Addicted No More

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I wrote previously I was sightly anxious but also excited that that Monday 15 February 2016 would be my Quit Smoking day.

I am writing now to report five days on that indeed, on Monday, I quit an addiction I had: smoking cigarettes.

Since Sunday, I haven’t bought or smoked any cigarettes 🙂

Due to the fact that I indulge in pot smoking however, I haven’t yet completely quit tobacco. The amount of tobacco I use in my joints however is negligable and I don’t smoke that much pot.

I don’t want to quit pot, I am very happy with my level of consumption and the positive effect it has had on my life – probably for another post – however I was scared of smoking it pure. For two reasons:

1 – I don’t want to smoke blunts, as they are called in that world (joints with no tobacco), because I don’t want to have my head blown up by the effect of pot (I don’t like feeling stoned),

2 – I fell on an article recently talking about a study that was done on the effect of smoking tobacco, pot and tobacco and just pot on the brain which revealed the pot/tobacco combination increases memory capacity, whilst smoking just pot reduces it. I don’t smoke pot to increase my memory, but I’d sure rather it didn’t destroy it!

My lodger suggested I used some left over rolling tobacco he had (he quit smoking three weeks ago) in my joints and I decided to try that. I hate the taste of rolling tobacco see so I thought it would work well.

And well it has worked: I actually feel completely free of my smoking addiction 🙂

There wasn’t a day at work where I “craved” a cigarette this week, barely a thought was given to smoking, I had got some nicotine replacement mints just in case, and I have probably had five in this past week.

And I really really don’t miss smoking – that, to me, is a result 🙂

Quit Smoking Day is Nigh

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As I had been otherwise engaged having fun and also dealing with starting a new job, I realised some time last week that I didn’t have long to prepare for Quit Smoking Day – which I elected to be the 15th February back in December.

No time at all!

As much as I had started the preparation pretty well back early January- downloading an App which was supposedly designed to help you reduce your smoking until D-Day, which I abandoned after running it for a couple of weeks – dealing with the “stress” of starting a new job – a cigarette was a welcome break, particularly fun meeting the smokers there – and then enjoying a little sexual fantasy with some stranger, eventually put any preparation by the wayside.

So I have been spending this past week trying to concentrate on getting ready. I am not sure how this short preparation will work out – I’ll soon find out – but I seem to have managed to change my mindset somewhat about cigarettes.

I started to restrict my smoking to a 10 cigarettes pack a day and for the past six days, that pack has lasted me two full days.

When on occasions my mind thinks about smoking, particularly at home I am pleased to report as this was the time I had showed less resistance, the thought just doesn’t appeal much.

There may be one or two cigarettes I really enjoy during the day, however none particularly comes to mind. So I am hoping there are none that I “couldn’t do without”.

I am also hoping to quit before D-Day (Monday), ideally on Saturday instead, so I don’t go to work on Monday feeling a bit weird that I won’t be smoking – Mondays can be a bit of a downer as it is (although so far in this new job, they haven’t been, I am pleased to report).

It’s funny, when you set yourself a Quit Day, at the start, you want the period until D-Day to last as long as possible; closer to the day however, you can’t wait for it to come – to get it over and done with, and see what you are made of.

I will admit I am a little scared I can’t do it – even though I know I can, having done it twice for long-ish periods of time (two years the longest). Still, addictions can be suckers, quitting them, or at least the idea of, can feel quite daunting.

Still, needs must. My heart (literally) has been telling me it needs me to quit. I really have to listen to it.

I just hope quitting smoking will be as easy as quitting drinking 🙂

The Facebook Experiment Ends…Begins?

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Back in June, I created an anonymous Facebook account, as mentioned in this post and back in August I decided to de-activate my real persona account as it didn’t serve me anymore.

Today I decided to de-activate my anonymous account too. I only de-activated it rather than delete it because there are some thoughts I had expressed on there I wanted to capture for my “memoirs”.

When I de-activated it, I was presented with a choice of reasons for wanting to do such thing. I picked the correct one: “I am spending too much time on Facebook”.

Since being back from holidays, and after my internet sabbath, I have realised it wasn’t the internet I had an issue with, it was Facebook. For, despite the fact that I got to choose what I saw in my newsfeed, I was still bombarded by thoughts from others, and that was still addictive.

This life journey of mine started when I realised I had attachment issues and since, I have been adjusting my life so as to have little attachments. Except Facebook became an attachment, again. So it had to go.

I felt a bit lost for a few moments after I clicked de-activate. I ran through in my head how often I checked my newsfeed (too often, certainly from first thing in the morning and last thing at night) and wondered what my life will be like now I don’t have this crutch of sorts. Then I removed the App from my phone, it was taking 222 mb of space, I think my phone will thank me (it is constantly running out of storage space!). Then I started to get excited: a new challenge ahead!

How will I get my news? I never watched the news so why worry.

How will I get my thinking material? I have accumulated enough thinking material via books, podcasts etc in the past six months that I have barely touched.

What will I do with my time? Now, that is an interesting one. Possibly be more mindful of what I am doing. I have a few projects coming up, I think now they will get the full attention they deserve.

It may sound really stupid, but I am actually quite looking forward to seeing how my life is going to pan out without this distraction.

time to live

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The last of the addictions

This morning, I woke up feeling full of love for myself and I decided it was time to tackle some of the last addictions I have that hinder my life.

One of them is sugar, which will be easy to do because I have a savoury tooth rather than sweet.

The other one is the biggie for me at the moment: smoking.

I mentioned in a previous blog that I wasn’t worried about it because that addiction didn’t affect your mind, like alcohol and pot does, only your health. Well, I realised this morning that my health matters just as much as my state of mind. If not more, for when it’s gone, it’s gone. A friend of mine, the one who never sleeps, told me the best advice his dad ever gave him was that you were given only one body and one set of teeth and so best look after them.

So this morning, I went to work without cigarettes, to see what it felt like. 

Well, I went through the morning fine without cigarettes, actually feeling quite pleased with myself, until lunchtime came and I really wanted to enjoy a cigarette when I suddenly remembered I had 3 in my drawers that I was keeping for a work mate who visits the office occasionally and I owed her some. So I smoked them during the course of lunchtime and afternoon.

As I was driving home, I started to think how I should do this, because it was clear I wasn’t ready, yet I want to stop now. I value my health a lot and I know there are many benefits to being a non-smoker and no advantages. I think I can live without the random encounters I have had while smoking for the price of my health.

So I shall start the same process I learned about when I lived in Canada. It worked then and I only started to smoke again when I moved back to the UK, to my life of nothingness. Throughout the whole split situation with my husband, I never started. So I know I can do it, however, my will power doesn’t appear to be that strong when it comes to cigarettes at the moment – strange really considering it was good enough for alcohol, pot and a whole lot of other stuff recently.

The process I learned about in Canada is two fold. Set a date and prepare for it. Preparation time includes storing your cigarettes and your lighter in different, hard to get to, places, so you start to think twice before reaching for one. Also ban yourself from smoking in a certain place where you usually smoke, eg the car. Those are the two changes of behaviour that stuck in my mind.

I won’t do the vap thing that is the rage these days, again because the idea is not to replace one addiction for another. Plus no-one knows the effect vaping will have on us for a while yet. When smoking first started, it was sold as being the best thing since slice bread and we all know how that ended.

Tomorrow I shall start on that plan 🙂 I really hope I can crack it before I leave for Zanzibar because I don’t want smoking to spoil my enjoyment of the travelling to get there, where I will spend a lot of time in non-smoking environments and even my peace once there.

Lying on the beach reading a book yes, lying on the beach, reading a book and smoking a fag, no.

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Cannabis

Something has been bugging me big time recently and I just don’t know what to do about it.

At the moment, I am learning to “choose my battles” carefully. As I mentioned in my Post about the challenges of staying positive, I cannot change the world, I know that and so I try to do what I can in little ways to better my little world, hoping that if everyone starts doing the same, eventually, it WILL have a ripple effect and the world may start changing for everybody (my world is already changing for the better). L’espoir fait vivre.

However there is a subject that I feel extremely strongly about and I just don’t know how to approach it to make a difference, and it is starting to sadden me: Cannabis.

I used to smoke pot, a reasonable amount. I used it only in my private life and went about my professional life without it. I became a master at it, I knew how long the buzz would last so I was “back to normal” before work started for instance, or was able to drive home after a meet up with friends.

I could take it or leave it, and had many years without and then I would start smoking it again and for a few months, then stop again,

When I lived in Canada, it became part of my everyday life. I was happy to smoke it alone (my husband had knocked it on the head after we had a bad experience whilst having a dinner party), and I would have a few drags of a joint before taking my dog for a walk before work.

Smoking it was actually a very uplifting feeling for me in the morning. I would set off with my dog for long walkies by the river and marvel at the beauty of the world. I loved hearing the birds tweeting and watch the Sun rise, with my heart full of hope and joy to be alive and living in this wonderful part of the world (Alberta, CN). I took some amazing pictures too during that time.

I could walk for hours in that wonderful state of mind, I’d meet people along the way and have chats here and there, I really felt so good.

In the evenings, I would use it to level my moods. If my husband came back from work and things didn’t go well, I’d go and have a few drags and come back all relaxed and happy. And so the evening could start again on a better footing.

With friends, I smoked it to replace alcohol, I much preferred being stoned than drunk. When Drunk, the truth would spurt out of me, often without care or tact, and I could often upset people. When stoned though, I was a very different person. Everything and anything interested me, being around me then was a whole different experience.

All this stopped for me when I went to share a joint with a friend after my husband and I split up. I had two drags on it, and hoped it would “take me away” from the turmoil my life had become (as two weeks earlier my husband told me he didn’t want to be with me anymore and then told me he wanted to be with my best friend). Things were complicated at the time and that girl was not the best choice to have that joint with (she was also one of my best friend’s closest friends).

There were issues between her and I and within minutes of having had those drags, I felt threatened and wanted to leave. She wouldn’t let me (trying to make me stay by force) and I suffered a panic attack, my first.

The experience freaked me out and I decided I had to stop smoking pot to deal with what was going on. So I did. That was two years ago. And I haven’t missed it at all since.

So it’s fair to say, apart from the last one, I had a very positive experience smoking pot, and it doesn’t appear to be addictive.

Yet, I have a problem with it now. I have a problem with anything that alters your mood that isn’t natural, and Cannabis, to me, comes under that category.

I have no doubts that it has its benefits, any natural product does, and yes, maybe it can help with pain relief, some say even help with Cancer. Fine. But let’s be honest, it isn’t what the majority of the people campaining to legalise it use it for.

The worst of all, it is being used by people with Mental Illnesses, proclaiming it levels their mood when nothing else has worked. And now, I see some top doctors are coming out saying it’s ok to use it.

It worries me.

On the Mental Health side, to me, it’s a chicken and egg situation. I have a feeling deep down that Cannabis actually creates a lot of the mental health issues there are around. Most sufferers I know are smokers, or previous drug takers and so it’s hard to see what came first.

Now, I also understand the financial side, as most campaigners seem to have latched on to that aspect of it = if it’s legalise it can be better controlled. I am actually rather amazed that Governments haven’t jumped at the chance of making more money out of people’s misery (I guess maybe they are happy with the income they get from cigarettes and booze already).

I also understand the argument about how people can get sent to jail for possession and sometimes the sentence is inappropriate compared to other crimes, when really Cannabis is not a big deal (its effect on behaviour being far less damaging than the effect of alcohol), and people should be free to do what they want.

I just don’t understand why people don’t see that smoking pot is yet another way to mask reality: they feel they are unable to cope with life without it.

I will admit I was a bit worried when I stopped that I would loose this wonderful feeling of well being I experienced walking my dog. Soon after I stopped, I also suffered from depression (for the first time in my life) and so it made me think maybe I should have carried on smoking pot as I never felt depressed then. But instead, I faced my life. And eventually came out the other side.

These last few weeks, I have started to feel the exact same feeling of well being I had when I was smoking pot.

I have started to love doing the exact same things I used to love doing while stoned. Walking a friend’s dog, marvelling at nature, snapping away anything that catches my eyes, chatting to random strangers, and best of all, I have a great big smile on my face when I do these activities.

How did I get there? I believe it’s because I sorted out the issues I was previously hiding thanks for the pot and alcohol.

Yes, I guess this is what is bugging me about smoking pot. It’s another form of escapism. Is your life really that bad that you need pot? If so, deal with your issues, because they won’t go away until you do, Pot is only helping you cope better. It’s just another crutch.

Wanna be happy? Learn to live without crutches.

[I will talk more about Mental Health and drugs in the future]

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Are you an addict?

 

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Addictions have been on my mind a lot recently, especially since discovering I have a caffeine addiction.

There is so much I want to say on the subject though, but I am still learning more and more about it and I’d rather understand the problem properly before speaking about it.

However, I thought of something I wanted to share in the meantime.

How do you know if you are an addict?

Simples: stop whatever it is you do that might be an addiction for a week and see how it feels, physically and psychologically.

Push it even further: every day you badly miss what it is you are no longer doing, add another day to the week without.

That will give you a good idea if you have a problem.

This can be applied to anything you are doing over the norm: playing computer games, going to the gym, watching TV, drinking, alcohol or pop, eating chocolate, coffee, tea, smoking pot, gambling, sex etc

* You may want to check with your doctors before stopping some of the activities, the father of my friends who had a drinking problem went cold turkey after years of drinking and died within a week, his body couldn’t cope with the stress of alcohol withdrawal.

** I am not suggesting smoking because we all know smokers are addicted.

Addictions

I want to speak about addictions at some point, but this post is to share a discovery I made today. Which I find quite scary. Because it’s an addiction I didn’t really know about that I have. The worst kind.

On Monday, I decided to try to start drinking water with a slice of lemon in the mornings. At work, I had a coffee and then drunk water.

On Tuesday, I didn’t feel like tea anymore so just drunk my lemon water, and still had a coffee at work.

By Wednesday I was pretty much just drinking lemon water.

Around after lunchtime, I had a phase where I just couldn’t keep my eyes open. So I closed them for a few minutes, and eventually was able to work again.

I started to feel quite low too, but I had something going on with one of my friends so thought that was the cause.

On the way home from work, I had to stop for 10 minutes to rest my eyes, and I even semi doozed off. I just couldn’t focus on driving and had to fight my eyes to keep them open. The last time this happened to me was when I was severely sleep deprived after I split up from my husband. I haven’t been sleeping much of late, but usually 5 to 6 hours, more than enough not to suffer from sleep deprivation.

In the evening, I went to visit my “partner” and after a while, while we were cuddling and relaxing, I just had to leave. I was feeling exhausted yet buzzing, a strange feeling to explain. But I just knew I had to leave and make my journey home (about 20 minutes). I got home about 10:15 and stayed up til 11:30.

This morning at work, they had run out of coffee, so I had a cup of decaf instead.

At around 9:30, I just couldn’t focus and again couldn’t keep my eyes open. I told my boss I needed some air and went to sit in my car for a good 15 minutes and I semi-doozed off again. I was conscious of the comings and goings of people in and out of the building but I just couldn’t open my eyes. I was also feeling really down.

When I came to, I had a think. What on earth could be causing this? Was it the excitement of this new found positivity having a negative effect on me? You know, like a low always follows a high? 

Suddenly, I had a brain wave…I hadn’t had much caffeine since Monday. I grabbed my phone and had a quick search on line for caffeine withdrawal side effects, and there it was:

Sleepiness

This just isn’t your normal tiredness, this is sitting up straight but still can’t keep your eyes open tiredness.

Lethargy

Forget about productivity at this stage because you’ll be unmotivated to do anything.

Depression

Caffeine withdrawal can take away all hope for living. Temporary blues are one thing, but if you already struggle with depression this could be a big issue.

Lack of Concentration

Forget school, studying, brain surgery, or jet engine repair during this stage of withdrawal.

Wow. So I went back to work and had a cup of tea. Within minutes I felt back to my old happy self.

Shit. I have a caffeine addiction I didn’t even know about!

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