Can You Help?
10-15-02, Today I received an email asking for how I quit smoking. The following letter is what I wrote back and is of course, my almost 2 year celebration Update.
Sure was good of you to write, that means you are serious about your intentions. I wish I had more people gathered to tell of how they quit but so far it's just the two of use. At the bottom of the opening page of the website, you will find the section of Journals on Quitting Smoking. Someday when you have, say a year of no smoking, you'll be writing your own story. But it's like it's some kind of a jinx to talk about it but it's not.
The girl who writes about how she did it used the patch system. Wanda Lynch that writes the wonderful Homesteading Story, her diary of homesteading and all the wonderful recipes, used to smoke. She used the patch system and has been saying she will get her story written and added to the others. She sent in the link to the gum and patch site. They have lots of good ideas and I will make a special effort for you to see what other sites I can find. I read everything I could find. My husband stopped smoking when the furnace blew up in his face and he spend a week in CCU. He never lit up again. That is not an acceptable method!
You didn't say if your husband is a smoker. If so, it will be most difficult. I am never around smokers any more and I cannot stand them now. Even my own children. Grown as they are, if they cannot smoke, I cannot stand to be around them. Fortunately, husband Randy was not bothered by my smoking after he had quit. It took me years but I was no longer working in town and the prices were really going through the roof. When I started, cigs were 22 cents a pack and doctors recommended them.
I wish the Great American Smokeout would start letting people know when their date is for the year way ahead of time. It took me six weeks of mental preparation to be ready. I had to look up the date on the Internet. But I set it as my target and when I woke up that morning, I started my count from the last cigarette the night before. All day, the thought of how long was the first thought, not when's the next cig? For a long time, I had been able to cut back on my smoking but there was always, when's the next cig? I took all the ashtrays and scrubbed them clean. I put them to use as other things or threw them away. No one smokes in our house, not ever again.
For about 3 days before the Smokeout, I smoked extra, to the point where my lungs were angry and I was coughing a lot. It did help. Your physical self does not want something that hurts it. I read the article in the Brain Connection about the mice and how they were rewarded with cigarettes. Yikes. They couldn't control
themselves. Well, I can think of a lot better rewards for my efforts. So, it was time for a change. On that morning, I told Randy what I was going to do. He says yeah, sure. I have to tell him that if he can't be supportive, then don't say anything. He was most supportive but we'd had many friends who kept saying they'd quit, last about 15 minutes and be smoking again. I can list a dozen people that are still doing that. As long as the uppermost
thought is "when's the next cigarette" they are not ready to quit.
Some experts say, throw away all your cigs and don't buy any. That doesn't work. Keep half a pack laying up out of the way but not in a usual place. When you pass, your thought must be Yup, I don't need you. And that is the main thing. Control. You have been controlled and pacified by the cigarettes for a long time. I started in 1970 or so and the companies sure made a lot of money off of me. But it was the only way to buy a reward for all my hard work. For so long, smoking was they only friend that had been with me all along. Sure it had become a lot more money, but it was still the same. And that's all just a pipe dream. The reward is death
and not an easy one or a nice one. One of hacking coughs, of being on a breathing machine. Wheezing.
I had one girl write in and say that her husband quit. He just didn't buy anymore. I knew a psychiatrist that told his wife he had quit and then he'd get to the clinic where we all worked and he bum cigs off the other workers all day. He didn't lie to his wife, he told her he didn't buy anymore. It was something he did not want to control. Not buying anymore is only part of it. If I look up and realize that there are cigarettes for sale at the store counter, I
have to quickly say, I'm glad I don't buy them anymore. I often look to see how high the price is now days. Yikes.
I do wish I had been able to buy up a bunch of diet treats and snacks. I gained a lot of weight that winter that I am still trying to take off. HA. When you make yourself stop thinking about the cigs, you can replace it with something else of your choice. Have things already decided and don't let lighting up be one of the choices. It is
all a matter of controlling those pesky thoughts. One of the worst parts is the dreams. For the longest, I'd dream that I was at the grocery store, or that I'd already been and had the cigs or had just finished one and was fixing to light another. What a time. For so long, the first thing of the day was to light one up. It isn't easy but you have to keep a running time lot. When the brain and physical need want to say, When is the cigarette coming? You must physically, so to speak, take the thought and toss it away. It can be replaced by better and better ideas, your choice. When I'd look at the time, I'd think, okay, it's now been 17 hours and 20 minutes since the last one. HA. Just concentrate on the new thought, the time line. The time since the last one, not until the next one. I
found that sometimes I had to make the thought a big NO. Not just some measly little no, but really scream it out. HA. It helps. You don't really say it out loud, just to control the thought. It's a brain thing.
For the first month, I marked the time since I'd quit by the hour and minutes. Then it became by the week. After the year mark, I just seemed to quit thinking about it. Some experts say that you must change up your entire routine and do nothing the same. Sometimes you don't have a choice. You'll still have moments that say, I'd be smoking a cigarette about now, ummmm. But you stick it away in the imaginary boxful of thoughts of the old smoking You. But like any changes you ever make in your life, you take it only one minute at a time. It will get much easier. You control just each thought as it comes along. You get to thinking about what you are giving for Christmas, or what you are planning for supper. You know what I mean. Mentally, you must prepare this list of acceptable thoughts. You will be prepared for the sneaky attempts of the nicotine to lure you back into lighting just one more. I often dreamed that I had a cases of cartons and I HAD to smoke them. Some kind of contest or something. Always weird.
Your friends won't be smokers anymore. They think you are acting like you are better than them. Well, shush, but you will be !! You do want to set yourself apart and that's an all right thing. I like to figure up how much money I've saved us in the last two years. It's a lot!! Hubby was smoking twice what I was, so he always gets to double my figure. HA.
Sorry this is so long but you need to have your ammunition ready ahead of time. You will need to prepare. When I first quit, Randy thought I didn't have any cigs and I showed him where they were. I will admit that there were a few times I'd wake up at night to be standing in front of where they were kept like I was fixing to light one. But it does get better. Control cannot be said enough times. It's all in your very own brain but only you can do it. My dad keeps asking every time he talks to me, You still not smoking? He was married to a smoker of 50 years who did not want to quit. HA.
Don't wait for financial problems to blow over, it will seem they never do, or some little problem will come along. Mine was the bobcats trying to get my chickens. I came up against one big one that wouldn't run away from me. Before I grabbed the shotgun, I lit a cig just to keep from shaking so bad. I couldn't get the safety off so I lit another one. I am much better at chasing off mean, wild creatures now (we have a dog) and handling any problems that come along. They no longer require a cigarette. Have alternative Rewards lined up and ready but they must be things of your
choice. It can be a snack, a long walk, a talk on the phone with a non smoking friend, and the things to keep the fingers busy can be things like knitting, crochet, sewing, puzzles but they will be things that you like and enjoy. It will also help if you keep your hands clean. I use an antibacterial soap and leaves a clean smell. You come to enjoy that no cigarette smell. I found that after two months, I had to scrub the walls and mirrors because they did stink. HA
Do stop by the Journals of Quitting Smoking on the site. The links to mentioned other sites are there. I will be checking on the Great American Smokeout for this year. Wanda Lynch is out of town for a few more days but when she gets caught up with her chores this week, I'll get her to write her How I Quit notes. You have strained my brain so much that I think I'll copy this and put it on my page just in case someone else would enjoy knowing.
I wish you the very best of luck. Write anytime you need some support and understanding. Write when you tell of your success, it's out there, Just waiting for you to catch up. You have to really want to be that Not a Smoker person. Those Smokers will make fun of you and taunt you and you must be tough and avoid them if you can. But it's there, the Other you. The one that when you look in the mirror, you say, Oh I know You, You are the new and Improved Me, The One that Does NOT Smoke. Yippeee. Set the script and do not miss your cues. Then, as if by magic, you will be telling others how you did it. Helping them along with all the insider knowledge you contain. It really is a much better way of being a person. Now, if I could just give up the sugar, the chips, the crackers and peanut butter, I'd be a thin person again.
Thank you so much and write whenever you would like, Again, the Very Best of Luck to You ! !