He taught me how to smoke. And then he left. But smoking didn't.
I had had my first cigarette in college with friends. It was once in a blue moon that we would head to a roof top restaurant close to our college and smoke Black. During those days, I never considered myself a smoker, as I probably had a single cigarette once in two months.
Some years down the line, I resorted to smoking regularly after a heartbreak. I smoked when I was in pain. I smoked when I was angry. I smoked when I felt hopeless. So I went from having a puff for fun to smoking daily to relieve stress - a cruel illusion every smoker goes through owing to the mood altering drug called nicotine.
But then I moved on. My heart healed, but I am not sure if I could say the same for my lungs, for I could not let go off smoking. By then smoking had become a habit. I needed to smoke when I blogged because I felt it helped me ‘think’. I needed to smoke when I traveled because I felt it increased the sense of ecstasy. And of course, I continued smoking every time I felt stress.
I realized two things after two back-to-back incidents last July - firstly, that smoking definitely was not doing me any good, and secondly that my head was being controlled by nicotine.
It was a sunny morning in Ladakh, when I attempted the walk up to Castle Tsemo. The lungs that had stayed faithful during half a dozen marathons and numerous treks, gave up. I was panting halfway through the climb. My other two companions were kind enough to wait for me every time I stopped to catch my breath. It was then that I finally realized what I had got myself into.
Once I returned to Mumbai I decided to reduce smoking from 10 to 6 to 2 cigarettes per day. But the first night I abstained myself from smoking I was hit by the worst of nicotine withdrawal symptoms. First it was just a mere restlessness, which over the night developed into depression, a blood pressure drop and the worst of insomnia that I had ever experienced. I couldn't sleep that entire night and the first thing I did the next morning was take a puff. Months flew by. Every morning I decided to quit smoking and every night I found myself walking back to the cigarette shop.
Year 2015 brought in some very positive changes and optimism in my life that helped me look up and believe that I can #StartANewLife or improve the one I am living. For either, there were some hindrance on the way and one of them was smoking. But with so much positive thoughts and determination (and not to mention my superb ego), I gained an upper hand over nicotine this time. How could I, who controls and takes charge of everything in her life, be controlled by a mere chemical? I am the master of my own mind. There was no way it could beat me. There was no way it could control me.
It’s been two weeks since I took the bold step of quitting smoking. I don’t feel the daily urge any more. I know this might sound strange considering the withdrawal symptoms I had faced the first time. But who cares? I brought about a good change in my life. I have moved forward to live a better healthy life. When is your turn?