Soooooooooooo… first I want to apologise for not posting last week. I have been dealing with shitty health again (woo chronic illness) and my work has made me real fucking tired and need more down time. I have a lot of stuff going on that sometimes it’s just not possible to create. I will be trying my best to post weekly and consistently on my YouTube channel so if you’d like to see more from me, please go in that direction and watch some of my videos and subscribe!!
But onto the real topic of this post! I quit smoking. This is not a usual quitting smoking story because I kinda accidentally quit.
TRIGGER WARNING: I talk about the link smoking has to my mental health and disordered eating. If you are sensitive to these topics please be careful if you decide to read further. This post is not meant to give tips or ideas to anyone, it is to be open and honest and show others in my situation they are not alone.
I’ve been smoking on and off (but mostly on) since I was 14. My boyfriend at the time smoked, my friends smoked, their families smoked… so I just smoked too. I have consciously tried to quit many, many times before. I’ll even be smoking free for months, but I’ll start up again.
My relationship with smoking is not really an addiction. I don’t really crave cigarettes and I can go for weeks without smoking… then why was it so difficult to quit before?
So I have (3) parts to my smoking habit:
1) Mental health and stress: I smoked when I had anxiety, when I was under a lot of stress and pressure, or when I was intensely angry. I smoked roll-ups 99% of the time, I like the ritual of rolling a cigarette. It gave my body and mind something to focus on when I was being overwhelmed with emotion. Plus, the deep breathing and holding your breath for a second before you blow the smoke out is a breathing exercise that people teach to help calm you down. I’ve always been aware of that being a factor.
2) Socialising: drinking makes me want to smoke more, being around people makes me want to smoke more, being in a situation where I don’t know many people makes me want to smoke more… going out for a cigarette is an easy way to bail from and overwhelming environment. I deal with sensory overload issues and leaving the building and doing the ritual above helped. Or if I’m somewhere I don’t know many people, I can make some friends in the smoking area. Or if I’m flirting with someone and want to have some one-on-one time to talk in a quieter environment, I’d invite them out with me even if they didn’t smoke. It’s a crutch. Plus, having lots of friends who smoked was a good way to catch up with a smaller group or to have a bitch about someone…
3) Disordered eating: a big part of why I started smoking in the first place was seeing on those gross pro-ana forums of 2009 that smoking cuts your food cravings. I was very sick mentally and did a lot of awful shit to myself physically to lose weight and smoking was one of them. Why would I eat a sandwich at lunch when I could smoke 5 cigarettes? Why would I eat snacks at the party when I could smoke until my lungs were on fire?
So, how did I ‘accidentally’ quit?
I’d come to terms with feeling like I was never going to quit because my issue was not addiction and groups would not help. A lot of shit happened in August and I ended up moving back home with my family. My mum knows (and entirely disapproves) of my smoking, but my other family members do not. The lay out of my family home makes it impossible to pop out for a cheeky fag without being caught or having to walk into the woods in the dark. The weather started getting shittier and I didn’t want to make that effort.
To begin with, I still smoked when I went out. I’d gotten back into contact with some old friends in the area and none of them smoke! My long-term friend had quit (and so had his wife) since they had their son last year. Another friend I had in college has never smoked and my main friend from uni doesn’t smoke. So, that’s reason number 2 completely out of it.
The last time I smoked was 21st September, the first time I’d been to a gay bar in Brighton. It was my mum’s friend’s leaving do and I went out by myself for a cigarette and I just really didn’t enjoy it and actually felt more awkward than if I’d stayed inside. Then I’d just kinda not gone out much. I went to see these non-smoker friends and felt weird at the thought of going for a cigarette… they never made me feel weird and would have been completely fine with be going out for one but… I didn’t want to.
I spent a lot of time by myself, doing things I wanted to do creatively, really threw myself into improving my life. I may not have wanted to be where I am, but I’m here now and I feel like there was a reason and I should make the most of it. I just kept myself really busy and decided to start leaving my cigarettes at home instead of taking them out with me if I went into town to get some things done… then I just didn’t think about it anymore.
I worked on my sleep and I worked on a lot of my issues. I’ve been told that when you leave one therapy you should have a break before you start up another one and that’s what I did. I found a therapist I’m interested in seeing again for issues I’ve yet to tackle, but I spent time with myself. I learned to be okay on my own and not needing people or cigarettes to feel better. There’s my first point taken down now too…
And point number three? I’ve been consciously dealing with disordered eating as long as I’ve been smoking. For 10 years I’ve been working on being okay with not weighing myself or being more okay with what the scale does say. I found an exercise class that really challenges my muscles and cardiovascular abilities, and I had the support of my mum going with me every week too. Then I looked into weight lifting and ‘skinny-fat’ and started to slowly working a consistent amount of exercise working with a weight… I feel healthier in my body and the connection between the two is much better than when I was 16. I’m enjoying seeing muscle tone developing and being able to do more reps than when I started. Point three, done.
I spent a long time not wanting to label it as ‘quitting’. I felt too much pressure around this, but I started talking to my friends about how I haven’t smoked since September 21st and they all gave me encouragement. Not aggressive condemning of smoking, but celebrating quitting and no longer smoking. They gave me the courage to really dedicate to it and start calling it quitting. Anyone I go and see I tell them I’m quitting. Especially if I’m going to be drinking, I’m a bit wild and unpredictable when I drink and could easily drop £30 to buy roll-ups.
And that’s how it happened.
Besides having an extra £20-£30 in my wallet every week, I can breathe better and without the I’ve-smoked-too-much pain, and I can see the yellow stain on my fingers disappearing. Hopefully this will also mean I can stay on my combined pill for longer, not make my possible asthma worse, and I wont smell God awful. My car in college stank of damp and cigarettes, It was awful and I can imagine I actually smelled like that for most of my 10 years.
I’m not preaching or telling you to quit. Do what you want, it’s up to you.
I’m just sharing my story of accidentally quitting smoking. I’ve not smoked in just over 2 months, let’s make it to three and beyond.