Giving Up Smoking: It Worked For Me
As Acton goes smoke free, one woman stubs it out for good
To mark the day England (including the entire borough of Ealing) slams the door on smoking in bars, workplaces and public buildings on Sunday in what campaigners hail as the biggest boost to public health since the creation of the National Health Service in 1948, we talked to a confirmed smoker who recently decided that it was time to quit.
With the help of a local hypnotherapist she has so far managed to become a smoke-free zone for 10 days. "I live in Acton and have smoked for 23 years since I was 21-years-old. My partner gave up 6 years ago and I have two small children. Despite this, I found it really impossible to stop smoking." Victoria (not her real name) is an intelligent, articulate woman and knew all the cliches about how it was unhealthy for her, but despite considerable family pressure she just could not stop.
"I tried various methods over the years including Allen Carr, Nicorette and various others, but without success.
"With a family holiday approaching as well as July 1st and having enjoyed a few glasses of wine, I found myself promising my parents and partner that I would give up during the trip." But as the departure date approached, she grew more and more apprehensive and panicky.
"I approached an acupuncturist and a counsellor for help. After a while, I realised this was all going to take too long and that "it would take years for therapy to deal with what was going on in my head and give me enough strength to kick the habit. With the words of her family - "we will hold you to your pledge to give up" ringing in her ears, she wondered how she was going to get through the process.
"I knew I had already tried everything except willpower of which I had none.
"A friend then told me about a local hypnotherapist called Nicola Schwarz who had helped her husband to give up smoking. I had tried hypnotherapy before, but found it unhelpful. I was desperate and utterly dependent on around 20 cigarettes a day. I decided to make an appointment "in a blind panic".
As the appointment approached, she became more and more nervous. "I was just sure it wasn't going to work. I went to see a friend and told her all about it. I felt weepy and panicky. "When I had first talked to Nicola, she had told me she is happy to talk to clients after their therapy to give them extra support. I told her I was going to need support before the session, too and she didn't seem to mind my emotional phone calls as the day approached. I had fixed the appointment for a Friday before leaving for our holiday the following Wednesday.
"When I went in to see her, I was just thinking I would go straight out afterwards and smoke a cigarette. The whole session was spent talking about how much I really wanted to smoke. By the time I went under I was desperate to just go to sleep and stop craving a cigarette.
"Nicola gave me a tape of part of the session afterwards which I use for relaxation when I can. So far, I'm really pleased with myself and have managed without a cigarette for 10 days. Since I gave up on holiday it was difficult to come back - I almost felt as though I was going through the whole process again - and I felt very tense at the airport. It is also difficult with two young children to clear my head to the point where I can cope with the craving. However, it is getting easier and easier every day. I would say that it was bad, but now it's ok.
"I am still in touch with Nicola, but I hope for not too much longer. I really believe that I won't ever smoke again. It really is easier to give up than I had imagined. Nicola was right for me. She managed me very well. I'm a difficult, prickly person and I'm very sceptical about new-agey things. She listened and met my emotional needs.
Victoria has encouraging words for anyone not convinced they have the strength to give up smoking: "The way I did it is right for me. There is a way for everyone to give up smoking. If you haven't found it yet it doesn't mean it isn't there."
June 29, 2007