Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Why I "Choose" Pro-Life

I received an email the other day from a reader who wanted to know my views on if I was pro-choice or  pro-life. I never wanted to dabble into this controversial debate, because I know people who have had abortions and also know people who have protested against it. And it's not that I'm afraid to speak my mind, but I have mixed feelings on it. I believe God gave us "choice" - and below, I have written my own personal stories to make you see why I am mostly pro-life. I don't judge anyone who is pro-choice or who has had an abortion, but it does make me sad sometimes, and for good reason. This is the very first time I am coming out with my story, our story…

A few months ago while leaving my doctor's office, I saw a bunch of people holding picket signs protesting in front of a Planned Parenthood clinic. Usually, religious zealots come out of their faces with this sort of topic and start bible thumping those who have had abortions. It's their version of "tough love" - to show people that killing unborn babies is wrong - to show people that God is judging them. But the thing they seem to forget about is: God gave people "choice". God gave people the ability to choose what they want to do with anything in life. So who are we to judge? Now, at the same time, I had an inner smile while looking at these folks - people who were standing up for the potential of a newborn baby who doesn't have a choice to make; only the mother does. I guess I have mixed feelings with these protesters because on one hand, yes I agree that no life should be terminated, but no I don't agree we should be the judge for those who choose to do this. Now, the gray area stands: is this considered "murder"?

Why am I pro-life?

My parents had 3 kids all close in age. After 7 long years and finally, almost a break to have their young life back again, the doctor approached my mother and told her, "Do you know you are pregnant?" I'm sure this was a pretty tough decision to make for the both of them. They just got through the toughest childhood years - why would they want to go backwards again? But they chose to give me a chance. They chose to let me live. The birth wasn't easy either. I was a breech baby. But let me just backtrack a little. There was a terrible snowstorm on February 3rd, 1974. My parents were both having dinner over at a family friend's house. Back then, if you had a drink or smoked a cigarette - it wasn't a big deal as it is today. Nobody really knew for sure if it would affect an unborn baby. So, she sipped on her martini not expecting me to arrive that particular night. While they were home trying to go to sleep, mom felt something strange: my foot. I was testing the waters so to speak, trying to get out and enjoy my new life.

Back in the day I was kinda' cute, huh?
"Charlie? I think it's time," she said, not telling him about the foot that was outside of her body. She didn't want my dad to panic.  They both flew up to the hospital in the snowstorm a little before midnight. The roads were messy so it took a little time, but my foot was making it's way out entirely. As they arrived at the hospital, they discovered that her doctor along with many others were on vacation. They had to substitute doctors that night. It should have been a c-section, but instead, they cut my mother in a way that would allow the doctors to go inside and twist me around so that my head would come out first. It was such a grueling birthing that one of the doctors passed out on the floor. Another had to take his place. Long story even longer - I was alive and well. We were not supposed to make it out alive the surgeon stated. "You two were not supposed to live."

And we did. It was a miracle. So, I thank my mom so much for having me, and for enduring all the pain she went through. She chose to have me and chose to keep me.

Back when I was 19 years old and very confused about who I was, who I wanted to date and what I wanted to do with my life in general - I found myself in quite the predicament myself. I had just broken it off with my boyfriend - a man - someone who was more like a best friend to me, because I knew in my heart I wasn't straight. So, I let him go. I was starting to date Madelene at the time. But the thing was, I didn't get my period for over 2 months. I thought it was probably due to stress since I went through a breakup. But still, I went to the store and picked up a pregnancy test.

Positive.

I went the next day to buy another.

Positive.

I went to the doctor to get a urine sample.

Positive.

I pictured my life growing up way too fast. I panicked. So at work, during lunch, I sat down with my ex-boyfriend to tell him, thinking he was going to freak out and say, "You're going to abort it, right?" But instead, he said, "I'll take care of the both of you! We can get married and raise the child together! This is wonderful!" He held both my hands across the table, but that wasn't what I wanted. I didn't want to start a life with him just because we had a child together. I wanted to raise the child on my own to the best of my ability. I promised him that he would be able to see the baby any given time.

Then, I told Madelene. I was sure she was going to put her hands up and say, "Whoa - yeah - I can't do that." Instead, she said, "Really? Really?" With a huge smile wrapped around her face. "Do you still want me in your life? Because I can help you raise the baby and we can both be terrific parents." My jaw dropped to the floor thinking - "Who is this woman?" She was willing to take on the role of a mother at such an early age, just to be with me and have a family. I was so touched by this.

About 2 months in, I hemorrhaged in my bathroom not knowing why I was bleeding so much. I had a miscarriage that sent me to the hospital. I didn't tell a soul about it - in fact, nobody knew I was pregnant because I wanted to tell everyone around the 3rd or 4th month. At 19 years old, I don't think I ever cried so hard as I did that day, knowing for sure what had just occurred. I always envisioned taking care of my baby and giving him or her a wonderful life. I didn't care if I got yelled at for being pregnant or whatever 'consequences' may lie ahead - I wanted this baby more than…life. And it almost took my life because I had nothing else to live for. The only people who know about this story is my mother and my wife.

So why am I pro-life? I guess the above stories are all the reasons I need. Madelene and I were planning to have kids through me, but I guess due to the fear of losing another child would just crush me into pieces. So when I see other people having abortions, as though it wasn't a big deal, I think about the day I lost mine, which almost cost me my life. There are so many people willing to adopt your child if someone didn't want their baby. My reasons of being pro-life are very personal. And yet, I do believe that God gave us "choice" - so I don't judge anyone, but I may feel a little sadness when I hear about someone else deciding to delete a precious life.  And precious it is…

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

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Infidelity on Social Media

A few weeks ago, we were sitting at the bar having a late lunch watching the soccer game. It was a beautiful day out so the bar was pretty much empty, except for this one guy sitting with his girlfriend or wife (or whoever) across the way drinking pints of draft beer. Although they were in their late forties or early fifties, they looked like a new couple - you could just tell. They saw Madelene and I watching the game as well and we all started talking about it. As soon as the woman left to go use the restroom, he had stated that she was not his wife and that his wife was home. This was a girl he had met online and has been dating her for several months. Whatever. I didn't need to know all the details, but he felt the need to get it all out on the table. I felt that instant 'creep' vibe. I focused more on my wife after his awkward confession. Anyway, they both asked if we could take a photo of them with their phones. Sure, why not, right? Then I see them tinkering around after their photo op and posting it onto Facebook.

I couldn't help it.

"That oughta' be interesting."
"Excuse me?" he said, baffled at my snarky comment.
"Well, from what you told me while she was in the restroom, shouldn't you refrain from posting that up onto social media?"
"Oh, no. My wife doesn't have Facebook."
"So I guess it's okay to be openly slimy then and make your wife look like a complete fool. I mean - I'm sure you both have mutual friends on your account, right? But, I guess it's none of my business anyway."

But he made it my business by telling me. He rubbed his forehead and turned towards his mistress for comfort. She didn't look too comforting that he had told the lesbian couple at the end of the bar. In fact, they started bickering.

(You're welcome.) 

The woman started staring at me, almost in fear, like she wanted to run out of there in shame. But I didn't do it to shame her or him - I was just disturbed that he would literally mock his wife on social media by posting some 'cozy' photo of him and his mistress. And if you are having an affair, why in the world would you tell complete strangers at the bar?  Why would you post photos of yourself and your lover onto Facebook or Twitter or any other forms of social media?

One of our girlfriends is doing the same thing. She and her partner of ten years are not doing so well. But the one girl is out openly cheating on her and doing the same social media bullshit. And no, her girlfriend at home is not internet savvy, but I will tell you what happens when you start posting "cheat pics": your friends, family and anyone else who sees these photos will talk. Not only will they talk, they also lose any respect they had for you. If she wanted to be with somebody else, then give the respect to either separate or breakup or even have a heart-to-heart with you partner about what's going on. Own it. Or someone else will own the story for you and let your significant other know what's brewing. What makes me laugh is when someone actually asks them, "Hey, who was that girl you were kissing on Facebook," - they blow up as if that person did something wrong. If you decide to be publicly slimy, face the music.

People on Facebook can be evil. It's used in various evil ways in order to draw attention or 'get someone back' and of course, make subliminal status messages hoping that the target has read your encrypted message. Twitter's no better. In fact, some scumbag from Rhode Island started tweeting me and then of course, that led him to feel the need to DM me. (Which is a private message.) He asked if I was married. I explained yes, and with a woman. He said, "Oh that's okay, I flirt with anyone even though I'm married." I should have just blocked him then, but then, the next message was a dick pic. What are these people thinking? I asked if he was in politics. At least have enough money to back up that small package of yours.

No relationship is perfect. Even in mine, we argue, we banter about this n' that - but in the end, we realize why we're together and most importantly, come to a common ground before she bites my ear off. She understands my madness and I understand her frustrations as well. And when your relationship comes to the point where it's nothing but fighting and conflict day in and day out - remember what brought you two together in the first place. Picture your life without that person. Think about the consequences and how you'll feel when you're on the lawn that seemingly looked greener. And hey - let's face it - it may definitely be greener, but it's the way you left the previous property that counts.

Years and years ago, I was mixed up in a pickle myself. I was having problems with my relationship and we both agreed to separate. The person I started dating had left her relationship as well. So whenever we got into an argument in this "new relationship" - I always brought up, "Maybe it's true, however you meet someone determines how you will end it with them." Just like, "Meet em' at a bar & it ends in a bar." And of course, she eventually cheated on me like she did when we first met. There are serial monogamists - and that's okay. But what does it say about someone when they will only leave their husband or wife behind once the affair has bloomed fully - when they feel 100% secure enough to actually admit to the affair? It's like always having someone waiting in the wings, 'just in case'.

So my whole point is this: if you're reading this and you're openly cheating on your spouse on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Telegram, errr - then just know that you are being mocked by all your friends, your family, and any "acquaintance" on your friends list.  Not only have I heard quite a few things about some of my closest friends who are doing this, but it leaves the person you're cheating on left in the dark looking like a complete fool. Our girlfriend asked us, "Oh would you mind if I brought Shelly with us tonight?" And Shelly (being the mistress) - and Madelene and I being the mutual friend of the wife that's left home watching reruns of Modern Family - "YES I would mind." That's something I want no part of. To me, if I were to have said "yes" to her new girlfriend, that would mean I was also mocking our friend who has no clue where her other half was. I just think that's sad.

What would you do if your friend asked if he or she could bring their side dish along? Keep in mind - your friends with their other half at home. Would you be okay with that?

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

Friday, July 11, 2014

Should Transgender People Educate Society?

The other day, a dear friend of mine named, Marlo Bernier had posted something very interesting on her Facebook page. It was an article called, "Transgender People Are Not Responsible for Educating You," written by Parker Marie Molloy.  I have to say I loved reading this piece. It was well written and she made some great points. However, part of me has another opinion on it since society is either too lazy or too prejudice to get informed on certain issues. Part of it goes onto say, "Writers, activists, and professional educators like myself have chosen to use our time to instruct individuals on these matters; but it really, truly needs to be stressed that it is not any individual trans person's responsibility to educate others. For most, being transgender is only one facet of their existence. They can be teachers, lawyers, doctors, or accountants, and they should not feel obligated to take on the role of educator in addition to these already time-consuming careers. And for many, having to repeat educational information is emotionally draining or serves as a painful reminder of negative experiences they had while coming to terms with their identity."

I'm in total agreement with this, however in a perfect world, we'd all learn about everyone's gender identities, sexual orientations, races, religions and so on and so on. But sadly, for the bulk of society - people seem to "keep within their own circle" - "keep within their own kind" and they are more comfortable in doing so. They are unexposed and unaware of any sort of etiquette when it comes to the LGBT community.

She continues… "Think of it this way: I may not have ever had a professional baseball player sit me down and explain the rules and the history of the game, but I've still managed to learn the difference between a 'ball' and a 'strike.' How did I accomplish this? By consulting the glut of information readily available on the subject online and in print. Interrupting people while they are playing the game to ask basic questions is rude, and moreover, would not be viewed as something players should take the time to address. If I want to call myself a baseball fan, the onus is on me to get up to speed. The resources exist, and if I persist in not understanding baseball, it's willful ignorance on my part. So how is the learning about or becoming an ally of transgender people any different?"

Here's the keyword: "fan". Not everyone is going to agree or become a "fan" if you are transgender or even gay or lesbian. So this baseball analogy doesn't make sense to me, unless people are truly fascinated and genuinely interested in getting to know someone who is transgender. There are people out there who ask questions to the LGBT community as if we were some side show circus. We're people. We're not trying to "outcast" ourselves anymore than we already are. I understand what she's trying to say, but I guess it's too far fetched in left field somewhere.

Some of the content talks about people inquiring about gender reassignment and such - which by any means in rude in itself. You wouldn't ask anyone about their genitals, would you? So she writes, "The genital inquisition is just one of the reasons we need to stop allowing people to use 'I'm just trying to be educated' and 'How will I learn if you won't teach me?' as cover for prurient curiosity. If you are serious about your trans education, get online or open a book. What's the difference between a gender-fluid individual and a bi-gender individual? What does 'dysphoria' mean? Why do some trans individuals get reconstructive genital surgeries while others don't? What does 'cisgender' mean? All of these questions can be answered in a matter of seconds. If you truly want to be an ally to trans people, you’ve got to start by doing your homework."

Here's the sad truth: nobody is going to Google or look through books on "cisgender" and how important it is to use the correct pronoun to someone who has just transitioned - "male" and "female". Nobody's going to do their homework, because it's not their homework to do in the first place. When I first came out of the closet at the age of 19, my friends including those who were unfamiliar with my lifestyle asked me a ton of questions. Anything from, "who plays the man and who plays the woman" to "how do you -- umm, you know?" And I accept full responsibility to educate them on how my life was - which may be different to someone else who was also gay like me. I didn't tell them to Google it or "buy a book on it" - I was happy to answer questions to someone who was curious about my life, whether genuine or not. I was flattered. (Sometimes.) Face it, most people are ill informed about the LGBT community and all that's involved. But the truth is - not everyone goes by the same rules. Everyone has their individual set standards, labels, truths, etc. The world isn't as open-minded as we'd like, so with that in mind, I don't think it would hurt to answer some awkward and uncomfortable questions. I think by doing so, you're opening the window of enlightenment - a chance to let someone into your world.

This afternoon, I had to go to my tailor to get a pair of pants hemmed. She was new in the area and opened up a small shop down the road from me. She was extremely friendly and accommodating. She said she was from the San Francisco area and was trying to get accustomed to the "New Yawk attitude". She has seen a lot of high-strung tough customers, which she's not used to. She asked how I knew of her new business and I said, "My wife gave me your card." She stared at me for a few seconds and it hit her - "Ohhhh, okay."  Oddly enough, she started telling me a story that happened to her just the other day. And please let me try to write this word-for-word of how she explained this botched up mess of an event.

You tell me what's wrong with this story.

Even natally born females wear obnoxious makeup.
"So like, yeah - I'm totally cool with that because you know, I'm from San Francisco n' all and very open-minded about that. I would never turn down your business. In fact, a transgender man walked in here and he had this bright, obnoxious red lipstick on and a huge wig - I mean, you could totally tell. So, being that I'm a fashionista, (GASP!!! And YES she really did say this!) I kindly explained that he should tone it down if he didn't want to get anymore stares that he was already complaining to me about. And then, my customers who were behind him left because she said she didn't want her child to see stuff like that." 

There's so much wrong with the above paragraph that I just want to proverbially crumble it up and throw it in the trash. First of all, she cannot turn down my business just because I have a wife. I reminded her of the "freedom of religion" bill that was trying to get passed in Arizona. She had no clue about it. Secondly, that's not a transgender man you moron! That's a woman. And if you're from "San Francisco" and soooo "open-minded" then why are you so goddamn clueless? But I can't say that to her. She isn't educated on any of the LGBT communities and lifestyles. So here's my point: even if people live in the most openly gay and transgendered area, they still will be ignorant to the truth. They still will not know about what's what and who's who. They still will not educate themselves on their own community. So what's wrong with a little enlightenment? I have to say that I am extremely grateful for my transgendered friends for teaching me everything I know and everything about their own set individual lives. I had a hard time in the past learning about sexual orientation vs. gender identity. Just because someone is a transgender woman, does not mean she wants to be with a man…or a woman. She could be straight or gay. I'm sure someone out there reading that last line is totally confused. So to all my transgender friends, please don't take offense if someone asks you an inappropriate 'typical' question - let them learn firsthand, the right way, instead of my valley girl tailor teaching them all about it.

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

Thursday, July 10, 2014

What You Resist Persists

There is a lot of truth to that saying, "Whatever you resist persists." I've heard it before, but sort of dismissed it as one of those nonsensical inspirational kinda' quotes that you usually find on social media. But think about it: whatever you resist will persist, so when you stop resisting, it will stop - it will discontinue. I remember telling my therapist about all the panic attacks I was experiencing. She said, "Acknowledge it and accept it. It's like the riptide: the more you fight it, the more it will attack you." So basically, what she meant was: what you embrace is what will dissolve. Think about it - if someone taunts you and tries to get your goat, what happens if you ignore them? What happens when they get no response from you? They stop. But what if that person gets an angry response? It continues. And that was my entire problem - even recently. I mean, I would react to things that I didn't want to happen. So, it would go on and on, until I stopped reacting and resisting it.

My mother always tells me, "Turn the other cheek," when I'm faced with some sort of conflict or hurt by someone. It's the same exact thing as "what you resist persists" type of thinking. Turn the other cheek and get slapped again? YES. Because there'll be no more cheeks left…umm…well sort of. I would resist criticism and attack their flaws instead. But I should have listened, and then if I so desired, either take the criticism constructively or just dismiss it - but not to fight it. That would only cause conflict within myself. I know a few people in my life who are just fault finders and those who just want to yank yer' chain a little to see how you react. For the ones who do this - they're bored. They want conflict, otherwise they wouldn't know what to do with themselves. They're insecure and not comfortable in whatever environment they're in. So, they start biting your ankles. Let them. When they see it doesn't affect you - *poof* - gone with the wind.

Which brings me to an interesting scenario that you'll get a kick out of hopefully. There's this girl I know who is totally in the closet about being a lesbian. She lives a double life, and for the love of God - she's in her 40's! She keeps this huge secret from her family and closest friends, except of course, from me. She knows I've been with my wife for 20 years and that seems like a "safety net" to her in some way. Anyway, what I don't understand is, when we are all together in a group of our friends, she will pick on me or even mock my lifestyle - like casting me out as the "man-hater" to which I'm totally not. Or she'll indicate that since I'm gay, that I must be hitting on all my 'gal pals', which is so far from the truth. She'll make comments in front of everyone, just to take the attention off of her. But the thing is, everyone else doesn't have a problem with me being the 'gay girl' in the group - only the other gay girl in the group has the problem. Isn't that a kick in the ass? So, I never entertain the comments nor 'out' her. I let her go on about her "distaste" in gays and lesbians (of course in jest) and just keep every thought to myself, or jot it down on my blog. And of course, I can quickly snap back and say, "Why don't you tell everyone you're gay? What's the big deal?" But doing that would only cause more resistance to the truth, and more conflict.

It's hard to remain quiet when you want to blurt out something painfully truthful, just for the mere fact of just having a reactive type of personality. But this is where 'what you resist persists' comes in. Sometimes, just accepting whatever negative thing is happening in your life right now is more ammunition to make it disappear. It's a very difficult thing to do, especially if you're extremely responsive to negative feedback, criticism and shitty circumstances. You want to change it as fast as you can. But when you've exhausted all efforts to change it - to resist it - then you're left with remnants of a backfired tailpipe. It takes practice and many learning curves, but in the end, nothing will penetrate your bubble of protection from negative people. You'll eventually stop absorbing everything, to which will cause the self-loathing idiots to give up the battle and move onto the next sensitive soul.

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

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

8 Steps to Relieve Anxiety Without Big Pharma Making a Buck

We all have our limits with anything. Every one of us stresses over particular things in life because we all hold different lifestyles. Some have kids, some have demanding jobs, some have troublesome relationships and marriages and others just have anxiety disorder stemmed from PTSD or going through a rough patch from something in the past. We all look fine on the outside, but on the inside, some of us are dying. I remember watching this woman at work who was directing a seminar on "better customer service". I couldn't believe how chipper and outgoing she was. She was zipping from one side of the room to the other, full of excitement and positive energy. You never saw this woman without a smile. It was like - wow - can someone be this happy all the time? I sat there and envisioned her having some sort of mental breakdown. Her happiness was so extreme that I entertained myself with these scary images of her curling up into a ball screaming and crying in some corner of the room. I don't know why those thoughts entered my mind, but I do know that months later, she did have a nervous breakdown and eventually, had to leave the company for good.

Anxiety comes in many forms. Some have a full blown panic attack, while others may drink it away. Some have insomnia while others develop phobias and become a recluse to society. My anxiety shows up when I'm trying to fall asleep at night. My body violently jerks me awake as if I'm having a mild seizure. Even sleep studies showed that it was nothing but anxiety. They're also known as "hypnic jerks" or "sleep jerks". And so, it's a matter of relaxation techniques that are very challenging for someone going through anxiety disorder to maintain. For me - if I know I'm trying to relax myself, my body fights it, so that I can't concentrate on feeling better. My mornings are much better. I developed this fear of going to bed at night. So when night falls, my fear kicks in. This pattern has gotten worse as the symptoms were just relentless. My bed has become my torture chamber. I fear it. The morning is my savior, if of course, I had gotten at least 4 hours of sleep.

The worst thing you can do to someone experiencing panic attacks is diagnose them with "something". It's not your job. And not only isn't it your job, it's insulting and demeaning. I also find it insulting when people try telling me, "Here, take this pill! And oh, you should go on this medication!" I don't believe in medication. I believe people get hooked on pharmaceutical poison and the "big business" stays…big. So what - I go on Klonopin to only get addicted to this narcotic? And then people want to give me antidepressants so it'll help with my…anxiety? That right there is the biggest pharmaceutical lie ever: antidepressants are for people who are depressed. There was one time I had actually tried all the antidepressants available. You know what they gave me? Anxiety. it's because it's not meant for high strung anxiety-stricken people. It's meant for lifeless, depressed people who cannot get out of bed. It gives you energy. It helps to push you to your limit. And for me, one of these medications gave me a full blown seizure where I had to be taken to the ER for help.

No wonder why everyone is such a mess. They're relying on pills and then drinking themselves into a coma. And I'm no stranger to tapping into my wine here and there, but I have seen a lot of my friends self-medicate themselves to the point of forgetting even if they had kids at home. This world has gotten so crazy - we're overwhelmed and so unhappy - all of us. And I can safely say ALL of us. And nobody should be giving advice to anyone else other than their psychotherapists. But of course, people are "too proud" to see a shrink or get real help from someone who can practice CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) on them, and then again, who has the money to see someone for 45 minutes and shell out $200 a week?? That's just crazy. I can go to my family doctor, get x-rays to see if I have kidney stones and pay $10.00 as a copay. But 45 minutes of a conversation will cost me an arm and a leg? No thank you.

Beware of fakes. There are so many "psychiatrists" who have big degrees on their wall and who are certified as "real shrinks" that do nothing but drink coffee and listen to you ramble on for 45 minutes and then steal all your hard earned cash. (And notice they only accept cash?) I'm in the wrong business. But the last shrink I saw that try to convince me that he could have me fixed within 2 sessions was a complete quack! Not only did he talk about his accomplishments and what music he enjoyed, but he took me for a tour of his 4,000 sq ft home. Unprofessional. And this guy is supposed to be this top notch psychiatrist and professor in my area. He even showed me his hot tub outside of his home. So, now he has wasted 10 minutes of my time that I'm paying for. As we eventually got into 'talk therapy', so he could get to know me a bit better, he was completely scatterbrained that I had to ask him to repeat what I had just told him. He couldn't.

Fired.

I think the best "professionals" are those who have or are experiencing anxiety and panic disorder. What works for them? What helps them calm down? And I have learned a few techniques of my own that may help you if you're suffering.

So here is my "free" advice:

  1. First of all, do not let anyone's "advice" absorb into your mind. Once they start talking about which medications that you should be on while they're holding a glass of scotch -- hold out your hand right to their face. Say, "STOP." Don't allow them to feed you this garbage. There are so many people who have anxiety disorder themselves, even worse off, who pretend they're "okay" and then try to feed you garbage so that they feel like they've helped in some small way. 
  2. Push away people who overwhelm you. You don't have to write a Dear John letter. You just have to stop letting these toxic people into your life. This even goes for family members, if that applies to you. Stop letting arrogant know-it-alls try to tell you what to do or what you should be doing. Dismiss them completely.
  3. Go to your higher being (GOD) or whoever you pray to. Pray for a hedge of protection around your entire body, mind, soul, spirit and heart. Pray for health, mental and physical. But the best way to get this help is to not only pray, but to meditate and "listen". We pray and pray and pray and wonder why we don't get a response. LISTEN. Feel it. Trust it. It may feel or sound 'cooky', but this is what truly works for me, when I let it. 
  4. Drop everything. The world will go on without you. Even if it's for one day, give your kids to a babysitter or spouse. Tell them, "I'm having a mental breakdown, please help me!" Too embarrassed to say that? Then explain that you will not be able to function properly if you don't have this "mental health day". And whether that day consists of a mani/pedi, message, spa treatment or just simply sitting by the lake on a beautiful day and/or watching rerun episodes of Roseanne in your bedroom - that's YOUR getaway.
  5. Just say no. Simple as that. Whenever you are stressed or pressured to be present at some event and you don't want any part of it - just. say. no. Don't confuse this with having anxiety about going - because you should definitely do things in fear - I'm talking about not having the desire to be around people you don't necessarily enjoy spending time with. I remember my dad telling me, "She's right! If she doesn't want to go, why should she?" Then he glanced over at me and said, "I wish I could say no!" My friend recently just told me the same thing. "If it's not your cup of tea - why should you be miserable and waste your time on something that's not of interest?" And yes, while we should do things we don't want to do, it's important to put limitations on certain things. 
  6. Sit outside. I'm talking, for hours. (Not all in the sun mind you.) There's something about being outside that rejuvenates your entire wellbeing. Fresh air, vitamin D from the sun, the sounds of birds - being in the elements helps me a lot. But don't expect me to do this if it's 100 degrees out. You'll find me in the A/C watching the outside on TV. 
  7. Especially when you are stressed out, eat nutrient dense meals - meaning, eat the eggs without the empty nutrients of breads. Eat a hamburger without the bun with tons of veggies and fresh garden salads. Try incorporating avocados into your meals. I even put them on my plate when I make a couple of eggs for myself. Most of all, I take 3,000 IUs of vitamin D every single day and try to get extra sun into my regimen. NO sugar (if you can). No corn with your barbecues. Lots of blueberries, coconut water and be fully hydrated. Food is medicinal. It can really make a difference in how you feel. 
  8. Go "OCD" crazy and clean your area and house. Clean until you can't clean anymore. Just being in a beautiful and clean environment will lift your spirits up and calm your nerves. If I see my area is cluttered, my anxiety goes through the roof. I'm also big on ambient lighting. Try to make your home as cozy as you can - I don't care if you're in some studio apartment or some teepee down the street. Own it. Make it happen. Now, if you're spiritual like myself, you have probably heard that a cleaner environment invites positive energy into your home. I even heard that angels only visit when it's clean. I guess they have OCD too. 

Take the advice of a crazy lady! 
That's all I have for now. But remember, eliminate the bad static in your life and create new positive forces that'll help you maintain your sanity when you're feeling overwhelmed. I have a lot of work ahead of me, but isn't it better to hear from someone who goes through it, instead of someone who doesn't know a thing about panic and anxiety, trying to give you unsolicited advice? It's like an AA director who has never touched a drink. Would you want her help? Of course not.  Feel better and let me know if those little tips helped you. I have an area if you look to the right of this blog that lets you write in. It's a message box. Please let me know how this has helped you or if this has helped at all.

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

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

The 7th Year - I'm Not the Same

(EDIT: This post was written early this morning. I was going to delete this, but instead I had placed it into a draft folder. I know it would have stayed in that draft folder forever.  Coincidentally, as I was working on something else, I was also listening to Joel Osteen's sermon to get my morning started. It was called, "The Seventh Year". It was like a confirmation to post this article. I was hesitant to publish this only due to the sensitive content in it - perhaps more of the raw honesty that I had poured into it. I let too many things hold me back. So here is part of Joel Osteen's sermon right after I had written this post. I'm just amazed. According to Deuteronomy 15 and the law of God given to Moses, Hebrew slaves were released on the seventh year.

Your Seventh Year 

When we’ve struggled in an area for a long time, it’s easy to think, “This is the way it’s always going to be.” The “seventh year” is when you break free from limitations that have held you back — debt, lack, sickness, insecurity, addictions, depression, constant struggle. You have to stir up your faith. The seventh year is when you break free from any limitation that is holding you back. With one touch of God's favor it will suddenly turn around. When you come into your seventh year forces of darkness will not stop what God wants to do in your life. The seventh year is a release from limitations and into increase. God will exceed your expectations. He will release you from sickness into health. He can take your darkest hour and turn it into your brightest hour. How do you get ready for your seventh year? Start talking and thinking like it's going to happen. When you're in tough times and think you're not going to break out, remind yourself that you are not going to be there for a long time. Your faith is what causes God to move. This is when the creator of the universe will show up and do amazing things. Your praise is what activates God's favor. Talk, act and praise like it's going to happen. A lot of times instead of taking our praise to God, we take our problems to God. It's easy to turn our prayer into a complaining session. Remember, God already knows our needs. Your financial situation may not look good, but thank God. Quit telling God what you've heard. It may look permanent but He's announcing your freedom. Announce it then declare it. Declare to be happy, content, confident, enjoying your life. This is what faith is all about. You have to call things that are not as if they already were. Don't announce defeat and declare mediocrity. Dare to do like I say and declare God's favor is coming. The tide of the battle has turned. Every chain has been loosed. You are breaking free. God is releasing you into favor and opportunity. He is releasing you into the fullness of your destiny. ~ Joel Osteen 

I don't believe in coincidences. So now, here is the post I had written before I even heard this sermon.)

Do you believe in the 7 year itch? It's a funny term to describe that 'itch' to get out of a longterm relationship, or perhaps someone in that relationship had changed drastically, to where the two who were once connected by commonality are now two separate people with separate interests. I don't know if the 7 year mark is accurate, but I do know that every 7 years (or so), I find that I have changed. I do believe that people change greatly within a 7 year's time. For instance, 7 years ago, I was a totally different person. I had different outlooks on life, different desires, different tastes in many things in life. I was more off-the-cuff - not knowing what kind of adventure would be waiting for me the next day. With that, I drank a lot. I mean…an awful lot. Mornings weren't my best suit. I was usually sick and dealing with some nasty hangover. I had quite a few family and relationship friction going on, to where I would numb the feelings by drinking it away. But it all came back inconveniently the next morning while popping Advil and at times, soothing my withdrawals with a bloody mary.

I remember my early 30's being very unstable, unpredictable and very challenging for those around me. I didn't know what the future held. My "job" was more like 'starving-artist-trying-to-make-it-big' type of gig, and my ability to focus on any one thing was next to nil. I have so many unfinished projects under my hat during that time of confusion that I can't even tell you what the point of those projects were. One day, I may finish them. But back to my 30's - what a terrible time and in the same breath, thank God for that time, because I learned so much from it. It made me who I am today. I believe I am stronger, healthier, (mind, body, spirit) and happier because of the outcome. I also realized, once I stopped trying to 'make it big' - things came together in a calm and steady way. My work was more enjoyable and not so much about trying to impress other people. And if it is about impressing others - I only want those who are in my field to take a look and help a sister out. So my work is like an online resume. I was finally given my big bad blue badge on my Facebook fan page. That's huge if you're someone trying to pursue a writing career. It means, people 'know your work'.

So where was I? 7 year ago…yes. I don't regret one thing, one person, one event that had taken place during that time. I can't say ohhh it was so so miserable, because there were happy moments within that time. But I was a mess. (That hasn't changed much, but I'm now a 'better mess'.) Have you ever connected with an old friend from childhood and realized how much the both of you have drastically changed? A close friend of mine from childhood had visited me over the weekend and it was quite an eye-opener. I learned that some things have changed, and others, not so much. We still had that 'sister-like connection' as we always did, however our lives - our lifestyle - our entire outlook on everything were polar opposites. Every second, she kept trying to score some 'smoke' and kept asking me if 'this one' had it and if 'this guy' still smoked. When she realized no one did any longer, she said, "What's going on?"

They grew up…?

They came into their 7th year?

And not to say that those who smoke marijuana are immature and haven't grown up, and some of course use it medicinally, but these people knew that this particular thing didn't benefit their lives any longer. Blame it on the 7 year turnaround? Or just growth in learning what works and what doesn't anymore? So here's my old friend at our home, biting her fingernails because nobody had any 'smoke' on them, watching us pour a glass of wine or two while we barbecued for the 4th of July. I was then hit with, "Well didn't you have back pain last year?" And of course, I was begged for my Oxycodone - a bunch of old pills sitting in a private section of my home. I never place medications in the typical places. That's when I had to step back, because her addiction was much more than just a hankering for the evening. I even got, "I'm in so much pain - wouldja' mind?" There was nothing to sooth her hankerings. From 12 cups of coffee a day, to driving around all day long searching for her 'smoke' - there was nothing I could do for her. And if she didn't have her 'smoke', she became irritable and irrational. Sadly, it was something I could not deal with, nor understand. All I assumed was, this girl was in a lot of "pain" - more so emotional,  and so she needed to numb every single sensation in her body in order to feel calm.

Then I thought about my early 30's and how I was so reliant on alcohol. If there was an event without alcohol, hell if I was attending. So basically, my addiction was no better or worse than hers. I remember when I first started going to AA for my '90 day clean out'. It was the best thing I ever did for myself. I learned (for myself) that I no longer wanted to get drunk. I didn't need alcohol to enjoy the people around me. And when I was finally 'cleaned out' - I went back to moderately drinking. I haven't had a hangover in quite some time and wow - does that feel good. But not many people can do the moderation thing. Even when I had back problems, ooooh those Percocets felt nice easing all the pain away. But I started to crave them after the pain as well. I quickly nipped that in the bud and now, no longer even touch the stuff.

Everyone has a "rock bottom" where they throw in the towel of their addictions. Mine was back in 2008 - the time when I first walked into my AA meeting because I was sick and tired of wasting my life away. My "rock bottom" may have not been the extreme type, where someone got hurt or killed due to my addiction (and thank God for that), but mine was more about getting my life together and living a healthier lifestyle. I remember a woman in my AA meeting who had mocked me and said, "You don't know what it's like to be a low-bottom drunk. High bottoms have no clue." She basically made me feel as though I didn't belong there. I asked her, "Aren't the only requirements for being here is to have a desire to quit drinking, even if it is temporary?" Thank God everyone supported my answer, because this woman was angry - foaming at the mouth over how much 'better' my addiction was. No, I didn't lose anyone because of alcohol, and no, I didn't almost lose my life (well maybe a couple of times), but I am here now realizing that I don't want to get that low. Does that even count?

So I think of it like this: because of that awful time 7 years ago - I am now able to sit and be content having 1 or 2 glasses of wine and I usually celebrate that because back then, 1 or 2 glasses of wine would have been 12-14 glasses, perhaps 3 bottles? And that's just for myself. Many of my Instagram 'wanna-be-a-photographer' types of pics are filled with beautiful sceneries, and a glass of wine. It's my thing - it's my gig. Although I don't judge anyone for smoking pot or doing whatever it is to relieve their emotional or physical pain, I know for myself that it hurts me to see someone I care for wrecking their lives on prescription pills. I can't deal with it nor do I tolerate that in my home. I have had the unpleasant experience of finding out a few people in my life who had accidentally overdosed, because one pill wasn't enough. Their tolerance had risen, and so did their dosage. The addiction also includes lying and manipulation to get from point A. to point B. - to get to the goods. And I have dealt with that sort of thing this week. I'm just hoping that one day, she'll come into her 7th year and realize how brutal that constant craving was and how miserable it is to have friction with every single person in your life due to the addiction.

My mother and I had a really interesting conversation about the 7th year a few months back. She said herself that she wasn't the same 7 years ago. And 7 years before that, she was a total different person - or as she says it, "That person is dead now." I remember back in 2000 she was working a full time job in Calvin Klein and coming home to cook and take care of my father who also returned from his day job. She drove on highways and got herself from point A. to point B. all the time without a fuss. Then 7 years flew by and she retired, loving her new life as a stay at home wife and enjoying her family and new grandkids. It was a much different life for her. And of course, she complained about both: "I'm so tired of working," and "I miss working every day." But realistically, she was in a better place in her life.

There are pivotal moments in our live where we discover that we're not the same any longer. We have different views, opinions, lifestyles and new people around us. We adapt to a new world, environment or even just a different state of mind. If you were to ask me 7 years ago if I wanted a dog - I'd say hell-to-the-no, because I didn't want to pick up dog shit or have to take them on vacation and have that responsibility of a life solely relying on just ME. I wasn't ready for that and I didn't want dog hair all over my house. Now? I cannot live without my dog. She sleeps with me, shares my couch and blankets and if I see dog hair on me, I love it, because it's hers. I used to be allergic to dogs - having asthma attack-like symptoms and burning eyes. Now I have absolutely no allergies from dogs. My allergist even told me that my allergy test (graph and blood work) showed up positive for being allergic to dogs. Despite his warnings, I did it anyway. They also stated that every 7 years (wow what a coincidence) - that our bodies develop or release certain allergies. There's gotta be something to that 7th year.

What about you? What were you like 7 years ago? Do you have the same convictions as you did back then? Do you find that you and your significant other sort of changed during that period - or have had conflicts? It would be interesting to hear from other people if they experience drastic changes after 7 years. And think about it - it's not something you're going to notice because it's 7 whole years ago. But think back to 7 years ago today. Were you different? Was your life different? And, for better or for worse?

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

Monday, June 30, 2014

Breathe

Usually during the summer months, I become much more vibrant and active. I'm excited about hot days and warm nights. I look forward to the thunderstorms rolling through the mountains and rainbows appearing after almost each one of them. My home is more conducive to inviting loved ones over and having BBQs, fire pits and enjoying one another's company. But lately, I'm finding myself very fatigued and weak. My joints hurt and my sleep is next to none. In fact, the past couple of summers it's been like that. And then I realize that we're approaching July. July is supposed to be the best month of the season, but it's the month my father passed away back in 2012. I guess my brain still has that same day, same time imbedded in the archive files of my mind. I'm not even sure if those files are considered "archive" yet. So I acknowledge it, accept it and try focusing on the better memories, instead of his last days.

I remember a friend of mine always used to say, "February is just a bad month for me. Please keep me occupied or I'll fall into a depression." And coincidentally, it happened to be when she had lost her parents. I don't know why dates stick in our minds so vividly, as if we were revisiting the past somehow. And too often enough, I always see 12:21 when I look up at the clock. I saw this a few years before Dad passed. It was the time he died. July 21rst is also the date of his passing. Many of my relatives have died on the 21rst of whatever month. Strange. I can't help but have a tinge of fear every 21rst of the month. That's a whole other issue. I see the fatigue, aches and pain my mother goes through during this time. She's quiet, more introverted - introspective - as if she's in a far off land. And she is.

And old friend of mine who had moved away down in North Carolina years ago, is coming up to visit us for a few days with her little Chihuahua. My little Lola will be thrilled to have a friend to play with. I'm finding out that these beautiful distractions is really what's going to save me. Not to say that I'm going to completely forget - but it helps to have a dose of happiness in the house when the months of remembrance looms over our heads. So, I won't be writing much this week. She is on the road now and supposed to be here tomorrow morning or afternoon. I'm taking some days off and focusing in on what's important. We're just going to catch up, enjoy the nice weather, BBQ, watch the fireworks and have a nice, peaceful time. I'll most likely be back later this week or next Monday. Until then, please have a happy and safe 4th of July!

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