Beginning Life Again – As a Non-Smoker

I am 32 years old, and I’ve literally smoked for half of my life. Today at 2pm, it has been 5 days being smoke free. For a pack-a-day, chain-smoking, whoever-doesn’t-like-it-can-take-a-hike, type of gal, this is monumental. For anyone who smokes, or is thinking of quitting, or wants to quit, I’m going to give a few of the insights I’ve learned, so that maybe your path is a little less rocky.

Make a list of “Rules for the Road” before you embark on your journey. Mine went something like this: 1. Smoking is not an option. 2. Don’t take it out on other people (not even in your mind). 3. Be easy with yourself; be easy with life. 4. Nothing is more important than this mission at this time in your life. (This really put things in perspective and kept me from getting irritated at people or circumstances too much because I knew I could just walk away).

Just having this mentality right off the bat helped tons. I always thought I’d be mean, cranky and irritable when I quit but I was mostly very nice to people, and perhaps even nicer than usual (suffering can have that effect). It’s really a great thing because being a jerk and then feeling guilty is too much emotional turmoil and trust me, when kicking the habit, you are going to be emotional enough.

Prepare yourself with a few things (this is not professional, medical advice, so consult your physician before taking any of it).

Calcium, if you have digestive problems, calcium rich Tums or Rolaids are recommended, if not than you can just take a calcium supplement. Your body will be losing calcium, so you are going to want to replenish.

Vitamine B Complex – take double dosage the first two weeks. This helps stabilize mood.

Vitamin C – Eat at least 3 oranges a day. The way I used this advice was, on my way to work in the car when I would usually have my first smoke I ate oranges instead. I was all about those oranges. I had them sliced up and they were a great distraction. Also, a good way to wake up in the morning. Did I mention I was off of caffeine as well. Oranges help wake you up pretty well.

Limit or stop caffeine intake for the first 4 or 5 days. Caffeine will make your cravings stronger. It will also make all experiences more intense; sleepy fog is preferable.

Drink LOTS AND LOTS of water. You want to cleanse your system of all the toxins asap. Water will help you do this. Every time you urinate you will be releasing all of the chemicals and mucky muck that’s been mucking around in your body. Be happily rid of it!  

Now, I’m going to give you a quick breakdown of what you may experience during your first few days. Everyone’s experiences may be a bit different, but we also may have much in common.

Quitting Day

I also wanted to mention two big things that led me to quitting day.

#1: The Lefkoe Method (eliminate a negative belief in under 20 minutes.)  Prior to trying out the Lefkoe Method, I always thought I couldn’t quit. There was just no question to it. Days after starting the Lefkoe method, (you can see what I wrote about it here, here, or here) I summoned the courage to believe it was possible and take the leap to thing #2.

#2: Seeing a reputable hypnotherapist, Cappi Pidwell. I saw her for an hour and a half session the day I quit. She was phenomenal. She first interviewed me about my smoking habits and really brought the reality of the matter to light and right before my eyes – some things I had been denying for so long. I felt truly emotional and like I was seeing the truth for the first time, or allowing myself to fully see it for the first time. Next she explicitly stated that she is not there to cure or fix me, she was only there to facilitate access to my subconscious mind which wants to preserve my body, but I am still fully and 100% responsible. I actually really liked that, it was empowering. Anyway, I went in for the appointment about 2pm on Wednesday and for the first time in my life, I was able to truly believe I can quit smoking. Here are my first 5 days:

Day 1: My resolve was very strong, I knew what I wanted, and I hadn’t felt that way for as long as I can remember, if I ever had. I went back to work and went to class that night, staying away from friends that smoke and places where I usually smoked. I felt the temptation of course, but it wasn’t very powerful. I went home and went to sleep very well.

Day 2: I woke up several times during the morning, feeling more alert than usual. Finally I woke up  shortly before I had to leave for work. I got ready and headed in, taking with me orange slices to consume in the car. I was very busy with the slices and the orange juice was delicious. I also put carrot juice into my coffee mug and sipped that on my way to work. The day was characterized by a very strong sleepy-dreamy-ness. I felt very relaxed and

extremely tired. I read that each time someone takes a hit off of a cigarette it adds 10 or so heartbeats per minute. No wonder I was so sleepy! My heart was able to relax a little bit. It would have been great to nap all day.

The urges to smoke where very visceral at this point. Every time I would have normally had a cigarette, there was this pull in my chest that I would have just followed in the past. Even my thoughts kept going back to having a cigarette. I kept having to remind myself that I don’t do that anymore. You have to keep reminding yourself of what you are doing, and why. And you have to remember that the addiction part of it will try to manipulate you into smoking, in whatever way it can, be alert to it. It’s your voice, so it can easily fool you.

Day 3: This was Friday evening and Saturday morning. Mostly a continuation of the day before. A little more energy. Very hard to focus, very hard to follow a train of thought. Seemed almost like ADD/ADHD. Felt on edge a little and began having stronger cravings that afternoon. The cravings started coming on stronger and more rationalized. I spoke to a coworker about smoking, playing with the idea of having a cigarette, practically asking for a cigarette. By the end of day 3, I absolutely didn’t feel like myself. I have been weepy and emotional, crying for everything. My cousin said it had something to do with a healing crisis. That resonated with me.

Thank goodness my coworkers are supportive. I also talked to my girlfriend through the whole process. It really helps to have someone you can talk to everyday and just tell them how you are feeling, to get positive feedback and someone who will listen. If you don’t have friends or family you can talk to, there are a few really good free smoking cessation support programs out there. You can actually telephone them everyday, or at least log-on and communicate via discussion boards and other platforms. Places like becomeanex.org, or in the state of California, 1-800-No-Butts. However you do it, find support, it’ll elevate your chances significantly.

Day 4: I probably felt about 20% normal, 40% foggy, 10% agitated, 30% varying degrees of sad, weepy, happy, hysterical, and very sleepy. I had many major cravings and even began mentally mapping out how to smoke next. When my girlfriend left, I would smoke. “I just couldn’t take this”, I thought, “I don’t think I will ever feel normal again”. The addictive side told me that I would never feel normal again, that I might as well smoke, that I was in pain because I was quitting, so I ought to smoke to feel better. I forgot to mention, I had severe leg pain and cramps. I’m sure this was due to circulation (I had been doing some moderate exercising the first few days). The pain was so bad, it just added insult to injury. On the verge of breaking down, I call my sister, both her and her husband are ex-smokers, and she gave some really great insight. Day 4 is hell day – it’s the day your body realizes it’s not getting anymore tobacco and it’s FREAKING OUT. It is going to do whatever it takes for you to smoke. Hearing this really helped me. It was so true! It actually sounded like the best thing to do, when any rational human being knows it isn’t and couldn’t be the best thing to do. Having this insight, remember it as well, having the support of my girlfriend, my sister and brother-in-law in those crucial moments, helped me get through hell day.

Day 5: Focus became a lot easier. Feelings of normalcy begin to return. More energy, cravings severity go down. Smoking is not every other thought, you may even find that you are beginning to forget, (just a little) that you want to smoke. I went outside several times to breathe fresh air, it was amazing. A wonderful mantra which helped me through was, “This is the healthiest I have been in 16 years”. When I look at it that way, there is no way to believe it’s a good idea to go back… but alas, I continue forward.

Just remember, it is going to be crazy. You will feel such a wide range of emotions, you will likely not be able to think too clearly and you will believe that you will never feel normal again. This is not true, just keep holding out, and much sooner than you know, you’ll be OK. I’ll give more insights into this as I go along in the process.

I will keep you guys posted, and if you’ve got any questions please don’t hesitate to ask. I obviously know how difficult this is, but I also believe it’s absolutely worth it and I am willing to do whatever I can to help anyone else out with it.

Update here, Letting the Smoke Clear – Day 30 as a Non-Smoker