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.