I’ve been studying this awesome free MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) course, and what I’m learning is blowing my mind. Particularly about how neuroscientists have been able to prove and measure the benefits that a mediation practice can have on the brain.
According to Shauna Shapiro PhD, we all have a happiness set point. This means that we all stay pretty much at our personal baseline level of happiness no matter what happens. Her example was, whether you become a paraplegic or win the lottery, after about a year your level of happiness returns back to your baseline. There is scientific evidence that you won’t be happier even if you have all the money you want. Let that sink in.
Another study measured the activities in the prefrontal cortex that are associated with happiness. A group of participants who had no meditation experience were measured before and after 3 months of daily practice, and their brains were showing more of those positive brain activities. The take away here is that meditation can literally make you happier, and that’s fucking awesome.
But it’s hard, right? You sit down and your monkey brain is hopping all over the place and you start feeling like a total failure and you give up. This is why cannabis and meditation are a match made in heaven. Cannabis helps you to relax and focus. It makes it easier to think positively and be kind and compassionate with yourself. It just puts you in such a good place to meditate. Not every single time, but generally. So give it a try, friends! I especially like this app. Do the Learn to Meditate in 7 Days class. Commit to 10 minutes a day. Let me know what you think!
Do you have experience with medicated meditation? Let me know in the comments!
I’ve had depression all my life. Through my teens and twenties I would get sick for a few months at a time but most of the time I was okay. But as I got into my late twenties I really started losing it. I didn’t even realize it at the time. I had moved to a new city and started college and I thought it was those circumstances that I was struggling with. I was sick for six years. I coped with isolation, alcohol, and binge eating. I didn’t seek help because I didn’t know I was sick. I hid in my apartment and drank, unable to have relationships because I was so, so ashamed.
I never sought help until after my first baby was born. I couldn’t isolate myself and drink with a newborn, and I went totally off the rails. I couldn’t function, and I was terrified for my baby.
My first psychiatrist prescribed Lexapro. It literally changed me back into my old self overnight. I knew we planned to get pregnant again soonish, so I asked my doctor if the medication was safe during pregnancy, and did I need to wean off She said no, which I can tell you from personal experience is not the case. I got pregnant again, stopped the meds cold-turkey, and went completely bat shit in two days. I don’t know about you guys, but losing my mind scares the shit out of me. And though the experience turned me off to the drugs, I was wayy to freaked out to stop. So I started back up, and everything was awesome, until my daughter was born. I felt that numb disconnect creeping back in, and went back to the same doctor, who doubled my Lexapro and added Wellbutrin. It worked, but I had to wean my daughter from breastfeeding in one week because I was no longer taking a dose safe for infants. This upset me a lot, and I wondered if I could expect the medication to stop working again in the future. When I asked about it my doctor told me I needed to focus on getting better. Seriously.
So that’s what I did. I continued taking the pills and hoped for the best.
I believe SSRIs saved my life. But I’m also sickened by how easily they are prescribed, and how difficult they are to stop taking.
I did not intend to stop, ever. But after doing some reading, I learned that the effects of long-term use isn’t well documented, since the drugs themselves are too new. And I honestly felt like I had turned a corner in my life and was ready to try again, without drugs. So after 5 years on the drug I started a long and slow process of coming off Lexapro. I spoke to my doctor, who was totally supportive. The entire process took 3 months, I had very few side effects, and I’m honestly not sure if they were related to withdrawal or not. I read some horror stories about Lexapro withdrawal (brain zaps!?), which is why I chose such a gradual process. The two books I found most helpful were:
A Mind of Your Own: The Truth About Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies and Reclaim Their Lives, by Kelly Brogan, MD.
The Antidepressant Solution: A Step-by-Step Guide to Safely Overcoming Antidepressant Withdrawal, Dependence, and “Addiction” by Joesph Glenmullen, MD
Cannabis has been instrumental in this whole process. It helped me a stop drinking, which was certainly exacerbating my depression.
It makes me feel amazing; every speck of beauty in the world shines like a diamond. It helps me be more self-aware. I notice how my body feels. It gives me space with my feelings, so I can calmly deal when shit gets crazy. And finally, it has really enhanced my meditation practice. Or, more accurately, I meditate now because cannabis makes it easier. And that daily practice is rewiring my mind to be more peaceful and positive. I use this app. I love it.
Now I’m totally off Lexapro, and plan to start weaning off the Wellbutrin in a few weeks. I’ll keep you updated.
Also stay tuned for my Mama’s Guide to Microdosing which I’ll be giving away free to subscribers.
Have you found cannabis helpful for your depression?
Let me know about your experiences in the comments!
How did I get Here?
I’ve asked myself this so many times. I was a happy, thin, free lady. How am I actually sitting here right now on a mysteriously damp sofa next to a laundry basket full of shit that I don’t even want to fold because the owners of those clothes are just going to throw them all over the floor anyway.
How did I become trapped in this futility?
I got pregnant on purpose at 33. I did prenatal yoga. I avoided all the foods. I carefully thought out and planned my beautiful natural birth. I was prepared. But when my son arrived all of my confidence disappeared. I realized I had no idea how to take care of an infant. And as the weeks at home slid by, my thoughts got darker.
Am I a slave now?
Is this the meaning of my life?
At six months postpartum I ceased being able to function and saw a psychiatrist. I started taking an SSRI and things got a lot better.
(Since I had been diagnosed with depression before having kids my official diagnosis was “Adjustment Disorder”. As in, I was having trouble adjusting to motherhood. This infuriated me, and still does.)
But the loss of my independence didn’t get easier. I resented it. Here I had a beautiful baby that I loved so much, painfully much, and I felt resentful of him. I felt trapped. My back hurt horribly from holding him and trying to get him to latch. I was hardly sleeping. How had this a become my life? I was raised by a hard working feminist mom. Now I was a mush-brained baby-feeder. I felt like my identity had been taken away from me.
I felt so much rage.
And so I drank. A LOT. Eventually I replaced alcohol with weed (which is SO common, isn’t it, ladies?) And started finding myself again.
After a couple of years, I had a daughter, and I began to get motherhood. To feel some confidence in my mothering. I found a loving support system. And as cannabis helped me heal my mind and body, I grew! I grew into a totally new, better version of childless me.
And I found my purpose. To lead other mothers from the darkness. From the unshowered, exhausted, emptiness, to The Life She Wants.
To normalize our problems so we don’t feel alone and ashamed. I joke that my icebreaker when I meet new moms is to confess that I’m incontinent and I love weed. It used to feel so shameful to me. But speaking about it normalizes it.
And sure, some moms judge me. But whatever. I understand where that comes from, too.
I’ll be honest. You’re going to have to take it, ladies. No one is going to give it to you. Your family will probably protest. But you have got to carve out a space for you in your family. As someone other than a caretaker. You will have to create and defend your boundaries. There will be confrontations. You will disappoint those you love. But as you grow into beautiful you, it will all be worth it. All of you will benefit. Your children will grow into healthy adults whose expectations will not further this antiquated, bullshit idea that women care for everybody, while men are free to pursue their ambitions without equal responsibility for the home and family.
This industry is so full of love and sisterhood.
Moms and weed are meant to be.
Let’s shout it from the rooftops and normalize that shit so we can all feel great and be better moms. It’s gonna sound cheesy, but wouldn’t it be amazing if this is the beginning of an age of women? I’ve never seen women rise up and love one another like this at any point in my life so far. It makes me so happy and hopeful. I hope that we are done sacrificing ourselves for our partners and children. We are done allowing our boundaries to be disrespected. We need to heal. And join together. And rise up!
This came up for us pretty recently. My kids are little (2 and 4), and since I don't consume around them they haven't had questions. But I've started spending a lot of time learning about cannabis, and there has been some inevitable overlap. This initially caused some panic.
"ACK! How do I protect my kids from this terrible thing I really enjoy? How do I keep them safe from it?"
I live in a prohibition state, and it can be easy to feel afraid. Especially when your children are concerned. But then I ask myself, Do I believe this?
Do I believe that cannabis is terrible and dangerous? No, I do not.
I believe it's medicine. I believe it's safer and healthier than alcohol. And I've already talked to my kids about alcohol. I tell them, alcohol is something that adults enjoy but it's NOT healthy for children. Your brains and bodies are still developing, and it's important to avoid alcohol until you're done growing. In our family we're into facts, and we try to avoid getting emotional about stuff. I think it creates more curiosity when you get all dramatic and reefer madness-y about it. So I approached cannabis the same way. It is medicine that adults enjoy, but it's not for children. Like aspirin. And my kids accept this.
And I'm not writing this post to tell you how I worded it. It's the shame and stigma like I'd like to address. That's the tough part for the mommies.
This is a turbulent time in our country. I think everyone is realizing that we're going to have to stand up and fight for what we believe in. Having kids teaches us this, too. To become our best selves. It wasn't until my son was born that I really took a good look at myself. Is this the person I want to be?
The woman I want to be follows her own truth. She doesn't let Jeff Sessions tell her about any damn thing. She wears pro-cannabis T-shirts to her kids' preschool because it's NORMAL and OKAY. It's cool to like beer, why not weed?
The pioneers have to take a lot more shit than the folks who quietly wait for society to catch up.`I can live with that. I want my kids to feel brave enough to be themselves in a world that may not accept them. So I've got to model this for them.
I believe that legalization across all states in on the horizon. I really do. We've got to keep up the momentum.
So I guess what I'm saying is, it's not really about the weed. It's about doing what's best for you and your family and not giving in to the disapproval of others. Cause motherfuckers are gonna disapprove no matter what you do, anyway.
Cannabis works by helping to balance our endocannabinoid system, the largest receptor system in the human body. This system works to create homeostasis in our cells. And it influences things like our mood, immune system, appetite, sleep, memory, motor control, and how we experience pain. Balancing our ES can help hard-to-treat diseases like fibromyalgia, IBS, and migraines. Cannabis has also been shown to help certain types of epilepsy, nausea, anxiety, it works topically for aches and pains, vaginal suppositories can help with menstrual pain, the list goes on. It helps so many different ailments because the receptors that it binds to are all over your brain and body. And you know what it doesn’t do? Kill you. Because those receptors aren’t in the parts of the brain that keep you alive. Your breath and heart rate won’t stop from an OD on cannabis. Isn’t that awesome? It can be really unpleasant, but never fatal.
All that's not to say cannabis is for everyone. It isn't. It is not a miracle cure. It can have unpleasant side-effects like memory loss, paranoia, dry mouth, and the dreaded munchies. Fortunately, these can be mitigated with smaller doses and cannabinoid balancing. Same goes for psychoactivity. Some people hate it. But you can still reap the health benefits of cannabis with low or balanced doses of THC. So if you're curious, don't let fear or a bad experience stop you from checking into it. There's much to learn, and new research is becoming available all the time.
And I’m just going to say it. It makes you a wayyy better parent. I find that I’m much less emotionally reactive with my children, I’m present and patient, and I’m much more creative (which makes me super fun, and a great problem solver). I’m really tuned in to my kids, and our relationship is better as a result. Playing with them is no longer boring. It’s fascinating. They are happier, I’m happier. It’s wonderful.
Cannabis was also the key to helping me drink less alcohol. I was a daily drinker for years. It was just how I coped with stress. But let’s be honest, drinking sucks. It made me swollen and crabby and fat. I felt awful in the morning. I was bitchy with my kids. I always wanted to check out; to sit around on my phone and distract myself from my life. I don’t know if y’all know this, but ignoring your kids doesn’t make them go away and play quietly. It makes them pee on the floor and make HUGE messes with food and water and whine at you until you lose your mind.
Wino mommy was just the worst.
So I that’s why I first decided to give cannabis another go. And I was AMAZED. I felt awesome. Not just not terrible. I felt like a million dollars! I now have energy! And patience! I find so much beauty and things to love in my life. I rarely want to drink, and when I do I usually regret it. I find that my mental fog has lifted, and I make better decisions. I’m a more compassionate spouse. Seriously, I cannot say enough good things. I want to stand on a mountain top and declare my love of weed with a megaphone to the whole world. That’s why I decided to become a cannabis coach! Cannabis has transformed my life, and I want to help to break the stigma surrounding cannabis and share what I'm learning.
I am Jessica DaCosta, I'm a proud cannabis enthusiast, advocate, and mom of two.