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I have a mental illness. I have bipolar and I’m a mum and a grandma, and I’m a reformed smoker. My name’s Tracy and this is my story.

I started smoking when I was thirteen. Probably because home life wasn’t very good but you know you do things when you’re a thirteen-year-old kid. Did I enjoy it? Not particularly. But I carried on doing it because that’s what the peer pressure was.

I smoked for 7 years and then I gave up smoking for about 4 or 5 years, I think. I did that cold turkey. So, no regrets about doing that. I had my daughter and then I went back to a psychiatric hospital and ended up starting smoking again. And then I smoked for about nineteen years and then I gave up 6 years ago cold turkey.

Everyone smokes, everyone smokes in a mental health facility, everyone smokes. There’s very few that don’t. So when you are sitting talking with someone that smokes and you’re an ex-smoker, you start to get these little tinges back.

I hadn’t planned on giving up smoking and I was at my lowest, mentally I was at my lowest. I was in a downer, which is when you’ve got bipolar and you’re either up or you’re down or you’re in between there somewhere. And I went in to have surgery on my neck. And I went in and had surgery, I came out and never had another cigarette again.

The only time I wanted a cigarette was a year ago when my father died. And I walked away from the situation, I got away from the packet of cigarettes that was sitting on the table and walked away and didn’t go down that road.

I had to change my routines of sitting there and having a cup of coffee or a cup of tea, but I don’t drink coffee, but having a cup of tea. I still had to just be careful that, you know I didn’t take my cup of tea and go outside and do the gardening because that’s when I’d want, would be having a cigarette if I was outside. So it was just changing routines really.

Since quitting the biggest thing would be my health, my breathing, my breathing’s a lot clearer, my skin’s a lot clearer and I certainly don’t look my age now, so yeah. Saving money, I went on a holiday to New Zealand! Yep, I’m saving money.

[Interviewer] What advice would you give to people who are trying to help their loved ones to quit?

[Tracie] Encourage them, support them.

[Interviewer] What advice would you give to other people who are living with a mental illness to quit?

[Tracie] Stay strong, they can do it, they can do it. If I can do it, they can do it. I was 40 cigarettes a day. They can do it. Don’t beat themselves up if they fail the first time, try again.

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