It has been a difficult few days for me. I quit smoking on November 3, but I did have a couple of cigarettes yesterday. Let me explain what happened.

I have been under a lot of stress as far as what is happening in my mind. My thoughts are wild and I cannot shut them down. So many goals. So many ideas. So much to do. On Sunday night I was at a Thanksgiving potluck and I had the worst panic attack I have ever had. The strange thing was, I didn’t feel noticeably nervous, but my body was wreathing in terror. I was dizzy, breathless, choked up, with a pounding heart, numb hands, and some depersonalization. I thought I was dying. The other strange thing was that the symptoms lasted for hours, not minutes like a normal attack.

I took my nicotine patch off (by this time I had been on the patch for almost two weeks) and I didn’t calm down much. Monday morning I was dissociated and went to my counselor who thought it was my anxiety manifesting in a different way. She told me to get a check up to see if medically anything was wrong, and to come back Thursday to talk to my nurse who manages my medications. I still wasn’t wearing the patch.

Yesterday I was in a fog and felt incredibly anxious and angry. My craving for nicotine was overwhelming and I was at school so I didn’t have access to the patches I had at home. I ran to the store and bought a pack of Pall Malls, took out two, and threw the rest away. The cigarettes were disgusting and I did not enjoy smoking them, but the nicotine helped so much. A few hours later, still at school, I had another enormous craving so I ran and bought another pack, since I threw the others away. I found myself buying food I didn’t want to eat, and I was a mess. My moods changed rapidly.

I fell asleep around 8 o’clock last night and I awoke and immediately put a patch on. Currently I feel much better, but I am worried about my health and feel guilty for having smoked 5 cigarettes yesterday. Well, actually I hated them so much I took just 5 or 6 drags off each one every few hours so the only cigarettes I smoked fully were my first two. I will be going to the doctor tomorrow morning to get my physical.

For a person with a psychotic illness, neuroleptics lower dopamine levels. Cigarettes raise them. This causes the nicotine to be more addicting so many people with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, who smoke, who take antipsychotic drugs, have a worse time quitting without nicotine replacement. I felt like a failure, but I am very happy to say that I did not enjoy smoking. I couldn’t stand it! The taste was sickening. The feeling of poison in my lungs was revolting. It is safe to say, I am not at risk for relapsing back into the habit.

My anxiety is still a bit screwy and I feel so overwhelmed with everything going on in my life and in the world. I will be posting another blog in the next couple of days (when I have finished my school work) about my other concerns and sources of angst. My mind is exploding.

Graduation in less than a month, writing a novel, keeping my grades up, tons of reading and exams, finding a job so I can seek independence, missing my dear friends, and a spiritual battle in which I am desperately seeking answers to questions that erupt within me daily are just a few of the big ones. Plus staying healthy, losing weight, a possible surgery to correct my gynecomastia from my medications, a fear of going crazy in the future, and adapting to the world outside of school are on that list.

At least I know smoking won’t be an issue as soon as the nicotine is weaned out of my system.