Last updated: Jul 23, 2008
katherine-elmore
(KATHERINE ELMORE)
Its been a good week overall, and Im mastering the basics of quitting. I think we all know what they are by now: commitment, support, the avoidance of triggers, coping techniques, and some type of medication, like gum or the patch. Ive stumbled a couple of times, but I got right back on track the next day, so my confidence is building. But Im still not there yet, and its more than a little frustrating.


After complaining to my best friend, she told me she was really enjoying some self-hypnosis recordings shed downloaded online. After I stopped laughing and making the "L" sign on my forehead, I asked her if it worked. My friend said that, if nothing else, spending a few minutes listening to them gave her a chance to relax and reflect. Relaxation and reflection are two things I have too little of in my life, so I figured, What do I have to lose? Also, a drowning person will grasp on to any old thing that floats by.

I went to the website my friend recommended and perused the options. The site alleges that hypnosis can solve everything from fear of stairs to chronic nose-picking (among other problems you probably didnt know people had—at least not people old enough to have a credit card). So I downloaded a $9.95 "Quit Smoking" program to my iPod, put in my headphones, and found a quiet couch.

I tried to relax while a man who sounded vaguely like James Bond (all of them) counted down from ten. I was determined not to let my skepticism get in the way of being hypnotized, so I listened carefully and tried to mentally follow all of his instructions. The script wasnt too surprising; it included such phrases as "You no longer want to smoke" and "You are proud of your accomplishment." It also included 007s echoing voice saying, "Deeper...deeper...deeper..." Lets just say that was a little distracting.

I know theres no evidence that hypnosis works. All I can say is, for that day, it worked for me. The next day, it did not. My friend describes it as being a guided mediation, and for that, I think it was worth it.

If Ive learned anything during this process, its that for most people theres no single magic bullet. I recently read that humor writer David Sedaris went so far as to move to Tokyo for three months for the sole purpose of quitting smoking. Moving overseas is a little impractical, but Im not willing to rule out anything. The power of a dramatic change certainly cant be underestimated. Living in a nonsmoking home and working in a nonsmoking environment are big reasons why I never fully returned to my pack-a-day habit after starting a family and going back to work.

There are lots of tips and techniques out there, and I just have to find that combination of factors that gets me to the finish line. One thing Ive found enormously helpful is reading the advice and comments posted here on Health.com. I know I didnt invent the struggle, but being a closet smoker, its pretty easy to feel like youre alone. To anybody else out there who feels alone in all of this—Im behind you 100%.

Read Katherine's previous posts:
I Quit! (I Think) (July 16, 2008)
I'm Quitting Tomorrow (July 9, 2008)

Also read Libby's quitting blog