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Seven days and counting

I have now been a non-smoker for seven days. A week. Nearly a fiftieth of a year! It is my sad duty to report that I don’t feel any better for having quit. In fact, I feel worse.

The cravings, though fewer and less severe, still lap tauntingly at my nervous system. It’s like having an itch between the shoulder blades. My temper is, shall we say, far from even. I no longer have anything resembling a sleep pattern. Oh I do sleep. At least, I think I sleep. I find myself standing in the bathroom, scratching my arse, yawning and wondering what happened to the last seven hours. That’s sleep, isn’t it? I hope so.

I no longer eat, I graze. Strange hungers afflict me at unorthodox hours. Oh Lord, why don’t cheeseburgers come in packs of twenty? I am accumulating fat like a bear preparing to hibernate.

The mood swings are the worst. Last night the BBC Weather reported roads blocked by snow in the West Midlands. I was on the verge of tears. Euphoria to desolation in the space of half-an-hour is about the norm.

People say stupid things when you’re trying to quit smoking. ‘Hey, David, it’s all in your mind’. ‘No kidding??!! And there was me thinking it was all in my foot. Of course, it’s all in my f*cking mind, you stupid c*nt. If it was all in my computer’s hard-drive I could just delete it and have done with.’

Testy. Did I mention that I was a little testy? Well, I’m a little testy.

26 comments to Seven days and counting

  • Felonious Punk

    Have you quit cold turkey or are you using… aids?

    See, once upon a time, thanks to my long association with the US Army, I too was hooked on nicotine but in the form of Copenhagen snuff (which you put in your mouth and spit the baccy juice out. Distgusting habit, but very addictive). I tried several times to quit cold turkey and felt as you did, if not worse. I got a prescription for those nicotine patches from a doctor and they seemed to do the trick.

    YMMV, of course. My brother in law tried the patches and ended up wearing them while smoking (“it’s even better than just smoking!”).

    Hang in there!

  • uisgebaugh

    Like the Punk, I started in the U.S. Army and also used a crutch to quit, after 20 years. I used gum and though it took a few goes, I finally made it. Over ten years now and worth it. Wait it out. Feeling worse will continue to come in cycles for a long time, but it gradually lessens.

  • me too

    Today makes a week for me too.

    I just stumbled across this story while trying to find something to distract me from wanting a cigarette. I don’t feel better either. I’m hoping that in time, that will change. My sleep is also very messed up and I have gained a few pounds as well. You described it very well.

    Good luck.. Im right there with ya.

  • I once quit for over three years. That was over fifteen years ago.

    I am reminded of Brick Politt’s line from “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof”: “I like to [smoke].”

    And when you’re born to hang, you don’t worry about drowning. I’ll burn that bridge when I get to it.

  • Paul

    Seven days is a fine start, the withdrawal sympoms are real, and for some, painful.
    I found it got easier and easier, especially after the six week point.
    Of course it’s not the same for everyone.

    When I felt tempted I kept on saying to myself “If I smoke again I’ll HAVE to give up again, and I’m not going through this EVER again”

    So I didn’t and I haven’t!

    Stay Well (think of the tax you are not paying!).

  • I stopped in 1998 and told a 13 year old today not to start as that was when I did, and it took me twenty years to quit. I hated smoking although the idea of it was cool, the taste smell and effect were foul. But I kept giving up and restarting. For years and years.

    Eventually, I got a nervous twitch in my eye, and decided it was smoking starting to kill me, and used that to convince my mind finally it was over for ever.

    Once that happened it was a little easier. But rest assured that each time you give up makes it easier to finally pack it in.

    And, if you never smoke again, after a few years, you really wonder why you did. It seems like an alien activity now. Maybe blogging will seem like that in anothr twenty years…

  • I quit about ten years ago. I was getting sick of it and Hillary was going to finance her health plan with taxes on cigs.

    I went cold turkey and being mad at Hillary helped me over the rough spots. Maybe you could think of all your money that will NOT be going to the government.

    Hang in there.

    Good Luck

  • I smoked for 30 years and loved every minute of it, but it’s a crap way to die. I quit seven years ago using nicotine patches (for 6 months!). It helped (I hate to say this) to stay out of pubs for that first 6 months – the connection between alcohol and cigs is Pavlovian x 2.

    Hang in there, tell yourself that all urges pass, think of the things you can buy with the money you save, start noticing how bad smokers smell, etc. Good luck.

  • bear, the (one each)

    Strange you should mention putting on fat like a bear ready to go into hibernation. You are quitting smoking, and in my case, I am trying my darndest to amend my eating habits. I AM a “bear” (big stocky man), but am carrying too much in the way of hibernation supplies. I know what you are going through: withdrawal from excess food, and the wrong kind, is not all that pleasant either. Best of luck to you!

  • I’ve never smoked, but I’m willing to bet that your withdrawal symptoms have a large physiological component.

    More generally, “mind” and “body” are considerably entangled (probably not really separable, but I haven’t been able to convince myself of that), and anyone who says that some considerable level of pain is “all in your mind” has simply found a particularly annoying way of saying “I don’t want to hear about it”.

  • Theodopoulos Pherecydes

    When you take your first drag you will realize why you started smoking. Paradise. The temper soothed. The appetite quelled. And, of course, that exhilarating rush.

    Then you’ll wonder why you ever quit.

    Roll up Golden Virginia from the ferries and you can smoke as much as you like for about 7.50 Pounds per month…25P a day. Turn it into a ceremony. Carry an elegant rig. Scorn non-smokers for their prudishness.

    Pretty soon your smoking will offend no one.

  • Bill

    Quit 20 years ago, and well worth it. I used Nicotine pills, but only for about a week or so. That it’s psychological doesn’t make it any less real. Nicotine speeds up your metabolism, so when you stop, you not only start reaching for food as a socially acceptable substitute, but you can’t burn it off as fast, either. I got involved with the Human powered vehicle association, and am still riding a recumbant bike today. Good low-cost, not terribly strenuous excersise, and I get to see the byways. PS: There are a bunch of really nice HEALTHY (multiple senses of the word) young ladies out there on the bike trails.

  • madman

    My father quit drinking and smoking 15 years ago. He just basically went cold turkey. Stopping drinking was the key to his stopping smoking. No pills, no gums, no nicorete. I am not sure if they were even available in the hills of Nepal back then.

    As for me I am not a smoker, but have always loved the second hand smoking. I don’t know why. I always thought the ciggeratte smells a lot better if somebody else is smoking. I am not being smart here. Now people are quiting, cities are banning it, I may have to start smoking myself if the second hand smoking is not available.


  • PiccoloPete

    You want to know how to reduce your discomfort while you recover? Here’s the best tactics that work for me:

    Stop talking about it.
    Stop thinking about it.
    When you find yourself thinking about it, turn your attention to something else.

    ‘It’ is not just smoking, but also your quitting. Get your attention onto what you want it on, job, sex, food, driving, whatever, and not the things you want to avoid.

    When you fall off the wagon, get back on.

    And one other thing: When you decide to quit smoking you know at that moment whether you’ll succeed or not. If you’re not ready, don’t try; it’ll just set up a pattern of failure. Just train yourself to hate it and keep on getting ready to quit and one day you’ll find you’re really ready, if that’s what you really want. You’ll know when you’re really ready and you’ll do it.

    Hope you find this helpful. I did, a long time ago.

  • Steve Lassey

    I smoked 4 packs a day until 31 years ago, then quit cold turkey. I had done it several times, as most of us do, but this time I managed to convince all my siblings to go at the same time. Since then, all of them backslid at one time or another, but I haven’t. After two weeks it became easier, physically, though years afterwards I would find myself patting my shirt pocket after lunch or dinner.

    At two weeks I remember a vivid dream that I had absent mindedly smoked one cigarette, and I remember the horror I felt that I would have to go through all that physical and psychological withdrawal again. My relief when I woke to the realization that it wasn’t true was compelling. That is what has kept me all these years from that one cigarette, even as my wife smoked up to two packs a day. Why put yourself through that more than once?

    Hang in there.

  • Quitting is easy, I’ve done it at least 5 times…. 😉
    But the last time has definately stuck. Cold turkey 3 years ago from 40 a day. I know I’ve kicked the habit for good because in that time I’ve maybe 2-3 times in a moment of weakness (at a party or during a heavy night on the town) started smoking a cigarette, gone ‘this is disgusting’ and put it out.

    The big thing was getting the brain to flip from thinking ‘cigarettes make me feel good’ to ‘cigarettes stink’. Those ‘this is the inside of a smokers lungs’ ads they have on the telly here in Oz help, but the main thing was going for a run, and sprinting till I spewed up. I could taste every filthy butt I’d ever smoked.

  • another annoyance i recall from my smoking days was people saying, “Do you realize that’s bad for you?” and other variations.

  • Lots of good comments and info above.

    Nicotine is no joke; a real drug with real physical effects on the body. Seven days, though they feel like a lifetime, are a relatively short period of time in terms of nicotine cravings. For me, they lasted ninety days.

    Regular sleep and eating patterns, though difficult at first, will really help. Particularly the eating. Keeping blood sugar constant will generally make you feel better. Consider using this as an excuse to eat exotic food. Smoking kills your sense of taste, so enjoy it as it comes back. Go get some Jamaican / Pakistani / Thai and keep track of the immediate positive effects of not smoking. Resist the temptation to over eat. Gaining too much weight will have a negative psychological effect.

    Drink water. Lots of it. More than you normally would.

    Consider replacing smoking with something, particularly something that smoking would generally make more difficult. Exercise is the typical answer. Even light exercise will have an overall positive effect on the body. Add up what you’d normally be spending on cigarettes, and go get a massage every other week.

    Gaining Thai food and massages is easier to do than lose cigarettes. Mental attitude is important.

    Best of luck. It really is worth it.

  • Hold on… and you will never have to go through that nightmare 7 days again.

    If you start smoking again, then you will have to repeat those terrible first days once more.

    I’ve been a non-smoker for 6 months, after about 15 years of two packs a day (well, at least at the end 🙂 and I feel so good I feel stupid for having smoked.

    The best feeling is when you dream about convincing yourself into smoking, wake up pissed with yourself and then realize it was just a dream and that you are still a non-smoker.

    Just hang on… the first 3 days are hell… the first week is a nightmare… and the first month is rough… but then you are downhill and soon days will go by without you thinking about smoking!

  • If it is any consolation, quitting is not easy but let me tell you that it is definitely worth it! Take it from the ex-smoker’s mouth, stop smoking and in the long run it will make you feel about a millions times better. Especially all that hacking and coughing and black stuff coming out of your throat. Taking a sauna and being able to take deep breaths. Those crusty, stinking brown stains on the tip of your fingers. Cigarette butts all over the place and overflowing ash trays. When you think about it logically it makes perfect sense. Unfortunately it is our body that must deal with the awful addiction first. No it is not in the mind…

  • Nudnk

    I quit 7 years ago after coughing up some blood. That scared the bejesus out of me, and I haven’t so much as looked at a smoke since that moment. Hang in there, everyday will be slightly easier than the one before it. Don’t give in to temptation.

  • Robin

    I quit a week ago too and it has been really, really hard. I never thought I would be repeating all of those 12 step mantras to myself over and over again – you know, one day at a time and all of that.

    The thing that keeps me going is knowing that I don’t want to bring this old pattern with me any further into my life. My lord, I started doing this when I was 15 years old and now I’m 33. I really can’t think of many other habits or beliefs that I got into as a teenager that I still ascribe to – time to be the adult I know I’m capable of being

  • Robin

    I quit a week ago too and it has been really, really hard. I never thought I would be repeating all of those 12 step mantras to myself over and over again – you know, one day at a time and all of that.

    The thing that keeps me going is knowing that I don’t want to bring this old pattern with me any further into my life. My lord, I started doing this when I was 15 years old and now I’m 33. I really can’t think of many other habits or beliefs that I got into as a teenager that I still ascribe to – time to be the adult I know I’m capable of being.

  • Robin

    I quit a week ago too and it has been really, really hard. I never thought I would be repeating all of those 12 step mantras to myself over and over again – you know, one day at a time and all of that.

    The thing that keeps me going is knowing that I don’t want to bring this old pattern with me any further into my life. My lord, I started doing this when I was 15 years old and now I’m 33. I really can’t think of many other habits or beliefs that I got into as a teenager that I still ascribe to – time to be the adult I know I’m capable of being.

  • Jeff

    Patches and Wellbutrin / Zyban pills made my final quitting experience totally painless. I mean it; I went from a 20-a-day habit to cold turkey without even caring. The Wellbutrin is expensive ($4 / day), and the patches aren’t much cheaper, but the combination was excellent.

    I lost 35 lbs while I did it, too, which is all the fault of the Wellbutrin. Highly reccomended.

  • alldone

    I printed this out and carry it where I used to carry my cigarettes. A constant reminder of why it’s weak and stupid and just plane not worth it to fall off that wagon. Only 2 days, but this time it’ll work.

    If you don’t go down this road, you’ll never know where it will lead

     One day, it will be too late
     I’d much rather be an ex-smoker who has an occasional urge to smoke instead of a smoker who always wants to quit.
     1 cigarette can and has led to a pack a day. You can’t have just one – that’s how it starts. And it won’t be worth it. It’s over so quick and does nothing for you. Just guilt. You’re really loosing nothing.
     Tobacco use is directly responsible for more than 25 causes of death.

    After quitting for:
    20 minutes your blood pressure and pulse rate to return to normal. The temperature of your hands and feet have also returned to normal.
    8 hours (5AM 3/17) your blood oxygen levels to increase to normal limits and carbon monoxide levels to drop to normal.
    24 hours (8:30AM 3/17) your risk of sudden heart attack to substantially decrease.
    48 hours (8:30AM 3/18) nerve endings to start regrowing and your sense of smell and taste to begin returning to normal.
    72 hours (8:30AM Thursday, 3/20) your entire body to become 100% nicotine free and the symptoms of chemical withdrawal to have peaked in intensity. Your bronchial tubes will begin relaxing and thus make breathing easier, and your lung capacity will also begin to increase
    10 days to 2 weeks (8:30AM 3/27) your body to have fully adjusted to the absence of nicotine, and the absence of the 3,500 particles and more than 500 gases present in each puff, and chemical (physiological) withdrawal to have ended.
    3 weeks to 3 months (4/7) your circulation to have improves substantially, for walking to become easier, and your overall lung function to have shown an amazing increase of roughly thirty percent.
    1 to 9 months (4/17) any sinus congestion, fatigue, and shortness of breath to decrease. Cilia have regrown in your lungs thereby increasing their ability to handle mucus, keep your lungs clean, and reduce infections. Your body’s overall energy will have increased.
    1 year (3/17/2003) your excess risk of coronary heart disease to drop to less than half that of a smoker.
    5 years (35 years old) your risk of death from lung cancer to have decreased by almost half if you were an average smoker (one pack a day). Your risk of stroke is reduced to that of a nonsmoker at 5-15 years after quitting. Your risk of cancer of the mouth, throat and esophagus is now half that of a smoker’s.
    10 years (40 years old) your risk of death from lung cancer to now be similar to that of non-smokers. Precancerous cells have been replaced. Your risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas have also decreased.
    15 years (45 years old) your risk of coronary heart disease to now be that of a person who has never smoked. Your overall risk of death has returned to nearly that of a person who has never smoked

    George Harrison of the Beatles died of throat cancer at 57 in 2001
    Bob Marley, singer, died of lung cancer at age 36
    Lon Chaney, actor, died of lung cancer and throat cancer at 47.
    Jacqueline Kenney Onassis, who hid her smoking, died of non-Hodgkins lymphoma at age 64.
    Patrick Kennedy (son of JFK and Jackie) was born prematurely and died after 2 days. His death was attributed to his mother’s smoking during pregnancy.
    Kiel Martin of Hill Street Blues died of lung cancer at 46.
    The co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous (Bill Wilson and Bob Smith) both died of lung cancer at 75 and 71 respectively.
    Lorraine Hansberry, author of A Raisin in the Sun, died of lung cancer at age 34.
    Morton Downey, Jr., died of lung cancer at 67.
    Graham Chapman, Monty Python comic, died of throat cancer at 48.
    Eric Carr (Paul Caravello), the drummer for Kiss, died of lung cancer at 41.
    William Talman, lawyer on Perry Mason, died of lung cancer at 51.