A Hundred Days of Hell

Ten bits of advice (kind of) when ending nicotine addiction.

If you are a real addict, like me, it'll be 100 Days of Hell. So be it. And if you aren't ready, just don't do it!

Although help will come from unlooked-for places, it's best to assume you will face this alone. Likely, most of your friends and family do not understand addiction. And, here is one of the more interesting things I learned: even if you know some ex-addicts, they are almost always not helpful. I don't know why that is, unless it be that at the beginning, the most difficult time, we are the most likely to relapse, and people just can't be bothered. It's pretty hard to take, but you heard it here.

There is a cycle at first which would make Heller jealous. One wants to end it all in the first few weeks, and looks for high buildings. However, whichever the choice may be to end the crushing depression, obviously you would have a last cigarette first! And then, of course you would no longer want to off yourself. So you get confused. This happens every 20 minutes or so. It's really quite hilarious when you think about it later.

If anyone is reading this who has never been addicted to nicotine, the closest I can think of is thirst. Crazy, debilitating thirst when all you can think about is water - cold, flowing, so beautiful! Everything would be fine if you could just have a sip! Think of that magnified ten times and then you will come close to imagining a nicotine addiction. Please try to realize this when your friends are going through it.

My most helpful friend throughout withdrawal was an ex-crack addict. "People are all roaches" he would say - "so we build an exoskeleton of addiction to deal with them".
He understood the manic depression, the sobbing for no discernible reason, the despair, and he assured me it would end. I clung to that, because I knew he was speaking from the other side. Find one of those friends!

What happens is you shed your exoskeleton (of addiction) and grow a real one. It hurts, and everything hits home hard for a while. Some people are not very nice, you find out, or rather, are fairweather acquaintances, but hey! you would have figured that out sooner or later - better sooner..

The heartbreaking ones are the friends who really care about you, and they try so hard and sound so stupid! But it's not their fault - it's your skewed perception of them due to withdrawal (mostly). It's important to remember that these folks are not themselves having a life-changing, sometimes suicidal time. They are just incapable of understanding what you're going through - it's not as though you are bleeding on the outside.

Some people are always your friends and always will be. Some folks try to tell you what to do and are negative. And others tell you that they completely understand your situation because they are, like, so addicted to chocolate!
An Israeli friend of mine said "Wow! Hmm. That's sort of like telling a Holocaust survivor that you know what they went through because you once played soldier in the backyard". Well, not quite, obviously, but it surely is pretty dumb to talk chocolate to someone going through withdrawal. Try to refrain from slapping these latter folk.

I thought I would never laugh again and mean it. I thought I would never again love music, or be inspired by anything. The depression is hard and real, but it does pass. All of a sudden, after 100 days or so, the sky is, in fact, bluer. Trust me.

Should the subject come up in casual conversation, it annoyingly seems as though many are insistent on saying "Good For You!" in a voice which makes you feel like a poodle who jumps through rings of fire. They mean well, but I find it's good to back away from these people slowly, smiling and nodding. And then run.

Best is not to bring it up at all. Most people cannot comprehend what it is to have loved and beat an addiction, and they live and react accordingly. We, however, have that extra facet.

I'll leave it at that.

Meanwhile, I'm going to become a smoker again as soon as I turn 80, when it no longer matters. And until then, I will uphold my vow to never be judgemental - except of people who are judgemental.

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