A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Overcoming Temptation

There are heavy rains tonight and it is flooding downstairs and I am feeling stressed out. If I had a cigarette, I would be smoking it. It has flooded downstairs before because the outside drain in just not large enough to take a steady downpour for any length of time. And I know that I should call someone to help me with it but downstairs is such a mess and I feel ashamed to let anyone into the house. Self-defeating behavior I’m afraid. But for now, since it’s after 10 at night, I will shop vacuum the water up and pour it down the shower drain. This is going to take a couple of hours. I knew as my tension about it rose that it would lead me to thinking about smoking. And it did, so I stopped what I was doing and came back upstairs and decided to do some writing here to talk myself through this. I haven’t yet got to the point where I’m going to scrounge round the house to look for a spare cigarette that I forgot but I’m getting close to that. Right now, if I found a pack, I would start smoking again. And I’m almost into my 7th day of not smoking. Breathe Kate! Drink cold water Kate...suck on a tootsie pop, chew some sugarless gum but don’t smoke!

I’m reacting to stress but a cigarette will not reduce stress for more than a few seconds. I need to find better ways to handle stress.

I went looking and I found a cigarette. Twenty minutes I sat with whether or not I would smoke it. I sat in my smoking chair and held the cigarette, smelled the cigarette (not much smell, a very old cigarette), looked at the cigarette and said outloud a bit sarcastically, “Just one puff, right?” And that’s when I said no and headed to the kitchen sink with it. I put it under running water and pulled it apart and threw it away and went back to my water. Today I ate too much but right now I can’t go on a diet. I have to get through the next week. I can’t have it all, all at once. First, no cigarettes. I have been exercising the past three days and I want to keep that up. It relieves stress and cuts down the calories. But, wait a minute, I DID IT! I resisted a cigarette in my own home when I was under stress. This is a good thing.

What went through my head as I came to the decision to not smoke that cigarette by destroying it? I thought of my pristine quit and how I would feel honor bound to admit that I had slipped to others online and offline and how that would depress me and make me feel ashamed. I thought, it’s only been six days! I thought, I wanted to wait to smoke a cigarette when it would taste really bad and I wouldn’t want to smoke another puff and I was pretty sure that wasn’t now. I thought how I wouldn’t be satisfied with one and that would make me feel more stressed and maybe even spur me into getting a pack of cigarettes. I thought maybe I could save the cigarette for later. I thought that I would regret it if I destroyed it. But I don’t regret it...except that I’m eating again but better that for now than smoking.

I’ve got three index cards taped to my standing lamp. The first card says: I CAN QUIT SMOKING. The second card says: EASY DOES IT. And the final card says: FREEDOM.

Next day...

14th day on Chantix and 7th day without cigarettes.

Well I’ve made it almost through a week. Some of the online support groups refer to it as “Hell Week” but it really hasn’t been hellish, just a little tense at times. As the week progressed I began eating more so I decided to try to exercise once a day. The first two days I exercised on my stationary bike for 30 minutes and these last two days I’ve exercised for 45 minutes. I can’t get around it anymore. The liklihood of gaining weight when a person quits smoking cigarettes is high because you burn off about 200 calories (I think) each day smoking. So if I keep exercising for 30-45 minutes a day I should not gain any weight. That is if I don’t eat too much. The goal is still to lose weight but for the first couple of weeks of not smoking I know it’s not going to happen. So I will drink a lot of water and exercise daily and try not to overeat. If I can set up a good pattern, no smoking, exercise, eating healthy maybe I can really get healthy again. That’s one of the exciting things of trying to seriously quit smoking.

Went out to see a movie called KNOCKED UP with my brother today. It was really good, very funny but I felt a little sad at the end because I know I will never have the experience of being pregnant or giving birth. I made the decision when I was with Brendan not to have a child then because our relationship was so abusive and then I was too sick with schizophrenia and now, well, I’m not only too old but I have trouble taking care of myself let alone a child. It just is not meant to be in my case. I have to accept my own limitations and push on. I have to keep cultivating gratitude for what’s good and right in my life like a home of my own, a loving family, freedom from delusion and paranoia, my own artistic talents, the fact that I survived at all. When I think of all the suffering in the world, the wars, starvation, disease I know I have little to complain about. I’ve lived through some very hard times but so have many of us. I am not unique. It’s a shame that I didn’t lead a more “normal” life: husband, kids, job but that doesn’t make my life valueless either. I’ve learned to look for the positive in all situations and that hasn’t always been easy. Sometimes I just wanted to die but now I really want to live and hopefully will continue to do so for a while yet to come.

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