February Warrior – Paulla

February Warrior – Paulla

Hello, and welcome to my next Warrior of the Month post. This month, we explore postpartum depression and the medical effects of cannabis. Read Paulla’s story below:
I never quite understood mental health…in 2000 as a college student I was introduced to my very best friend. She was the first person I ever met who openly spoke about mental health and I really appreciate what she had taught me. In 2012 I had the most joyous and painful year… my fiancé moved from the UK to Canada in May 2012 but by Nov of that year I had lost the youngest member of our family to suicide (My fiancé lost his father to suicide when he was six years old) My brother and his dad both chose the same route… That was when my own mental health took a swift downturn. Upon reflection this was the beginning of my mental health shift, however, I wouldn’t become aware of it until much farther along…
 A year later we find ourselves with the news that a baby boy is to join my fiancé and I and we become a family of our own!! What joy, and terror it brought me… this was the first pregnancy I have ever had that carried to term. I developed severe anxiety during the first few weeks of pregnancy and I hate to admit.. throughout both of my pregnancies I was quite detached… in post-partum I was so happy with our little family although, I remember regularly calling my mom, crying, to tell her that I was going to run away. That someone else would be much better at the job than I was or ever could be… with my first, Orin, I didn’t leave the house for three months. I couldn’t even bring myself to put him into the car… I was so scared something would happen to us while out!!  With help from my mom and my fiancé we eventually got out and about and really enjoyed ourselves, the relationship between my fiancé and I began it’s new settling in stage amongst my parents (we lived in their basement) six months post partum, I am starting to feel better… I finally left the house, started working, got into a routine and … we are pregnant! 
I was a little less anxious this time around, had a good idea of how pregnancy goes… and then there’s post partum anxiety!! I couldn’t even have a bath without checking the locks three times, despite my parents having a very large, very protective black lab and they, themselves are within ear shot… I spent many days on the toilet thinking… how fast can I get things together if someone breaks in, if there is an emergency or a fire… I was constantly on watch!! 
With my daughter I was much more adventurous but detrimentally so… I pushed myself and two weeks after she was born I was attending the Calgary Stampede!! Looking back that is insanity to me! It was 30 degrees and I was ten days post partum! With my second child, most of my anxiety came when we were at home. Was the stove on? Doors locked? Panic almost every night when my fiancé had to go to work… it really had me trapped for so long and that turned into a bit of codependency between my partner and I which we have since sorted out. 
This was when I really took notice of how my mental health had changed from happy and free to constrained and fearful. After having experienced the discomfort in my mental stability after my first pregnancy I was quick to look for options for mental health.
It was during this time that I was recommended taking my cannabis medication, that I was using to control my nerve pains in my stomach from IBS, and utilized it during my times of extreme anxiety. To my surprise, combining the new medication with counseling helped me overcome the anxiousness and the isolation that I had been feeling for years!! 
I regularly consume cannabis and have found this to be the most effective treatment for me to quiet the anxiety. It allows me to engage, interact, plan and dream with ease. It has given me back the life that I once knew, before my responsibilities had changed. I am so grateful and so blessed to have come out of the challenges that mental illness presents, with a clear strategy for my own mental health.
The fluxes that happen with our hormones during pregnancy and breast feeding really have a large impact on our mental health. Once the hormones balance out there is a calm but for me the anxiety and guilt of how I felt during this time kept me feeling locked in my reality. Since doing the healing work on the inside I’m noticing how much it is repairing the bonds in our family and it has me on a really positive upswing! I do a lot of breath work, meditation and self care combined with my cannabis use and the intentional combination of all helps me to maintain a balanced and healthy outlook on life!
Thank you so much for allowing me to share with you, this has been an incredibly healing opportunity!
Thank you Paulla for sharing your story. Nobody’s journey with mental health is linear, and you have definitely brought that to light. Things come up as your life progresses, and we just have to manage as best we can.
Thank you for your honesty and bravery.

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