Stories & experiences


It seems like all is backwards...

Posted in Quit experiences 16 Jun 2020

I quit smoking about a month ago for health reasons and because I couldn't look myself in the mirror anymore (literally). The reasons for quitting were constant thoughts and questions I asked myself: Why are you doing this even if you're in pain? This has never been you. You got sucked into this. You're not even enjoying it anymore. If you continue to do this, you're gonna die. When I found myself one morning lying in bed after I barely got home from work, practically living in squalor, holding my heart with one hand and my joint with other that's when I knew this can't go on like this any much longer... I remember clearly all the fuss in the emergency room that day - hundreds of doctors rushing by and not believing how many people needed their help that day (one doctor showed his smart watch counting 18000 steps to a colleague). In the waiting room I, a former athlete who's not even 30 yet, was just staring at the floor for hours thinking about everything, thinking about my life, my pathetic existence, about how weak I am mentally and also physically. Around 4 o'clock in the afternoon I said to myself I'm never gonna smoke another tobacco cigarette again. The tests were inconclusive with all my "heartaches" and troubles ascribed to stress and smoking less than usual (imagine that, not even quitting or smoking too much - this really shows the complexity of the addiction).

That day when I've got home my last ever cigarette pack welcomed me with six cigarettes still inside. I felt indifferent. Didn't even think about it, didn't even throw it away until I moved to another place a week after. The first night was easy for me because I had cravings, but the shock of possibly not living anymore took them all away.

The second day was hard - I am easily irritable, but I knew I won't back down this time. It was the longest Sunday in my life and I had the pleasure of being alone the whole day despite the chest pain and heart problems, shortness of breath and other typical withdrawal symptoms. Because of my sudden decision of smoking cessation I used the second day to contemplate my plans for the evening and the next day and possible remedies. This included drinking and also smoking green tea. I smoked it once or twice a day just to feel something burning in front of me, inhaling just tiny amounts. I know it seems silly right now, but then I would smoke anything to get my mind of cigarettes. I exercised deep breathing. I ate. A lot. Especially fruit and vegetables. I ate like when I got munchies, but this was different. I wanted to drink alcohol, but that just didn't agree with me. I had chewing gum in my mouth almost all day long (not the nicotine one). Most powerful weapons were psychological - I constantly repeated to myself that it's all in my head and that I actually don't need a smoke. I also watched the smoking withdrawal timelines to see what is happening to my body (I did this a lot during the first two weeks). I watched the timelines of other addictions just to see that there's always somebody in worse shape (particularly heroin and cocaine addictions). The best thing of all was not wanting to smoke no matter how bad I felt, something just clicked inside my head and there was no turning back no matter what. I donated some money to people in need because it all seemed futile to me - might as well cheer somebody else up (I donate from time to time, but this was more than usual). I also watched a lot of you tube videos which relax me and videos that made me laugh. It can be anything that helps in that moment, I watched a guy playing video games because I found his voice soothing and his moves in the game were all logical. I don't even play video games. What didn't help were the usual musical choices or movies (especially books) where there's a lot of smoking or drug abuse. Don't be a masochist - don't make it harder for yourself.

Third day was the most intense. It was a working Monday. What happened that day and how I survived it I don't remember. I was extremely grouchy and moody way more than usual, avoiding my workmates (didn't even tell them I stopped smoking), concentrating purely on work, getting done all the work by myself, not speaking to anyone on the phone, trying to do everything slowly and rationally to avoid mistakes, driving really slow on the road (I am a speeder). After lunch I contemplated some more on possible remedies and nothing seemed to help except walking. I walked around the house, I walked inside the house, I just walked. When I got tired I stopped then I got up as soon as the cravings got stronger, and boy, they were constant that third day. They just didn't let go and I thought I was loosing my mind. It was a time when I didn't know if I can do this. If I haven't had a lot of chest pain, I don't know if I would manage it. The whole purpose of day three was wanting for the time to pass by quicker so I can go to sleep. I was mentally exhausted because of constant battle with cravings and I felt like I was mining all day. I honestly don't remember how and when did I go to sleep that day, but I'm sure glad I did.

The fourth day was a replica of day three just slightly, ever so slightly less intense. I ordered CBD drops that day, but do this at your own risk! Later I found there's not much research done about the drops as many try to represent on their website. Although it helped me a lot with marijuana and tobacco cravings, after a month of using I started to experience tinnitus. It may or may not be because of the drops, but I've never had it before and now I hear hissing in my head constantly (especially during the night and in the morning) and it won't go away.

The fifth day I started to experience euphoria and I was genuinely proud of myself for making this long although deep down I knew I would never start smoking again. This feeling of euphoria lasted a week or two then the troubles began all over again. In the meantime most of the withdrawal symptoms included daily panic attacks, shortness of breath, irritability, insomnia, chest pain, lung pain in front right side and softer stool along with the cravings that subsided due to use of CBD drops although they were still very much present.

I noticed my lungs were in pain (both sides and back) and my heart was in slightly better shape, but one beer will ruin everything I've done so far. There was no use of drinking anymore even if I thought two weeks were enough to reward myself with just one beer. No. That night heart started pumping madly, I needed a lot more air than usual, I started experiencing diarrhea after that, I started having cold and hot flashes (mostly hot), nausea, didn't vomit, but I peed a lot (one night I got up to pee 4 times, 6 times if you include peeing before the sleep and in the morning which still fascinates me). This was the time when I expected more improvements on my health by following the quitting smoking timelines, but other than easier breathing and not coughing, I haven't got diddly squat. All other symptoms were still here including the cravings just less intense! And on top of that I started having mild headaches. All I had now was work and hoping it will get better. Work saved me during past difficult times and is saving me now also.

After one month I didn't know what's the point of all this. All the nicotine in my body was depleted by now as well as my euphoria. Everybody around me thought it wouldn't hurt to just smoke 4 or 5 cigarettes a day, but that just feels plain stupid now. Whatever I do is bad for me. I started having diarrhea daily and with the fricking coronavirus around the corner and shortness of breath as a symptom one can easily make silly assumptions. Then I started reading about my possible conditions again because I couldn't hold on to the withdrawal timeline anymore and found many stories and testaments of former users and smokers about having spent thousands and thousands of dollars for diagnosing their disease and undergoing treatments and they all had one thing in common - they stopped smoking suddenly! That's when I knew I have to be patient and just wait and not panic. Just follow the path that got you to this point and believe in it. Try to remember and laugh about the little things like throwing a paper towel in an ashtray instead of cigarette butt, having 5+ ashtrays in the house without needing a single one, checking where are your cigarettes when leaving the house, checking your pockets for a lighter, still finding tobacco in most unusual places, still finding rolling paper in your jackets or a bartender asking you if you need an ashtray. Another thing that helped me manage my nausea and diarrhea is kicking out gluten from my meals. After just a few days of not eating it, I started felling better, but that's just me.

Yesterday (according to this website - 50 days after) I was at the beach enjoying the sea with my girlfriend. When I got out of the sea my heart started pounding, I had inexplicable nausea, my head was pulsating and was in pain with loud buzzing and hissing sounds, shivers around the body, numbness in my legs, couldn't hear properly, my arms were exhausted, painful and useless (like blood is not even flowing there), three fingers on right hand were red, the other two in the middle white as a ghost, I started yawning and covered my head with a towel feeling on the verge of collapsing. I thought I needed an ambulance ASAP when I started feeling dizzy, had blurred vision and incoherent speech. I felt terrible and I had enough of this. I got slightly better after 15 minutes. In an hour I was okay, but still very much shaken and scared. That's when I knew this thing is not over and 15 years of smoking weed and tobacco (last 10 years every single day), mixing it regularly with alcohol and sometimes amphetamines is not gonna get better in a month or two. Or three. From now on I will try and maintain what I've accomplished so far and build up on that and stop trying to get better instantly. It's just not happening. My mother always told me that sea cures many diseases. Cured me alright, cured me of having a good time and reminded me what I've been doing last 15 years. My body started healing and it's painful from time to time. I hope one day it will be worth it.

Stories of other people helped me a lot to better understand my addiction. To overcome it I tried to compile what others said about dealing with similar issues. Although English is not my native language and my work is prone to many mistakes, I'm calling it a success if my story helps even one person.

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  • Happiness June 16, 2020 | 7:33
    Hi Quell. While every quit is different, and I am sorry you have had such a bad experience, my quit was very easy. Your story is likely to scare anyone contemplating quitting to leave and have even more fear of quitting. Most people do not have the issues that you do. Quitting can be easy with the right mindset. Envision and embrace the idea of a non-smoking you.

    After quitting cold turkey, most of the nicotine is out of your system in 72 hours. It is the psychological part of the journey which is most difficult. That is why people have cravings even while getting nicotine by the patches. They are missing the quick delivery and boost of dopamine that kept us thinking we enjoyed smoking. It stinks and it tastes gross. You can taste the poisons! The only thing we enjoyed by lighting up, was the end of the cravings to smoke. We even learned to not wait as long as to not experience them. But they are only thoughts, and there are ways of dealing with them. Have diversions ready. I think smoking green tea to be a bad idea, as you should be finding healthy habits or diversions to replace the void that is left when we quit smoking. Play a game or make a phone call. Exercise or even simple deep breathing will relax you and get you through.
    I am not minimizing your experience by any means, but quitting smoking does not need to be so dramatic. I advise those wanting to quit to read and learn all you can about nicotine and you. When you realize it is your master, expensive and deadly, you will view it differently. A new perspective does wonders.

  • Nuts June 16, 2020 | 13:52
    My goodness. That is a story and a half. You really are a woe is me sort of person. If you change your way of thinking it becomes so much easier. Think positive. Be happy that you have quit. Shout it to the world that you have beaten that nasty habit. You are the winner and i am really proud of you. Hang in there mate 🤗💞
  • quell June 21, 2020 | 21:18
    I don't want to be perceived as a negative Nancy, I just needed to let it all out. It's bad sometimes, not all the time.

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