I was told that capital letters on a website is seriously 'verboten' as it's a sign of shouting at someone. Well, I am SHOUTING NOW!!!
October will see an influx of some of the nicest people I've 'never' met hitting a one-year mile-stone. For each of us, I think, this day - 12 months ago - seemed at best a vague future hope - in reality an unachievable target.
I couldn't see myself here on Oct 1, 2009. Maybe this might ring a chord with a few people who are starting off quitting, and help a bit - I hope so. I'd started with the worst possible motivation for stopping smoking, ie I had none at all. I'd turned up for a medical in order to play competitive sport (necessary in France, not necessary in England) - anyway, as I'm huffing and puffing through the medical, the doctor states the obvious, that I smoke. Fortunately not such a condemnation, merely a statement of fact. Being a guilty-feeling Brit I launched into a spiel about how I intended to cut down/give up. All utter nonsense. The doctor, being French, just shrugs her shoulders, the way only the French can, and says something like if you really want to this might help. So I walk out of the doctors with a prescription for Champix.
LUCKY BREAK NUMBER ONE.
Being a swotty gink by nature, I researched Champix on the internet. Didn't believe any of the claims - the good ones or the bad ones - but decided - with no expections - to give it a go. I was seriously doubtful that any good would come from it but went into it with a view that at least I'd tried.
LESSON NUMBER ONE
For anyone thinking of trying it out on Champix, there are a few things you should take seriously. Firstly, it has had a bad press in some quarters relating to 'mind altering/depressive' feelings. Bear in mind, that nicotine is a mind-altering drug, so withdrawal from it will have an effect - with or without other additives. So be aware of your general health, particularly mental health, when quitting whether with Champix or anything else. And go talk to your doctor at the first signs of any problems.
LESSON NUMBER TWO
Champix (or patches or anything else) isn't going to stop you putting a cigarette in your mouth and lighting it. Only you can do that. You have to break the habit. Champix will stop you craving a cigarette, but not stop you breaking the habit. My best advice a year on is don't force yourself to smoke if you don't want to. Sounds odd, but some people actually do because they feel they should be doing so.
LUCKY BREAK NUMBER TWO
So, being a swotty gink (and geek) by nature - the next thing I did was look for a support group online - and found this one. This wasn't the lucky break - though it's a great site. The LUCKY BREAK NUMBER TWO was I hit upon an amazing group of 'virtual' people aka THE OCTOQUITS. I've never met any of them but at times in the past year, I've laughed, cried and worried over them like they were my nearest and dearest. And I'm sure they would say the same.
I don't know what the statistics are for a random group of people quitting smoking by a variety of methods and what the stats are as regards the percentage that would still be quit a year later. But I'd like to hazard a guess that we 'bust the bank' on it.
I'm not going to name names as you all know who you are - and as the trail-blazer in the Penthouse, I look forward to each and every arrival this month.
A year in, I'd like to give some thoughts to those just starting.
1. Did I think I'd get this far?
2. Was it hard?
Yes, Recognise you are addicted to nicotine, learn as much as you can, it helps it understand what you're going through and why.
3. When did it get easy?
Little by little - gradually you notice that you go from being obsessed by smoking and not smoking - to diminished cravings for smaller periods of times.
4. Does it ever go away?
For me, no. But it's not an all-emcompassing craving. It's more a 'ohh, I fancy a bacon butty' type of craving, which can be controlled.
5. Best things of giving up?
Without doubt. FREEDOM. I don't have to spend my time wondering where I can fit the next cigarette in, how long I've got to sit in a meeting before making an excuse to leave. How long it's polite to stay at the table after a meal etc etc. I still feel such a heel when I think back on the number of family 'dos' where I've rushed off to have a fag outside instead of talk to my nieces or other people who really wanted to see me - not me under a haze of smoke in the drive.
For me, no different. I'm sure on the inside I'm probably fitter and all information I read tells me I must be heading for a longer life. But it's not a cure-all that you suddenly turn into an Olympic athlete overnight.
Well, I don't notice that I'm better off but I'm no longer burning £5+ a day - and the money stays in my purse longer. I have noticed less trips to the cash point machine.
The big thing for me. Some of my best friends stink! Really stink. It's not the smell of 'new' tobacco, (I can still do an impersonation of the 'Bisto kid') it's the old tobacco on them, which is ingrained into jackets, coats etc. It is really repulsive - and I hate the thought that I smelt like that for years.
9.A good thing?
Without doubt, the best thing I've ever done. Yes, I've gained a few pounds, but I can deal with that - when I get round to dieting.
10. Will I start again?
I don't want to - but I'm not complacent. I did give up years ago and started again when the going got tough in a personal matter. Did it help the personal matter? No, of course not. Did it help me? No, just added to problems.
11. Life after cigarettes?
I know as a long term smoker that before I gave up I couldn't see a future without cigarettes. It sounds strange to say that now, but I felt that my character and personality were somehow defined by having a cigarette and without one I wouldn't be 'me'. Well, I am 'me' and a nicer and happier 'me' as a result.
WELCOME OCTOQUITS - you are all amazing, kind and generous people.
You all have a story to tell, (and you've all earned the right to tell it and other people might benefit from hearing it) so perhaps this thread/forum could be a bit of advice to people starting out, as well as a massive virtual back-slap to all of us.