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The Thing They Never Tell You About Quitting Smoking...

Here’s the thing about quitting smoking nobody tells you. It sucks! It really sucks!

Original blog post from 5 years ago, I am still smoke free and doing great. All symptoms are gone and every so often I do miss it – but it passes quickly. But in honor of 5 years I thought I would re-share my original post. It is my one blog post that has gotten the most responses. The information is still relevant of the journey, The Thing They Never Tell You About Quitting Smoking.

Here’s the thing about quitting smoking nobody tells you. It sucks! It really sucks! There is nothing fun about it. I don’t know all these people who say once you quit you feel so much better, have more energy, blah blah… That has not been my experience. I am here to talk about the real shit of quitting smoking. And for all those people who say “what’s the big deal?”, “Millions of people quit smoking every day and they do just fine, get over it” … what I say is **** YOU! Don’t minimize my experience because others have dealt with it differently. I don’t do that to you so don’t do it to me. I know many people who are going through hard times in their lives that I may have handled differently because of my tolerance but I don’t minimize your experiences, I expect the same in return. I am here to give you another perspective of what you may experience. What you’re more likely to experience if you have been a long term smoker. Everyone is different so many of you may be those lucky ones that it’s just a week of nicotine withdrawals, you’re a bit uncomfortable and then boom you’re over it! Good for you, you can just move along. But for those of you that it’s more, stick around; there might be some comfort in knowing you are not alone in your experience.

I have been a full-fledged, pack a day smoker for at least 25 years. My whole adult life I have smoked. I started in school at a very young age; at first, it was just to be cool with friends. It later turned into a pack a day habit. I always stayed around a pack a day, sometimes a bit more if I was overly stressed or out at bars socializing and drinking but that was my habit. Always lights, the brand changed through the years but always stayed lights….like that really makes a difference. And I was one of those people who liked smoking…. actually sometimes loved it! Many smokers hate themselves after each cigarette; I was not one of those. I hated smelling like it but the doing it….I really, really liked! The whole thing brings back a sense of nostalgia about those times when a cigarette was my only comfort. That’s the thing that nobody tells you, every smoker knows that giving it up is good for them in the long run. We know it is a waste of money, we know it’s bad for us and giving it up is so much better, and we get all of that. We want to be like those non-smokers who look at cigarettes and thinks, “why in the world would you want to do that?” Those are some of the reasons that we give up cigarettes because we know and those are good reasons but what happens after they are gone? That’s what no-one talks about.

First, let me say why I finally gave it up. I have been thinking for a long time that I no longer wanted to be a slave to cigarettes. Really that’s the big reason. Also, I wanted to be an example for my beautiful niece who looks up to me and wants to be like me, and I have a new nephew. I would like to be a good example for them and be healthy for them. But the big reason was the feeling of enslavement. As someone on the spiritual path pointed out to me, I wanted to get my power back. I no longer wanted to worry about going somewhere and stressing about a place I could smoke. I want to travel and go to Hawaii next year, I don’t want to be hiking on a mountain in beautiful nature and go looking for a place to smoke. I don’t want to always have to have cigarettes by my side to get through my life. I already knew all the health and money reasons to quit but that didn’t deter me. Smokers already know this shit and they don’t care, they still want to smoke, why because it is an addiction first and foremost but it is also something else. It becomes a relationship! That is where the real problem lies and why it is so hard to break. Yes it may be a toxic relationship, and it is, but a relationship none the less!

It has been almost 50 days since my last cigarettes, I went cold-turkey. No nicotine replacements. If you are going to quit forget the gum or patches they only keep you physically hooked. That is why most go back. First, you must get the nicotine out of your system completely. I am not going to get too much into the physical withdrawals here, they are pretty bad but you can get through them. The actual nicotine withdrawal itself isn’t the worst part, at least for me. I got very, very sick and couldn’t breathe I suspect because of the healing of my lungs and it trying to release the tar and chemicals. The cilia grow back as soon as you stop smoking, so I was having a very hard time. That is what cleans and protects your lungs. Smoking damages that. I actually went to the emergency room twice in a week with not being able to breathe and having chest pains. The tests came back good so the doctors think that my lungs were just so inflamed from the years of smoking and no longer putting that in my body. It has been pretty painful to say the least. I am now feeling much better in that regard. They gave me steroids, some breathing treatments and cough syrup for the symptoms. It helps and it’s just the waiting for things to heal on their own. For about 4 weeks the cough was so bad I couldn’t sleep so it was pretty stressful. Now I am sleeping, that’s the thing that is very weird. One of the effects of not smoking is either insomnia or exhaustion. I have fluctuated back and forth between the two during this process.

Then there’s the brain fog! Nobody tells you about the brain fog. I am forgetful, clumsy disoriented and spacey. I had no idea that would happen. It could be my brain chemistry changing as it is clearing out all those years of toxic poison I was doing to it. I am sure that’s it, I even got some online bills mixed up this previous month because of the brain fog which had to be sorted out.

There, of course, is the moodiness, agitation, and aggravation; I was expecting all of that. Don’t take it out on other people and just know that even if you withdrawal a bit and need some space the people around you might take it personal. Don’t let that dissuade you in your goal, it is about you, not them and that will work itself out.

So now the important part that is unexpected and quite baffling really. It is the feeling of loss. The loss of a long relationship, there is a mourning and depression that set in that I wasn’t expecting. A friend described it like I just decided to end a lifetime relationship and there are feelings that are coming up to deal with