I did it. I quit smoking.

Let’s not waste any time here. That last pack of Marlboro Lights didn’t. This is my story of how I quit smoking.

With the end of my twenties creeping up one me, I started questioning a lot of things I felt no longer added value to my life. Unfortunately this included my one true partner in crime, the cigarette — dangling from my lips since 2002. I realised that I have absolutely nothing to prove for my 13/14 years of smoking other than weird skin around my lips that I just know will turn into full-on wrinkles the moment I hit 30, and an inability to sit still for longer than 20 minutes at a time.

My first successful attempt was a few years ago when I started suffering from panic attacks and thought I was dying, so I quit all stimulants (alcohol, coffee, cigarettes) for nine months. I picked up the habit again as soon as a sense of normality returned to my life. Silly me.

Here are some other experiences I smoked through successfully without quitting for longer than a day or two:

  • I read Allen Carr. So many exclamation marks!!!!
  • I quit alcohol for 11 months. Probably smoked more than ever.
  • I coughed up disgusting amounts of multicoloured goo. Smoking with bronchitis makes one feel strangely immortal.
  • I chewed nicotine gum. Ugh.

How I eventually quit smoking:

  • I started dating a non-smoker and got tired of brushing my teeth every five minutes.
  • I bought an electronic cigarette and told myself I won’t smoke cigarettes along with it. For some reason I actually did what I said.
  • After three months of hardcore e-cigging, I noticed a black spot in my mouth, decided “this must be the first signs of mouth cancer”, and just stopped. (For once I was grateful that I overreact to everything.)The date? 1 January 2016. Clichéd, but easy to remember.

And here’s what I’m doing to sustain my non-smoking life:

  • I’m enjoying my new-found health by exercising more. My lungs are breathing easier by the day.
  • My mom says my skin definitely looks better. Well, that just helps somehow.
  • I’ll still allow myself to go with my colleagues/friends on smoke breaks, and even find I don’t always want to due to weather etc. This means that with time I’m starting to change my thinking around smoking. I’m actually starting to believe it’s not that great.
  • I try not live exactly as I used, i.e. like a 21-year-old. I’ll go out for dinner and enjoy some drinks around the table, but try keep the time spent in an actual bar down to 1 hour, not 5.

What can you learn from this?

That you shouldn’t NOT try quitting because you think you might start again at some point. Every attempt helps. You never know when you’ll be in the right head space to give up this “relationship” with what is essentially a few dried leaves and some paper. This time, it might just be it.

Good luck out there.

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