The quit smoking journal
When I quit smoking a little over seven months ago, I posted a running commentary of what I was going through on my LiveJournal. I was just going through it and thought some of it might be worth reposting here, if only to remind myself of how far I’ve come.
Aug. 6, 2006
… we’ll see what happens today. Part of me is scared as fuck, but I mustn’t obsess, because that’s what sparks the compulsion to smoke.
… I’d be lying if I said I haven’t had moments where I’ve wanted to smoke and get that sudden hit of nicotine. But those moments of craving really do pass, just like all of the stop smoking tip lists say. Ordinarily, four hours without a cigarette would be hellish, but I feel fine maybe half the time…
… Oh FUCK. I’m finding out what nicotine withdrawal is like. And I’m sick, man. When the cravings come my forehead gets hot, my chest tightens, I exhale really strained-like, and my limbs tingle. I think I even had some nausea a few minutes ago…
… Now I’m feeling some terror about not smoking. It comes and goes. I feel like I have a fever …
… Wow, I had no idea it would feel like this. I expected anxiety and restlessness, but not this feeling of being crushed from the sides like a garbage compactor. I didn’t expect the sweating and the flushing. It’s really… unique. I don’t want to look up at the ceiling lest I see a dead baby crawling on it.
Aug. 7, 2006
… It’s been almost 24 hours since I last smoked, which I think was yesterday around 9 a.m. The rest of last night I zoned out on the couch and fell in and out of sleep, then put myself to bed, and slept all night. So far, so good. I think having day one behind me makes it a bit easier now…
… Right now, at this moment, I’m feeling pretty good. I’ve been up for an hour, drinking coffee and playing on the computer as I always do, but without smoking. In fact, it’s only crossed my mind a few, short times that I’m not smoking. The rest of the time I’m. Just. Not. Thinking. About. It.
Aug. 8, 2006
… I mean, I’m really not going mad for a ciggy here. I won’t lie: I’d love one right now. But I know the dangers of “just one,” having gotten sober once, then after a few years deciding I could have “just one” which then led to three years of being blotto 24/7. If I have just one, not only will I flip the switch back on, but I’ll also rationalize why I can have a second. (“Well, I already had one, so I’ve fucked it up, I might as well buy a pack for today, and get back to quitting tomorrow.”)
… My Dad will be 65 this month, and I hope to still be smoke-free by his birthday. When I tell him, I’m sure he’ll tell me that’s the best birthday present. He quit in January 2004, after maybe forty years of smoking (he quit for a few years in the 80s and took up jogging, then relapsed). When I’d go visit, it was painfully obvious to everyone how much I smoked, because I’d have to put on my shoes and go outside. He got to the point of begging me to quit, almost in tears. I’m sure this will make him happy; it’s one of the many reasons I’m doing this, and yet another reason to hang on.
Aug. 9, 2006
… I’ve done most of the cigarette-trigger things several times over without smoking: morning computer/coffee time, finishing meals, walking outside, waiting for the bus, going to class, sorting the laundry (yes, I’d smoke while doing that), watching TV, settling into bed, and most crucially, waking up. I really thought that mornings would be the worst, but they’re not. I’m not missing it nearly as much as I thought I would. This seems to be working.
Aug. 10, 2006
… I’m sleeping later into the morning. Usually I start having small awakenings around 5 or 6 a.m., and then by 9 I’ll get up. The past few days I’ve been getting up closer to 11. And in the evenings, I’m having these on-and-off naps in front of the TV that unlike my usual naps don’t keep me up later than my usual bedtime.
Aug. 13, 2006
GO ME! I haven’t had a cigarette in a whole week!
Aug. 16, 2006
… Yesterday wasn’t the best. I didn’t have cravings per se, but there were a few moments in the day where it seemed like I had reverted and was expecting a cigarette, and had to remind myself. Like I’d sit down at the computer and my mind would go, time to light up, and then I’d see there was no pack and no lighter and no ashtray. This might explain why I had my first smoking dream last night. Drinking dreams are common, and I still have them every so often. I don’t recall actually smoking in the dream, but rather realizing I had smoked, and had a pack on me, and wondering what to do with the rest of it. I’m also having moments where I nearly panic over not having smoked for so long, as if it’s something I should be doing. But this is all part of the emotional crap that goes with my giving up something that I’d done for eighteen years. I’ve moved from the initial elation at having been able to go through with it to a sense of mourning. It will pass, but it’s a very strange feeling.
Aug. 20, 2006
Two weeks without a cigarette! I almost forgot, which is a good thing, because I want to get to that day when the very idea of smoking no longer exists in my mind.
Sept. 6, 2006
Today I entered my second month of not smoking. Ninety percent of the time, I don’t miss it. It’s like I’ve forgotten I ever smoked. Example: when sitting on the couch watching TV, sometimes I’ll look to the end table on my right, and remind myself there used to be an ashtray there, usually with a ciggie burning away. And I can’t believe that I used to pollute the air like that!
Sept. 14, 2006
I’ve figured out why I’ve had so many I-want-a-cigarette moments lately: school. I’m suddenly back in another major trigger setting. Smoking on the way to school, having another cigarette before class, having a cigarette after class, smoking on the way home and then lighting up again as soon as I got in… I’m almost over it, though. The only positive thing about the school-smoking combination is it provides a situation where you can introduce yourself to classmates who are also outside smoking. Leaving class and going right home feels like I’m missing a social opportunity. So I’ll just make friends in class. And it’s nice to not have to frantically chew gum and wash my hands before going into the classroom so that I don’t stink as bad. (I’m sure I did anyway.)
Oct. 8, 2006
Two months since I last smoked!
And then I stop posting about it. It’s weird: reading those entries in fact doesn’t make it all come back to me. I really do think I’ve blocked the quitting process out of my mind as much as I’ve blocked out smoking itself. It’s quite fascinating how that worked out for me.
My Dad did say my quitting was the best birthday present he could have ever wished for. I did learn to make friends in class instead of outside smoking. And the very idea of smoking no longer enters my mind.