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10 Years Smoke-Free Despite Schizoaffective Disorder

December 23, 2021 Elizabeth Caudy

This Christmas, my husband, Tom, is giving me a new Pandora charm bracelet. I’ve been putting charms on the first bracelet he gave me since March of 2012, when I quit smoking. That’s right; this March will mark 10 years since I quit. Here’s how I did it.

How I Quit Smoking with Schizoaffective Disorder

I started smoking in the fall of 1994 when I was 15, four years before I had my first psychotic episode at college that would lead to my diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder. My smoking really took off during and after my episode. I self-medicated my schizoaffective disorder by smoking. I was on psychiatric medication, too, but I used smoking as a crutch. To quit smoking is hard for anyone, but my mental illness made it particularly hard for me.

I took some detours along the way. First of all, 2012 wasn’t the first time I tried to quit smoking. I quit for six months in 2005 but started again. So in 2012, I knew what triggers to look out for. Boredom and loneliness were big ones. And I watched YouTube videos about quitting smoking. Both times when I quit smoking, I used nicotine patches.

Also, in 2012, I replaced my nicotine addiction with sugar. I drank lots of Cherry Coke and sucked on lots of cherry mentholated cough drops. I didn’t care about the weight gain--I figured I could lose the weight later. This turned out to be unrealistic because my antipsychotic medication makes it really hard to lose weight.

Schizoaffective Disorder and Staying Away from Smoking

I’ve especially been struggling with my weight over the past two years--basically since the pandemic started. Both the pandemic and my weight have made it really tempting to pick up a cigarette. Tom smokes, but he keeps his cigarettes and smoking away from me. Also, he mostly rolls his own cigarettes, and I’ve forgotten how to do that.

The fact that I’ve been tempted to smoke lately makes me especially happy Tom is giving me a new charm bracelet. I’ve gained so much weight that I need a bigger bracelet. I haven’t been able to wear my smoke-free charms.

I’ve been getting a charm for my bracelet every year since I quit smoking. I got a lot of pink charms (pink for pink lungs) and green charms (for a sense of renewal). There’s also a lot of Alice in Wonderland charms on there, just because I really like Alice in Wonderland. I know that in Western culture today, Alice is an odd choice for a role model on stopping substance use. But I always thought it strange to equate a children’s book with drugs--and make no mistake, nicotine is a drug. (No offense to the more psychedelic choices of rock icon Grace Slick.)

Getting my charm bracelet back on my wrist is just one of the many things I’m looking forward to this Christmas. I can look at it, and it will remind me of why I quit smoking in the first place. Have you quit smoking in spite of schizoaffective disorder or schizophrenia? Leave your comments below.

APA Reference
Caudy, E. (2021, December 23). 10 Years Smoke-Free Despite Schizoaffective Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, August 18 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/creativeschizophrenia/2021/12/10-years-smoke-free-despite-schizoaffective-disorder



Author: Elizabeth Caudy

Elizabeth Caudy was born in 1979 to a writer and a photographer. She has been writing since she was five years old. She has a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA in photography from Columbia College Chicago. She lives outside Chicago with her husband, Tom. Find Elizabeth on Google+ and on her personal blog.

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