Saturday, July 10, 2010

8.5 and counting

My 8-week anniversary was last Monday. It has now been eight and a half weeks since I held a cigarette tenderly between my fingers and inhaled toxic fumes into my lungs.

This is my third "real" attempt at quitting my nicotine habit. Of course, there were many times when I faked the attempt. The smokers know what I'm talking about. Those times when I would tell people that I was trying to quit (even though I wasn't) or the times that I would claim I was cutting back (even though I wasn't).

My first real attempt was seven years ago. I had a period of about three months where I tried several different quitting options available to me. I tried the gum but it tasted nasty. I tried the patches but it gave me anxiety attacks. I was put on Wellbutrin to help with the anxiety of trying to quit, but the Wellbutrin made me numb emotionally. Nothing made me sad on the Wellbutrin. Nothing made me happy either.

My second real attempt was five years ago. I paid my money to go to a hypnosis seminar. At the end of the seminar, everyone threw away their cigarettes as they left the auditorium. I kept mine. But I didn't smoke them. I saved them. Just-in-case. Everything was great, though, and I didn't smoke any of them...for the first three weeks. Just after my 3-week anniversary, I began getting extreme migraine headaches. I was having hot flashes and cold flashes. I was having problems sleeping. I was having problems functioning. I actually missed some work because I couldn't function well enough to survive the one hour commute. The migraine medicine prescribed didn't touch these headaches. I endured this pain. My family endured this pain. And then I became a closet smoker...for about 3-weeks. My boyfriend was praising my quitting to his family. The Catholic-guilt welled up inside me, and I had to fess up to him. Then I stopped hiding it.

I've used my headaches as an excuse to not quit for a long time. Too long.

I went to the doctor's in April and got a prescription for Chantix. My doctor expressed little confidence that the Chantix would help me because I smoked less than a pack a day and wasn't enrolled in a support group. Apparently, having the support of my family and friends wouldn't be enough, in her eyes. She hasn't met my family and friends!

We addicts are a pitiful bunch. We'll tell ourselves (and others) all sorts of lies to justify continuing our addiction. I would look at examples of people who never smoked a day in their life and died of lung cancer, then put them next to someone who smoked two packs a day and lived cancer-free until they were 100. Then, I would justify my addiction to cigarettes and nicotine as a predisposition to needing them to sustain my life as it was. Fairly healthy. No smoker's cough. Only called in sick when I had the migraines, which, of course, were from not smoking.

As an addict, I was very sick. There comes a time, though, when you have to acknowledge that your addiction is bigger than you and you need help. I sometimes wonder about those struggling with other addictions. Are their journeys similar to mine?

I've been cigarette-free for over two months now. I've been Chantix-free for over two weeks now. I smoked for more than 20 years. Most of the time, I don't even think about cigarettes. When I do, I wonder how I found the time to smoke and how I paid for the cigarettes. My food really does taste better. I can now smell other smokers and am glad to no longer smell like that. I don't hold it against them. I still have family and friends who smoke. And when they're ready to quit, I'll be there to support and encourage them, the way they were there for me.

Do you struggle with quitting? Or do you have a success story to share?
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  1. congrats Dawn, you are a very strong willed person to be able to quit after 20+ years :)

  2. Thanks! I still have my moments when I want a cigarette. I know the battle is far from over, but I'm pretty pleased with the results so far!!

  3. Now it's been two years...I'm so proud of you, Mom. :)