By Andrew Goyvaerts
Disclaimer to my doctor. If you are reading this please note I did not lie, you just forgot to ask on my last visit if I was still “off the cigarettes” and so thought “keep your mouth shut for once Andrew”.
Having stopped the consumption of so many products in my short time on this planet there is one that keeps sucking me back in. Over the years I have stopped eating chocolate, drinking Columbia’ strongest coffee as well as snorting some of their more hardcore exports and for the last three years have gone without my beloved bacon butty after being told some horror stories by a friend, but smoking gets me every time.
Aged ten I took my first draw of a cigarette followed by taking up smoking daily at thirteen and in the subsequent twenty years would estimate having smoked roughly 100,000 cigarettes.
Just typing that figure makes my lungs hurt.
We all know the dangers of anyone smoking but for those of us living with HIV the extra concern has long been noted, my mind is very aware of all this but it appears as if the part of my brain in control of that thought is not the part of my brain in control of fingers and hand movement. This most recent attempt was the most successful, having initially used an e-cig to wean myself off, it was going great until nearly two years later in a moment of complete weakness and stupidity, some recent stress saw me buying a pack of Bensons with the rest being history as they say.
Anyone who has stopped smoking for a while only to restart will know that little pang of guilt that is felt after the nicotine rush from the first ciggie wears off and you realise it is back to square one. This time that feeling of guilt wasn’t as extreme as it was in the past, why is truly a mystery but in some ways it feels like life is a constant constraint of being told what is good and bad with those who provide the guidelines constantly changing their minds, with the odd contradiction thrown in for good measure, granted nobody has changed their view on smoking, maybe that’s what it is, I like consistency and would prefer to know something is bad for me instead of being told different things, whatever it is, I am indeed back to square one.
It’s odd, even though I should be hoping for advice from fellow ex smokers I’m thinking how great it would be to get advice on how to block out those stories my friend told so I can justify eating pork again.
In many ways it is the psychological side of addiction that has me smoking again because that physical addiction had long past, does this mean my mind is a bigger threat to my health than the actual cigarettes? Who knows, their are some professionals who might describe it this way and then their are some who have described it as having an addictive personality, I would probably agree with the latter.
Having an addictive personality can be useful at times, for example if a sport or subject interests me, it becomes so obsessed over nine times out of ten I will do well in that area but unfortunately some of what interests me in life is not as good for ones health as participating in sports.
To a certain degree I wonder if in having an addictive personality and the list of things that can be detrimental to our health growing daily, those doomsday prophecies health officials keep giving are an inevitability, for me at least, and the only thing to do is reduce the chance of harm by avoiding as many vices as possible though sometimes it is impossible to avoid them all, hence today is starting with my 100,001 cigarette.
To start all over again feels futile, whether it is the way addiction works or just the way an addictive personality works, at the beginning my mind is strong saying no with ease while my body is saying have a cigarette, then after a number of weeks my body stops saying it and my mind starts but at some point I will have to start over again, for now however it is time for another cigarette and coffee before my meeting.