The 6th of July this year was super important to me, marking the 2nd Year I have abstained from cigarettes. That is 18000+ hours of not smoking and over 15000 death sticks not consumed. A proud achievement, though slightly sickening to visualise.
Back in 2018 on late evening after work I found myself as I always did, having a smoke and a pipe after a nice couple of drinks. It was likely nearly my 20th of the day and it was like any other Friday after my day job. I personally do not know what happened or changed but I began to think about my throat being rough and clogged up. This was nothing new obviously, I smoked since I was around 16, but the smell and taste; the feeling of my chest had been pretty downtrodden for a few years. But there is a reason that they tell you it is bad, and like many a smoker numb to that fact due to the addiction.
Thinking about all these things caused a bubbling frustration in me until I eventually just threw the half cigarette away and dumped the rest.
I did know I would need to try an E- Cigarette approach to quitting, as the other methods had not worked in the past. Though I maybe in hindsight could have tried cold turkey again, as my first experience with it was in a house of smokers – Don’t do that!
In the first year of quitting I was not sure if I was going to last. I decided to use E-cigarettes as a crutch to quit, a logic many people employ with gums and patches. I was sceptical though given the number of smokers I knew that had just converted to the new thing. I started on 12mg and slowly lowered the nicotine over the course of 6-months. Like any addiction though it was not without its difficulties.
Going from a 25 per-day smoker, I can understand why people just end up using it as a replacement. There were times where I was going nuts during the 6-month period of lowering the nicotine. Early on it was because it is not the same, you feel weird and alien in smoking areas. After a while that fades but still there was this habit that seemed to need even more maintenance than rolling tobacco. There was the RNG too– such as turning the voltage up by accident and needing factor 900 for your throat.Running out of battery, liquid and clogging all reminded me of all too common issues with lighters, skins and weather. I do no hate on e-cigarettes that much however, since they helped me greatly.
I pretty much used a high quality grape variety the entire time. This is something I could not stress enough – buy high quality liquids. I was able to add the nicotine to this, making it really easy to regulate the dose level. The quality also meant that I did not end up with a bad chest or throat as much. A lot of those cheaper mini bottles are super low quality.
By the time I was on the low levels of nicotine, I was using it a lot. The over compensation though made sense and it took quite some time to get over this last hurdle. At this point I could not go anywhere without it and situations involving drinking, boredom and stressors did not help. But in my core I still knew that the end was not too far round the corner. As even since the beginning I knew I wanted to quit cigarettes. Eventually though I was on nicotine-less liquid by about 4-5 months.
After a while during this last month I noticed a change, I seriously started to wonder why I still smoked the vape. The smell of cigarettes at this point was repulsive and I know ex-smokers get a bad rap for this. But for me it is now so repugnant due to having done it long enough to feel the negative effects, of which there are many. A natural change in attitude along with recovered senses drove me to not be followed by a cloud any more. I just wish I could take back the discomfort I had caused others. Not only that but the flavour and enjoyment of the vapes were starting to wane greatly.
Eventually within a few weeks I found myself sitting at the back door after a couple of nice beers thinking, this grape really is not very tasty. A beer and a cigarette do go lovely together, but now I could enjoy beer for beer and let me tell you grapes are not a good match. At this point I was much more enjoying the fresh air coming from the cool West coast breeze, I could breathe considerably deeper and the lung pains I used to get are far more infrequent now than they have ever been. I rarely get out of breath from general movement or pace. I felt at times guilty for abusing my body the way I had.
But there is no use in self-flagellation and regrets. Not long after this I just stopped carrying it around with me. It became a part of my dresser and after a while it just a background part of my life too. At this time was completely free of the final few components of cigarettes, I realise now that I basically halved the recovery by removing a lot of the toxins while spending six months just using e-liquid and nicotine. Though some of those liquids are pretty nasty, there are tobacco flavours, which dumfounds me. Overall if used right the risks are worth it if it can help you reassess your relationship with smoking and even more if you manage the nicotine too.
It was definitely an effective method for getting clean of the habit. I would say when I hit one year smoke free I hardly felt that much better. But that was due to how heavy I had smoked and I also have enjoyed enough pot in my time too. But I still owned the victory none the less. The second year though was when I really started to feel the benefits. I have considerable energy compared to before and can work physically at a harder level. I can take deep breaths and my sense of taste and smell are really great now.
As someone who loves to cook – I feel like I sinned.
My favourite part of the last two years has been me finally getting back into shape. I have been doing a daily workout to build muscle and core strength. I would like to be strong and healthy; one can aspire to be better than they were the day before. A lot of my physical pains are long gone since I started this journey. I feel strong and with a diet that is appropriate and I have never felt fuller as a person. I still eat plenty of junk at times thanks to my metabolism, but modifying my diet to include more of what I need has led me to look even better than just quitting smoking did for me.
So really I wanted to just share that personal triumph of mine and also to let anyone else out there know – You can do it to if you want too!
Something as simple as changing a keystone habit like smoking has improved my life greatly. It has led me to improve my health, alleviated a lot of my physical symptoms and ailments. My attitude really improved and I now focus a lot of my time on writing, wellbeing and information. The benefits have helped me identify other areas of my life that needed attention. But most importantly given me the motivation to know I can accept my faults and overcome my personal obstacles.
Yet I know the road ahead is still a long one, every day I remain a recovering user.
As the road of a recovering addict is life-long where every day is a struggle to be better than the day before.
Regarding My Lengthy Hiatus
I know I am late reporting this, but I had been fighting a battle with depression that has been ongoing since before the New Year. I have had several posts in the making for quite a few months but little to no desire to function like a normal human being. Mostly I had been struggling with keeping any semblance of a routine and keeping up with myself; I have taken a whole new routine and also now even exercise daily. With a great deal of meditation and journaling I was able to get myself somewhat back on track. I still love many of my interests but I have now balanced that out with my interests brought on by my new routine and need to move away from entertainment media (Gaming, films) as one of my main hobbies. This hardly means my focus of writing is going to change, as my interests are still the same.
I am just hoping by expanding my interests to better myself that it will show through in other aspects of myself.
I hope you can understand, everyone’s struggle is different.
I recommend this book, the whole reason I made the plunge to start exercising and improve my life was due to James’ work.