DIARY OF A CRAZY WOMAN: A journey to clean air…

Siobhan Harper-NunesBalance

Having taken a 3-month sabbatical and having reconnected with yoga, meditation and simple pleasures of reading, cooking, eating and hanging out with my family. And having just about cleaned and sorted every drawer, room, space in this enormous house, I decided to start February without alcohol. In the month that followed I have had a couple of beers and a glass of champagne but for the most part it was a “dry” month and I am feeling, healthier and rather superior.

So, enormous, “I can do anything” ego leading my life, I decided on the 1st March to tackle the last of my (many) vices and quit smoking – once and for all.
I thought it would be a doddle, after all, I have quit twice before, once for a couple of years, but I don’t actually smoke that much, just socially and only ever with a glass of wine (I do love that statement, especially as I’m not all that social yet seemed to smoke and drink most evenings – ah how we kid ourselves…but wait, I digress…
So a few weeks ago, on a Friday, off my husband and I trotted to Yorkshire for a relaxing weekend break, sans cigarettes. He does not smoke, it’s freezing outdoors, I wouldn’t want one, how hard could it be?

Friday came and went. A long meandering, scenic route in some of the most beautiful countryside of England in the snow, a relaxing dinner in a warm, cosy sea-front hotel, piping hot water, power showers, a remarkable king-sized bed with freshly ironed sheets, I slept like a baby.  On Saturday after a delicious breakfast off we trotted for a bracing walk on the sea-front and a hot-chocolate in a seafront café watching the majestic, almost terrifying waves, toss and turn at the water’s edge asserting their domain over the land and the people, reminding us to be reverent. Another beautiful day another great night’s rest.   Not so for Sunday, I felt a rising dis-ease, akin to delirium, flue-like symptoms taking hold of my body: at once hot and then cold, a rasping cough, itchy eyes, dry sore mouth, no appetite, no taste-buds, room spinning, at once feeling green (as with motion sickness), then white as death as the blood and life left my shaking body. I was at once so very sweaty, weak and nauseous.

Hey world, I’m quitting smoking, not fucking heroine!

Thank goodness, by Tuesday, the sickness was lessening but that’s when the cravings began.  I’m not talking about a small desire for a cigarette, I’m talking, I could chop your head off with a blunt spoon if you stood between me and a puff of that glorious white stick of pure heaven…

I was losing my mind, but having spent three days – felt like a lifetime – suffering what felt like acute food-poisoning, it seemed like madness to give in, despite the level of urgency placed on my body. So I calmed myself with tears, by punching pillows (hard) and one time sitting in my car and screaming so loud, I frightened a passer-by.

It’s now Friday again, 2 weeks since “Quit” day and yes the cravings lessened (there are a number of bodies on my cellar but that’s another story, they just annoyed me). The cravings come much less often and are shorter and also, now I have a few tricks to distract myself, going for a drive and playing music has been the most successful and I’ve seen a bit of British countryside lately.
For a week I did notice, as I moved around the house my family scattered and hid, falling over themselves to get out of my way. I was always alone.

But looking back, and joking aside, at the worst time, I could have killed someone. I imagined several times doing physical damage to people I love deeply and the things I imagined doing to the people who pissed me off, would be considered insane! At the worst moments I was a wreck and to look at, a complete nut job!

The point is, this exercise was really hard. Probably the hardest thing I have done in a very long time but and not something I ever care to repeat. It has challenged me to the core to stay nicotine free. I never again want to be at the mercy of something that sent me so crazy.

But after the darkest times, I have to say, even though I recognise I’m still vulnerable, I am nonetheless, rather proud of myself.

P.S. Please, if you’re planning on tackling some kind of addiction, don’t underestimate it’s power and get help. At the very least, warn the people you love to stay out of your way and plan at least in the first few months, to avoid people scenarios that cause temptations.