For 35 years, Leanne lived with an addiction to smoking. In these journal entries, she recounts with brutal honesty her first few years of living smoke free in the hope her words will inspire and encourage others.
I had my last cigarette lunchtime Saturday June 4th 2011.
To cope, I sleep most of the weekend. I feel like I've lost my best friend, a part of me. Everything I ever did was entwined with smoking. For roughly 35 years we have been together, through thick and thin. Good and bad. Hot and cold. I feel like I have chopped off my left hand - a necessary part of me. "It's bad for me. It will kill me. I will do it. I will NOT smoke today."
I will be saving my health plus $140 every week I don't smoke. Already I have saved nearly $40 - wow! Not coughing as much. Find it hard when I do anything. It's usually get up, coffee and smoke, shower then smoke...
Monday 9:00 AM:
At the doctor with Lauren. Usually smoke while she's in the chemist. GOD IT IS HARD. Look in my bag and there is a lighter. Need to keep busy. Thank god for my phone. This diary may be my lifesaver. Going to shop shortly. Usually smoke and coffee there. Another challenge to pass. Okay, coffee without sugar. Not too bad. No, it's yuk, it tastes like bloody mud! I've figured now that each situation I face where I previously would have had a cigarette will be hard. But each time I face a situation and get through it, I feel it is a little bit easier. Even looked in ashtray at work. Could have smoked a butt. But I didn't. Now I am crying. Go figure. It's so hard.
Apparently nicotine out of your system after 48 hours. That's lunchtime today. Anxiety building now.
Eating crackers with peanut butter for breakfast. Everything tastes horrible. Trying to appreciate a cool breeze on my face. The sunshine on me when I am cold. A blue sky. My grandsons. My children. My husband. I have a lot to be thankful for. Doesn't help when you want a smoke though. Now have a slight understanding of a drug addict coming off drugs. I even had diarrhoea, stomach cramps and sweats.
Just cut dog's nails and when I finished I immediately reached for a cigarette. Then I am crying again. Can I do this? One step at a time. Monday 2:30pm. Going to my work now. Another challenge. Even just driving there is a challenge.
Well that was a marathon of will I or won't I. I craved a smoke so much. Everything I do involves them. It's like, what have I got to look forward to now? I would complete something and think, 'OK smoke now'. Had a friend working with me that has given up. That helped. Another thing is I was addicted to coffee. Now it tastes like mud. Several times I went to "borrow" a smoke but then I thought, "My lungs are now clear of nicotine why start all over again?" It is literally hour by hour.
Woke after chanting, dreaming, imagining whatever most of the night that I am now smokefree. Having a cup of tea in the warm lounge room. I am positive.
Wednesday 8:00 AM:
Tuesday I had a training day and coped OK. Thought of having a smoke only about 10 times. Which believe me is good. Went to the shops afterwards for 1/2 hour. Found a 1/2 cigarette in container down back. Was actually looking for a lighter to smoke it. Thought my bag was in car. Then Bill was back. Saved again. Got home and talked to kids for a bit out back. Felt lost.
Went to bed. Slept 5 pm until 1 am. Up for an hour. Had a cup of tea in the lounge room. Slept 2am -7:30am. Can't say I'm tired. By lunchtime today I have saved $100.
Well 4 days was up at lunchtime. Hard at shop today. If I sat down the back I kept reaching to have a smoke. When my sister was there I worked out I would have had 5 smokes while talking to her. If I was in office doing anything, I found myself thinking "I'll go out back and have a smoke". If I thought of walking out the front then I thought to have a smoke. If I ate something then I reached to have a smoke. If the phone rang I reached to have a smoke. Deep breaths. Count to 10. It passes. Til next time. Sitting in lounge now. It's freezing outside and yet I still think "I want to go out and have a smoke". Everyone is very supportive.
Well into my 5th day and $100 saved. Another 5 days and it will be $200. Can buy a full swing set for my grandchildren with that. Find I want to sleep a lot. Think it's an escape route.
Thursday 9th June:
Have wanted a smoke about 10 times today. Deep breathing helps. The cravings pass faster now. Don't know how I will go sitting with someone smoking. Have been near them but found it easier to stay on my feet.
Tuesday 14th June:
At lunchtime today it will be 10 days since my last cigarette. That's $200 I have saved. The first few days were absolute hell. Now it's just hell. No, it's not too bad. I miss them so much. It's a grieving period I am going through now. There are some I miss more than others. Like when I first wake up and after a meal. The last one before bed. 1/2 time at the footy. In the car on the way home from work. I am sleeping better now though. And not coughing. Wheezing is gone. I can smell someone that has had a smoke more than a mile away. I don't mind sitting with someone smoking.
Sunday 19th June:
Well I am still here and still smoke free. What a long 2 weeks. I have had a devil in my head the last few days. He tells me to smoke. He says if you have 7 smokes a day that's just a pack a week. Or 2 smokes a day is only I pack of 50 every three weeks. I fight it. It passes quickly. Woke up today with a full blown cold. Blocked nose. Headache. Wheezing. Feel terrible. At least I don't have to light a smoke and make it even worse. I am back sitting outside. I love fresh air. I still have passing thoughts of having a cigarette but they pass. $300 dollars saved already. Unreal. Just went to grab one. I try not to focus on when I enjoyed them but on the negatives. Like coughing up mucous. Difficulty breathing with asthma. The wheezing when you are trying to sleep. The horrible continuous cough of a long time smoker. The adds on TV.
Thursday 23rd June:
I feel I am able to function now without being stressed about not smoking. I must say though I miss them. I suppose if you do something repeatedly for 35 years then it isn't going to go away in a hurry. I am eating more which worries me. Need to get on top of that. Into my 20th day without a cigarette. $400 saved. You know when you haven't had a smoke for a few hours and you finally get one and light it. You do the draw back. It's that kick that I want to feel again. BLOODY horrible.
Friday 24th June:
I have this feeling of euphoria when I think of having a smoke. Then feel really low and flat because I remember I don't smoke anymore. I used to have 40 smokes a day at an average of 5 minutes per smoke. That is 200 minutes a day. 3 hrs and 20 minutes. Holy crap. What a lot of time.
Sat 25th June:
I want a cigarette.
Sunday 17th July:
Well it's been 6 weeks and one day since I last smoked. What a lot has happened. We've moved into a new house. I love it so much. We have an in-ground pool, something I have always dreamed about. We are all so happy here. I have now saved $860. I have been through many stressful days. With packing. Moving. Memories. Stress and emotions involved. Many times I yearned for a smoke. But I didn't have one. The last few weeks I have had trouble sleeping. Wake with headaches. Have constant sore throat. Like a lump in my throat. Am full up now with a head cold. Don't consciously think of having a smoke as much now. Just occasionally and it passes quickly. Pretty sure this was the hardest things I have ever done. One of the best though.
Well it's been 32 weeks and 2 days without a cigarette. That's $4,520 saved. I am lying in bed wheezing with every breath. Need to get up. I have put on about 20kg. And I still want a cigarette at times. When I see someone light up and inhale that first time. That's what I miss. It's fleeting though. Most of the time it's fine. Still occasionally reach for them. I wish I had never started. God it's been hard. Can go all day without thinking of them. Then all of a sudden you think, I'll just duck out for a smoke. Then it passes.
April 9th 2012, 5:44 AM:
Well it has been 10 months and 5 days since my last cancer stick. I have saved approx $6200. I occasionally wheeze most of the time I can breathe deeply and it is a good feeling. I put on 17 kg over the last several months so for the last 9 weeks I have been trying to get back on top of it. Have lost 11.5 kg. Still have a long way to go as I am morbidly obese. Horrible words aren't they? Still that's another story. I go most of the day now without wanting a smoke. Only time I think of it is if I see someone smoking. I think I will always miss that first inhalation on a smoke. Shocking isn't it. But that's why it is an addiction. It passes fast though. When I see someone smoking and coughing that terrible hacking cough then I am glad I stopped. Someone said if you had plenty of money would you start smoking again. I don't know.
That's terrible to realise but the hold they have on you is strong. I still miss it. The smell. The inhalation. The social side of it when around smokers. I still find my self wanting to sit outside when I socialise. Then I may reach occasionally for my imaginary packet. It's not all mind consuming like it was though. When I see people hand over a $50 note for 2 packets of smokes I cringe. That was me only a short time ago. I feel so much better without them. To be able to take large clean breaths and hold it without coughing. No phlegm. Food tastes so much better. I smell better. I can appreciate my 3 grandsons more and spend so much more time with them as not ducking out every half hour for a cigarette. No more holes in clothes or seats. No more spraying perfume in the car to cover the smell. A nice clean windscreen. Haha. I could go on. I now understand how much time I wasted. What a large waste of life.
Well it's been a year! No wonder people say they have a smoke to celebrate. I still want one badly. Went out side the other day and there was a lighter near ashtray. I picked up a butt. (yuck I know). Went to light up. Threw it down as scared I would like it and want more. The other day at work I went to pick up a smoke and lighter to give to a resident. I thought "I could sneak out the back and have one and no one would know." I didn't but I can't believe the pull is still so strong. In a year I have saved over $7200. I don't feel that different other than I cough a lot less and don't have that yucky phlegm. I still wheeze occasionally.
I so much want to make a large coffee and go outside with a few smokes and just enjoy them. Unreal hey. After all this time. When will it get better? I feel jealous when I see people going for a smoke. Gosh it's hard. Mind you today is the first time I have thought of them and it's 25 to 10 at night. I have saved $8900 in the last 63 weeks and 3 days. When I am around family I don't miss them. (unless it's my parents or my sister ) as they still smoke. Find I can't go there as much as I did as it's too hard. I hope one day I get to hate the smell of cigarettes. It passes if I think of something else.
2 years 2 months and 10 days. Go days at a time without even thinking of them now. Can even enjoy sitting outside again without them. Will always miss them I guess but so much easier now. I have saved approximately $16000 Unbelievable. I did it. I am so proud of myself.
2 yrs 4 months 22 days. Time is 4pm and haven't thought of cigarettes until I read this. Have lost 10 kg in 7 weeks. Feel so much better. Concentrating on the weight now. Occasionally think of having a smoke. Wouldn't try as I'm scared I'd like it and take it up again.
3 years. 2 months and 11 days since my last cigarette. I have achieved it. Didn't think I ever could. So proud of myself. Have lost 37 kg as well so feel heaps better. Best thing I ever did. Never think of one now unless I am around a smoker or am really stressed
I have lost over 45 kg. I walk most days. Today I walked nearly 9 km and enjoyed it so much. I have more energy. I breathe so much easier. Never wheeze. Have not needed Ventolin in 3 years now. Enjoy being around my 5 gorgeous grandchildren without having to go out for a smoke. I actually feel sorry for people when I see them smoking now. Maybe once a week I'll think about cigarettes but it passes so quick. Life is good. 3 years 5 months and 10 days smoke free. Yay for me!
It will be 5 years in June. The only time I feel the urge for a smoke is a social setting when friends are smoking. Probably about 4 times a year. I have COPD from years as a heavy smoker. At this stage I only need a puffer occasionally. I feel so much better. My oxygen levels have increased. I very rarely cough. I am financially better off. I no longer smell of cigarettes. I'm 55 this year. Just wish I'd given up years ago. I have never so much as had a puff of a cigarette since I gave up. Good luck everyone!