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Every smoker who quits smoking has his/her own stories on how they struggled after they made such a decision. Starting to smoke can be fun, but not quitting. I believe that we all benefit from learning how other people felt about their addiction to tobacco, as well as how they succeeded to quit. Above all these lies the quitting “blues” that every smoker goes through and finally how life improves tremendously after quitting. However, it is the sweeter life that comes with after quitting that we will all cherish. The aim of this paper is to detail my own experiences as a 19-year old who quit smoking and, like all other people, went through the withdrawal period and, thankfully, whose health has improved and is now back to “normal”.
This is my story, an early smoker at a tender age of 14, but who quit later at 19. When I started smoking, I did not have enough information on the dangers of smoking, nor did I know where I was plunging myself into. I did not know that smoking killed, that smoking was a highly addictive experience. Neither did I realize that smoking would steal my right to make a good decision and eat into my self-esteem and confidence. To be sincere, I was never coerced by anybody to start smoking and never did I see myself becoming a smoker. I just did it for fun from one cigarette a day to five packs a day.
Soon, I found myself at a crossroads and deciding to quit smoking was as tough as giving in the will to live. The idea of slowly losing my life by each buff barely every four hours was dreadful, as feelings of helplessness dominated my life each day. I was convinced that I had to do what it took to stop, if only I could start working against the strong desire of feeding the addiction. It was a dead end to continue living like this, and so I needed to give in to the stronger desire in me to free myself.
Finally, October 29, 2001 was the date when my life took a completely new dimension after many decades of addiction to the smoking habit. The symptoms were harsh, as seen by a few futile starts, perhaps as a result of my body reviving for a new, cleaner environment. I had doubted my ability to stop but, amazingly, as each day dragged by, I realized many days were going by without smoking. I had finally decided to see the light, literally. At age 19, after 5 years of smoking, I finally decided to quit for good. I decided to change my life and I trained my mind to do it. Little did I know that quitting was a recipe for some other problems. The first few weeks after quitting were one of the most difficult times I have ever known. It had taken me about a year before I started to feel more comfortable. I will now discuss some of the symptoms that I went through in the first few weeks after quitting smoking.
Withdrawal Symptoms Experienced
Headaches: I developed a constant unending headache that was accompanied by nausea. As a result, I had to deal with poor sleep, I felt depressed and could not concentrate on anything.
Coughing: This was a big issue to me. I used to cough frequently producing large amounts of sputum as a result. The cough started slowly, but gradually grew that I’d cough after every 10 minutes. Sometimes I felt like I might cough out my lungs and the urge to stop coughing was so huge that I almost slid back to smoking. It seems that all the junk I had been smoking was now coming out, I would cough tar making my sputum very dark. Coughing started after the second week of quitting, while the “tar” sputum appeared after a month of quitting.
Dry and painful mouth sores: I did not know whether it was the cough or it was due to quitting but I started developing painful mouth sores after a week. Amazingly, the sores cleared after a week, but later re-appeared. The mouth sores cleared completely after about one and half months but led to a dry and sore throat.
Heartburn: Never in my life have I ever experienced the acid refluxes like what I felt in the second week after quitting smoking. The doctor advised me that heartburns are usually caused by the nicotine overdose; I had never realized how I was hooked to smoking until I remembered smoking up to five packs a day.
Muscle Aches and night sweats: I started feeling muscle cramps in the first week, which later increased to muscle pains after a month. I could suddenly wake up in the night sweating, but on trying to regain conscious, I realized that I could not even support myself.
Finally, after about a year, all the above tribulations came to an end. It felt like the sun had finally come from behind the clouds and shined on me. That to me was an incredible blessing from above. Daily support from friends and relatives saw me through the hardest of times and I am grateful to them all. I felt that I was reborn, a new person who was ready to start life afresh and who had a chance now to do things differently in this new life. Quitting smoking is a precious gift that I still cherish and will continue nurturing. I now love my life so much to go back into the “dark times.”
My life has soared back and little did I know that my social life had taken the turn for the worst. I used to avoid going to some important places with my family or friends because they did not smoke like me or duck out of an important meeting just to satisfy my nicotine cravings. I have now gained confidence in everything I do. I knew that I used to smell bad; cigarettes had a bad odor resulting in unpleasant smell. This meant that I could avoid my friends but not anymore. Now I believe that I can overcome my mental and physical addiction to anything that I am working on.
Some of the immediate benefits I realized included a reduced heart rate and low blood pressure. I know that I have reduced my chances of dying at an early age and am not afraid of “catching” diseases such as cancer, caused by smoking. Many of my father’s friends who used to smoke have all but vanished at the prime of their careers, while others are suffering from throat cancer. He is in real deep pain that even eating is a problem. I do not want to follow the same path.
In conclusion, to any person who wants to quit smoking, just do it. It is worth all the efforts and, importantly, your health. No matter how hard the task of quitting is, the rewards are worthy. The early withdrawal symptoms may be discomforting, but they are only temporary. The richness and freedom of life that will be discovered after will make anyone wonder, “why did I not quit earlier?” simply, do not waste more time wishing you could quit. Take the right action and train the brain to accept the change. I know that quitting smoking is a gift that any smoker will afford for himself/herself.