Phew. I was ambushed last night by an overwhelming and surprising need to smoke and I was totally unprepared for it. I managed not to smoke, obviously, but it gave me such terribly sad dreams (thanks for nothing, subconscious) that I awoke feeling unbelievably low. I can laugh about it now, but it felt pretty damn real at the time. It was the usual stopping smoking stuff - life is rubbish, you feel crap, you can't cope with it, what you really need is a cigarette, that will make it all better...
Fortunately, I decided to do something about it rather than mope about the house in a cloud of self-pity. I went to Aldi and bought misshapen vegetables, I went for a four-mile walk around Burrator, I made myself a full Sunday roast and I made a huge pot of my special soup to eat during the week. Lovely.
And that did the trick, it got me out of the melancholy in which I'd somehow managed to find myself. It's so weird that it can get me like that, it's like a veil of deception slowly descends and makes you see life in a very different way to how you normally do. It makes you forget what's real and what's not.
It's bizarre, because I'm actually feeling really quite positive about things at the moment. I've stopped smoking (and everyone who knows me will appreciate how important that is for me). I'm living healthily, with proper food and actual real-life exercise and I'm even enjoying it (mostly). Work is better now than it has been for about two years - I've already done more business this year than I did in the whole of last year. Sams is going well, I've got my fundraising mojo back and I'm three weeks into a new training group. I have a tremendous group of friends, both new and old. On the whole, life is pretty good.
On the relationship front, which was the battleground of the latest attack, I'm also feeling pretty comfortable. I've been single for nearly a year and a half and although of course I'd like to eventually meet the girl of my dreams, I'm in no rush to jump into anything. I know what I want and what I don't want. It has to be right, on both sides, and sooner or later, someone I think is brilliant will also think I'm brilliant. Until that point, I'll just carry on being brilliant on my own.
It's just that when the smoking veil of deception is lowered... I forget all of that, I really do. I suddenly feel terribly lonely, insecure, rejected, incapable, demotivated, inadequate, helpless and hopeless... followed by the sickening realisation that the only thing I really have in my life is a cigarette. And that is really how it gets me, often without any real basis whatsoever. It's like being under a magic spell or hypnosis. And it really does take a superhuman effort to snap myself out if it and get back to reality. And when I do, it's actually like waking up from a bad dream, you can't quite believe that you felt like that.
That's one of the reasons why I write these little updates - they're probably not of much use or interest to anyone else but me, but they do enable me to remember what's important when the veil descends. Because it can be frightening - it's so real at the time and yet it's absolutely not me at all. There's a part of you that is in some way aware of what's going on, but no matter how loud you shout, you just can't break the spell.
Fortunately, I'm not the only one. Having spoken to a few ex-smokers and to others who are in the process of stopping smoking, it would appear that my experience is not unique. And that's really quite reassuring to hear, to know that I'm not actually going mad - and that it does go away eventually. Someone has told me that by three months, you're normally out of the woods and into the clear. I'm about halfway there, madness permitting.
One last thing - I will allow myself a modicum of pride - I have managed to overcome the six-week hurdle, which has made me fall so many times in the past. I managed to shake myself out of it, to break the spell and come out of the other side. I'd like that to be the last attack, please, but we'll see. Onwards and upwards.