Today it has been exactly three weeks since I stopped smoking and I am aware of the fact that I am doing well. I managed to get through the first couple of days of face-melting anguish and dribbled through the blancmange-brain phase. I feel that things should be getting easier now and in some ways they are. So why do I feel so crap about it all today?
It's often round about this time that my previous serious attempts to stop smoking have fallen down. Non-smokers may find this strange - Surely once the strongest cravings have subsided, it should be plain sailing? And yet it isn't.
Smoking is a particularly insidious and manipulative addiction, quite capable of changing a person's behaviour and character. I actually externalise my addiction into a separate entity, the 'nicotine monster'. I find this helps no end in providing a focus for any frustration or irritation I may have. And today it's being an utter shit.
You might think that withdrawal symptoms from smoking are linear - it starts strong and gradually reduces to nothing. This is not the case. You can have a month where you don't think about it at all. Then, on a rainy Tuesday in July, it attacks you from all sides without warning or provocation. Today is one of those days.
How does it make me feel? I feel both furious and yet totally vulnerable. I feel short-tempered beyond belief - and yet incredibly needy and insecure. I want to scream at the world and to cry until my eyes hurt. I want to run for 10 miles, although I'm too tired to even leave the house. I feel like someone's tied a knot inside my stomach. I want someone to hold me, stroke my hair and tell me everything will be OK.
And what's most irritating of all is that I know none of this is real. This is not real emotion. I am not an angry or insecure or needy person. So I'm trying to ignore it and wait for it to go away, albeit today with limited success. Hence why I'm writing this.
I can handle the cravings. In many ways, that feels like a bare-chested man-fight, a struggle of will, a battle between good and evil. And although it hurts, it's a good hurt. It's a battle you can see and it's a fair fight.
This is much more subtle and much more dangerous. It's like a fake depression, I guess. The nicotine monster is trying to make me feel that everything is rubbish - and that I am rubbish - so that I go back to smoking. Things that are good are undermined, it throws a veil of deceit over everything. And it takes tremendous willpower to remain positive.
Sigh. At least I know that it will go away. And it does strengthen my resolve to never smoke again. I just wish it didn't make me feel so crap. Thanks for listening.