Friday, 12 December 2014

Get Out Of My Head - Nineteen Months

At 5pm today, it will be 19 months and one week that I had my last cigarette. I know I say this every time I do a no smoking anniversary post, BUT seriously - THE CRAVINGS ARE SO BAD THESE DAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I try to put smoking out of my head and the other day Chad said something to the effect of ..... "and you smoked then". To be honest some days and most days I even forget that I was a smoker. That I was that person who hardly ever went through a waking moment without a cigarette in my hand; in my mouth; in an ashtray. Thirty five to forty a day was a good day. A bad day could easily double that amount - not often but often enough.

Often I would "cut" down and try and stretch lighting up between cigarettes to an hour - not very possible at all it - was tough. Yes, when I went to a movie or a no smoking zone, I could manage two hours, because I could not smoke. Not hanging around at home; or working or watching TV. I honestly and truly DO NOT know how I have managed to not touch a cigarette in 19 months and 1 week, but all I do wish is that these dam things would get OUT of my head once and for all. I keep subconsciously and also very consciously go off to get "something" reach out to get "something" walk off to get "something". Those "somethings" are cigarettes, but instead I am getting food/snacks/sweets. I always need something and my brain does not have a switch off button. I comfort eat as it is, now I am also always reaching out, wanting something more and my brain is not intelligent enough or disciplined enough to say enough now - you don't want that other sweet; you don't really want more food; enough biscuits now. Ask me if I feel healthier now than I did this time two years ago - NOT AT ALL. Am I glad I gave up smoking - I ACTUALLY AM. Will I start smoking again - I HONESTLY CANNOT ANSWER THAT. I berate myself for giving up and then I berate myself for ever starting, then berate myself for wanting to start again.

I am not an expert on giving up smoking, I am not an expert on handling addictions, I am not an expert on self discipline, however if I have to give you one tip on quitting smoking; it would be to not give in to even one cigarette - whether it is five minutes after you "gave up"; five hours; five days; five weeks; five months or five years. DO NOT GIVE IN TO THAT URGE!!!!

Other tips and fallacies would be:

1. Don't think you will wake up and feel energised after giving up smoking - it is a physical addiction, you will feel far worse and drained before you feel full of energy. Don't have that one cigarette for a pick me up.

2. Experts will tell you to avoid being in the company of smokers until the cravings have stopped. OK - the cravings don't go away over night or after a week or two, so that is fallacy number one. If you are not disciplined enough to say no in the first couple of weeks when you smell that freshly lit cigarette, come two weeks later or a month and you find yourself in a group of smokers, you are going to give in to that temptation of "just one" - then start all over again.

3. Drink water every time you want a cigarette. I was a two to three litre a day water drinker. If I have two full glasses of water in a week now, it is a lot. I force myself to drink water. I now know why Chad and so many other people say water is disgusting. I think smoking makes you very thirsty and your mouth dry so you drink more. I can't say if that is true, all I can say is that the drink water tip did not work for me. In this post here about my Easy Night Routine, I said that I weaned myself off of lipice after years and years of using it. I think the "addiction" to lipice had to do with smoking drying out my lips.

4. Don't give up for someone else - do it for yourself. The reason to not start again, must be far bigger than the reason to start. Yes I did it for Chad in away, because he nagged me, but it was time for me to give up. Chad and Clint nagged me for years and my greatest achievement then was having hourly intervals between lighting up. Breaking smoking laws and rules at work became far more of an issue for me than my 35 year 40 a day habit.

5. Yes, sometimes it is just from pure habit that I reach out to get something and turn that to food - but 75% of it is genuine cravings - almost two years later. Giving in to that craving and having just one cigarette, just for that "one: craving, will lead you down the path of no return, because there will always be that one craving.

6. If I can do it anyone can - everyone says that including me, but honestly that is a load of rubbish, because everyone has their own issues and characters and ways to deal with life. Yes maybe you were a very heavy smoker and gave up, but that does not mean the next person who hardly smokes can give up. They don't have the same determination or reason to give up. Everyone is unique and different.

7. You haven't given up smoking if you rush off to buy a loose cigarette every couple of hours (if they still sell loose cigarettes, I know it is illegal to sell them. You haven't given up if you sneak off and have a cigarette where no one can see or bum one off someone else. That is given up buying cigarettes. I know a few people who have given up smoking, but strangely often stink like smoke or have a cigarette in their hands/mouth. Just one!!!

8. Although I did not fully agree with everything in the Kickbutt program, it is really worth signing up for. You can sign up for it over here. This is the South African one, there are others and I also don't think it matters where you live as it is On Line. I found the first half fantastic and really helped me to carry on quitting.

9. Giving up smoking after a lifetime of smoking is really tough. It is not the same as if you give up after five or even ten years of smoking, but it can be done, so many people have. The reason just has to be stronger than the reason for smoking - namely addiction and habit.

10. Try and not turn to unhealthy snacks/sweets to keep your hands and mouth busy. My biggest mistake. After all these months I am really glad I gave up smoking, not for health reasons or financial reasons, my health has worsened and my money wasted on other unhealthy habits. The two main reasons are the stink of stale cigarettes and the stress of not being able to smoke when I go out or having to creep downstairs in a hotel with severe bed hair and unwashed face and unbrushed teeth to have a cigarette, because I just could not last another second without a smoke.

And number eleven for good luck - don't drink alcohol when you first give up smoking - those two go hand in hand. Besides why keep one unhealthy habit - yes drinking is unhealthy even wine.

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Have an awesome Thursday and if you are planning on giving up smoking, rather wait until after the Festive Season. You need all your wits about you to embark on this stressful smoke free journey. You can read just how I fought my way through the nineteen months of hell in these posts.

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