Giving up smoking seemed like a good idea, and when I set the date months ago I didn’t for one second think the date would actually arrive and I would have to go ahead with it.
Having smoked for all of my adult life well since I was 18, I thought it was time that I took the plunge as many do each year and say it out loud. Admittedly I didn’t tell many people but the few I told counted, I mean they would be keeping a close eye on me.
As a child I always despised smoking I hated my parents for smoking, constantly reminding them how they could die and leave us children alone to fend for our selves, sliding pictures of tarred up lungs and cancerous deathly looking patients under their noses to help them see light.
My brother started when he was a teenager so I also had to hate him for it, which wasn’t so hard as we had got used to be angry at each other for any reason. The three of us started to smoke, I succumbed at college, wearing my dungarees, flat cap and old mans shirts I suppose it went well with my image. Of course I loved the Marlboro design and knew they were one of the strongest cigarettes on the market which also added to the attraction, they were dangerous and if I smoked them in my flat cap and dungarees I would also be considered as dangerous, hard, accepted by the masses as a girl who could smoke the hard stuff, not to be messed with.
New Years Eve, I was set to smoke as many as I could, to maybe make myself so sick of cigarettes surely it would make life easier, I wouldn’t be able to ever face them again. A close friend of mine Deny had also agreed to give up New Years day although Deny has given up many times in the past so in my mind I wasn’t 100% sure if she meant it or not. I knew I was thinking that because I had never attempted to give up before it some how meant that me saying I was going to give up was so much more serious than anyone who had tried and failed in the past. I am not sure why I thought this but figured it was only a good thin that I was taking myself seriously. I hadn’t heard from my sister having quietly asked her to give up with me, she hadn’t really got back to me so I felt a compulsion to track her down I needed to know was she in or out.
Rather than put her on the spot I sent her a text she soon responded apologising and wishing me all the best. All sorts of thoughts rushed through my mind in that moment, could her not giving up somehow give me a reason to not give up? How could she do this to me? I am jumping the sinking ship asking her to come with me and she has chosen to stay. I am so tempted to get on the phone and lecture her on why I think she should give up but soon realise it is pointless, I know that I can only give up when I am ready and the same goes for her. I just send her a ‘ x ‘ back hoping it says enough. My heart sinks a little, but soon I get distracted with friends and celebrations. I can smoke all I like, tomorrow is another day.
I warn everyone that it will start from when I wake up on New Years Day not from when the clock strikes midnight. I stay up until 4.30am sucking the last few smokes out of my tiny shrivelled up rolly, knowing that sooner or later I have to acknowledge that I have just smoked the last one.
January 1st – I was so tempted to get out of bed in the early early hours just to try and get another cigarette in my system. People have asked me what I am going to use, patches, vapour, gum, surely I am not going to go it alone? Once I wake up it is about midday I feel a bit sick and my head is tender but not as bad as I expected it to be. The house is quiet apart from the snores I leave behind in the bed.
The two things I was dreading having to deal with was getting out of bed as a non smoker and having to deal with the new kittens cat litter tray.
As soon as I get downstairs I peruse the scene, the lounge and kitchen had been tided, the cats had been fed and everything washed up and cleared away. This meant only one thing to me, Deny was not going to give up, this was code for her not giving up today. She had left before we had surfaced and had made the house spotless which is completely out of character and as much as I love her knew my suspicions were true when I noticed my lighter had been taken.
In the centre of the table there lay my Golden Virginia, my papers, my filters but no lighter. I think I let out an audible sigh as I numbly picked it all up and slowly but surely went through to the kitchen opened the bin and dumped all my smoking paraphernalia. I paused for a moment looking at it in the bin knowing I could easily take it out again but chose not to. Today was day one, I had to at least get through that!
I knew I had to make changes, change my routine, not do things the same so my mind wouldn’t associate my behaviour with my normal smoking habits. I have found I am eating a lot, even when I am not hungry and still I want to put things in my mouth. The evening arrives this is the time I am dreading as my smoking habits are as follows, I smoked in the evening, or when I had a drink in the other hand, if I was nervous about something, smoked after a good meal and around other smokers.
I had a bath to think about my strategy, and to reinforce all of those thoughts of good health, saving money and not dying relatively young with a tumour the size of a cauliflower hanging round my neck.
I didn’t text Deny I didn’t want to know, I didn’t want her to tell me I was on my own. Of course in reality I know that hundreds, thousands of people would be going through the same thing but even though you know that you do feel this odd sense of being alone with it. Ultimately it is only me alone which can do this, on my own. It does has a strange sense of fear attached to it, a feeling of what do I do now. Even though that must sound ridiculous like any relationship you miss it, you pine for it.
Having rolled my own for years I knew it was not only going to be breaking the addiction to the horrible nasties which I had to break but also my habit of rolling. I was a pro! I could do it with one hand whilst driving, I made beautifully crafted roll ups, I was proud of them, so smooth, easy to smoke the perfect size and shape. What would my fingers do now, press buttons, type? Yes I could type, it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t really make sense, or if no one is interested. It might help, oh and tomorrow I am going to get some gum.
January 2nd – So I made it through the first day and evening, for me it is the evening which matters. I did it, I got through it and I slept. Deny sent me a text asking me how I was getting on, I responded asking her the same. As I suspected she admitted she had continued to smoke but has given up today. It is funny how it all matters but you know in the big scheme of things it doesn’t. So I just sent a text offering mutual words of support and hoped deep down she meant what she said.
I went to Tesco to get some gum it was on sale £2.50 cheaper, I decided to go for the 4mg gum which I popped in my mouth as soon as we left the store. Jeeeez that stuff is strong, it made me cough and felt like it was burning the back of my throat. My daughter then read the back of the packet as I should have done and pointed out that this particular gum is for people who smoke 20-40 a day I smoked between 5-10 a day. Oh, god does this mean I am making things worse, adding to my addiction by upping the Nicotine intake?
I decided as long as I was sensible and didn’t have lots of them I would be okay and anyway I didn’t want to waste £8.00. In Tesco I stood next to a man who reeked of fags really badly, it was so strong I wanted to put my hand over my nose but didn’t as we were standing next to each other looking at the reduced items and thought he might notice. It was a good reminder of how disgusting it smells, I could have done with a pocket version of that each time I weaken smell the smokey man.
January 3rd – Last night I struggled a bit stayed up late taking photographs which is good as I wanted to practice a couple of things with my flash. However when I got into bed I started to fantasise about how it might feel rolling one, the crispy white fragile paper, the smell of the fresh tobacco the accuracy of the roll….I knew I had to stop thinking this way, I thought about it a bit longer and then stopped trying to focus on what jobs I had to get done tomorrow, how I was going to organise my day.
This morning I woke up and ate another piece of gum, after my throat had calmed down I drank tea and ate my breakfast. I am considering going to see a nurse at the local surgery but I really don’t think they will be able to offer me anything. I don’t fancy being patronised on a weekly basis by a total stranger, my friends can do that. Tonight I am working so I think it will pass fairly smoothly. I know when my hurdle will come it will be before my next Wedding. Saturday, this Saturday is my next Wedding, usually just before I go I have three roll ups in a row. Then I am ready to go, I am leaving it open I don’t have to make any plans just keep moving and thinking forwards not back.
January 4th – So last night I had a meeting with a couple about their Wedding, just peeking out from behind some beautiful flowers in the centre of their big wooden farmhouse table was an open packet of Golden Virginia. I tried to pretend I hadn’t seen it and focus my thoughts on the job in hand but inside I was screaming ” Nooooooooooooooo, I am not ready to see it”.
I realise that I will have to one day mix with others who smoke, but I really feel that I am not ready for that just yet. So there will be certain people that I will have to communicate with at a distance for now, I am sure they will understand. Last night I was so close to justifying a way to start smoking again, my new plan was to only smoke when I have to as an emergency measure then to stop again after the event. To me this makes perfect sense and it is still an option which I am keeping in mind. If I can keep it as a thought it is less final, easier to deal with, a cop out.
When I got home last night the voice inside my head the one from the ‘dirty little smoker’ was shouting at me, ” you want a cigarette ” over and over again. I verbalised my thoughts and luckily my teenage daughter talked some sense into me and we had a discussion about those grotesque cancerous growths, the ones you see on tobacco packets. It always helps.
I felt very fidgety last night and my daughter confirmed that I was being a ratty, it’s a niggle and gnaw a scratchy little aggravation which keeps coming into your head. Sleep didn’t come easily and when it did I felt my night was full of tossing and turning,I woke up in a hot sweat not sure what I was dreaming and yes it might be my age but also it could be ‘ cold turkey ‘ how apt.
I appreciate all the comments and support people are giving me through Twitter and Facebook especially comments by those who are still trying to quit or have tried to quit several times. I notice a cough has started too, apparently this is due to the tiny fine hairs ( which I usually burn to smithereens smoking )at the back of my throat growing back. I haven’t contacted Deny as I am worried she may have started smoking again and it will only give me another pathetic excuse to start again. I am becoming quite adept at creating reasons as to why I should start again, I think it’s okay if my mind is thinking these things as long as I don’t act on them. Time for gum…
I just ordered a ‘Quit Kit’ from the NHS, even though I can get one from the chemist up the road I took the easier option of not having to talk to anyone about it. It looks a bit like a children’s goody bag you would get at a party just as colourful but probably a lot less interesting – http://smokefree.nhs.uk/?&gclid=CKj71Muetq0CFaEhtAodjiyXng
January 5th – Omg! Breaking news…I can’t believe my friend Deny called in this morning, I had to come clean about the Blog as I felt she had the right to know that she has been written about. I asked her about how she is getting on not smoking and she admitted to me coyly that she hadn’t in fact stopped at all, shocked I had to accept the harsh truth. These past few days when I thought she was with me, she was in fact puffing her head off! Grrr now I want a cigarette.
Luckily her visit was short so she left before sparking up (with my lighter). Back to checking emails, focusing on work and chewing gum and eating more than usual.
January 6th – I have put off writing today’s entry as to be completely honest I have been so very sorely tempted to smoke. I thought I would be in the house alone tonight so I was planning to smoke sneakily behind everyone’s back and then later ‘ fess up ‘ after the event.
Although my day has been full with photography stuff and also having lunch with a dear friend ( a non smoker )I have been thinking about smoking a lot. It’s only day 6 and I am thinking I am going to bore people to tears about smoking and my battle with it. I know the key is to keep busy and try and think about other things as well as changing my routines and just take it one day at a time.
I had an interesting conversation with a contact I have made on Twitter today ( @GerritDeventer ) which came about partly because of this Blog, although now I have learnt via Gerrit that this is not an active Blog so it means people cannot comment which is not very helpful when I find feedback so useful.
I will look at moving this to a page on my Lindsay Wakelin Photography Blog or maybe start a new one, watch this space. Always things to improve on and think about when you are self employed. So, fingers crossed I will not smoke tonight as my daughter will be around so that’s the decider. Still no help pack from the NHS.
January 9th – OVER THE WEEKEND I SMOKED!!!!!!!!!!! NOW BACK ON TRACK, BACK TO THE GUM. HANGS HEAD IN SHAME. Nuff said.
Lindsay Wakelin – Jan 10, 2012
January 10th – Still no sign of my ‘ Quit kit ‘ from the NHS which is a bit rubbish considering I need their help now. No smoking today, focused on work and gum which I seemed to eat quite a lot of today. I will have to be careful as it comes with it’s own side effects! I have spoken to my sister and we have decided when we next meet we can go for a swim and so avoid ‘the smoking issue’. My daughter was horrified to find out that I had smoked over the weekend so I had to spend time explaining myself, it’s difficult for her to understand I couldn’t really justify my actions only give poor excuses as to why I felt I had weakened. Thinking about starting running again which is a good thing, might take me some time to actually do it. I have lost my small head phones, it’s essential that I have my music…off to ebay.
Lindsay Wakelin – Jan 11, 2012
Still no NHS help pack, still not smoking. Drinking more alcohol, eating more food and definitely sleeping less.
Lindsay Wakelin – Jan 12, 2012
I am now finding writing about it is reminding me more and making me think about smoking more. I think I will leave it a few days before writing again. I was supposed to see my sister today but she managed to pull the front of her car off in a car park, she is okay but her cars not. I decided to carry on with my Wedding photo editing. I have to remind my daughter to praise me each day for not smoking and then I tell her to stop as she sounds disingenuous. I am moody, basically moodier than usual, had a touch of road rage swearing to myself quietly in the car when someone just pulled out without notice. I got frustrated in a queue and had dark thoughts about the man in front of me who had just pushed in because he had one item. I like to ask people if they would like to go ahead of me, he didn’t give me a chance and then when I got in I nearly trod on one of the cats again. Instead I went flying as to not hurt them, she just sat there staring. Signing off now.