I want a cigarette

Here the guy is waiting impatiently for a cigarette break and it turns out he doesn’t even have a cigarette! This is funny because it’s so true of how patients in a hospital are. I haven’t been on a psych ward for four years, but when I was, there were a lot of people who were smokers. I was a smoker. Smoking and schizophrenia are tightly linked.

One hospital I was in had a nice big courtyard to smoke in. People would gather around tables and talk while we smoked. It was a whole social event. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I lit two cigarettes and was smoking both at the same time. People said I was nuts and told me not to let the staff see me. I don’t know what they thought would happen. I was already in a mental hospital. You are bound to see weird things on a psych ward.

The cigarette economy on a psych ward is very interesting. There always seem to be enough for everyone. People borrow from each other. Family and friends bring some in. Once I went back to a hospital and brought a carton to one of the patients who had let me smoke theirs when I had none. One hospital kept an extra pack for emergencies. If only the real world economy worked like that!

Once, when I went into the hospital, I forgot to bring my cigarettes! When I realized I didn’t bring my cigarettes, I thought I was not doing very well. I mean, that’s the first thing a smoker thinks about when they are going someplace, bring cigarettes. At least when I was doing well that’s what I thought. It is such an addictive habit. It really takes over.

My problem was that I liked smoking. I didn’t really want to quit. People told me I needed to quit, so I would give it a half-hearted try. I quit for over a year a couple of times, but I always went back to it. I tried vaping, but I didn’t like that as well as smoking. It got to the point where I was really having a hard time with coughing when I tried to smoke.

Finally, when we moved to Sarasota my mother encouraged me to try vaping again and the salesman sold me on a more heavy-duty device. It was good though because I stuck with it and reduced my nicotine intake. After a year or so it broke. I think the battery died. Whatever happened, I decided that I was going to quit rather than spend any more money on it.

I don’t know how long ago that was. But I think I am definitely no longer a smoker. Lenny didn’t think that I would quit. But I did. It wasn’t that painful. I don’t think about cigarettes much at all, maybe once every three months. Yay me!

This strip is also true to life in that sometimes we would have to wait a long time for the orderlies to open the door and let us out to smoke. Just about all the hospitals I’ve been in were like this. You are there, and there’s nothing to do, and all you want to do is smoke, and you can’t. It was so frustrating! I hope I don’t go back in the hospital but I wonder what it will be like when I do and I don’t smoke. I might start smoking again. Only time will tell.

1 Comment

  1. Emily says: Reply

    Good for you! It is sheer hell to quit. I was lucky enough to quit some 40 years ago, after a zillion failed efforts. Once, in a rage at my then-husband, I lit one up and had just put it in my mouth when my brain said, “What are you doing!” And I stopped.
    Please avoid starting again. You’ll be right back in the misery.

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