October marks the start of Stoptober, the NHS campaign to help people successfully give up smoking. I stopped 5 years ago and share my 9 top tips to help you quit smoking.
During Stoptober, the NHS provide access to online and in-person support networks and information on the alternatives to smoking if you feel need extra help. Of course, help is on hand all year round.
Many people try to quit on World Asthma Day, as part of their new year goals and resolutions, or often after a bad cold or flu. If you’ve been thinking of stopping smoking then why not make today, the first day of Stoptober, the day you give up for good?
Read on for my smoking history and success story at finally being able to stop smoking. Or scroll down to my 9 tips to help you quit.
I had been a smoker for the best part of 25-30 years and had unsuccessfully quit and restarted so many times during that period. On 19th October 2014, I gave up for good.
MY SMOKING STORY
I will start with the shocking story of how I started smoking in the first place. I am 51 now and things were very different when I was a child. At the very impressionable age of 9, (yes I’m very ashamed to admit it 9!) I had a friend called Alison who was a few years older than me. All the local kids hung around together irrespective of age. In some ways, they were simpler times when children would go out to play with their friends in the morning and only return home when they were hungry. Most pastimes were sports and play orientated at the park.
One day my friend Alison suggested that we pool our 10p sweet money together and buy 10 cigarettes from the machine outside the corner shop. Yes, it was only 20p for a pack of 10 No6 or No10 fags. She had taken some of her mum’s cooking matches to light them with. I don’t remember how it made me feel or why I said yes but we went and sat in the tree in the churchyard and chain-smoked 5 cigarettes each! Sadly, that was the start of the slippery slope.
I don’t remember how long that period lasted for but I smoked through senior school. I had a part-time job but many friends would use their dinner money to fund their smoking habits. I’m sure it is the same scenario with teenagers now. I continued all through college until I was around 20. I had met my husband by then and he was a non-smoker. He never pressured me but I always felt I should give up for him. I gave up after a nasty cold and that cessation lasted around 1½ years before I started again.
I then smoked for a couple more years, constantly trying and failing to give up. Again, I wanted to do it for my husband, not for me. I enjoyed smoking. I was in the mindset that when your time is up it’s up. Smoking wasn’t going to kill me. I knew of plenty of people who had died of cancer that didn’t smoke and plenty of old-aged smokers. Well that’s what we all tell ourselves, isn’t it?
Eventually, I gave up properly and then when children came along I thought that there was no way I was ever going to smoke again. That lasted for 12 years but the craving never stopped. I still missed it even though it smelt awful on people who did smoke. On one particularly stressful day with the children, I asked my smoker friend for just one drag to calm me down. God, it felt good and that one drag turned into one fag then one packet until I was back to smoking again and had to admit it to my family as I could no longer hide it. The addiction had taken back over and I wanted to smoke all the time again. I really felt ashamed of myself for letting it take over again.
Rest assured I never smoked around my children. I always went out into the garden and even then, I kept it hidden from them for a couple of years. And so, the pattern started all over again of me giving up for a few weeks or months or even a year and a half, after a bout of pneumonia. But each time I went back to it.
The final push came when I went to see my doctor as I had a persistent cough that had got worse and not cleared for months. I was also coughing up a lot of nasty green yellow gunk every day. It was quite scary. I wondered if I had asthma (yep the denial, blame it on something else) but I can still remember those fateful words from my doctor “Actually I think you have COPD!” which is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease – yes it sounds serious doesn’t it?
I was totally shocked, it couldn’t happen to me. That night I’d already planned on going out with friends to a gig. I was very upset and shocked by the news so I had a couple of drinks and my last couple of smokes, then threw away all my smoking paraphernalia and stopped COLD TURKEY!
The outcome. I was borderline COPD and after many tests and treatments, I’m now classed as asthmatic. I still suffer with my breathing and chest and can cough for many months at a time. The damage has been done but at least I’ve stopped it getting worse and moved off that borderline point. Do I wish I’d never started? God yes! This time I know that I will never ever smoke again. I don’t crave it and even just being near cigarette smoke makes me cough.
Please do see your local stop smoking medical professional and have a look at the official Stoptober website. If you feel you can’t do it, then bear in mind my father has did it last year at the age of 77 after being diagnosed with laryngeal cancer . Following numerous attempts over the years, he is still smoke free a year later.
If you have recently stopped or are thinking of stopping then I wish you good luck and strength to see it through. I hope this might give you some food for thought and maybe some support. In the end, though remember you need to WANT to do it for YOU! It won’t be easy but it will be worth it.
Has anyone else successfully given up? How long for?
Are you stopping for Stobtober or are you still thinking about it?
You might like to check out a couple of blogs about relaxation techniques that I’ve written in the past. They were initially written as part of a self-help series for mental illness but the principles still apply:
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