The Path to Wellness
Today I want to talk to you about what wellness looks like. What do you think about when I say wellness? I think about thin, radiant yogis. About eating plates of veggies and being thrilled about it. Headstands are in there too, for some reason.
We compare ourselves to others and try to make wellness a destination.
But it isn't. It’s a practice.
It’s something that needs to be tended. It’s the most important relationship you have. The one you have with yourself. There are ups and downs in every relationship. That’s life. The key to wellness is the commitment you have to your relationship. Are you willing to work at it even when its hard? When your own mind is screaming that you are a worthless piece of shit and you just want to sink down into a hole and hide?
I bring this up because Winter Break (I feel like the experience of the past two weeks deserves capitalization) was unexpectedly devastating to my wellness. I’ve come so far in the last year, but all it took was two weeks at home with my kids to really knock me down. I was surprised by how quickly I settled back into bad habits. Which led immediately to cycling negative self-talk and self-destructive behavior (which for me is binge-eating). I was exhausted and miserable in like, three days. And I blamed the situation I was in. I took no responsibility for my thoughts or reactions. I did not tend to my relationship. I sat in my muck. Once I became aware of this, I immediately took responsibility for how I was feeling, and made the choice to change.
This is what wellness is. It’s a daily practice. You need to make that choice over and over and over. The choice to feel better. To do the things you need to do to feel good. Loving yourself enough to believe you deserve to feel fucking amazing, as often as you can.
How do you get unstuck?
Let me know in the comments!
Its Okay to Feel Good.
You don’t have to feel guilty about feeling good.
Moms have a hard time doing “selfish” things, “indulging” themselves. The to-do list is never completed, and we can’t let go of the things left undone. We can’t calm our minds. We don’t even know where to start.
I talk to moms everyday that struggle with feeling good. They immediately feel guilty. They think they should be doing all the things, and they don't have the energy for all that, so they distract themselves by scrolling on their phones. We end up wasting so. much. time. This mindset isn’t sustainable, and we end up in avoidance when we should just take a break and do something that feels good and gives us energy.
This guilt about feeling good gets heavy when we talk about Cannabis. We are so entrenched in the war on drugs mindset, that users feel they need to justify their use by stressing that its “medicinal”. Many women don’t admit to using for relaxation and enjoyment. Why? I think it’s because part of us believe it’s wrong, and we fear judgment.
I read something this morning about the need to preserve and pay homage to the old cannabis culture. The people who have pushed for years to bring cannabis to the mainstream are the very misfits and stoners that the industry tries to distance itself from. The industry is getting super clean and palatable to the masses, (no longer using the words “marijuana” or “pot”, trying to distance itself from the stoner stereotype.) This is partly great, and partly sad, because it plays into that fear a bit. It makes it sound like being a stoner is bad, that using purely for recreation is bad.
There is a ton of misuse with cannabis, as there is with alcohol, Rx drugs, food, and pretty much anything else that feels good. Does that mean we should be ashamed? I don't think so. No one uses alcohol “medicinally”. We don't feel like we need to justify our alcohol use. Why should we with cannabis? I think thats where we need to normalize. We don't have to present it like we’re only using it to replace our SSRIs (which I do and I’m seriously fucking proud of). We can use it to relax and have fun with our children. We’re mothers, for fucks sake. We are tired, stressed, often isolated, anxious, depressed, physically unwell because we give all of our time and energy to our families. Why shouldn’t we take advantage of a safe, natural way to feel better? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m a better parent when I feel good, and cannabis helps.
How many of us are prescribed antidepressants? I’m going to guess its MOST of us.
There is a darkness that is present in American motherhood that we aren't talking about enough.
If everyone needs an antidepressant, than we need to address something much bigger than postpartum depression. I believe our model of motherhood is broken, and that we all need to know our worth, stop trying to meet an impossible ideal, take care of ourselves, and get honest about our experiences.
And while I respect every woman’s decision to medicate as she sees fit, I find it concerning that it’s so on trend for moms to drink. Like, heavily.
I feel like I can speak to this because I was a mother who medicated with alcohol. I know where it comes from and I know how it feels. It feels like finally letting go of that endless list of tasks. You feel like you can finally settle down. But it becomes a cycle; you get drunk, feel shitty in the morning, have a shitty day, and then need a drink because you had such a shit day. It was terrible for me and my family. I was physically and mentally sick from it. And alcohol exacerbates depression. My doctor told me that some people with depression notice that even a single drink negatively affects their mood. Now that I rarely drink I absolutely know this to be true. I was taking two prescriptions to combat my depression and washing them down with 3+ drinks per day. It was totally stupid. So as a cannabis user looking back, my perspective is colored. But seriously, if drinking is ok, cannabis is WAY ok. I mean, really.
So, be proud of your use. Be brave! Get a T-shirt, or a button for your bag. Join other moms who use cannabis and share your story with the local paper, or host an event in your neighborhood. The more we can share the truth of cannabis use, the faster we can all get past this lousy prohibition and get on with our lives.
The Price of Motherhood
I've got lots of feels this morning. After the 2016 election, I don't trust my worldview anymore. I can trust that our elected officials will reflect the Americans who voted them into office, and that there are more of those people. So, I guess what I’m saying is Election Day is my personal barometer for HOW THINGS ARE. And, I’m pretty anxious.
I’m reading The Price of Motherhood, by Ann Crittenden. It’s about how motherhood is considered the most important job by pretty much everyone in the world, but it's unpaid and unvalued. What is valued is a mothers sacrifice, her devotion to her family, and support of her husband’s needs as the breadwinner. And this hasn’t changed all that much in the last hundred years or so. In fact, mothers spend more time raising children now (the book was published in 2001) than they did in the 1920’s, when they were too busy washing clothes by hand and whatever. Even though more women are college-educated and may enter the workplace, many eventually leave or cut back their hours to have children. The motherhood aspect is the thing that mucks up equality in the workplace. When children are involved, we seem to slip right back into traditional gender roles, with the women caring for the children, whether they work or not. Whether they earn more than 50% of the income or not. In homes where housework was shared before having kids, 75% of it slips back into mom’s responsibility after children are born.
I get this. I've lived this.
I was raised by a single working mom in the 1980’s. She taught me to be independent, and to work hard. Her career was everything to her, and it had to be. She had a child to raise.
I have considered myself to be a feminist always. I was punky and androgynus in high school, refusing to conform to antiquated and demeaning ideologies of femininity. But what I didn’t forgo was the idea that I what made me a better person was my willingness to sacrifice myself for others. I married a man and had a baby. I wasn’t earning enough to pay for childcare, so I stayed home. That had not been my plan, and I found it really hard, but I felt like I didn’t have a choice. I accepted that my value as a person lied in my service to my family. And now I can see how horribly damaging that belief is. The last 5 years have been the hardest of my life. By FAR. I wish I could go back and do better. For my kids and myself. Now my kids are 3 and 5, and I’m starting to process my rage. They both started school this year, and I can breathe for the first time in years. I have felt so resentful and trapped, and monstrous for feeling so. I mean, how can I wish to be free from my family? My kids are so fucking beautiful, I would do anything to raise them to be happy, healthy people. Why is this so hard for me? I’ve felt SO MUCH GUILT.
And here’s where it gets really sticky. If I am raising two people while bitterly resentful of my position as their sole caregiver, what are they learning? Is my daughter learning that she will eventually do the same for her family? Is my son learning that his family won't be his concern, his career will be? Are they feeling like they aren’t important enough to me?
We simply must ask for help. My husband is a grad student and was the only source of income for our family until my children started school. I felt that I couldn’t ask for his help, becasue his plate was too full, and he was supporting us. I have always struggled with the fact that I didn’t earn an income. I felt I owed him, so I felt trapped.
I see now that this entire situation was my choice; my unhappiness and rage was caused by my own belief that I wasn’t worth more. I bought into the idea that we shouldnt want, because motherhood is some elevated moral position and my worth was in service to my family. It makes me so angry that I believed that for so long. Its an ongoing process to untangle behaviors from the beliefs that motivate them, but it’s so necessary to let go of that shit.
Ann Crittenden found that as mothers become more educated, they put more importance on raising a family, And that working mothers don't put in less time with their families to accommodate their careers, they put less time into themselves. They sleep less, exercise less, and have less free time. Working mothers put in more hours than any other workers, anywhere.
The importance of raising a family isn’t going anywhere, it's just getting harder for the moms. We spend way more time with our children now than previous generations did. Some of us also want to have a career, or some life outside the home. And as pressure builds to keep our families healthy and safe in a scary world, we alone are expected to step up, and step up, and step up. Of course we will, we are mothers. But at what cost?
We all confess that we haven't showered in days, have been wearing the same leggings for a week, that we survive on coffee and wine. We are being prescribed piles of antidepressants like its normal and fine to need them. And most of us have no fucking clue why we’re falling apart. Its fucking lame. It makes me furious. We need to be real about what we want our lives to look like. Not carry our crosses bravely, with a messy bun and a glass of Pinot. Because until motherhood is a healthy endeavor for everyone involved, we’re doing it wrong.
Taking the Time to Heal
So many feels today.
I’ve been having these really rough periods before my period for the past few months where I’m just so emotional I feel unhinged. This month has been particularly difficult. I’m reminded this blog post by Lady Nowe about the dark night of the soul. I’ve been feeling so much rage this month. The stuff I focus on for work; helping mothers reclaim their lives and identities outside of motherhood, learning to love themselves first; are swirling together with the Kavanaugh thing and my thoughts on feminism and sexual assault and I’ve been in a really dark place for a few weeks.
I want to promote modeling strong women now for our families. I want to change American womanhood now, so our sons and daughters don't have to navigate this world, where women are expected to be primary caregivers no matter what. Where we have to fear walking alone at night. Where we have to publicly detail our pain and shame in our fight for justice and be blamed for the situations that have hurt us.
My own family life has been rocky as well, as I’m putting my all into my business, my kids are learning to navigate school, and my husband toils away on his PhD. It’s been challenging around casa DaCosta. It’s all a fiery, nebulous mess in my hormone-addled mind, ladies. And I’m struggling.
My biggest takeaway is learning to stop. I am a very high-energy, do-ALL-the-things lady. And my pattern is to go on and on until I’m utterly drained.
But luckily, I have cannabis to help. Cannabis shows you to yourself in such a graceful way. Its honest with you, but in a kind and gentle way. There is no denying the femininity of cannabis. `
I’m building an awareness of when I am feeling drained, who or what is making me feel that way, and what I need to do to hold on to my energy. It’s a really deeply ingrained pattern for me to give and give. In my family you show your love by sacrificing yourself. It’s probably a Jesus thing, my people are Catholic.
So I’ve been digging deep into WHY I feel this way. What part of me wants to do this and why. That part of me was way down there. It’s been a long couple of weeks of really challenging, dark, WORK. But we have to examine and resolve the shit that leads us to behave in a way that doesn't serve us, so we can break the patterns.
And during these dark times, the dark night of the soul, its MOST important to be kind to yourself. Give yourself a pass. Take a nap.
Self-care is more than retaining your energy, it's also giving yourself the time and space to heal. And more here about cannabis; I have spent my entire life clutching my feelings close, not really being open or vulnerable with anyone. When uncomfortable feelings come up for me I coped by drinking and stuffing those feelings down. Since I began mindfully using cannabis I have opened up and healed in so many ways. I mean, I have felt my heart healing. I have connected with my grief.
Today is my mothers birthday. She would be 72. I miss her so much. Her death was the catalyst for huge change in my life. She is the reason I studied cannabis coaching. This morning I spoke to her, and told her today I’m breaking a pattern that she and I both know well. Today I no longer try to support people who do not want to support themselves.
It feels huge. I think it’s a good birthday present.
I love you guys, and wish you all well.
Cannabis for Moms? Emphatically yes!
Cannabis naturally makes you a little nicer. It softens the edges of your feelings, and gives more space to feel them. This is why it’s such a great tool for transformation. Last week I wrote about why cannabis pairs so well with meditation. It makes it easier to settle your mind, and it helps you feel more self-love and compassion.
Cannabis began to heal my heart and body without me even trying. But once I started going through my coaching program at the Functional Cannabis Coaching Institute, the level of transformation in my own life was staggering. I entered the program with a wish to help other depressed moms with cannabis. And that wish has strengthened into a life-altering purpose. Cannabis is medicine, and the help it can offer moms is just tremendous. Here’s why:
I’d love to talk more about this with you! My one-hour breakthrough calls are free and fun. We’ll talk about what’s going on for you, and what you’d like your life to look like. I’ll answer your questions, and we can feel each other out and see if we’re a good fit.
There is nothing to lose, lady.
It’s my life’s work to support YOU on your journey back to wellness.
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.