For many, the journey to stopping smoking for good can be a lengthy one, just ask Katherine – since 2009 she has tried quite a few times to call it a day. Ten years later, after trying several smoking cessation tools, she managed to quit with the help of our Quit Support forum and a newfound love for aerobics dancing! She shared the highs and lows of her journey with us as part of our Stoptober campaign:
“I started planning my quit at the beginning of April 2019. I made a list of reasons I was quitting; to better my health, and to be around for my kids for as long as possible. My mother was in extremely bad health with COPD and sadly, after a series of strokes and infections, she continued to smoke. I spend my weekends helping my dad with her care – I don’t want my boys to have to do that for me.
I had tried a few smoking cessation medications such as Champex and Zyban. I’d even tried vaping for a short amount of time. This time around I decided to try Wellbutrin and nicotine patches to support me.
When you start taking Wellbutrin, you continue smoking for a week as it helps your body crave the nicotine less, and each day I smoked less. I did have some side effects of feeling very emotional and even depressed at the beginning, but I refused to give up. I was determined to quit smoking.
At this point I was smoking 4 cigarettes a day, and at 12am on May 16th, 2019, I smoked my last cigarette.
I got through my first 3 days quite well which was a surprise! I had previously found the 3rd day a real struggle. I wasn’t prepared for day 4 though; it really didn’t go well.
I was trying to clean my house, my kids were fighting, my husband was telling the kids off and the next thing I knew, I threw my vacuum! It all got too much for me, everyone stopped and looked at me as I cried and ran upstairs. It really was one of the worst days on my journey.
Support from the Quit Support forum
My family and I went through some stressful situations during 2019. Usually I would reach for a cigarette if I was feeling stressed. Instead I started working out with the Fitness Marshall – he is my godsend! In the beginning, I struggled to breathe during workouts, but I fell in love with aerobic dancing – it made me feel happy and healthy.
Some days were harder than others though, that’s when I headed to Google to find a quit smoking support group and found Quit Support.
I signed up and posted my first post and started reading through other people’s stories. It was so comforting to see other people struggling like I was.
The admins and other members are nice and supportive. It was awesome to have people to turn to and ask things like, what do you do to cope with anger? This was one of my things I struggled with and I had never really had a huge temper. I also struggled with insomnia during this time but knowing a lot of people also felt the same made me feel so much better.
During my quit I suffered with depression and I ended up having to go on medication for it; that cigarette who I thought was my old buddy and pal had masked those problems. I knew some people who had quit smoking and found it easy-peasy – I just couldn’t understand how it was so hard for me.
One thing is for certain – everyone’s quit will be different!
I was so happy to have Quit Support in my life – I still am! We all shared how we were feeling, any side effects we were experiencing and best of all, no one is judgmental on there. I felt as though I could ask any question, no matter how trivial!
Everyone on the site empathises with how other users are feeling. I went through a period of wondering if I would be the same person – after smoking for 25 years, stopping was a scary thought – but it was also an exciting time in my life. Quit Support helped guide me, gave me coping strategies and supported me.
I had some people say to me “You have so much going on, maybe this isn’t the best time for you to quit” But I realised that there is no perfect time to quit, there will always be something going on and it will be hard. Going through these hard times allowed me to figure out strategies to handle stress and depression. There were many times I had to remind myself that smoking may make me feel better for a few minutes, but my problems would still be there.
Retrain my brain
My biggest struggle had to be summer of 2019 – I usually hosted family BBQ’s and spent time on the patio with friends having a few drinks. Unfortunately, I still associated socialisation and alcohol with cigarettes. I had to step back and have some me-time – my real friends understood that and supported me.
In a way, I was the exact same person I had always been but part of me was reinventing myself into a healthier and happier soul who didn’t smoke.
I read an article posted on Quit Support about the first year of being smoke free being the hardest, and it is so very true. I worked on retraining my brain to stop the habit of picking up a cigarette. For example, each Spring I would clean my yard and plant my flowers. Usually I would take a break and smoke, I had to retrain my brain to do that yard work without thinking I needed a cigarette. In summer, I would socialise, have a drink and smoke – I still visited friends but not often, and I barely drank.
It took a long time for me to get here but here I am! Now my addiction is health and fitness, I have been working out for the last year with The Fitness Marshall – I have finally found something I love doing more than smoking and it’s healthier for me.
My advice is to find something – a new hobby, or anything that you can concentrate on that will make you happy! I spend a lot of time feeling guilty at first, thinking it was taking time away from my family – so one day I sat down and figured out that I used to spend 2 hours of my day outside away from my kids, smoking! I decided I could spend those 2 hours a day now making my life healthier!
I may waver once in a while, but I just have to remind myself about how great it is to work out and not find breathing a struggle! I feel great. I look back at my past year and everything it took to get to today and I don’t want to repeat that at all.
I still go on Quit Support – they are my quit smoking family! I’m so grateful to them all. I like to check up on everyone and see if they are all ok especially during these uncertain times. I also love to read posts from new quitters, it’s wonderful to give someone else some words of advice or inspire them to keep going.
I have passed on the link to Quit Support to so many people. I can’t say it enough, these are the people who will give you the support you need to get there. And in the end – if you don’t succeed the first time, be gentle to yourself, don’t beat yourself up and be your own worst enemy. The most important thing is to keep trying and never give up.”