28 August 2012

Digging My Heels In

I always thought that the hardest time when quitting smoking would be within the first month.  In one way, that is true.  The cravings are at their worst and the lure to return back to smoking is still high.

After the first month, along with reaping the physical benefits, in my case returning to being a human being in the morning instead of a scary, groggy monster, there are also the financial benefits.  Let's face it, although when I did actually smoke you couldn't have dragged it out of me on pain of death, I was spending close to £180.00 per month on cigarettes.

Looking back now, I haven't one clue as to how I afforded that.  Well, in truth, I didn't, I just cut back on every other aspect of my life so that it was affordable.  Once the first month is over with, you get to enjoy the next few months with a lot of extra cash, and feeling better day by day.

Today though, well at weekend to be exact, it was brought home to me that although at four months, I am doing well in the fight against cigarettes, the battle has been won but not yet the war.

Over the past 4 months I have had two puffs of a cigarette, on different occasions.  Both on a night out with smokers around me.  The previous two times actually increased my resolve.  I didn't enjoy the taste and they did nothing for me.  There were dangerous experiments that didn't cause any harm.

This weekend however, the dangerous experiment backfired.  I was out with the girls and on my way to the taxi rank I started talking to a smoker.  Without really even thinking about what I was doing, I asked for a puff of his cigarette.  It wasn't a craving, it wasn't an experiment to see if it still tasted bad, it was just a..... thing.

To be honest, I was fully expecting it to be like the previous two occasions.  Well I had smelt the lure of a cigarette, tried it and found it horrible to taste.  This time, it wasn't.  That one puff of a cigarette brought back every single memory of how much I had loved smoking.  It tasted so good, I didn't feel dizzy, it felt right.  Oh crap.

The next morning, I had a lucky escape.  There were no cravings, and no temptation to wander off to the shops for a packet of cigarettes.  I had a feeling of guilt but nothing more.  It could have been so much worse.  I could have knocked myself back to the beginning.

That's when I realised, the moment that you think that you are safe, that you don't need to keep your guard up, that is one of the most vulnerable times.  I probably would have known this if I had gone down the route of smoking cessation classes and all the information that is readily out there.  It is just common sense really.

Me being me though, I like doing what you shouldn't.  99% of people will tell you that having a puff of a cigarette when you are trying to quit is a really stupid idea.  It is.  I have learnt that now.  I am not over my addiction.  Although I am no longer in the grasps of complete addiction of cigarettes, I could, if I don't keep my guard up, accidentally become a smoker again without much of an effort.

The puff of a cigarette on a night out would turn into "Oh go on then, I'll just have one".  This would move to smoking "socially" and then suddenly, I would be a smoker again.

So, resolve back in place, stupidity back in check (for smoking at least haha).  I'm back on track.  

Me if I am not careful!!

20 August 2012

The Right Time & Place

My friend has recently started a counselling course.  I have always thought that this would be the perfect job for her, as she has been counselling us all for years!

We were talking on Saturday night about the self therapy stuff that I've been doing and writing about, when it suddenly dawned on me.  This blog is public.  People (occasionally) read it.  Alongside my usual rants and ravings have been some really personal posts.

I'd never really thought about putting my life "out there" before until my friend pointed it out.  But then, if only strangers read it, what does it really matter?  Writing on here has really helped me in my progression.  I know myself well enough that if I were to simply keep a diary of my thoughts, I would eventually get rid of it and all the progress would be destroyed along with it. 

Here though, it's public.  People can read it.  When you realise that someone else is going to read what you are saying you take more time over time.  With that, you end up thinking far longer about the subject you are talking about.  In this case, me.

There is no right and wrong for processes that help you.  Whether it is picking the way you want to stop smoking to realising that you are depressed and finding the right help.  For me, that help turned out to be joining Twitter and starting a blog.

After telling my friend about the blog, we then proceeded to have an accidental counselling session.  I'm not sure how it started, but an hour and half's worth of me talking later, we suddenly looked at each other and wondered how that had just happened.  I had just told her more in that time about my "issues" then I have in the past 18 years of knowing her. 

After that conversation two things were obvious.  She was born to be a counsellor, and I was a giant step nearer to being ok.  I am so close to being the person I have always known I was meant to be, I can smell it.  Confidence in myself and self acceptance is not hiding around the corner now, it's just through a doorway.  All I have to do is open the door and step through.

The right time and place for me turned out to be 3.00am with a pizza.  Presumably for more organised people that would be 10.00am with a coffee.  But hey ;) 

16 August 2012


Trolls.  Not the kind featuring in the likes of The Hobbit who turn to stone when the first rays of sunlight hit them, but the human variety.

The type of people who prey on the weak, who delight in the misery of others and court controversy. 

We have all heard many stories about trolls before, from stalking celebrities to posting comments on RIP sites that would sicken you to read them.  Over the last 48 hours the troll "in thing" appears to be announcing that certain people have died. 

I have seen in the last couple of days death announcements, supposedly from the Twitter feeds of well known newspapers, that Matt Smith died of a heart attack in his flat, Margaret Thatcher has died and finally yesterday, that Prince Philip had died after his arrival in hospital.

I personally don't believe that any "trolling" activity is right.  I know someone who loves nothing more than to write on someone's status on Facebook or Google+ with something rude, purely to get the respondent to "bite".  They don't see that as a wrong thing to do.  I see them as baby trolls.

I have found though that you can get your trolls on their own, and then you can get "trolls united".  A mass of people, who for one reason or another like to ridicule others, who all send messages to the same person or site of a nasty and derogatory nature.

This was the case with a blog I read recently with a 17 year old who has a fascination for Formula One and likes to write about it.  Being an aspiring journalist he has created a website for his work.  I certainly couldn't have done anything like that at 17 and I admire his confidence, his work ethic and his will to succeed. 

He was unfortunately a target for a mass troll attack over the last day or so with people critising his writing, his website, himself as a person.....  This person is someone in college who is making something of himself and planning a career.  He wasn't sat around doing nothing and expecting the world to do things for him.

The majority were just regular people who had seemingly jumped on the band wagon of hate.  These people have normal lives with family, friends and social lives except once in a while, they seem to enjoy making nasty comments.  That doesn't make them normal, that makes them trolls.

In the end, I think what we all need to do is ignore them.  In the case of Twitter we have the ability to ignore, report and block.  In other mediums they can be reported or ignored. 

Whilst the human trolls don't turn into stone, maybe if we don't feed them by "biting back" at their jibes, they may wither away and go back to their own, let's face it, very sad and probably lonely lives.