This is how “I’m going to quit smoking!” goes.
(That’s a link to Cracked.com.) #19 is probably the closest, helped right now by my attempts to cut down on the amount of anti-anxiety stuff I take. For me, smoking isn’t about the nicotine rush, it’s entirely about the break I get to take where no-one will come near me and I can perform a soothing, repetitive task for 5-10 minutes (depending on how fast I burn that sucker down to the filter). I’ve tried to substitute other things, and I’ve tried just taking the break, but neither work. The flick of the lighter, the inhale and exhale, and the occasional attempts to blow decent smoke rings, they’re all part of the soothing process. It even has a built-in time limit, which is great, because I know how long I can absent myself.
No, it doesn’t make sense to anyone else except other anxious smokers, and yes, I know the downsides. I tried nicotine-free vaping, but the clove “juice” smell was nauseating (as is calling vape liquid “juice”. eurrrggggh). Also, there’s no built-in end to the vape, and the need to check my watch/phone for the time just throws me back into anxiety.
I smoke when I’m stressed, such as this week, where I’m trying to put together new jewelry to sell at 12th Night (I’ll be selling jewelry at 12th Night! I have lots of Czech glass earrings, only $2/pair!), or over Christmas, when we had family. Or, further back, before Gardiner’s Muster. Or Jamestown. Or, or, or. There’s always something, especially now that getting sick has a catastrophic effect on my energy levels, and all I can do is read on the sofa and sleep 10+ hours a night. My list of things that I want to do (including, but not limited, to: Finishing that Damned Jacket, new patterns for RH!, hey, I had a book idea, and oh, I have no income, I need to put this jewelry stuff on-line so I can get funds) is getting so long that just revisiting it can trigger panic (short-lived, thank the holies, but still quite unpleasant), and an inability to do anything, as everything is important.
Smoking is so much more than nicotine – if it was just that, I’d save $50 and buy Marlboro lights (ugh). It’s calming, it’s a stress-reliever, and it keeps me sane, especially when I feel overwhelmed by noise or crowds. I used to be able to keep it to Pennsic, but in the past three/four years, it’s become harder and harder to let it go, even for a week. Even when I hate the taste and smell of old cigarettes (technically they’re cigars, but we all know they’re cigarettes, Djarum), even when I chew masses of gum to get the taste out of my mouth, even when I know they’re so very, very bad for me, they’re essential to my mental health.
I don’t drink to excess (I hardly drink at all; months will go by without a taste of alcohol), I only take the drugs I am prescribed, and I don’t go in for dangerous things – I’m generally pretty risk-averse. I wish Parkour was as calming, I’d be in much better shape (I’m thin, but flabby). But it’s not, and I can’t find anything else that works that magic.
Pity me, but don’t lecture me. I know what I’m doing, and I know the risks.