It all began in 1980 - I started smoking at 15 during summer holidays. Can't really say someone else is to blame, but there were some facts that contributed to me getting hooked on cigarettes at such an early age.
First, both my parents were heavy smokers by that time plus that was the summer when my grandfather died and we were all spending summer with my Grandma, so we were all down. Then, a friend I used to hang out with had already been smoking, so she kind of „taught“ me how to do it. Not that any special tuition was required: I seemed to have the know-how since the first draw.
By my 18th birthday, I was already a pack a day smoker. My attempts to quit started somewhere around the age of twenty-one, when I realized I had to do something about it. (A side note: everybody was fully aware of tobacco harm in the eighties, yet my generation has a lot of smokers. There's that funny film "200 Cigarettes" about this 80s vibe, where cig addiction is effectively used as a leitmotif.)
So, I quit in winter 1986 and was very proud of myself. This pride and success, however, lasted for six months until the summer session exam. Of course, when the first real challenge came up I was back with my cancer sticks.
Over the years there were dozen of similar short term attempts, all ending up in failure. It would start with me on Nicorette gums, successfully going through my smoke-free first week, two or month and then relapsing to smoking again.
In the autumn 2004, though, I really thought I had made it. By then I had already been 9 month cigarette-free, with no intention of "going back“. Actually, I didn't like the smoke anymore. Even the fact that I was putting on weight rather fast didn't really bother me. However, there was it again - a couple of nasty things one after another - my father died and my business attempt failed.
And there was something else: never before and never after that time did I ever have anything remotely close to suicidal thoughts. I had been in the middle of war back in the nineties – a refugee with all my property and job lost, the town I was in under months long artillery fire. And throughout all that ordeal, I never had had suicidal thoughts, not even then.
However, in early spring 2005 I started thinking how to do it, but in a way to make it look like an accident, so that my family wouldn't suffer additional pain. To add insult to injury, I stepped on the scales and suddenly discovered extra 30 pounds!
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