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the diary, day three

A daily occurrence which is here for my sake and which you may ignore. Yesterday sucked. Sort of. It seems the cravings have gotten more intense, rather than waning at all. And I think I'm feeling both the cravings and the withdrawal symptoms acutely this time because my brain knows I am not kidding around. All those other times, my quitting was half hearted. Also, the last time I quit I was already taking Wellbutrin every day, which made it easy. This time I mean business. So every single part of my body has been waging a war against me. I'm winning. When people who don't smoke or never have smoked talk to you about quitting, they don't quite understand what it's like to quit. They don't understand that nicotine is addictive. You can't just throw out your cigarettes one day, wipe your hands and say that's that. There are consequences - not to quitting, but to having been slave to the addiction for so long.
Here are some symptoms of nicotine withdrawal: * Cravings * Irritable, cranky * Insomnia * Fatigue * Inability to Concentrate * Headache * Cough * Sore throat * Constipation, gas, stomach pain * Dry mouth * Sore tongue and/or gums * postnasal drip * Tightness in the chest (source) It reads like one of those commercials for happy pills where the pleasant sounding man tells you that side effects may include internal bleeding and loss of limbs, though the symptoms are not quite as daunting as what I went through with my Paxil/Wellbutrin withdrawal. Which is why I think I will succeed at this. I went through three months of experiencing a mental/physical horror movie playing out in my body and brain. I now know that I can handle the nicotine revolution my body is throwing. Another thing non-smokers don't understand is that a smoking addiction isn't just about the smoking. For many of us there are other issues at play. As I mentioned yesterday, I have an addictive/obsessive personality. Once a person like myself starts smoking, the act of lighting the cigarette becomes ingrained into your life's routine. The motions of bringing the cigarette to your mouth, sucking the smoke down, inhaling, exhaling, even stubbing the cigarette out, are all part of the mental addiction. So without all of that, a quitter will become lost, in a way. I need something to do with my hands because they are waiting for a box of cigarettes to pack against my palm, to hold one, to light one, to flick the ashes. My mouth is alive with desperate nerve endings waiting for the smoke to alleviate their cravings. So I've gone into what I call whirlwind mode. If I don't stop moving, thinking, doing, I won't cave into the desire. Yesterday was ten straight hours of moving furniture around, dusting in places that haven't seen light since we moved in, reorganizing closets, putting the CDs back in alphabetical order and cooking a five course dinner even though the kids were out for the evening and my husband insisted he wasn't that hungry. It's not a bad way to live, really, and a nice change from my usual lazy approach to housekeeping. But it's manic, and reminds me too much of the last few weeks of my first marriage, when I was trying to get my house in order because I obviously couldn't get my life in order. My world was falling apart, but my bookshelves were sorted by size and my canned vegetables were all facing outwards! Ok, I digress, but you'll have to forgive me as my mind is all over the place today. I'm making a list of things to tackle this afternoon as I wait for the withdrawal symptoms to lesson, and a list of things to do in between those things to keep me from eating instead of smoking. Today's projects will be getting the rest of my CD collection onto the iPod and then I'm going to start in on the huge box of photos in the attic, that need to be sorted, labeled, put in frames/books, etc. God help me if I start scrapbooking. I will not be a scrapbooker. If it comes down to spending five hours putting fancy borders around photos of my daughter taking her first poop, I will go back to smoking, I swear to you. Ok, scratch the photos. I think I'll take apart all my Transformers and put them back together again instead. Day three down, about fifteen dollars saved, teeth ground down to nothing, but again, the house is clean and my lungs are a bit cleaner.

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Comments

Keep it up girl!

Michelle, you make an excellent point. If you got through Wellbutrin withdrawl, you CAN do this. Just keep remembering that. I remember when you were going through that, about the time when I first started reading you and, consequently, about the time I was going off Serazone cold turkey. I remember thinking "Thank God I wasn't on Wellbutrin!" You are one strong chick!

I think you should keep a Transformer right next to you and disassemble and reassemble him whenever the urge strikes you. It's a hell of a lot more fun that scrapbooking, and less fattening than chocolate or licorice or any of the other millions of things you could shove in your mouth. Good Luck, girl! We're rooting for you!

Oh God. This isn't turning into one of those "overcoming obstacles in the face of adversity against all odds despite what everyone says and dreaming your own dreams even though they may not be what everyone expects but you really just need to go your own way" blogs is it?

'cuz you know I'm a sucker for those.

Wellbutrin eh? I came off a Zoloft addiction that made me thought I was going insane. Thankfully I had reigned in the actual dosage for about two months prior to going off, but it was still like having all my logic thrown out the window. Yeah, if you can beat Wellbutrin, you can beat nicotine.

michelle

your comment on the physical parts of smoking was dead on as i said before i havent smoked in 8yrs and i still find my self reaching for the smokes pocket after a meal sometimes get your self some sugar free hard candy then when you get the urge you can go through a routine un wrap candy krinkle wrapper etc etc

Keep it up before you know it you will have a week behind you than a month and by the time your 3 months your extra clean and orderly house will be on the cover of better homes and gardens lol

regards
gbfan

I know what you're going through, Michelle, hang in there.

I too have an extremely addictive personality. I quit 8 years ago, it was incredibly difficult. To this day, I flick the ashes off the end of my pen or pencil. Some habits never die...

Be strong, do it for yourself.

While detox varies for different people, as I recall this is the worst part. If you can get through the next 72 hours, M, the craving will subside. Honest.

Wellbutrin is probably the most helpful adjunct to getting through detox. I know a VA pharmacist that advocated taking a lecithin supplement for the first 14 days.

What you need is diversion. I know Solly and I can get together a Kumbaya group sing. That's the ticket!

Then again, one could quietly quit and announce the results six months later.

Then again, one could quietly quit and announce the results six months later.

Then again, you don't have to read this.

Good luck! My brother gave up last year but gave into his cravings just a week before his wedding. He's given up again, and this time his wife has too, so hopefully they'll pull each other through it.

Good going! I'm cheering for you!!!!!

cinnamon sticks. A friend found these the solution to "what to do with my hands" problem.

Good Luck.

Michelle,

I quit in 1994 for good after many tries. IT CAN BE DONE! Here is a link that may help you.
http://groups.msn.com/FreedomFromTobaccoQuitSmokingNow/_homepage.msnw?pgmarket=en-us

I just think that approach would avoid the embarassment of lapsing.

I am proud of you!

I'm not a smoker. Never have been. But both Mom and Dad died of smoking-related diseases. Dad quit smoking ten years before he died of complications of emphesema. Mom tried hard but could never really shake the habit totally. I know it has to be tough.

Hang in there. A bunch of us non-smokers are pulling for you. And I'd imagine that a lot of smokers are watching for your success before THEY try to make the journey...

Brett, it seems to me that adding public embarrassment to the cost of failure is an eminently rational strategy for someone who really wants to succeed...

Jeez, someone tell Brett to shove it already. Anyway, this:

If I don't stop moving, thinking, doing, I won't cave into the desire.

That was pretty much how I had to handle it. If left idle for one minute, guess what I'd start remembering and missing. Damn if you don't get a lot of chores done when you quit, though.

I have to ask, does it drive you mad when you see or smell someone else smoking? Because I really had a tough time with that.

I was a regular smoker for 18 enjoyable years. I found out 4 months ago I was pregnant with our much desired 1st child. The smokes went in the trash that day and it wasn't as hard as I'd feared to keep away from them. Giving up drinking at the same time was the key I believe. Not to mention I have a wonderful incentive, my baby's health!

ah, you sound like me two years ago. of course, I was only a smoker for a decade (a two-pack a day Marlboro Medium smoker, mind you) but christ almighty how that crack of the Zippo had gotten ingrained in my every activity.

you can do it. day three is the nastiest. in fact, all the threes are tought, for some reason - day three, week three, month three. of course, I think I fell a rung or two lower on the "Plunge into Alcoholism" ladder the day I quit my butts, but whatever...

not a day goes by that I don't think about taking up smoking again. the craving is gone, but dammit do i miss the smell, the taste, the activity.

fuck...

I'm gonna go duck out and hang around smokers for an hour.

(PS, love the Clutch quote in the title tags)

Gee when did they change the spelling of dick to brett.

Failing a few times is part of the art of quitting smoking its was try number 10 that worked for me the fact that michelle is 1. brave enough to try to quit a habit which is a bitch to quit. 2. have the guts to tell the world that she is trying to quit. Leads me to think she isnt the least bit worried about the embarissment of failing. Im pretty new to this blog but worrying about what other people think doesnt seem like something M would waste her time on lol.

gbfan

I was kinda lucky in a way, when I quit, (I had no intentions of doing so), I had been smoking for 20 some years. Then I caught a horrible cold that immediately went into pnuemonia and I was too sick to even tell my hubby to get me to a hospital, so I laid in bed three days just trying to breathe, and by the time I could get out of bed, I thought, I'm so sick now that I'd be stupid to pick it up again, and it had been three days, so I was over the hump of the withdrawal, so i just never picked it up again. My hardest thing then and now was finding something to do when I drove, so now on long trips, I eat sunflower seeds instead. It's been like, 8 years now. They still smell good sometimes, especially in the morning when it's cold, (don't know why) and I miss being able to get away from people by going outside to smoke.
But, you just have to tell yourself that there is nothing bad enough to make yourself go back to it, and you will be ok. You've already done the hard part, deciding to quit, I never could do that until the choice was made for me. Sending you clean air good thoughts! Hang in...

Good for you!

Good for you, Michele! I was a 2-pack a day smoker 20 years ago, when I decided to quit. I was doing well by not buying any, then I would visit friends who smoked, and bum from them. After a month of this, I told them that I was going to have to stay away for a while - and that finally let me change my habits. After a couple of months, I could hang out at their house without wanting to smoke. In fact, it bothered me (it is SO true that ex-smokers can be worse than Non-smokers!). It helps that my husband (then boyfriend) has never smoked.

Good luck, you can do it!! Find something that occupies your mind and your hands - write lots of posts :-)

All things considered, my stepmom had an easy time quiting smoking. She got pnuemonia - bad - and she had just married my dad, so when the doctor said no smoking he found every cigarette in the house and tossed them.

She was stuck in bed for a week, and he would not go get her any cigarettes. By the time she could go to the store again she was far enough into quitting to stick with it.

Good Luck, Michele, you are strong enough to beat this.

If you finish with the Transformers they have those Gundam models you could build....

Eric, we have three of the Gundam models, but the pieces are so small and my eyes ain't what they used to be.

Here's an interesting approach.
http://main.uab.edu/smokersonly/
Probably not for you (anyone who can quit a SSRI cold-turkey has more self-control that I can even dream of) but it has the highest success rate of any "quit smoking" strategy, and after all, it's the inhaling of the smoke of burning leaves into your lungs all day long for years that causes the problems of smoking. Nicotine is really no worse than caffeine or theobromine (ahh, the Holy Trinity--start your day out right with coffee, chocolate, and a cig).
And as a final bit of good news: 50% of all smokers who decide to quit cold turkey succeed.

I know exactly what you're going through. Joanne is right. Get yo'self on over to Joel's place at Freedom from Tobacco and continue your education about the nicodemon there:

http://groups.msn.com/FreedomFromTobaccoQuitSmokingNow/_homepage.msnw?pgmarket=en-us

The 1st 72 hours is the worst. It helps a lot to read and post at Freedom; I suspect it will be especially helpful for a blogger who is as prolific as you. Check it out.


Yeah, people who aren't substance-challenged are always entertaining when you describe your problems quitting. My favorite was the very nice guy who kept saying "Why didn't you just quit?" He just couldn't get his mind around the concept of a desire that was so damaging yet was so powerful it could not be refused.

And yet it can be refused. But it really, really sucks to do so.

Do it. Make this a personal matter between you and your addiction. It's going down, not you. Kill the bitch.

You've described most of the symptoms well, missing primarily the overwhelming urge to run out in your PJ's at three in the morning with a handful of quarters because you know the machine on the corner of the gas station ... you CAN do this, Michelle. You're going to make it.

I cut straws in half, and chewed on them when things were tough.

Of course, there were also the days I walked into the grocery store with a neon green straw sticking out of my mouth. I couldn't figure out why everyone was staring until I got back to the truck, and saw the reflection of that neon green straw in my rearveiw mirror. Oops..

Hang in there Michele.

Toothpicks, Michele. No-cal, non-addictive. They worked for me for a while.

The habitual urges die down, eventually. One thing I did: I refused to hang out with smokers for the first few months I quit. I know my limitations.

And it's utterly true that second-hand smoke affects you. I have nic-fits after I hang out at WR's house. I quit almost seven years ago, and I still want to go back.

I quit smoking Jan 1 of this year. Today is day 21 three weeks. I was a casual smoker until I met my second husband who smoked like a chimney. We became real smoking buddys. I have three children and quit during each pregnancy, but started again after I was done nursing. I have always battled my weight, and that is what started me smoking years ago. After my last child, I was about 190 and a size 14 and faced with a class reunion. I looked in the mirror and said "oh My Gosh" I'm fat. So I hired a personal trainer and got my BMI down to 14 %, size 6, 130 lbs...but I was still smoking. That was 2001-2002. I burned myself out on the exercise so I quit. Then I got a new job as assistsnt to the president of our company, and I am required to travel. Nobody smokes in upper managment, so I found myself sneaking and spraying perfume to hide my addiction. Then this summer my father died of lung cancer..horrible death. My ex mother in law has cancer and has her wind pipe scraped every two months so she can breath. My father in law only has half a lung and my mother in law has just been diagonosed with lung cancer, my grandmother died of emphazyma, as well as my uncle, then my husbands first wife died at 50 of cancer, I helped her through that.(they all smoked) Also the ones that are still alive all carry thier very own oxygen buddy...everywhere. I am going to be 40 this summer, and I do not want to die. I started exercise again, eating well. I studied the smoking habit and I realize that I use smoke to stuff feelings. I have to learn to deal with my emotions as they come up and not smoke about them. I am using the patch which helps me with the craving, the exercise really helps to pump up the endorphines. I exercise before work, so I have a pleasant felling all day. It is hard, but when I get frustrated or angry at someone or something, I tell myself they or that situation is not worth smoking for. Good luck to all of you it's hard...think alive in 2005!