In my previous post, The History of My Worst Habit I detailed to you my history with smoking. If you didn’t read that post, I suggest that you do. However, if you want to get right to the point, you need to know that I’ve been smoking a pack a day for nearly 21 years. I have had previous quit attempts, but those will be detailed here.
You can’t begin to understand the state of my mind about quitting smoking, until I share with you what I’ve been through to quit. And, I’ve decided to be brutally honest, because that’s the only way that I can help others in my situation. Negativity will not be allowed in the comments. I don’t need it, and those trying to quit in my same circumstances won’t need it either. I’m writing these pots because I want to help.
My First Attempt to Quit Smoking
Though I’m sure this was not actually my first attempt, I’m going to call it that because it is the first one I can remember and therefore, obviously the most significant.
I was 6 months away from having Lap-Band surgery, and I was required to quit smoking to have the surgery. I knew this going into my my pre-op appointments and had done some research on how I planned on quitting. There are all the usual methods…. patches, gum, nicotine replacement, cold turkey, and of course, pills.
By this time, Chantix was on the market and I began reading a lot of reviews and reports on the medication. Because I loved my cigarettes at this point, and I knew it was going to take something serious for me to quit. And, because I was working with several doctors to have my surgery, I figured one of them would be more than happy to prescribe it for me.
I was right. My primary care doctor, the first doctor I asked, was more than happy to write a script out faster than I could ask the question.
My Experience with Chantix
I began taking Chantix within the week. I followed the routine exactly which was the 1 week of the starter pack, while still smoking. After the first week, I quit smoking and continued to take the pills for another month and a half. However, the prescription was for 3 months.
It was easy to walk away from the cigarettes. In fact I pushed myself to smoke the whole week because I wanted to work the program exactly. By the 3rd day on Chantix, I was ready to ditch smoking. And, my transition to being smoke free was easy. I relished in smelling like my perfume for the entire day, being complimented on “smelling good,” not smoking around my kid (Zadey was 3 at the time), not needing to have a quick cigarette after getting out of a store. It was pure heaven.
Because I was confident in my ability to stay-quit, I stopped taking the Chantix after 1 ½ months. I remained smoke free for a little more than 6 months.
Chantix Side Effects
There are a lot of reported side effects with Chantix. But, I just want to say, not all of them happen to all people. I got the crazy dreams, but I actually kind of liked them. I’m not someone who remembers dreams so I’m quite content having crazy vivid dreams.
Other than the dreams, my skin was dry and blotchy. Easily combated with coconut oil or serious moisturizer. And, finally, for about 30 minutes after taking each pill I felt a bit queasy. Nothing too serious though.
Nothing was too serious that I would not have taken Chantix.
Why I Started Smoking Again
This could turn in to a long story, and I’ll try to make it brief. Later the same year I took Chantix I entered the hospital with the worst headache I have ever had. What followed was a long month stay while I went through a series of tests and figuring out what was wrong with me.
Ultimately, we got the diagnosis I was looking for. However, one of the things that was suggested is that Chantix caused this problem and I should try smoking a cigarette to see if it would alleviate my symptoms. I smoked, though I didn’t want to. It didn’t fix the problem, either. When I got home from the hospital I knew that the pack that had been purchased for me to smoke was there. And my mom was there smoking. It was the perfect storm for me to start again.
My Second Attempt at Quitting Smoking
On February 14, 2012 I confirmed that I was pregnant. And after the shock and excitement wore off I immediately had dread knowing I had to quit smoking. A smoking pregnant woman is not something I wanted to be seen as. Nor did I want to do that to my unborn baby (now I know, it was babies).
During this time I spent a lot of time in the What to Expect Pregnancy Forums and I was so thankful when another expecting mom asked the question I dreaded “do anyone have any suggestions on how I should quit smoking?”
There was the normal backlash and people said what they wanted, but there was real advice there too. I read every single answer, took in every single suggestion, and ultimately followed someone’s suggestion to read a book. And I know, reading a book sounds crazy. I did not think, not for a second, that I would actually quit smoking because I read a book.
But that same day, I downloaded the book to my Kindle. It’s called The Easyway To Stop Smoking by Allen Carr.
What’s fascinating about this book is that, for the first time, someone actually digs in to the psychology of quitting smoking and puts it in words you understand. So for the book you’re saying things to yourself like “yep!” “uh huh.” and “that makes sense!” By the end of the book, when it’s suggested that you now quit, you only have to ask yourself one question “why in the hell am I doing this to myself?” And it really is easy to quit smoking.
With the exception of a few occasional cigarettes with my family, absolutely in private, I quit smoking during my pregnancy. And I would have remained that way until I gave myself an excuse to start again. That excuse was leaving the hospital, after delivering my sons, without them. That strain on my body and heart that day was all I could take. When my sister picked me up to take me home, I couldn’t help but to grab one of her cigarettes and begin smoking, hoping it’d ease my pain.
My Final Attempt at Quitting Smoking
Since I began smoking again, 14 months ago, I have wanted nothing more than to quit for good. The guilt of having my twins smell smoke on me is almost more than I can bare. But my own selfish need has been put before them, and I hate that about myself. I hate that Zadey doesn’t know what it’s like to not have a mom that doesn’t smoke. I hate that she’ll remember me as a smoker.
Going in to this round of quitting smoking, I knew that I had to have the ultimate plan in place. My perfect storm to quit. And when I thought about it, this is what I concluded I needed.
- First, I have to read the book again. I need to be reminded of all the dumb excuses I give myself to smoke and why they are not true.
- Second, I need Chantix again. It worked well the first time and I need the strength to back me up. I need something that is literally going to force my hand to quit.
- Finally, I need to take advantage of the fact that I’m living in Indiana, 3200 miles away from all the smokers in my family. I know no one out here and of the people I don’t know, they all don’t smoke. I have to take advantage of being the lone smoker.
When I combine all these factors I give myself the logic and reasoning I need to quit. The medical willpower that I want to make quitting easier. And, finally, the ability to keep smoke out of my life, which is really big for me. I will relapse in the first month or so if I’m with a smoker. After that time period, I believe I’m okay.
I got in touch with a doctor here in Indiana and begun taking Chantix last week. Today I am 2 days smoke free and I can promise you, thanks to my mentality that this IS the last time I’ll ever need to quit, I’m done. My perfect storm is the perfect storm. I found the right combination I needed to make it happen.
You Can Quit, Too
Whatever your circumstances are, whatever your reason is to quit, you can do it — and I believe in you. Use whatever method you think will work, and take the plunge. You can do it.
If you are an ex-smoker, happily living life as a non-smoker, please share in the comments below what you did to quit smoking. And please, provide encouragement for those reading who may be ready to quit!