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To mark Mental Health Awareness Week we have asked ex-smokers who have experienced mental health problems to tell us their smoking story and how they quit. Today we hear from Tracey Jones *  from North Wales  who suffers from depression and has recently quit smoking.

Can you tell us about your own experiences of mental health issues?

I have experienced depression at low and stressful times of life. The longer the stressful situation, the worse it gets. I’d describe it as like having a very sad stone in your stomach, it’s always there. Sleeping takes away the feeling.

When did you start smoking

I started smoking at around 15 or 16-years-old. At first I just wanted to have a go but I was hooked instantly. Yes, smoking helped to relieve my depression but all it does really is hide issues, and build up a habit at the same time.

In your experience do you think there is enough support out there to help people with mental health issues to stop smoking?

I do think that people with depression and anxiety need much more support, and it’s not out there. Most help is fully booked, and the staff, well meant as they are , don’t really understand. And it’s the dealing with people thing that makes it even more difficult.
Quitting is extra hard I guess for people dealing  with depression and addiction on top of that. The lack of nicotine and habit is extra pressure ( not to mention pressure from other people)

How did you give up smoking?

This my fifth serious attempt at quitting. This time I didn’t tell anyone, and used inhalators bought online. I bought sugar free mints, and used an app to monitor the benefits. To be honest, the hardest thing has been food, and feeling sad.

How has your life changed as a result of giving up smoking?

It’s early days still. But I already have a better sense of taste and smell. My home smells better. My chest is clear, and I have no cough. And I have a lot more time on my hands! And my bank is much healthier.

What advice would you give to anyone who suffers from anxiety or depression and is worried about quitting smoking?

Do it your way. Prepare. Read up. Monitor your progress with an app. Nap when you can ( the body kind of goes into shock when you quit), and empty your house of all smoking paraphernalia!

* Surname changed

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