Anxiety. Like most ex smokers, I used to believe smoking relieved it, and for two decades I counter intuitively used my addiction to cigarettes as a means to deal with the condition. Unbeknownst to the fact, that in reality, I only ever made things worse.
Looking back over the past ten and a half months of my quit smoking campaign, I can see quite easily, just how much influence anxiety has had on the extent of my cravings. I touched on this in my post, “Punked by Reality,” in which I wrote about how the anxiety that comes with emotional stress, led me toward a barrage of cravings. Just as I was beginning to think I had beaten the addiction.
It seems that whenever I suffer anxiety, old triggers are given a new life and I once again begin to crave.
Just over a month ago, as part of my plans for ACHOICE2LIVE, I released my first ever clip on You Tube. Doing so, led to an intense period of anxiety, as for me, this was an entirely new and “out there” experience. This of course resulted in another wall of cravings. A wall that I’d go so far as to say, was the worst in months.
I craved in the morning when drinking that first cup of coffee, during ad breaks on television, after meals and whenever I finished a task or had some down time. I kept having flashbacks to my life as smoker, and often found myself recalling the feeling of relief I would have after choking my way through a cigarette.
I don’t think is was the actual smoke I craved, but rather the kick that came with it. That hit of dopamine which cancelled out the stress and anxiety of nicotine withdrawal.
Considering withdrawal is something that occurred every 20 – 30 minutes for twenty years during my life as a smoker, it is no wonder my brain associates anxiety with smoking.Thankfully, whilst a whole lot stronger than most triggers, anxiety is still simply that; a trigger.
It weakens with time and experience.
In the weeks since then, I have released two more you tube clips and on both occasions, the anxiety and cravings where a lot less intense.
A LOT less.
Today, just two weeks out from my eleventh month smoke free, I am more confident than ever, the end of my struggle with nicotine addiction is near.