By Roxie Crouch
For myself, like many others, giving up smoking was a necessity rather than a choice. Id suffered ill health and a lack of fitness as a direct result of bombarding my body with chemicals for many many years thanks to a stupid decision I made as a teenager while hanging around with my friends….not my finest hour! I had tried many different methods to quit, ranging from cold turkey to nasty tasting gum but all fell flat.
I’d heard of vaping but with the wide array of choices I was very overwhelmed as where to start. My brother, who had vaped a while, told me to join “the vape community” on Facebook. As a long term introvert this concept was both terrifying and absurd.
Against my own judgment, I decided to take his advice and have a look. After a few hours of skulking around in the background of any group with vape in the name I started to notice a very unexpected trend. These groups weren’t just about vaping they were about people too. I was seeing a range of people from all walks of life that usually wouldn’t have much interaction, conversing supporting and engaging with each other on a personal level. This group of people with only the connection of wanting to vape have built a safe space that offers not only support and advice about giving up smoking, but care and a sense of belonging for everyone. With this in mind I decided to dip a tentative toe in the water. I started my post by saying “I know this is probably a daft question” and continued on to ask where to start ….almost immediately I was met with the answer that no question is daft, that we all started somewhere and then what followed was advice that changed my life in so many more ways than I could of ever anticipated.
Armed with the knowledge of what I needed I purchased my device and liquids and set out on my journey determined it would work….3 days in I was struggling. After so long smoking my body was missing it and my brain just wouldn’t shut off, so in the wee hours of the morning unable to sleep I hopped back on to the groups. I was feeling so bad that I was finding it hard so I popped up a post, what ensued was an amazing show of the kindness of strangers, I was praised for my achievements I was understood for my struggle and I was made to laugh and distracted from the need to smoke.
After that night my trips into the groups started to be a regular occurrence. I would long on to find messages and comments from people asking how it was going and how I was finding everything, did I need any help with anything? Which made both happy, but as someone who struggles socially, very uncomfortable. After years of keeping myself in a little bubble I was suddenly being encouraged to broaden my horizons, I tried explaining that I was socially backwards and would probably seem like an awkward idiot but it didn’t matter, to this little community I was now a member ….warts and all.
Fast-forward a year, I had been floating around like a bag in the wind, I had got to know a few regular people but was still a bit skeptical of opening up fully. Then a tragedy hit my family and a beloved family member lost their fight with cancer, I withdrew into my bubble I felt low and alone, then ping…..inbox messages stared popping up. Several people noticed I was quiet and were concerned. They offered words of support and kindness and complete understanding of my situation.
Still I persevered in my isolation until I received an inbox from the most unexpected source. I’d been watching VVS a while and had often interacted on the lives but hadn’t given it much thought when all of a sudden this gruff looking gent jumped in my inbox. This brash looking, loud out spoken hairy bear of a man asked if I was ok. This guy who was on Facebook running a business took time out to message so I replied, what ensued was a conversation I will never forget, I went from crippling sadness to outright laughing and found myself opening up about myself as a person and for the first time in a long time I felt comfortable with being me….a few days later I received another message…wanna be a mod? I was apprehensive and said so but was persuaded to give it a go…..i haven’t been looking back since.
I was introduced to the other boss who is one of the kindest men I’ve met with a personality that makes your heart smile and an affect that makes you feel so welcome.
These unique humans have encouraged me to share ideas and thoughts, good days and bad and to be myself because I’m actually pretty ok. I’ve done from feeling out of step with the world to finding a home with the team of crazy and supportive weirdoes they have put together.
Two years after staring my journey into giving up smoking I’ve not touched a cigarette once, while that is a fantastic achievement it’s not the best thing I’ve got out of this experience. I’ve gained confidence, self-worth and most of all genuine friends. The restoration of my faith in people as a whole and the unwavering support I get has had an bigger impact on my life than I could of ever imagined. So if you’re reading this, wondering if vaping is for you I implore you to give it a go. Not only will you gain health and a better quality life but could also gain a massive extended family and a unique sense of community I haven’t felt anywhere else.