coping diaries

The Mom Who Ditched Benzos for Her Bong

Photo: Florent Tanet/Florent Tanet

What do you need to get through the day? With Coping Diaries we explore the habits, rituals and routines we rely on to get by.

I’m a 30-year-old project assistant for a small tech company. I have a 6-year-old son and I’ve been with my partner for ten years. Most people in my life do not know that I self-medicate with marijuana to cope with my social anxiety. When I am at home I smoke from a water bong (which I hide from my son) and at work I take my vape pen and hide either in the restroom or my car so I can take a hit.

I smoke 1 gram/day and usually go through about an ounce a month.

6 a.m.: I wake up and I have the day off work. My son is home from day camp. I do the laundry and wait for him to get up. By 9:15 he’s watching TV. I shower and have my first hit of the day — 0.25 grams of Sativa from my bong. Super Silver Haze is my favorite strain. It’s clean and clear and it normalizes my mood, like coffee. I hide it from my son but I’m conflicted … I feel like hiding it is the same as saying it’s wrong. I don’t want it to be a big issue and I don’t want it to be a secret.

10:15 a.m.: I have my second hit of the day, I have lots of errands. Silence is a real trigger. I first went to the doctor for my social anxiety when I was in my early 20s and was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. That’s when the prescription parade began. I spent several years on antidepressants (Celexa, Wellbutrin, Paxil) along with benzodiazepines.

I had a new shrink who put me on Wellbutrin, which made me so anxious I countered it with Ativan. I felt like supermom but my mood was flat. I wasn’t sad but I couldn’t feel joy, either. One day my sister was recalling a time we took our sons out to Pizza Hut and I flat-out didn’t remember it. I realized that there are huge areas of my son’s infancy that I’ve simply forgotten. That terrified me and made me quit the meds.

3 p.m.: I hit the bong a third time. My mom is coming over and I pretty much can’t handle it otherwise. I feel calm and prepared. I really want my mother’s approval. I find her very critical, she regularly says “you’re too sensitive!” when I voice displeasure at her comments. I’ve considered that perhaps I’m looking for slights where there aren’t any? I also think my preoccupation with gaining her approval makes me especially sensitive. When I smoke I can step aside and not take things so personally. I’m more patient and compassionate — I can logically think through the situation and pick my battles.

9:30 p.m.: I have my sixth hit as my husband and I are trying to wind down; we are watching Jeopardy, The Wolf of Wall Street, and a documentary about the ’90s all at once. My partner says that he doesn’t care about my smoking at all but I still worry. I’m probably being paranoid.

I don’t get high to have fun. It allows me to be a present parent and hold down a job. I wouldn’t be nearly as good a mom if I was still taking benzodiazepines all day long.

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 The Mom Who Ditched Benzos for Her Bong