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Therese's Rose - Little Flower
Digital Image, Jean-Marie Lee, 2015

PLOGS BELOW (JML's Poetic Commentary)

About Quitting Smoking

One cool June morning last summer, I passed out— vomiting on the sidewalk near my gym. I laid on the pavement sweating. There was so much sweat—I could see an outline of my body. People stopped to help— I could hear them but I couldn’t speak. I knew that I just needed to be still and on the ground. This was not the first time I’d passed out. Typically— it would have been much hotter outside or I would have been taking a very hot shower. Needless to say— I went to an urgent care near by. My doctor ran an EKG and checked my vitals and inquired about my smoking habits. Smoking was the most obvious culprit considering I had not eaten breakfast just yet.

I remember why I started smoking. It was more like an addiction exchange— when I quit drinking— I started smoking.

So— quitting smoking cigarettes became a challenge far greater than even dealing with PTSD. I’ve had to completely reorganize my entire life. Typically, I would work part-time outside of my studio but for the time being I’m solely working in my studio and quitting smoking to avoid additional stress.

I started using the nicotine patch the following day after talking to my doctor about passing out. In my opinion, all of the brands worked the same. To get the patches to stick during the hot summer weather, I would wear spandex underwear and place the patches on my stomach. When it was time to stop wearing the patches after 10 weeks— I was not ready. I was craving something to just get me through the day. My weight gain was roughly 35 pounds and in hindsight— I did learn a lot about what was triggering my smoking habits.

Anytime I became anxious— I wanted a cigarette. And typically, when I wanted to talk to my friends who were smoking— I wanted a cigarette. I’m still not fully able to identify all the things that make me anxious and “crave.” Here are a few that would test anyone’s nerves— tornado warnings, amber alerts, fire alarms, people walking too close, random text messages in the middle of the night, honking horns, maniac drivers running red and yellow lights— I could continue but the list is pretty much everything in daily life.

To be more proactive about maintaining a low stress level— I turned all noises off on my phone and computer. I gave specific examples of things I’ll walk away from to friends so they aren’t just blatantly offended that I walked away. I’ve tried to let most people know that my attitude is not anything personal with them— I’m just quitting smoking. I go to a counseling session every two weeks to discuss coping skills with various stressors or smoking triggers. I keep track of my smoking cravings and weight. And all of this is helping. The last time I smoked was on vacation at Easter. When I got home after the trip I went back on the patch.

Frequently, I remind myself to give this time especially since I want to permanently quit smoking. When I quit drinking— it was an on going battle for about two years. And I know that over this past year, I have made huge successful strides in beating cigarettes. But it’s definitely not easy and it does take serious commitment and it is about making lifelong lifestyle changes.

Congratulations to everyone who has put forth effort to quit an addiction because that’s the first step. Thank You for your continued prayers!


In honor of Saint Therese Lisieux
On the anniversary of her canonization
May 17, 1925.

The Complete Therese Lisieux

English Translations of Therese’s Writings

The Little Way

Vexilla Regis

Plog Post: Thursday, May 17, 2018