Heidi’s story – Make Smoking History

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Heidi’s story

It feels really good to have had a positive influence on my dad. He cares a lot more about his health now, and it’s brought us closer.

Ex-smoker Heidi is a proud History Maker from Withington, Manchester who is supporting her family to quit smoking.

Stage manager Heidi started smoking when she was 17, being influenced by friends and an older partner who smoked. She felt as though she could avoid admitting to being a smoker while she was taking cigarettes from peers; it was only once she was buying them herself that she would be classified a smoker.

“I started smoking when I was 17. It was only once I started hanging around with people that did it and going out on lunchtime and stuff just to get out of school. I think it was just a cool thing to do because we were starting to go out drinking.

By this point I was slightly in denial as well, as I was like ‘oh I can stop whenever I want’ but I didn’t. But then I realised I was smoking a lot more than my friends were, I would always smoke when I was on the way somewhere including walking to school.

She experienced a traumatic event in work which gave her panic attacks. She would smoke to comfort herself, but she then realised that the smoking was making her panic attacks worse. Heidi felt as though, for the sake of her mental and physical health, she had no option but to quit smoking.

“I used to work in this incredible bar venue near where I lived. Someone came in and basically attacked and threatened myself and my colleague and I just hid in the toilets terrified. My smoking increased after that point.

“It was after a week that I started feeling really weird and I was freaking out, then I had a panic attack, and I didn’t know what it was as I’d never had one before. I thought I was dying, and it lasted for hours, it was dreadful. I always smoked to comfort myself, and the next night I had a cigarette and I started having a panic attack again. So, I instantly related those two things to each other. I never touched another cigarette after that.”

Heidi used to get pains around her chest and around her lungs and heart. She is a choral singer and since quitting she’s noticed an improvement in her range, which has become more effortless. “I feel like I can breathe properly again.”

When I was younger, I used to ask my dad to stop, and he never did. And now since I’ve stopped, he has given up and it feels really good because he has considered his own health too. I feel so much better in myself.

“It is really possible for anyone to stop smoking no matter how long you have done it for. You can do this, even if you think you can’t because I know you can.”