Are you like me and have ever been made to feel as though your mental health issues were not issues at all? That, perhaps, they were all in your head? Well, that is precisely right. Mental health is in our heads. I am no doctor, but I know what I struggle with daily, and sometimes even hourly. Minute by minute ticking away, whilst I struggle to unjumble the crazy thoughts swirling around in my head. Struggling with my self-esteem, my excessive worrying, and experiencing so many sleepless nights. I have been made to feel less than, not good enough, and chopped down to size because, I am a cannabis mom.
All my life I have dealt with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). I anticipate worst case scenarios and may be overly concerned about money, health, family, work, etc. It is incredibly hard for me to control my fears and emotions. My worries can get so bad that I end up having an anxiety attack. It’s like I’m feeling too many emotions at once (anger, fear, despair, embarrassment) and having absolutely no control over them. It can sometimes even look like a temper-tantrum by me collapsing onto the ground screaming and crying. I have done this all my life. My mother called my episodes “flipping a cookie.” It’s frustrating, exhausting and embarrassing but… it’s who I am. Smoking cannabis helps me with my cookie flipping.
I have been hesitant and fearful to even admit that, I too, am a parent that smokes cannabis. Well, I am personally tired of feeling the need to hide over the bad stigma that cannabis + motherhood = wrong. Those who believe this don’t know my personal situation, or what it takes to maintain my household. That is why I feel I must tell my story and explain who I am. Perhaps, people will have a better understanding. I hope that by writing my story, more moms will come forward and tell theirs.
I Smoke Cannabis Every Day
I smoke cannabis every day, all day and I am also a parent all day, every day. I have been smoking regularly since I was nineteen years old and only really stopped during my pregnancy and breastfeeding. And I don’t smoke just to relax, be more creative at work, or to help with migraines. I smoke to be a better person.
Before becoming a mom, I struggled with my GAD and mental health issues, however, after having my son those same issues were exasperated. Shortly after I gave birth I was diagnosed with postpartum anxiety (PPA) and postpartum depression (PPD). I was also breast feeding at the time so no ganja for this mama. Life was rough. Imagine being surrounded by all the “perfect mommies,” who for all intents and purposes, looked like they can do it all. Meanwhile, as a new mom, I sat there feeling horrible about myself because I struggled with so many aspects of being a mother.
My PPD & PPA caused me to have feelings of paranoia, mood swings, as well as suicidal thoughts. I was so emotionally fragile that I once “flipped my cookie” over a paper towel not tearing correctly, crying hysterically on the floor in my kitchen. I had crazy thoughts that my son and/or I would be injured or shot randomly. I feared holding him because, I had horrible thoughts about dropping him. I had daily thoughts of ending my life. I remember thinking that my son and his father would be better off without me. I felt like a burden to everybody and I worried all the time about unrealistic things. I went on like this for months while I breast fed, which was rough too. It was about 3 months before I was finally referred by my doctor to a psychiatrist and he prescribed me Paxil.
Paxil Made Things So Much Worse
Paxil had awful side effects for me and it made my anxiety worse and made me nauseous. Again, I flipped my cookie all the time and over the smallest things, like my boyfriend leaving a dirty bowl in the sink or my son having a blowout. I became unbearable to even myself. I hated it. So, I stopped taking Paxil and remembered that the last thing that helped me was my daily use of cannabis. I had a thought, since I had to quit breast feeding to start the medication anyways, I might as well see if smoking a little bit of cannabis would help me feel any better. Well it did.
That day was the first time that I smoked as a parent, and it was amazing. For the first time I could truly enjoy my son. For the first time I could pick him up and not worry that I’m going to drop and injure him. I held him and just enjoyed his presence without having thoughts of us being in danger. I could look at him and feel joy and not worry. I played with him, tickled him and laughed at all his funny faces that I was so blind to prior. I could change a full poopy diaper without getting overwhelmed and feel like crying. It was amazing to finally be able to really experience my son. I felt immensely better. I felt at peace. I felt at ease for the first time since before I was pregnant. I felt like a mother. I missed my pot, it was great to finally have that back and I wasn’t planning on letting it go.
My Therapist’s Opinion
So, I told my therapist about my personal change in medication. After a few questions about what smoking cannabis did for me, she was fully behind it. I was relieved. I felt lucky to have found someone who doesn’t want to just shove pills down my throat. Now, to say that using cannabis has “cured” my PPD and PPA would be a lie. I am also not advocating that cannabis is right for every parent (or anyone else who struggles with mental health issues). I still have attacks, flip my cookie sometimes, and I’m still in weekly therapy. However, mama’s ganja has significantly helped.
What I Hope For
It is now over a year since my diagnosis and I feel like a completely new person and ten times a better mother and parent. No, I don’t smoke pot in front of my son, but yes, I do smoke while parenting. It doesn’t enable me or make me lazy. It doesn’t make me a bad parent. It does the exact opposite. It helps me to parent in ways I was not able to before. I feel like cannabis might have saved my life.
So, there you have it. I will no longer hide or feel ashamed for smoking. I will no longer feel that I must hide my mental health issues. I would love to create awareness and bring my struggles to the open, where society can understand me, and others like me. I am only one voice, one situation, and one me, but I hope that through the strength of my voice people will hear me and possibly change their minds.