A small amount of pot administered as an edible allows me to be present and functional for my daughter. It makes me the best version of myself and I have no shame at all in admitting that it makes me a better parent.

By Leah Campbell
September 04, 2019
Illustration by Ana Celaya

Growing up, I was the last person you would ever expect to one day be advocating for regular pot use. My dad was police officer, serving stints in homicide, undercover, and yes, narcotics. As a perfectionist, I lived in absolute fear of ever doing anything to disappoint my father. And so, while the rest of my friends experimented with marijuana, I abstained.

I was 25 years old before I finally got high for the first time. And you know what? I hated it. I felt like marijuana made my introverted tendencies so much worse. While alcohol helped me come out of my shell and be social, that one time of smoking a joint with a friend left me wanting to hide in a corner and avoid the world. It wasn't enjoyable; it just made me feel more awkward and withdrawn than usual.

Over the next seven years or so, I gave marijuana another try a handful of times. And each experience was worse than the last. I couldn't figure out why anyone liked this.

But one day, while visiting a friend in Seattle with my then 4-year-old daughter, my period started. As someone with Stage IV endometriosis, the pain hit hard and fast. I was sure my vacation was ruined; that I would be forced to spend the rest of what should have been a fun time, curled up in bed around a heating pad. That was, after all, how I spent most of my periods before.

Hoping to help me avoid that fate, my friend convinced me to try something new: micro-dosing marijuana. She took me to a pot shop where we bought mints and candies, all with 5mg of THC a piece (I also purchased some THC tampons, which didn't work out quite as I'd hoped they would.) Over the next few days I experimented, not with the intention of getting high, but more with the desire of taking the edge off the pain.

I started by taking about half a mint every two to three hours. By the end of the first day, I was able to walk around and eat a full meal—something that is typically difficult for me while on my period. And by the second day, I was actually socializing again with my friends.

It wasn't a miracle. The pain was still there, lingering in the background (and through a lot of experimenting, I realized the only way to push it away completely was to get higher than I felt comfortable with while parenting). But it was muted. The marijuana helped to ease the pain off enough so that I could still function. And that, for me, was huge.

For years I had been prescribed strong opiates for my pain. I rarely took them. As a single mom, I didn't feel like I had the option of being as out of it as those drugs made me feel. Instead, I often opted to just deal with the pain—usually from my bed.

I hated that time of the month. I hated how it took me away from my daughter, forcing her in bed with me, watching movies instead of playing outside or having fun adventures together. But with this, I actually saw a possible solution. A way to address the pain and still be a mom.

Less than a year later, recreational marijuana use became legal in my state, Alaska. I knew I didn't enjoy smoking pot, and I wanted to be able to control my dosing as much as possible (to find that balance between numbing the pain without actually getting high). So I started experimenting more with how low-dose edibles might be able to help with my periods. As I did, I discovered another benefit to micro-dosing: the anxiety I've been dealing with most of my life was also eased.

Anxiety has been my constant sidekick for a very long time. Usually, it's manageable—I've spent enough time in therapy to know how important it is for me personally to get enough sleep, exercise, and avoid caffeine. When I do these things, I'm typically able to keep my anxiety at bay.

But every once in a while, maybe a few times a month, it still finds a way to creep in. My heart starts racing, my worries overwhelm my mind, and I become a much less pleasant person to deal with all around. I'm less focused, less present, and more likely to snap.

My daughter typically bears the brunt of that, and none of it is fair to her. When I'm battling anxiety, I am absolutely not the mom I want to be.

But with micro-dosing, I found a way to address those moments when the anxiety crept past all my usual barriers. When I started to feel that increase in my heart rate, I found that just one 2.5mg dose of THC was typically enough to stabilize my breathing and bring me back to a steady state. Quick, easy, and effective.

These days, I micro-dose for pain or anxiety anywhere from five to 10 days a month. And every once in a while, I take higher doses recreationally. With edibles, I've found a way to take just enough to truly enjoy myself; to even be social and enjoy my time with friends. I've actually come to a point of preferring marijuana to alcohol, which isn't something I ever thought would happen.

I still don't smoke pot. I don't like the way it feels in my lungs, or the thought of my daughter ever catching me lighting up. And while I do have a CBD vape pen (for those times when my anxiety spirals and I need a quicker cool-down than an edible can provide), I definitely prefer taking low-dose edibles most of the time.

I like how micro-dosing takes the edge off, while still allowing me to be present and functional for my child. It allows me to be the best version of myself for my daughter, and I have no shame at all in admitting that it makes me a better mom.

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