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Stoptober: the ugly truth about quitting

Writer: Christine Lee

I am a firm believer that if you have all the facts, and know what to expect, you can pretty much do anything. I mean, if you had all the facts for an exam and a copy of all the questions that would be asked, you’d definitely pass, provided you put in the work to learn how to answer those questions.

For some reason though, we are not a society which allows people to have all the facts before undertaking a task. An example of this is childbirth: how many of you knew that the woman is extremely likely to poop when she’s in labour? (The statistics of fathers pooping in the delivery room is probably just as high though, to be fair). Or that headrests in cars are made to be able to break your car window in an emergency? There is a wealth of information at our fingertips that is always glossed over as being unpleasant to talk about. In all fairness, who wants to talk about poop or crashing cars?

There is one thing people always talk about, and you’ll know all about it if you are a smoker. Quitting. People tell you to quit all the time, and your grandmother will ask you every Tuesday if you’ve quit yet.

Honestly, it’s only right that people nag you about it, at the very least it means they care about you enough to nag. Smoking is one of the worst things that you can consciously do to your health, but you know that already. You already know the bad, and for some reason, you still haven’t managed to take the leap, and if you have, it just hasn’t quite held yet. If you’re one of the determined ones and quit permanently, then wow, I’m in awe. Good for you. But, a lot of us haven’t taken the leap yet, for whatever reason.

Well, let me tell you that I’m an expert on the leap. I’ve quit smoking at least ten times in the last three years, and every experience has been a little bit different.

However, this time, I’m more confident than ever, because I knew what to expect, and I was prepared. That’s what I want to explain today. How to be prepared. You know it’s going to be extremely hard, but that is probably all you know. What exactly makes it hard? Obviously, cravings, but we have everything possible to stave those off, so what makes it so hard?

Okay, the worst for me is the coughing. It starts, for me anyway, after the first 24 hours. It is like you’ve never coughed in your life and you’ve been saving them all for this day. So, if you are embarking on a quitting journey, make sure that you have enough cough-bottle. This time around I learned that I would have been better off with drowsy cough bottle, because sleep eluded me for the night, which stressed me out enough to almost give up giving-up again. So, when you do plan on quitting, even if you have the perfect amount of cough bottle, (and tissues: dear God buy plenty of tissues!), maybe do it on a weekend when you won’t have much to do the morning of the second day.

The next thing you need is a back-up plan. You might have decided to go cold turkey, or maybe you’re planning on using the patch. Whatever you choose, don’t be left in a difficult situation where your option just isn’t suiting you. Your first plan of the patch might work all morning, and then you’re almost seventeen hours in and your throat just wants something there and then. That’s when your back up plan will save you. This time around, I am using the patch, Nicorette’s inhaler and nicotine chewing gum. I use them depending on what my body tells me I need, and it is really helping.

Temptation will be all around you. Be prepared for that. Every time I have quit before, I have unfortunately had access to money, and it led me to buying rollies. This time, I locked all my money away into the credit union, and since I quit on a Friday afternoon, I will have already been past the hardest part, the first three days, before I gain access to my money again. Obviously, I did not leave myself short of the things I needed. I bought enough food and drink for the weekend before I did that. Stock up on some snacks too: I, for one, am a comfort eater, and have had plenty of snacks in the interim to allow myself to binge on, (the diet starts next week––promise). This is too important, and my will power needs to be focused entirely on quitting. If you have a vice for coffee, or for ice-cream or anything else it might be, allow yourself to indulge in those vices for the first week, then you can focus on calming them again.

If you are using the patch, be careful where you put it. The thing falls off more often than not depending on where it is. Tonight, at work, it started at the top of my arm and two hours later I found it in my bra! (Don’t ask – I honestly do not know how that happened, it’s not like I was rubbing my arm to boob while working). The place I found it fell off least was on my arm, under my shoulder facing outwards (not my armpit, obviously, the other side – though that might explain the bra thing a bit better). It’s the spot that doctors usually put injections in. Even then, long sleeves would be best. Also, don’t wear it when you’re asleep. You don’t smoke when you sleep so don’t build up a nicotine addiction for that time. It’s the only time you’ll have some peace. When you do go to sleep though, make sure you have a new one ready the second you wake up, so that you don’t give your body time to crave your morning cigarette. This is also where the inhalers or chewing gum comes in handy, because they are instant relief.

Also, the patch burns. I mean wow. It’s like putting a lighting cigarette right up to your skin and leaving it there. It itches and burns like nothing I’ve ever felt, so be ready for that. If it starts to get too much though, or you start to break out in a rash, maybe see your doctor and stop using them, (clearly, this is the legally required bit).

Don’t use e-cigarettes or vapors or any of those. It’s just as hard to quit those as it is to quit cigarettes, and so they aren’t worth it, (plus, do you really want to be like those hipster teeny boppers who think you can’t be cool unless one of those things are hanging out of your mouth).

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that quitting is hard. Something will go wrong one way or another, but the more you’re prepared for, and the more you know, the more likely you are to be successful. The first three days are the worst, the absolute worst. Don’t be like me and become an expert on the subject by going through the first three days more than once. Then, once you’re on the fourth day, you can relish in the fact that it will get easier from here on out. That’s a feeling I’m seriously looking forward to. Three flights of stairs without having a mini heart attack, here I come!

Stoptober might be the excuse you need to quit this time, but it’s important that you have decided you’re done. It’s important that you’ve decided that you want to quit for you.

If you are going to quit, just keep this in mind:

You are in control, you are deciding, you can do anything you put your mind to. Don’t give up. Be the best you that you can be. Don’t prove it to your grandmother. Don’t prove it to the naggers. Prove it to yourself, because at the end of the day, you’re the only one you’re stuck with forever, so don’t let yourself down.

Also, if in doubt, talk to your doctor, (I wasn’t even told to put this part in, I’m just a genius who could foresee its need).