Name: Christi M.
LIVESTRONG.COM Username: CMacNCheese (member since 2015)
Number of Years Smoked: 15
Smoke-Free Since: February 4, 2015
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your life like before joining LIVESTRONG.COM and quitting smoking?
Christi: Before I quit I smoked about a pack a day. I'd wake up with sore lungs, and I was always gagging and coughing up phlegm. I was terrified my kids would think smoking was acceptable.
Smoking dominated my whole day and took time away from my job, my kids and my life. I'm a police officer, and it's embarrassing how much my uniform and patrol car smelled like smoke. I would feel ashamed when I was smoking in uniform and people would drive by, or their children would see me smoking. I'm supposed to be an example -- a pillar of the community -- but I didn't feel like it as a smoker.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your inspiration to make a change?
On February 4, 2015, my kids were sick, so I called in to work to stay home and take care of them. I wasn't sick, but I did have my typical persistent cough. My 10-year-old autistic son took my hand and said, "Mom, promise you won't smoke anymore so you won't be sick all the time."
I promised him then and there that I would never smoke another cigarette. There was only one left in the pack, so I crushed it and resolved to keep my promise.
LIVESTRONG.COM: How did LIVESTRONG.COM help you quit smoking?
Because I was quitting cold turkey in the middle of the day, I decided to search for an app that would help me before the cravings started. I read Evan's quit-smoking success story on LIVESTRONG.COM, and it gave me hope that I could quit too. I downloaded the MyQuit Coach Quit Smoking app and posted on the community message board that's included in the app that I'd just quit and could use some advice. The community welcomed me with open arms. The community taught me a lot about the addiction and the benefits of keeping track of cravings and utilizing distractions.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your support system like?
Aside from the LIVESTRONG Quit Smoking community and my children, I don't have a support system. My husband smokes, my mother thinks overcoming an addiction is simply a matter of priority, and most of my former coworkers still smoke.
LIVESTRONG.COM: How did you strategize for your quit?
The best advice I was given on my first day was to read Allen Carr's book, Easy Way to Stop Smoking and to start a journal. Horehound herbal hard candies are slightly bitter and were a good distraction for me. I downloaded a bunch of old jazz songs onto my phone, and I would sing along with them when I was in the car instead of smoking. I also carried around water bottles and travel mugs of coffee. Every time I had a craving I took a sip. It helped me when my coworkers were smoking because it allowed me to keep my hands and mouth busy.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's the biggest challenge you faced?
On day 26 of my quit my young neighbor came to my front door and said, "My mom told me to get the cop. My dad has a gun, and he says he's going to shoot my brother." The father was holding a gun to his son's head. I was off duty and in my pajamas, but I was the nearest officer available to respond (armed and wearing my vest over my PJs). The situation lasted about an hour and ended without a shot fired.
As soon as it was over, I was on the verge of getting in my car and driving to the gas station for a smoke. I literally cried for help to my LIVESTRONG community friend Neil, who had exchanged phone numbers with me a few days earlier. He spent two hours on the phone with me, talking me down from my huge craving, listening to my story and distracting me until I'd completely forgotten about the cravings. Neil definitely saved my quit that day. Ever since, I figured that if I can get through something like that without a relapse, I can overcome anything without smoking. My friendship with Neil and support from the LIVESTRONG community has saved my quit through every single craving since that one.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What advice for success do you want to share with others who are just starting out or still struggling in their fight to quit smoking?
Be proactive about your quit. Have backup plans for everything. Use the friendships you create within the LIVESTRONG community via the MyQuit Coach Quit Smoking app to help you, and also tell yourself that smoking is no longer an option. Not wanting to break my promise to my son helped me to find proactive ways to stick with my quit.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your life like now?
One month after I quit smoking I got a job at a police department in a new town and bought a home. None of my coworkers smoke now. Since I'm no longer buying cigarettes, I was able to afford a bigger place in a nice neighborhood. My children are more active in the community because I'm no longer ashamed of anyone smelling smoke on me or having to sneak off for a cigarette. I feel so at peace with my decision to move my family, and it has turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to us. Well, the second-best thing: The best thing was my quitting smoking.
I'm happier, healthier, and more energetic, and I feel more free than I have in the entire 15 years that I smoked. I'm better both as a mom and as a cop. Quitting has been the catalyst for every single improvement that I wanted in my life, and I feel unstoppable!