Sunday, December 30, 2007

Quitter!

non-smoker.jpgYou've said it before, I'm quitting smoking this year.

But, then you didn't. You couldn't. You just . . .

It's freaking hard!

I read this article in Oprah Magazine by Stephanie Losee, titled The Willpower Myth. It was based on a book Change or Die: The Three Keys to Change at Work and in Life.

Change or Die.

When you're a smoker those are literally your choices. You can change and become a non-smoker if you want to live. Or you can choose to keep smoking and live with the consequences: emphysema, lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, severely damaging your children. . . oh the list of negatives for smoking just never ends. They keep coming up with more and more reasons to quit smoking.

Let's face it - this is not new information for you. What will be different this time?

Chantix: it's a little blue miracle in pill form. It won't make it exactly easy to quit smoking but it will take you from the depths of hell into simple doable purgatory - which changes everything. Because when it was hell, you couldn't do it. Now that it's only purgatory - well, now you can be a quitter. Go get a prescription - you have nothing to lose.

Relationship: You need support and I'm a been-there -done- that kind of girl. I quit smoking in 2007 and I want to help you quit smoking in 2008. If you think you've got it worse than I did - read I Suck. Feel free to stop by day or night for any support you need.

Repeating: this probably isn't the first time you've quit smoking - so you're going to be better at it this time. All the other times were just practice. And you know what they say about practice.

Reframing: This may be the most important thing you're going to do for yourself. You're going to change your thinking. You're going to do whatever corny thing you have to in order to change your thinking. One thing that worked for me was to write I Am A Non-Smoker on my wrist and my bathroom mirror. I did it for months. Corny? Yes. But, who cares if it's effective?

You can do this. 2008 is your year.

Be a quitter!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Party Holiday

Yes, well we all know Christmas was stressful - but it's a family holiday.

Next Tuesday is New Year's and if it hasn't occurred to you - it's about to occur to you that you might be around more alcohol and ... cigarettes on New Year's Eve. New Year's Eve is a Party Holiday.

Here's the thing. I know that low and mournful feeling of thinking of yourself staying home from the party and missing all that fun and excitement. But. . .

Well. Maybe you've outgrown it.

You're in a very tender period at the moment. Vulnerable to relapse.

Your mind is telling you that perhaps, now that you haven't smoked for a bit, that you could maybe be a social smoker and only smoke on the big holidays or nights out on the town.

Fact: You can not.

IF you were a social smoker you would not need Chantix to quit smoking. IF you were at all capable of socially smoking you would not need support or medical intervention to quit.

ADDICTS need medical intervention and social support to quit smoking. ADDICTS have crossed a line - the line between being capable of controlling a substance or having a substance control them.

See the difference?

Because you have crossed the line you can never, ever go back.

Smoking will never and can never be casual or social for you. You're not like the others who never took it up seriously.

The sooner you accept that - the sooner you can free yourself from the self-made prison of addiction.

If you are one of the blessed Chantix users you may have noticed that other addictive urges have been quelled. You no longer feel the urge to drink alcohol, maybe your desire for coffee is lessened. Maybe you're not wishing you had a Xanex, pain pill or donut. Maybe, just maybe, the Chantix is being more of a dopamine blocking miracle than you thought.

If you're feeling no urge to drink - don't do it.
If you're feeling like you'll smoke if you go to the party - don't go.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I Told You

I told you you could make it through Christmas without smoking.

Of course you could.

I knew it all along.

As a reward, every Christmas from here on out will be smoke-free. And by free I mean free of thoughts of smoking too. By next Christmas you'll be a full fledged non-smoker who doesn't think about smoking. Cause why would you? Non-smokers don't think about smoking.

Now that you've made it through the stress of the Holidays . . .

You can make it through anything.

Right?

Right.

Pat yourself on the back please. You did very, very well.

And if you cheated - well, a lapse isn't a relapse. You quit again today. Right?

Right.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Downsize the Holidays

Don’t let the Holidays stress you out.

  • Prozac $12
  • Zoloft $86
  • Xanex $4

I actually saw that sign at a pharmacy this year.

That's the way I (we?) USED to do things. Let the stress run my life until I needed pills and smokes and drinks to cope. But, doing things that way resulted in me going to rehab for a Xanex addiction several years ago over Christmas (no kidding) and smoking for 20 years to cope with the stress of life.

Now, I'm learning to eliminate more stress than I can handle. Where I used to spend Christmas buying gifts for everyone on the planet and putting crappy presents no one needs on credit cards that would take me till March 3 years later to pay back - now I simply refuse.

I used to run from the Christmas Eve Communion ceremony from my husband's family does to my Grandma's White Elephant Gift Party to the Playing Santa all night to the Opening Presents on Christmas morning to the In-law Christmas Party for lunch to the Grandma's Christmas Dinner to the falling exhausted into my bed.

No freaking wonder I needed a smoke to keep up the pace!

Yes, I boycotted extended family Christmas giving. I sent out an email far in advance simply stating that we were not participating in gift-giving. Period. I later agreed to participate in a $10 white elephant gift exchange on his side. On my side, my siblings and I agreed to give to one family per year.

I also restructured what I am willing to do as far as party-going. No, I will not go to 3 houses and run myself ragged. Schedule your party on a different day if you'd like us to attend.

Which resulted in a Sunday party at my Grandmother's for a white elephant exchange. A Christmas Eve daytime party at my mother-in-laws for a White Elephant Exchange.

At the last minute my husband wanted to throw in an extra church service.

No, honey, I don't want to attend more events. Too many activities make me cranky and tired and I'm already at my limit.

Christmas is all to ourselves in our new home watching our children play with their new toys. And nearly all of them I bought at garage sales so I need not use a credit card.

I realize it's Christmas Eve and a little too late to be boycotting this year. However, if you're looking at that sign and thinking you'd like a Xanex or a smoke, then after the meals are eaten and the presents opened is a wonderful time to have a chat about downsizing next year's Christmas gifting and events.

Learning to say no is a great way to reduce stress.

I hope you have a lovely smoke-free Holiday.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Foggy Brain

Foggy head is totally normal when you first quit (Nancy and others).

Think of it this way: you're brain is programed to think with a cigarette between your synapses.

Like this thought + smoke = completion of thought. You spent a lot of your time thinking while smoking or holding off decisions until you could smoke or hurrying to do something so you could go smoke. You've trained your brain to use smoking in the process of thinking.

You're entire brain is going to have to be retrained to think and process thought without smoking. And Chantix can't do that for you.

It is very frustrating in the beginning, but a brain retrains itself pretty quickly. In about two months you'll feel like you can think better than before.

In the meantime, avoid major decisions, cut yourself lots of slack, forgive everyone including yourself and realize that this will pass.

You might speed the process of brain building by taking up a new skill that requires learning something new like knitting, sudoku, video games or yoga. This will help your brain build new bridges between thoughts.

Hold on to your ass and distract yourself, in other words.

Friday, December 21, 2007

New Year's Resolution

One top New Year's Resolution for people is to quit smoking. Who hasn't made this resolution and failed? Maybe 2008 should be your year for success.

I have to report - having succeeded at quitting smoking in 2007 - that it was one of the hardest and most painful resolutions I've ever accomplished. I am so thrilled to be free of that monster! I want that for you too.

I'm just saying, with the invention of Chantix in 2007 making it so much easier - maybe you're ready to quit smoking.

One of our quitters, Brandie, says her first day of not smoking will be Christmas Eve. What a wonderful time - she'll be birthing a new self with new habits and new coping strategies.

Call your doctor. Get the prescription. Say good-bye to smoking and hello to freedom from smoking.

This is it for you Phillip Morris. You've tricked teenagers and seduced the young for much too long. It's time we grew up - it's time we took back our lives.

There really is NO good side to smoking. Not a single, solitary benefit.

Quit justifying and just quit. If you haven't done it already - make Jan. 1, 2008 your day of rebirth.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Moving Day


We just bought our first home.

It didn't hurt our savings and our ability to put a down payment on a house to quit spending $5-$10 a day on smokes. Duh, what a freaking waste of money that was.

This is a place with no smoking memories. I have never stepped out on the front porch to smoke here. Or hidden an emergency cigarette above the door or in my husband's closet. A fresh start is always nice.

A friend of my husband's came to help us move and had to take multiple smoke breaks. I wasn't even tempted to steal away with him and smuggle drags off his cigarette.

Why?

I'm free of that prison of my own making. I never want to chain myself to smoking again. It's a drain on both time and money. It's a drain on my emotional life and my connections to other people. It's a terrible example to my children and frankly, it might actually kill me.

His friend and I had a quitting conversation. You know, the same one you had a million times when you were trying to find any reason to keep your addiction going.

My doctor wouldn't give me the prescription.
Fire him. Get a new doctor.
I can't afford the prescription.
The prescription is cheaper than cigarettes.
I told my insurance I'm a non-smoker, they won't cover it.
Even if you go to a new doctor and pay full price for the visit, and then pay full price for the prescription for 3 months, it is still cheaper than the never-ending drain on your financial life that continuing to smoke is.
But, then I'd have to have the money all at once instead of $5 at a time.
Well, perhaps one day you'll be ready.

Thank God I was finally ready. Are you ready to be a quitter?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas - You Can Deal


Did you ever see a Norman Rockwell Painting where Santa was smoking? How about A Wonderful Life where Jimmy kept taking a break from his soul searching to take a drag? Do the kids ever complain that you had to postpone opening Santa's gifts because you had to have a smoke first?

Thank God all that is over this year. You will suck it up. You will. Even if you just barely quit smoking and you really want a cigarette first thing Christmas morning, vow now that you're not going to do it. You're going to have that Norman Rockwell painting - the one with happiness and no smoking. You're going to build the bike or put the Barbie Dream House together without a smoke break.

You're going to think only of Christmas PAST with a smoke, not Christmas present or future.

Why? Because you care enough about yourself and your family to do the hard things for them. Not just the easy thing. The really, really hard things - like quitting smoking. You deserve a Christmas future. Think of all the Christmases over a lifetime. There is only one - this one - where you have to suck it up and quit smoking. The rest of the Christmases left to you will be free if you pay the price today.

You're worth the price. Remember to take your deep breaths. If you want something to do with your hands - grab a camera. Don't drink the whistle tea or the egg nog if it's going to make you want to smoke. You deserve this kindness. You do.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Cough Medicine

Strange what things I now connect to smoking. Being sick and taking cough medicine.

You know how you would go to the doctor and tells you to stop smoking while you are sick. And you would think "right."

Of course I smoked when I was sick.

I'm finding my cravings are virtually gone until something associates me to smoking again.

Today it's being sick. Taking cough medication. It's making me want to smoke. Which was stupid the first time and even more stupid this time.

But, smoking has no more power over me. I don't smoke. I'll resist this left-over association and I will not feel the craving next time. That seems to be the way it's working - craving the first time, but then it's over. Sigh.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Itty Bitty Habit

Did you see that Oprah where the woman, Nancy, lost 530 pounds?

How? Support on the Internet. Genius.

David, the guy who lost 300 pounds said he did it by changing two habits - night eating and drinking soda.

Two itty-bitty habits. He changed those seemingly small things and bam "I feel like I've been freed from a prison of my own making," he reported.

When you decide to quit smoking you think you'll be changing one little thing. But, you can't because it effects your whole entire life.

Not only does that one little habit touch everything in your life, but when you achieve the goal of say, "Making it one whole day." (Which by the way is not a little goal but a massive goal.) You'll realize that one week is in your reach. Then a month.

Then you'll think, Hey, maybe I'll start going to the gym. You know, now that I can breath again.

And you'll be surprised that you can lose 10 pounds. Then you'll start drinking more water and less beer. You just don't feel like drinking as much anymore.

Maybe you'll start hanging out with your churchy Grandma more, because now you don't smell like shameful cigarettes.

Then one day you realize you're not thinking about smoking every day. You'll feel like you've been freed from a prison of your own making too. You'll wonder how you never realized you had the key the whole time.

You're thinking about what you're going to accomplish next. And now you know you can do anything because you quit smoking.

Be a Quitter!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Holiday Stress

Perhaps you're one of those people who gets stressed out around the holidays. Gee, I don't know why you would. . .

The big family gathering where the sister-in-law who ruined your kid's birthday party is going to be. The reunion with the brother who told your kid to shut up because the adults are talking last year. Or the very, very long drive you took with your three kids fighting in the back seat so they could hang out with the extended fam-damily for two lousy days before you got back in the car again.

Then there's Black Friday, where the retailers go into the black and you simultaneously go into the black hole of credit card debt.

God, you need a cigarette.

Except, no you don't.

Here's the thing about holiday stress . . . smoking doesn't cure it. Having that cigarette won't make it any easier to see your sister-in-law or forgive your brother.

The smoke isn't going to make the kids stop fighting during the long drive. It's not going to wipe away the tears you get when you say goodbye to your aging parents and you wonder if your grandmother will live long enough for you to visit again.

Smoking certainly won't make it easier to face the black hole of Christmas expenses - in fact, it only digs you deeper into that financial oblivion at $5-$7 a pack.

You could break down and have a cigarette because "you have to."

OR. . .

You could muster up the courage and pray that God will help you face family members you don't really want to see. You could spend your time talking with someone else. You could opt out of the gathering this year.

You could decide to skip the malls and stores and announce a low-key Christmas, enhanced by stress-free shopping on the Internet.

You could stop and buy each kid a hand-held video game to stop the fighting or stop at a park to let them play.

You could just feel the ache of saying good-bye and say everything you're afraid you won't have a chance to say if you wait too long. I love you, I miss you, I think about you all the time, I'll come again as soon as I can.

There never will be life without stress. If you keep doing the same thing - smoking - and expecting an impossible result (stress relief) you're perpetually disappointed and stressed out.

Try doing something different to see if you can get a different result. Hold fast to your quit and realize that while this year may feel harder, by next year you'll have new coping strategies that will make things easier.

The only way out is through.

You can totally do this. I know you can.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thankful to be Free

This is the first Thanksgiving where I didn't have to sneak off to smoke. Didn't have to creep out the back door and around the house like a fugitive.

Didn't have to lurk around finding a gas station that was open so I could buy enough to last the day.

I am go grateful that I'm not chained to any addictions anymore.

So grateful that they invented Chantix so I could finally be free of Philip Morris's hold on my life. I feel richer, healthier, more competent and blessed.

My life is one of optimism and freedom now.

Success not failure.

I love Thanksgiving.

I hope you felt as great as I did. And if you're still struggling - remember these feelings are just around the corner from the anger, remorse and grief you're going through now. There is light at the end of the tunnel and the air over here is worth the struggle.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Declare Your Quit Here

Today is the Great American Smoke Out. Hopefully, you're browsing around looking for a reason to quit. You already have a million of them.

Maybe now you just have to decide. Decide you're going to be a non-smoker and declare yourself a non-smoker.

Do that here. Please post how long you've been smoking and what's the reason you're deciding not to do it anymore.

Tell us what your quitting strategy is. I've been known to personally encourage people who want to quit smoking, so it's likely I'll respond.

You can totally do this. I know it.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Trashed Patches

I threw away the left over patches I had in my cabinet. I was saving them for the next time I failed at quitting smoking.

I finally believe I'm not going to be a failure now. I've had drinks and not smoked. I've been to bars and parties. I've had visits with my family. I've had stress and marital problems and friend dramas.

When I started the Chantix I had half a box of patches left. Those are expensive so I saved them - just in case the Chantix didn't work.

I truly believe I'm free of that horrible, terrible habit that somehow kept me trapped in all sorts of screwy thinking and addictive behaviors.

Good riddance to the nicotine patch and all other attachments to smoking.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Good Example

Are you really going to wear a helmet while riding your bike? my husband asked.

Of course, I am. I am a good example to my children. I don't smoke and I wear a helmet on my bike, I told him.

It is such a relief to know that I'm a good example to my children now. Their odds are so much better since I quit smoking.

No more guilt. What a relief for my soul.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Family Visit and Maturity

One of the stupidest excuses I ever used to keep smoking was that dealing with my family was too stressful.

It's only stupid in retrospect, while it was happening it seems like a legitimate, justifiable reason to quit quitting and keep smoking. Dealing with my family was "too much stress."

My coping strategies used to include smoking. Period. Without it, I would fall apart and not be able to communicate with people.

Smoking was really an excuse not to do any emotional work. Yeah, people are stressful. But, they are also delightful.

What did I miss all those years by having to step out of the room? The healing, the laughter, the reconciliation, learning to let stuff roll off my back, the understanding of another's position?

Yeah.

My family is in town and I don't know if it's because I no longer have to shamefully excuse myself to go smoke, or if quitting smoking forced me to create better emotional coping strategies, or if quitting smoking allowed me to let go of some kind of adolescent idea of my parents being nerdy weird burdens - but this isn't stressful. This is delightful.

In some way, continuing to smoke kept me in the same place I was when I started smoking - rebellious and childish. Now, I'm 34 years old and can see them in a different, more mature light.

This feels good. I'm so glad I let go of my teenage self by quitting smoking.

Anyone else experiencing this kind of freedom?

Monday, November 5, 2007

Addicted Forever?

Over on BlogFabulous my friend and fellow quitter Tara writes:

I just thought I would chime in on the mentioning of still craving a cigarette. My father, who smoked for 20 years and then quit cold turkey when I was young, once told me that he STILL wants a cigarette EVERY day. So, I think this will just be what it is like for us from now on. Only thing, I KNOW what that ONE will do to me…………it will turn into several and then into my whole pack a day again. I know we can all do it, and congrats to everyone!

Every freaking day! Dear Me, say it ain't true! Man, I feel sorry for that guy.

There is a version of hell that I recall from my youth. It's an argument against using addictive substances.

If you die addicted to something, you will spend eternity addicted to that very thing - only there won't be any of that thing in the afterlife.

Smoker - you die addicted to smoking, then for eternity you constantly crave cigarettes, but they don't exist in the afterlife.
Alcoholic - you die addicted to alcohol, then for eternity you always and forever want a drink, only that's a physical craving and you no longer have a physical body.

This applies to all addictions.

Now, whether this is actually true or not is debatable. But, what if it is? What if that's the addict's own personal hell created for themselves on earth, that they have to suffer with cravings that can never be satisfied for eternity? EE Gads!

It's an argument both for abstaining from all addictive substances in the first place. And an argument for conquering all addictions while we still have a physical self to overcome addiction. It's an argument for deciding NOT to die a smoker.

I find it slightly motivating. What about you? Do you think you might be able to find it motivating as well?

Saturday, November 3, 2007

End of Party

So, I've been off Chantix and smoke-free for quite a few months now.

When I turn at the gas station by my house - where I used to stop every day to buy the single cigarillos I allowed myself to cheat with, amidst the begging from my child to "please don't go buy any cigarettes Mommy!" I feel no temptation to stop. In fact, I don't ever want to buy gas or a drink there ever again. It's a source of shame.

But, after the 4th round at Wing Stop with good company last night - well, I wanted a cigarette then. I even contemplated picking up a butt off the ground. (Please, like you were above smoking a strangers butt in a pinch. Smoking is a humiliating addiction.)

But, I thought of going back to the nightmare of having to smoke and thought of how I hate feeling like a total failure all the time and how I hate being a negative influence on my children and all the real pain smoking causes.

I took a deep breath and chose not to smoke. Maybe at the end of the a great evening out I'll always want one. I hope eventually that will go away.

But, at the end of an evening seems to be when the tempting lie - you can have just one right now, no harm - rears it's deceptive head.

But, I don't believe those lies anymore. Do you?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Real Sorrow and Real Strength

A friend on Blog Fabulous reported her sorrow when one of her students committed suicide. Can she really not smoke to get through it?

Another friend reported on the same day that her husband was diagnosed with leukemia. Can she really not smoke through that?

She can. Both of them.

Real strength is realizing that smoking never solved a single problem. It never made you think more clearly, it never helped you cope with stress. Smoking now will have a detrimental effect on someone who has leukemia, it will harm both the self and the husband. Smoking now will not bring a student back to life or heal the pain of one lost.

Those are very real stressors. It takes more maturity to deal with now that the crutch of smoking has vanished.

You can alldo this. I know you can. Now that you no longer believe the smoking lie, you can find the strength and resources to cope with these problems in a real and mature way.

I know you can.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Flashback - Scary

One of my most humiliating and embarrassing memories is on my friend likes to tell.

I run into Tracee at a Church Halloween Carnival and there she is - smoking. It's a church and little kids are everywhere and she's holding hands with her 2 year old little girl and she's just standing their smoking her brains out.

It's embarrassing to think that I smoked everywhere and anywhere with no shame at all for 20 years. Smoking is pretty bad to do in front of kids.

Bizarrely, I always looked down on "secret smokers." You know who you are - the kind who was so ashamed of yourself that you hid behind buildings and lied to your kids about going out to the car 5 times every evening?

Yeah, I thought lying about smoking was worse than the smoking itself. It just seemed so deceptive and absurd to lie to your closest intimate family about who you really are.

Well, looking back I wish I had been a little more ashamed of my smoking. Perhaps if I was I wouldn't have continued doing it for so long. But, then I couldn't really quit without the Chantix and I did quit as soon as I knew about it.

Gotta forgive the self about the smoking.

What is your most embarrasing smoking memory?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Chug It, Water Not Booze

Water is my favorite response to a craving.
Oprah's fav. doc Dr. Memet and author of YOU: The Owner's Manual: An Insider's Guide to the Body that Will Make You Healthier and Younger says there are only a few things the body naturally craves.

Sex, water, food, exercise and rest. We kind of screwed that up with the smoking by making our bodies addicted to it and therefore crave it.

If you're going to replace your cravings with something - and you WILL replace it with another response - water is a great substitute.

1. It's never going to become unhealthy to drink too much of it. (Sex and food can have long-term consequences if you replace smoking with those).
2. It's usually readily available.
3. It's pretty much free right out of the tap.
4. It gives your body and brain a chance to recognize that it got something it needed and is therefore likely to turn the craving thought-loop off.
5. You've been starving your body of much-needed oxygen by smoking. Water fixes that problem by providing your body with extra oxygen.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Party On Without Tempation

I went to a Halloween Party on Saturday. I was outside, drinking beer, surrounded by smokers.

My only temptation was to tell them that they could free themselves from a nasty habit by taking Chantix.

I was not even a little tempted to bum a smoke or beg for a drag. Not even a little.

Free at last! Free At last! Thank God Almighty I'm Free At Last!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Freedom From or Freedom To


I can smoke if I want to.

Okay.

Can you NOT smoke if you want to do that?

If you're a smoker you realized way too late that freedom from smoking is better than and more important than freedom to smoke.

But, you're also something of a pride-full rebel who hates to admit you totally screwed yourself and everyone around you. Yeah, that sucks. Suck it up. There are worse things than having to admit you were wrong. One worse thing is refusing to admit you were wrong and continuing to smoke.

Note to self: It's okay to be wrong sometimes. No one is right all the time. I was confused about wanting to smoke. I understand my addiction is clouding my thinking. I am willing to be wrong about having a right to smoke in order to set myself free.

Sound asinine? Well, how do you think I can smoke if I want sounds coming from a full-grown adult?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Peer Pressure

Smoking is a social creature. We start doing it when people we know do it. We use it to bond - with significant others, between generations or family members, with total strangers.

Smokers are a community of outcasts. You knew, if out of cigarettes, a fellow smoker would understand and sympathize with your desperate need to bum one.

Quitting is much easier if the whole group decides to quit smoking.

But, it's a double edged sword. Discontent is contagious. When one person loses hope negativity can easily spread through a whole social smoking group.

Understanding a beast makes it easier to tame. When one person in your group gets down on the Chantix, or has strange side effects, it's important to sympathize with them.

Compassion is great and you should share it with people who are upset, angry, and hurting. Quitting smoking is hard, with or without Chantix.

But, compassion shouldn't stand in the way of your quit. You will suffer if you continue to smoke. Emphysema, oxygen tanks, cancer, inability to exercise, asthma in your children or grandchildren may result from continued smoking.

Stay strong in your quit people. Encourage your friends and family to stay strong. When one loses hope, talk them back into hope and stregnth.

You can totally do this! I know you can!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

No Thanks, I Don't Smoke

No thanks, I don’t smoke. I can seriously, for the first-time ever, see myself saying this and not falling over laughing hysterically with a smoke in my right hand.

I feel like I’ve been set free. I feel like for the first time since I was about 13 years old those shackles have been removed. I am not chained to the idea that I must always have a pack of cigarettes with me, or that I must always have $5 on me to be able to buy some. I am totally free.

Monday, October 22, 2007

No Longer A Failure

You know what the best thing about quitting smoking is?

I don't have to feel like a failure anymore. Out of the 20 years of smoking I did, I spent the last 7 torturing myself with self-loathing and a permanent sense of failure.

Pre-kid I just assumed I was smoking until I decided to quit. But, 7 years ago I got pregnant with my first child and I went back to smoking the minute that baby was no longer using my body for a hotel. Same with Baby #2.

The terrible thing was that by that time I no longer wanted to be shackled to smoking and had started trying to quit. I would give up so frequently that I felt like a constant failure.

When you repeat messages like:

I suck. I'm a loser. I'm a failure. I hate myself. Why am I so selfish? I hate myself for this. I'm so humiliated by my failure. What is wrong with me? I'm a horrible human being. I'm such a bad example to my children. I'm a bad parent. I stink.

Well, it has a real and significant impact on your self esteem. You really start to feel like a loser and a failure becuase you are failing over and over.

When you start taking Chantix, one of the most significant things you can do for yourself, to reinforce your quit, is to stop the negative self-talk.

You're not a failure. You get to stop being a failure now.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Dirty Laundry





Where are you in your Chantix Quit?

If you really look at this picture you'll see my 18-month-old baby in the dryer. I was folding clothes and he climbed in to eat his orange.

There are lots of responses a person can have to this type of thing.

1. Laugh and take a picture. Focus on the dopamine getting to your brain. Experiencing joy in its moments and appreciating the little things in life.

2. Anger. Who the hell would let her baby climb in the dryer? Someone call CPS and report this! or Get out of that dryer! Don't you ever do that again! Bad Baby, Bad!

3. Fear and catastrophizing. Oh my God, what if the baby could do this while it's on? What if he locks himself in there?

4. Slam the dryer door shut and turn it on. That will teach you!

What's your most likely response right now?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dopamine Raspberries


The other day my 18 month old baby learned to blow raspberries. I do it to him, he learned to do it to me. He blew raspberries on my stomach for a full 30 minutes and I laughed big belly laughs with my daughter the whole time.

That's dopamine to the brain.

The key to quitting smoking is all about the dopamine, so sayeth the scientists.

They say that's why Chantix works. Smoking no longer produces the dopamine in your brain.

But, you need dopamine. You don't just want it kinda. You absolutely must have joy in your life or you will shrink up and die. No joke.

I'm lucky, I've got two kids so there are sources of love, joy and pleasure in my life. Maybe you have a dog or cat, nieces or nephews, grandchildren, best friends, spouses or lovers that bring joy into your life. If you have none of that I'm here to tell you - go get it.

Pyschological Addiction

Many smokers find that the medication is working, but something else is holding them back, like Ginger and Jennifer over on BlogFabulous. Chantix is going to help break the addiction cycle for you - but there is a lot of emotional, mental work for you to do to finally really let go.

Jennifer, still has thinking that tells her "I deserve these special few." You have the power to change thinking. Tell yourself over and over that you "deserve to be free of the shackles of smoking." Repetition works when changing thinking. Repetition is effective.

Also, you must examine what you're still getting out of it and what you don't want to let go of. If you live alone, perhaps smoking was your company. It may sound odd, but people who live alone need company and can use smoking to fill that need. It may be breaking up the monotony of alone-living.

Pavlov Dog yourself. By that I mean, stop buying cigarrettes and force yourself to pay $5 a pack for any cigarrette you smoke. If you cheat you must give the pack away then buy more if you cheat again. Penalty.

Find a reward for yourself that isn't smoking. If you take 10 hot baths a day it won't be bad for you. If you drink a cold bottle of green tea it won't be bad for you. Taking a walk won't be bad for you. If you reward yourself with health and change your thinking you'll really be able to let go.

You're all right on track. This is the part where you realize the medication works, but you weren't only getting nicotine from smoking. You were getting friendship and understanding and company and distraction and meditation too.

You still deserve those things. You just have to find a new way to get it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Kindness To Self

Did anyone else see Oprah today? Dr. Christine Northrup was talking about how illness is often your body's way of saying "Stop treating me like crap." (my paraphrase.)

Bare with me gentlemen, her advice applies to all smokers (even if we're using the pronoun she there's an broader message so read on).

Let's start with this truth: smoking is a profoundly unkind thing to do to one's self.

A Biblical truth about Dr. Northrup's mind, body and soul health approach that applies to smoking is that it's about Putting away childish things.

Being unkind to self is not going to work anymore.

Quitting smoking is about putting away childish things.

The hopeful thing about her message is that we can actually change the outcome of our health by treating ourselves kindly and actively seeking joy.

Dr. Northrup said she wants to give us permission, as a doctor, to do the things that bring us pleasure for our health.

She recommends diet and exercise as a kindness to our bodies, meditation and sex.

Quitting smoking is about changing coping mechanisms and I encourage you all to find a way to treat yourself kindly. Ask yourself - would I want this for my child? Let's face it, we inherently believe our children deserve kindness, but if we believed we deserved kindness we wouldn't have smoked.

Don't give up the meditation. Smokers meditate. What do you think all those smokes when making difficult decisions were about? Just because you don't smoke doesn't mean you give up the meditating. It might feel unnatural or weird to sit quietly alone and breathe for 2-3 minutes without a cigarette. But, you need those minutes to clear your mind and think things through. Take them. You deserve them and they are a kindness to your self.

We totally deserve this. I do and you do too.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Want To Smoke, But Don't

Yes, I sometimes still think "I want a smoke." Then I think, "Oh no, I don't!"

I know a woman who chews nicotine gum - has for over 20 YEARS.

Perhaps it's a good thing that Chantix isn't that pleasant to take? We are, after all, addicts. We wouldn't want to trade a cig. addiction for a Chantix addiction, do we?

Carnival of All Substances

Hey Non-Smokers. Since smoking is the "gateway drug" smoking could be the first addiction you quit or the last. You may realize along the way that perhaps the alcohol is getting out of control, or the sugar, or the negativity, whatever.

Therapydoc has been so kind as to include Quit Coping in her Carnival of All Substances. Lots of great reading about addiction recovery and don't think for a minute that quitting smoking isn't addiction recovery.

Addiction Off


by Tracee Sioux

My own unscientific opinion about how Chantix works is that smoking during the first week clues in the brain that this is the addiction that needs to be turned off. I am not a doctor so I can't get more scientific than that. But, I think there has been ample evidence to suggest that when a person becomes addicted to something whether it's a drug, alcohol or cigarettes there is a brain receptor which becomes "miswired" if you will and tells your brain "you must have this to lead a happy life."

In addiction recovery, they call it addict thinking or stinking thinking. In recovery one of the things you might learn is how to will yourself into a different thought process. While your brain continues to say, "You need a cigarette," you try to change the thinking to "cigarettes are bad for me" through repetition. It's effective, but it's a painful and tiresome process. It could take literally years of determinedly praying and willing for this method to really be effective. Those years, to my recollection of being dependent on prescription anti-anxiety medication, are painful ones. In no way do they not suck. This pill, Chantix, took 2 months to change the actual thought process about my smoking addiction.

I feel completely cured of my 20 year addiction to cigarettes. I took this twice-daily pill for two months and I have no more need for cigarettes. I even went to visit my whole family for an entire week with a baby in a mini-van, usually a major trigger for me, and didn't even think about smoking. At no time did I want to kill any one of my relatives and no one wanted to kill me, at least not because I was jonesing for a smoke. Before, every time I tried to quit smoking my husband would stash one around the house to toss at me when he felt he couldn't take anymore crap without considering murder or divorce. (Total enabler.)

Considering my previous obsession and/or addiction to smoking my liberation from the habit is a miracle. Not a minor one either. The misery, crankiness, irritability of "trying to quit" for several years was terrible. Simply the fact that I couldn't stop thinking about them as something I needed, (even after quitting for nine months at a time during pregnancies) is a testament to how addicted I was. After taking Chantix for an easy two months it is as though the addiction has been turned off. Also, I noticed that my desire for other addictive substances is being effected. For instance, my desire for drinking a beer or having a glass of wine has also been greatly reduced.

The relevant piece of information for the non-smoking general public here is that an addiction might be "cured" through medication. Think of the freedom this would provide for millions of people in America and around the world. If Chantix can do this for smokers, what might a similar drug do for the alcoholic? What about the crystal-meth addict? What about people in chronic pain from illness or injuries who avoid taking addictive medications they might safely use if there were a cure for addiction?

Who doesn't know an addict? Who doesn't love an addict? Who prays that their own addict might overcome their addiction? Think of all the people who wouldn't be in prison if they had freedom from their addictions? We could save millions of tax-payer dollars by curing people of their addictions with medication like Chantix. In 2007 alone the President's Drug Control Budget called for $12.9 billion to continue the war on drugs. Think of all the families that might be saved, divorces that might be avoided, children who wouldn't be abandoned, financial ruin that might be skirted if there was a cure for other addictions. Addicts might once again become productive citizens as opposed to the criminals addictions make them become.

I'm someone who has walked the path of being addicted and using substances to pacify feelings until becoming dependent on them. I can speak from a place where I know that addictions can be overcome through Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, therapy, faith, prayer, changes in lifestyle, stress management, rehab and just plain holding on to your ass through recovery, but it's not as easy as it looks. Some people just don't have it in them to do it without medication. Many die, many go to prison, many lose their children, many lose themselves, many stay shackled to their addictions even through sobriety, all are at-risk for relapse.

Medications like Chantix could prove to be a break-through in one of the most destructive health epidemics ever experienced - addiction.

I'm not the only one who thinks so either.

"The biggest thrill is that this drug, which has already proved safe for people trying to stop smoking, is now a potential drug to fight alcohol dependence," said Selena Bartlett, a neuroscientist with the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center at the University of California, San Francisco who led the study. Details appear this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Read the whole story here.

Originally published on So Sioux Me.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

What Have I Done?

Thursday I was minding my own business and watching Grey's Anatomy, when I had a massive attack of smoker's regret.

One of the patients had tongue cancer and was at risk of losing her tongue, quite possibly to never speak again. But, at least she would have a chance to live. I wonder how one gets tongue cancer I thought. Followed by, Oh s#@&, she probably smoked for 20 years or something like, like . . . like ME.

I've never been a big fan of regret as an emotion. What a waste of time, really.

But, since having children I'm having pangs of regret. Big awful ones in which I pray deeply and emphatically - Please God, don't make me pay for this. Don't make me pay in terrible awful ways that will hurt my children and cause them heartbreak and pain. Please God, forgive me, absolve me, save me.

My smoking was connected to youth. By youth I mean the illusion of immortality. When I started smoking I was 13 freaking years old. Just a stupid rebellious child. Really I thought the odds of being 30 were kind of far out and I thought 50 was old and no one cares if they die when they're that old. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I guess I thought nothing like that would ever happen to me. Nothing like death or oldness would happen to me.

Besides, I was going to quit when I had kids. I wasn't going to be truly addicted, not like those other smokers. I'd get pregnant and never go back to it. I guess I didn't figure children would come so many years after I started smoking. And I didn't figure I would want a cigarette so bad after 9 months of not having one. I was addicted, addiction messes with the processes of the brain.

Can anyone else relate to begging God not to make you pay the consequences of smoking?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Change & 2000 Parts


Loretta writes on BlogFabulous: My main complaints are a short fuse and absent mindedness. I had to drive back home this morning because I left my work cell phone at home charging. I seem to sleep very well every other night. I am having strange and fun dreams on the sleeping nights. On the restless night, I swear I check the clock every hour.

People are creatures of habit. We live a great deal of our lives on auto-pilot. When we change something, anything, it throws us off. One change makes everything we do feel awkward.

Try this to gain a little perspective: next time you shower do things opposite of how you normally do them. If you're a top to bottom bather, wash your hair last not first. If you usually shave your face before showering, try do it after your shower. Notice how strange and awkward doing it in the wrong order makes you feel.

A shower is something we usually perform on auto-pilot. It's not even an addictive behavior, it's just something we do so efficiently that we don't have to think about it. We don't have to wash our hair before we shave our legs - we just always do it that way. When we switch it up there aren't negative or permanent consequences, but it does make it harder to make sure everything gets completed on time.

Some things you might notice by switching up your routine:
* Forgot to perform a task, like conditioning your hair or shaving your armpits. You don't normally forget, but not doing your routine threw you off and you had to reorient yourself.
* Forgot to switch up the routine. It might take you several times to conscientiously change your habits. You might do one thing different, but find half way through the shower you've gone back to auto-pilot and started doing things in order again.
* Felt "off", disoriented or distracted by the change in routine. Maybe you don't even feel "clean enough" even though you washed all 2000 parts.
* Ran late. Maybe it took you an extra 5 or 10 minutes to shower since you messed with your auto-pilot.

For many smokers, smoking was something that touched everything in your life. It's way bigger than a shower. You did it on auto-pilot and it was such a regular part of your life that you didn't conscientiously try to smoke 20 cigs a day, you just did it.

Habits are sneaky little creatures. They get under your skin and become part of you. Not doing something like smoking makes you feel off-kilter for a while. That's okay. Cut yourself some slack. Most of the things you might forget - like forgetting your phone or not locking the car doors or not packing your kids lunch - won't have long term negative consequences. Some things - like forgetting the actual kid - will have long term permanent consequences so be extra vigilant about those. But, let all the rest go for a while.

You can quit smoking. You just won't feel quite like yourself for a bit. That's okay.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Non-Smokers Are Like Toads


We have a pet, Isabella Toad, at our house right now. Last year my daughter and I caught some tadpoles and we watched them evolve into frogs. This year we found Isabella giving birth to about 50 tadpoles in a watering can. We're going to see how many make it to being toads.

It's a slow process and a fast process. If you watch it day by day, or check a tadpole several times a day there doesn't seem to be much progress. It seems to take forever and ever for the tail to shorten, for the stubs to grow into legs, for the little toes to sprout, for the head to form.

It's an exciting miracle, proof of God almost. And explanation of Darwin's Theory of Evolution in flesh and blood.

In retrospect is when it seemed to happen quickly. Once the tadpole has successfully transformed or evolved into a springy frog that's when you realize it only took a month or two for such dramatic change to happen.

That's the theory of relativity too isn't it? While it's happening it seems to take forever for you to feel better about not smoking. But, once it's over, you'll be able to think "hey that only took a couple of months."

Another applicable aspect of the tadpole to toad transformation is that you don't have to hate the tadpole to love the toad.

As someone that's transforming into a non-smoker, you don't have to decide that your smoking self was evil, horrible or worthless. You can decide that smoking is no longer serving you and you're ready to evolve into something better.

Today you might be a tadpole. But, soon (though it might feel like a slow process) you're going to be a full fledged toad.

Who knows, you may even turn into a Frog Prince?

Fit-Buff Carnival 18

New non-smokers don't want to miss the Fit-Buff Carnivals. It's information from all over the web to make your mind and body, well, fitter and buffer.

Since you quit smoking you're feeling like you can take on challenges. Get a little advice about sex or jogging or well, even quitting smoking.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Linky Loos and Maggie's Mind

Maybe you noticed the nice little blogroll in the side bar? That was made possible through the tireless legwork of one Maggie from Maggie's Mind. Maggie quit smoking with Chantix a 16 weeks ago and she's been spreading encouragement all over the blogosphere every minute since. Her data saved me a lot of leg work and time and I greatly appreciate all her comments on BlogFabulous and here as well.

She's got a great little website called Maggie's Mind. This link, Quitting Smoking Linky Loos, will hook you up with a post you will want to bookmark. It's got the low-down of tons of quitting smoking science articles, resources, websites, quit counters and lots more.

If you want a second opinion, you can always take a leisurely click over to Maggie's Mind where she too will have an encouraging word and the advice of an old Chantix sage.

You ROCK Maggie!

Rewire Your Brain

Kas stopped by BlogFabulous to share some of her concerns about taking Chantix to quit smoking. Although Ive been smoke free from this for 2 1/2 months, I wish I had never taken it. I took it for 1 month and 1 week. Go on some other discussion sites and look at the side effects that people are still having a year after quitting. I quit taking it the day I ran a red light and came to a screeching halt 6 inches from a police car. And sleepwalking outside, waking up with my house clean and not remembering it. No wonder I felt tired after sleeping for 8 hours. Not being able to put a logical sentence together. I have more shortness of breath now than I ever did as a smoker. . . . My opinion- it should never have been approved. Im waiting for the class action suit- and there will be one- I know there will.

Kas, It sounds like you're having a difficult time. If you are sleepwalking and finding it difficult to concentrate to this degree I would think a visit to your doctor is highly in order.

I don't want to make light of your concerns. I too feel more distracted and disoriented.

I think your concerns are valid. But, I think your blame is misplaced. I propose the more likely culprit for disorientation and distraction is addiction not Chantix.

Your brain missing it's usual coping strategy. If you always smoked when you drove and now you don't, your brain is miswired and you don't have anything to replace it.

Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor by any means, so don't hold me liable for my advice which is as a fellow non-smoker with some knowledge about addiction. It sounds like you're ready to sue someone - and I'd like for it to not be me.

I'm just suggesting that maybe it's not the medication - which you stopped taking 1-2 months ago. Consider that it's the lack of smoking which you did for long enough to rewire your brain. If your brain needed it to function and now it doesn't have it that could be why you're so distracted.

I started smoking when I was 13, my brain was still developing. How long did you smoke? Brains continue to make connections with habits and addictions. Being addicted to smoking - or alcohol or crystal meth or Xanex or pain killers or any substance - REWIRES the brain. That's what addiction is. The brain becomes dependent on the smoking to function. You trained your brain to need smoking to complete it's assigned tasks. You even associated deep breaths with smoking, which could be making it difficult for your body to perform even that function without smoking.

It becomes rewired like this: When we drive we smoke. When we transition from task to task we smoke. Before we sleep we smoke. When we wake up we smoke. To relax we smoke. To think we smoke. To work out a problem we smoke.

Your brain connected smoking to helping you think. So of course you're having trouble thinking without it.

The great and wonderful news is that this isn't permanent. This is a side effect of addiction recovery. It happens to every single addict. It's not an issue unique to Chantix use. You have to retrain your brain to do all the things you do without the smoking. It's hard and uncomfortable and will take a while, but it's not a permanent disorientation.

You can try to learn something new to rebuild your brain cells. You can retrain your brain in a learning activity like Kundalini Yoga for Beginners & Beyond or knitting or Seduko or Radica Brain Games or working puzzles like Shape By Shape. If you're worried about driving you might try learning a language from audio tapes like French 101 (Learn to Speak French with The Travel Linguist) while you drive to engage your brain and keep it focused.

This is going to take a while. Lowering our expectations about recovery time is necessary. You quit smoking 2 months ago. That's a very short period of time in terms of addiction recovery. A more reasonable amount of time to adjust to not smoking is one to two years. Your brain will begin to function properly again. You can help it along. Time will work wonders too.

Hang in there Kas. The good news is that you're a non-smoker and if you never go back to smoking, you only have to live through this once.


Sunday, October 7, 2007

Smoking and Baby Teeth


Over at BlogFabulous sweet Tara says: I am SCARED TO DEATH. I’ve been ready, ready, ready and now that it is here I keep telling myself no, no, no….I’m not ready!!! Why can’t I remember how I have felt for the last 15 years when it comes to this day? I can’t believe what smoking does to you. I honestly feel it’s worse than an illegal drug. Its availability makes it awfully hard to quit. I am determined. I have been keeping up with the Get-Quit program and wrote my goodbye letter. That felt childish at first, but it is awesome.

What a great idea - a good-bye letter. I suppose in a lot of ways BlogFabulous and Quit Coping is a continuing good-bye letter.

Of course, you're scared Tara. Change is hard and this isn't like I think I'll try short hair instead of long hair this year. This is a change that effects how you react to and cope with life. It touches everything. It touches eating and sleeping and waking and working and resting and feeling and being.

It takes a vast amount of courage to quit smoking. Chantix will make it a different kind of hard. It's not going to be hard like it was going cold turkey or with the patch. Just focus on being grateful for the help taking Chantix has provided. But, then don't dismiss that it feels bad.

The science behind happiness says that gratefulness makes it easier for us to go through hard stuff. Gratefulness makes it easier for us to maintain happiness during and in spite of hard times.

As Robin brought up, we can decide that it is okay to feel bad. Just feel it. Understand that it's temporary and necessary. Understand that you can handle this like you lost baby teeth as a child. It hurt to wiggle, it hurt to pull it out, it didn't hurt all the time, but it was sensitive to eat with and you give up apples and corn on the cob for a while even though they're your favorite foods. Sometimes you cried when you lost one and you're scared that something terrible has happened. It's hard to believe when everyone around you tells you that it's going to be alright - that this is a good thing.

Then when it's gone your tongue goes back to the hole over and over because it's new and feels different. Then a new tooth comes to fill the hole. The new tooth is better and will last longer and will provide necessary nourishment to you. You couldn't chew steak with out it. It will allow you to go back to eating corn and apples. You never get the old tooth back. It's permanent. But, now you don't need it. It was necessary and there was no way around it. Then, when one tooth has it's new place it's time for another tooth to wiggle and annoy and fall out and you replace that one.

Quitting smoking is like having the hole in your mouth. It's function in your life is going to be replaced. It has to be a permanent change and you have all the power to decide what you're going to replace it with. Make it something that will serve you well.

You can totally do this Tara. So can All the rest of you! I join Robin in sending you a virtual Hug!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Holding On


I bought this used mini-van. I was really, really excited that it came with a clicker. I know it sounds trite, but everyone has a clicker now and I thought it was cool that I'd finally have one. It's convenient and it just seems so old fashioned to lock and unlock doors with a key.

I wrote this whole article about buying a mini-van and quitting smoking and how my identity was less Rebel than Soccer Mom at Soccer Mom Transformation Complete.

Okay, so the clicker didn't work. I tried a new battery and the light came on, but it didn't work.

In May I bought that van. Tonight in Freaking OCTOBER I stopped carrying the clicker on my key chain. I had been carrying the click on my key chain everywhere I went for the last 5 months because I wasn't ready to give up on the clicker. I was attached to the idea that it might resolve itself and work. That I would think up a solution that would make it work.

It was hard to let it go. That's just a silly clicker. Irrelevant. Meaningless.

You're attached to smoking and your identity as a smoker. Obviously, that's WAY bigger and harder. We were really, really, really attached to the idea that we could smoke and it would somehow work out for us. And it's super hard to let that go.

It's okay to let it be hard.

Right To Reinvent Self



Quitting smoking is really a total shift in Identity. With a capital "I." This, smoking, was a part of who I was. Am. I identified with I can if I want. You can't make me stop it." Pass all the rules you like and attach all the sin tax - YOU CAN'T MAKE ME STOP!!! I am a smoker! Smokers have rights! F YOU!

Okay, when we become grownups we have to let go of certain things because they become destructive to us. I know that when I try to drink alcohol like I used to I can literally be ill for DAYS now. I just don't recover like I used to and I have to be a MOM during those days. It's just not practical for me to party hard anymore.

But that doesn't mean it's easy to let go of that identity. I think quiting smoking has a lot to do with "growing up." Some people do it at 60, some 40, I did it at 33. There's a right time for everyone - but yeah an alteration in identity is a way bigger freaking deal than just breaking a nasty habit.

But, you have a right to change your mind. Everyone can reinvent themselves. Everyone and anyone can reinvent themselves every day if they want to. Look at Madonna - she does it frequently enough. She does something until it stops serving her and she decides to try something else. We can be like that.

This isn't serving me anymore. I can let go of it. It's hard but I reserve the right to reinvent self. I might try on a few different things before I settle on something that works for me. I even reserve the right to reinvent myself as many times as I need to before I die.

Once you realize smoking was an inherent part of your identity you can take steps to mourn it and let it go and open the doors to reinvention.

That's why I refer to myself as a non-smoker. It's a shift in Identity. One that I'm claiming for myself.

Get Out Of Jail Free Coupons


Jen over at BlogFabulous asked: I do think this time I will quit but I am afraid of what happens once the Chantix is over???

Something else. That's the answer. You have a lifetime to relearn new coping strategies. You don't have to be right the first time. Perfection is not required. If you handle something bad, say your sorry, move on try something else.

Try to pick good coping strategies. Drinking water, taking a grown-up time out, start knitting, deal with the real reasons why you smoked, face some of your fears, get active, think of different choices you can make. Try yoga.

Try not to do this: drink alcohol or self-medicate or over-eat to fill the void where smoking was. That will only create more problems and make you want to smoke more.

When you're feeling any of your feelings that used to be connected with smoking just think Okay, this time I'm going to choose to go for a walk. Or say, Wait, I haven't had a break all day. I'm going to take 15 minutes to do something nice for myself.

Good luck with the boyfriend quitting at the same time. Cut each other slack, lots of slack. Maybe even make some get out of jail free coupons for when one of you tries a coping strategy that backfires.

That way you can let some stuff go. Take the coupon forgive each other and say, well at least you're not smoking, but next time please try something else.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Rebels

It's almost funny that the Chantix people included recommended dosing instructions with their miracle pill.

The think about smoking is this - we did it anyway.

Take this post on Blog Fabulous, and please Robin don't think I'm picking on you in particular because you can read it into ALL smoker's here and what they say:

Robin says: My ‘research’ on withdrawal was not a good idea. :-) I tried stopping Chantix after a week of not smoking. I’m still hanging in there but am going through the absolute meltdowns we all remember from trying to quit cold turkey. I started taking the Chantix again last night and eagerly wait for some relief to kick in. After several days off Chantix I didn’t want to start with the full dose. I’m back up to just over half. Tomorrow I’ll be back on full dose. Don’t do what I did and stop taking it too soon! Chantix does more than I realized. Without the Chantix I’ve gone into full blown panic not having a smoke. It’s been 10 days without smoking so I thought I’d be OK. It was getting so easy on Chantix I thought I didn’t need it. Wrong! I even unsubscribed to this blog. I really missed the connection. It does help!

The rebellious nature of smoking can't be discounted, or it's a mistake if you do discount it. We KNEW smoking was bad for us - how could we not know? In 2005 my 3 year old knew the possible consequences.

But, somehow we all, everyone of us thought WE, specifically me and you, wouldn't get addicted. We were special. We were above the rules. We had enough self control to not let smoking take over our lives. We didn't have to follow the rules because regular rules don't apply to us.

So, this is an extremely hard thing to admit and accept and change about our selves. I'm sure all of us see the same pattern in other areas of our lives.

Who stopped taking the Chantix before the recommended time? Why?

Me - I only took it for two months and then the nausea and the eating regiment became distracting.

We don't want to do what we're told. We don't want to follow the instructions, we don't want people telling us what we can and can't do. Period.

My great big lie is to say I can do it when I go out drinking with other smokers. Realistically I take a big risk and that's how ALL my other quits failed. But, I still want to believe that I can be a social smoker. That I won't be super-hooked. That I can pick up cigarettes and put them down whenever I feel like it. I have the hardest time walking away from the idea that I can smoke sometimes. I just want it and I want it bad.

Well, we have to accept that sometimes we can't have things the way we want them. If it were easy to quit smoking without Chantix none of us would have failed at it before and I think most of us have failed at it more than once.

But, guess what? Robin and me and everyone else just gets to try again. It's not bigger or smaller than that. She's going to get back on the "quitting smoking is hard and I need all the help I can get" Chantix train and she has my full support.

It's okay to need help. You don't have to quit smoking cold turkey anymore and you don't have to have been right.

You can just try again is all. The only real failure is to stop trying.

Virtual High Five Robin. Of course you can do this. This is a big deal and you deserve all the support you can get.

Wandering

Sometimes I wander around the house aimless. Mostly, they are times when I was going to be smoking, but now I'm not so I just sort of pace from room to room like I'm looking for something I lost. I'm not lost, I just don't have something else to fill that void. It's not like there was anything stressful or wrong, maybe I was just bored and so would normally break the monotony by smoking. Maybe I just needed a bread from whatever job I was doing. Maybe my brain just needed some rest. But, I don't realize I'm doing it until I've taken a couple of laps and I'm just standing there slightly confused about my mission.


Anyone else relate?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Ugly Motiviation


Could there be a more motivating photo? I found this on Why Quit.
Contrary to popular addiction psychology that says "quit for yourself," I say quit for whoever you can as long as you quit.

A Lovely Perfume

When I walk by a smoker now I feel embarrassed. I smelled like that. Ainsley's mom smelled like that. I dated people while smelling like that. I kissed my husband and my mouth smelled and tasted like that. Just embarrassing. Icky.
All new non-smokers deserve to buy an expensive perfume or cologne. Cause this is the first time anyone will be able to smell you - without the cloud of stink.
Yeah, you smell great. You smell like you, without the addiction cloud tainting your natural pheromones. You smell like Mom or Dad or Lover or Spouse or Daughter. People have memories of smells that are stronger than anything else. Often you'll hear people smell their shirts when a loved one is gone. At least now, hopefully my kids and husband and extended family won't think "me" smells like an ashtray. I hope that memory disappears from their memory of me. I'm replacing it with a lovely Victoria's Secret scent. What smell do you hope your loved ones associate with you?

Introduce Yourselves

Please tell me your smoking story. Why did you start? Why are you quitting? Is this your first try? I want to support your quit.

Tracee

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Fear of Failure

Many people report the fear of failure when thinking about quitting smoking.

Why wouldn't they. Millions of us have tried to quit. Failed. Tried again. Failed.

My habit was to try and fail every day, sometimes more than once. By way of cheating - smoking that one cigarette I would go to the gas station to buy.

My cheating M.O. was that I would buy a single flavored cigarillos, sometimes two and smoke that. The rational being that if I bought a pack I would smoke a pack and that would be a bigger failure. I would only do this in an emergency. Like when I couldn't deal with the cravings or the external stress - more like I couldn't deal with the cravings combined with external stress. I would always cheat (IE: fail) when I felt like a rubber band pulled so tight it was in danger of breaking. Taking Chantix finally took the edge off that and allowed me to finally stop the cheating.

Another smoker gave me this advice: Never quit quitting.

It's pretty good advice. If we redefine failure then we can open the door for success. Is each cigarette the failure? Maybe.

But, the only way to truly fail is to quit quitting. To resign and say "I'm just going to keep smoking." That is failure. The rest of it, cheating, justifying, giving in, emotional turmoil is just part of quitting. At least that's what worked for me. How about you?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Emotionally Out of Control?

Debra over on BlogFabulous writes, I stopped taking chantix 6 days ago, did/does anyone else ever feel like they are/were having trouble focusing on things, or feeling sad/anxious, depressed? A couple of times I felt like I was going to lose total control…..I am Usually a very laid back easy going person. I think the more I took the Chantix the more out of control i was feeling, after 6 days of being off the med I feel more like myself…..anyone else ever feel like this? Kinda scared me…..

Of course we're feeling out of control emotionally. It would be easy to blame the Chantix. But, I think the more likely culprit is that we've lost your coping strategy and a coping strategy is what makes us feel sane, safe and secure. If you feel sadness for instance, your "go to" has always been smoking. Now, there is no established "go to" way to cope.

You always had these "bad" completely normal feelings. We call sadness, anxiousness, depression, and anger negative but they really aren't. They are indicators that you might want to change something about your life.

Every normal life has bad feelings. There are things in this world that are out of our control that make us sad or hurt or angry.

I think you'll start to feel more in control when you find an emotional "go to" to replace the smoking. Exercise, drinking water, deep breathing - choose something healthier this time around. Then make it part of your emotional strategy.

This takes time. Give yourself permission to feel bad feelings for a while.

You have done a brave and wonderful thing by stopping smoking. It's not a little change. It's a magnificently big one. You can do this. You should be proud of yourself. I am proud of you!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Week One - Smoke Your Brains Out

Don't quit smoking the first week. My hypothesis is that the medication works because you keep smoking. It attaches, in some way through the chemicals in your brain, to the addictive act that you keep doing the first week.

Also, allowing yourself to smoke as much as you want to allows you to mentally and emotionally prepare for quitting. It allows you those 3 minutes it takes you to smoke to say your goodbyes to your best friend. You must morn the loss. You must assess what your getting out of smoking and what it's costing you. You have to be prepared to let it go.

Most of the quit is emotional and mental. It's a drastic change in lifestyle. I think what the Chantix does during the first week is important to your quit. I'm not a doctor so I can't scientifically explain how it works.

But, you have one last week to say good-bye. You have permission to smoke without guilt or torment or a feeling of failure for one last week of your life. Embrace it and cut yourself some slack.

Don't raise the bar so high, you can't quit smoking like turning off a light switch. It just doesn't happen that way. You fail if you quit trying to quit. You succeed if you smoke the first week and do the emotional work.

Fair Smair

There is so much in life that's so unfair.

People have different ways of figuring out how to cope with the unfairness. For instance, it strikes me as unfair that some people I know are struggling to find exactly the right themed lamp for their child's designer bed room, while I'm watching my child get physically sick because we can't afford to move to a house uncontaminated by mold.

It's just so unfair. It makes me angry. It makes me sick. It makes me want to smoke!

Unfairness existed before I quit smoking, but now I find myself not knowing what to do with it. The situation is the same, but my "go to" to relieve the stress is gone.

I take deep breathes, chug glasses of water, work, write, and exercise like mad. They're effective, but harder than just popping a cigarrette in my mouth. There's no immediate fix like a rush of nicotine to my brain. The solution is slow and steady rather than a quick fix.

One of the hardest things is just to say, Okay, it's not fair. So what?

Not to get all addict-recovery 12-step on you, but the serenity prayer goes like this:

God Grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.


Can I change the spending habits of other people? I can not. Can I change how other people treat others. I can not. Can I make other people compassionate? No. Can I force others to change their perceptions of money? No, siree.

Can I find ways to make more money to change our situation? I can. At least I can try. I can work on this website and hope that the goodness I put out into the world will translate into a mold-free home for my son.

The only thing that is not doing me any favors is getting caught up in the fairness of it all. That's something I just need to let go of - the expectation of fairness. Fairness just has no relationship to reality.

We teach it to our children - Don't take his toy, it's not fair. You have to share with her, to be fair. But, the expectation of fairness holds up emotional progress - at least it does for me. It's difficult to let it go.

Does anyone else get hung up on fairness?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Night Terrors

I've had a few night terrors since taking Chantix. Two of them were while I was taking the medication and one was recently (I weened off the medication about 2 months ago).

Most of my dreams while taking Chantix were more vivid than bothersome. Most people seem to be reporting funny or silly dreams or no dreams. Or the same dreams, but more ability to remember them.

By night terror I mean, for a minute I believed what was happening was real life. While I was dreaming I didn't, for a brief moment, understand that I was not awake. And my dreams took on the nature of horrific. They included real fears I know that I have - my child dying, a divorce. I understand those fears and I know where they come from so they're easier to tolerate and move on from in the morning.

Only one of them - a man with a gun rushing into our bedroom while we were sleeping, me waking to know that I am being shot and there is nothing I can do to save myself or my family. I don't know that I've ever dreamed of my own murder before.

Dreaming that was horrible and it effected my mood for days.

We can turn our dreams off. We have the ability to wake ourselves up. I don't know if you've discovered this ability in yourself. It's a skill I taught myself as a child. It takes some practice but, I think everyone has the ability, if they really focus, to wake themselves. You can just say to your self "I'm asleep. This is only a dream. This will be over quickly. I am going to wake up now."

I teach this skill to my kids too.

But, as I said. This was only a few times and it's still worth it to me to have these dreams and be a non-smoker.

I should also note that during my worst night terror I had taken Melatonin, a natural sleep remedy, that may have effected my dreaming.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Furious Anger or What an Ass#$%& or Why Did I Marry You?

So you are crying a lot and your boss seems to be a bigger Dink than you thought possible and your coworker is a moron and you can't figure out what you were thinking when you married your spouse and the kids must have taken a pill that causes annoying?

Yeah, me too.

Deep breaths. I wish I had better answers. But, this is going to totally suck-ass for a while.

In 2 - 3 - 4
Out 2 -3 - 4
In 2 - 3 - 4
Out 2 -3 - 4

Go hide in your room. Tell your kids you're sorry. Tell your spouse you'd like an issue-free zone for 2-3 months. Cry your little heart out - that's okay too.

Everyone on the planet is crazy. That's the truth of it. You had to smoke to deal with all of these people before. Just because you quit smoking doesn't mean your boss is going to be a different person. Your kids were this annoying before - you just smoked to deal with it.

You have to replace the smoking with a better coping strategy. Drink water. Hide out. Avoid talking to people. Rigorously exercise to get rid of all this anger.

If you blow up or lose it or have a melt down. It's okay.

Tomorrow's a new day. Suck it up and apologize and start the new day with a clean slate.

You can do this and it's worth doing.

Man Dies in Dallas

There have been several stories about the Dallas man who went into an uncharacteristic violent rage his first week on Chantix. He was threatening a neighbor at their door in a furious anger and the neighbor fired through the door, killing him.

The girlfriend reported that he was out of his mind in a dream-state caused by the Chantix. The man had been drinking alcohol.

This was a terrible tragedy that I do not want to make light of. My personal prayers are with his family and his girlfriend and even the neighbor.

However, to the Chantix issue I would say this. We really don't know how Chantix effects the brain exactly. The scientists who invented Chantix really don't understand it.

There is a lot of anger and rage involved in quitting smoking, but I found there to be less rage with Chantix than I experienced without it.

I've always said the best place to quit smoking is in a cabin the woods by yourself or in a padded room with a straight jacket under adequate supervision.

Every medication has side effects and you should be aware of them and weigh the risks and make an informed decision.

But, to let a rare side effect keep you from quitting smoking doesn't make any rational sense.

The side effects to smoking include:
* Death
* Cancer
* Heart Attacks
* Blood Clots
* Diabetes
* Emphysema
* Bronchitis
* Pneumonia
* Bad teeth
* Bad skin
* Being a bad role model to kids and grand kids
* Stink, stink, stink

For me, it makes sense like this: Phillip Morris is more to blame for that man's death than Pfizer as they are the ones who sell an addictive product that makes you homicidal when you quit.

Taking Chantix is worth the risk, I think. Though I have to add, I am not liable for your decisions to take or not take this medication.

To be informed you can go here and here.

Certainly I will add this: These stories do indicate that it's a bigger risk to drink alcohol while taking Chantix. Many users of Chantix report that the desire to drink is lessened while taking Chantix. Drinking alcohol is directly related to smoking, in that it serves as a trigger.

Though I have to add, I am not liable for your decisions to take or not take this medication.

Drinking Alcohol

I have to say - so far Chantix has been a miracle. It’s a miracle that I’m not mentally obsessed with smoking. Even when I have gone weeks without smoking - or during my pregnancies - I have thought constantly about smoking. So far, I’ve wasted almost no mental energy at all on wanting a cigarette. I’ve not been tempted and had only a few urges to smoke when I forgot to take my pill.

This is definately the miracle I’ve been looking for! I couldn’t be happier with it. However, I still haven’t gone out for a girls night and drank. I don’t know if I could do that without smoking. We shall see. Is that required to be a non-smoker?

Answer to self: Yes it is.

If you have a smoke only when drinking alcohol you might turn into an alcholic. Smoking is an addiction. If you continue to participate in it your brain will use your own "only when I drink logic" to get you to drink more so you can smoke.

Mixing alcohol with Chantix is risky anyway. It's risky to drink alcohol when taking medications that effect the way your brain functions.

Day 15, Still Smoking

Still smoking on Day 15 of Chantix?

My question is this: What are you getting out of smoking that you're refusing to let go of?

Have you grieved for your lost right to smoke?
Have you surrendered your precious identity as a smoker?
Are you missing your bonding time with your smoking spouse?
If there's no smoke-break is there just NO break?
Have you mourned the loss of your best friend?
Have you figured out something to do with your hands?
Are you desperate to get out of conversations?
Are you lying to yourself about your level of addiction?

It could, just maybe, be as simple as this: STOP BUYING CIGARETTES.

Get punitive with yourself. Make rules around your smoking if you have to cheat.

Rule 1 - every time you cheat you have to buy a new pack and then throw it away. Smokers have a lose relationship with the value of money to begin with since the habit has progressively gotten insanely expensive and we kept smoking. But, still if you're paying $5 per cigarette, eventually this is going to deter your cheating.

Rule 2 - You can't cheat in any comfortable place. You have to walk across the street and do it or you have to stand in the corner of your yard facing the neighborhood. No smoking in your comfort zone.

Rule 3 - You can't cheat with your real brand of cigarettes. If you're a menthol smoker only cheat with Golden Beach Reds or if you hate menthol's you can only cheat with those.

Special note to self: Cut some slack. This is a long-term habit with no short-term solution. Self-loathing never made you quit smoking before and it won't now.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Reinventing History

Since every important moment in my whole life - well my teen and adult life anyway - has involved smoking do I have to reinterpret my own history?

To some degree, I think so. I have to reinterpret the meaning of the cigarette and see it as a self-defeating coping mechanism.

It's helpful, after the terrible mourning the lost of your best friend grief, to recognize that you could have and should have made another choice.

I just read In An Instant, by Lee and Bob Woodruff and found one part really struck me as very different from myself. When she received the phone call that her husband had been blown up in Iraq her first coping strategy was to go outside and jog.

JOG! Are you freaking kidding me?

There is not a single-place in my memory of stress where my first reaction was to jog. Mostly there have been cigarettes and various other less than healthy reactions like perhaps drinking or popping pills or sobbing or screaming or eating too much. Never, ever jogging.

Until I quit smoking and decided to replace my negative and self-defeating coping strategies with healthy non-harmful strategies. It's the creation of new habits. Just habits. Since I have been working out and exercising and drinking water I find that when I get stressed out I do turn to that. Since smoking is out and I refuse to pick up other bad habits as I discard this one - I am more likely to go to the gym when I am upset. I make sure I don't miss my yoga class whether I feel like it or not.

This makes me less likely to be stressed. Perhaps my seeing my perma-smoke in the memory of me as a negative self-defeating reaction opens the door for me to change my future reactions?

Can you believe that you might jog rather than smoke in the face of stress?

Cinematic Conceit


Do you ever picture your life in the 3rd person? Like you watch your behavior from the outside to see how it looks?

I think lots of smokers would secretly admit there is a level of cinematic conceit about their smoking. Your smoking is dramatic or cool or something that looks attractive on film or in a commercial. Smoking is your prop and you're the star of the show?

Okay, I admit it. There is an element of cinematic conceit to MY smoking. I see the dramas of my life and a cigarette is always present. Sitting on a curb crying and smoking with a broken heart. Slamming a door in the heat of anger, lighting up with a flip of my hair. Deep exhales after sex. Rocking out in my carefree moment on the dance floor in my heals, with a cigarette in my hand.

Every emotion, every drama, every heart break, every pivotal moment, joy, happiness, sorrow - in my memory that plays the tapes back there has been a cigarette. And I'm attached to that. Smoking is attached to all the emotions of my life. My whole history. My whole story. Connected to smoking.

But, I'm willing to let it go. To give it up, we have to open the door for future triumphs, sorrows, emotions, pivotal moments to be smoke free.

Envision what you want tomorrow to be like and try to picture it without a cigarette. Can I let myself picture my daughter's wedding without me having to sneak out the back door for a smoke? Can I picture going to church and sitting through the whole service without needing a smoke break? Could there be a break at work without stepping out for a break to smoke?

Can I have my cinematic conceit without making smoking the prop? Could I have a moment without thinking about how it would look on film or in a novel? Can I just live a life without the conceit?

Can you?