Believing in the Cigarette
Posted 12 July 2008 - 11:35 PM
I used to believe that quitting smoking was the hardest thing that I have ever tried to do. I used to believe that I was a hopeless addict who would die a smoker.
I have tried to quit smoking so many times that I have lost count, and every single failed attempt only added validity to what I already knew.... that quitting smoking was impossible.
Not until I learned about nicotine addiction did I realize something profound. It wasn't necessarily quitting smoking that was so hard to do; it was quitting believing in cigarettes that was hard to do.
See, I used to believe in the cigarette.
I used to believe that cigarettes kept me calm. The truth, though, is that nicotine is a stimulant. Every time I smoked a cigarette, it raised my hearbeat by about 20 beats more a minute. Smoking constricted my arteries, and, not only that, the carbon monoxide from the cigarette was basically poisoning my blood's ability to carry oxygen, creating an even greater strain on my heart. How could I be calm when I was putting this kind of strain on my body over 40 times a day, every day?
I used to believe that cigarettes relieved my stress. Little did I know that smoking created a lot of stress. The whole business of smoking is relieving an anxiety that the previous cigarette created.
After each cigarette that I smoked, the nicotine metabolized. Because nicotine was able to fit my adrenaline locks, they pumped adrenaline though my bloodstream, leaving me with a slight fight or flight feeling. I was left with a heightened anxiety, an antsy feeling that I didn't like. My mind and body were being fooled into thinking that something was wrong, like I was in danger when in reality there was nothing wrong. My subconscious figured something out though. Smoking a cigarette would relieve that anxiety. Not knowing that it was being tricked and also looking out for my best interest, it would say, "Smoke a cigarette and you'll feel better." So I would smoke a cigarette, relieve that anxiety and start the whole vicious cycle over again. The only stress I was relieving was the stress that the previous cigarette had created.
Not only that, but whenever I was under stress, it caused a physiological reaction that caused nicotine to get pulled from my bloodstream. So now was I not only under stress, I had a compounded problem of being in drug withdrawal. So I would smoke a cigarette, "feel better" and think, "Oh, smoking helped me relieve some of my stress." The reality is though, it did nothing but relieve drug withdrawal, a compounded anxiety that should never have been there in the first place. Nothing changed after smoking that cigarette. Whatever caused my initial stress was still there. The only difference was that I had temporarily pacified the monkey on my back.
I used to believe that smoking made me happy. Sadly, smoking causes a form of depression. Sure, I can say that smoking releases dopamine, BUT that is only part of the story. Being the amazing machine that it is, my brain needed to regulate how much dopamine was being released. It couldn't regulate nicotine as it was a foreign substance(poison), so it had no other choice but to turn down its own sensitivity to releasing dopamine. My own natural neurotransmitters were being hijacked, forcing me to rely a lot more on the cigarette just to "feel good" or more accurately, feel nicotine normal. The truth was, I was happy DESPITE SMOKING and not because of it.
I used to believe that smoking was social. This makes me laugh now, because how can smoking be social? Was it social when I had to put my life on hold to put a stop to drug withdrawal? Was it social when I had to wash my hands because I was embarassed about stinking like a cigarette? When I had to turn my head when I spoke because of the stench on my breath? The only time that smoking was even remotely social was when I smoked around other smokers and that was because misery loves company.
I used to believe that cigarettes were the perfect companion to alcohol. Besides stress, this one was a doozy for me. Oh how I used to think, " If I only smoked when I drank, I would be a happy smoker." Even though this illusion was much craftier than a lot of the other ones, it was still an illusion. The truth is that much like stress, alcohol created a physiological reaction that pulled nicotine out of my bloodstream at an accelerated rate. Unlike stress though, whatever anxiety I was feeling from drug withdrawal was being masked by the intoxication from the alcohol. So even though I was relieving an accelerated drug withdrawal, I wasn't aware of it because I wasn't feeling the anxiety that stress causes. I still love my beer and it sure tastes a lot better now that I don't have to chase it with a cigarette.
Whenever I quit smoking and saw people smoking. I used to believe that they “got” to smoke and I didn't. The truth is, Smokers HAVE to smoke to "feel normal." They HAVE to smoke to keep the anxieties of not smoking at bay. They HAVE to smoke keep the compounded problem of drug withdrawal from happening 20, 30, 40 times plus a day. They do not GET to smoke. Thankfully I no longer HAVE to do that.
I no longer believe in the cigarette. I used to. I used to believe that cigarettes did something FOR me. I know better now. They only do TO me.
Smoke free as of June 18, 2008, 10 p.m. EDT.
Posted 13 July 2008 - 11:53 AM
Quit date April 28, 2008
Posted 13 July 2008 - 11:57 AM
I just highlite it, hit copy on the right click (as I am sure you know)
Then I go to word.. Paste it.. highlite it and change the font size. It should look bigger. then print.
My printer is not working on black ink so I have to do that to change the print to color so I can see it.
Posted 14 July 2008 - 01:13 PM
Was never the best at that.
Posted 14 February 2009 - 08:49 PM
Another thing to remember -- quit now, because if you ever find yourself in a situation where you have a huge health crisis, it's harder to quit when you're in a panic mode.
(When I hurt my back from an accident, I was in a panic mode. I couldn't quit then. I probably would have healed better if I'd quit before that, though.)
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