Smoking As Self-Medication

Self-Medicating With Smoking

One thing I have learned about myself in my journey to quit smoking is that I use it to self-medicate. I doubt I’m the only one who does so. For me I am self-medicating for panic attacks and an anxiety disorder. I’ve had those most of my life, but they started getting better when I started smoking. I started smoking when I was 12 years old. Not something I’m particularly proud of.

Since my Mom died in 2010, I’ve had a lot more panic attacks and over-all anxiety than normal. This means I’ve reached for my fail safe far more often. Quitting smoking is hard enough, stressful enough, by itself. With the added stress of my finances crumbling, the strain of my Mom’s passing, and what seemed like months of Murphy’s Law being in effect…it’s become almost impossible. But I’m still trying. I don’t always get very far, a few days, a few weeks, even a few months at one point…then the panic sets in hard core. I try to ignore it, try to move past it, but I keep failing.

It’s not because I don’t want to quit smoking. Oh I do very much. But I haven’t the habits in place to replace smoking yet. The usual methods aren’t working, and my doctor and I are working on my meds, but sometimes I feel stuck in a never ending cycle. I hate smoking, but I haven’t figured out another method of dealing with the panic yet. It’s a cycle of testing out different methods, hoping that one day I will hit the nail on the head and finally be done.

Why do you smoke? What roadblocks have you hit?


Still Struggling

I am now on my third time quitting smoking, and it’s more challenging this time then the last two times. The first time, which is chronicled here, was six months long. The second was nine months long. Each time, my quit was murdered by stress – which I didn’t have another way of dealing with.

The first time, I ended up with a rat in my house. I am extremely rodent-phobic, so this was a major stressor. Of course, I probably was over-reacting to the situation, but that’s what a phobia is. To say I flipped my lid would be an understatement. It appeared to be someone’s pet rat (sorry to whomever may have lost it) as it was the wrong color for our local wild rats, and was lacking that ‘wild’ look. It died in a rat trap, though I will say I was expecting it to be a red squirrel (the scourge of Maine).

The second time I was doing great with this whole quitting smoking thing…or so I thought. My mother ended up in a car accident, and died one month later. Needless to say, this was stress I was NOT prepared to deal with. Unfortunately that also seemed to precipitate an immense increase in stress for the next year. At the same time as the drama unfolding with my mother, I was diagnosed with several health issues. That was just fuel for the fire, let me tell you.

But I’m not giving up. No matter how hard it may be to quit smoking, or how many times I have to try, I refuse to stop trying. I am tired of being a slave to something that is probably making things worse in the long run, even if it is the go to stress reliever. If you are quitting smoking yourself, don’t stop trying…even if you think you have failed. You haven’t.


Two Month Smoking Relapse

Holds a surprising number of cigarette butsImage by Thirteen Of Clubs via Flickr

After nearly seven months of being quit, I had a two month relapse due to stress, the holidays, etc. With the current cost of cigarettes, I ended up spending quite a bit of money that I really did not have, which as we all know only increased the stress levels. So here I go again, basically starting from scratch to quit smoking. I know I can do it though, since I was very successful for those seven months.

One thing relapsing taught me is that most of the physical complaints I had prior were from smoking. Smoking affected my stomach, causing me to be nauseous a lot; smoking affected my head, causing more headaches; and smoking definitely affected my energy levels. It even seems to make me more depressed, to worry more, and have higher anxiety levels. Odd, considering most smokers smoke to avoid such things and to take a break.

Time to walk back down the hard path to being smoke-free again! :)
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