It’s almost 12 months since the last time I smoked. As the days draw closer to the 7th of January, I start to feel excited. I think I’m going to make it.
I started smoking in 2013, on a psychiatric ward in Kent, in the rain and freezing cold. The other patients offered me their cigarettes and I would say yes: to be polite, to be sociable, and for something to do. Fresh air was looked upon with vague suspicion but smoking? Smoking was something that could be understood. And so I smoked.
When I left the ward, went back to my ordinary life and my MA, I decided to quit. Who knew this nicotine thing was so addictive?
It snowed all that January, and I would smoke in the back garden, listening to sad music and pondering life. I felt like a cliche, a retrospective of stereotypical teenage angst, but it soothed me. Given that I had been hospitalised for being suicidal, the health issues caused by smoking seemed the least of my worries. Granted, I felt guilty for my new habit. I felt worried about the state of my teeth. But I also felt a relief I didn’t get from anything else at that time.
Someone told me smoking uses similar techniques to the breathing techniques they teach you for managing panic attacks, and that makes perfect sense to me.
Who knew I would live to do it for four more years? Two hospitalisations later, I was still breathing in the smoke, exhaling slowly, like it was sacred.
This year, four days after my 30th birthday, I decided it was time to give up for good. One day at a time. It’s been a lot of days now and although the cravings do hit me, I don’t regret the decision. And I don’t regret having smoked in the first place, either. There’s no point. People in desperate places make desperate choices, and I did. And now I know I have the strength to do this, I have more faith in myself.