Having suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for years, I always used to think smoking helped to relieve some of the constant tension and anxiety I was living with. I was wrong.
I started smoking at the age of 10. I had a horrible childhood and I think smoking helped at the time to give me a bit of an outlet.
Of course, I quickly became addicted. I started stealing cigarettes from anyone who would go outside and, for years and years, as long as I can remember, I would smoke a 30-gram a week and two packets of 25 taillies. I was a very heavy smoker.
I have children and I found smoking always acted as a stress reliever. If the kids were being too much, I would go outside and light a ciggie. It just became something I always did.
I smoked so much that one day my husband brought me home a pack of 20 at 6pm, and by 7am the following morning, it was gone. I would smoke one after the other. I was spending over $200 a week on cigarettes. I don’t even know how I managed it.
Over the years, I tried quitting several times, but every time I tried, I would have intense mood swings and I was just a nasty person. All I would think about is cigarettes.
One day I was visiting my social worker and she mentioned she had stopped smoking with the support of the Southern Stop Smoking Service, so I thought I’d give it another go.
I met Alison (Central Otago Stop Smoking Coach) and instantly felt like I could do it. I knew she would support me. I failed the first time but she never put me down, instead she supported me through and continued to build me up. I failed again. Alison suggested we try a different way and talked through other strategies that could help me.
One weekend, I went to Dunedin with friends who don’t smoke and they had an itinerary which kept me busy the entire time. There was no time for a cigarette. I accidently left my smokes behind in Dunedin and couldn’t afford to buy more when I got home and then I got sick. I quickly realised I hadn’t had a cigarette in two weeks. I hadn’t used any nicotine replacement therapy products.
That was 16 October last year and I haven’t had one since. I really didn’t think I could do it, but I did!
It’s a whole new me. My entire mood towards life has changed and I feel so much better. I have energy, I can walk without getting puffed, I have all these new smells I’d never smelt, and I have less anxiety.
I’ve lost about 5kg and I’m out doing more because I have more energy. I even walk my children to and from school and kindergarten every day.
Just before Christmas, Alison came to see me. She handed me an envelope with $120 worth of vouchers inside. I had almost completed the SmokeFree Families Incentive programme. The timing was brilliant because I had been struggling to buy Christmas presents for my children because my husband was out of work due to COVID. I was presented with another $60 voucher at the end of January.
I’m so pleased to have stopped smoking. All the extra money I’m saving from not smoking has helped our family to become debt free again. I don’t miss smoking at all and I am never looking back.
I couldn’t have done it without Alison and her support. Thank you to the Southern Stop Smoking Service for turning my life around!