Does Better Mental Health Equal an Easier Quit?

You know, when you get ready to quit smoking, you can find some of the most unbelievable “facts” and opinions on the Internet.  Everything from “the only way to quit and stay quit is xyz” to “blood pressure returns to normal within 24 hours” to “the first few weeks are the hardest.”

Well, it might end up, further into my journey, that I call the first few weeks the hardest, but that just isn’t how its going for me right now.  I am on Day 12 and counting, and I am finding it to be so much easier than any of the other times I tried to quit, and much more similar to the last time I quit for an extended period of time (1.5 years).  It just feels easy, it just feels right.

Maybe it is because my mental health is in such a place, that I’m learning once again to focus on the moment, to not dwell on negativity, and to do the things that I know keep me well.  Although over the past month, things have been hit or miss with my mood, I have had several straight solid days, where I felt great, happy even.  Not manic, mind you, just centered and at peace with things, in general, in my life.

I owe a lot of that to be open, willing, mindful, and completing meditation practice every day.  It is amazing how much all of that opens you up to a more beautiful world than you see when feeling poorly.  It feels like the sun is shining down into my brain, my heart, and like any problem I am having right now, is a problem that can be put away, worked through, or I can be made to realize it isn’t as important as I thought it was.

I know I have quit smoking, temporarily before, and I realize I am at 12 days only, and while I will obviously be much more comfortable when I am months or even years from my quit date, I can’t help but feel super confident that this will last.  I have had so many new “revelations” since I quit, so much has already changed, and I just keep waiting for the next surprise to come up.

Before quitting, I was always (no exaggeration) very out of breath.  Even just sitting, I had a wheezy pant going.  Walking across a parking lot was difficult, and walking around a grocery store or any store for that matter, was next to impossible.  I barely moved at home, sitting for long periods of time and neglecting daily chores.  Of course, it didn’t help that I have been sick for the longest time, but I’m talking the most extreme inactivity.

I had forgotten how bad certain things smelled, and now my sense of smell is coming back.  Burnt popcorn smell all throughout the house, stinky fish smell coming from garbage, the smell of smoke steeped into the whole house from years of smoking inside.  It’s all really terrible and, while I am grateful that I can smell these things now so that I can address them before they become a real problem, it’s really kind of gross right now and has been making me quite nauseous  here in the last couple of days.

When I find myself wanting a cigarette, usually after a meal or when driving, I tell myself to wait five minutes, and if after those five minutes are up, I still want a cigarette, I can go buy a pack and have one.  And quite honestly, usually by 2 or 3 minutes, I can’t believe that I was actually entertaining the idea of having one.  Mindfulness really helps with cravings as well, along with deep breathing or rhythmic breathing.

Feeling all that clean air push through my lungs, the irritating cough I have right now while getting all that stuff out my chest, and the ability to smell both good smells and bad smells — well, all in all, I’m loving it.  It is that immediate positive reinforcement for breaking bad behavior that works so well, and I know I would be able to do any of this if my mental health were in poor shape, and for that I thank DBT, mindfulness, and Loving-Kindness.

 

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21 thoughts on “Does Better Mental Health Equal an Easier Quit?

  1. Sounds like you are doing really well. You’re right about mental health. If you’re emotionally and mentally in a good place, everything is easier — including quitting. There are only so many demons we can wrestle at one time. Smoking is a pretty big demon. It helps to have the rest of the decks clear!

    My only piece of advice? Stay away from smokers! Watching (and smelling) other people smoke during the first few weeks — even longer — can make you come unglued. There’s a whole social thing about smoking that gets triggered and it’s harder to deal with — for some of us — than the physical addiction,

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    • Thanks Marilyn! You are so right about staying away from other smokers. It can make things super difficult. Luckily for this quit, I live alone and Kizzie does not smoke. 🙂 But you’re right, the whole social situation around smoking can make things darn near impossible.

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  2. I have given up smoking successfully twice and unsuccessfully lots of times! The first time I classify as successful it was for 11 years! And darn if just one didn’t get me started again! The second successful time was about 3 years after the restart and that was about 3 years ago, so I classify that as successful too! I don’t know why several times were unsuccessful and those two times were successful, I can’t identify what the difference was, but it’s like you describe, when it’s working it’s just suddenly much easier than other times. I will never dare have “just one” again though, so easy to slip back in! Great job you’re doing there. It’s wonderful when you reach the stage where you suddenly realise it’s evening and you haven’t thought of smoking once all day!

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    • Thanks, Vanessa-Jane! Good for you for your quits…I hope I am able to say in three years that I am still smoke-free. I am pretty determined at this point, but it is a tricky tricky thing to quit, as you know. (and you’re right, never just having one slip — it doesn’t work that way!)

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    • Thanks Bradley! Yeah, it is pretty exciting when I actually look up and realize how far I have come already. It’s the looking up part that is hard! Appreciate all your support! 🙂

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  3. I’d agree that it makes a huge difference trying to quit a bad habit when you’re in a good place mentally. Given everything I’m dealing with, I’ll just keep smoking, thanks. 😉

    But I am super proud of you! You’re making great progress.

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    • Thanks Mama! The ol mental health is always so up and down for me, that I’ve just got to choose to run when it’s more up than down and know it will be coming down any moment, and prepare. If that makes any sense. I really do appreciate all your support! 🙂

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    • Thanks, Sheena, for all your support and cheering me on! The “wait five minutes” approach really does work, even if you have to repeat if several times (which usually I don’t have to, but sometimes). It’s easy to tell yourself that you will wait five minutes to smoke, every five minutes, rather than telling yourself tomorrow or next week or never. Five minutes is much more do-able.

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  4. Well done, well done! Congratulations on your decision to give up smoking. If there is anything I can do to help you, just let me know. I am now almost 8 months quit and there were some hurdles on my way, so I started my blog “The happy quitter” I had some good laughs too 🙂

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      • You are so welcome, let me know if there is anything I can do. I had a VERY puzzled look on my face for the first 2 months and so many question. Some days were easy, some days were just weird and cravings hit me from nowhere. I went to an online support board for smokers who want to quit, it helped me a lot. There are many online that you can chose from. I went to the http://www.quittrain.com, made some friends and stayed glued to the computer for quiet some time lol.

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  5. Ahhhh you’re inspiring me!!! I only smoke about five cig’s a day but I can’t seem to give up my “last” vice. I just gave up sugar and processed food and I feel like I’m detoxing big-time. Next will be the coffin nails, but I want to get solid on the no-sugar routine first. I love your blog, always so inspiring!!!!!! Hugs to you!! ❤

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    • I think giving up sugar and processed food is huge. I’m not sure I would be able to do that, or how I would be able to. So in my book, you’re an inspiration! I’ve been keeping up on your blog (sorry no comments lately…have just had tough time) and it amazes me the things you are doing with your life. So, you rock it girl! ((hugs)) ❤

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  6. You’re doing great. Keep it up girl!!! I’ve always been grateful that I got a terrible headache the first time I tried to smoke, but having grown up with a dad who smoked 4 packs a day was almost as bad as smoking them myself. We all partied when dad finally quit, but it was still too late for him. Stay with it, one day at a time, or even 5 minutes at a time, and victory will be yours. If you need additional help, I could loan you my son, who made his uncles quit by badgering them half to death every time they lit up until they quit just to shut him up. You’ll make it, I know you will. Maybe I’ll just check in every few hours and stick a message here to badger you, so you will stop just to shut me up, okay???

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    • Thank you! Still a few days since last post and it has only become a little harder, but I think that is because I am having more stress, a bit poorer mental health (need to blog!). I really appreciate all your support! 🙂

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      • I was told I’m bipolar also at one time. Then I discovered I just have MS. I’m not sure, but I think it was more fun when I was bipolar. At least I could pretend I was having some highs once in a while, instead of realizing I had lost another brain cell. But at least I know now that I’m really not clumsy, in fact I could have been a ballerina. I just have MS and the brain cells that control movement are all fried, so I keep falling down and hitting my head.

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    • Hey Charlotte…thank you! Meditation does help quite a bit. I know it has for me with smoking and with mental health problems. It takes practice to make it work, but once you get going, it is very helpful. Your mum could at least try and it see what it does for her. There is a ton of information out there on it, or she could probably do it through therapy, just until she gets a grip on it.

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