Tuesday, May 28, 2013

One Year On: Allen Carr's Easyway to Stop Smoking

Hi!

Warning: Long Rambly Post.


[Image: Awesome Books]

I wanted to wait a considerable amount of time before reviewing this book. Firstly, before I do, let me give you some background information on smoking & how it affected me.

I grew up in a non-smoking household. I didn't really know any smokers. When a cousin offered me a cigarette around aged 16, I said no - but it haunted me after that. All I wanted to do was try it. I couldn't get my hands on cigarettes for ages, until a night out with other girls from my class in school. I was almost 17 at that time, I split the price of a pack of 10 with my friend, and that was it. My dirty little secret relationship began. At first, I'd save them for when I was out at the weekends, but then it got more and more frequent. By the time I reached 18 I was smoking 10-15 a day.

This toxic little affair continued for the next 10 and a half years. In that time, I had my son, now 8. That didn't stop me smoking. Numerous chest infections and inhaler prescriptions didn't stop me smoking. My GP constantly told me to try and quit them because I was taking the contraceptive pill and was at a high risk of blood clots - but that didn't stop me either.

What DID make me want to do something was waking up on average of three times a week with a sore, painful, heavy chest. I would have been around 26 at this time - did I stop? No, I swapped to lighter cigarettes. After a GP lecture, I tried patches for about two days. Nada. Then, I tried the disgusting gum. I don't think I got to day 2 with that. Finally, after another GP mini-lecture, I started taking a course of Champix. They worked, I stopped smoking for over a month- and got increasingly depressed. I couldn't sleep, when I did I had nightmares, I was paranoid, miserable, sad, constantly on edge - I looked and felt like I was off my head half the time (to the point where a lady in Boots refused to sell me tablets containing codeine) so I ditched the tablets. I bought an e-cig, and had nothing but contempt for everyone around me as they enjoyed their lovely cigarettes and I sat sucking on a plastic stick. I went back to the cigarettes.

In early 2012, I finally realised that I didn't enjoy smoking any more. I didn't find it relaxing, or enjoyable. Half the time I'd have a cigarette half smoked without even thinking about it. I tried again, using only willpower. When my husband (also a smoker) didn't up and leave me it's a miracle. I was like an absolute Antichrist, and thought about nothing but cigarettes for the three weeks I was off them. I ended up walking into a pub on Paddy's Day, having a few drinks, buying 20 cigarettes, and had about 4 left by the time I went home.

I was browsing Amazon (or it may have been Awesome Books, I don't remember) one night shortly after that, and came across Allen Carr's Easyway to Stop Smoking book. It was only a couple of euro second-hand, so I ordered it and thought nothing more of it. I bought the one aimed at women but essentially they're all the same.

In the meantime, we were planning our wedding for last October. Unfortunately, my husband's father was also becoming increasingly ill. He was a lifelong smoker and constantly nagged both of us to give up smoking ("they're a poison and a rob"). We did the usual 'nod and agree' thing, not really paying much attention. On the warm evening of May 27th last year, a Sunday, he was taken into hospital. As he waited for the ambulance, I saw him sitting in his room, in his best suit, waiting to be taken in to hospital, knowing he wasn't coming home, with a nebuliser mask in one frail, nicotine-stained hand and a lit cigarette in the other. That image will stay with me for as long as I live.

On Monday morning, May 28th, one year ago today, the book arrived in the post. I had no intentions of giving up that day, but it was warm outside and I decided to sit out the back garden and read it. I smoked the whole way through reading the book, as is advised. I read it all in one sitting, it took about 2-3 hours. I had my "final cigarette" and cursed it goodbye. When I had finished, I put the remainder of the pack of cigarettes into the bin. I have neither smoked, nor wanted to smoke, since. (this remains true as of today, Jan 9th 2016).

My husband's Dad passed away in September, 6 weeks before our wedding, from a combination of ailments  that can mostly be attributed to smoking. My husband gave up smoking shortly after his Dad passed, and hasn't smoked since either. He did it with pure, stubborn willpower and the very real fear that he would end up with a lung disease too if he didn't stop.

I can't tell people what exactly the book says, or what it does, because all it does is present you with facts. Some people reckon it "brainwashes" you in a way - I don't know whether it does or not, but if it did, I'm eternally grateful to it. I can honestly, 100%, hand-on-heart say that I have not had one craving since I stopped. In the first few days and weeks I had the odd "I'll go out for a smoke now" but instantly then thought "sure what am I at, I don't smoke". I planned a wedding on top of a family illness and bereavement and had no cravings, no bad moods. I actually cannot stand the smell of smoke now at all, and I don't envy smokers the way I did when I tried other methods.

I'm delighted to be able to say that I'm a non-smoker, and I'm really proud of my husband for doing it too. With regard to the weight thing - I did put on weight, but I can't, in good faith, attribute that to stopping smoking. My issues with food go much further back, and I reckon I'd have put it on anyway. There's lots of time to shift it - but I can now do that while knowing I'm completely free from nicotine for the first time in my adult life.

I'll finish up by answering a question I get asked all the time - no, I don't have any more money now than I did before. But I'm not counting out 20c pieces on a Wednesday to try and scrape a tenner together. And I don't get up in the morning with a sore chest and a diabolical sense of smell. My clothes don't stink. I can wear lipstick again. I can breathe properly again. I don't have to freeze my arse off standing outside when it's cold.  My excess risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke has now dropped to less than half that of a smoker.

This book changed my life.



18 comments:

  1. well done lady! i am off them now about a year too. Best thing I ever did xx

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    1. Thanks Rachelle, well done to you too xx

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  2. Amazing post, very heartfelt. I smoked all through my teenage years thinking I looked super cool and gave up when I started going out with my now boyfriend at around 19/20. He was very against smoking and it gave me the kick up the bum I needed. Delighted now to not smoke and congrats to you and your hubbie for staying off them.

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    1. Thank you Y xx I know, I thought I was great when I was 18/19 with my pints and fags, jesus! Fair play to you for stopping too x

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  3. Wow! Fair play to you and your husband, what an inspirational post! I'd heard Allen Carr was the business alright. So sorry about your father in law too, that's so sad. x

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    1. Thank you Chloe, much appreciated - despite getting married, 2012 was not a fun year! xx

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  4. Wow, I think I need to find this book O.O Very happy for ya'll both to have quit smoking. I know how hard it is.

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    1. Thanks Jenna x It's really hard, it's awful when you try and try and still the damn things have such a hold. The book made it really easy x

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  5. Great post, truely inspiring that you didn't give up on yourself and that you did get there and gave em up for good.
    I had tingles reading this xx

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    1. Thank you Vicki, your posts inspire me all the time so that comment means a lot xxx

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  6. What an inspirational post!

    Who'd have thought a book would have helpt? Will have to definitely lok into this book. The chewing gum is vile! Makes me a little sick in the mouth.

    Halima
    xx

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    1. The chewing gum really is the most disgusting thing I've ever tasted, like old cigarette ends! Thank you for reading x

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  7. I read your post yesterday and it's really made me even more determined to stop smoking! I think I'll have to get that book! xx

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    1. Aw I'm glad it stuck with you, best thing I ever did. Best of luck with it xxx

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  8. Well done:-) I'm delighted this book worked for you. My husband smokes and I would love for him to give up but he is not in that zone right now. He has the book but I think you have to be ready too.

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    1. You definitely do, every other time I tried, I was setting myself up to fail before I even started. He'll get there eventually x

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  9. I've never smoked or been a smoker but this is a really good review, I'm glad the book did that for you :) I find it interesting that you quoted 'I don't smoke'- some psychologists say part of the addiction is that it's an identity, you are either a smoker or a non smoker so giving up cigarettes psychologically feels like you are giving up a part of your personality if not all of it. So fascinating :) I'm really happy the book helped you xxx

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    1. Thanks Emma! That's actually really interesting about the psychology side, maybe there's an element of that in the book - one of the parts that stayed with me is to not use the phrase "I quit smoking" or "I gave up smoking" - because we associate quitting or giving up with failures, and we relate those phrases to enjoyable things or having to relinquish something we once enjoyed. He recommends using "I stopped" instead. I'm actually really conscious of not using those phrases, it's mad how it gets in to your brain! x

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