What happens when you stop smoking: The Memoirs of a SmokerPosted: March 22, 2011
One of my work colleagues, who used to be a moderate smoker, recently told me “there’s nothing good about smoking”.
I’m currently fighting an extreme uphill battle. It’s been around 5 days now without smoking and already I’ve learnt a very large amount about just what happens, both for your health, mentally and socially. I’ve also learnt how the government agencies such as the NHS look at you, and just what they assume about you. What both smokers and non-smokers think of you, the secretive underworld taboo that is “Social Smoking” and most importantly: who will support you and who won’t… in 5 days. Read on to find out just how rough the journey to stop smoking can be.
I smoked between 4 and 5 a day, which has actually gone up from 3 a day. I know what you might be thinking: 4 – 5 a day? That’s NOTHING. But I assure you, the addiction was strong, I would go to great lengths to smoke these cigarettes every single day, and I loved every one of them.
I’m going to go through a few bullet points below of what I think people need to know about smoking and smokers – and the whole rough ride to “giving up”.
1. The NHS presume you smoke a million cigarettes a day.
One of the first sources of information I turned to was the NHS Smoke Free website. Whilst it did a good job of trying to be positive and help you stop smoking, one thing was for sure; it presumed you was a typical smoker who might burn through 40 cigarettes a day. I smoked between 4 and 5 a day. The website clearly appears to be written by non-smokers, or at least people who’s heart isn’t in it to help you quit. It feels like a forced attempt. I quickly went to view the benefits of quitting smoking. It just didn’t do enough. I already knew what they’re telling me. Here are some examples:
– “You will save money – as much as several hundred pounds a month, if you’re a heavy smoker.”
I don’t even think heavy smokers spend several hundred pounds a month.
– “You will feel more confident in social situations – you won’t be worrying about the secondhand smoke you create anymore.”
Smokers don’t worry about this in the first place, as they know that they’re doing it – and non-smokers tolerate it. We’re already marginalised and discriminated against by society at large. We smoke in separate smoking areas, why do we have to worry about this?
– “As a non-smoker, you may even find you get approached more often by potential new friends and partners when out socialising.”
Hahaha, what?! To be perfectly honest, I don’t want to know the person that would judge someone solely on their smoking preference.
– “Your home will smell fresh and you will no longer be staining your walls with nicotine.”
Most people reading this probably don’t own a home. The demographic that are wanting to quit are the younger generation, and in general they can barely afford their rent.
– “You will reduce the risk of fire in your home.”
Again, refer to the above. Even then, you would have to be incredibly stupid to leave you’re lit cigarette on a fur, non fire-retardant carpet. We call these people: fire-retards.
I took the Addiction test… and it told me that my addiction to nicotine is low. I knew this, however I noticed that out of the questions it asked me (there are 7 in total), two of them were about smoking in the morning which I don’t do to begin with. I also noticed that it didn’t even ask me question 7 of 7. It skipped straight to the answer.
I’m currently waiting on a Smoke Free kit… which might take up to two weeks. Sometimes this might not be quick enough. The NHS Smoke Free website is generally a weak website.
2. People who don’t smoke, actually don’t give a shit whether you stop smoking or not.
This is one of the most harsh and surprising lessons I learnt. Non-smokers appear to think that they’re some sort of super power. That they’re better than non-smokers, more talented and superior. They also think that they can fly, and smokers cannot. It got to the point where I noticed it all the time… non-smokers would have a verbal jab at you whenever they could. They would come out with little phrases like “When are you going to give it up?” and then a polite laugh. “You dirty smoker!” and then a polite laugh. “You need to stop smoking!” and then a polite laugh. “I hate you so much because you smoke, and I hope you die tomorrow.” and then a polite laugh. There has been enough times where I zone out for a few seconds and imagine myself shouting “SHUT THE FUCK UP YOU FUCKING BASTARD BITCH CUNT FACE” whilst smashing their face against the hard cold concrete wall, over and over and over again, and then shoving my cigarette box down their throat and putting my lit cigarette out in their left eye. Then I zone back in to the real world, laugh & smile politely, and then say “I’m trying to quit, but it’s a slow process!”. How I despise them.
I’ve noticed more-so that non-smokers are actually just surprised when you tell them that you have quit. As you stare into their eyes, you read and feel the anger and frustration – the anger and frustration that they no longer can throw verbal jabs at you… that now you’re able to fly just like they can. An unusually cold response usually follows, such as “Oh… good”, or, “Ahh right right”. Most of the time, non-smokers simply do not care or want to know if you stopped smoking. Only a select few will actually care and continue to ask with genuine interest how it’s going, but these people are few and far in between – and sometimes there are not enough people around to keep you standing when you feel at your weakest.
3. Ex-smokers are your strongest supporters.
Remember that. These are the people that have been through it all, they have suffered what you are suffering or are struggling to cope with. They have been through the stages, and had to cope silently with the mental tourments that the nicotine fix harasses you with every few minutes. This is a feeling and a mental torture that a non-smoker will never experience, the feeling of being trapped in a cold, dark cage – begging to be freed but no-one can see or hear you, or knows where you are. All of a sudden there is a noise, you have no idea where it’s coming from, as these noises get louder and more terrifying, you start to think back to the abusive relationship that you had with nicotine. It hurt you and took away your life… but it gave you calm and comfort.
The noise concludes with a huge bang, and the one side of the cold dark wall falls, allowing through beautiful rays of sunshine and the sound of birds chirping. You squint, trying to see what lies through the crumbled wall, you make out green trees, beautiful green grass and a clear blue sky. A figure emerges in the middle, as a few seconds pass and you study the silhouette, it turns out to be an ex-smoker. And he is holding the key to free you from the cage.
The ex-smoker is the one that made it, and he/she wants you to make it to. They will always be cheering for you to win the fight, and beat it once and for all. They will give you the right advice, in all situations. They know exactly what to say to keep you strong. Keep the ex-smokers close to you, and one day it will be you breaking down the walls, holding the key to someone else’s freedom.
4. This picture below is what actually happens when you stop smoking:
The picture above (click it to enlarge) is the information I really wanted to know from the NHS Smoke Free website. It illustrates what actually happens to you as soon as you stop smoking. It shows that, when it comes to the physical side, your body is more than capable of fixing itself back to the state of a non-smoker (have THAT non-smokers). This picture in itself is far more positive than anything on the NHS Smoke Free website, which instead gives you a list of socially awkward moments written by a 14 year old pubescent teen who has never smoked.
5. The glitzy and glamourous “Social Smoker” lifestyle.
Hotly debated. Proof that, there is in-fact, many more closet smokers that exist than smokers will ever know. The type when on a drunken night out, they see you and a few others leaving the table after a good meal and a few drinks, and unsuspectingly get up with you, and proceed to follow you out. It’s at this point they come out the closet, and admit that they enjoy the occasional hit of the extremely powerful, legal, taxed drug known as nicotine. Where do social smokers stand? Are they smokers? Can they fly (non-smokers)? At that particular moment when they are enjoying one of your cigarettes, are they one of you? Only to return to the type of person that will say to another smoker the next day “You dirty smoker! When are you going to quit?!”. It’s somewhat of a shady, hidden and secret lifestyle; they live the best of both worlds – not smoking enough to have any real impact on the body, but not smoking enough to become ‘addicted’ so to speak. This sort of lifestyle could be compared to a Paris Hilton-esqe socialite; a respectable career in the day (the respectable career is not referring to Paris Hilton), and a boozing, flashing, cocaine snorting social parasite by night. The taboo that is the Social Smoking lifestyle is something that many people, both smokers and non-smokers, will never fully understand.
As for me? The physical cravings for cigarettes have stopped. Just the mental battle remains, which for now I have under control. There are many people I still have yet to tell, as a smoker will usually try to convert you to the dark side before supporting you as a test of your will. They, deep down, understand the amount of will power needed to succeed. A necessary test you need to pass in order to succeed. What does the future hold at the moment? I’m not sure. Like I previously said at the start of the article, this is an uphill battle.
In an ideal world, I will succeed and never smoke again. In an acceptable world, I will enter the glitzy, glamourous, hidden lifestyle of the “Social Smoker”; and if this happens – most of you will never find out.