Updated: Sep 26, 2019
I posted a picture on social media of myself smoking a cigar and explained that it is a go-to centering activity when I’m feeling anxious or depressed.
I got a lot of friendly responses.
And I got some flack for smoking.
What I am about to say is not a way of trying to retaliate to my critics but to express to those who support someone with a mental illness that the rules change when you are fighting for your sanity or even your life.
By no means am I here to defend smoking. But I am here to defend the gray areas when it comes to right and wrong. If an alcoholic who is ruining his life and his family and his friendships with alcohol goes to rehab and gets sober by taking up cigarette smoking, I suddenly become a massive fan of cigarette smoking. At least for that person. You can live a far more productive and enriching life as a cigarette smoker than you can as being a drunk.
For me, taking up cigar smoking four or five years ago was somewhat of a lifesaver. It not only gives me a distraction from my depression or anxiety, it also forces me to do something I’m not very good at: give myself a break. So I decided that the benefit to my mental health outweighed any potential physical detriment that might come from the smoking. I’ll even go so far as to say that I’ll give up years of my life to be happier while I’m here. Some days I’m just trying to survive.
And here’s my advice to those of you in a supporting role of someone battling a life-altering (or any for that matter) struggle: give your friends a break. People don’t need to be lectured about bad habits. At least 99.9% of people who have a bad habit already know it is a bad habit. But it’s a coping mechanism for something and when the time is right and they are ready to work on their bad habit, they will. Until then, just offer them support and encouragement. In the end, that will do far more to help them become a healthier person than a critique of their behavior will.