Day 454. OK, so it's not a milestone
But as there are so many new quitters on here, I just wanted to share a few thoughts, and things that have helped me get here.
When I joined this site I had no confidence that I would stick with a quit.I felt like smoking was an ingrained part of my identity, something I *enjoyed*, ffs, and the only thing that motivated me was fear for my health. I didn't want to quit, I felt I had to try. And for a LONG time I thought that it was a temporary thing. That it wasn't a question of if I would cave, but when.
However, I kept making the choice not to smoke, day by day. The days and weeks and months ticked by, and something inside me gradually changed. And here I am today, almost 15 months of freedom behind me, and I can look at the old me, and at my old habit, in a completely different light. I could never go back.
And there's nothing special about me. Every one of us has the power inside us to do this thing.
So here are my thoughts for today. They all helped me at one time or another and I hope they might help you.
1) THE FREEDOM IS PRICELESS. I remember the pain of quitting. It's horrendous at times, all consuming. But when you come out of that dark place and into the light, which you will, it is such a wonderful feeling! You will find yourself wanting to skip around like some kind of demented Disney princess.
2) IT DOES GET BETTER! People ahead of me in my quit constantly said this, and I tried to listen but a part of me didn't believe it (particularly several weeks into my quit when I was still having bad days). I thought they were just better, stronger people than me. But try to believe it, because it is true for everyone: the craves get easier to beat, the bad moments get fewer and further between, you can achieve freedom. It takes longer for some people than for others, but it does happen.
3) DON'T BE FRIGHTENED. Don't fear craves, none of them are unbeatable. Even the worst of them passes, as long as you don't light up. Your brain has a number of triggers to work through. Even the most powerful of them can be beaten. Always take it one day at a time. No matter how crappy a day it is, when you wake the next morning you will be proud of yourself, and that bit stronger in your quit.
4) RECOGNISE THE FALSE MEMORIES. When you're down the road in your quit you can have moments where the memory of smoking is really powerful and appealing - when the sun is shining and you're outside having a beer and a barbecue, when you've had a really long and stressful day and you finally sit down with a cup of tea or whatever. You can think to yourself 'smoking would have completed this, my life isn't the same without it, I miss it'. It's a subconscious trigger, folks, just like all the other more obvious ones. Have a stern word with yourself, take a deep breath, move on. Once you've been in that same situation a couple of times without smoking you'll find it doesn't have the same power over you any more.
5) HALT - HUNGRY? ANGRY? LONELY? TIRED? This is a great tip: when you're climbing the walls for a smoke the chances are it's a trigger prompted by another physical need. You might find that a nap, or a glass of water, or whatever will fix that need.
6) CHOOSE YOUR PAIN - when you're really going through it the demon on your shoulder will keep whispering 'is this worth it'? Well there's a great article on the woofmang website with the title 'Choose Your Pain'. Do you want the pain of change, which is what you're facing now, or the pain of regret that you may well face a little way down the line when you have to face a terminal illness? It's a really harsh thought, but sometimes we have to be tough with ourselves during a quit. It IS worth it, and you know it. So keep powering through.
7) CELEBRATE THE MILESTONES - this is a Cavalier tip, and it's a good one. Celebrate getting through the first day, the first two, three, the first week, month, three months, 100 days, six months, year. It's a huge thing you're doing and it's never a bad time to look back at how far you've come and pause to blow your own trumpet. You deserve it!
8) READ, READ, READ - you'll find a lot of people on here telling you this. There is a wealth of information out there, and if you make it your business to educate yourself about what you're going through, to read other people's experiences, support articles, alan carr or whatever - you will find things that resonate with your own experience. It helps you to feel you're not alone and it could be the thing which brings about that elusive subconscious change in your attitude to smoking. At the very least, it'll keep you occupied!
9) BREATHE DEEP - it helps with the cravings to take deep breaths. And if, like me, you had knackered lungs it also helps to realise how much better you can breathe. How much better things smell. How horrific the smell of a smoker is! Take in a good breath of clean air, think about your lungs coming back to life. You can't sacrifice that by lighting a cigarette, it's just not worth it!
Right. This may actually be the longest post I've ever written. If you have reached the end of it you're probably six months into your quit already
But I hope some of it helped someone.