All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…


9 Comments

Addy Lake vs Writer’s Block (and the World!)

One of the many downsides of bipolar depression are the crippling bouts of writer’s block that permeate each episode. For the last several days, ever since writing my last substantial post, I have been experiencing said writer’s block. No matter how much I want to write, no matter how brightly my post ideas burn, I just can’t find the words to express my emotions. A post on forgiveness has been sitting in my drafts folder for a week now. A post concerning my anxiety over my impending trip to Melbourne is begging to be written. Yet the moment I sit down to write…nothing. Not a sentence. Not a word. Not even a syllable. Nothing. It’s infuriating. It’s frustrating. And there doesn’t seem anything I can do about it other than ride out the episode and hope it dissipates sooner rather than later. In the meantime, you’ll have to make do with song selections and random streams of consciousness. Like this one.

handandbook

It’s been a rough old week. Last Friday I was incapacitated by an annoying little stomach bug that saw me seek refuge (and comfort) on my couch. I didn’t move from it for days. I just lay there, cocooned under a blanket, watching the good Doctor battle minions and mercenaries. I didn’t eat (wasn’t hungry), I didn’t blog (wasn’t inspired), I didn’t even social media – which I’m becoming frighteningly proficient at. I just lay there, cocooned under a blanket, feeling sorry for myself and wishing that I had the energy to do something, anything, more productive and worthwhile.

“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day,”
~ A.A. Milne ~

This incapacitation lasted a few days. All through Saturday and Sunday the couch was my only destination. I did force myself to blog on Sunday, I did force myself to social media on Monday, but my heart was in neither. I just didn’t want the illness to overcome me. To be honest, I’m kinda over being sick this year. What with my pancreatitis and cyst taking up most of the first five months of the year, I could do with a substantial period of time that my immune system isn’t being assaulted by nefarious parasitic bacteria. I need a period of time where my energy is overflowing in order to combat this stubborn, unrelenting depression that has been gripping my mind for the last fifteen months.

And principle in my war against this depression is my trip to Melbourne. Over the last few weeks my plans have been coming together and it looks increasingly more likely that it will be going ahead. At this stage I plan to go the week of 21st August, so I can attend the social gathering I’ve been invited to. Not only is this social gathering something that I would love the opportunity to do, but it is something that will challenge my social anxiety head on, and anything that does that is worthwhile in my book. In addition to this social gathering, I’m eager to walk the streets of Melbourne again. I’m desperate to roam the laneways, eat street cuisine and overwhelm my psyche with the hubbub of city life. I want to explore the art galleries, watch the fishes at the aquarium and laze amidst the gardens of the King’s Domain.

It’s been nearly two years since I last left Wodonga. Two years of being suffocated by this sterile, uninspiring town. I crave stimulation. I yearn to have my heart’s desires met. I need my boring monotonous routine to be eradicated, and I can only do that by leaving this boring, monotonous town. I’m not getting my hopes up just yet. I know from past experience that if I do that, they will only be dashed at the last-minute by some hitherto unseen obstacle, but I should know whether my planned trip is possible next week. And if it is. Then prepare to be dazzled by Addy’s dance of excitement!

Aside from stomach bugs and dreaming of Melbourne adventures, life has carried on in much of a muchness. My quit smoking attempt is trundling on. I have smoked cigarettes over the last week, but for the last five days I have been totally smoke free, which is quite exciting. My anxiety, however, has been taking a major hit without nicotine to counteract it. For the last couple of weeks my anxieties have been off the charts, impacting and effecting every aspect of my life. There have been days when I haven’t left the house in fear of what may happen to me in the big bad world. There have been moments of panic at the supermarket; attacks that prevented me from performing fairly mundane and tedious of tasks. I’ve been doing a lot of work with mindfulness to try to combat this increase in anxiety, but to little or no effect. It seems that without cigarettes, my anxiety increases, and I don’t quite know what to do about it.

Meadhbh tells me that, in time, my anxiety will decrease. That it is merely a reaction to being nicotine free. She’s probably right, but only time will tell on that. As per expected she has been a Godsend over the last couple of weeks, egging me on, encouraging me to remain smoke free, playfully chastising me when I slip up but quick to offer an inspirational word or two when I need it most. We’ve been doing a lot of colouring in (using our Van Gogh colouring book) to curb any cravings I may have, which she’s been enjoying, as well as playing lots of Yoshi’s Island and Lego Batman, which entertains and keeps her happy. And as I’ve said before, a happy voice means a happy Addy!

Audrey, too, has been in good spirits lately. She hasn’t been as supportive as Meadhbh with my quit smoking endeavor, but has offered the occasional sage like word of advice. She’s been thrilled by my recent resurgence in reading. Each night, before I go to bed, I will read a few chapters of a book. Over the last several weeks I’ve read ten books, and Audrey has loved every minute of them, even the crappy ones!

Top five books I’ve read over the last several weeks:

1. Scott Pilgrim (Bryan Lee O’Malley)
2. A Fringe of Leaves (Patrick White)
3. Smokeheads (Doug Johnstone)
4. Gone Again (Doug Johnstone)
5. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Thinking (Susan Cain)

Vanessa, meanwhile, is as abusive and obstinate as always. Keen to tell me I’m a failure. Keen to remind me how useless I am. If only she’d cheer the fuck up and stop being such a grumpy, narcissistic bitch, things would be so much better – for both of us.

The last couple of days have been busy when it comes to external forces. Yesterday, I had a productive session with my psychologist. We discussed and dissected various PTSD treatments and therapies she believes could assist me. We didn’t go into detail on the source of my trauma – that will come in time – but she believes there is hope for me in this area. Which is good. Because I don’t think there is! I also had a good session with my support worker today. We decided to forgo the usual ‘sit in a room and talk’ session and went for a drive to Albury Library Museum instead. She had seen a photography exhibit was on and thought, rightly so, that it would be something I’d be interested in. The photographs – all landscape – were stellar. Some of the best I’ve seen in years. In fact the photographer, Peter Elfes, has skyrocketed onto my list of favourite photographers. So if you’re in the area, you should check it out. And if you are in the area, why not stop by and say hello to little old me? We could have a coffee or something! :)

Wow. 1318 words. Not bad for someone suffering from writer’s block. And whilst we’re back on the subject. Any hints, tips or advice you may have on vanquishing this silent, deadly foe would be greatly appreciated. I never know how to tackle writer’s block and could do with some suggestions!

The Road Not Taken
By Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Wait! Before you toddle off to do whatever it is you wonderful people do, could you spare a moment to vote in my poll?

I’ve been trying to convince my Andrew that it would be a good idea to write to some of the beautiful people he met in Canada. He hasn’t spoken to them for many, many years and I know he misses them terribly so I thought it would be nice for him to write to them. Andrew thinks it wouldn’t be a good idea. He thinks he would be imposing on them and they wouldn’t want to hear from him but I think they miss him in the way he misses them. So I thought that if I created a poll, a simple yes/no/maybe poll it might convince him my idea is the best and he would write to them. What do you think? Should he get back in touch with them or should he just put the past behind him and leave things be? We’d love to know your thoughts! :)

Meadhbh xoxxox

 


6 Comments

Thirteen things to do instead of smoking…

Yesterday, I had a major set-back in my quit smoking endeavor. After a brutal night of no sleep, intrusive thoughts and flashbacks (courtesy of my bedfellow, PTSD) I turned to my age-old coping mechanism and puffed my way through a pack of smokes. I was angry with myself. I was annoyed with myself. But there is little I can do about it now other than slap my own butt and start the day anew. So. Instead of smoking I’ve decided to Thursday Thirteen my way through the morning, with thirteen things you can do instead of smoking. Hopefully writing it will renew my determination and help others struggling with this crazy thing called quitting smoking.

So without further ado…

Thirteen things to do instead of smoking

quit-smoking-now-no-smoking-please

~ in no particular order ~

~1~
Exercise!

So you’re craving a cigarette? You need that sweet feeling nicotine gives you? Stop. Take a breath. And go for a walk instead. If you don’t feel like walking, go for an endorphin creating session at your local gym or a thigh burning bicycle ride. If you don’t feel like doing either of these things, press play on the video below and spend ten minutes working your cute little butt off. Exercise will take your mind off your cravings and help shape a better you in the process.
I promise.

~2~
Binge!

I’ve long been a fan of the binge-on-your-favourite-TV-show craze. It’s a pleasant way to pass the time, keeps you entertained and engaged, and can quickly take your mind off the unpleasantness of nicotine withdrawal. So instead of lighting up, slip a DVD in your player and treat yourself to several episodes of your favourite show. You’ll forget about smoking in no time!

game-of-thrones-daenerys-targaryen-dragon-20150624140946-558aba2a95724

Top five TV shows to binge on:

1. Game of Thrones; it’s a contemporary classic for a reason
2. 24; Jack Bauer can kick anyone’s butt, including cigarettes!
3. The Walking Dead; zombies, zombies, and more zombies!
4. Castle; if Molly C. Quinn can’t curb your craving, nothing will.
5. Doctor Who; the Daleks can exterminate anything, including nicotine cravings!

~3~
Om nom nom!

Instead of smoking your way through a pack of cancer causing chemicals, why not sate your cravings with some scrumptious food. Since quitting smoking I’ve been addicted to toasted cheese sandwiches, peppermints, licorice and maple pecan pastries. But you could try something more healthy, say fruit juice, carrots, celery or salad. Find something that works for you and go with it. You’d be amazed at how quickly yummy food can take your mind off those evil, vicious, cravings.

The+Perfect+Grilled+Cheese+Sandwich+800+1581

How to make the perfect toasted cheese sandwich

Ingredients
1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
2 slices bread, day old
3 ounces cheese, grated/shredded, room temperature

Directions
1. Heat a pan over medium heat.
2. Completely butter one side of each slice of bread.
3. Place one slice of bread in the pan, buttered side down, sprinkle on the cheese and top with the remaining slice of bread, buttered side up.
4. Turn the heat down a notch and cook until golden brown, about 2-4 minutes.
5. Flip and cook until golden brown on the other side, about 2-4 minutes.

~ from ClosetCooking ~

~4~
Video Games!

Video games can be a godsend during a quit smoking campaign. They keep your hands occupied. They keep your brain engaged. And they’re both an entertaining and enjoyable way to pass the time.

Last week, on my first day without cigarettes, I treated myself to a second-hand copy of Yoshi’s New Island for the 3DS. The idea was that the happy, bouncy green dinosaur would help take my mind off the cravings, and for the first few days, until I completed the game, he did. Since then I’ve moved on to other video games in an effort to take my mind off cigarettes. And they’ve helped, enormously.

Lego-batman-the-videogame-characters_(1)

Top five video games to take your mind off smoking:

1. Lego Batman; a glorious game of minion fighting and puzzle solving.
2. The Legend of Zelda; by the end of your first dungeon, cigarettes will be a thing of the past.
3. Yoshi’s New Island; you’ll enjoy the dinosaur so much you won’t think of smoking.
4. Mario Kart; challenge yourself with time trails, they’ll stop the cravings in their tracks.
5. Brain Training; keep your brain engaged with simple, fun trials and tribulations.

~5~
Music!

Music has the power to transport us to another time and place. It has the power to make us happy when we’re sad. It has the power to take hold of our soul and shower us with warm feelings of excitement and merriment. So instead of lighting up, log onto iTunes, stick a CD in your stereo, and blast your cravings away with your favourite tunes. But make sure it’s something you love, something that speaks to you, something that will get you singing and dancing along. Your cravings will evaporate in no time.

~6~
Blog!

If you’re a blogger, why not write your way through the cravings. Settle down in front of the computer and exorcise your demons through words and emotions. Write about your day. Write about your craving. Write about donuts. Just write anything. By the time you’ve shared your moment with the world your cravings will have disappeared and you’ll have gone another hour without the dreaded cigarettes.

It you’re not a blogger, then log onto the internet and check out other people’s blogs. Spend some time surfing the net and experiencing life through the thoughts and minds of others. By the time you’ve read your umpteenth blog post your cravings will have dissipated and you’ll have gone another hour without the demon cigarettes.

Blog-Image

Top five blogs to read your way through the cravings:

1. Panic Disordered
2. Many of Us
3. Strong Enough to Break
4. Blahpolar Diaries
5. Rockstar Dinosaur Pirate Princess

~7~
Have a bath!

No-one smokes in the bath. No-one. Mainly because your cigarette would get all soggy. So instead of lighting up, strip yourself naked and soak yourself in a calming, relaxing, sweet-smelling tub of hot water. Not only will you be showing yourself some (much-needed) self-love, you’ll find the soothing water will evaporate any craving you’re experiencing.

bath

Top five secrets to the perfect bath:

1. If you use the right ingredients, bathing makes you look younger
It’s true – high quality, natural bath salts can take years off your appearance by helping your body defend against climate and UV exposure, genetics, and other elements that speed up the aging process. Not only that, but natural salts can help your skin repair and restore its youthful smoothness and vitality on a cellular level, addressing existing signs of aging such as fine lines and an uneven skin tone.

2. Atmosphere is key
Before you take your bath, make sure the lighting in your room is soft and low. Either dim the lights or place candles along the rim of your tub. Bring in a portable CD player and play your favourite, soothing music. Before you know it, your bathroom will be transformed into a quiet, tranquil oasis.

3. When it comes to bath salts, the more, the better!
Don’t be shy! Be generous with the bath salts – the more, the better. Grab a handful or, even better, two – and hold them under the running water as you draw your bath, allowing the salts to release their fragrance and oils into the steam as they fall into the water. The idea here is to replicate an oceanic environment – after all, there’s nothing more therapeutic than soaking in the sea.

4. Keep that curtain closed.
After you step into your bath, either partially or completely close the shower curtain or door. This not only seals in the heat (so water takes longer to cool), but it keeps in all that fabulous, fragrant steam. The steam will open and cleanse the pores in your skin, giving you a youthful, healthy glow.

5. Not so fast – keep soaking!
After 10 minutes of soaking, you may be tempted to hop out of your tub and go back to other activities. Instead, lie back and stay there for another 10 minutes. The bath salts will have time to work their magic on your skin while the warmth of the water improves your circulation and lowers your blood pressure. Not only will soaking longer help your body, but it will greatly benefit your mind. Believe it or not, it takes a while to get “used” to relaxing – those first few minutes are often spent thinking about appointments, projects, and deadlines. Once your mind is clear, close your eyes and relax!

~ from SFSalt ~

~8~
Go to the cinema!

You can’t smoke in the cinema. Well, you could, but it would be illegal, and you’d risk the wrath of both patrons and employees alike. So take your mind off the cravings by treating yourself to a movie and popcorn. Unfortunately, I can’t indulge in this activity as my social anxiety prevents me from being around so many people so, if you’re like me, why not recreate that cinema feel in the comfort of your own home? Just pop some popcorn into the microwave then curl up on the couch with your favourite comfort movie. Your cravings will just vanish, I promise.

~9~
Read!

There’s no pain or torment in the world that a good book can’t quell. So instead of reaching for your smokes, reach for a good book instead. You’ll be transported to another world, fall in love with enigmatic characters and lose yourself to the danger and excitement contained within. So much better than killing your body with harmful substances.

Woman reading a book

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”
~ Jane Austen ~

~10~
Massage

Last night I dreamt (the divine) Karen Gillan was giving me a full body massage. It made me realise that (a) my life is devoid of human-to-human contact, (b) that dreams are so much more exciting than reality and (c) massages rock!

So instead of lighting up, pester your significant other until they tear your clothes off, lie you down, and massage the living hell out of your aching, cigarette craving body. By the end of the massage you’ll be relaxed, invigorated and ready to face the next challenge.

If your partner is ignorant to the ways of massage, why not get them to watch this video:

~11~
Colouring In!

Colouring in is no longer just for children. In recent years it has become quite the adult entertainment device. Not only is it an incredibly mindful activity, it can work wonders in taking your mind off whatever problem you’re having, including nicotine craving. So instead of cracking out the smokes, open up a pack of delicious coloured pencils and get creative!

Here are some colouring in pages to print out:

~ Click each image to enlarge ~

~12~
Spanking!

Okay, so I’m running out of ideas. But bear with me. It may sound random, it may sound bizarre, it may even sound a little kinky, but a good spanking will take your mind off whatever problem you’re having. So cosy on up to your significant other and quietly request they smack your cute little bottom until it’s rosy red and flooding you with warmth and excitement! Your nicotine cravings will be gone in an instant, I assure you. :p

OTKspanking

Six of the best spanking tips:

1. Massage is a nice way to prime his (or her) butt pre-spank. Start by gently caressing his cheeks, and after a few minutes, begin kneading them as though you were making dough. Every so often, give him a firm pinch to prep him for more intense action later on.

2. When you’re ready for the big shebang, keep a few pointers in mind (and share these with him, too): (1) Mix things up – try a series of quick little slaps, followed by one big whack. (2) Alternate between smacking with an open palm and a cupped hand; each feels and sounds different. (3) Stick to the fatter lower part of his butt or his cheeks, and avoid his tailbone.

3. Try this game: Collect a bunch of household objects that would make fun DIY floggers – a wooden spoon, spatula, paperback book, etc. Spank him with one of the items and have hum guess what it is.

4. A cute way to send the message that you’re in the mood for a spanking. Use permanent marker to write something sexy on the backside of your undies, like Spank Me or I’ve Been Naughty.

5. Dirty talk makes spanking even hotter. Tell him, “Honey, every time I spank you I want you to say ‘Again, please,’ like a good boy.” It might spark some sexy role play.

6. Make sure you decide on a safe word first – something totally disconnected from sex like “popcorn” or “sunshine”.

~ from Cosmopolitan ~

and

~13~
Plan for the future!

Think of how much money you’re saving from not smoking. Pretty soon you’re gonna be rolling in the stuff. So instead of smoking, get your mind working and figure out how you’re gonna spend all that money. Are you going to treat yourself to a new book? A new video game? A day at your local spa? Or have you decided to save up for something more magnificent, like a holiday, car or house?

holiday

Now that you’re no longer a smoker, the entire world is your oyster!


6 Comments

Life is hard, sometimes…

One of the strangest things that has come from my quit smoking attempt is an addiction to cheese. Ever since going smoke free on Wednesday I haven’t been able to get enough of the stuff. I’ve devoured toasted cheese sandwich after toasted cheese sandwich. I’ve feasted on jacket potatoes slathered with lashings of cheddary awesomeness and snacked on savory biscuits adorned with cubes of tasty cheese. Part of me feels I should be worried about this new obsession. That I am merely substituting one addiction with another. But the other part of me laughs in the face of such thinking. Cheese, after all, is not known to cause cancer. It is known to increase your waist size, but as I’m already a big fat person (okay, not that big or that fat) I’m not too worried about this. I’m just thankful for the fact I’d gone three days without cigarettes…

…and yes, you read that sentence correctly. I had gone three days without cigarettes. For this afternoon, after a brutal night of PTSD nightmares and little to no sleep, after a morning of confusion and melancholy, I turned to the sweet drug nicotine to ease my troubled mind. I know what triggered it. I know what caused the onslaught of memory and flashback. And there is nothing I could have done about it. I’m trying not to see this as a setback. I’m trying to look at it with positive eyes. Yes, I smoked a cigarette. But I only smoked one cigarette. I could easily have smoked two, three or four. I could easily have said to hell with my quit smoking attempt, give me more of that nicotine drenched goodness! But I didn’t. I smoked one, blissful, cigarette and then placed the pack in the trash before returning to my quit smoking endeavor.

You might want to give me a bollocking. You might want to turn me over your knee and give me a sound spanking. But before you take such extreme, flirtatious measures, remember that at least I’m being honest about smoking today. I could easily lie about it. I could easily ignore the fact I smoked today and go on making everyone believe I was still smoke free. But that isn’t me. I’m an honest soul. Sometimes too honest. Every quit smoking attempt is littered with setbacks and relapses. Nicotine is, after all, one of the hardest drugs to give up. It’s grip is vicious, strong and vice like. I do feel bad about smoking today, but I’d like everyone to remember how difficult my life is before scolding me.

I’m not saying that for sympathy or special treatment. I’m saying it because it’s true. My life is difficult. I live alone, I have few friends in close proximity and I battle bipolar affective disorder, complex PTSD and severe social anxiety disorder with little to no help. Just being alone all the time is enough to drive most people to despair, let alone having to deal with complicated mental illnesses at the same time. The smallest, most inconsequential thing can trigger me. I could be watching a movie that features a rape scene and bam I’m back in Adelaide being anally penetrated by a grotesque stranger. I could be walking down the road and smell a scent that sends me hurtling back into my abusive relationship. Or I could read an online article and be sent spiraling into the depths of poverty and homelessness.

Over the years I’ve come to realise just how precarious my life is. So many triggers. So many things to avoid. It amazes me sometimes how I have lived as long as I have. Chewing gum, gin and tonic, Buffy, Fitzroy, cigars, Harry Potter, The Dark Knight; all are things that I have to avoid. All have the power to pull me away from the present and send me tumbling into the abyss of panic, terror and nightmare. Just think, for a moment, how difficult that can be. How many times is Harry Potter mentioned in the media, on blogs? People who read Harry Potter don’t just like it, they obsess over it. Hundreds upon thousands of online hours have been dedicated to writing about this fictional wizard. He regularly appears in the mainstream media, on Buzzfeed, on blogs; and every time he does, my mind is triggered and I stop functioning.

Just the other day I was in the supermarket when a father asked his daughter “Would you like that?” and I was rendered almost non-functioning. For this was the exact assortment of words that my rapist said to me. And that’s not the first time that’s happened. Once, many years ago, I was in a similar situation, heard those exact words, and an ambulance had to be called to assist me as I ended up lying in the fetal position, unable to move. Can you imagine how difficult life can be when a simple four word sentence holds such power over someone’s functioning? It’s exhausting. It’s debilitating. It’s painful. It’s so many bloody synonyms I could be here til Doomsday typing them all out.

But I do the best I can. I get out of bed when it would be all too easy to remain there all day. I walk to the supermarket when all I want to do is remain in the comfort and safety of my own world. And I push myself to perform tasks that, although difficult, aid and assist my life. Just the other day I discovered that there is an event being held in Melbourne on the 21st August. A gathering of like-minded souls, congregating to celebrate their passion in a club like environment. There is going to be hundreds of people there. Hundreds of strangers that have the power to render me panic-stricken and comatose. But I put my hand up to attend. I, Addy Lake, social anxiety extraordinaire, volunteered to attend a function with hundreds of people who could render me unable to function. All because I want to go. All because I yearn to break through the hold my anxiety and PTSD hold over my life.

That’s why I’m not beating myself up for smoking one cigarette. My life is hard, it’s painful and it’s every day. There is very little joy in my life and very little relaxation. I exist in a constant state of hyper-vigilance; endlessly on the lookout for the next thing that could send me cascading into the past. But I keep fighting. I keep pushing myself. And I keep seeking out new and hitherto untried strategies that could break the hold mental illness has on me. And that is something to be proud of. Regardless of the occasional slip-up or setback.


10 Comments

Tomorrow I quit smoking – for good!

cigarette-ash-art_130434526842

When I first started smoking, way back in 1999, I was a naive twenty year old who wanted to stop self harming. I was tired of the cutting, tired of the burning, beating and bashing, so, in one of my finest ever decisions, I decided to swap self harm for cigarettes. It kinda suited me at the time. I was living in a backpacker hostel, surrounded by people who smoked, people who socialized whilst they were smoking. Having a cigarette in the smoking lounge meant having someone to talk to. And at a juncture in my life when I was also trying to stave off the social anxiety, it suited me to have an ‘excuse’ to be social. And by the time you can say ‘big stinking idiot’, I was addicted.

I no longer smoke to be social. I smoke because I am hugely (and annoyingly) addicted to cigarettes. Nicotine has me in its grasp. Cigarettes fill me with joy, with happiness, with frustration. I hate bowing down to the commands of such a cruel mistress, but with boredom and depression eased by my filthy, disgusting habit, who am I to argue? Smoking gives me something to do. Smoking fills the time and stops me from going insane. Smoking is something that 32% of people with a mental illness do, so there must be something in it. It must soothe the demons somehow.

But smoking is doing its own unique brand of damage. It’s infecting my lungs with cancerous chemicals and slowly eating me from within. It’s draining my bank account and forcing me to choose between food and clothing. It’s making me smell like an overflowing ashtray and staining my skin a grotesque shade of yellow. All things that, until recently, I have just accepted as side effects of my chosen vice. But not any more.

Tomorrow – the 15th July 2015, coincidentally my brother’s birthday – I have decided to quit cigarettes. From the moment I awake in the morning I will not be reaching for the cancer sticks to kick-start my morning. I will not be turning to them throughout the morning to stave off boredom and I will not be smoking my way through them during the long, bleak afternoon of nothingness. I’m tired of being a slave to addiction. I’m tired of the damage that I’m doing to myself. I’m tired of having no money because it all gets spent on tobacco.

It’s going to be hard – I’ve given up in the past – but in time it will get better. After a few days, once the toxins have left my system, it will get easier. Or at least, that’s what I’m choosing to tell myself. I know that for the next couple of weeks I’m going to be the crankiest bastard on the face of the planet. I’ll be snippy, short-tempered and a pain in the arse to be around. But it is for the greater good. It is for my health, my wealth and my sanity.

Just go easy on me. Please. :)