The blog author, Robbie, is standing on a balcony overlooking a hillside

I smoked to relax, but it wasn’t helping my MS

Robbie is a father and engineer who lives in Ipswich. He was diagnosed with relapsing MS earlier this year. This is his story.

I thought I was losing the plot

I’ve been experiencing MS symptoms on and off since 2015. The doctors kept saying it was stress, anxiety and depression. I even had cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). I had a relapse in July 2017 and then another in March 2018.

My left vision just went! I called 111 and they said to go to the hospital. When I had the confirmation I had MS it was closure as for the last three years I’d felt like I was losing the plot.

My Nan used to pass me cigarettes at Christmas

I’ve been smoking since I was 15 – my Nan used to pass them over the table to me at Christmas. Neither of my parents smoke, but my grandparents were always heavy smokers. I would smoke between 10 and 15 a day.

Since being diagnosed with MS, everyone has told me about the dangers of smoking - from nurse to neurologist.
If I was drinking on nights out it could be 20 plus. I did it as a distraction. That and a lot of my friends are smokers.

My little girl was on at me to stop smoking

Since being diagnosed with MS everyone has told me about the dangers of smoking - from nurse to neurologist. The problem is, until I was diagnosed with MS I didn’t listen to a damn thing they said as smoking is my relaxant.

When I finally got my MS diagnosis I told my consultant, mum and my little girl (who was always going on at me to stop smoking) that I was giving up.

Slip ups happen but my local group helped

I had a slip up shortly after and bought a packet of cigarettes. I was so angry at myself.

After that I went to an MS Society group meeting in Colchester. I met different aged people, all with MS and at different stages. I’m a sociable bloke and spoke to everyone in the room. I had a good laugh.

I also spoke to someone who told me all about her symptoms. It was like she was repeating my life over the last 3 years back at me.

Someone there actually said to me ‘if you want to carry on smoking you’ll get to the progressive stage of MS.’ That hit home.

It’s been emotional

After I left I went and bought a vaporiser from Asda. At home I chucked away my lighters and threw any cigarettes I had away in a black bin.

Most importantly some of the MS symptoms I struggled with for years have improved.

I kept myself busy, ate, put on music and then it suddenly hit me and I started to cry for the first time in 8 years.

I feel healthier already

It’s been two weeks since I stopped. I feel generally healthier, but most importantly some of the MS symptoms I struggled with for years have improved.

Your routes to quit

If you want to make a quit attempt this October you won’t be alone. There’s support wherever you live in the UK.

If you live in England - sign up for Stoptober on the NHS website

If you live in Scotland - find help on the NHS inform website

If you live in Wales - find help on the Help Me Quit website

If you live in Northern Ireland - find help on the Want 2 Stop website

If you're worried about this information or have questions about smoking and MS, please call our free MS Helpline on 0808 800 8000 or email helpline@mssociety.org.uk