Monday, January 3, 2011

Quitting Smoking

Today seems to be a constant cigarette reminder. Every where I look, something about smoking is there. Perhaps it's because quitting smoking is such a cliche New Year's Resolution. *I'm not bashing it. At all. I  encourage anyone to quit for ANY reason. I'm just saying it's very common. And unfortunately easily discarded.* Whatever the reason, it's there. Which gets me thinking about smoking.

Don't worry. I'm not thinking about it in the "Dang. I really need would like a smoke right now." It's more of a reflection state. So I figured, I'm new here. Y'all are still getting to know me, so I'll share my story. Feel free to skip this entirely, it might become quite lengthy.

People always ask how I quit. I always say "I put down the cigarettes. And I just didn't pick them back up." This statement is true. I quit cold turkey, and pretty easily, I might add. But there's more to it than that. So here it is.

Ten years. I was a smoker for ten years. That's a decade. And when your entire life span is not even 2.5 decades long, that's astounding. I started smoking at the age of 13. And I quit at the age of 23. I know 13 sounds so young, but believe it or not, most of the smokers I know now started around that age. Scary, huh?

I didn't begin smoking because of peer pressure. Nobody was in a huge group surrounding me pushing cigarettes in my face, saying I could only be cool if I smoked. In fact, most of my friends who smoked when I was 13 wouldn't want to waste one of their precious hard-earned (stolen from parents) cigarettes on someone who would just end up coughing, and wouldn't even inhale the dang thing.

Nope. I started smoking to be what my 13 year old brain thought of as ironic. It doesn't make much sense  (hindsight) so I won't bore you with the details, but I thought it was kinda fun, so I figured "Sure. We'll try this. No big deal." 

Thus began the love affair with those white little sticks of tobacco-y goodness. I loved smoking. I mean - I LOVED it. So many of my fondest memories involve smoking, and a great majority of my social group are smokers. I loved the way it felt I breathed the smoke in. It was amazing. The only thing I didn't love was the smell. But the more you smoke, the more you become immune to it. Amazing. Ahhhh.

Then, about a year ago, the strangest thing happened. I can't explain it. I've never heard of this happening to anyone else, though it might have, I don't know. I couldn't smoke in direct sunlight anymore. If I was outside, and not in the shade and I tried to smoke, I would get a migraine. I'm talking, out on your behind, curled up in the fetal position, unable to open your eyes migraine. Weird, I know. SO I solved the problem by smoking in the shade. 

But then, I started to get sick if I smoked while standing. I would feel all nauseated. Then it got worse. I couldn't stand right away after I finished. So many times I would come back into the house after a cigarette, and have to lay down on the living room floor and try not to throw up. I asked my friends if any of them ever went through this, and nope. 

So, that love affair I was talking about? It started to disappear. It's hard to love something that makes you feel like that. But I just so USED to it. Plus, my roommates smoked, my boyfriend smoked, my friends back home smoked,my coworkers smoked. I wanted to quit, but everyone knows that you just CAN'T DO IT. 

There was my problem. I was so convinced I would fail, that I didn't even try. Six months I wanted to quit. Talked about quitting. In the future. Someday. But not today. 

Finally I made up my mind. I was leaving Hawaii, I was going to Africa, starting a new life, getting married. What better time than that? So I did it. Cold turkey, but with almost an expectation of failure. I just knew the cravings were right around the corner, and they would come and attack me. And I wouldn't be strong enough to say no. Willpower has never been my strong suit.

But they didn't. I wish I could say I was lying. I sound like I'm lying. I mean, who smokes for ten years, and then doesn't crave a cigarette? And then I realized somewhere along the way, putting up with being sick for something I "LOVED" had made me not love it anymore. In fact I hated it. I wanted nothing to do with smoking. I still don't. I hate being around it. I hate looking at old pictures of myself smoking. I really just want to smack that girl.

It was easy for me. Once I decided to do it. But like I said earlier, I've never heard of anyone else having that reaction to smoking. I didn't for 9 years. I needed that to get me to stop. Back in the days when I loved smoking? No way would I have been able to do it. So even though it's easy for me, I am in awe of those who accomplish quitting when it's not so easy.

Sorry for the novel. :) Just had it on my mind, and thought I'd share. 



  1. Hi Katy,
    That's a great story! So many people who have not tried quitting could benefit from reading this, and know that everyone's experience is different!

    From the perspective of a wellness coach, I know that many people struggle with quitting smoking (trying, and failing, and trying again...and obsessing about it...and maybe hiding it...etc). You're a lucky girl for having it happen the way it did for you!

  2. I smoked for 4 years. Took 3 times until I actually quit for good. So good for you doing it the first time!

  3. This is such a great story...I think you feeling nauseous was your body's way of getting you to stop. Our bodies amaze me sometime.

    My boyfriend used to smoke and (pretty much) stopped cold turkey, but said it was very hard to do. Awesome that you were able to quit so easily after ten years!

  4. Great story, Katy! I started smoking when I was 14, and I quit when I was 19. I was in the "quitting process" for about a year before I actually quit. Now, my boyfriend is trying to quit. That's awesome that you were able to quit cold turkey. Wish I could have done that. I'm hoping my boyfriend will be able to do it!

  5. good for you! That's an excellent thing you did for your health :-)