Forums / My journey / Post-Quit Health Anxiety

Post-Quit Health Anxiety

5 posts, 0 answered
  1. cdc2point9two
    cdc2point9two avatar
    2 posts
    Registered:
    01 Jun 2021
    07 Jun
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    I quit in October 2020, have had three slip ups since, but have kept at it.  My slips were always in tandem with a few too many drinks, so now I know that's something that also needs managed.  Without any drinks, I have no desire to smoke, at all.  With a few drinks, that changes, so I just can't have more than a drink or two, and that's been fine and do-able!  For which I am grateful.  For me, cigarettes were a best friend that were always there for me.  I went through a lot of sadness quitting, it was like a relationship that ended that I knew had to end, but I still didn't want it to.  I think I am through all that now, fingers and toes crossed and knock wood, but now I have moved into a phase of near constant anxiety and fear for my health and the damage I did with smoking.  
    I am really, really struggling with my fear over the damage I have done to my body over the past twenty years of smoking.  Now that I am not hiding things (feelings, fears, sadness, worry, health conditions, physical pains, etc.) behind my need to smoke, all those things are right there in front of me and I am having a hard time with them.  Is that cough emphysema?  That pain in my chest, is it heartburn or something else?  If it's heartburn, did the smoking aggravate my esophagus and now I have Barrett's?  When, exactly, am I going develop lung cancer?  Will I die before my grandma and parents?  Last year, I would have ignored every pain, ache and twitch because I wanted to smoke more than I wanted to think about my health.  Now I am finally making my health the priority but I can't see how it isn't too late already - I've smoked a lot of smokes and drank a lot of drinks.  
    Has anyone else experienced this fear?  I have tried to talk to myself about it but it's not working.  I wake up in the middle of the night certain I have lung cancer or esophageal cancer or emphysema or whatever comes to mind this time, and that I gave it to myself.  The guilt and shame of how stupid I was and how ungrateful for my health I was is overwhelming and the fear of it now being too late to live a decently healthy life and I am frozen.  
    Anyways, I can't find anything about this anywhere on the googles or in these amazing threads, so I was wondering how other people maybe found a way to not view the future with fear.  I have been making steady positive changes to try to aid my health improvements post smoking, but still living with this fear and anxiety.  Did anyone else go through this and does it go away?  Has anyone experienced this as a phase of their quit process, like the depression I had the first few months? 
    Thanks!
  2. jenna lee, quit coach
    jenna lee, quit coach avatar
    244 posts
    Registered:
    28 Jun 2018
    07 Jun in reply to cdc2point9two
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    Hi cdc2point9two,

    Thank you for being brave enough to share your journey and experience with our community.

    Like you said, mental health symptoms like anxious and depressive thoughts can occur when people quit smoking, due to many reasons. So rest assured, this is normal.

    Please reach out additionally to mental health resources and/or your primary care provider for support with your mental health during this time. Health-related anxiety is a real thing. There are evidence-based ways to manage these thoughts, such as CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). You may find some of these resources on quitmap.ca.

    Keep up the amazing work you are doing in your quit,

    Jenna Lee
  3. treepeo1
    treepeo1 avatar
    154 posts
    Registered:
    06 Feb 2020
    14 Jun in reply to cdc2point9two
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    Hi cdc2point9two,

    First of all, I want to congratulate you for quitting smoking.  Quitting requires a lot of hard work and determination and you toughed it out.  And you also did something else really amazing.  You learned from your slips, and realized that alcohol is a trigger for you that you have to be really careful with.  You have great insight and that is going to help you in the long run.

    I can understand the sadness and anxiety you are feeling.  When I quit, I started to feel guilty about how long I smoked (over 43 years), and the negative effect it had on my body.  But this kind of thinking is not helpful, it really isn't.  And it's not really fair, either.  People start smoking for a variety of reasons.  In my case, my whole family smoked, and almost everyone around me smoked as well.  And they smoked in the house.  No one even thought of taking it outside in those days.  So it made it much easier for me to cope once I started to smoke as well.  And then I got addicted.  Now, had I grown up in a non-smoking household, would I ever have started myself?  Possibly, but maybe not.  I will never know.  I mention this because we are all a produce of our environments, and some of us come from healthier backgrounds than others. 

    Regardless of all of that, we cannot change the past.  All we can do is focus on the here and now and look to the future.  And I can tell you that your future is going to be better automatically because you quit smoking.  Look at it this way.  If you develop a health problem, (and everyone does at some point whether they smoked or not), smoking would make it worse.  But as a non-smoker, you will heal faster and better.  That is for sure.  So try to let go of all this anxiety and guilt and focus on doing nice things for yourself.   You accomplished something amazing by quitting.  Give yourself the credit you deserve and enjoy your life.  You deserve to be happy.
  4. cdc2point9two
    cdc2point9two avatar
    2 posts
    Registered:
    01 Jun 2021
    21 Jun in reply to treepeo1
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    Thank you so much for sharing your insight and congrats on your quit as well!  It's amazing that you have pulled yourself out of what must have felt like an inevitability growing up in a home of smoking.  It's sometimes hard to see that there can be another way when it's all you know.  

    The Ontario government has a free online cognitive behavioural therapy program so I had my initial call with a therapist and looking forward to working through the program to help me manage this anxiety.  I have finally realized just how much I used smoking (and alcohol) to self medicate and now I just need to figure out how to deal without them!  But for the first time in months, I finally feel like I will be able to.  

    Take care!
  5. treepeo1
    treepeo1 avatar
    154 posts
    Registered:
    06 Feb 2020
    22 Jun in reply to cdc2point9two
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    Wow cdc2point9two,

    I love the fact that you are being so proactive about this and reaching out for support.  Good for you!  So many of us self-medicate in different ways without even realizing what we are doing and why we are doing it.  I bet you are going to learn a lot through this program.  It sounds like it will be really interesting.

    After quitting smoking, many of us made other changes in our lives to further improve our health, whether it be dietary changes, meditation or exercise.  You might find you start to do the same thing, especially as you work through your feelings and discover alternate ways of coping.  This is actually an exciting time in your life.  You can make real changes that will benefit you for years to come.  I am so happy for you.

    Good luck with the program.  I hope you get the answers you are looking for.  And keep us posted on your progress.  I would love to hear how you are doing.
5 posts, 0 answered