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. :)