Natalie’s story – Make Smoking History

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Natalie’s story

Quitting smoking has definitely improved my mood.

When Natalie was 17 years old, her family experienced several bereavements in a short space of time. It was during this tough and emotional period that Natalie, now 28, started to smoke cigarettes in the mistaken belief that tobacco is a stress reliever.

Having been smokefree for five months and counting, Natalie now says she feels less “angry”, and the biggest positive impact of giving up smoking has been on her mood.

She explained: “I grew up a lot around smoking. Both my parents smoked, as did my brother and sister, so when our family experienced three deaths in a very, very short time, that’s when I started. It seemed like a coping mechanism.

“But I’ve been smokefree for five months now and my parents quit with me, so they’ve done really well too.”

Day to day, Natalie experiences a number of health issues, including hypothyroidism, diabetes and poor mental health and, despite having quit smoking for several months previously, it was an admission to hospital that prompted her to stop smoking for good.

She said: “The last time I stopped smoking was when I fell pregnant with my son. As soon as I found out I chucked everything in the bin, but I started again quite quickly after he was born.

“Then a few months ago I ended up in hospital with severe migraine. I had to wear sunglasses and I couldn’t see. But I was so poorly that I wasn’t going out to have a cigarette while I was in hospital, which was for a week. My parents visited and said to me, ‘you’ve done the hard part’, and I realised they were right. I haven’t smoked since, and my parents gave up around a week after that.

“My son is three now and I don’t really want him noticing that his mum has had to go somewhere for a cigarette either. And I don’t really like him being around smoke. It’s nice not having to think about that.”

Natalie now realises she wasn’t fully ready to quit during her previous attempts, but found the support she received from the Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Trust was invaluable in getting her through her initial cravings.

She said: “When I was admitted to hospital I was met by a smokefree nurse who told me my options. It felt positive and she wasn’t forceful. I was given a vape, which I still use although I’ve reduced the nicotine level down to 3mg, and I also downloaded the Smoke Free app.

“I was impressed by how much it actually helped because I was sceptical at first, but the daily check-ins from the AI ‘Quit Coach’ were really helpful, asking questions that made me think, and sending daft rewards when you hit goals like Rihanna clapping. I used it for the first two or three months – I called it my ‘little robot friend’.”

Confident that she’s stopped smoking for good, Natalie no longer uses the app, but feels it still gives her peace of mind.

She added: “I still have the app. I keep it on my phone just in case. And even if I’m just holding the vape, especially when I’m driving I find reduces my cravings. It’s having something there that helps.”

Asked about the changes she’s noticed since giving up smoking, Natalie replied: “I’ve got to say that straight away I was less angry. Although I have some health issues I am young and was never really unfit, so I can’t say I’ve noticed not smoking affecting my breathing, but it’s definitely improved my mood. Because I suffer with my mental health, I find since stopping smoking that I’m better able to keep things in perspective, and everything tastes better.

“There’s also the freedom of visiting places without having to leave to smoke, and enjoying family gatherings without needing to move away from people. As a family lots of us have either given up completely or are using vapes, so we all understand and can support each another to stay smokefree.”

Find out more about the support you can access to help you stop smoking.

If you live in Greater Manchester, find out how you can also get six months’ free access to all features on the Smoke Free app. (T&Cs apply)