Hedi - I started smoking at 15 and found quitting to be the most difficult thing I've ever tried. I still smoke sometimes (which I'm ashamed to admit).
Many many studies have shown that nicotine is more addictive than heroine and other morphine-based drugs, which were at one time thought to be the most addictive. In mouse studies, mice addicted to nicotine would subject themselves to death by burning in order to get at nicotine.
My thoughts, prayers and good vibes are coming at you! I've found that on the patch the first three days are the hardest. I always found the 21mg patch to be itchy and too much, so I used the 14mg patch. It was less nicotine, I guess than I'd been smoking, so I did experience mood swings, being real short tempered - the things associated with withdrawl. I also found that I was tired all the time. I think that's because your body is readjusting itself, and as you ratchet down the nicotine, your body is working hard to expel the toxins. Get a LOT of sleep - as much as possible. Drink as much water as you can - it will help flush it all out of your system.
Many people gain weight when they quit smoking. When smoking more than a pack a day, on average you burn about 400 calories just in the act of smoking and processing the smoke, nicotine, etc. Even if you do not eat additional nibblies to make up for the loss of the habit of smoking, you will gain weight (3500 calories is one pound, so until you make up for the loss of smoking in either exercise or reduced calories, you will gain about one pound every eight days. I went from 115 pounds to 135 pounds and a size four to a size 12 before I started to address the problem. It catches up with you much more quickly than you can imagine. The weight is a far lower health risk than the smoke and toxins from cigarettes, but it can become its own health risk. Knowing in advance that this is going to happen might help you combat the problem.
Keep lots of no-sugar candies around. They still have calories - usually 10 calories per candy - but that is MUCH better than munching on cookies or chips or whatever you have around. And you will find yourself wanting to eat a lot more.
Once Gary and I started in on diets and had taken off that first 10 - 15 pounds and were exercising regularly, we really felt better and more energetic than we could remember feeling for a long, long time. That was about.... 10 months after we'd quit.
For me, the hardest part of quitting was the habit. I got over the nicotine addiction - the worst of it - in that first few days. I could go patchless within two weeks and feel no difference. I started at 14 mg and never bothered to go down to 7mg. But the struggle for me was having something to do with my hands and mouth. I'm not a gum chewer, but that helped. Chewing sugarless gum helps burn the calories that you aren't burning by smoking and can help keep weight gain in check. It occupies your mouth, and really helps fight the problem of overcoming the habit of smoking.
Prepare lots of celery and carrot sticks. Anytime you're freaking for a cigarette, have one - or some. It's a very similar motion to smoking - nibbling on a carrot stick a little at a time.
But mostly - if you freak out, tear off the patch and have a cig - don't resign yourself to the fact that you "can't quit." Break all the cigarettes in that pack, put a new patch back on, and just keep trying, no matter how many times you "interrupt" the process. Wasting all that money and time having to get ANOTHER pack of cigarettes just for one smoke will help you keep trying to quit. The most important thing is to not see yourself as a "failure" when that happens - because it is going to, unless you are someone of tremendous willpower and self discipline. I am not. I probably ripped that patch off every day for the first week. But I kept trying. Instead of focusing on the failure, focus on how many cigarettes you haven't smoked today. One cigarette compared to 30 or 40 is negligible. You are still in the process of learning to live without nicotine. Look at it that way, and it will help you put that next patch back on.
Remember - lots of sleep. Lots of water. (Ice water will help you burn more calories than room temperature water. Water, whatever temperature, will help you feel full and could help you not eat as much). Keep lots of sugarless candy, gum, and celery and carrot sticks around. And don't give up even if it's two steps forward one step back!!!!!!!!
Feel free to PM or e-mail me! This is a very difficult thing you're doing, and I really admire you for it. Feel free to reach out for all the support you need.