I Failed #Stoptober

Hey Hey Guys!

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We’ve all heard the fads; Sober October; give up booze in October; Movember; grow a moustache in November (generally speaking this one is just for men, but I daresay there is the odd woman who might participate!) to name just two.

In October, I participated in #Stoptober, where I attempted to kick the fags. And I am going to tell you why I failed.

I was never a heavy smoker, at most seven or eight a day, so I thought it would be easy to give them up. Turns out I relied on those little white devils more than I thought.

For the first 15 days I was doing pretty well. I had given them up for two months in the summer with absolutely no problem, going cold turkey, not even caring. This summer I was forced to give them up. I had no choice. So with that decision taken entirely out of my hands, it was easy! When there is only one path, you take it.

But this month has been a time of stress and my freedom has been returned, with University work picking up and an internship on the horizon, drama with family and friends and just a lot of general business heading my way. I had not anticipated quite how much I would be craving that little roll-up, those precious stolen moments when I could slip outside for five minutes, take a second to myself and get some (debatably) fresh air.

When my head is abuzz and my life in a perpetual sort of organised chaos, my schedule planned to the minute and all my time devoured by commitments and obligations, I pray for those times in transit, the only times when I am really by myself because it gives me the excuse not to think about anything. It is in those times that I am at my weakest.

We all know when we are at our weakest and most likely to fall off whatever health wagon we are on. For some people it is when you are tired and hungry and the urge to hit up a fast food joint is strong. Often that ever-reliable excuse of “convenience” is brought out, with the justification that you are on the move, you need something quick and easy and oh look, how fortunate, a burger bar, cheap and quick, is right on the corner there. For others it is the “I’ve been at work all day, I don’t need to go to the gym” mantra. For me, it’s the “I’m stressed and tired” excuse, that sees my hand snaking it’s way to my right pocket and my pre-rolled cigs.

My Face When I Am Stressed

My Face When I Am Stressed

That is where I fell down. I got very stressed and very sad one evening towards the end of the month and snapped. I was in a corner shop, frowning in exasperation, having had it with the world and before I knew it, I was asking for tobacco and I walked out of the shop with more than just a bottle of juice.

And do you know what; it was the most relief I have felt in all that long month. Sure, I feel guilty for breaking my vow to keep the air in my lungs clear, but in that moment, it was worth it.

But what really gets me is that it was not really my choice to quit in October. I was set up for failure by attempting to chance a lifestyle habit at a time and in a timeframe that was dictated by others, rather than by me. I wanted to quit but I should have done so in my own time, not because I was jumping on the band waggon. It was as convenient for me to quit in October as it is for me to light up when I am stressed; but that doesn’t mean that either of those things are good for me. We are conditioned to perform all actions in the most convenient way, even if it’s not the best option in the long term. Maybe I should have meditated or something. But that wouldn’t have given me the immediate gratification that I was desperately craving in that moment.

It makes me think about addiction and stress. We all have ways of coping and most of the time, they are not too good for us. As people we are susceptible to destructive behaviour and it’s something that we have struggled with since the dawn of time. We crave things that are not good for us, whether that be alcohol, cigarettes or dates with “bad boys”. But the important thing is to persevere and try to recognise that these things are bad for us and limit the negative effect we allow them to have on us.

I do regret not sticking too my word (not least because my dad promised to match whatever I saved!) but at least not I know that it is my relief mechanism. I need to find a new way to get that same hit of immediate gratification, something healthier. It is possible to give up the things that are not making our lives richer, but perhaps it has to rake something more than will power. It may be that we need to know there is a definite positive outcome. I didn’t factor in a reward system, meaning that I was losing something I enjoyed and getting nothing to replace it with.

So my advice to anyone trying to give up something less than good for you is this; make sure you have a reward in place for all your efforts. Never take something away and have nothing to gain from it, because that selfish, craving part of you will simply implore you to give up.

Read the article HERE!

So, treat yo self! Good luck!

SSDD!

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I Fell Off The #Stoptober Wagon

Hey Hey Guys!

So I have an update to last nights post; I have fallen off the #Stoptober wagon.

In my defence, it was in reaction to being made to go to the place that made me start smoking in the first place. I began my love affair with the humble roll up when I was made to go to an out-patient mental health clinic, a place I swore I would sooner burn down than ever return to.

Yet there I was today, fag in hand, staring nauseated at the thought of  having to go back on my promise to myself, searching every crevice of my will for the strength to walk up those stairs and into that bloody building. I must have stood there for a good few minutes, puffing away slowly, the acrid taste of the tobacco not quite managing to disguise the memory of the clinical burn of health centre-esque cleaning fluid.

I started smoking because I needed a stress reliever that wasn’t the one I was going to the clinic for in the first place. However, in yet another demonstration of poor life choices on my part, I picked up another bad habit; or rather, I picked up a cig.

So forgive me my “sin” for I have smoked. But that will be the last time. I hope. Maybe.

So long as they don’t make me go back to that place again!

SSDD

Why I Am Doing #Stoptober

Hey Hey Guys!!

So I’ve decided to partake of the #Stoptober. Yes, my grammar is fabulous.

Yeah, so I have decided to stop smoking. I was never a heavy smoker, at most, 8 a day and I was on really cheap tobacco. I’m talking £3 a pack and buying it once or twice a week. I’ve had numerous people ask me why I even bother smoking.

The truth is, I like smoking. I enjoy it. Or at least, I used to. A couple of weeks ago I had a roll up in my hand and I just thought, “I don’t want this. In fact, I don’t want any of these. Imma put this out and go back inside.” So I did.

Not the most inspiring tale, I’ll be the first to admit that, but you know what – screw you guys, we all have motivations behind our actions. At least I’m potentially maybe, sort of increasing my life span, or improving my health or the environment or something.

So if I don’t seem to care about the positive health implications, why am I quitting? Well, I’m glad you asked. (and if you didn’t, why not? It’s a perfectly logical follow up to my previous statement.)

Honestly, I just decided to give up. No shit. I have no deep, meaningful, touching reason, like I had a near death experience (I did, this summer, but that is a story for another time!!) or someone I love died because of smoking related illness, or even that I want to get healthier. I do, but that’s not why I’m quitting. I seriously just decided I don’t want to do it anymore.

Smoking, for me, is a strange one. I started smoking when I was 18 because I was stressed. I was on literally two a week. Then 2 a day. Then 5. And that was about it, to be honest. And I was smoking baby cigarettes! Like, tiny little, thin as a shoestring, roll ups. I was actually laughed at by other smokers when I went outside for a smoke. I often felt like a kid, thinking I was so cool, smoking, surrounded by adults, being an adult. I was party to all those interesting, intellectual conversations that were discussed while peering through a mysterious, grey cloud of lung disease, foul smelling to non-smokers, practically scentless to smokers.

There I’d be, puffing away as I walked down the street, smoking away my problems, using that little white tube as a coping mechanism for much greater problems. But now, I’ve found other, healthier ways to deal with those same stressors. I don’t need to smoke anymore. I have found other things to fill my life with that are feeding me better (you will know what I mean if you know me well).

For a while I have been smoking simply because I wanted to, not because I needed to. I wasn’t allowed to go outside for 2 months, this summer, for health reasons, and, as I was in hospital that whole time, I wasn’t allowed to smoke; and it didn’t bother me in the slightest. I sometimes smelled it on other people and felt a craving but once they left, I didn’t care anymore. I realised in that time that smoking is nothing but a “bad” habit. And I do use ” ” for a reason. Because yes, I do know that smoking is bad for you, believe it or not, I am a relatively intelligent person. However! I don’t think anyone has the right to preach so I’m not going to tell anyone they need to quit. Smoking has done well for me as a stress reliever and sometimes, if a little indulgence into a bad habit is what you need to get through the day, then I say go for it! Whatever it takes to get you through the hard times, sometimes. I know; I;ve been there.

I am giving up for the same reason that I took it up in the first place –  because I want to.

I am saving very little money. £3 a week will go in a jar and I’ll use it for a night out at Christmas or something. But it’s really not the money that i care about, or even the potential health benefits. It’s simply that i am transitioning into another phase of my life, a new me being born into this world. And apparently the new me is a non-smoker.

So there you have it, my Stop Smoking Story. Do you have one? Are you quitting this month? If you need a little encouragement, message me on Twitter @gemc200 ! 😀

SSDD