Tuesday, March 05, 2019

How I Stopped Making Pain, Trauma & Grief My Identity

Years ago, I suffered from chronic pain. Some doctors called it "degenerative disc disease" while other physicians referred it to "fibromyalgia." They couldn't quite pinpoint what was wrong with me and why I was experiencing such excruciating pain. They admitted me to the hospital for a week to do some testing for autoimmune diseases and other possible diagnoses, to only come up with "myalgia." I guess it's another word for, "We don't know, but we're gonna slap a label on it." During that time, I also developed an ulcer due to all of the NSAIDS (ibuprofen) I was taking to relieve some of the pain. They also gave me Percocet, but it didn't work quite as well as the anti-inflammatories. I had no choice because my stomach would suffer. When I realized I was developing a dependency on the pills, I weaned off and tried smoking weed, which did nothing except make me high and hungry. I never understood why people used it for pain. It did absolutely nothing for the pain.

I spent countless hours online searching for support groups who had fibromyalgia and chronic pain in general. There was a word they used that I wasn't familiar with. They called themselves, "spoonies." I wasn't sure if this label was right for me, but I used it, hashtagged it, and created a pseudo identity for myself. Establishing that identity enhanced my involvement, but I also noticed my chronic pain enhanced as well---as if I'm supposed to have pain and constantly be in this group of "spoonies." It gave me a sense of belonging, since nobody around me truly understood it.

But that wasn't who I was. That wasn't my identity.

I then discovered a new identity: grief. I became apart of the support groups, the hashtags, the voice for those who also grieved---not realizing that the intense involvement somehow made my grief that much worse. See, by allowing the grief to remain is to allow the pain to occupy residency 24/7. You will never heal. I'm not saying that repressed feelings are good, but to constantly remain in the past, to remain in that pain without reaching out for the proper help to pull you out of that pit of despair can be a life or death situation.

I believe Langston Hughs said it best: Life is for the living.

Here's how I detached from those "identities."

Stop Feeding the Beast

They say that whatever you feed will grow. I was at a point in my grief where the sadness and despair was consuming every portion of my life. It also made me lose friendships and it was also destroying my marriage. In the support groups, you'll always hear, "There's no time limit on grief," but I say---give yourself a time limit. If you don't, you will lose your life---either by losing everyone around you, or worse off, your own life. Broken Heart Syndrome is real. If you keep torturing yourself with added on "reasons why to be sad"  -- your heart will never heal.  Every single night, I slept with my mother's favorite sweatshirt. It made me feel safe and comforted. What I didn't realize was it also made me incredibly sad, to where I didn't want to get out of bed. After a period of time, and acknowledgement that this wasn't a healthy step to my recovery, I folded up her shirt and put it in a closet next to a very few items I still had of hers. On my phone, I removed the picture of my mother holding me in her arms at the age of 10 years old. I thought that by having that photo as my screensaver on my phone, that it would give me comfort. It didn't. It gave me a great sense of sadness---like I just wanted to jump into the picture and be there again, when I should be wanting to be in the present moment---the now--with the people who are still alive now. I stopped keeping her photos near, put her belongings away and started to focus on everything that was important 'in the now.' The day I told my mother on her deathbed, "It's OK to let go, Ma," I finally realized that it was also OK for me to let go too.

Whatever You Resist, Persists --Carl Jung 

The physical pain that I suffered as a result of being diagnosed with fibromyalgia was somehow making me believe that this pain was my entire identity. This was my life: pain and pain management. My life revolved around different treatments, physical therapy, trying different pain meds and dealing with the side effects on a daily basis. I'm not saying the pain wasn't real or that it was all psychosomatic---but I was feeding it more and more. So finally, I spoke back to it. I know, it sounds crazy, but I literally sat up in my bed and said, "Bring it on!"  For the first time, I didn't resist the pain. I started to thank God in the midst of all my pain and suffering, and somehow, through the grace of God, my pain lessened. I became stronger and able to do more things than I ever could. There are times when I still get pain, but I remember the remedy: thanking God in the storm, because this too, shall pass. Don't give it power. I am NOT a "spoonie," and I am not a victim of pain. I am not going to label myself a grief-ridden victim of LIFE---that's what life is! We live to die and we already know this. That's why it baffles me when someone loses faith in God just because they lost a loved one. THIS is LIFE. This is why you need God even more. The bigger picture is something we could never comprehend.

Trust God & Know That Your Pain Has a Purpose


My friend Jackee always says, "You're somebody's answer!" If we don't go through trials and sorrows in our lives, how can we ever be of help to anybody else? There's this power we all get when we experience such pain and trauma. We discover new inner strengths that we never thought we had before. Through trusting God, He gives us supernatural powers to plow through our worst nightmares that unfold before our very own eyes. He carries us through the fire without smelling like smoke.

"Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything." --James 1:2-4

I always notice that each time we get a bigger snowstorm, we keep getting people with bigger plows to help us get through it. That's how God works though. With each terrible storm comes a bigger solution or (plow) ---if we allow it, if we call on them...if we call on God to work in our lives. And in due time, after withstanding so many storms, you'll eventually have your own plow so you can help everyone else who's stuck. Just have patience and hope. Without hope, there's nothing to hold onto.

Who Are You? 

My identity is not my physical pain, it's not my grief, it's not my anxiety and depression. My identity is in Christ. My identity is trusting God with everything. I'm a believer. I'm a King's kid. I'm a child of God. I am not orphaned, even though both my parents died. I have a Father. I have a best friend I can turn to at any given minute of the day. I have a comforter when I'm lying in bed scared. I have a healer when I feel sick. I am not a spoonie, I am not a victim of my circumstances...I'm a believer that all things work for the good. How would anyone know what joy truly is if they haven't experienced deep sadness? I have a purpose here. You have a purpose here. Isn't it funny, how most of us can't really say what that purpose is, but eventually, after our lives have passed, others will definitely know.  What do you want to leave behind? What message do you want to leave for your children, your grandchildren, or just people who are still on their earthly journey? When they ask who you were---what will people tell them? Who are you? You don't want to be 'that person who was always complaining about this n' that,'---you want more than just your pain and agony to define you. You want to be a conquerer.

"Since I know it is all for Christ's good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." --2 Corinthians 12:10

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog at Deb's Cucina for some of her famous recipes!

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Online Therapists Can Provide Ways for You to Forgive and Let Go

Some people believe that forgiveness is just a verbal confirmation of "we're okay"---"we're good," until later down the road, the offense has been brought up again by the person who was hurt. Most likely, the person who holds all the resentment and bitterness will usually regurgitate the offense over and over throughout the relationship. They truly believe they have forgiven that person, yet they keep reminding them about what they've done in the past. That's not forgiveness. Remember the saying, "forgive and forget?" The forgetting part is hard, I know---but the concept of "forgetting" is about never bringing up the one thing that hurt you to the person who begged for forgiveness. See, when we bring up the offense, that's bitterness coming out. Imagine eating something bitter. That's the face you'll make when you bring up a past offense. Think about it.

Truth is, you'll probably never forget that 'offense' or the hurt that someone else put you through, whether intentional or not. But the one thing you can do is move past it---move forward and choose to not only relieve them of this punishment you're dishing out, but also, the punishment you're giving to yourself. As that old saying goes, "Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die." Bitterness and resentment will eat at you until you are emotionally and physically ill. Truth is, I thought I had forgiven someone for a past hurt, when in fact, I was storing up a whole lotta' resentment, which came out as bitterness. "Yeah yeah, I forgave them," but my actions, my words, my demeanor said something entirely different. Until I truly forgave them, is when my heart calmed down and the anxiety lessened. It's when my sleep started to increase as well as my overall peace. I will say one thing that's an exception: you do not have to reconcile with the person who hurt you. Forgiveness doesn't mean taking them back into your life again---it simply means you have let it all go, to the point where you never think about it (this is where the forgetting part comes into play)---where you never bring it up again. That's forgiveness.

Did You Know Unforgiveness Causes Stress On the Body?

IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
Stomach ulcers
Anxiety attacks
Insomnia
Heart palpitations
Lower immunity (getting more colds & flus)
Migraines
Muscle tension
Body aches
Back problems (we store our emotions in our spine as well as chest)
Bursts of anger
Mood swings
Alcoholism
Fatigue
Depression

Through my own personal journey into truly forgiving those who have hurt me, I had to do a few things. This may not be 'your thing' --- but it helped me to let it go. You can try it in your own way and see how it works.

Creative Ways to Forgive Someone Who Has Hurt You

For me, I confessed my sins to God, because not forgiving someone is a sin in my faith. I confessed my unforgiveness and asked God for His forgiveness. I lit a candle for each person that I held resentment toward. It was a symbol of healing. I prayed for all of them, including healing for myself.  I meditated and sent positive energy into each relationship I had with each person. Remember, even though you may feel empowered by holding onto a resentment somehow, the other person may be unaware of your strong grievance toward them---they may be going on with their lives happy and joyful, while you're still home seething over it. Let it go.

Another way to forgive someone is to sit down with them and just talk about it one last time. Get it all out and tell that person how you truly feel about them. Because if you are really bothered by what they have done to you, you must still like or love this person. If you were indifferent toward them, the offense wouldn't have bothered you so much. Tell them how hurt you still are, and that you are trying to overcome this obstacle and that you love or care for them very much. It makes a huge difference.

Write a handwritten letter to them in detail, explaining how you feel and how you would like forgiveness to play a huge role in your relationship. This is sometimes easier, since writing it all out is easier. Do not email or text this since it's a bit impersonal. Handwritten letter only.

Make a list and write down everything good about that person. Make a pros and con list. Write down all of their good qualities, as well as their 'not so desired qualities' and see where you stand with that. Then make a conscious choice to really let it all go.

Take some post its and write down each 'hurt' or 'offense' that person has done to you. Go to your fireplace, or outside to your fire pit and burn each one, symbolizing that it's no longer an issue in your life.

"...forgive us for our trespasses, we we forgive those who trespass against us."----The Lord's Prayer

Talk to an a psychologist or an online certified therapist if you feel more comfortable. An online therapist provides a 24/7 chatroom as well as video and phone sessions. It's less expensive than a face-to-face traditional type of therapy. I use BetterHelp, which has been such a blessing. Talk to an online therapist and gain some positive feedback on your situation. Talk to someone about your pent up feelings of anger.  Don't be afraid to get the help you need---you're worth it. You deserve someone who can guide you and give you some qualified and trained tips on how to cope with these feelings you have.

Forgiveness is healing, not only to the one who is being forgiven, but especially for you.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog at Deb's Cucina for some of her famous recipes!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Advice On What to Do When You're Suffering From Anxiety, Depression & Agoraphobia

When we hear or read the words "mental health," there seems to be a stigma attached to it, regardless if you are suffering or not. Anxiety, depression, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) or even bipolar disorder, which used to be called, "manic depression"' back in the day are all common things people suffer with. We hear or read these words and then begin to think negative associations with it. Movies and TV shows may warp your definition of what mental illness can be like. Some are severe, while others are less severe--regardless, it is a struggle for many people. Back in the 70's and 80's---you rarely heard the word "anxiety" or "panic attack." The word "phobia" was commonly used, as well as "fear." If someone was agoraphobic, experiencing panic attacks on a daily basis back in the 70's and 80's where they can no longer function in life, it was known as having a "nervous breakdown." Seeing a psychiatrist was thought to be an extremely drastic move. In fact, it was looked down upon, especially in families who were fearful of getting help for their mental illness. "Don't let the neighbors find out..."  Some would actually live in silence with these conditions, sometimes taking their own lives unfortunately.

Here are some things that have helped me work through each symptom of mental illness. Just so you know, I suffer from anxiety disorder, bouts of depression and grief, as well as periods of agoraphobia.

Telehealth and Online Counseling 

This is a great avenue in treating people who suffer from anxiety and depression. For me personally, I started using BetterHelp for counseling. I have a psychiatrist I see face-to-face on a monthly basis, but I need something during the days when my psychiatrist isn't available. Online therapy is pretty simple and very effective. You and your licensed counselor have an open chat session 24/7. Your messages from your therapist will be received via email or text message, and you can be totally anonymous if you want. This type of counseling cuts out most cancellations, waiting all week for the next appointment, as well as awkward face-to-face communication. Having said that, there is an option to video chat or telephone your counselor. You just set up a time and date that's available for the both of you and link up with him or her. It is extremely interactive. I first had my doubts about doing something like this, but once I was invested, I couldn't believe how much I opened up about my feelings when I was comfortable enough. You also have the ability to switch counselors without the awkward discussion of "why." If you're feeling agoraphobic, you can talk to your counselor one on one in the comforts of your own home. I can't think of a better option for those who suffer with agoraphobia. Keep in mind, your counselor will set goals for you, like CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) to conquer your agoraphobia---so they won't let you stay there. As you progress and get better, there is a progress bar on the left of your chat session. It goes from 0%--100%. The best part is, the monthly cost is less than one therapy appointment, but the only difference is, you have access to a counselor 24/7 + video or phone chats. Technology is something!

Taking a Brisk Walk Outside or Taking Vitamin D Supplements

There's nothing like the feeling of cool air on your face while the sun is shining down on you as you walk around a park or your local neighborhood. During the winter, we tend to stay indoors more than normal, unless you're adventurous and don't mind a cold nose while running five miles a day. Some people just don't have the time (or energy.) Most of us sit in a florescent lit office or they have the ability to work from home like I do until 4ish, which is also the time the sun goes down in the winter months. A lack of sun depletes your vitamin D levels. This is also what causes SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder.) It's crucial to get outside for at least 15 minutes a day, as well as taking vitamin D supplements. I have a liquid dropper of vitamin D that I just add to my water. I take up to 2,000 IUs my endocrinologist suggested due to my vitamin D levels. Make sure you get bloodwork before you start taking massive amounts of it. The amount you need to take is on such an individual level. You may need more or you may need less than you think. It's also a fat soluble, and should be taken after a fatty meal, like avocados, fish or eggs, which are all wonderful nutrient dense foods that have a good fat content. I heard someone say, "What you ate yesterday determines how you feel today." I laughed and thought about my Ben & Jerry's binge---which mind you, is sometimes very heathy due to treating yourself once in a while! It's actually pretty healthy in terms of calcium, so we're gonna let that one slide. Once in a while, treat yourself, but remember to grab those other amazing super foods along the way. Most of your vitamins can simply be found right in your diet. Many people buy these expensive vitamins. They end up buying expensive urine, depending on the quality of the product.

Have Faith

My world came crashing down when I lost my best friend, my mother, my everything just last year. I truly thought that I would go through what's called, "broken heart syndrome." I didn't think I could live without her. A part of me feels like I died when she left this world. This is when I turned to my faith in God. There've been studies that have shown that those who relied on their faith while grieving for a lost loved one, seemed to have recovered faster than those who didn't have faith in a higher power. I took time out every morning to sit and pray---to vent it all out to God, even asking Him, "Why! Why did you take her from me?" Eventually, I started to get answers, whether it was through words from someone's mouth, a text message or something I had found in the Bible. I have a journal that has "prayers" and "answers"---and the answers usually come right away, or within that day. I guess God proved Himself to me, and so I felt less alone. But once I feel distant from God and don't pray as much, those signs and messages seem to disappear. With faith, you will find answers about certain things, as well as finding answers from within yourself. It's like a self-discovery mission--and who knows you best than the one who created you? This is how I find peace throughout my days of anxiety and depression.

My only advice to anyone who suffers with mental illness is to never keep it all inside. Tell someone, reach out, find a counselor and if it costs too much for a counselor, look into Telehealth and online counseling, which is much less than seeing a therapist face to face. BetterHelp has been so incredibly helpful in my time of need. Remember, they're all real certified counselors, and they are all human. If you do not click with one, change your counselor. That's your right.

If you want to find more articles related to mental health, please visit BetterHelp and consider looking into online counseling. It really has helped me tremendously.


For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog at Deb's Cucina for some of her famous recipes!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

4 Things I Learned About Anxiety & Depression


There's never a real end to anxiety or depression. There's only new coping skills and calming techniques that can help. Whether you are spiritual or not, it's been proven that those who have faith in God seem to pull through more than say those who don't believe. Same goes with grief: more people found help getting out of the pit of despair with faith in God, than those who didn't have faith. Whether it is all psychosomatic, or if it's really true (which I believe to be) --- it works. But I'm going to list off some more symptoms as well as coping skills that I have done to help me. Please keep in mind that I'm not a doctor or psychologist---I'm a patient who needs to work on myself---working on being OK every single day. And, it's also OK to not be OK. Just know and remember that when you need help or if you are in a crisis, reach out! Hopefully, my list will help in some way or another. I hope you feel better.

Hold
On
Pain
Ends

Heart Palpitations, Racing Heart, Tachycardia

For me, this one has to be the worst! I've listed this one first because this is my most recent symptom. It feels like my heart is unattached inside my chest, rattling around like a restless chinchilla. At times, when I'm at rest, my heart rate can increase all the way up to 150 bpm. Other times, my heart just a little elevated, only this time, it includes sporadic irregular heartbeats and fluttering---as if my heart is bubbling up. It goes away for like five minutes, and then all of the sudden, it feels like someone is inside of me punching my chest from the inside once or twice. It's enough to make you jump up and pay attention to what your heart is doing. So you start focusing on it, obsessing, taking your pulse and of course, looking on WebMD to see if you need to go to the ER. But if you suffer from anxiety disorder or going through grief, this is normal. Here's what happened to me... I felt this for two entire days. I really didn't "think" I had anxiety. I felt calm, but my heart was acting whacky. Did you know that you can have hidden emotions and fears about something that you aren't conscious of at that time? But yet your heart is? It doesn't even make sense! But your brain is connected to your heart, therefore, even if you're not thinking that stressful 'thing'---it'll start acting up. I realized I was stressing over the snowstorm that's heading our way this weekend. We usually get snowed in and lose power. Sometimes, my other half can't even make it up the huge private road we live on. So the thought of being alone during a snowstorm without power lurks behind my mind. Once I figured out this was the source of my stress, I prayed about it for a long time, and just by 'talking it out' -- even if it's to God, (which is so much better) -- that in itself is therapeutic. My heart palpitations went away. Talk it out. Pray. Or just verbalize what's wrong! It works.

The Random Culprit: The Vagus Nerve 

Another reason why your heart may be rattling around like a caged monkey is that you're experiencing stomach issues. Constipation, bloating, heartburn or other associated stomach issues are connected to your vagus nerve. You would not believe how powerful that vagus nerve can be. It's associated with a lot of our pain and health related issues. If your stomach is upset, that nerve will send a message to your heart, and there you have the ingredients for an awful night! The best way to relieve the nerve pressure is to be rude and burp a lot---pass that air out any way you can if you get my 'drift.' If you're constipated, take a mild laxative so that the pressure is relieved. Do not lay on your right side. Lay on your left side if possible at night---your digestive system flows easier this way. Stay away from fatty or acidic foods. During this time, you're gonna want to bulk up on that arugula salad instead of hitting that delicious prosciutto and mozzarella. Also, stay away from fresh garlic and onions. I ate a huge bowl of pasta fagioli last night and suffered quite a bit. During this time, try to stick to a somewhat bland, healthy diet, and add in some probiotics to boot. Another great source of relief is taking magnesium, not only to regulate your heart rate, but to also help with relaxation, constipation and muscle strain. I take Natural Calm powder, and add it to hot water. It's delicious and it makes you sleepy at night.

Tightness of Chest, Feeling of Suffocation, Shortness in Breath

My friend Jason explained this symptom in an interesting way. He said that when he feels anxiety, it feels like his soul is too big for his body and that he felt like he was suffocating and felt confined. I've experienced this too. This is a whole other type of anxiety symptom that can be scary, because it involves your breathing, or lack thereof. Sometimes, I can't even get enough breath into my lungs because I'm in a total panic mode. But remember, it's PANIC. I say this only if you have anxiety disorder. Please check with your doctor if you feel like you have an elephant lying on top of your chest---that's entirely different. It's strange, because panic attacks are known to mimic heart attacks. If you can calm it down, it's anxiety. Also, if you are experiencing chest pain, the real test is if you can recreate the pain---then it's usually muscle/skeletal, which is also known as "costochondritis"---a medical term used very loosely by the emergency departments due to chest pain not being caused by the heart. Getting back to the tight, suffocating, shortness of breath feeling---the ONE thing that has helped me in this state of panic is this video. Put on your earbuds, and just listen, even if you're still panicking. It's 30 minutes long, but if you get past the 15 minute mark, you'll start to notice that you're calming down and taking bigger breaths. Please copy this video for emergency panic attack!
If you can't view the video below, then please click here.



"I command you to be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you whoever you go." ---Joshua 1:9

Grief and Lonlieness

Grief is apart of life. We lose people, whether through death, breakups or divorce. It's something everyone has to deal with one time or another. Grief is especially hard on those who were living with their loved ones. As a caregiver for my mom---well, let's be honest, she took care of me in many ways too. We relied on one another. I work from home, so she felt safe that I was always around. I cooked her meals and we both gave one another company. We went to do errands together when she was feeling up to it, and we also trekked out to grab a bite to eat when it was a particularly good day for her. I felt a sense of loneliness when she left. I felt unneeded and worthless---like why am I even here? I've always had a relationship with God, but the day she died, my relationship with Him only grew stronger. I relied on Him every single day. He was the only one that was truly there for me when I had my breakdowns, crying, sobbing and feeling like I was about to die. I realized and learned that we are truly never alone. My fear of being alone has diminished greatly. I'm content with alone time. Does it get lonely from time to time? Sure---but not in a way that's fear-based. I get lonely in the sense that I just want to have company around or talk with people. My dog has been a blessing. We go out for walks around a nearby pond and meet other people with their own little fur babies. It's good to just feel the sunshine on your face. I feel like God put me in this position of isolation to teach me something valuable. I learned that being alone isn't something to fear. Most people don't even have two minutes to themselves sometimes. I learned that prayer can change your entire outlook on the day. Have you ever woken up with that feeling of dread in the morning? Once I feel that, I just say "JESUS" -- and somehow, it encourages me to get out of bed, start my day and try once again. There is power in His name. And don't get me wrong, I still have fear and anxiety, but when I pray for God to give me mighty inner strength---that in itself changes everything. God is always with you. As it says in the scriptures, He will never leave or forsake you. You may feel alone, but that's the one time you should turn to God and ask Him for help. It's the only reason I'm alive and writing this today.

If you are feeling suicidal, please reach out for help. It's a permanent solution to a temporary problem. I know you think it'll never end---that your problem will always be there and that your grief and agony will always follow you. But remember, God gives beauty for ashes. Endure just a little longer. God has you in the palm of His hands.

For now, please reach out.

We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. 

CALL: 1-800-273-8255

If you don't wish to call the number above, on the sidebar of this blog is a contact form. I check it regularly. Please contact me if you need someone to vent to. I know what it's like to feel so alone and depressed---so full of fear over things other people seem so casual about. But focus on your journey. Everyone has their own cross to bear---this one happens to be ours: anxiety and depression. Although we will probably face it throughout our lives, we can conquer it by continually praying and reaching out to those who can help.

I hope you feel better.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog at Deb's Cucina for some of her famous recipes!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

5 Side Effects of CBD Oil You May Not Know About


After I stopped drinking, I thought it would be nice to try other natural remedies to relax, like essential oils, especially CBD oils and hemp extracts. I wanted to try something that wouldn't get me high, but somehow have a calming affect on me. I went out and purchased, Charlotte's Web Hemp Extract. There are three stages of the oil: low, medium and advanced.  I tried two weeks on each level. I first found it relaxing. If I was experiencing a panic attack, it would calm me down and let me go back to 'normal' ---whatever normal is. So, I started using it every single day for two whole weeks. After two weeks, I stepped up to level two, and it helped again. After that, I went up to the advanced, and this is where I started to find out a few things about this oil and what it was actually doing to my body.

1. Lethargy

I didn't know what was happening to me. I couldn't get out of bed. I was dragging my feet all over the place. Coffee didn't even hit the spot anymore. I felt like a zombie---or on the brink of coming down with the flu---but it was just fatigue. I wouldn't have thought it was the oil.  I tried to convince myself that it wasn't, and that it was just my body fighting something off. Well, I skipped it one day and wow ---I was alive again!  I'm not sure if the oil tinkers with sugar levels and puts people into hypoglycemia, but this is something to be concerned with. When taken daily, I even experienced episodes of passing out. No bueno!

2. Throat Irritation

If you're like me, anxiety-stricken to where your throat feels like it's closing up sometimes, you're not going to like the feeling of this oil. As soon as you place one dropper under your tongue, you have to then swallow it, usually followed by a glass of water. Level 1 and 2 always hit me the hardest. Level 3, not so much because it was at its purest. It feels like you're literally swallowing a pricker bush. Sometimes, I would have to drink up to two full glasses of water to get rid of the feeling. The company even explained that this sensation was harmless, but when you have anxiety, and this oil is scratching your throat and leaving it irritated all day, it'll grind on your last nerve eventually.

3. Red Eyes (the stoner look)

Yep, I guess it's not a surprise that cannabis would give you the stoner look. My eyes were always tired looking and bloodshot. At first, I thought something was seriously wrong with my liver. I couldn't tell if my eyes were red or if they had a yellow tinge to them. But they were just red and the whites of my eyes were incredibly dim. So when I put on makeup, I had glassy red eyes that stood out really bad.

4. Dry Mouth

Again, it's no big deal until you're trying to go to sleep and choking on your own saliva. I thought maybe I was dehydrated, which was making me drink ton of water, but it was the hemp. Keep in mind, if you're already on certain medications that give you this dry mouth effect, you may want to skip the oil if it bothers you this much.

5. Depression and Suicidal Thoughts

This would have to go hand in hand with the lethargy aspect of it all, but even worse. I had crying spells out of nowhere and mood swings that were something awful. I didn't want to leave the house at all. As soon as I finished work, I'd climb right back into my PJs and turn on Netflix. I didn't cook all that much, nor did I live stream my cooking shows. Something was off. I didn't feel well. I felt a sense of doom---a dread that was so heavy, like seeing life through a foggy window. But when I stopped the oil, the next day I was "awake" and happy again. I spoke to a few other friends who have taken this on a daily basis, all saying something very similar.

Keep in mind that they have to do more studies on CBD oils and hemp extracts. It's not regulated by the FDA, and for all you know, they can be adding fillers and other stuff we may not know about. It's a billion dollar industry that's cashing in by the second. They have pharmacies and health stores stocking up on this stuff. Amazon has them by the dozens with just one hit of the purchase button. Think: this is a good business to get into. But how pure is it? Why doesn't the FDA regulate it? So for now, I'm sticking with my other essential oils that have proven to be true blue, like my oregano oil mixed in with Vitamin D3.

Please do your research before buying CBD oil. I did like it at first, until it started to really turn into something I didn't expect it to. Keep in mind, these side effects were all through my experience alone, with a few exceptions of my friends having to experience this for themselves. I went to the most reputable, to various other brands which all had similar reactions, or just no reaction at all. Sometimes, I just chucked it up to a placebo effect. You do not feel anything once you ingest one dropper. You may feel 'back to normal' --- but it does not help with joint pain nor does it help with any sort of pain---period. At least for me it didn't. Without the THC, the CBD is just the "club soda" to your vodka.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog at Deb's Cucina for some of her famous recipes!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

It's OK, Just Don't Stay There Too Long

"Another day," I thought, as I slowly crawled out of bed to make my way over to the coffee pot. Madelene left earlier than usual for work, and all I had was the sound of my chihuahua snoring as I dragged my feet across the kitchen floor. My mom always yelled at grandma for dragging her feet around, and then later down the road it was me saying, "Ma, pick up your feet when you walk," until I eventually became my mother. I stared outside the kitchen window waiting for my coffee to brew. I could see that the pool was finally covered and the surrounding landscape was nicely trimmed for next summer...if there is a next summer here. At this point, we're just biding our time, until something 'speaks' to us--maybe a smaller house, a townhome, or even an apartment. I just want to downsize and live comfortably. This old house is too big for us. I will definitely miss the big backyard with the gorgeous views, all the barbecues and dinners outside, bonfires late at night with our friends, and early mornings having my coffee out on the terrace overlooking the lake and mountains. It is magical here, but it'll be magical for another family who can fill the house with love and laughter. But unfortunately, if and when we do leave, the new owners will most likely tear this old house down, to only build one of those cookie-cutter mansions in place of ours, being that there's a million dollar view to wake up too. That would kind of kill my heart, but I have to remember that this home, this time, this world is all very temporary. Holding onto materialistic things is just meaningless. We truly never own anything. I sometimes wonder if leaving this house would be another grieving process for me.

Change is good. I've always embraced change. I lived in a couple of different places, and always made it happen. But when my parents both became sick, we returned to my ancestral home to be with them. The only change that I had a hard time with was how to live without my mother. Although I loved my dad very much, it was somehow easier with my father, only because my mind was distracted by helping my mother and her grief of becoming a widow. We grieved together, so it made it "easier." We had one another, we helped each other, which made things a little less painful. Although I took care of mom---cooked for her, made her breakfast and dinner because she hated lunch and took her to the park for some sunshine, as well as doctor visits, to tell you the truth, I don't know who took care of who. While watching my mom increasingly becoming sicker, my anxiety spiked up to where I would have a full blown panic attack out of nowhere. Unfortunately, some of these episodes were in front of mom, and even though I tried to hide it by masking it, or leaving the room---mothers know. You can't hide that kind of stuff. One afternoon while mom was having a really challenging day, I started clearing my throat a lot (a sign that I'm hiding a panic attack.) Mom automatically knew, and slowly walked over and tried to rub my shoulders with her weak and frail hands. I took her hands into mine and chuckled a little, "Ma, who's taking care of who?" And she said, "I'm always gonna take care of my baby." She was the most selfless person I've ever known. There were times when I was having anticipatory grief, crying up in my bedroom. I didn't know that she could hear me, and I also didn't know I was making any sounds, as I tried to stifle the sobbing. I wouldn't sleep for days, sometimes five nights in a row. I'd hear my mom at the bottom of the stairwell calling my name at 4am, "Deb?" It was the only time I got to sleep for an hour or two. But I spent it with her most of the time, and sometimes, one of my sisters had to come over, because she was experiencing panic attacks after the doctor told her she had three months to live. How do you even wrap your mind around news like that?  I can't even imagine. I always wonder, did she pray to God for that life sentence to go away? Did she plead with God at night? What did she do when she was all alone with only her thoughts and a box of tissues?

I tried cleaning out her room, to only finding myself weeping into one of her sweaters she didn't have time to wash. I had my sisters walk into her bedroom to grab something of hers and to go through her belongings or to just to sit and reflect, but it was usually a quick walkthrough with tears streaming down their cheeks. When I leave this house, it's a question of: do I drop everything and leave with only my belongings? Do I let the new people clean everything out for me---touch mom's clothes and belongings, or do I gain the courage to go through her closet and give her stuff to charity? I know 'the right thing to do,' but sometimes, it's harder than it sounds. Both options are hard. I'm left with old photos of the past, her comfy oversized sweaters and capris she used to wear. In the back of the closet holds beautiful suits and dresses from the days she worked at Calvin Klein and Tahari. She was a little fashionista. Her makeup she wore everyday still lays on her bathroom vanity, along with a box of tangled up costume jewelry and a can of Aqua Net she used for the last time. Her shampoos are half full, sitting on the shelves of her shower wall. On her bed lies a pile of clothing I tried to sort out and a box of tissues she used for the last time. Mom's pocketbook sat in the middle of the bed along with her wallet, credit cards and driver's license. She hadn't driven in almost a decade. The trash can next to her nightstand still has the tissues she used to cry in, blow her nose or to clean up the spills of her water since her hands shook uncontrollably. Maybe it's a mixture of both of our tissues. A few days after she died, I went into her room and laid down her side of the bed, hugging her pillow as I cried my eyes out. I fell asleep for the first time in five whole days. When I woke up, I noticed she had the first book I wrote laying on her nightstand with a rosary on it. She didn't have a bible, but the book had so many of my favorite scriptures in it. She wasn't an avid reader, but maybe she scrolled through it to read the biblical passages---I can only wonder. The rosary on top of the book was how I knew she was praying.

The coffee pot beeped at me, as if it were saying, "Snap out of it!" I poured my coffee and made myself a couple of eggs over avocado slices. Then I came over to the counter to write what was on my mind this morning. Time to grab my dog and take a brisk walk around the pond. It's OK to think about these kinds of things---to think bout your deceased loved one and even details of your shared past, but just don't stay there too long.

Have a good Saturday!


For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog at Deb's Cucina for some of her famous recipes!

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

The Illusionary Perfect Relationship

Relationships are tricky. Regardless of what anybody tells you, relationships take work. All that 'magical-butterflies-in-your-stomach' kind of passion eventually fades away, and before you know it, you're going to see the real person--the person they've been hiding for quite some time. The "real person" may even be better than you've imagined....or not. But here's the thing: it's taking two individual people from two entirely different backgrounds and lives, and then meshing them together. You do not "become one"--you become two people sharing their lives together. Once you start believing that you "become one," somehow, perhaps someone, will try and control the situation if that "one life" seems to change or becomes 'different' in some way. With that being said, those two people may change views and beliefs, and sometimes, those views and beliefs become entirely different than yours. Maybe their desired living destination has changed and they want to move somewhere tropical, and the other person prefers a colder climate. It's been proven that the "seven year itch" it realistic as it comes. That's because every seven years, our body chemistry changes. Our taste for food changes, even our allergies change. So you can imagine, your entire outlook on how relationships "should be" changes. But here's the question that needs to be asked: what's the glue that holds you two together?


If the answer is your children only, then you're going to end up resenting one another when the kids are out of the house and the divorce papers finally arrive. My mother always told me, if you can laugh with someone---I mean belly laugh type of laugh, then that person is a keeper. If you can laugh at the craziness of life, and what you two have been through, then you've got it all. Many couples' "glue" is their faith in God. It's hard to find someone with the same faith these days. There are so many people turning over to agnosticism or atheism---which is fine---free will, right? But for me, having the same faith as my partner is the most important thing. You two can edify and uplift one another, pray together, and if someone's faith starts fading out due to a loss or a heartbreak of some sort, your partner's encouragement is enough to kickstart your faith back up again. That's our glue. It's held us together in the darkest of times. Another great thing my mom told me was to make sure your other half loves you more than you love them. And it's not to say that you want to be lackluster in the relationship or marriage, but you want to know without a doubt in your mind, that the person you love, loves you just as much. You should never be someone's second choice. If there was a person that was picked before you, but you ended up 2nd place, leave. Runner up will never satisfy that person.

My favorite quote from Dream for an Insomniac is, “Anything less than mad, passionate, extraordinary love is a waste of time. There are too many mediocre things in life to deal with and love shouldn't be one of them.”

After 20+ years, "mad" and "passionate' can definitely have its own interpretation. Let's get real: relationships require patience and understanding. But remember, if someone says that they never argue or fight, then either something is wrong or they're flat-out lying. A healthy argument here and there is actually a good thing. As they say, making up is the best part! Forgiveness is huge. And when you two come to the realization that you cannot be without one another, then you know that this is a lifer. Even separations can be healthy. It'll either make or break you. A long time ago, my wife and I had separated for over a year, and it made the both of us realize how much we couldn't live without one another. I would go out with my friends to a restaurant and think, "Oh wow, she would love this!" Or I'd see something in a mall and think, "This would look terrific on her!" When you truly love someone, you always want them there with you, experiencing everything with you, as well as having some balanced alone time too.

Love is not just a feeling. It's so much more than that. Love is an action. To love someone is to show them---to prove to them---to make it clear that you are caring for them (in whatever way you do.) Love is cooking for them. Love is working hard to make a life together. Love is taking care of each other in sickness and in health. Love is compromising. Love is intimacy---doesn't all have to be sexual, but it does require human touch: snuggling up watching a movie, holding hands, long talks over coffee, massaging their back after a long stressful day, drawing a bath for them or randomly saying "I love you" for no other reason than making sure he/she knows. The "perfect relationship" isn't out there. It's finding the imperfections of your partner beautiful, which creates the perfect bond.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog at Deb's Cucina for some of her famous recipes!

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Hurt People Hurt People

Have you ever just thought to yourself, "I just wanna run away," without a clear destination in mind? Sometimes, without even a particular cause or reason? Or, perhaps you were just done with people---sick and tired of being taken advantage of, or how people disappoint you all the time...blah blah blah. Yeah, me too. But when I dig deeper---like really dig for the answers of why I'm so "sick and tired"---it usually all points out to me. If you see a pattern of you pushing everyone else away, it may not be them so much, as it is with the fact that maybe, your inability to forgive humanness as well as giving no margin error, or to actually change your response and attitude towards a particular situation. We have to love the imperfections of our imperfect friends and family----and our imperfect selves as well. We have to also first and foremost, love ourselves first before even attempting to love anybody else. Let's face it, we all have our bag of issues, but we also need to accept that other people have them as well.

We want to be treated right, treated fairy and respected. That's a given. But what happens when one of the people in your life is having a really crappy day? Maybe they lost a loved one, maybe they lost their job or they're going through a terrible divorce or breakup. Their "bad behavior" in your eyes may just be their way of grieving. Maybe they're a little more forgetful because they're lost in their own thoughts---lost in their own pain. Maybe they don't ask how you're doing because their pain overrides the happiness you may be displaying, or pretending to display. If you're showing more strength and joy, then maybe that's why they're coming to you with all of their problems, or not asking, "Hey, how are you?" In therapy sessions, it's customary to avoid asking the psychologist "how are you" only because they are there to help you. They have more strength, knowledge, and capability (so they display.) But they're human too. I don't care how unprofessional it is---I always ask my therapist(s) how they're doing. They chuckle at first, but after a while, they appreciate it.

I feel like I've pushed away a few people in my life due to my own issues. Mostly, I don't want to become a burden to anyone. Secondly, and selfishly, my own grief had turned my attitude towards things into a more bitter response than I had hoped for. Maybe I called you out on something you've done, which in the bigger scheme of things, was really no big deal at all, and should've been left alone. Or maybe I was disappointed by something you didn't even realize you had done, or hadn't done. It's true that hurt people hurt people, and if I've hurt you through my own hurt, then I am truly sorry.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog at Deb's Cucina for some of her famous recipes!

Friday, December 28, 2018

The Art of Being Disingenuous

As we were driving back home from our friend's 40th birthday party, Madelene asked me if I noticed all of the bickering our friend and her husband were doing in the kitchen. At one point, their argument became so heated that he had to step out for a drive. He didn't return home for about an hour. Sometimes, I can be so naive to these things. I rarely take notice when there's a lot going on in one place. It's all I can do to just listen to just one conversation.

"She's not happy." Madelene said.
"I don't know, I rarely get myself involved or ask anything personal." I said.
"You don't need to--it's so evident," she said, as she looked toward our friend in the backseat for confirmation.
"She has to be happy--I mean, look at the house he has provided for her. He just got her a new car too! Did you see that huge rock on her finger?"

Why would someone stay with their spouse if there is more unhappiness than anything else? If it's all about the money and provisions, then how sad is that? I would seriously live in a tent with someone I love with all my heart, rather than live with someone who disrespects me, cheats on me or treats me poorly who happens to be rich. Money has never caught my eye. A person's heart and sincerity---a person's dignity and willingness to make a life with me catches my eye. Is it disingenuous for a woman to stay with her husband just because he provides a "good life" for her, even though it's a loveless marriage? I know quite a few wealthy people who think that money "should" be able to buy love. "Well, I'm a good provider, therefore, I'm a great catch."

Wrong.

A good catch is someone who comes back home at the end of the day, kisses you softly, and then asks, "How was your day?"

A good catch is someone who has cleaned the house, cooked a healthy meal for you and the family and when you return from home, she kisses you softly and asks, "How was your day?"

A good catch is someone who holds your hand while watching a movie. It's affection--human contact--unconditional love--it's being silly together.

A good catch is someone who will hold you during the night when you feel anxious or worried so that you can fall asleep.

A good catch is someone who shares the same faith as you do, edifying your own beliefs, bringing you closer to God.

A good catch is someone who respects you and treats you as they would themselves.

A good catch is someone who would take care of you while you're sick, cover you with a warm blanket, make you homemade chicken soup, or just a simple cup of tea. It's about the effort.

A good catch will understand when there comes a time in your relationship or marriage when one gets sick and unable to be that ~fiery tiger~ at night, and decides to let you rest---someone who will wait for you. For sickness and in health.

A good catch will make you laugh so that you can forget about your problems.

A good catch is loyal, respectful, honest and willing to go the extra mile to see a smile on your face.

Anything other than that, is disingenuous.

On another note, couple of months ago, Madelene and I started to go to a new church in our area. I was excited to be apart of a new group and maybe meet other people of the same faith. I wanted to somehow get involved in the church, maybe volunteer my time or become part of the music section since I've been playing guitar for 34 years now. As we kept going back each Sunday, I noticed there was something missing. I kept stating how the church was a bit 'lackluster'---they had no umph! It definitely wasn't a spirit-filled church in my opinion.

Then, each time the pastors stepped up for their individual sermons, each one had a common tone---a tone that set off this feeling of insincerity---like someone 'trying to hard.' There was no zeal--no passion for what they were speaking about. There was no anointing. You know when you're in church and you get those 'feel good goose bumps' all over? There was none of that whatsoever. Even the church members looked like a bunch of zombies, bored out of their minds. Then one Sunday, a young man in his mid-twenties stepped up and his entire sermon was all about him. He wasn't trying to praise God or teach us something about the Bible---he was trying his best to win us over. He wasn't preaching the Word of God--he was trying to make a name for himself only. And that's the gist I got out of that church and I never returned. It was a self-serving, disingenuous church.

Years ago, we attended a church that absolutely took our breath away. Each time we left the church, we came back with a new understanding of our faith, and even a new message that God had for us. After each praise of worship, there was crying and weeping of joy---the Holy Spirit filled up the entire church, affecting everyone in its path, including us! I have never felt such a spirit-filled environment before. Each time the pastors got up to speak, they weren't speaking for themselves---they weren't speaking to just hear themselves talk. These pastors were there to bring the presence of God, and to welcome the Holy Spirit as well as to teach everyone what the message of the day was. God always has a message for you when you walk into a place of worship. If you do not get a message, it's one or two reasons---maybe you're blocking it yourself and not open enough to hear it, or maybe the pastor isn't being sincere enough, only ministering to make a name for himself. You can feel it. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, that church closed down and moved farther away. This weekend, we are attending a new church and hoping for the best.

What about people? Friends, family, coworkers, strangers---anyone.

Every morning, I pray for discernment. I pray that God will let me know the motives of people. I can pick up disingenuous people pretty quickly. But sometimes, when I give too much of the benefit of the doubt, I can be easily fooled. Thing is, we're all human and we make mistakes sometimes. As it says in the Father's prayer----"...forgive us for our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us"---we should forgive one another for our humanness. But what if someone's "humanness" gets in the way of the friendship itself, by being manipulative or intentionally using someone to get whatever benefit they are seeking? It's easier to walk away from a coworker or stranger, but how easy is it to put on the brakes with a friend or relative who may be using you? It's not easy at all. In fact, calling someone out on their ill intentioned motives may put them in a self-defense 'backing a tiger in the corner' type of reaction.

Again, as I said in my previous post, I have a lot of people thinking that I'm some sort of millionaire. I'm a free-lance blogger, author and editor. I work mainly off my advertisers who pay me. I don't make a huge bundle, but I pay my bills and I'm happy with what I have. I even have enough time to clean the house and cook a healthy homemade dinner for my wife. She deserves it since she works her butt off all day long, dealing with uptight, mean rich people. More often than not, we'll have friends who simply use us for something. How do we know? It eventually rears its ugly head when we see the person doing the same or more for another friend. A friendship should be an equal give and take. When one feels exhausted over the efforts they have to do in order to maintain a level of 'happiness' for that friend, then something is out of balance. Whether it's due to money or just being a slave for someone without the return offer of helping out in some way, then it becomes a question of: why are you really our friend? Everything in the world needs balance, whether in friendships or marriages. Balance is everything. If you decide to keep that balance more in your favor, you risk the friendship entirely. I had a friend who would only call and ask me to do something with her, only because her plans fell through. I was her last resort. I remember when she hit the last straw with me. My mother had just passed away and she said, "Let me come over and help you a little." I was thrilled! Usually, she was always coming over because I was making a spectacular dinner, as she drank my good wine. But this time, when she called and offered this, I remember I was lying in bed with tear tracks down my cheeks from crying nonstop. I asked her, "Would you make me that soup you always make?" Immediately after I asked her this, she said, "Oh, I forgot! I have plans! Sorry" That was the last straw. She wanted to come here to eat, drink and use us as her own personal B&B, as she used to call my home.


I asked another friend of mine, "Is it me? I just keep losing friends all the time. Am I asking too much?" And she said, "No Deb, you do too much and you're attracting the leeches of society." With that being said, I am in no way expecting a gift for a gift. I give without expectations, but I can pin out a person who is only in the friendship to get something out of it. I love cooking and entertaining for my friends and telling them, "Please just bring yourselves," and I genuinely mean that. But sometimes, it's nice when a friend comes over or surprises you with an unexpected gift from the heart----not a monetary gift, but something they can provide for you, like good advice, a friendly ear, or perhaps even help you cook. I've also been known to be "the therapist." I've had quite a few friends lay on my sofa talking for hours on end about their lives, never once asking how I was doing. If by chance, I got a word in edgewise, their eyes would dart around the room like a child who was completely and utterly bored. So I did an experiment with a friend the last time she was here. I wanted to see how long she would go on talking about her problems, her significant other, as well as her cockamamie stories---four hours later, I was still sitting in my recliner listening to inappropriate sexual stories that no one needed to hear or visualize. I knew right then, I needed to make a change.

People don't have to use you for money. Some people will treat you like a damn therapist, leaving you completely exasperated. Emotional vampires who literally rape your ear can be more toxic for you than someone who uses you for money. I think this is part of the reason why I don't do "peopling" well. Although, I do believe in not expecting much in people because let's face it, we'll always be disappointed, there's another side of me that believes that there are good-hearted and good-intentioned souls out there who truly want a balanced friendship. Friendships shouldn't be that complicated. It's only when you come across a disingenuous person that you'll experience the tip of the scale, favoring their side consistently. I pretty much do everything on my own. My wife and I are a team. I buy the groceries, I cook for my wife, I cook for myself, I clean the house, I pay the bills and I have never once asked for help. If I give or if I invite you to my home for dinner and a place to stay, I do it without the expectation of getting something back. I don't use people. I give from the heart---always. Thinking back, besides my in laws and my sister---there's not anyone I can think of who offered to come here and cook for me, or take care of me when I wasn't feel well. I don't have friends like that. I have fair-weather friends who are only there to reap the benefits. So if you're wondering why I sometimes go into the "recluse" mode, this would be a good explanation. I don't trust people. Most are, well...disingenuous.

For once, I'd love to prove myself wrong on this one.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog at Deb's Cucina for some of her famous recipes!