Thursday, March 12, 2015

Almost two months

I have certainly lost track of the actual number of days and math is far from my mind as I half lay here all groggy on a night bus from Kerala to Bangalore.

My promise made sure to remind me to write here now because I just faced my biggest trigger for smoking yet. My folks! Nothing seems to drive up my stress and anxiety more than they do and I found myself fantasising about smoking. After so long of mostly peaceful thoughts, this was a harsh reminder that we are not out of the water yet!

I just wish it wasn't my folks though. For some odd reason, them caring about my life was more stressing than going to the court to finalise my divorce! That doesn't even make sense. However it is true that I did start smoking the first time I went back home to them. They want me back home now again but it scares me to leave Bangalore, where everything I know lives. In Dubai it's just my anxiety causing family that is there.

I don't know what to do. But my promise is still there. My promise calmed me down. Don't know where I'd be in this journey if it wasn't for my promise. I might have relapsed. Thank you for meeting my rock.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Day 25: Oh the smell!

Day 25 is it? I am not even sure. The math says so, therefore it must be true. Anyhow, why am I posting today?

Met a guy I know and I could smell that he had just smoked quite a few cigarettes. The smell was quite strong. I noticed that I did not enjoy the smell. It left a bad aftertaste on my tongue. Compare this with about two weeks ago when I was at the studio and the smell of cigarette smoke had me typing here about a craving.

No craving any more. Closer to repulsion. Now that, I have to say, is new!

Perhaps there is something to this 21 day thing. Or maybe it is just the effect of the promise. Maybe both? Either way this is in a word: Brilliant.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Day 23: Not much to say now

I have not been posting in a few days. To be honest, I have not felt like smoking at all. I feel perfectly fine without it. I feel like I have run out of things to say here because of this fact.... So I am done I guess?

Thank you promise.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Day 20: My math is terrible

It's been a few days since I posted. Honestly I just forgot to do so. I almost never thought about smoking or felt any real cravings. This is interesting. It has taken less time than I expected to get to this point. This is good.

The only reason I am posting or remembered to post today was because my promise reminded me to. It's alright though. I've been clean the whole time that I did not post. No stolen puffs of smoke.

Not sure really how long I will keep posting. Tomorrow marks Day 21 I think. I sometimes feel like I have my counting wrong. I was told by one person that it takes 21 days and after that you're good. If that's the case I'm almost there baby!
Then again another person told me that it takes 21 days to get addicted and 42 days to get over it.
I'll chose my reality thanks.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Day 15: Don't feel like smoking

You know what feels weird? I don't feel like smoking. For the most part I am not actively craving. I am slightly affected when I am around other smokers who are smoking, and I can't wait for their cigarettes to get over or to leave. On my own though, I'm doing good. I eat and don't feel the strong urge to smoke. I freeze on long bike rides and its the same. For the most part I'm good. There is still the background feeling but it is not nearly as loud as it used to be.

I'll beat this. I know that eventually I will stop posting here as I may have nothing to write about. Maybe I will open it up to others.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Day 14: Missed a day

I realised that I forgot to post yesterday! How did that happen? Either I had no cravings or I was really out of it from my long weekend of work. Or both. I didn't smoke yesterday anyways so that's what counts.

Either way, it's been 2 weeks!!!!! That's right. Two weeks nicotine free. The funny thing is that it has not been long enough to convince other smokers that I'm for real. I say 14 days and all of them say/think "That's not quitting. You'll be back!" I'm guessing I'd need to be at 6 months to a year to be convincing. This is going to work though. I can feel it.

Thank you promise!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Day 12: Sleepy. So Sleepy

Day 12 began rather pleasantly actually. Quite enjoyed myself. Didn't even need to smoke. Still don't but boy was I sleepy riding my bike to the office. Today is Republic Day in India. Unfortunately that does not translate to a holiday for those in the audio/visual/entertainment industry. The work continues.

The last three days were back to back concerts at the Indiranagar Club. Music was good. However, it had been several months since I last did anything of this size and therefore I am thoroughly spent today. Oh how lovely a massage would be.

Today is the 26th of January. The 9th of February is my birthday. A most important one this time.

Yay to no smoking apparently.

Day 11: Sort of

Well I am technically typing in this at 12:22 AM of Day 12. Had no time today. Just got back home.

3 days back to back shows which means that I was surrounded by smokers most of the time. From organizers to artists and engineers, so many smokers. Even met a friend today and when I ran out to fill fuel in my bike he handed me some money to buy him a pack of smokes on the way. Ha Ha Ha.

Not bad otherwise. Keeping it together. Thank you my dear promise. Good night. Oh and Happy Republic Day in advance. Which means fuck all in the audio industry.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Day 10: Zzzzzz

Brain showed surprising signs if strength last night. Almost convinced with me that having one smoke would be harmless and that people would understand.

Luckily I caught him in the act. Once again, Fuck you brain! Do I have to feel like my own enemy?

Seriously though, it would be great to find an inexpensive, healthy thing that I could do. Because cigarettes are such a good fix for everything. By the healthy thing I don't mean another substance. I am referring to doing something physically to help. Who knows what that would be? I'm sleepy now.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Day 9: My feet hurt

I'll make this quick and short. I was too tired to type last night and have been pretty busy since the morning

Keeping busy is great. Doing so around sound engineers who smoke is painful because I know how great it would feel to unwind that way. But I won't.

Blah blah blah. My feet hurt. No smoking is so awesome yay...

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Day 8: Busy day 1

Nothing like being occupied to help you not smoke. Even when I was smoking (not long ago), I'd smoke the most when idle and the least when keeping busy. Of course, I do have a tendency to be lazy and not force myself to be busy. Luckily today and the next three days promises to be busy, especially in the evenings. It is the Indian Republic Day weekend. A long weekend, which is not necessarily the best thing for me in my line of work. I am a musician and sound engineer. The weekend/holidays is when we work!

A 3 day music festival is happening at one of the clubs in Bangalore and I am on duty, managing the mix desk. Yes I will be surrounded by smokers. Ha Ha Ha. At least I will be busy. Will I be stressed? Yes, possibly. Ha Ha Ha. No I won't smoke. I've gotten this far, which may not seem like a lot but this feels different.

So here's to the next few busy, stressful and smoke surrounded days.

Also it is apparently my astrological birthday, or as my parents call it my star birthday today. It is a thing in Hinduism that I have zero understanding of. I never remember that it is my 'star birthday'. Every year mom reminds me. Thanks Mom, much love.

Day 7: No news

Not much to report today. It was a good day that's for sure. Cravings were kinda normal. Went to the studio. When offered a smoke by someone I did not know I said "Nah, I don't smoke...anymore". Felt funny to say that because I had to add anymore because it had only been 7 days. Never recorded before without a few smokes here and there. Not this time though. Had a little trouble at first but worked it out in the end.

Also brain is getting feeble at giving me reasons. Today's was killer. "You should smoke just one cigarette. After all you have to ride home so far and you feel tired. The cigarette could help you and it's just one." Of convincing arguments, that wasn't the best one. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Day 7: One week down!

Yay! It's been one week. Pat myself on the back thank you. Still have lingering effects of last night at the studio. Passive smoking means a whole another thing for those who've recently quit smoking, it would seem. Woke up this morning with the craving. Haha I have to go back to the studio again today.

I trashed my ashtray today. So that's nice. 

Day 6: Tough day

The first half of the day was quite peaceful. No cravings as such and basically all around good.

Then came the rest of the day! Went to the studio again but spent some more time. More time around my close friends who all happen to be smokers. I had cigarettes on one side and a sheesha/hookah pipe running on the other side. It got to the point where I could still taste the nicotine in the air when no one was smoking. I am not sure if I was imagining it or not but it was real enough to me.
I can't ask them to stop smoking on the account of me quitting. Fuck willpower right? No, I sat through it. As if in a dream a version of me in my mind kept saying "Hey man, pass me a drag". My brain started doing its bullshit again, wondering if hookah smoke contains tobacco and if it would be okay for me to take a hit. Here's a fact: hookah contains tobacco and nicotine. It may be in smaller amounts but it is there. Aside from that the flavours are amazing! If the chemical part isn't enough (and you will have people debate hookah's nicotine content), the physical act of smoking is still there. The physical act of smoking hookah is way more alluring than cigarette smoke. Sweet smelling smoke that comes out in clouds out of your mouth without hurting? Are you kidding me? I'll have some of that. You even have non-cigarette smokers who will smoke hookah.

It may work for that friend of mine who only smokes hookah and not cigarettes. It won't work for me. My brain remembers nicotine too well to be happy with hookah. I eventually left the studio, not taking a single puff of either cigarette or hookah. It wasn't easy. Like a dieter at a buffet. That's the next thing for me isn't it?

Well here's to today. Let's see what tomorrow feels like doing to me.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Day 6: Don't mind me

Nothing much to say I guess. I'm dealing with this much better than I thought I would. So what do I have to look forward to?

Let's see, there's that thing I have done in past quitting attempts. The bit where I think I have overcome the addiction after a month or so and say that I'll test myself and have a smoke. Two things happen there. First, it tastes horrible, as it does. Ever not smoked for a few days because you had to be with people who would disapprove? Like parents? When you smoke again it doesn't taste great. Don't smoke for a month and you might even choke on it.

Secondly your brain registers the nicotine and becomes happy as fuck. I don't it is something that gets noticed right away. The bad taste overpowers it for a while. However your brain files away that nicotine hit for later. Why? Because your brain is an asshole and clearly not on your side. You never know when, it could be a week later or a month later. You may be undergoing a lot of stress and that hit will come back saying "It wasn't that bad actually. Could really use that right now". Now I am no doctor; I could be wrong about how this works. But at this point there is every chance you will pick up a cigarette and even force yourself to enjoy it because you brain does. Stupid brain.

So I am going to go ahead and not do that. Let's not be pig-headed about this. No need to test myself if I have overcome my addiction. The fact that I am not smoking should be enough testing. If I can stand in the midst of smokers, smoking away to glory, and not itch for a cigarette, I'm doing just fine. Nicotine is one of the most highly addictive substances on the planet; often all that you need is that first cigarette to get you hooked.

Day 5: Ending thoughts

So there I was thinking today is another uneventful day for cravings. Haha. Wrong.

Realised that the anger/stress craving combined with the 'I am hungry' craving makes for a pretty strong craving. I didn't cave but I was getting pretty irritated. Which brings up another thing about quitting smoking. I was wondering where the irritability and general snapiness had gone. Looks like it found me today.
A smoker without a cigarette can be a real asshole. I didn't snap at anyone thankfully but oh I wanted to. Gotta keep it cool else people might shove a cigarette in your face to get you to be nice.

Oh good news. Met my friends who are all smokers. Felt perfectly fine even though they were smoking. Progress is a nice thing.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Day 5: Stupid Brain

Not sure if this is nicotine or withdrawal related but boy does my head hurt! I wish I could just go back home and sleep it off but I've got to be here.

Took a walk and drank a soda to ease it. I've been having enough water I know but not sure why this has happened. The pain begins in between my eyes and extends to the sides of my foreheads as if horns are trying to grow out.

Stupid brain. Shut up. You are not getting any nicotine. You can cry for it as long as you like but no dice.

Yay I am officially talking to myself. I am guess that this is the good part of withdrawal?

Day 5: A dream of smoking

I woke up today just fine. No craving in particular (at least no more than yesterday).

However, I did get the smoking dream. I don't know how many other smokers have gone through this while quitting. This happened the last time I tried quitting and it drove me right back to smoking! This time I had bought a few cigarettes which for some reason were really cheap (remember when I first said that I am quitting because it is getting expensive?). I remember smoking them in the dream and feeling on top of the world. Justified even.

The good thing is that it did not bother me like last time. A dream is just a dream. Your brain throwing together a scene composed out of random bits of past information and how you feel. I can't let it derail me again. So on that note, thank you brain. I enjoyed the movie for the concept but found the characters fuck you.

We have a lot of traffic in this city. The number of smokers is not surprising.

Day 4: It is starting to become easier...kind of...sort of

As predicted today was for the most part uneventful except for some wonderful conversations. I don't mind uneventful once in a while. Just need to remember that it shouldn't lead to me smoking.

I did take a mid-day nap today because the boredom and nicotine withdrawal were quite the intense partnership. I tried my best to be non-productive today and not smoke. It was easier to be just non-productive. I can laze around like nobody's business if I so wish.

That's really all there is for today. Did not get any crazy cravings today. Some promises do make a difference it would seem.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Day 4: The smoke of boredom

So it is a Sunday morning. I don't actually feel like smoking because I want to smoke. I am just feeling bored.

Sunday mornings can be lazy. Usually I am just chilling and smoking is a part of that. Now that I've quit, I am just bored. I am also feeling quite sleepy despite a good night's rest. Maybe I will nap. I realize also that this blog cannot go on forever. One day I will feel no craving at all. Nothing new, except for freedom from the addiction. That day may be my last post here. I will still have the blog up though, just in case future quitters want to know if what they are going through is normal.

Those who quit smoking usually go through the same withdrawal symptoms. The intensity and certain quirks may vary depending on the individual's smoking habits and body chemistry. I can see myself right now, less than a week ago when I would have been bored like this and reaching for a cigarette without thinking about it. I'm glad to be over that. I am sure I've saved plenty of money already by doing that.

I expect today to be more or less uneventful in terms of cravings but I have been wrong. Let's see. Until then let it be known - 4 days not smoking and feeling great.

Day 3: Otherwise uneventful

Today was good. In other words, today was almost uneventful. I had my cravings but they were not as bad as before so it was much easier to survive.

This weekend is going to be mostly spent by myself so it is up to me to stay strong and not give in. Right at this moment the craving is there. Not helped by the glass of Old Monk rum and water that I am drinking. Drinking inspires further smoking and I feel rather inspired right now. It just seems so "right" to be doing both together. Many people "smoke when they drink". Why? Because it feels so damn good. It's  alright. I'll survive this yet.

Just going back to the last time I tried quitting which was a couple of years ago, I realize that I had such a tough time. I would wake up in the middle of the night because I'd be dreaming about smoking. Not just smoking, but the act of smoking! That night I had dreamed of the near sacred dance I described in one of my first posts on this blog. The lighting, the inhaling. It was such a powerful dream that the next day, I went and bought myself a cigarette. I immediately regretted it while at the same time celebrating in the liberation that the nicotine brought me. I haven't had any such dreams this time around. Either that or nothing so far has shaken me up enough. It has been only three days and some people might say that I speak to soon. This time is different. This time I know.

This time I know. This time is the last time.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Day 3: Like the passing of trains

Last night I slept okay I guess. Woke up with a bit of a headache but got over it without smoking. The strange thing is that each morning I wake up feeling better about it only to encounter the craving later on.

Considering my situation through a bowl of cereal, I started to believe that this may be possible. I am not sure why I failed before but that is not an option this time. As I rode to work, the shivers came back. The shakes in my body, mild but existent, outlining my withdrawal. It is strange now because it is not consuming me. I am able to regard it much the way one might witness a passing train while sitting in a stationary one. As if it is there but does not affect me. This is how I see the addiction right now. Yes it rattles me but I can choose to let it pass me by.

Writing these posts do help me a lot. Sometimes I shall go back and read it and it shocks me to know that I felt a certain way but wasn't directly aware of it. Though I'd like to believe otherwise, I know it is not yet over as I feel the need to sleep wash over me. My eyes are crossing with the effort of fighting off the sleep. I soldier on with my promise to guide me. I may yet win this battle. I better win this battle.

Day 2: Another end

As this day draws to a close, I realize that I have no idea about the extent of my addiction nor the power of my self control. My ride home was punctuated with involuntary shivers as my body as a whole experienced the chills of withdrawal. I don't know why, but these bike rides accentuate the feeling.

Not only the bike rides. All my usual haunts were accompanied by smoking. Now going to those spots makes me wonder what I am doing there if I am not going to smoke. Living in India makes the problem worse of course. Most of the world only sells cigarettes in complete packs. You can't buy one cigarette alone. In India we can buy singular cigarettes from most sellers. What greater threat to a person who is trying to quit smoking? There is no pack to hide from your parents or your shame. It is only up to you to smoke or not to.

I try to be honest in these posts and I will say this. I fell asleep before I could finish this post. So I shall end it here and you can read it about in Day 3.

To all those who read these posts of mine, thank you. You are supporting me by just reading.

Day 2: The Shakes

Thought I was doing well until lunch time. I found myself having the slightest of tremors in my hands as I ate my food. This was further worsened by the fact that I was having a serious conversation about my future with my dad on the phone.

It's these kind of talks that really makes me reach out for a cigarette. As I walked up and down the roads, I eyed every cigarette stall with hunger in my mind. As the talk increased in seriousness, so did the need. I felt the need in the bridge of my nose and between my eyes where it started to hurt. My breathing became heavy as the stress of this conversation heavy and I felt myself just so hopeful for a cigarette. I held on though. I got through lunch and left without buying or smoking a cigarette on the way. Even typing this right now is taking a lot of effort from me. I am feeling drowsy and tired. I just want to asleep as the withdrawals that I shut in the dark cry for another feed of nicotine. Oh man this so difficult. In between the last few sentences I have dozed off at least 5 times...and another just now.

I am going to take nap. kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk

Oh what is wrong? That above there is the result of me falling asleep with my finger firmly lodged on one key. I'm outta here.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Day 2: So Far So Good

Last night's sleep was weird. Though I slept well, I woke up a few times during the night for no reason at all only to go back to sleep again. Yesterday was also tougher than I thought it would be but I won.

I woke up today morning feeling no craving and thinking to myself- hey I think I beat this! Of course I was wrong. The ride to work was freezing cold, the way that often inspires smoking. The craving wasn't as bad as anything yesterday but it still counts.

Now I realize that I will eventually have to meet my friends and band mates, all of whom also smoke. I guess that is going to prove to be the toughest temptation of them all. Smokers bond over smoking. This might be universal. All you have to do is ask a stranger for a light and the ice is broken. An easy conversation starter right there. Perhaps now that I am predicting this, it might make me more aware in fighting it.

Final thought on this post. I don't remember what I used to do when bored before I started smoking. What do non-smokers do when bored? For smokers it is simple: Light Up! Smoke another one and it takes your mind off of boredom somehow. Now I have to give myself things to do. This is starting to feel more and more like a research paper on the observations of an ex-smoker.

Anyhow not much to say right now. I am feeling mostly good and in control. Peace.

Day 1: Success Hurts

As the first day draws to a close I can't believe how difficult today has been. I have had nearly every excuse to light up a cigarette thrown at me shamelessly. All the excuses us smokers use. The morning smoke, the coffee smoke, the post meal smoke, the alcohol smoke, the social smoke and of course the boredom smoke! We smoke for every reason. It is both the prescription for stress and sadness and the celebration of happiness, victory and sex!

And today I had almost all of that thrown at me. Glorious coffees. Beautiful craft beer. Scrumptious meals. A long cold ride home, Difficult, stagnant boredom. All of it asking me to go ahead, buy a cigarette and just let go.

It would be easy too. One cigarette and nobody would blame me. One smoke and people would say "Hey not bad, just one smoke." One drag and nobody would know! Not even the promise made would have been aware of a promise broken. How could I face that promise though, had I given in?
How could that promise have faith in me? Trust would be lost quicker than it had been earned, as it does. What of respect? Ah yes, respect, I'd say, speaking of it as a flame once let go.

So I held on today. Held on to that promise. The promise is stronger than it knows. Stronger that it is aware. The promise is not mine, no. But the promise exists and that does matter. So I held on today. So I hold on now.

This is not easy I must say. I almost did not write this conclusion to the day because I felt so lethargic and lazy and basically useless. I had not choice however as, I tried to sleep and I couldn't. My tiredness is polluted by the ache in my muscles. They ache as if they have just been stretched out and left out to dry. And so I am left tossing and turning, my mind and body in absolute discomfort, screaming silently to be pacified with a cigarette. So I write about it. As much as moving off the bed to the computer hurt my body, I am here. Sleep shall come eventually and I will have earned to know my promise another day.

At the end of this day, I am grateful for my promise.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Day 1: The Sleeps

Don't have a lot to say here except that I am already experiencing what I call The Sleeps. It's this feeling of lethargy and tiredness. It is also a symptom of withdrawal. I feel lazy and tired. My mind tries to turn this into a craving by reasoning with me saying "It's alright if you smoke one cigarette, after all you need to stay awake. You've got work to do".

This is not my first time, and those who might be reading will understand that it never stops at one cigarette. For that very reason, thank you brain, but I am in no need of that reasoning. No. We soldier on. I wish I could soldier on to a bed, but that's not going to happen until the day is done. It's alright. I am eating a tiny chocolate. Something we get in India called Munch by Nestle. Just to give me the slight boost of energy. Tomorrow we shall try to be un-assisted!

Signing off.

Day 1 : The first craving

I woke up today, groggy as usual and went about my morning rituals. I was doing alright. Having celebrated my last hurrah the previous night with a few cherished cigarettes, I was not doing bad at all. Mornings are interesting. Usually my first move is to make a hot cup of coffee or tea and then light a fresh one. Any and every smoker knows the feeling of that first smoke of the day. Makes you feel like it was worth waking up just for this.

I was doing alright until breakfast. Rushing for work I decided to stop off somewhere for breakfast. I live in South India by the way, in the city of Bangalore. I stopped off for a very satisfying Idli and Vada and a strong filter coffee. When I got done, the craving hit. A tummy full of food and the strong hit of caffeine in my brain triggered the craving. I realized how aware I was of it. Do you ever remember lighting the cigarette after a meal? It becomes so second nature that we do not realize it at all. And I feel the craving even as I write this new blog of mine. I denied myself the morning smoke and now the post food/coffee smoke. Addiction is strange.

I am tortured by both types of cigarette addiction. I love the nicotine hit and it's effect. I also love the act of smoking. I still see it in my head as one may imagine dancing with a lover. From shaking the pack to pulling one out. From lighting the tip, to inhaling and then finally exhaling the plume of smoke. The ashing of the cigarette in between puffs and finally the stubbing. And it is so that my craving fills my head with the need for nicotine and also these images of the many times I have carried out the act of smoking.

As I write this I notice a pain in my chest, a certain kind of tightness that beckons with the mildest burning in my throat. Honestly speaking, I am not quitting for health reasons. I'd be lying to myself. I am quitting because of how expensive it is. I cannot afford to smoke. If I do, I may not be able to have a good meal or pay rent or buy petrol. I am not doing this for my health. I am not doing this for my parents. I am doing this so that I can make it somewhere.

This is the journal of my final attempt at quitting smoking (yes every smoker has quit at least once). I shall catalog every single day, and as many cravings as I can. I hope you can join in me in this. Let us quit for the last time and make it count.