Monday, April 19, 2010

My Lady Nicotine

Last Thursday I gave up smoking for the eleventy hundredth time. Now, I've never been a heavy smoker, not a pack-a-day person; a usual day would be just under half a pack. But that half a pack (sometimes less, sometimes none) a day has been hanging around for about fourteen or so years. A lot too long. My doctor told me last year to give up, and I did try, but I hate being told to do things, even if they are for my own good. I think it stems from having a very controlling parent as a child, who told me what I wanted and didn't want to do rather than let me make my own decisions. I've been rebelling ever since. At my age you'd think I'd have grown out of rebelling.

Anyway, I found giving up last year so damned impossible I thought I'd never crack the habit. I used cigarettes as a form of procrastination. When I don't want to phone a client and talk to them - have a fag*. When I'm stuck on a design element or idea - have a fag. When I can't think of the words to write - have a fag. I'd use cigs as a stress release; after a confrontation with a client, or when I felt backed into a corner with too many people wanting my time I'd escape outside with a cigarette. I'd used them to have a few minutes to myself, particularly when I worked in an office with others; I needed to escape from the mob quite a lot. I used cigarettes when I relaxed, too; nothing like a smoke when you're sitting down with a chilled white wine. I'd get antsy over at my mother's, as she hates smoking and I could never feel comfortable smoking there, so I had to go without which was very hard for me at family dinners or parties. Anywhere there was a a glass of wine for me, I wanted a smoke as well. (* - British for cigarette. Just so's there's no confusion.)

But now it's been five days, and I didn't think I'd manage this. Usually at this point in the giving up process I'm climbing the walls. I have 'fake' cigarettes in the form of a plastic ciggy-shaped thing which has a little vial of nicotine and menthol in it. If I really crave one, I suck on that for the length of time I'd usually take to smoke a cigarette.

What's made it bearable, doable and (I intend) permanent is the Gabriel Method. The GM is primarily a weight loss method which isn't a diet per se but encourages you to eat 'real' foods and comes with a visualisation CD. You visualise yourself with your desired body and through other visualisations as well as a sensible diet and exercise you trick your body into losing weight (or words to that effect). Anyway, the CD is a form of mild hypnosis I think. Jon Gabriel plants the seed in your mind that you'll only crave healthy food not sweet things or rubbish food (I rarely crave junk food anyway, I've always preferred to eat fresh). After a week of listening to it every day I found that I wasn't craving cigarettes as I used to. I was also far less stressed; the CDs are excellent for stress release too. Even if I don't lose weight I'm feeling better within myself.

Right, I thought, with 3 cigs left in the pack on Thursday morning, let's see how long I can go without having a smoke once I've finished these three. I'm still going. I do long for a ciggy every so often, and I go to pick up my fake fag and 'smoke' it but it doesn't taste very nice so that's offputting too. I just go without.

Any time the urge comes upon me, I think of my bicycles. How much better I'll feel riding them without cigarettes in my life and my lungs. How much easier it will be going up hills. Yesterday we went for a ride and I was able to sprint past my husband. Not for long, he always likes being in front; but I felt more powerful within myself. More capable.

Anyway, mind over matter, one day at a time and any other cliche you can add at this point. It takes three weeks to form a habit; I have two and a bit to go before my cigarette habit is more firmly a no-cigarette habit.


  1. Good for you! Use what ever cliche you need. I'm cheering for you.

  2. Thanks Sox! Another fag-free day has gone by - every one of those is a victory :-)