Monday, January 26, 2015

Why can't I stop crying since I've quit smoking?

Intense, non-stop crying can be a sign of depression, which is also a nicotine withdrawal symptom. It can also be a sign that you need to learn how to deal with your emotional connection to smoking. Most likely it is a combination of both.

Not only is quitting smoking a physical journey but it is an emotional one too. Often quitters under estimate the strength of that emotional connection. Smoking offers the illusion of being able to go through life with the least amount of pain and the greatest amount of pleasure because it enhances positive emotions like pleasure and happiness and suppresses negative emotions such as stress, anger, sadness and loneliness.

My last challenge to ending my relationship with cigarettes was learning how to deal with anger without smoking.

I had been quit for about three months when I got into a fight with my father. I had never been so angry at him before. He was an alcoholic and a prolific drunk dialer. He had been a  real estate broker for most of his life and I was now selling real estate. I'm sure in his mind he thought he was being helpful when he decided to drunk dial the manager of the office I was working at and identify himself as "Santa Claus". Lucky for me his call was intercepted by a sympathetic secretary.

I blew up and headed straight for my local convenience store and bought a pack of my favorite cigarettes - Marlboro 100's. I wasn't kidding myself about only going to smoke "just one", I knew I was going to chain smoke the whole pack and I did.  As I smoked each cigarette what I was really doing was "smoking at" my father and suppressing my anger.

This relapse only lasted a few weeks. After having cancer I knew it was stupid of me to go back to smoking. I had been trying so hard for so many years to quit, that I made the decision that no matter what I was not going to smoke ever again. That meant I had to learn how to deal with not only my anger but all of my emotions.

Almost all smokers start as teenagers, so at an early age we learn to associate smoking with emotions. They help us celebrate the good times and commiserate during the bad. No wonder it feels like we are losing our best friend when we quit.

There are four ways of dealing with emotions: express, suppress, escape and release. With anger I needed to learn how to release it in a healthy manner without smoking, instead of using nicotine to suppress it. I did have help with this from a professional therapist who I had been seeing to deal with the stress of going through cancer treatment.

The best place to start is to talk with your doctor about cessation medication to lessen the withdrawal symptoms. The use of bupropion, which is an anti-depressant, may be a suitable choice. It can also be used in combination with nicotine replacement products. Next, if professional therapy is not an option, join a support group such as nicotine anonymous, or on an online group such BecomeAnEx.org. It helps to share your emotional journey with others who can relate how they are dealing with the same issues.

Realize that smoking has been numbing you to the full range of the emotions of life and without smoking you are just beginning to experience the richness of life. Nicotine is not a best friend but a saboteur and an enemy who doesn't want the best for you but only wants your money.


2 comments:

Health Highlights said...

Quit smoking is a physical and mental battle. Most importantly leaving the habit of cigarettes, there are an extensive variety of medicines that can help a smoker, including hypnotherapy, herbs, needle therapy, and contemplation.

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