My story of how I began to smoke is probably not much different to everyone else.
The scene may differ slightly as well as the age of starting, but nevertheless, I believe we could all relate to each other’s beginnings of when our lifetime nightmare began.
I was only 12 years old when I took my first puffs. And although they made me feel queasy, the whole excitement of sharing a naughty packet of Pall Mall menthol with a girlfriend didn’t stop me from continuing to puff away on about five cigarettes that day.
Here we were, at our favourite hangout, which was the playground near our local beach, smoking one cigarette after the other while yakking away about our career dreams and the future Princes we were going to nab as husbands.
It wasn’t until my girlfriend pointed out to me, my face had turned grey, that I gave into my queasiness and vomited from smoking all those cigarettes.
But did this huge warning sign stop me from ever smoking again?! Sadly not.
And since it was my girlfriend who had brought the cigarettes along, I was now obligated to pay her back by buying the next packet.
And so the cycle of my addiction began. In less than six months I was hooked and smoked one packet every two days which escalated to one packet per day by the time I was thirteen.
Oh, how quick addiction works!.
My body showed bad health signs of smoking almost immediately.
I used to be a great sprinter and was proud of the fact that I presented my schools doing hurdles and short distance. But after I started smoking, I lost the title of being the fastest, in no time flat. It all happened so quick!. But was it any wonder? what with smoking dropping my oxygen levels!.
Smoking takes up a lot of our time and so even back in my sprinting days, I found myself sitting around smoking, more than I would be out training my running skills and jumping over every short picket fence that was on my route. And if that wasn’t enough of a change in my short life, I also became a chubby teenager simply because I omitted exercise, for sitting around yakking while smoking.
Moving forward, I can tell you honestly that I thoroughly enjoyed smoking for the first ten years of
this addiction, regardless of the bad changes smoking made to my life.
I loved its comforts and those amazing “aha” moments when cigarette smoke hit the back of my throat, which that, instantly threw my body into ‘relaxed mode’.
And let’s face it, people, right up until the late ’80s, there were still more smokers than non-smokers and so cigarette smoking still had its own social aspects going on.
Back then, nobody batted an eyelid for lighting up a cigarette inside a home that already reeked of stale smoke anyway. And one never considered, while socialising with non-smoking friends, to not light up a cigarette and blow all those airborne toxins in their face while sitting in their otherwise smoke-free homes!. Times were very different back then.
My most dreadful memories from those days are, sitting around the dining room table with a friend, whilst both of us were breastfeeding our newborns and smoking at the same time.
But we are excused from all of that and simply because of our naivety. Granted that ASH ( Action for Smoke-free) was already warning us of all the dangers, but then don’t forget that the Big Tobacco industry was making them out to be a bunch of fruitloops who had no proof of what they were yabbering on about. They did have proof of course and lots of it, but they did not have the budget to continue warning us through mainstream media. So in the meantime, every dairy and supermarket continued hanging posters up of cigarette brands that subconsciously aimed at having us believe how smoking enhanced our lives.
Yes, we are totally excused for our naivety back in those days.
As I said before, I enjoyed smoking for the first ten years but started having a change of heart at the age of twenty-two. I hated how my heart was beating hard up against my chest whenever I picked my pace up faster than a stroll. And if I joined my husband for a day trip in the hills while he went pig hunting, I noticed that I was constantly out of breath.
My excuse at the time was that I was out of shape and needed to get back into exercising.
So I joined the local Jazzercise group and tried jogging around the block. Needless to say, I failed completely with both of those sessions.
It got me to thinking of who I used to be and what I used to be capable of. I used to love sprinting and I also used to love being so good at it that I used to represent my schools.
It was in that moment of dwelling in my memories that I decided the smokes have to go!.
If you can remember your first attempt at giving up the cigarettes then your story is probably as tragic, but a hoot at the same time, like my story, is.
The moment I decide to give up smoking, I did exactly that. I screwed up my packet of cigarettes and tossed them in the bin. All was okay for the first two hours but then the niggles of withdrawals were showing up thick and fast.
My husband ( bless him) told me to focus on other things and said how he was looking forward to coming home to a house that didn’t smell of a dirty chimney. He even drove to our local dairy and bought me a packet of mints and proudly tossed them my way as if they were the magic pills that would guide me off smoking for good. But alas, as the days progressed, I, on the other hand, did not.
On day four, my husband arrived home from work to find me cradling our one-year-old son while bawling my eyes out. My anxiety levels were through the roof and by this point, my husband was also stressed out from all my unbearable mood swings that he had been the brunt of. So to cut this story shorter, my husband took our son out of my hands and told me to get in the car and go buy a packet of cigarettes. End of the first try and the beginning of realising how strong cigarette addiction was.
For the next thirty years, I tried giving up more times than I even care to remember since I obviously failed every single one of those times. But what I can tell you is that every journey I began, I did so with purpose and meaning and with plenty of gusto under my wings.
So why all those failed attempts?!.
Lack of knowledge I believe. I had no idea of the power that addiction can actually possess over us mere mortals. How did addiction get to boss us around as it does?.
Thus, my search for answers began.
Six weeks of scouring the internet looking for clues that would help me understand addiction,
I managed to piece together some vital information that had scientist back the info up. Don’t get me wrong as there is so many good suggestions on the internet as to how to deal with withdrawals etc.. but that’s not what I was after. I needed to know what parts of my body addiction had befriended and what parts of my body were causing the withdrawals in the first place. And so it took a further three more weeks of researching to fill the gaps of unanswered questions that I still had. But finally, I was armed with enough ammunition to blow addiction right out of my system. All the information I had gathered had exposed addiction so it was no longer this invisible force to me.
My successful attempt at finally being rid of my smoking addiction had a few curve balls during the journey but nothing ever got me thinking of wanting to light another cigarette. I pretty much breezed through the withdrawal symptoms simply because I knew exactly what they were and how they came about.
My psychological side of addiction worked right alongside the physical at all times and purely because I was powered up with all the knowledge I had gathered.
The ease of my journey inspired me to put all the information I had gathered, into an easy reading book so that others could benefit from it while going through the withdrawal period.
Knowledge truly is the power of battles conquered and this is no different for when you are wanting to give up smoking.
At the end of the day, how each and every one of us conquer our addiction, shall be the right way for us personally when we succeed in doing so. What I mean by that is, some people find it easy to go cold turkey while others need a hand with nicotine replacement products. Either way, the journey is easier still, when you have identified exactly what you are battling with.
I do recommend you read CiggieButtOut because it exposes addiction, and helps you to be well prepared before your ‘give up’ date and then guides you through the withdrawal stage.
Any days of feeling hopelessness you may go through, where you wish to vent your anxieties and frustrations, come talk to me on facebook, CiggieButtOut. Don’t ever feel you are isolated and alone because I care how you fare.
Looking forward to meeting you there,
Wishing you all the best, and may your journey be as cruisy as mine was,