Welcome to our dive into the fascinating world of managing motherhood and fibromyalgia with cannabis. In this candid episode, Erica DiPaolo shares her personal journey of using cannabis as a tool for managing her own health challenges while also supporting her children through their struggles with OCD and anxiety.
Table of Contents
- Release Date: Monday, August 7, 2023
- Episode Number: Season 1, Episode 38
- Special Guest: Erica DiPaolo
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Episode 38: From Guilt to Gratitude: Exploring Cannabis as a Tool for Motherhood and Fibromyalgia with Erica DiPaolo
Why You Will Love This Episode
For years, Erica carried the weight of guilt due to her use of cannabis. However, as a 40-year-old mother of two young children, she found solace in this guilty pleasure.
Her passion for art, high energy, and natural curiosity led her to explore the world of cannabis, and it quickly became a transformative part of her life.
Erica’s son faced unprecedented challenges during the pandemic, which was relieved by the cannabis Erica offered him. This cathartic experience sparked a deep dive into cannabis, leading him to secure a job as a patient consultant for a cannabis cultivator.
Similarly, Erica’s daughter found relief from OCD and anxiety through this miraculous plant.
Through Erica’s inspiring story, we witness the profound impact cannabis can have on managing physical ailments and mental health struggles.
Erica advocates for the medicinal properties of cannabis and also shares her love for infusing it into her culinary creations, hosting canna-dinners that bring people together in celebration and healing.
Tune in to this captivating episode as Erica shares her personal journey of managing motherhood, fibromyalgia, and anxiety with cannabis.
Erica: Opening conversations and furthering conversations, and bringing more women into the conversation.
Announcer: Welcome to the Well With Cannabis Podcast, a show dedicated to telling the life-changing stories of those who live well with cannabis all while teaching you how to do the same. Meet your host, Emily Kyle, a registered dietitian nutritionist turned certified holistic cannabis practitioner. Emily changed her life for the better with the help of the cannabis plant, and now she’s committed to helping others do the same.
Tune in each week to hear heartwarming stories and gain the knowledge you need to feel connected, inspired, and supported on your own cannabis journey. Whether you’re a new cannabis consumer or a lifetime lover, you’ll benefit from these uplifting tales of real-life journeys that will show you how you, too, can live your best life well with cannabis.
Disclaimer: Hi there. Before we jump into today’s episode, I wanted to share a note on potentially sensitive content. The episodes on the Well With Cannabis Podcast are created for adult audiences only. We will, at times, cover sensitive topics, including but not limited to suicide, abuse, mental illness, sex, drugs, alcohol, psychedelics, and the obvious use of plant medicine. Explicit language may be used occasionally. Please refrain from watching or listening to the show if you’re likely to be offended or adversely impacted by any of these topics.
The information on this show is for informational and educational purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice. If any of the content on this podcast has brought up anything for you, please reach out or speak to a professional or someone you trust.
Emily: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of the Well With Cannabis Podcast. I’m super excited to be here with our guests today. We have Ms. Erica DiPaolo, and she will talk about her journey with cannabis, what she’s doing now as an artist, and kind of everything lifestyle in between. So welcome.
Emily: Thank you so much for joining us today. Thank you.
Erica: Hi, Emily. Hi, everybody. I’m nervous, but I’m very excited.
Emily: Please don’t be nervous. I am happy you’ve been brave enough to show up today and tell your cannabis story. Do you want to start at the beginning? You said you’ve been using cannabis for your whole adult life, but it’s not always been a smooth ride. Let’s talk about that.
Erica: Honestly, I started in high school, probably like most people, but it made something click for me. I have a creative brain, and as a result, my mind goes in a million directions. I didn’t recognize it at the time, but that’s what drew me to cannabis.
Erica: Fast forward to all the guilt I carried all those years for using cannabis, and of course, I was only smoking it. I didn’t know anybody that could cook with it, and none of that was not available in my little town. I want to jump ahead now and find myself saying I’ve been waiting 40 years for this. My son is in the industry, and it has helped my kids immensely.
Erica: It’s such a swing from that shame, and honestly, I’ll tell you, and you can edit as you please, when I was pregnant with my daughter, who is my second child, I had terrible morning sickness, and I was losing weight. I tried everything, and a little bit of cannabis got me back on my feet. It helped me regain my appetite; I was sleeping again, and she was fine. She’s perfect. She’s better than perfect. It’s just such a swing from the shame to now being able to be such an advocate and say it loud and proud. I’m in a medical state, so we’re medically legal here.
Emily: Oh, that’s got to feel so amazing. And I’d love to talk more about the mom guilt because I have a lot of women who come to me, and they share that they cannot get over the guilt they’ve placed on themselves because of what society thinks, even though cannabis makes them better moms. A lot of people really struggle with that, and I’d love to talk more about how you overcame that.
Erica: So, that’s a very big one. I had some infertility issues, and when I finally found out I was pregnant with my son, I stopped smoking cannabis. Well, it was a little bit before that. A couple of months after he was born, I would nurse him in the afternoons, go and smoke a little weed, and start dinner. I feel like it’s like sleep is for the body, but cannabis can be for the brain. It allowed me to be able to get out of thinking about laundry, the mess, myself, the shower I didn’t get to take. I could stop, put on music, be in the moment, make dinner, be inside my head. It would just be very valuable, I think. And I didn’t know many other moms were doing the same thing.
Emily: Oh my gosh, I know. And that’s why I’m so glad that we’re having this conversation because you probably have so many friends using cannabis who didn’t know you use cannabis. No one ever talked about it.
Erica: Yes, that’s what I’ve found.
Emily: Then you find other people who share that with you, and you realize you could have been bonding the whole time!
Erica: Yes, absolutely.
Emily: I’m so glad that you said that because for a lot of us, especially in our busy lifestyle today, we have a lot of pressure on ourselves to be present and to be present with our children, no matter how much time we have and make sure that the quality time is quality when we’re spending it. That’s hard to do without cannabis for a lot of people. You’re worrying about laundry; you’re worrying about the shower you didn’t take. There are so many things you can’t quiet your mind to be present and enjoy that time. For so many women who finally experienced that, thanks to the help of cannabis, they now understand what it means to be present, sit with their kids, and enjoy their presence without constantly thinking about things like the laundry. You’re focused on your kids.
Erica: You almost just stop over-momming them. You can sit back and enjoy watching them be kids. It reminds you of you being a kid. It’s all just all cool. Opening up the brain and something else, too, though. I think that has really changed.
Erica: Now I cook with it. I have a machine. It’s not the LEVO; I have the MagicalButter Machine. I think for a lot of women, being afraid of smoking, putting things in your lungs, that’s another door that has opened that I think is tremendously helpful.
Emily: Absolutely. Now, did you have a transition from smoking to edibles? Can you talk a bit more about how you discovered edibles and how they could help?
Erica: I’ve always heard of them, but until it became a legal state here, I didn’t know how to find them. I didn’t know anything about it. And I’ll back up for just a second.
Erica: My son has some spectrum things. He is now almost 23, but when he was about 20, his anxiety was through the roof during the lockdowns. And he broke down one night, and I asked him if he’d like to try cannabis. He said, “I really do.” So, he smoked a little bit of weed and cried and laughed and cried and laughed for two hours. And then I popped a chocolate-covered cherry in his mouth. It was a transforming experience. Fast forward. He became a patient consultant as soon as he was 21. Now he works for the only cultivator in our city.
Erica: Somebody made me a hot chocolate bomb once, and that was my first edible. I’ve been chasing that ever since because I think I have a very high tolerance. From what I understand, that’s genetic. I’m not sure.
Emily: There’s a lot that is unknown about the world of edibles and why everybody processes them so differently. A subset of the population will never feel the effects of edibles or would need an extremely high dose to feel the effects. I found some of the preliminary research super interesting. They were talking about digestive enzymes because I guess they are needed to break down the THC into 11-OH-THC, which produces the intoxicating effect. And if those enzymes aren’t there, the THC passes through and doesn’t cause any effects. So, I would love it if anybody listening with millions of dollars could research this for us. I wish we had better answers because if you can’t get the relief you’re looking for with edibles, you’re back to smoking, right?
Emily: All right. So now I must ask you. You have been using cannabis, and you said that you have fibromyalgia. I know that there are so many people who have found that cannabis is their only relief with fibromyalgia, and so I’d love for you to talk a little bit about your experience with that if you’re willing.
Erica: Absolutely. So, I was diagnosed with that in my very early 20s, but the pain that I had started long before the car accidents and whatever caused that. I will say that is where the edibles really work because it aids in sleep. I’ve always been very honest, even before times, with my doctor about my cannabis usage. She was very much an advocate and is now a prescriber in our state. She believed that it was good for fibromyalgia. There have been times when I’ve had to take a drug test to get a job so that I couldn’t use cannabis. It absolutely interrupted my sleep, and the pain was so distracting from my day-to-day chores.
Emily: I am so glad you have found relief. That’s what many people say the most frustrating part about fibromyalgia is. There is just no good option out there to help take care of all the symptoms that come along with it: that constant pain, that chronic lifestyle, the depression, the sleep. Cannabis really is a beautiful solution for a lot of people.
Emily: So, if you are listening, if you have fibromyalgia or somebody in your life who does, cannabis is actually a viable solution. And I believe it’s Dr. Ethan Russo who proposes that fibromyalgia is one of three conditions that could potentially be related to an endocannabinoid deficiency, hence showing why cannabis works so well to help alleviate the symptoms of it.
Emily: So, thank you for sharing that with us because, for anybody who has been living with fibromyalgia and living in pain to know that there could be something out there that you could try, I want you to have the opportunity to try it.
Erica: And I think that is another use for the full-spectrum because even the distraction from every symptom from that pain is addressed with cannabis.
Emily: That’s amazing. Truly. And then, when you think about it, cannabis has so few side effects. Compared to medications for all of the various ailments and their side effects, cannabis is just like a nice, easy solution.
Erica: And it’s just one thing. It’s not multiple medications.
Emily: And it works. A lot of people take the medications and find that they’re not working. If you can find something that actually works… I hope everyone gives it a try.
Erica: I do too. And I advocate that to my friends, and they have found the same.
Emily: How does it look today? You’ve been a lifetime consumer. Do you talk about it freely with your friends and anybody else in your life? Or do you still feel that stigma?
Erica: Because I’m an artist by trade, I have incorporated cannabis into my artwork. It is on my social media. It is part of the decor in my home. It’s incorporated into my life. I can’t believe how easily that happened, how easily the transition from shame to it just being an everyday thing. It’s miraculous.
Emily: That’s so nice. And let’s now talk about your business and working as an artist. For so many people, cannabis unlocks this creativity that we never knew existed. Explain a little bit about your artistic career and how cannabis plays a role in that.
Erica: I’ve always done some art. I certainly think that cannabis opened my mind to different mediums, different projects, and different people throughout my life. It helps me get into the headspace to do that kind of work to let the day go. I usually do that kind of work at night when it’s quiet and invaluable. I can still do artwork when I’m not using cannabis, but it certainly isn’t the same. It’s a different kind of work. It’s a different kind of work, and I don’t like it as much.
Emily: I’m so glad that you found something that not only helps your health but also helps your creative process. That’s a beautiful thing. And I feel like a lot of times in cannabis, we talk about the obvious, it can help with pain, it can help with anxiety. But then there are all these extra special things that we discover that it helps in our lives, whether it be bringing out that creative side or making it such a perfect plant.
Erica: It is the perfect plant. It is absolutely the perfect plant.
Emily: So, moving forward, how has the conversation been with your children? We talked a little bit about your son. You said now you’re all open; discussing at home is easy. How does that look for you?
Erica: It’s amazing. My daughter is 18 now. She enjoys cannabis and has her medical card. Because I love to cook, and now they’re grown, and my son’s out of the house, sometimes I’ll make a cannabis dinner. We’ll make a canna carbonara; he and his girlfriend will come over, and my daughter will have some friends who have their cards. It’s a lovely way to spend an evening, especially if you can be outside. And it’s, again, the edible – I think I call it layering when you have a long episode. So that has been wonderful. They’re both just doing so well in their lives at 18 and 22+. I give a good amount of credit to cannabis. And I think the fact that I was the one to share that with them, luckily, because it was a pandemic and they weren’t going to school, that was a bond there. And it was really an open conversation. And I feel like we would never have secrets. It’s been amazing; the perfect time for it to happen for my household.
Emily: It sounds so perfect because, as a mom, you get the satisfaction of seeing your children do well, be well, feel well, but then it brings you closer together too. It improves your relationship, and then to be able to have cannabis carbonara dinners together, it just sounds so nice.
Erica: It’s super fun. There’s something to look forward to there.
Emily: Absolutely. That’s so sweet. There are so many people who are afraid to have a conversation with their children – or their parents, depending on the situation. I think if everybody approaches it like you do, honestly and compassionately, it could be a beautiful thing in the end. Everybody could be having canna carbonara suppers together.
Erica: I will say they didn’t know when they were younger. I had a little powder room off my master bedroom, and they did say that they always thought it smelled funny in there. They didn’t know then, but as they got older, they realized what that smell was.
Emily: A beautiful thing about your children getting older is having adult relationships and things you can enjoy together. And I’m so happy that you all just get to enjoy cannabis together. It’s a beautiful thing.
Erica: It is. It’s fun.
Emily: I want to be respectful of your time, but I want to ask you the same four questions I ask all my guests. Are you ready?
Emily: What are you most proud of in your life to date?
Erica: My kids, for sure, and then my work.
Emily: Absolutely. What do you think your life would look like without cannabis?
Erica: Oh, black and white. Absolute black and whites. It’s in color. Cannabis puts things in color.
Emily: Absolutely. That is such a perfect way to describe that for somebody.
Emily: If you could go back 10, 20, or even 30 years ago and give yourself a piece of cannabis advice, what would it be?
Erica: Don’t feel guilty. Embrace it and relax.
Emily: Perfect. And to wrap it up, the last one. If you could be remembered for just one thing in the cannabis space, what would it be?
Erica: Conversations. Opening conversations and furthering conversations, and bringing more women into the conversations.
Emily: I think we did all of that here today. I am so thankful and grateful for sharing your experience, how it’s improved your life, and where you’re today. I’m so happy for you and your kids and your family. Any last words of wisdom for our listeners?
Erica: I’d say trust yourself and trust it and try it. Give it a shot.
Emily: That is perfect. Thank you so much for joining us today, Erica. Random question: If anybody is interested in your cannabis artwork, could they find it somewhere?
Erica: I’m in boutiques and stores around the country, but I have an Etsy shop. It’s Erica DiPaolo Designs.
Emily: Awesome. I am going to link to that so people can enjoy that as well. Thank you so much for joining us today.
Erica: You bet.
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