An Inside Look into a Smoker’s Brain

Well I feel like absolute crap tonight. Last night I started coming down with what I thought was a smoker’s cold. Sometimes when you quit smoking (or in my case, reduce smoking so much you might as well quit) you develop these cold-like symptoms that are a by-product of your body clearing out all the crap in your respiratory system. Well, I thought I was coming down with that last night, but today, I just feel yucky. I’ve got a runny nose and a stopped up head/headache along with a sore throat and nausea from all the drainage I’ve been having.

I wouldn’t be surprised if part of my symptoms are related to a smoker’s cold, but I feel like it’s something else as well. Either I’ve got a touch of a real cold or I’ve just been suddenly hit with a bout of winter allergies. I think it might be allergies because I’ve been sneezing a ton, and I don’t ever recall having a cold that makes me sneeze this much.

Well, because of this lovely whatever I’ve come done with, I’ve been thinking a lot about my smoking and whether I should put quitting down as one of my new year’s resolutions. I don’t know. I feel really conflicted about it.

On the one hand, I’ve been getting really pumped about going back to Columbus so I can start going to the gym and getting in shape. I really want to be healthy this upcoming year. And I know getting healthy would be a whole lot easier if I quit smoking. But the addict in me is throwing up a major protest. It’s not so much the physical withdrawal symptoms I’m worried about, those are easy to beat. I’ve done it before. It’s the psychological addiction that’s so hard for me to beat.

If you’re not a smoker, it’s probably a little difficult for you to comprehend the strength of this addiction. Why can’t you just quit?? Why is it so hard psychologically to quit?? Those are silly nonsmoker questions. To a nonsmoker, the problem seems easy, just quit. It’s the best decision with the best outcome. But it just doesn’t work like that.

I don’t know. Part of it is because I haven’t hit “rock bottom” yet. That may sound a little confusing in regards to smoking. Smoking generally won’t destroy your life the way a “serious” drug addiction will. But I’ve found, in my own experience and watching others, whenever someone is abusing a substance or is addicted to something, they will never have the proper motivation to quit until they hit “rock bottom,” that is when the hate of the addiction finally overcomes the love.

I’m pretty sure any addict will tell you their addiction is a love/hate relationship. And it really is; it is for me as well. I mean, I love smoking. I love the taste of tobacco, I love the way it makes me feel, I even love the smell. But I also hate it too. I hate the way I can’t sit through a movie without needing a cigarette, I hate having to go out in the cold and rain to smoke, I hate how it makes me out of breath. But right now, I haven’t hit my rock bottom. I still love smoking more than I hate it. The things that I hate about smoking are still seen in my brain as more minor inconveniences than reasons to quit. It’s definitely a battle.

So I don’t know what I’ll do. I’ll tell you right now, the smoking will probably win. Even if I just try to ignore the problem and the ultimate decision, I’ve still made a decision. And that’s probably what will happen. I want to be healthy but I want to smoke more. I’m an addict with an addictive personality. If I give up smoking, I’ll probably just fill the void with something else.

I did consider the option of trying to cut back, since I know I don’t really want to quit completely. But the problem is, I already feel like I don’t smoke that much. This past semester, I think I smoked 5-6 cigarettes a day, maybe 7 if I was super stressed. I look at that compared to the “stereotypical smoker” who smokes a half a pack or more a day, and I think I’m doing okay. I realize this is probably just a way to rationalize my addiction with myself, but I still think the thought has merit.

And you know, I did read some studies that said exercise can mitigate some of the risks smoking creates, even if it doesn’t completely negate smoking’s harmful effects.

Can I go off on a tangent here for a second and risk sounding really stupid??
I wonder about the supposed risks of smoking. I’m not an idiot, I know smoking’s bad for you. But I oftentimes wonder if the dangers are hyped up a lot?? I mean, tobacco has been used for thousands of years. That doesn’t mean it’s good for you, but still. I’ve read some opinion pieces that show smoking may not be quite as bad as “they” say it is.

I looked at one study that supposedly showed how smoking negatively effected a person’s ability to exercise. They had the people in the study smoke 3 cigarettes an hour for 5 hours before making them do some cardio!! And then said that smoking negatively affected exercises ability. Well, duh. You nonsmokers out there realize that they made these participants smoke 15 cigarettes, 3/4 of a pack, in less than a normal work’s day. That’s not really “stereotypical” smoking nor is it a good indication of how light to moderate smoking impacts exercise. In a period of 5 hours, I smoke 1-2 cigarettes, and that’s a big difference from 15.

I don’t know if you’re seeing my argument here. Just that maybe everything we’ve been reading is hyped up or based on experiments like the one I mentioned above that only account for extremely heavy smoking. I’ve found when I’ve looked into the subject, not many studies have been done on light to moderate smokers like me.

Don’t get me wrong. I know smoking is still bad for you. But it makes you wonder you know?? You can’t always believe everything you read.

Call me crazy. Call me stupid. Call me an addict. Call me whatever. That’s just what I think. Maybe it’s just rationalization or maybe there’s a kernel of truth there. If you’re curious and want to read a slightly more informed essay on the topic, this guy’s website has a really good essay. I don’t know, google it sometime.

But that’s my rant/thinking out loud for tonight. I’ll probably have a cup of hot tea before I go to bed to try and soothe my throat a little bit. Ugh and I have to get up early tomorrow to go to church and play my oboe in the orchestra. Ugh.

Sorry if you we’re expecting a synopsis of my family gathering today. There wasn’t much to report and I found this subject to be more interesting.

Good night my lovely readers.


About emilleejoyce

I am a yoga alliance 200 hour certified yoga teacher whose hobbies include growing cacti and succulents, cooking vegan food, and bicycling. My day job is in academic publishing.

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