Blogger’s Note: This is an anonymous guest post that discusses marijuana usage. If this is not a topic you’re comfortable with, please feel free to scroll on.
Okay, so, I prefer the pens, but same concept. This is my marijuana advocate statement.
July 7th, 2019 (today is August 24th, 2022), I got a positive pregnancy test. I immediately put down the pen. One healthy baby, a pandemic, and 2 1/2 years of breastfeeding, I finally sat down to smoke. Now, let me point out these last three years have been absolute HELL on my mental health. I know they have for everyone, but this is from my POV.
I dealt with the fear of pregnancy with a rainbow baby. Every sonogram, wondering if there’s still going to be a heartbeat. MFM (maternal fetal medicine) checkups on my fucked up cervix every two weeks to make sure it was functioning and would keep her safe. Then, after making it through, I had to reenter an operating room for a c-section. The same surgery that quite literally killed me for a minute last time. We survived all of that, then she was born the first week of March 2020. The week before lockdown. Everyone says, “It takes a village to raise a baby,” but what do you do when that is taken away? You suffer from PPD.
I am completely convinced that being on lockdown would have been INTENSELY easier if I had been able to smoke. I chose to breastfeed instead. I am sure there are people that believe it is okay to smoke while you breastfeed. Yes, I know there are cannabinoids naturally present in breastmilk. But I also know the affects that marijuana can cause on undeveloped brains (why only adults should smoke, but I’m kind of a hypocrit on that) and there was not enough research on it for me to feel comfortable, so I decided against it. I had planned to breastfeed from the start, because I was not able to with my oldest. The plan was to do BLW (baby led weaning) and wean her at one year. Because of the pandemic, I decided to do extended nursing to give her an extra immune system boost. Also, anyone with a toddler knows that sometimes they can be little jerks and refuse to eat food. It was my way of making sure that she was getting all of the nutrients she needed. Incase you aren’t aware, a part of PPD is paranoia. The stupid ball of meat you call your brain tells you that you are a terrible mother and you aren’t providing everything that your child needs and they are better off without you. Some days I would tell myself that I had to hang on, I had to wait out the waves of depression because I was breastfeeding and I was the only one that COULD give her everything she needed. It’s how I talked myself out of giving up. (My oldest is more or less self-sufficient, but I knew that her dad and her stepmom would take care of her.)
On top of the enormous strain of being a human feed bag, I also randomly got forced into a career as a 6th grade teacher. You know that show Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader? Spoiler alert: I am not. Luckily, my oldest is smart and capable, and we made it through. But it was hard on her. Just coming into puberty, couldn’t go to school or see her friends and family, adjusting to being a big sister after being an only child for over 10 years, getting a new stepdad, and mommy completely losing her shit. Cue mom guilt spiral.
My husband and I also decided to have a “pandemic wedding.” I’m not complaining. I never thought I would get married, and I always said that if I did it would have to be a simple outdoor wedding. In that sense, it was perfect. We waited until some of the restrictions were lifted and I had my dad and stepdad both walk me down the aisle, which was my backyard. I was happy for a little while. But as most of you know, if you are brave enough to admit it, signing that marriage certificate changes things. I’m not sure if it was getting married. Maybe it was being new parents, and the stresses of life, and a million other contributing factors. But our relationship struggled. It still does. Somewhere along the way, I began to resent him.
Like most wives, I could go on for pages about all of the small ways my husband annoys me. But, to be fully honest, most humans annoy me after a certain point. I think mostly it’s because he’s the only adult that I see for weeks on end, even now. I’m working on that. Also, my husband loves to talk. When we first got together, I loved it. I could sit and talk to him for hours. Eventually, I became so overwhelmed and overstimulated that I could NOT listen to him rant on and on about music and things that he enjoyed. I am an introvert. If you are talking for hours about something that I am not personally invested in, I’m going to tune you out. That’s involuntary.
Then it hit me. When we first got together, we would talk mostly at night. After I smoked. Have you ever gotten stoned and watched someone that you like talk about things they love? It’s amazing. Yes, I could do that without smoking, but it helps shut down the other part of my brain that is talking over him. “I don’t understand wtf he’s talking about.” “Why can’t we talk about something that I like, or something actually relevant to our lives?” Blah, blah, blah…. shut up depression.
Over the last two years, I’ve tried multiple times to pull myself out. I’ve had manic episodes that were amazing. And borderline psychotic episodes where I thought I’d end up going on a grippy sock vacation. I wrote a book (like, a whole novel), and I painted/remodeled a few rooms in the house. I have tried so many different things and gone on a rollercoaster of emotions. For a long time, I didn’t want to admit that I was failing. I didn’t want to get help. I could manage. I was wrong.
The last few weeks have been the ultimate hell. I have been having some mildly concerning health problems, and we were/are struggling financially. My husband’s job was over an hour away, and gas prices skyrocketed. Even with a car that is good on gas, it still took most of his pay just to get there and back. We were struggling to get food and pay bills. He made just enough money to where we wouldn’t qualify for assistance, but not enough to really get by without it. We were making it work, though. Then we got Covid, which set us back even further. Then my car broke down. Then my husband lost his job. FML.
I’m going to be fully honest. It was mostly selfish pettiness. I was pissed at my husband for losing his job. I was pissed at the universe for targeting us. I could feel myself slipping and I knew I had to do SOMETHING. I decided that it was time to wean. I have been slowly spacing out her nursing and limiting her nighttime nursing since her second birthday, hoping she’d give it up on her own. Ladies, if you need to stop nursing for your mental health, do it. For anyone saying, “Breast is best,” fuck off. Having a non-suicidal mother is the best thing for a child. We went cold turkey. I thought it was going to suck. She still has some meltdowns in the middle of the night, but she stopped asking after 24 hours. The minute we hit 48 hours, I was FREE. But I had a new problem. Breastfeeding produces oxytocin. I very quickly realized that that was what was keeping me going. I felt the spiral. It would take too long to set up an appointment and go through the trial-and-error bullshit that comes with going to the doctor and trying two or three different antidepressants (each one with the ‘adjustment period’) and trying to get my head right. I didn’t have that kind of time. So, I picked up the pen.
Let me tell you about my night. I was able to cook dinner. My hip was not hurting like it always does. And I didn’t gag or get nauseated when I looked at the raw meat. I had an appetite and enjoyed my food. I didn’t get annoyed that people were in the kitchen, and my toddler was being a turd-ler. I hung out with my oldest for awhile and helped her set up her social media (yay for the teen years). I didn’t yell at the dog when she wanted out for the 300th time in 30 minutes. I got my house straightened up. Have you ever seen someone’s kitchen during a depressive episode? If not, good for you. If you have, help them. If it was your kitchen, I’m sorry. I cleaned up the mountain of toys and I swept the floors and I washed a bunch of dishes. I got down in the floor and played with blocks with my toddler. I had patience again. Then, the icing on the cake: I listened to my husband talk. I didn’t zone out. Granted, I still don’t know what the fuck he’s talking about half of the time, but that’s okay. I followed what he was saying and was able to give more than a one syllable response a few times. And once the girls were both asleep, I didn’t stay up to play a game on my phone. Usually, I play the most mind numbingly boring puzzle games to try to shut down my mind. Instead, I laid down and went to sleep. I sort of had the spins because I think I took too many hits. I could swear I could feel my brain coming back to life, neurons lighting up that had been dead for years, connecting pathways that had been broken. It wasn’t an over-the-top euphoria feeling, just a very calm, reassuring feeling that things might start getting better. It was glorious.
Not long after I fell asleep, the little one had a nightmare. A screeching toddler waking you up out of a dead sleep is awful. But for once, I wasn’t irritated. I was able to stay (mostly) calm through it. I did end up having to recruit help from my husband, who kept an eye on her so I could go back to sleep after she calmed down. I still didn’t get much sleep, but the little that I got was actually restful. I didn’t wake up exhausted like I always do. I got up, hit the pen, picked up the toys from last night, and washed a few more dishes. While washing the dishes, my mind started to wander and I decided to write this. We are still struggling, obviously. Everyone is. But I gotta say, it’s a lot easier to deal with the struggles of daily life if you have a clear mind. Now, I’m going to go dance to some Pinkfong/Babyshark songs and finish cleaning my kitchen before my teenager gets home and I have to help her with Spanish homework.
* * *
Interested in submitting your own guest post? Check out my Contact and Submissions page!
Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois. She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University. Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside Detective. Her short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous. Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world. You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.