A few years ago I decided to quit smoking. The truth is without excuse or apology I enjoyed a cigarette and came to use smoking as a reward system for myself. Whether it was after a hard days work, pulling off a successful deal, finishing the ironing or any completion of a task I would enjoy a cigarette and a coffee.
From the day I gave up smoking I upped my exercise regime and increased my healthy eating. I already did both but knew these should be increased to help with any weight gain that might come without cigarettes.
I took the first week off work so I could be in the gym and stay away from the human race in general. Although I’m normally of a happy disposition, I knew I would become “narky” to say the least, so with this in mind I didn’t want to make others suffer and I certainly didn’t want to suffer the platitudes of the non smokers who would pat me on the back and offer words of support that would quite frankly get on my wick.
For the next six months my life was an absolute misery: I became another person altogether, so much so, I didn’t recognise my own behaviour or personality.
I was angry all the time: picking arguments with my lovely husband and almost driving him and me insane. I was just so irritated and distressed. I wanted to rip off the cloak of bad temper that had enveloped me and yet I could do nothing to help myself. I was working out eating healthily, using relaxation techniques and reading self help books, walking for miles and just doing anything I could to get through this quitting stage.
I didn’t feel sad or depressed I was just angry and crying regularly with uncharacteristic fits of temper not associated with my normal demeanour. My husband would have done anything to help me in fact he tried everything until I explained to him I just wanted to stab him for no reason and it got to the point where I would have to say to him: I’m going upstairs for a while, please don’t follow me because I might stab you, so I’m sorry but I cant stay in the room with you.
We were both devastated by these desperate feelings but in time we developed a shorthand code where I would just: raise my eyebrows when he asked where I was going and he knew to just let me go without question until I could safely return to the living room once those horrible feelings had subsided.
One day my husband said to me: just tell me what to do and I’ll do it, anything to make this stop, in fact he said: I’m going to buy you some cigarettes because this can’t go on. I said to him you can’t help me because: what I want now isn’t wanted I wanted fifteen seconds ago and certainly won’t be what I want in ten seconds time!
He sat with his head in his hands and then after a few moments asked if I would go and see the doctor and he would come with me. I wanted to scream at him but I didn’t and just said yes I would go to the doctor. I felt defeated I’d tried so hard and hadn’t touched a cigarette yet was still suffering withdrawal symptoms some 6 moths down the line.
The doctor did some digging into the six months since I’d quit smoking and this was followed with some blood tests. I went back for the results and the doctor talked me through her findings. It turned out I was in early menopause and had been for some time without knowing. She explained that none of my symptoms were related to quitting smoking and that in fact I’d probably been over the initial cravings after about the first 6 days (What!!!!!)
She went on to say I’d been very unlucky: quitting smoking was just a red herring in terms of my symptoms and it was hard lines that these two major events in my life had arrived together. What she did say when she talked me through the numbers on her screen was: the levels of hormonal imbalance indicated were quite severe and that it was no wonder I was in such a state. She couldn’t believe I’d not succumbed to a cigarette in the circumstances or stabbed my husband, (yes I did tell her about that.)
I left the doctors surgery and almost skipped home. I didn’t even have a prescription as I didn’t want HRT. Neither did I have any of those distressed feelings of discovering I might be beyond child bearing years or that I might feel less attractive for being in the menopause.
I wasn’t affected at all by any of those feelings. I was just so relieved to have an understanding of what had been happening to me and that I wasn’t going insane.There were legitimate reasons for the state I’d found myself in and thankfully they were nothing to do with nicotine withdrawal.
I was amazed I hadn’t realised what was going on with me but I was just 43 at the time so it wasn’t really on my radar and and when I think about what I’d put myself through, how much I and those around me had suffered and how hard I’d beat myself up because I thought I was weak and unable to manage without cigarettes, when in truth it was something else entirely ( and normal) that had taken hold.
I continued with my healthy regime and added some natural therapies to assist with my symptoms and in time those extreme feelings did gradually subside but to be honest it was the understanding of what was happening to me that got me through it.
I was able to enjoy all the positives that come with menopause and there are plenty of them. My favourite is what my hubby affectionately calls “fogging”: I could be packing a grocery bag or opening the car door and I’d just go off into a world of my own for about twenty seconds, it’s the loveliest fluffy feeling, everything around me continued but in my world everything stopped and I actually enjoyed this when it happened. When it was over I’d just pick up where I left off and continue what I was doing. Thankfully “fogging” never happened to me while crossing the road or driving.
The moral of the story is: “things are not always as they seem” so often we think it’s one thing and it turns out to be something else so do get it checked out and hopefully like me you’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn that such extreme behavioural changes don’t occur for no reason.
In my case and once I had a diagnosis it was mainly mind over matter that helped me in the end but had I not visited my doctor I really don’t know what the outcome would have been, it scares me to think about the possibilities…….
The best thing to come out of that episode of change was my recognition that things really were changing in my life. I was experiencing a personal freedom I’d never known before and I stared to take time to reflect on the things I’d accomplished so far.
I began noticing a feeling that had been nagging me. I knew I was destined for a different path. Even though business was good and my bank balance healthy I felt restless and unfulfilled. My career and lifestyle choices or should I say lifestyle restrictions, no longer met my expectations.
I loved writing and I loved talking even more. Teaching, supporting advising and guiding were very natural inclinations for me although these were not part of my job description . So it was around this time the seeds of my future were planted. I wasn’t exactly sure where I was going with this but one thing I did know was: I was on the move. Mentally, spiritually and emotionally my goals and aspirations were changing and so was I.
And I wanted to find a way to combine my natural gifts with my professional expertise. It was time, I was ready to answer my calling………….. and I did that by creating a business to help other women do what I’d done by teaching and mentoring them to step into the business they were born to create. It took a while but I got there!
“Your career is what you’re paid for – your calling is what you’re made for”
Thankfully I get to have both. You too can combine your natural gifts and expertise to create the lifestyle business you want and you can begin with 3 easy steps
1.Accept it’s time for change.
2. Make a decision to start somewhere.
3. Take action.
To your success today and everyday