Our Quit Support forum supports people from all around the world in their efforts to stop smoking for good. Sophie hails from America and has been a member of the Quit Support community for over 2 years. As she says, ‘I think in the COVID19 era, people need to quit more than ever.’
“On a sunny autumn day, my friend Davina and I decided to try a cigarette she’d taken from her dad’s coat pocket. We – oh so awkwardly – lit up for the first time, aged just 16. The rush was immediate and overwhelmed the considerable desire to choke.
I had an on-again, off-again relationship with cigarettes until I was in university. Keeping an adult job while attending classes was a stressor that I decided would best be remedied by adding smoking to my daily routine. And so, it began.
I’d smoke in the mornings with coffee, after lunch, in the car, while studying and, before bed. The heartbeat of my addiction was steadily growing more predictable than my own.
Marriage and children pushed cigarettes aside but as soon as the kids were off, I was puffing away like a mad hog on a cold day. I loved it.
I cannot tell you how much I loved it. Smoking was my go-to – my solace. Mad? Smoke. Sad? Smoke. Frustrated? Smoke. Tired? Smoke. Smoke, smoke, smoke – that was my answer.
After 20 years of smoking I’d resigned myself to the fact that I’d probably be a lifelong smoker. Family pressures caused a couple of “false quits”, where I would stop smoking for a week or two, then started up again in secret, only to eventually be found out.
I had a cough all day, every day. “It’s just a smoker’s cough” I thought… “nothing to worry about”. A trip to Cologne for work purposes ended with a trip to the hospital and, following this – a diagnosis of COPD. It was devastating but, not devastating enough for me to quit smoking.
Now I knew I had COPD; it was just one more thing to stress about. How on earth could I quit smoking?
For another year and 6 months, I did my daily inhalers and smoked my cigarettes; now up to almost 2 packs a day. Even a staff member at my preferred cigarette shop asked if I ever thought about quitting! “Mind your own,” I peevishly thought, “What would your manager think of you trying to run off a good customer?”
Then the unthinkable happened – I lost my job. My job had been my number one refuge for years; work, cigarettes and my children were what kept me going.
In the aftermath, I took good stock of my life. Where I was and where I was likely to be heading. And, the prospect of keeping on the anti-health plan I was on was finally enough. Enough to make me decide to choose life. “I choose life” soon became my mantra.
On 9th June 2018 I smoked my last cigarette, put it out and, that was that. Cold turkey after 28 years. I downloaded apps and told everyone in my family. It was euphoric – I was ready. In my head, I was so, so ready.
Then, just 48 hours later, the readiness quivered; wavered; then, it very nearly fell apart. I looked for an online support group and quite by luck (great luck), I found and joined the Quit Support forum.
I was greeted there by genuine people with kind, supportive and non-judgmental hearts. Immediately I felt at home and in a family.
Popping onto Quit Support became a vital part of my life every single day for the first 8-9 months after I had quit. It is a place to share, get ideas and information, support and be supported. A place where we struggled together, helped each other in our daily walks and leaned upon each other.
In addition, I started cooking, tried yoga, went for walks, tried breathing exercises, did some crafts, read books, went on tours, went to church, went to the gym – anything and everything that would keep me from smoking.
I kept telling myself that better days, maybe even my best days, would be ahead. Slowly but surely, the brain fog and exhaustion started to lift, and I began to feel like a semblance of me again.
Then one day, I realised that I hadn’t thought about a cigarette at all for days. That was a feeling of peace from the persecution of the addiction. Quit Support became a place to try to help others now and again; to share my quit smoking milestones; and, to join the conversation with a group of folks who genuinely want everyone to reclaim their life from addiction.
If you are thinking of quitting…
My advice is just do it. Do it now. There’s absolutely nothing to be gained by waiting, but everything to be gained by putting the past behind you and starting now.
It is the commitment to quitting that made the difference for me this time. Deciding that no matter what, I was not going to smoke one more cigarette. The person who used to smoke all those cigarettes is gone – I am reinvented, reborn as a new me. I shudder at the thought of where I would be now had I kept on the path I was going down.
Thanks to the Quit Support administrators and community members who welcomed me and helped me. You were a critical part of my successful quit 2 years, 2 months ago.”
Please note, names have been changed and stock photography used at the user’s request.