting more time into writing. More to be proud of :)

I can buy so many things now! I can now justify almost any purchase to myself and my girlfriend by simply saying “Well, I did quit smoking, so not only do I deserve this but I can probably afford it too.” I try to be careful so I don’t end up substituting a shopping addiction for the smoking but it is nice to have things to show for my money now.

My anxiety over the adverse health effects of smoking is at an all-time high. When I did smoke I didn’t worry about cancer much. My mind always pushed my worries away. My addiction made me think it wasn’t going to happen to me. Since I’ve cut my dependence on nicotine I realize I will probably pay a price for 15 years of smoking eventually and it scares the shit out of me.

Human emotions are not easy to work through. Before, when I got angry, sad, frustrated, lonely, or felt any unpleasant emotion, I could just have a cigarette (or two) and everything would be better. Now I have to actually deal with my feelings and find a way to work through them. I have to say of al the struggles I have gotten through since I quit this is what I am most proud of. I can face my feelings now without nicotine.

Nicotine affects you physically, and quitting can have unexpected results. My body was used to a regular dose of nicotine and other chemicals almost every day for most of my adult life. When I cut that supply my body felt it. I was very tired for the first week or two. I developed a cough and a runny nose. The returning circulation left my hands and feet feeling tingly and numb for days. Most of that has passed by now and I feel much better now than I used to.

Anyone can quit. I am fighting the urge to become one of those ex-smokers who lectures people who have chosen not to quit at this time. I hear smokers saying “I just can’t quit right now.” or “I have tried before and it’s too hard.” I get it. I probably tried at least six or nine times before this one. The only thing that was different this time was I knew all the reasons I thought I couldn’t do it was adjust my addiction lying to me.  Evey step of the way I told myself I could do this and I did. That was it.

I don’t regret quitting at all. I did for a long stretch of the past six months, though, I’m not going to lie. I missed it a lot. I didn’t like all the changes I had to make. I didn’t like feeling grouchy and uncomfortable. I didn’t like not have my friend and security blanket. I didn’t like not having a way to escape things that were making me uncomfortable. Now though, now I know it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

I have a long way to go still. I am still tempted every so often. If I become too emotionally distressed or if I am outside enjoying some nice weather, the thought that a cigarette would be really good occurs to me. In those moments, I remember the feeling a good cigarette gave me. Instant relaxation. I am able to push the craving away easily but I think it will be a long while before those thoughts stop coming to me at all.

I did this and you can too.

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If We Were Having Coffee

If we were having coffee I would tell you that I am feeling so much better now! For the past few weeks I have been either sick with a nasty cold or feeling a bit down and depressed but the cold is gone and Christmas is coming!

Usually I’m not a big fan of the holidays but every year it gets better and better and this year is turning out to be the best one yet! We have a tree up and it’s a damn good looking tree! We are buying gifts for each other and this year we have more money to go around. We are also going to be spending Christmas day at home, just the two of us! It will be perfect.

If we were having coffee I would tell you that today is the last day of NaBloPoMo and I am glad it’s finally over. I wrote about it yesterday and talked about all the things I had learned. I’m going to slow down a bit now that’s it’s over but only because I want my writing to be better. I’m still going to write everyday but I want to take more time thinking and editing now.

If we were having coffee I would also tell you that because of that I have decided to join The Daily Post’s newest Blogging U. course, Writing 201. It looks like they are going to be focusing on blogging on the longform side of things, which I tend to lean towards anyway. If you want to give longform a try I encourage you to check it out.

Lastly, if we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have gone 17 days without a cigarette. I know that doesn’t sound like much but I assure you it has been very, very difficult to make it this far. Everyday it gets a little easier but I still do crave them multiple times a day, I imagine I will for a long while. I want one right now to be honest but I know i can’t have one. I have to think of my health and my girlfriend.

I have an app on my phone that gives me stats based on my quit date and time. I put my date in as November 13th, 2014 at 6:00 AM. Since then I have gone 17 days, 2 hours, 49 minutes, and some seconds without a cigarette. I have NOT smoked 171 cigarettes. I have saved $47.02. And I have saved 17 hours of my time. I’m not sure if that is time not smoking or time my life has been extended but either way it’s good.

I am proud of myself but I try not to brag too much, I feel like I am just doing what I should’ve done a long time ago. This is not the first time I have tried and I can’t help still being disappointed in myself for not being strong enough to quit sooner. I am still at risk for a lot of health problems and I hope that one day I won’t be looking back and hating myself for developing some sort of cancer or other health issue because I started smoking and couldn’t quit.

But enough about that! If we were having coffee I would apologize for talking so much, I do tend to ramble on, especially when I’m talking about myself. I’d then say it was time I heard how you were doing, so please let me know in the comments :)

P.S. Just a quick note before you go, I wanted to remind all of you that I am present on a few other networks across the web too. I have a brand new Facebook page that isn’t much right now but I would still appreciate a few likes if you could. If you’re on Tumblr you should DEFINITELY follow me there, I post a lot. And finally there is Twitter which I am finally getting the hang of and using much more than I used to. Anyway check me out or give some feedback if you have a minute. Thanks!

A Fragile Freedom From Nicotine

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Tomorrow will mark two weeks exactly that I have been free from cigarettes. I’m not going to lie, it hasn’t been the easiest thing. The only reason I was able to quit was because I got so sick and couldn’t smoke. Luckily I had enough will power to not smoke after I felt better but even that was mostly due to fear of setting off another coughing fit.

Now I am feeling much better and I find it easier everyday not to smoke. All my coworkers do and in the past that has been the hardest part about trying to quit. At work I am alone a lot because everyone is outside smoking and laughing and having wonderful conversation. In the past I would sit by myself and feel bitter that I was not only hurting from nicotine withdrawal, but also all alone. Being lonely like that for 8 to 12 hours a day can be so hard. I feel like non-smokers will never understand how hard it is to go from having a close group of smoker friends, to being alone and watching them continue to have fun without you everyday.

Thankfully, this time has been different and a little easier. So far I have been ok with being by myself while everyone goes out to smoke. I think this is actually due to my mood turning much more serious and me moving towards being more introverted. That is all due to the weather turning cold and drab. I hate the winters so much and I find it easier to be by myself while my moods are fragile and quickly turn irritable and angry. So, I’m not much in the mood for socializing the way I am when the weather is sunnier and warm. So being inside and writing or listening to music while the others leave to go freeze and poison themselves is fine by me at the moment.

But the feeling of boredom still crops up here and there. In the past I gave in to the craving because of those feelings of boredom and afterwards I would feel low and guilty for having poisoned my body further because I was bored. I felt pathetic.

In my defense though, being bored is a hard emotion to deal with when you have no idea how to deal with it. Boredom, to me, feels a lot like loneliness, and loneliness can hurt like a physical pain. I read somewhere once that boredom is the desire for desires and nicotine numbs the desire and the pain of not being fulfilled. Nicotine gives you something to do and when you have something to do you feel ok. Now, thanks to this blog, I finally have something to do that makes me feel almost as good as nicotine. I say almost because I still have cravings, even when I’m writing.

The cravings are manageable now though. I just tell myself “I know you want to smoke, but I’m sorry but you just can’t”. Saying that makes it ok to want to smoke, but, like a store clerk who has to refuse a customer a discount or a return, my hands are tied. I tell myself there is nothing I can do about the fact that I can’t smoke because the decision came from higher up. I shrug and say I’m sorry but I don’t make the rules.

So at just about two weeks smoke free I have learned that the best way to quit is to start by catching a nasty cold. Preferably cold that comes with a harsh and sometimes violent cough. That way every time you even try to smoke your body will automatically let you know that you are stupid because you will be in incredible pain.

After that you have to have a good bout of cold weather that makes you feel generally in a grouchy and makes you not want to be around other people. Then you have to find something to do that makes you feel good in place of nicotine. And finally after all of that you have to take to yourself like you are a child and just act as if, sadly, smoking is just not an option.

That is the Lisa plan to get you nicotine free in two weeks!

If We Were Having Coffee

If we were having coffee I’d tell you I’m sorry I’m a little later than usual. I’m taking advantage of the first lazy day I’ve had in a long while. Me and my lady slept in until we felt too guilty and had to get up. I plan to spend the day doing as little as possible before we’re back at work tomorrow. My girlfriend has been especially exhausted and overworked and I just want to take care of her and make things as easy on her as I can. I have been doing my best all week but unfortunately I can’t take on her work load so I am not as much help as I wish I could be.

If we were having coffee I’d tell you it had been a long week, and a long weekend too. I think I tell you that every week but long does not mean bad here. It was actually a pretty good week, just long. I have another long week ahead of me again but very soon I will get a break. The last week of October is fall break for the schools so that means I am off. I plan to work a few hours a day helping out but it will be on my own time. I will have much more time for writing and for art. I’m going to work on cleaning up this blog a bit and getting some drafts written of all the things I want to say. I am trying to gear up for NaBloPoMo next month.

If we were having coffee I’d tell I’m also working on learning to use the Paper app by Fiftythree. I first downloaded the app about a year ago and while I thought it was cool I really didn’t have much use for it. Now that I’m trying to be more creative I think it would be a great tool to work in everyday. I also found that now there is a sharing element too. They call it Mix and it allows you to share your art as a sort of template. Then other people can use it as an inspiration and remix it, make it their own. They also have a nifty-neato stylus made specifically for the app that looks pretty cool too. Mine will be here on Tuesday!

If we were having coffee I’d tell you that I failed miserably to quit smoking last week. I feel bad but feeling bad doesn’t help me quit so I’m going to stop feeling bad and try again. Today is my new quit date and tomorrow will be my first test. No cigarettes. I have installed apps and I have signed up to have encouraging texts sent to my phone to remind me not to give in to the cravings. I get bored easily at my job and smoking helps pass the time. The days drag on too and it helps to have a cigarette to break up the day. I have to find new ways to get through my days now.

If we were having coffee I’d ask you to please wish me luck in the week ahead, it’s going to be a rough one. I have this blog, I have my Paper app, I have a log book to write in, and I have all of you, my dear readers, to help me get through it. I have you all to talk to and I have you all to hold me accountable too. Thank you for listening, and being here with me.

It’s Monday People, You Know What That Means!

It’s Monday and that means, like so many of you, I am back at work. I have been trying my best not to complain about Mondays anymore. I realized it was a waste to start the week so negatively. I hear so many of my coworkers saying the day sucks simply because it is the first day of the work week. I used to do that too, until I realized that Monday isn’t the shitty day we all think it is. Monday is a fresh start! So this week, don’t complain. This week start fresh and go out and hustle hard!

I have another long week ahead of me but I will do my best to stay positive. Yeah this job isn’t my dream job, and yeah this job can sometimes be both boring and frustrating, but I should make the most of it and learn what I can. I also can’t let anything at this job get to me. All I can do is my best, after that I have to just move on. I also have to stop stressing myself so much over my job too, especially when I’m not seeing any benefit for all my stress.

So, I will not work above my pay grade or for free. This week I expect to get some overtime because I am no longer helping fix people’s problems without getting paid for it. I feel like when I don’t timecard things because it seems like a nice thing to do I am not valuing my own time. And if I can’t work on my side projects because someone needs help then I for damn sure better be getting paid!

I also won’t be fixing problems that aren’t my job to fix. My boss gets paid the big bucks to fix big problems. I don’t get paid what he does so I shouldn’t be working as if I do. I also shouldn’t take on more responsibility than I am paid to. When I do that I am allowing my boss to take it easy while at the same time making a substantial amount more than me. This is not fair to me! So not I will pull back a little and just do MY job and then focus on me.

Outside of work I am going to be generating some ideas for larger art projects to work on. I have been sticking to working in an art journal daily, although it is very basic and plain, at least it’s something. Now I think I’m ready for something bigger, something I could spend a couple of weekends on. As soon as I get started expect some pictures and blog posts on my progress!

And now for my big news, this week I am going to try, yet again, to quit smoking! I have tried many, many, times in the past but nicotine has a strong hold on me. This time around I think I have a quitting buddy though. One of friends who also works with me is quitting too so hopefully we can encourage each other and hold each other accountable. I hope you all will hold me accountable too and I promise to update you on my progress.

So yeah it’s Monday, and the work week has begun. Is going to be rough but we can do it! Just relax and remember to breathe and be awesome :)

Today is the Day, No Ifs, Ands, or Butts

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Today I quit smoking. I have already skipped the first few cigarettes I would’ve had today and I feel completely miserable about that. I mean I feel good about it but I miss it already! I am debating whether or not coffee is a good idea or not. Sigh, coffee and cigarettes go together so perfectly.

“The best way to stop smoking is to just stop – no ifs, ands or butts.”

― Edith Zittler

I can do this. I just have to remember why I quit. I quit for my health. I want to go on being able to breathe and I want my skin to look to look good a little while longer. I quit for those around me, I want to be around for them and I don’t want any of them to watch me suffer later with cancer or COPD or worse. I quit to save money. I already saved $5 this morning by not buying a pack. I quit to smell better. I quit to save time. Smoking a cigarette takes between 7 and 10 minutes, depending on whether or not you are chatting with friends. I smoke about 10 cigarettes a day. Thats 70-100 minutes a day I lose to smoking!

And finally I quit to learn to handle stress on my own. This is the thing that I am going to miss most about cigarettes. Instant stress relief. It’s also the thing I hate about them the most. I’ve been smoking since I was a teenager so in all my adult years I have never dealt with a stressful situation without having a cigarette. I just don’t know how to do it anymore. What do non-smokers do? Thinking about stress stresses me out. I start to feel overwhelmed by the weight of all the stress I am going to have to face in the future, without nicotine!

One day at a time though….

I can do this. I just need to take it a day at a time. I am getting through today and I will worry about tomorrow when tomorrow comes. For now I have skipped my morning cigarettes and that is a victory. A small but big victory. I hope for many more such victories today.

Kicking the Habit

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“Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.“

― Mark Twain

When I was 14 years old I went to live with my father. He wasn’t home much though and I found myself getting in to all kinds of mischief in his absence.

One day while he was gone me and my best friend at the time, Shelby, went to hang out with some older guys she knew. I don’t really know how old those guys were. They were both smokers and watching them I thought they looked very cool. After hanging out for a little while, joking and making small talk, Shelby started making out with one of the guys. I felt a bit awkward and I think the other guy did too. Next thing I knew though the other guy slipped his arm around my waist and pulled me toward him. His kissed me and I felt his tongue push into my mouth and I gagged. His mouth tasted like an old ashtray. With some effort I was able to choke back the vomit pushing into my throat. I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of Shelby and her older friends. I made up some excuse to go home and we never saw those guys again.

Kissing that guy was the most disgusting thing I had ever experienced in my life and I vowed to never, ever smoke cigarettes! I didn’t want to smell and taste the way that guy smelled and tasted. I could not understand why anyone would want to smoke if it smelled and tasted like that??

Two years later I was living back with my mom. A lot of my new friends were smoking weed now. We would walking from the bus stop to the school in a group, stopping in areas we felt were safe to stand in a circle and pass a blunt around. One day after smoking another kid hands me a Newport. I tell him I don’t smoke cigarettes abut he promises it will boost my high if I do. After that every time I smoked weed, I smoked a cigarette.

I don’t know when exactly it happened but slowly I started smoking cigarettes even when I wasn’t high. I was buying more and more packs and so were all my friends. We were sharing cigarettes and buying cartons. I moved out and got an apartment with a few friends. We all smoked inside and the whole apartment smelled like an ashtray. The walls we beginning to yellow and there was a layer of cigarette ash every where. It was disgusting.

Jump forward 10 years and I am still smoking. It’s sad really but I admit I am wholly addicted to nicotine. I have improved some of my habits. I don’t smoke in the house or in the car. I really only smoke at work so on weekends and breaks from my job I hardly smoke at all. I don’t smoke a pack a day either, which I do think is good compared to my friends.

“Smoking kills. If you’re killed, you’ve lost a very important part of your life.”

― Brooke Shields

I do think that it has been long enough though and I’m starting to worry about long term health problems. I’ve always known of the risks around smoking but I was young and thought things like cancer and COPD would never happen to me, but I just turned 29 and my mindset is changing. I read something the other day that said if you quit by the time you turn 30 you can get back a decade of your life! I know that is just a statistic but maybe one day it could almost like I was never a smoker. I would hate myself if one day I had to leave Chardonnay alone because I died! If she had to lose me because of a stupid choice I made when I was 16 and continued to make everyday after. I’m done.

Sadly this will not be my first time trying to quit. I have failed many times, many, many times, and I have started to think maybe I just can’t do this. I like being a smoker. I like that I have a excuse to leave any situation. I like that I have a instant stress reliever. I like that I have a friend wherever I go, just look for the smokers. I love that cigarettes go so well with my morning coffee and my evening cocktails. It’s not just the nicotine that is hard to give up, it’s all the things I enjoy about being a smoker too.

But this time will be different, I hope. I have a better plan than I did all the times before. I have a date set to quit, May 1st will be my first cigarette free day. I have apps on my phone to track my progress. The longer I go without smoker the less I will want to. I won’t want to break my chain of days without cigarettes. I have my writing to keep me busy. Anytime I have a craving I will just breathe for 10 seconds and start writing, the craving will pass. I am going to buy a bunch of snakes, preferably healthy ones, this weekend. I have a friend who is planning on quitting with me but I am going to do this even if she doesn’t.

I have also changed my mindset too. I know this will be hard. This is really going to suck. I am going to be unhappy and I’m going to be uncomfortable but it will pass. I can do this! Many people have and if they can so can I. The only thing holding me back if fear. No more fear, no more cigarettes.

So wish me luck! And if you have any advice or words of encouragement please share them with me. I will be needing all the help I can get!