Stoptober 2016 : one year…

one year… one year…

I made a video not to celebrate the event (even though I will!) but to explain how I did it.

So, thank you very much for watching the following video!

In this video I am presenting my own personal experience with Stoptober 2015 and the tools I have used to quit smoking. Please, do remember that you can do it as long as you find your own system, what works for you and you are prepared! Good Luck! You have all my support and I’ll be sending you good vibes the whole month of October!


Any info regarding Stoptober can be found here: https://www.nhs.uk/smokefree/stoptober and on Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/stoptober

You find us here: The Resting Tree: https://www.facebook.com/therestingtreelancs/

Should you need any more info, you have some questions or you would like to book a session with me, please feel free to contact The Resting Tree
via the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/therestingtreelancs/
via email therestingtreelancs@gmail.com
or via the website https://therestingtreelancs.com/

My previous video about morning ritual : https://youtu.be/Ow7YEAN_IpI
Dandelions Fields Notebooks : http://amzn.to/2cIh5tI
Midori Traveller’s Notebook: http://amzn.to/2btL0cN
Leuchtturm 1917: http://amzn.to/2b6zi7s
Paperchase : http://amzn.to/2cA1ocl
Moleskine Pocket Reporter Ruled Notebook : http://amzn.to/2cIfdBd
Smash Book Eco Green Folio : http://amzn.to/2c6yhwB
Timu Leather Journal – Brown – A5 – by Nkuku : http://amzn.to/2cA4nBg

Thank you for watching!
Matilde Tomat

2016 : resolutions & yoga challenge

Well, Happy 2016!

(if we decide to believe in dates…)

I have spent three days over the Christmas period (at Salus, Withnell Hall, Chorley) in teaching / discussing / planning but most of all understanding New Year Resolutions and how to make them work. New Year Resolutions are no different from any other resolution and we all know (or should know) that in order to make them last and hence work for us, we need to use our older part of the brain, the limbic system, which is connected with pleasure, instinct, rewards, addiction (!), and sex (!); and that part does not like nor understand reasoning, logic and language.

Hence, it is absolutely pointless to talk us into doing something if that something does not give us in return a pleasure. My quitting smoking in October was not linked to a better health nor more money in my wallet (those are just by-product of the action of quitting) but with the pleasure I personally get from breathing properly and the sensation of pure and utter freedom, which to me is somehow addictive! (= freedom of choice, freedom of thinking, freedom of behaviour, not being dependant from anything nor anyone; basically, being a rebel!* – that was and still is my WHY)

So, I have decided to join a challenge (and see what kind of pleasure I can get out of it…): it is a (free) 30-day Yoga Camp Challenge.

If you fancy joining me, please follow the links below…

Yoga with Adriene – #yogacamp

Yoga with Adriene – main website

Introductory Video, as below:

 

Yoga with Adriene YouTube – her YouTube Channel

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Let me know if you decide to follow me and then we can share our thoughts!

sending good vibes, and love, as per usual 

 

*rebel: in this case, simply being free; and at the same time accepting the consequences and responsibilities of being free; of not being scared of freedom, accepting it and making the most out of it; being in-dependent.

Stoptober 2015: 3* month & pain

I have learned something new; and here it is!

I don’t know if you remember when I was previously writing about the three-worse-three: third day, third week and third month.

My ‘cruellest month’ is not April (thanks T.S. Eliot) but December. I woke up one day, about two and a half weeks after having quit also nicotine (no patches any more, thank you very much) and my body was in agony. Every thing was an effort, every thing was in pain. I felt like if a massive steamroller had been parked on my bones the whole night, and as if a constant electric current was creating spider webs linking my knuckles to my wrists to my elbows, to my knees to my ankles: I felt a decrepit, old, agonizing puppet.

Even my hair was hurting…

Could that have simply been cold or flu? Possibly, but I had no temperature. Either my body decided that it was time for me to experience rheumatoid arthritis to a whole new level; or, I was about to die.

I am not the kind of person who runs to the GP immediately, so I spent about 10 days trying the usual supermarket remedies, topped by herbal concoctions I remembered from home. I still went to work but believe you me, everything was an effort! I didn’t feel like eating, I was also sweating, tossing and turning in the middle of the night… I was feeling really poorly. I went through menopause before and I saw the other side of the tunnel, but it really felt I was experiencing that all over again.

One day I decided that I couldn’t take that pain any longer and when two friends also commented on the shade of pale white my face was displaying, I went to see my GP, who confirmed that if felt like if I was fighting some kind of inflammation: there was a battle going on and we needed to understand where and who was winning.

I went through a series of detailed blood tests which came all back negative (thank you very much), except for the hormonal one: I was in menopause. Well, I knew that!

What I didn’t know was that nicotine affects hormones balance. I was really experiencing menopause again; or, better: I was now experiencing it fully for the first time. Besides my breast feeling tender and painful (and having grown an extra size: thank you very much!) the pain I was feeling in my joints and nerves was due to the imbalance (or new balance) of the level of cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone produced by our body in response to both mental and physical stress and it is also the hormone our body uses to fight inflammations. Now that I wasn’t smoking nor introducing nicotine any more, my body had to find a new balance in the production of cortisol and a whole new way to fight inflammations. Not to mention that my years and years of smoking were a constant inflammation in itself and my body, not receiving nicotine any more, had to get rid of it. During the process of quitting, the body tends to shut down the immune system, since the body is going through some massive changes.

So:

nicotine = creates and manages inflammations

no nicotine = no managing of inflammation and immune system on holiday >>> me = pain!

Cortisol imbalances due to inflammation, can also cause fatigue. I was telling my friends, as a joke, that where you put me, there I would have fallen asleep. Because cortisol is designed to keep people alert in times of stress, it can then cause insomnia; and hence, the lack of proper refreshing sleep will make you tired.

What did I do in the end? quote-reminder-wellbeing-glutes-soul

I took two full days off: sofa, bed, books, soups and warm water, teas and tears.  I slept all the hours I needed, I took regular anti-inflammatories as suggested and provided by my GP, I let tears roll down my cheeks and I hydrated myself with veg soups, chicken stock and warm water.

I am not a doctor, which means that I am not suggesting (never, ever…) that if you are in pain after quitting, this is what happened to me and hence, it must also be what is happening to you: please, go and see you GP! This is simply what happened to me: now I feel much better, I sleep all the hours I need, I set aside more time to recharge my batteries and I enjoy taking care of myself. I consider the word *self-respect* my new mantra and I take a day at the time not only in the process of quitting but also (and now especially) in the process of recovery, recuperating and regenerating.

Sending good vibes and do take care out there…

Stoptober 2015: friends & habits

I went to Liverpool to celebrate something important with a couple of close friends. Do you know, those kind of friends who really know you and you really know them; and you can talk and tell stories and they are always there to help you. That kind of friends.

We have known each others for years, years filled of evenings where the three of us spent hours with bottles of white wine, fags and tarot cards.

Sometimes just a text was enough. A text with one word: Kebab?!? which meant, again: food, yes. But especially white wine, fags and tarot cards.

This weekend was different. We have seen each other before, mid October, when I just started Stoptober and I was fuelled and charged up and quitting sounded just so easy.

But this weekend, it was really different: I felt out of my comfort zone, I wasn’t in my house, we also needed to talk and tell each other the ‘last news’ and I also had a pretty sweet story to tell. This meant: white wine and tarot cards. But no fags.

I can tell you that it was difficult. It has been hard, being there with two smokers and not smoke. I could have easily reached out for a cigarette. I had to force myself and ask them to please do not give me one if I caved in and begged for a fag.

Now I am back home and the moment I sat in my car, ready to drive back, I felt protected and the desire to smoke simply disappeared.

I am wondering what’s the ratio: alcohol? smoking friends? out of comfort zone? habits?

I am also thinking: if I stayed there longer, would I have been able to create new smoke-free habits with the ol’friends, or would I have caved in?

The things I am happy about, besides seeing my friends and spending some good time with them, are that of course, in the end, not only I haven’t smoke but I haven’t even asked for a cigarette (!): I didn’t beg, I didn’t plea… and that the moment I went back to my car I was happy to go back to my ‘usual’ smoke-free life. At the same time, I have felt how easy it can be just to lower your boundaries and relapse: still, no cockiness woman! It can be just so easy…

I know a relapse is not the end of the world! But why risk it?

I think I need to focus more (again!) on the WHY I am quitting in order to strengthen my armour… and as per usual, I’ll keep you posted!

Stoptober 2015: 1 Nov & my Chimp Brain

No panic! It’s the 22 Nov and I’m still a very happy non-smoker!

As advised by the chemist and by the literature I’ve been reading, I’m still using only the patches (no gums, lozenges, or other), even if sometimes I forget to put them on (!) and I normally realize that in the middle of the night when I simply cannot sleep and I’m sweating, tossing and turning in bed asking myself why… because during the day, woman, you wore no patch!

But one Sunday morning I woke up, I went downstairs, grabbed a coffee, sat on my sofa, stroke the cat and then BANG! …

FAAAAG

I stopped and thought: where is that thought coming from? Because it wasn’t a physical craving, nor a psychological need of a reward or to fill a sense of nagging boredom. Nothing was different: I did not change the coffee, my sofa was the same, my cat was the same and this time, this voice was like coming from outside of me, from a buried part of my brain which I did not recognise. I never felt that feeling, that voice, that buried urge to smoke before.

It was scary: believe me. Me, the rational, good, studious person, who knew everything about addiction and recovery, read all the books, knew all the theories… where did that ‘thing’ come from? What was it? … and WHY?! Why that Sunday morning?

And then, I realised.. It was the First of November, wasn’t it?!

I decided and convinced myself I was doing Stoptober… So, a part of my brain (which I have nicknamed ‘the Silly Bitch’) was counting days and I was totally unaware of it… that part of my brain, the chimp brain, was my automatic coping mechanism, which has worked so well previously during many years of struggles and problems and pain and hurts; that part of my brain did not need my rational and logic Self as on a day-to-day basis in order to live and survive (!). That part of my brain was independent and autonomous and had almost an identity on its own. It did not need Me. I always needed It, not the other way round.

I could only describe it as that kind of spinstery plain secretary that works in one of those open plan offices, the one dressed in grey and boring green, pony tail and glasses, no make-up, not a smile, always alone and silent, does not talk to anyone, eats always alone, never goes to a do, or a Friday night for a drink with the rest of the Company; but… she somehow knows everything about everybody because she listens, she checks, she keeps track of who’s who and who goes out with whom, who comes in and who goes out and then one day she simply opens her mouth and everybody is scared because ‘she knows things’… that’s my Chimp Brain! That’s my Silly Bitch!

So, what to do now? Well, I decided to ‘talk’ to that part of my brain: I told the Silly Bitch that I love her and that she had done an amazing job up to now, that I recognise all the times I could probably not have dealt properly with Life without her help in the past but now… BUT NOW… we could have worked together to change my autopilot: no more “fight or flight”, no more automatic extreme responses, no more reaching for fags.

I was different. This is when I realised I can really make this thing work: (still) one day at the time, retraining my Self.

So much so, that I have decided to make a vow and to commit myself to explore, research and produce a document that examines the connection between Trust, Hope and Faith in addiction and recovery, from a Nichiren Buddhist perspective.

Of course, I’ll keep you posted!

 

Stoptober 2015 : my journey

Every journey through addiction and then recovery is very personal and I do not believe that there’s one way-fits all therapy or theory that can help.

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Well, I thought that this is the perfect beginning; because I do not wish for anyone, after having read my experience, to think that they have to follow my journey. At the same time, whatever happened to me and the way I dealt with my addiction, might help someone. I really do hope so!

I started smoking at the age of 14 and as many of you know I work with people in recovery from addiction, I am a trainee counsellor and recovery coach. And I am the daughter of two alcoholic parents. Addiction run in the family!

I tried to quit many times: I remember already at the age of 19 (back in 1985) I was a guilty smoker and I wished I could simply stop. I didn’t. I didn’t until the year 2000 when I managed to stop for 4 years thanks to a new-found faith in Jesus. It did last only 4 years, and that somehow includes also my commitment to Jesus. But I recognised that having faith has been helpful. It simply wasn’t my faith; I somehow swapped one addiction for another: I went from being addicted to nicotine, to being addicted to the 12 Steps and the Church (at the time I followed the Jehovah Witnesses).

I smoked for about one year and then stopped again for a whole year.

Then something bad happened, and by bad I mean I had one argument. The first thing I did I grabbed a packet of fags and smoked it all, one cigarette after another.

When I moved to UK I tried to quit again with a 12 Step program, this time Celebrate Recovery and I did not quit, but I realised something else that was missing in my Life. That led me to my counselling studies, my self-development and now after a lot of practice, a different appreciation and understanding for the world of recovery from addiction.

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So, what’s different now?

I believe that I am different. Working with people who have been addicted to either alcohol or heroin, sex or gambling, made me understand how addiction works and how it worked for me. I took a step back and studied it. What am I addicted to? Because nicotine is just one of the things that I might be addicted to: relationships, attention… just to name two. I studied habits and how they work. I did a bit of CBT, I tried hypnotherapy, acupuncture, mindfulness… nothing worked as much as working on myself. I can only quit for myself, I can only quit if I want to and if I am ready.

And I think that this time I might be ready. Of course, the whole concept of quitting FOR EVER, as much as getting married FOR EVER, living in the same house FOR EVER and staying in the same job FOR EVER does not work for me. I quit one day at the time; and as of today 22nd October, it has been working fine. Smoking, as a practising Nichiren Buddhist (a happy practising Buddhist which means finding a faith in your Self first) did not suit with me: I thought I should have been more ethical. And working with people in recovery without having gone through recovery myself… well, where was my integrity? Bearing in mind that neither Buddhists nor people in recovery ever asked me to quit.

This time I started preparing myself a month before. I bough some fabric and made an emergency bag; I collected Stoptober material, I printed articles and papers I thought would have helped me, I created my own book, whatever works for me.

I booked myself with a nurse at the nearest chemist and I asked for help, assistance and for some patches, lozenges and spray. I could have started earlier (oh, I was so keen!) but I decided consciously to stick to the 1st of October: better not being too cocky and jumping the gun (which is an attitude that never helped me in any other situation!)

I could have gone cold turkey, yes. But I decided not to. Addiction is both physical and psychological. I wanted to study the psychological aspect while detoxing from the poisons in my body but keeping my mind at rest (I also do have clients whom I see and I wanted to be 100% for them instead of freaking out!).

And the journey understanding the psychology of my craving is mind-blowing: when do I crave the most? What is the cigarette trying to substitute, what’s my underlying need? I spend a lot of time by myself so boredom was something that I had to take into consideration: can I simply be… still, even doing nothing, with myself? Why do I need to fill the time and the space with a fag? Reward was the second major necessity: oh, I’ve hoovered the house, now I can sit and have a fag… oh, I’ve washed the pots, now I can sit and have a fag… no! I have been a good girl, done the chores, now I can sit and breathe. Simply breathe. I have also realised that when I get the odd text, or the annoying phone-call, or the exiting phone-call I would reach out straight for a fag: what were the fags trying to level out, strong emotions? Am I not able to deal with upsets, hurts and happiness without a crutch?

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I am personally (and I repeat PERSONALLY) against eCigs and similar items which mimic the act of smoking. I’ll repeat myself again: personally. I have often noticed how people in recovery from alcohol abuse sometimes go out and buy non-alcoholic fizzy drinks in bottles which resemble Prosecco or Champagne… do you see the awkwardness? To me it shouts: hey, I have been told that I don’t have to drink alcohol but I still like the idea of what I’m missing, I still miss the drinks because I drink in social occasions with people who drink and bla bla bla… to me, personally, people who use eCigs are like telling me: I don’t want to smoke because it’s bad, but I miss smoking and I would still like to have a fag so look at me, I’m puffing away anyway! This to say that anyway, if it works for you, it works for you. So, when are you going to quit the eCig? Because you are still smoking. You might have worked on the physical addiction, but what about the psychological one? What does the eCig give you that you cannot give yourself?

While working with people in recovery I always tell them: *once an addict, always an addict… bollocks!* If you work on your physical addiction and then grab any other substitute to still feed your addiction, identify yourself and then feel safe (the recovery pals, the recovery centre, any 12-Step programme, AA, Jesus, the Church, your girlfriend, your cat or your car) you are not out of addiction. But if you work on the reasons why you went into addiction, what are you substituting with your addiction, what’s the desperate need you… need (!) to fill, why you need something else besides your Self to be content and fulfilled… well, there might be better chances that you won’t be an addict any more. And you’ll have a whole wonderful lifetime ahead of you to simply be free.

Really free.

Happy journey!