health

Quitting smoking in 9 emotional stages.

Terry White Chemists
Thanks to our brand partner, Terry White Chemists

I started smoking in the same way so many of us do: with friends. I’d been adamant my entire life that I would never touch a cigarette. It was a dirty habit and definitely not ‘me’, I would constantly tell myself as I watched people around me picking it up.

That was until one night in my early 20s. It was the end of semester at uni and of course, a group of us celebrated by going to the city and having some drinks at a bar. I remember sipping on a cocktail, chatting away and having fun, when my friend Billy who happened to be a regular smoker presented me with a cigarette.

“No thanks,” I immediately declined with a smile, having another sip of my cocktail. “Come on, try one! It won’t hurt, they’re mint flavoured too. Just pop the ball in the filter. You’ll like it,” Billy responded as he waved the cigarette in my face.

Being coaxed by the trendy idea of having a mint flavoured cigarette (that was a thing?), both my best friend Lisa and I, who had also never smoked before, agreed to try it. That’s when it all started. From there, smoking became a social habit. Go out for a few drinks, have a few ciggies.

Lisa and I only ever smoked when we were out together and never bought our own packets, only bumming off the people around us because WE WERE DEFINITELY NOT SMOKERS. No way no how. If you don’t buy your own packet, you can’t be a smoker, am I right? At least that’s what we told ourselves to *cough* feel better *cough*.

"From there, smoking became a social habit. Go out for a few drinks, have a few ciggies." Image via iStock.

So for a few months we went along happily social smoking, having a cigarette here or there, until one day when Lisa hopped in my car and pulled out her own packet. To be honest, I felt somewhat relieved. I’d wanted to buy my own packet as well but felt too guilty to break our deal. But now that Lisa had caved first, it was okay if I did too.

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That’s when we moved into our next phase. Now we were ‘smokers’, buying our own packets and going through about one a week.

I started off with the menthols. When I got bored of those I moved onto Winfield Sky Blues, and when they weren’t strong enough anymore, I went to Blues.

After about two years I was close to two packets a week and it wasn’t until I discovered I had started using them as a crutch that I decided I needed to quit.

Stuck in traffic? Have a ciggie.

Need a break? Have a ciggie.

Feeling stressed? Have a ciggie.

It needed to stop.

So I gave up the cigarettes cold turkey, right then and there. I found the nearest bin and threw out my packet. Wow, that felt good. I then went into my car, handbags, pockets and anywhere else I had a collection of lighters, gathered all of those too and in the bin they went.

All gone, done and dusted right? Well no. That was the easy part. What I didn’t expect was the emotional stages that were still to come after I had decided to kick the habit:

Ease.

It’s the first day of a smoke-free-me and I feel fan-freaking-tastic. I’m so empowered that I kicked my bad habit to the curb. Bye bye, smoker’s breath. See you later, coughing. Fear about my nails going yellow or developing lung cancer? I won’t miss either of you. THE WORLD IS MY OYSTER.

I got this. Image via Fox Searchlight Pictures (500 Days of Summer).

Resentment.

That’s when our dear friend resentment kicks in. Why do I have to be so moral? People go through their entire lives smoking and they’re happy. Damn those smoking ads with the tar filled cups. Screw those labels of pregnant women harming their unborn babies on cigarette packs.

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Okay Australian government, you win: your warnings worked on me. I’m listening to you but far out, I really just want a cigarette.

Anxiety.

Okay. I can’t have a cigarette. So what else can I have? Lightbulb... SUGAR. Glorious, glorious sugar.

I’m craving things that, to be quite honest, I didn’t even enjoy BC -- no not before Christ; BEFORE CIGARETTES.

The new me is a woman possessed. Snakes? Bring them at me. Gummy bears? Hell yes. Jelly beans? Gimmie, gimmie, GIVE THEM TO MEEE.

Mostly the sugar and 'everything nice' though. Image via Giphy.com

Loss.

All that sugar was good but well, I still miss my cigarettes. Maybe I should forget about cold turkey? Really, I might not be that strong and that’s okay. Not everyone needs to be Wonder Woman. I can just cut down. I was having two packs a week so let’s go in halves. One pack a week after one month, half a pack a week after two months… fine, no, okay.  

Anger.

I’m stuck in traffic. Why are you going so slow? Can you not see that it’s a 60 zone. No, screw you, person trying to cut in front of me, I’m not letting you in.

HURRY UP PERSON IN FRONT.

Oh man, now I’m stuck at a red light with the person who just tried to cut in. You know what would fix all of this? A f*cking cigarette.  

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An accurate representation if I ever saw one. Image via Roadshow Films (Mad Max: Fury Road).

Embarrassment.

I am pulled over on the side of the road on my hands and knees at the back of my car trying to find that one cigarette that I know rolled back here months ago. I won’t go buy another packet because that’s giving in but surely, surely it can’t be that bad if I just had this one small, insignificant puff of a cigarette. One puff won’t kill me. I find the cigarette and dust off the floor fluff. CRAP. I threw out all my lighters.

This can be resolved, don’t worry.

If I lift the bonnet and put the cigarette on the engine, maybe there will be enough heat to light this bugger up.

Oh man, is this really what I have become?

Acceptance.

Clearly this is harder than I initially anticipated and I’m going to need some backup. I’m going to the chemist to see someone, surely they have dealt with people like me before. The pharmacist supplies me with quality advice and I’m already feeling better. They recommend me a range of products to help manage my cravings such as gums, patches and inhalers. Maybe this won’t be so bad after all.

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The time has come for acceptance. Image via Giphy.com

Relief.

I’m wearing my patches. When I feel like I’m going to fall of the wagon I have a chew of my gum and when things are getting really rough. I have a puff of the inhaler. I’m feeling relieved that I have something to rely on to help me through and I don’t have to kick the smoking habit all alone.

Joy.

It’s been a few months and my cravings are a distant memory. I’m declining cigarettes when I go out easily and without hesitation. I’m no longer puffed out when I go to the gym, I’m breathing deeper and feeling healthier. I am a new me and I CAN CONQUER THE WORLD.

"Hello from the other siiiiiiidddeee." Image via Giphy.com

After I finally made it out the other side of the long and arduous stages of quitting smoking, I was so glad that I did. I’m proud of myself that I’m no longer using smoking as a crutch and have found better ways to manage stress and other difficult emotions as opposed to having a cigarette.

Yes, it wasn’t easy but quitting smoking was by far one of the best decisions I’ve made. Once you make it to the other side, I’m sure you’ll feel that way too.

What did you experience when you quit smoking?

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