Leigh had been smoking for about 40 years. She’d tried to quit a couple of times before but soon realised she had to look beyond just the physical side of smoking. She had to look at why she was smoking and the emotions she was trying to smoke over. Fortunately, she found our Quit Support forum where she could talk to others who were in exactly the same position and is now four years smokefree.
“I absolutely loved smoking and was so good at it.
“To me, cigarettes just went so well with so many things. They made me feel better on so many occasions. It was almost like they were my best friend really.
They were there for me 24/7. I always considered them in everything I did, never left them out, always had them close by my side. They were there when there were exciting things going on. We commiserated together, came on all special occasions with me. I don’t think, to be honest I every treated a guy as well as I did my cigarettes!
Despite this, I knew I should quit. I’d been smoking for so long. I was getting older. The price of them was getting ridiculous.
I’d tried to quit two or three times before like I think most of us smokers do. I tried the patches. I tried hypnosis. I read the Allen Carr book and didn’t pick up a cigarette for about a week after that. I even went to one of the smoking seminars that cost about £150 for a 4 hour course only to come out, get in my car and light a cigarette up!
Smoking over emotions
I tried all those sort of things but then I realised I was only looking at the physical side of actually not putting the cigarette in my mouth, and for me personally I needed to look into a lot more things about the mental and emotional side and asked myself – am I smoking over my emotions?
As soon as something winds you up it’s great to think ‘Oh, I’ll just go and have a cigarette’. I used to think ‘How do the people that don’t smoke cope? Don’t they have anyone that upsets them?’
So I starting thinking about the classic cigarettes I would have and realised is I would need to think of other things to do, or have in place of them.
I used the online support group for one of my main ones after my evening meal. So, instead of while I was still chewing on my last mouthful getting to the back door ready to light up, I would get my laptop out and get onto the online support group and spend the time on there to get through that trigger for that cigarette.
I would go on there and there were people on there who were a similar time into their quit as me, so that felt really good – that you were in it together and all the ex-smokers, the admin team, the long-term winners, had some very inspiring stories and were always very supportive and very encouraging.
I honestly used to think the only way I’m going to not want to smoke or not smoke is if they stop selling them. So, the fact that I’m in year 4 now feels like a miracle.
I’ve totally changed my mindset now. I have more respect and care for myself. I really enjoy getting a buzz out of eating and drinking nice things. I drink about 8 glasses of water a day now; I don’t drink any tea at all because to me, the association was too strong – the tea with the cigarettes.
I do swimming, yoga, I’m cycling regularly I’m always down the canal on my bike. And I appreciate being in nature and things like that.
And since I’ve quit smoking, I’m now the proud owner of a medal rack with 25 medals for running – including one even for the Manchester marathon in 2019.
Advice from someone who’s been there
The most important thing is to have that self belief that you can do this. I’m a great believer that if you keep telling yourself that you can’t do something, then you’re not going to be able to.
And I encourage anyone whose thinking about quitting smoking to make a plan. Think about all the things that might suit you personally that you’re going to need to do. If it’s as important to you as it was to me to be a happy ex-smoker, then you too might have to look into things that could be quite hard to try and deal with your emotions and not just smoke over them.
I still celebrate on big milestones, I still now like – when it was day 1000, me and a good friend went off for the day on a bike ride somewhere sort of special. I still feel that it’s such a big thing to celebrate.
I never get complacent or take it for granted. I’m know how lucky I am that I eventually did find a way to quit that suited me.”