Cold Turkey Chronicles: The First 30 Days of Quitting Smoking

Quitting Smoking

God, I love smoking. I thoroughly enjoy it, and I don’t want to quit. But I have to – for future Laura. It’s Halloween, 2023, and the eve of my quit date. I’m nervous. 

I just bought my last pack. A single pack of Marlboro Lights costs $16.00 on Long Island. The amount of money I have spent on smoking is astronomical, embarrassing, and nauseating. Not to mention the damage I have done to my lungs, heart, skin etc. having been a heavy smoker since I was basically a child. 

But I’ve made the decision to quit for my future self. I am 41 years old, and now winded walking up the stairs. I know that won’t get better if I continue smoking. Also, everyone in my family who smoked got COPD, or their hearts exploded. I don’t want any of that, either.  

I’m doing this cold turkey. Let’s fucking go. 

Day 1

I had my last cigarette at 7 am this morning. I was pretty sad and it also went very quickly. It’s now 10:28 am and I’ve cleaned the entire house. I reckon distraction is good. But, my brain is telling me to smoke and I’m gutted I can’t. I’m also very hungry, which is odd. I typically do not have an appetite till way later in the day. The cravings ramped up in the evening, but it’s not terribly unbearable. I’m just uncomfortable and time seems to be creeping along. I went to bed at 6:30 pm just to end the day. 

Day 2

I notice my skin is breaking out. I know that’s a withdrawal symptom, but already? I feel OK but I am definitely keyed up and the jitters are quickly zapping my energy. By afternoon, I’m dead tired and I went to bed early again. 

Day 3

Woke up feeling anxious but my spirit feels good today. I am trying not to drink too much coffee as I feel caffeine exacerbates my symptoms and makes me want to smoke more. The cravings are a bit stronger today too. I keep telling myself that I just have to get through the next few days and I never have to feel this way again. Getting this withdrawal “over with” is motivating me. But this definitely sucks, and the days feel long. 

Day 4

I feel less jittery today, however, I am still contending with cravings. When I get one, it feels like my stomach is in my throat. But I am getting better at accepting the cravings — I acknowledge that it is there and try to move on. They last about 10 minutes now, which is more tolerable.

Day 5

My face has completely erupted with acne and I’m quite impressed at how bad it is. Aside from the breakout, I noticed my sense of smell seems to be coming back, which is quite nice. I can smell the fall air.

Day 6

It’s a Monday morning and I am very cranky. However, I did run a mile this morning without stopping. When I was smoking, I couldn’t run more than two-tenths of a mile without getting winded. So, I’d say my lung function is already improving. I’m still dealing with cravings, but riding them out. 

Day 7

I have lots of energy today. I wonder if that has something to do with not smoking. My skin looks abysmal though and I’m still having cravings. But, the obsession to smoke is weakening. My appetite is still huge and I’ve been tearing through bags of Popcorn Indiana. 

Day 8

I feel OK but I get a little sad that I can’t smoke when I want to. However, that feeling is becoming more fleeting. Two people said my face looks different today but I am not entirely sure if that has to do with quitting. 

Day 10

Double digits, yay! However, the cravings were worse today than the past 10 days. I don’t know why that is, but I was extremely cranky and desperately wanted to smoke today. 

Day 12

I am otherwise not thinking about smoking unless stress spikes or I’m bored. Fiending while driving is getting better, too. My face also seems to be clearing up. Appetite is leveling out too though I’m still hungry when I otherwise wouldn’t be. 

Day 13

I’m really starting to feel like a non-smoker. Yesterday, I ran three miles without stopping, which I definitely couldn’t do two weeks ago. I am also not itching to smoke during work as much, which is great. I suppose I am starting to acclimate to life as a non-smoker. 

Day 17

I am beyond irritable, angry, tired, sad, and grumpy! While the physical withdrawal symptoms have subsided, I want to rip everyone’s head off, and my own. The anxiety feels really heavy, I have blinding rage, my head hurts, I want to burst into tears, and I feel like screaming all at the same time. This is by far the worst day yet. This fucking sucks. 

Day 20

This is a fucking nightmare. I am tired, anxious, and depressed. I could not get out of bed this morning. I have killer brain fog and I burst into tears this morning. I messaged my doctor and told her I was melting down and she said this is normal at this point in my nicotine cessation. However, I do NOT feel normal. I feel insane. I thought the first week was supposed to be the worst. What is with week three being so hard? 

Day 21

Feeling a bit better today, though I still have an anxious knot in my stomach from what I am imagining is my desire to smoke. I am trying to ignore it. Other than some tiredness, and a little irritability, my spirit feels much better than it did last week. I am now entering week four, so I hope I am out of awful week three. That really sucked. 

Day 25

Things are better, but I still want to smoke. Head games galore. I do find myself getting tired often too. But I imagine that has something to do with the fact that I was speedballing a stimulant about thirty times a day for decades and now, other than coffee in the morning, I am clean. However, I did get through Thanksgiving without wanting to kill anyone and had a nice holiday, so that’s a success. 

Day 30

Wow, 30 days! Feels like I quit so long ago but also like it was yesterday. I feel better. Other than having trouble getting up in the morning, I feel good. I think the worst of it is over. Am I a non-smoker now?

What’s Next?

Not going to lie, that was tough. But the month was going to pass whether I smoked or not. I’m proud of myself for really soldiering through the past thirty days. The first three days and all of week three were definitely the most difficult with day 20 being by far the worst. I am still not out of the woods, but I think the worst has passed. 

I would still love to smoke and I may always want to. Everything I have ever quit, I thoroughly enjoyed – nail-biting, drinking, smoking. But I let these things go when they no longer serve me. Now I don’t have to smoke for the rest of my life and consequently die from it— and that’s the favor I did myself by suffering through November 2023 and quitting smoking. And honestly, it wasn’t that bad.


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