What it’s like to give up smoking, be hypnotised and want to staple things to your colleagues’ foreheads
As I closed my eyes and learned back into a squishy armchair with a man I’ve only just met telling me to relax, a couple of things went through my mind.
Firstly, I have the most random job in the world and secondly, giving up smoking is a mission and a half.
We all know giving up is a good idea. Not only has my health improved but I’m quite sure I was the sole cause of the British economy coming out of recession due to the staggering amounts of Nicorette and lollipops I got through.
For anyone who has never been addicted to anything, cravings are not like being hungry and not having any food, as one of my colleagues annoyingly asked me.
It’s more like that moment when you’re buried up to your neck in sand and panic because you suddenly realise you can’t move your arms.
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For any of you that think I’m overstating the case, according to the University of Minnesota, nicotine is as addictive as heroin in the way it changes your behaviour. It’s also 1,000 times stronger than alcohol.
This is what I volunteered to put myself through in exchange for my newseditor growing a moustache for the month of November. Childish but true.
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It takes 48 hours for all the nicotine to leave the body, which basically meant I got angry. Not angry like when you miss your bus and it’s raining, but angry like when you fantasise about stapling things to your colleagues’ foreheads. To be honest, I quite enjoyed it.
I would take that over what came next - insomnia, anxiety and depression.
It was also the time since I started at the Ilford Recorder where I didn’t laugh, didn’t have fun, and quite honestly, didn’t like being here.
Then I seemed to come out of it and just felt sad which was better but the ‘sense of loss’ which is discussed at length in the antismoking leaflets.
Which brings us to the armchair situation.
I was hoping that hypnotist Peter Caton, of Wanstead Lane, Gants Hill, could help me deal with that nagging sensation of wanting to smoke.
Before we start, let me make it clear that I’m a sceptical person. I don’t believe in witchcraft or ghosts and won’t until one pops over for tea.
So it was with some bemusement that I did as I was told and looked at a spot just below the picture rail and tried to relax.
The state you’re aiming for is that period in between being awake and just before you go to sleep.
You can hear everything you’re being told and it feels like you’re in control so it’s not frightening.
The entire time was spent with him telling me not to smoke and me thinking about how much work I had to do. Then all of a sudden it was over and I felt confused while being ushered out of the front door.
I marked the whole thing up as yet another thing I’d failed at and went back to the office feeling disappointed that this wasn’t going to be the magical bullet.
Then something weird happened. I stopped using the Nicorette. I even went out on Friday night, rolled a cigarette for my friend and went outside to watch him smoke it. And I didn’t smoke. I’m completely bewildered by the whole thing. In fact, the 28 days is officially over and I’m still not smoking.
When I agreed to do this for the paper I never thought it would lead to me stopping smoking but for the moment it has.
I should probably take this opportunity to apologise to my colleagues for being a nightmare and thank all of you who emailed in your stories and support – it’s been emotional.