Consuela Knobhead – or how nicotine withdrawal turned me into a monster

In the space of two months I have weened myself off of some pretty hard-core anxiety meds, I have embarked on a weight loss plan of 3 stone, planned my wedding, kept my business going without running away screaming and given up smoking.

You would be forgiven for thinking me Super Woman.

I am not of course.

Coming off the meds was difficult, the kind of difficult that rendered me senseless for at least a month. I came off them because I hated the fug in my head. Of course, my anxiety has increased tenfold, but I can think – and I like thinking.

The weight loss started OK, but I love food too much and I lose and gain half a stone sequentially – I’m scared I will look like Mr Blobby in lace on my wedding day. Speaking of which, I am so filled with wedding-planning-fear that the mere act of opening my wedding note-book sends me into a melt-down – and, I so very love my job, it is everything I ever wanted, but sometimes I get overwhelmed with all the things that come with running your own business, that I think I can’t do it all, and cry a bit – mostly on my Mum – who soothes me and makes me many cups of tea when she visits.

And finally, as we’re being brutally honest – I fucking hate not smoking.

I had smoked for thirty years. I did not give up cold turkey for I am not that brave. A friend set me up with one of those pen shaped puffy things to help me. It is a small and unobtrusive contraption, that doesn’t give off the storm clouds as some I’ve seen. My friend informed me that it was a good starter kit and I should use will power to help me get off the nicotine at a pace that suited me.

1. I know that there is an actual name for the ‘pen shaped puffy thing’, and I sound like a  moron saying ‘pen shaped puffy thing’, but I’ve spent so long calling it my ‘pen shaped puffy thing’, that the real name for it has completely deleted itself from my vocabulary.

2. I own no will power. Will power bypassed me for more deserving souls.

3. I also know very little about these pen shaped puffy things except that you put cherry flavoured oil in it and suck it til you pass out in the hope that it will satiate your need for nicotine. Of course it doesn’t, because in your screwed up and infinite wisdom you’ve chosen the cherry flavoured oil that is just above 0% nicotine because you refuse to have yet another substance dictate how you live your life, and as a consequence, your anxiety, which you were managing very well thank you (with the help of a slow release betablocker and 40 fags a day after taking yourself off all other anxiety medication) now has no emotional crutch and you’re crawling the ceiling with the pain of back-breaking muscle spasms triggered by an inordinate number of absolutely illogical and bastardly panic attacks.

Every. Single. Day.

But at least I’m not smoking actual cigarettes, so technically I’m winning.

Last night I ran out of cherry flavoured oil for my puffy pen thing for the first time. The mere thought of having to go into the Cherry Flavoured Oil Shop put the fear of god up me because I’m never very good in situations like these…like being in public, and talking to strangers about things I don’t know enough about, because – you know…anxiety. But I was beginning to exhibit some pretty hefty signs of nicotine withdrawal already that, what with the weight loss, the wedding planning, the business running, the lack of the hard core meds, etc (all excuses of course) started to become a little too much to bear.

Today, after much procrastination and being close to nicotine withdrawal actual explosion, I arrived at the Cherry Flavoured Oil Shop.

Me: “Hi, I’d like to buy some cherry flavoured oil please.”

So far so good. It is oil, it is cherry flavoured – this is what I want.

Man in Cherry Flavoured Oil Shop: “Yeah?” Puffing on huge great puffy thing emitting clouds that any magic dragon would be proud of whilst displaying precisely zero interest in doing his job and actually helping me. This particular absence of any kind of customer service skill managed to knock the granular sized clot of confidence I had mustered in my 10 minute pre-shop-pep-talk right off its rocker.

Me: “Yes please. I’m really sorry, I’m quite new to all this…”  *gestures around the shop with sweaty hands at a gerjillion tiny bottles of poisonous substances*  “…and not really sure what it’s called exactly but I want the one that’s two up from 0% percent nicotine, cos I’m using the one that’s one up from it now and it’s not really taking the edge off – I’m a bit stressed right now.”

MICFOS: Grimacing “I didn’t understand one word of that.”

All of a sudden I’m back in school; five year old me is out, the cool kids are mocking and pointing at me. I flinch. I might wee a bit.

Me: “Oh, sorry – like I said, I’m not really sure what all the technical terms are but I’m looking for oil, to put in my pen shaped puffy thing. Not the zero nicotine, not the next one up, but the next one up. Do you have some?”

MICFOS: “So what kind of oil do you want?”

Me: “The cherry flavoured kind please.”

MICFOS: “Yes.” Po-faced. “You’ve said that already. What kind?”

Five year old me is freaking out inside, the man with the beard in the hipster clothes hates me and wants me to die. I continue to nervous-sweat.

Me: “The kind I can put in my pen shaped puffy thing?” I question, because this man is looking at me like I’m an alien and I’m not entirely sure what language I’m speaking in right now or why I’m not already walking out the door with a bottle of cherry flavoured poisonous substance in my hands.

MICFOS: “Yes, I heard you the first, and the second time. What kind?”

I continue, slowly – five year old me knows that grown-ups rarely understand her.

Me: “I’m really not sure, I was hoping you might be able to help me with that as you are the Man who is IN the Cherry Flavoured Oil Shop and maybe you know more about this than I do?”

MICFOS: “What type have you got already?”

Me: “Well, it’s oil. Just oil. Like ALL these oils you have here. In ALL of these bottles which are on your shelves.” 

MICFOS: “Yes, but there are thick oils and thin oils and it’s all about the coils you see. The coils determine the kind of oils you need. I can’t help you if you can’t tell me what type you need. Then of course it depends on what kind of device you have, see. And because you probably can’t tell me what kind of device you have” – pulls the universal face for ‘I’m dealing with a thicko’ “I won’t be able to tell you what oil you need.”

He shrugs and turns his back to me.

He’s dismissing me! He’s actually turned his back and is dismissing me from his shop!

I recap quickly what MICFOS has just said, stuttering over the ‘probably can’t tell me’ bit, and the pully-face thing, and I stop five year old shouting out loud ‘ well fuck you fuck face’ cos five year old me would get told bloody off for that, and all of a sudden fight-or-flight me engages – she is called Consuela Knobhead, and I bloody hate Consuela Knobhead because she makes mountains out of molehills and totally overreacts to everything that’s ever said to her – she is powered by Anxiety Annie who gives no shits how this next bit will make ‘normal’ me feel in an hour’s time because Anxiety Annie is evil and her middle name is Misery.

Consuelo Knobhead is about to spout some shit off.

Me: “Erm, excuse me?”

MICFOS: Glances over his shoulder as if surprised I’m still there. “What?”

Me: “Look.” Consuela Knobhead’s really pissed off now. “I just need some bastarding oil to put in my bastarding pen shaped puffy thing, so I can suck it until I pass out, in the hope that it will help take away this godawful pain I’ve got in my back that happens because Every. Single. Muscle. is tense due to the enormous and inexplicable amounts of anxiety I feel on a day-to-day basis, which YOU, you jumped up CHERRY FLAVOURED PISSFLAP, are contributing to.”

He turns round and faces me.

I do wee a bit.

Shit. I said suck it until I pass out.

Shit. I called him a Cherry Flavoured Piss Flap.

MICFOS: Yes…bu…

Consuela’s on a roll.

Me: “You are the Man in the Cherry Flavoured Oil Shop aren’t you?”

MICFOS: “Yes..bu…”

Me: “And you sell oil to go in puffy things don’t you?”

MICFOS: “Vapes, they’re calle…”

Me: “And you stock the cherry flavoured one in different percentages of nicotine levels don’t you?”


Me: “Please show me where they are.”

He collects the tiny bottle and puts it on the counter without saying a word.

Me: “Is this two up from zero percent nicotine?”

MICFOS: “Yes.”

Me: “So you knew what I meant then?”

MICFOS: “Mmm-hmm.”

I slap a five pound note on the counter, grabbed the Cherry Flavoured Oil, spin round and right then, to add insult to injury, my shoe does a fart sound on the rubber floor as I make for the door.

“Bitch.” MICFOS mutters as I leave.

“Pissflap” I shout back.

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