Saturday, July 12, 2008

5+ Months: Kate Pendley 100%, Completely Smoke Free

So, here I am. Kate Pendley. A non-smoker. I can safely and comfortably say that now, as I feel I am very much on my way to having smoking be apart of my past. I am eagerly looking forward to my 6 month anniversary, which will be at the beginning of next month. I am hoping to do something special with friends that really marks the occassion.

Looking back to 'hell week', I guess I am little surprised I actually made it. 2 weeks seemed like such a mountain to climb back then, as I counted every single hour of not having a smoke. Now, there are days I have completely forgotten that I was ever a smoker and only occasionally does the urge to grasp my crutch strike.

When people asked how I did it and did it successfully, I give them these tips (maybe a couple will work for you, but, remember, everyone is a little different):

(1) Right after you stop smoking: find a sponsor. Mine, oddly enough, was a smoker. But he was also a recovering alcoholic and friend who I could be very candid with. During the first month, his support was critical to my success, so I recommend that if you are quitting smoking, find someone you can trust outside your normal circle of friends and family to work with and be there for you. Make sure they are honest and have been down the road of addiction, as a non-addict will not really understand what you are going through.

(2) After you make it through Hell Week (days 1-7), adopt the N.O.P.E. principle: Not One Puff Ever. Think about this. It's important.

(3) Use various methods, if you have to, in any way that you need to as to get through the first 30 days. I ignored instructions on certain boxes and used a different approach to 'stepping down' off nicotine in the long run. Do what you have to. Don't feel confined or pressured to go one way or another. Your way will be the best way in the end. Mine was: Get a bad head cold, Cinnamon Nicorette Gum (lots of), Cinnamon Nicorette Gum (a little less), Chantix and then 100% just me.

(4) Write. Write it all down. This will be your screaming and bitching and yelling and freaking out -- without dragging others into your emotional turmoil. This is a safe way to verbally express the feelings you are feeling without hurting or insulting others. I found it kept my bitch quotient to a minimum on most days.

(5) At week one, figure out why you think you smoke. At week 2, add to that list. At day 60, make you final list and open up a healthy dialogue with yourself about why you smoked and what factors, as a non smoker, you will continue to have to deal with.

(6) Expect to feel lonely. Figure out ways to deal with this. Expect to feel depressed. Figure out if you have always been depressed or if this is just part of letting go.

(7) Feel very, very proud of yourself and remind yourself constantly of how well you have done. Even if others stop noticing, self-congratulate every now and then as this is really a hard thing to do and you deserve a huge hug for even trying.

(8) Know that this is a process. Lots will be learned and lots will be gained, as well as lost. Welcome the process and remove any ideas of instant success.

(9) You are your ultimate source of strength. Every minute you resist counts. Every day you don't smoke compounds with every other. If you need a boost of encouragement, go to a doctor. 9 times out of 10, they will say "good for you, keep it up" when you tell them you quit.

(10) Become a person who HATES starting over. Of all things, this is the one that kept me on track the most. One puff: start counting from "0".....sorry, but there is no cheating when it comes to quitting. This has kept me 100% smoke free.

Kate Pendley has NOT smoked: 3,910 cigarettes.

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