Natalie Clays

I tried my first cigarette at the age of 15 (actually that’s not strictly true, I was eight, but didn’t try

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another one until I was 15 so it doesn’t count). So, I was 15-years-old, hiding in the bushes at school trying to look cool and trying even harder not to choke or vomit. It was vile and disgusting and made me feel ill, but I was one of the stronger ones and determined to learn how to do it. Twenty years later I was still doing it.

Throughout my twenty years of smoking I fell into every category or smoking type. For the most part I was just your average pack a day smoker – a couple before work, one every hour at work and then back to back cigarettes at night. But throughout the years I also did the secret smoker and chain smoker thing too, depending on what was happening in my life at the time.

In a bid to cut down I became a casual smoker, only smoking with a drink and at weekends, but this just made me drink more as an excuse to be able to smoke.

The thought of quitting was always at the back of my mind somewhere but it never quite seemed to make it to the front. Somehow it just never seemed to be the right time, or that’s what I told myself after every failed attempt.

I tried patches maybe a dozen times. The patch was just something I’d wear when I wasn’t allowed to smoke, like on a flight for example. As soon as we landed it was torn off and a cancer stick shoved in my mouth. Or sometimes I’d even smoke whilst wearing a patch, just to get a double hit.

I went to see a hypnotherapist (actually I went to see three – I was desperate) and every single time I’d walk out feeling positive and then light up a few hours later.

I had gum, herbs, lasers, needles, inhalators, lozenges and some crazy tablets that made me feel even more depressed, but nothing that helped me to stop. Every time I just felt so empty and couldn’t stop thinking about smoking. I decided that I’d prefer to be a smoker and happy, rather than miserable and deprived and not allowed to smoke.

A friend told me about Allen Carr. “It’s amazing,” she boasted, as I puffed away in front of her, envying her ability to drink a glass of wine without it bothering her.

I had tried everything else, what did I have to lose?

I was very nervous when I arrived at the clinic on 21st June 2003. What if it doesn’t work? Will I be one of their few failures? What if it does work? I’ll never be able to smoke again!

Five hours later I walked out feeling….feeling….I didn’t know how I felt. Had it worked? How would I know? What was going to happen next?

And that was it. Nothing happened. No awful withdrawals, no anxiety, no inability to function, I just simply didn’t smoke anymore.

Seven years later and I’ve never touched one. No desire, no cravings, no longing. In fact I can’t think of anything worse than having to smoke a cigarette.

That session changed my life. It had such a huge effect on me that not only did I quit smoking, but I also quit my job. I trained as an Allen Carr therapist and opened the Sydney clinic in June 2005. I now have the wonderful role of showing other smokers just how easy it can be to quit, once you understand how the smoking trap works.

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