Day 19, smoke free update. And more.

It has been sometime since I last offered an update as to my smoke-free attempt. Well first and foremost, here I stand (trust me, I’m standing and typing right now) smoke free on my 19th day! As such, get the thought outta your head that I stopped updating you because I slipped. Quite the contrary, I haven’t updated because I have been busy quitting.

Indeed, quitting smoking (or any addiction for that matter) is a trying task and a full time job. As I mentioned in my last post the idea of community is a very important part of this process for me (and I suspect anyone else). I recall past attempts to quit smoking where I was offered community resources but I declined feeling that it was silly to meet with and talk about my addiction–looking back the reason for my dismissal and decline to these invites was my continued fixation on coolness. I literally thought that I was too cool to meet with “losers” that couldn’t just quit their habit. What has changed? I am no longer preoccupied with trying to be cool and if that means that I have become one of those losers who discuss the frustration(s) of quitting smoking, then so be it–call me a loser. HOwever, I’ve come to see this kind of loser as a necessary part of my newly discovered life.

I am 28 years old and addicted to nicotine. I’ve smoked cigarettes for 15 years and have finally began to break that habit. That is no easy task–for anybody. That said, quitting must become a mindset/mindshift that takes place. It is a full realization that what you were doing before was wrong, that every single thought that justified your habit was not even you, but the chemicals inside of you.

I can finally see that. I can see that every single one of those thoughts that guided my existence for so long had nothing to do with me–they were those little cigarettes. Quitting smoking (and this is the single most important part that I’ve come to learn about quitting) MUST become your primary goal. One quits No Matter What It Takes! I cannot stress how important this has become in my own life. Quitting smoking is a full time job because one must consistently remind oneself that you are no longer a smoker without ever denying that you are a smoker. You see like any other addiction–once an addict, always an addict. And this is why I can no longer take a single puff ever again. There is a mantra that is shared among ex-smokers throughout the online community that I now call my second home. It is “NOPE!” This stands for: Not One Puff Ever! 

When my mind drifts and I feel weak and the thought of “well if you make it to 1 year then you can become a social smokers” or “just bum one and don’t tell anyone” I have to actively fight to take control of the my own helm and veer away from those thoughts to a place where I can surely respond, NOPE!

I do not want to smoke ever again. Every single day I take a pledge along with a number of others in my little quit-club–this pledge keeps me focused one day at a time. It helps me to remember that I am a part of something larger and that I am not the only one out there dealing with the shit of quitting smoking.

Quitting is the single best decision I have ever made for my life! And I mean that.

Now to some more specific updates and how I am doing it.

1. To combat my morning cravings (which have gotten much easier) I wake at 630am and head off to the gym.  I work out really hard for 1-1.5 hours on various cardio equipment then head home to work on my abs. I then walk my dog for 30-45 minutes and then eat my breakfast. By then, I no longer want a cigarette. Also, I am breathing hard at this point and know why I am glad to no longer be a smoker. I like to breathe. I like to breathe hard. I like to be outside to breathe and to not wheeze, not cough. Not hate my own smell. not hate my own breath!

2. Wellbutrin. Quit smoking drugs tend to open a large dialogue. I thought that Wellbutrin was working for me, but it was not by any means in retrospect. I saw my doctor after taking Wellbutrin for 1 month (by then I was 2 weeks into my quit) and told her that I was doing alright on the drug except that I was no longer sleeping and was very dizzy all of the time–experiencing vertigo and the like. She responded to keep up with the drug and that the average user stops smoking at week 7, not 2. I asked then what the drug was doing to help my curb my smoking, she said, “nothing.” I was quitting cold turkey already two weeks in.

So, I took myself off of the drug. Don’t worry–I didn’t just stop taking it–I ramped myself off of it. So, I’ve been quit now for 19 days, wellburtin free for about 1/2 week(s). I feel great.

3. Water. I cannot stress enough the importance of drinking water while you are quitting smoking! I drink about 1 gallon of water a day–usually more. Drinking water plays a number of roles in the quitting process. (1) It flushes out the toxins that smoking creates in your body; (2) it curbs withdrawls and cravings; (3) it keeps your hands busy if just for a moment.

Because of the amount of water I drink mixed with my vegan diet, the release of toxins was a relatively simple process for me and my body. Most of the withdrawal issues that are common with quitting (including those I’ve undergone in prior attempts) simply didn’t occur this time around.

4. Withdrawal side effects. The only withdrawal side effect that has really taken a toll on me has been my recent sore throat–although this could be attributed to any number of other items including touching of tons of cash over the past weekend at LB Pride fesitval where I volunteer every year. So, I am not quick to pin this on quitting, but quitting does not make it easier. My voice is rather raspy (more than usual) and doesn’t seem to see any clearing in the future–sweet! A life time sec phone operator voice–that ain’t that bad. 🙂 And finally, sleeping. From time to time I wake up abruptly in the middle of the night sweating, thinking of cigarettes. Those are lessening.

Overall, I feel fantastic. I know that I have made the right decision and I am happy to see people closest to me making the same decision in their own lives. I am happy to be their for them as a real-life community of support is just as important as my online community.

I only hope that more smokers begin to take the leap away from the tobacco industries. For my queer siblings–tobacco industries target young LGBT people and people of color. It is time to end this cycle of control.

Do as I do, keep an active tally (quitnet.com will do this for you) of the money you save and put that money aside. I am purchasing new tattoos with that money and a brand new bicycle so that I can finally partake in one of my personal dreams of training for and finishing the AIDS lifecycle.

Peace to you all. And if you are reading this and want help quitting smoking–I am here for you–for an ear, a hug, whatever.

Peace, love and queer solidarity,

 

benny

d19 smoke-free, and proud.

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About Benny

My name is Benny LeMaster. I am an academic, activist, and artist. I research questions of identity, culture, and representation. I am interested in exploring ways to relate to one another in critically affirming ways. In terms of identity, I identify as queer, trans, mixed-race Asian/white, fat, and, frankly, fabulous. Let's talk!
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