Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Immediate Gratifications of Happiness

Let’s face it, we’re all walking time bombs, holding in explosive emotions that somehow gets lost in a rubble of facades that try making our exterior appear as “happy”. Some people don’t even know they’re holding in a lot of garbage that hasn’t been taken out yet. Every single person can shed a tear if you say the “right” thing, whether it be a past memory, a past heartbreak, a traumatic experience or someone they had lost through an unfortunate death. That one thing you bring up can open that little emotional box stored deep inside their heart that’s been closed up for so long. So many people deal with it in various ways. Some people who I know personally actually poke fun at their life’s traumas on stage as comedians. It’s almost like therapy in a sense, laughing at themselves, their past experiences and realizing that ‘it is what it is’. They relate to other people on many levels. This enables healing in an unconventional way. There are many sad comedians out there harboring past wounds. Even just funny people in general - look into their eyes - really look at them.

“Smile, though your heart is aching, smile, even though it’s breaking... When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by...”

Smiling even when feeling sad is very effective. And no, I don’t believe it’s repressing your feelings, as much as it is trying to improve your overall well-being. They say that smiling ‘fakes’ out your mind, and eventually, you will be genuinely smiling. I totally believe this. I know this sounds strange, but even if I’m around the house alone, cleaning or doing whatever, and if I’m feeling really sad, I’ll try smiling and I’ll turn on the Spanish music channel (usually merengue) and immediately start feeling better, even if I don’t know a lick of Spanish. It’s happy music. Eventually, your mood will follow. I guess it goes hand-in-hand with the power of suggestion and the ability to contradict the opposite emotion. Your mind is a powerful tool, but if you let it take over, then you’re giving up control, and eventually, all of these negative feelings, thoughts and emotions will drive you absolutely batty.

Laughter is the best medicine in the world. It releases endorphins like crazy. It also tightens up stomach muscles, which I have yet to see, but I still have hope! Sometimes at night when I get anxiety or something gets me upset, I go into my office, turn on Youtube and look for funny videos. At times, I wake up my wife Madelene with howls of laughter. It’s my therapy. In the morning while having breakfast with Madelene, we laugh so much that I feel like I worked out for an hour. I love spending every minute with that woman because she’s so incredibly positive. She really balances me out. It’s so important to surround yourself with positive people who make you laugh, smile or just give you positive vibes in some way or another. Who wants to be around people who are complete whiners? Life’s too short to waste your time with people who make your life miserable...or try to.

Another thing that I just recently found out is that the smell of coffee is effective in making you feel good through aromatherapy. I was watching the news last week, and they said that just by smelling the grinds of coffee, you’ll find that it not only awakens you a bit more, but it makes you feel happy and also gives you the urge to do something nice for someone. I found it a bit ‘too much’, but hey, gotta give it a try, right? I went to my coffee cabinet and started ‘snuffing’ my grinds. Minutes later, I’m vacuuming, cleaning, doing laundry and humming songs like a drunken monkey. I went out to the grocery store and had so many little frivolous conversations with people. It was amazing. When I got home, I made my wife a delicious gourmet dinner that I didn’t even plan. It sounds nutty, doesn’t it? So get into those grinds whether you drink coffee or not and take a deep breath. It’s an awesome way to get an immediate gratification of happiness.

Monday, June 28, 2010

So Be It...

So many times I’ve watched the rain fall as I’m doing right now and thought about my past, and wondered about all the “what ifs” that brewed inside me. They say wondering about the ‘what ifs’ is an unhealthy standpoint about your current and future outcome, but what if someone or something in your past comes back to the current time? I’m not sure what it is about the rain that makes me over-think, overanalyze every single situation that I’ve been through, but right now I’m having one of those moments. Have you ever thought about the concept of quantum physics? Better question: do you believe in it? This post somehow relates to it in a way, so taken from this site, the definition of it is this: "Quantum physics is simply a science that studies and explains how everything in our world comes into existence starting from the physical aspect of the events, conditions, and circumstances of everything in the Universe and breaking them down into their most basic form, attempting to discover the Source from where they are derived from. Whether or not you may currently be aware, Quantum Physics, Spirituality, your thoughts, emotions, and success or lack of success in life are ALL closely intertwined or interconnected. In fact as modern day quantum physics has discovered, they're much more interconnected than you may realize. Unless you have been exposed to physics at some point, just the mention of Quantum Physics may seem a bit overwhelming to many, but it's really not as intimidating or hard to understand as you may think."

For instance, every choice you make will have a different reaction. It’s all relative to “energy” and where you decide to put it. So with thoughts, energy, willingness and determination, all these things can affect how your outcome in life will be. Have you ever sat there and thought, “Well if I did that, then this would have happened?” (Whether good or bad.) Each choice determines your path. If my mom never married my dad, I probably wouldn’t be here today, or would have been born in another family (if you believe that type of thing.) When you break up with your spouse or get a divorce, chances are you’ll end up with someone else, having kids or not. But what if you find your past coming back up to haunt you again ---say a second chance to make it ‘right’? Sometimes things done in the past that have hurt us are forgivable, yet somehow they are not forgettable. Inner resentments and other triggers can make for a bad correlation in this case. Sometimes I find people longing for the ‘good ol’ times’ and wishing they were back in the past. But I wonder, if we don’t appreciate what we have now, then how are we ever going to get over the past? Repressed anger and unforgiving feelings will eventually resurface and rear its ugly head. That’s just psychology 101. If you don’t resolve your past issues, it’ll keep showing up again and again and again. Some people seek more closures than others and sometimes, there isn’t any closure needed ---just a clean break.

I truly believe that things happen for the best intentions of whatever. Maybe not for “us”----but for the bigger scheme of things. For me, I rely on my faith in Christianity. I rely on forgiveness and most of all, loving everyone as you love yourself. I even pray for my enemies, even when I'm being attacked by someone viciously. I'm no saint, but I still practice this. This also goes for forgiveness---and absolutely forgetting the wrongs. With that, you have to be willing to overlook people’s idiosyncrasies and realize that we’re all human and we all mess up at times. We can try to be “good people”, but sometimes anger, frustration and other negative emotions take over like a tidal wave, and we find ourselves disappointed in our own actions...once again. At times, it’s a personality flaw and some people even make it a conscious decision to make someone else’s life miserable. (That's a whole other post to blog about.) It’s a hard call because all of us are so different in many ways. I remember asking someone for forgiveness because I really hurt them verbally, and when it was declined, I felt a lot of resentment myself, which made me not only emotionally sick, but physically sick as well. See, other people’s actions will affect our own, regardless. We have choices in life, and some of them whether we like it or not will result in a negative outcome. With that, it’s best to learn from it all and grasp the experience so you can become a better person for it. Every experience we have is an outcome to a future experience. Sounds all whacky and sort of spiritually twisted, but that’s what I believe.

I’m sure you’ve said, “I shoulda’ did this”, or “I shoulda’ did that”, once someone you loved left this world. All these regrets flood your mind and remind you of being a better person. The same goes for a break up though. Most people don’t see it that way, but you’re losing someone, not by death, but by choice, which somehow makes it worse if you really think about it. You can sit there all day and say, “I shoulda’ coulda’ would of”----but you did what you were supposed to do. You can’t go back and fix it, you can only try to recover the damages that have been made, and if the person doesn’t want the damages to be “fixed”, then you have to start with acceptance. That’s a tough one because you have all these ideas in your head of what can be done in a “better way”, yet the other person has something different in mind. If the two don’t mesh, they’ll never come together to work anything out. So by accepting our ‘lot in life’, we have to realize that we’re here for a reason, and that our past was done for a reason, and that our current situations are sculpting our future outcomes.

So be it...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Aren't We All Complicated?

In this diverse society, there are many stigmas about each lifestyle, background and culture. People try to avoid any topics dealing with stereotypes, in fear of offending someone. To some degree, stereotypes are somewhat true, and others seem to be stigmas. For example, when most people think “bisexuals”, they immediately think, “They can have their cake and eat it too.” But what about those people who date monogamously, yet don’t go by gender alone? So there are two categories for bisexual people: those who like to have a boyfriend and a girlfriend at the same time and those who are attracted to the “person”, regardless of their gender. For me, it’s a touchy one because I have dated bisexual women in my past and with each experience, I got burned unfortunately. They always went back to men or dated them on the side. I remember dating this girl when I was younger. We were so in love and we always hung out with our friend Billy, who was this muscular, feminine guy - to which I was led to believe that he was gay. Months down the line I come to find out I’ve been hanging out with my girlfriend...and her straight boyfriend!

Many of my friends blamed this solely on my attraction toward feminine women. That’s just my preference. Although I hate labels, I do consider myself bisexual, however I am monogamous with my wife. So does that make me a lesbian or a bisexual? If I were single, I wouldn’t rule out men altogether. It’s the “person” I go for. So by knowing how I am, I’m sure there are other women like myself who aren’t after the whole ‘get a boyfriend and a girlfriend on the side’ type of deal. I think it’s more complex than we make it out to be. It’s the same with labeling types: butch, femme, dyke, queer, bear, tweener, boi, lipstick lesbian, top, bottom, switch, etc. You have an array of labels to choose from. At times it can be even more confusing. I remember I was at a street fair in Nyack, New York. They were having their gay pride festival. I went to introduce my friend Jen to this girl Vicky who appeared to be a “soft butch”. Since her name and her appearance were all female, I referred to Vicky as “her” and “she”. Moments later she said she preferred to be called “he”, although she was not transgender nor going through the process of becoming a man. My question is: how does the average Joe or Jane refer to someone that is so caught up in labels and pronouns? It’s much too complicated.

When I was first learning about the transgender community, a friend of mine was going through the change. She’s an MTF (male to female). After her surgery, she was adamant about being called a woman. Being that I knew her way before the transformation, I had hard time grasping calling my old guy friend, a “she”. She was in the beginning phases of her transitioning. Her voice was still the same as when she was a he, and basically, she appeared to me as a “gay man”, but she was now a lesbian who preferred woman. Do you know how long it took me to wrap my head around it? And, now that I have experienced this with my friend, she has been very patient with me and has taught me everything I needed to know and understand for those who go through the transformation. After extensive hormone therapy and a few cosmetic surgeries, she’s one helluva sexy woman. She was always “sexy” and presented herself with class and grace, but after she was transformed completely, she was finally happy in her own skin, which to me was the most beautiful part about her. Just seeing her happy as she wanted to be - as “herself” - the person she always has been and always will be, makes her more of a woman than any other woman I have ever met before.

So before anyone starts to judge and gripe about stereotypes & stigmas regarding any lifestyle, I suggest you get to know the person first. Don’t make the same mistake I did by letting stereotypes ruin your true view of the person trying to come out as their true selves. Can you imagine how hard it must be to appear as someone else physically, yet be somebody totally different on the inside? Get to know the inside before casting your judgments. I also speak for all the LGBT community. It may get complicated, but whether you’re straight, gay, bi, transgender ---aren’t we all complicated?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I Just Couldn't Do It...

What is it about human nature that makes some of us use projection as a way to defend our own insecurities? Remember back in grade school when the little kids would tease you, calling you names only to make themselves look better for the rest of the kids watching? Or, in some cases, the kids would make fun of you for the total opposite reason: they had a crush on you. It never made sense back then, but as we grew older, we started learning that we sometimes do the opposite of how we really feel. Even when a relationship has taken a turn for the worse, but the two people are still in love, they’ll remain bitter sometimes out of pure stubbornness. “Don’t call them! Let them wait!” We’re doing things opposing to how we really feel at times. “Play hard to get.”
Why?

What about homophobic people? For instance, let’s take a man who is very comfortable being a heterosexual male. Why would he care if someone was gay or not? Have you ever come across a man or a woman who was so obsessed with being antigay, that they’re entire life revolved around it? Where do you think that stems from? Why would they care so much? “We’re trying to help you.” Bullshit. You’re trying to defend what you truly are. I think much of it is all psychology 101. I remember trying to defend myself, since I’m a Christian and happen to be a lesbian. I had a Christian fundamentalist tell me I was going to hell and that I was mocking God by being a homosexual. After a couple of years battling it out with this zealot, it turns out she’s an “ex-lesbian” who got married to a Christian fundamentalist. Makes sense now, doesn’t it? She dedicates her entire writing career & life toward antigay & antiabortion protests. That must be such a fulfilling life to lead. I’ll leave her nameless for now.

There has to be a substantial amount of negative energy that attributes to ‘going against the grain’. Just think about all the gays and lesbians who haven’t come out of the closet yet. They literally have to lead a double life. I know I did before I came out, and at times I had to tell fabricated lies so that no one would know my big secret. Inside it killed me to be so secretive, and most of all, to have hidden my feelings for certain women I fell in love with. I remember behaving very opposite to how I felt in front of someone I liked. I was very cavalier -and I want to even say almost cold for that matter. I didn’t want anyone to know I was a “lesbo”, as most of my friends put it. They ‘ewwed’ and ‘yucked’ the thought of it...and so did I. I played the homophobic teenager, wishing the girl I liked saw right through my facade. She never did.

Times are different now and it’s not like how it was back then. People are more accepting and there isn’t a “loser” label put on kids’ foreheads if they’re out of the closet while still attending school. I, however, don’t regret for one minute staying in the closet until I was out of school. It was rough back then and the repercussions for being found out as gay or lesbian was brutal. I’m not saying that every single person is accepting - I’m just pointing out that it’s much easier today to come out of the closet in high school than it was for me twenty years ago. I remember my mom telling me it was going to be a much harder life if I “chose” this path, but I also remember thinking it would be a lot harder being married to a nice man, bearing his children and lying to my family about who I really am.

I just couldn’t do it...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Is "LGBT" Missing an "S"?

You probably have a different view than what I’m about to talk about, but that’s what makes life interesting: an array of opinionated minds that may or may not agree. If there’s one thing that annoys me, it’s how people “fake” being accepting. Let me explain... Take for instance, the concept that America is the “melting pot”. Sure, we’re all here “physically” together, but in my eyes, we’re not here together as one, as accepting people of different cultures, backgrounds and lifestyles. We’re so at odds with one another of different creeds that sometimes I wonder when we’ll all start to realize that we’re more alike than we think.

Of course I’m an advocate for the LGBT community, not just because I’m gay, but because I support all who want to be happy in their lifestyles. Many of my friends are in LGBT groups, organizations and even LGBT sporting events. For me, I’d rather play with a mix of people, regardless if they’re gay, straight, transgender, black or white. I don’t care ---play ball! I did however, receive a “friend request” on facebook for “Women of Color”, dedicated to black women in Provincetown, MA. They hold their own special weekends dedicated to black women. That’s fine. I think it’s great. I just don’t understand all this separation though. I do realize that people want to relate and socialize with those alike, but why limit yourself? When my wife and I vacation in Provincetown, we like to see an array of different people. Although we do go during Women’s Week (because we got married during that time & October is a perfect month to visit the Cape), I find myself missing all the men walking around, the drag queens that make us laugh so much and just getting a little more testosterone into the mix. Women’s Week for me is completely boring. My wife and I don’t need to have it exciting for us to make it fun---we make it fun for ourselves.

But I digress. Since I’m very adamant about going to a church that prays to the same God as I do --doesn’t that put me into the same category I had just complained about? I don’t separate myself from those of different religions, but I will not go into their churches nor practice their religion “just for fun” or “just for the experience”. I don’t give their religion a chance only because my faith in my own beliefs are too strong. Or, do you think that’s being stubborn on my part, perhaps even discriminative? Maybe I’m the one that needs to be more accepting of those who form groups catered to one race, or one sexual orientation. Which brings me to my next question: How come “LGBT” doesn’t have an “S” in it for straight people? Why do we exclude those who love others of the opposite sex? Why don’t straight people drive around with huge bumper stickers screaming, “PROUD TO BE STRAIGHT?” Would gays and lesbians get offended if they saw a bumper sticker like that? Probably so.

I guess I’m confused over special groups, and the fact that I don’t participate in enough “separated” organizations. I can’t help it - I like a mixed bag, but I do understand the need to reach out & relate to people who have the same struggles. Or, are they even considered struggles? To be gay, lesbian, white or black --are we struggling that much? For me as a white lesbian, and my wife a Hispanic lesbian, we don’t feel discriminated against. We are considered “minorities”, but we refuse to play the victim. I’m also not saying “all” people play the role of the victim, but some are extremely pitiful. We realize not everyone is going to agree or accept our lifestyle. That’s not our problem though. You can be an average middle class heterosexual caucasian and have someone hate you for any reason imaginable. You will never be “perfect” to every single human being. There’s always going to be someone who is going to hate you for whatever reason. Why magnify this intensity by a hundred, simply by forming groups that are separating other people who may accept you? Why are we even seeking acceptance if we’re secure in our own sexuality, lifestyle, race or religion? I think that speaks volumes right there.

What are your thoughts?

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!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

"I Want Out..."

Life is too short to be spending your time with someone who makes your life miserable or makes you feel less than super excited about life. Of course love is a feeling, but it’s also a conscious choice made to “choose” who you want to love & grow old with. To consciously pick someone who is controlling, abusive or manipulative will eventually come to a head over time. When we’re young, we tend to pick the ‘wrong ones’ or be attracted to the badass types. That fades with time, and after a while, you’re going to want someone who allows you...to be “you”. My wife made a good point this morning while talking about this. She said that when someone stifles you or “smothers your feathers”, you can’t fly; you can’t be yourself. You’re trapped in this prison that you've created for yourself. You chose this. Also, you can choose to leave the prison whenever you want. I think many people who don’t leave a bad situation is because of all the time invested. What about all the times wasted?

Think about this day 10 years ago. Not so long ago, right? Think about even 15-20 years ago... Time flies. It’s never too late to leave a bad situation behind. People think being a certain age that it’s too late, or that they’ll never find someone else to love them. I’d rather be alone than to live with someone who didn’t respect me. Your partner/spouse should make you feel wonderful about yourself, make you laugh, smile & realize what a great life you have with them. They’re not supposed to tear you down because they’re too insecure about themselves. They’re not supposed to make you feel scared when you come home or make you feel as though you have to walk on eggshells in your very own house. That’s not love. That’s not respect. And I’m certain, loyalty goes right down the drain without those two ingredients as well.

My mother always told me to find someone who can make me laugh. Your other half should be your best friend in the world, not your guardian or keeper. You should be able to be free with your best friend - to be “you” - and to feel comfortable saying anything & everything around them. If you have the slightest fear while being in the presence of your other half, then something is wrong. Fear is NOT love. Love is NOT fear. They should love you for the person you are - not the person they are trying to create. When someone tries to mold another person to their likings, eventually that mold cracks and the person inside finally realizes: “Hey, this is not me. I want out.”

Friday, June 18, 2010

The "Grudge" People

You’re probably wondering what grudge people are, but I do have a very good explanation. Have you ever been around somebody who constantly “ughs” every little thing in life? Everything is either an eye roll, a sigh, an eckkk or just a grunt of an unenthusiastic gripe. I can totally understand when people complain about something they don’t like or they don’t particularly care for, or perhaps, they’re going through a rough time and ‘grunting’ through it all - which is fine - but when does it come to the point of grunting at every little thing in life? Within the past year, I had to remove a couple of these “grudge” people out of my life. Their negativity eventually rubbed off and there I was, grunting about this and that. They’re the types that sit there and flap their gums about ‘she did this’ or ‘he did that’ and ‘why me, why me’.... If you stay with them long enough, you’ll find that you’ll be doing the same thing, or at least to some extent.

Then you have your ‘fishing grudge people’, where they’re in your circle of friends, but yet they want to fish for what you may think of someone else in your little circle. They start slowly complaining about a mutual friend, and then leave it open so you can take your turn. Do they want a commonality with you or do they simply wanna test the waters of resentment or some other issue you have with one of your friends? I can’t stand people who constantly have hidden agendas & motives. I can see right through it even before they open their mouths. Life’s too short to be complaining about a friend or nitpicking about every single thing in life. I usually give them the benefit of the doubt, but when it gets too much, I’m like, “Be gone!”

Another scenario that my wife and I have both experienced is another couple individually complaining about one another. Say if one is in our home, and then starts complaining about his or her partner -we automatically tune out. I understand if one of our friends is having issues with his or her partner, but if we are mutually friends with the both of them, then don’t come to us for free counseling. We don’t want the drama. It’s not that we don’t want to listen to our friends, it’s just not appropriate if we are friends with *the both* of them. Taking sides is always a touchy one, and usually, it’s the person we disagree with who comes complaining to us. I wonder why... We love spending time with other couples who are just in your company to relax, laugh and enjoy themselves, not to gripe about this or that.

There are some things that should remain quiet when you’re around certain people, and then there are people where you know that the comfort zone is completely free and clear to spill your beans about anything and everything. Maybe some people can’t decipher which is which? Maybe they don’t know they’re making their friends feel very uncomfortable talking about certain topics? With that being said, I’m a very good listener, but there’s a fine line between venting and “grudging”.

If you haven’t noticed, I “grudged” through this entire post. Hrmm...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

In a Funk?

In many cases, gratitude is the most overlooked thing in the world. People are too busy, or they just forget how fortunate they really are. They can’t see beyond their “bad” circumstances or “bad luck” - they only see the glass half empty. I get like that sometimes, and when it starts knocking me down a few notches, I have to be reminded of what I do have, not what I don’t have. Just like focusing too much on the past or too much on the future, we forget the most important thing: the present. It’s human nature and once we give into that little whiney voice in our heads, “I want I want I want”, then maybe we can truly see what’s in front of us right now. Materialistic things won’t change who we are or get someone out of a depression.

I find for myself, whenever I get into a depressive state or just not feeling ‘myself’, I do these breathing exercises that really help me. Usually, relaxation techniques like these help anxiety, but just picture depression as “anxiety without the energy” -because that’s exactly what it is. The worry from the anxiety has lost hope, leaving us to feel depressed. That’s why so many doctors and psychiatrists recommend antidepressants for people with anxiety. They both go hand-in-hand, although I personally don’t believe in medications such as antidepressants, but whatever works, right?

“Worry is like a rocking chair - it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.” ~Erma Bombeck

Believe me, I’m still taking this advice myself. How can you not worry? I tried figuring that out for a long, long time. I’m starting to realize that the things we worry about the most are the things that rarely happen. Even if you have the most hectic schedule in the world, take at least 20 minutes before you get ready for work and just meditate (pray if you’re a believer) and do these breathing relaxation techniques every. single. morning. List ten things that you’re grateful for in your life and really focus on them - what you have “now”, what you enjoy doing “now”, what’s right in front of you “now”. When you’re grateful for the little things in your life, like a good cup of coffee in the morning, a beautiful rainstorm or even just a walk outside, you’ll realize you’ll be super excited about the bigger things that will come your way. You’ll begin to notice the small blessings that God puts in your life instead of taking them for granted, which I find I do often.

This may sound dreary, but time alone, by yourself, can be the key to figuring out the mess inside your head. Some say it’s not good to be alone if you’re feeling down, but I say you first have to be alone to figure it out before you can be around anybody else. Doesn’t that make more sense? And I don’t mean shut all your blinds and sit in the dark all day listening to sad songs----go outside and walk if it’s nice out, sit by a lake and just ‘think’ or write it all out---even if you’re not a “writer”. Make a private journal for yourself and see your progress. You can flip back and see what’s really brewing underneath. Another helpful thing I did in my life was eliminate toxic people who seemed to really bring me down. I said my goodbyes to a few people who made me feel less than perfect, in fact, made me feel belittled and awful about myself. Forgive them, forget what they did and just move on.

I’m only speaking from my own experience of what helps me. Maybe you know different techniques that you can share with me. I still go through my own turmoils, but I expect and I ‘will’ handle them better the next time around.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Little Tidbit From Our "Staycation"

While being on our little "staycation", my parents let me film them without being camera shy. I have written so much about them on this blog that sometimes, I truly believe that many of my readers don't fully believe the stories I have told. For those of you who haven't read my posts about my dad - he's a true old time Brooklynite. I try to mimic the way he talks, like, "Whaddya tawkin' bow" or "fuggedaboudit" and my one pet peeve, "gotta go to da' ba-troom". Being that my dad has a sketchy past, his story may offend or shock those who are a bit squeamish, or he might just give you a good laugh. Some content may be a bit "Archie Bunker-ish", so viewer discretion is advised. I tried to censor out as much as I could. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Taking a week long "staycation" with Madelene. We haven't had time off in almost a year now. I'll be back blogging on a regular basis on the 18th or so. I may quite possibly post something random on here, if we see something interesting or perhaps, a funny home video. Enjoy this gorgeous weather & I'll miss you all!

Friday, June 04, 2010

Dealing With Anxiety Disorder

There’s nothing worse than the feeling of anxiety. Whether you’re familiar experiencing anxiety attacks or not, each person has their “own” anxiety that can manifest in different ways. For instance, I experience the “typical symptoms”---shortness of breath, racing heart, and the scariest one, heart palpitations. I get irrational thoughts as though ‘this is it and I’m dying’ type of thinking. I find myself in the emergency room more times than I’d like to admit. “You’re okay, Deb. All the tests were fine.” I get sent home, feeling relieved, and magically, my anxiety, or “thought to be” heart attack subsides. For others, anxiety can be stress headaches, fatigue, tightness in chest and even allergy symptoms. I always thought my partner never got anxiety attacks. How can she not have anxiety working in a high paced male-dominated and competitive environment? Her anxiety outlets are migraines and stomach problems. Although she seems “calm”, her anxiety is a bit different than mine.

My friend Heather inspired this post for today. She had written a piece about her own anxiety and panic attacks on her blog. We both experience the same symptoms and it helps to talk it out with her because she can totally relate. We were discussing that when a very strong panic attack occurs, the very next day the person usually is so fatigued from it, that they can barely lift their arms. Sometimes it can last for a couple of days. The worst thing someone can ask when a person is experiencing an anxiety attack is: “What’s making you so anxious?” We don’t know. It can happen at the least expected moment. Some people have anxiety disorder, where they truly don't know what’s causing their anxiety attacks, and other people sometimes manifest a known stressful situation into an attack. Underlining and root causes in the subconscious mind can also trigger these attacks. And of course, some have both: anxiety disorder (without reason) and triggers. Heather and I are both lucky enough to have such amazing partners, who help us emotionally and who are always there and willing to help when we are experiencing these attacks at home.

The other morning I woke up to find myself experiencing very intense heart palpitations. They were more frequent than I've ever had them-- maybe five in less than a half an hour for the entire day. I had to try to ignore them, but some of them literally took my breath away. Going to the ER is pointless in my opinion, because I’m just gonna get the same report: “You’re okay, Deb. Tests were fine.” However, that actually relieves me and takes away my palps, but medical bills from all of the tests are outrageous. I know it’s anxiety, but my irrational mind says: “HEART ATTACK!” Having said that, it’s sometimes challenging to even step out of my own apartment because I’m afraid that these palpitations will start up again. Then the agoraphobia kicks in. The thing that frustrates me the most is that I have been on this exercising routine every single day for the past few months. I have been walking 2-5 miles a day. Now, I’m scared to death to even walk down the street. I tried exercising, and the palpitations came on within the first five minutes of walking -light walking mind you. “Exercising is great for anxiety” they say. Not when you’re having one palpitation after the other. So now that this has been happening for the past couple of days, I’m feeling a bit depressed because I’m frustrated over my fear to exercise and the fear of getting these palpitations again in a public place, no less my own home.

I’m totally against any antidepressants because I have come across so many pill pushers who don’t give a rat’s ass about side effects or how these chemicals alter our brain. Years ago, I went through severe convulsions with one medication from abruptly stopping it, due to the sedative effects. I want to go natural instead, even if it means dipping into the “grape” or “potato” juice from time to time. I think most of the psychiatric care is all a business. Some are there to truly help others, while most of them are there to see you for fifteen minutes, write you a script (so they get kickbacks) and throw you out the door and wish you “luck” with your new meds. Having been in therapy since I was sixteen years old from experiencing anxiety attacks, I have come across only one genuine psychologist who truly helped me. He taught me how to breathe properly, and thoroughly CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). With both the relaxation techniques and CBT, within months, I was back to my old self working a full time job and enjoying my life again without fear. Unfortunately his office moved upstate and I was up shit’s creek without a paddle...or a shrink.

Right now, since I am experiencing waves of anxiety, I can’t really give advice since I’m looking for some myself, but I do know that when I pray, meditate, relax, listen to soft music or indulge in a hobby like playing my guitar, it does seem to give me some relief. The rest is all fear-driven and irrational thoughts of the inevitable “what ifs”. It’s very difficult for other people that don’t have anxiety, to understand those who do experience them. I’ve heard way too many times, “I know you have anxiety, but . . .” The only thing I hear is, “I don’t care that you have anxiety . . . period.” I tend to stay away from people who are very confrontational or high strung and sensitive. I can’t be around those who get offended easily, nor those whom offend easily. You get my drift. I’m extremely selective with who I spend time with. I can't have conflicts, arguments and senseless fighting that leads into hurtful words. That in itself gives me great anxiety. I tend to avoid people who are intentionally hurtful, or who are known to speak their minds like someone with Tourettes Syndrome. I welcome all of my friends and family into my life, however I am also a very private person, even though I’m a very open and outgoing. I’ve come a long way these past couple of years by conquering many fears, like driving into the city, grocery shopping (since agoraphobia is a real buzz kill) and driving to more distant places. But now, with this setback, I’m trying my best to not let this crush all that I have worked so hard for. There’s nothing worse than the feeling and fear of anxiety.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

It Works Both Ways

Life is a quick mover. It doesn’t wait for anyone if they decide to sit back and let it float away. We all know that we should cherish the people in our lives, as well as try to make a difference in others. There are so many cliches and platitudes to “life” itself, that it eventually gets drowned up at the bottom of a huge bowl full of preoccupied self-absorbencies. (And I don’t mean that in a bad way.) It’s normal - we get caught up in our own lives, sometimes neglecting very important people that we need to spend more time with. Between having demanding jobs, raising children, relationships, marriages or making home improvements or whatever it is making you too busy, sometimes people misinterpret “busyness” with “neglectfulness”. Whether you want to intermingle the two together or not is up to you.

I have a few friends I used to hang out with all the time. When they would get into a new relationship, I wouldn't ever hear from them. Once the relationship had ended, it was back to status quo. See, I totally understand about new relationships and the work that goes into it. I know how it is when you’re focusing on a new person. I’ve done it before, but not to the point of totally losing your friends. I have had my friends come back to me after a breakup wanting our friendship to go back to the same ol’ same ol’, and of course I took them back because I love them. Question is: how do you know if your friend truly likes you for “you” and not using you as a time filler? For me, and the way I see things -if I truly like someone as a friend, it doesn’t matter if we haven't talked for five months or for a year or two, they’re welcomed back into my life as if no time has passed at all. That’s how it should be with friends and family, in my opinion. I also think that sharing your time with both your significant other and friends + family are very important as well. I’m just saying I would never get upset over a friend who got a little caught up in the fiery romance of a blooming relationship. So be it.

There is one thing that bothers me a lot about how people handle other people’s “busyness”. I had a few people in my tell me, “Well I have kids so it’s harder.” (Some of these people are talking about their older kids who are in their 20’s now.) Anyway, my point is: how can you compare your life to someone else’s? Of course having “kids” and I mean, “small children”, is definitely a handful, but to assume that your life is any harder than the next person’s life isn’t fair. My partner and I both have siblings (on both sides of the family) that expect us to go to every single event held. Granted, we have gone to some of them, but it would have been nice to see these very same people present on our wedding day, or at least, give a card saying congratulations. But, their lives seem much more "important" and much more “busier” than ours. We never say anything about it, but when these people complain and yell at us over a birthday party or an event not attended to, we want to remind them: “Hey, you haven’t visited us in over two years. You haven’t seen our new home. You weren’t at our wedding. You weren’t there for any of it.” But, the fact remains that we’ll always be in the wrong because we don’t have children, therefore our lives are insignificant.

This is exactly the reason why I love the whole concept of, ‘when I see you I will appreciate every moment with you’. There is no guilt thrown in anyone’s face, no life comparisons made and no judgmental accusations about anything. Since we know life is busy for all of us, why is it so hard to adapt to the idea of having a bit more understanding, instead of lashing out in a deep-seated fury? Life’s not enjoyable if you have to visit people just because you were given a huge guilt trip or two. It makes the entire visit not as genuine as it should be. It shouldn’t matter if I visit you or you visit me - it should just be at ease with a constant flow of communication on both parts. If you complain to the people you care for about why they don’t visit you often, take a look at your own efforts to do so yourself.
It works both ways.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The Jaded Lesbian

Through the process of interviewing people for the documentary, I came across one woman who wasn’t quite ‘right’ for the film. And, I hate to say that, because I do want to include most people of different lifestyles and backgrounds, but this was not a lifestyle - it was more of a mission in my opinion. “Linda”, a professional business woman set up the entire interview located in her high rise office building in Manhattan. We spoke about her life and how her religion vs. her lifestyle has affected her. It was going smoothly for a while, until she had admitted that she “turned” heterosexual. She stated she has always been a lesbian ever since she knew there were females on earth, but because she had a few bad experiences with women, she decided to give men a shot. I totally empathized for what she had been through, because all the women she had been involved with were verbally and physically abusive. Although Linda is very professional looking due to her career, she is more drawn to butch women, but those who were heavily involved in the street life, which involves drugs and alcohol. She knew very well it was an odd combo, but she had a mysterious attraction toward the “bad boi”. (Those of you who are straight and reading this, a “boi” is a female lesbian who looks boyish or who is a butch.)

Not only was my new segment of the documentary fizzling away due to this new info I had thrown at me, but now it became a whole new show that I may want to pursue after my project is done. What about straight women who “turn into lesbians” because they had bad encounters with men? There are so many women out there who have said, “I’m done with men --I wanna see what’s on the other side.” Some stay and some don’t. But nobody ever thinks for a moment, that a lesbian who has been gay all her life can turn straight. I don’t know about you, but it totally blew my mind. I mean---why not? Again, I refer back to the word on my previous post, “androsexual”, to go for the person and not so much the gender, but this doesn’t describe that word at all. What she is describing is different. She decided to let a few bad eggs ruin her entire sexual orientation. That’s what I got out of it. I’m not going to beg her to come back to our team because that’s not my place to do so. People need to travel on their own journeys however they want to without anyone badgering them about what’s wrong or right ---because there is no “wrong” or “right”. It’s all about experience, love and possibilities. There are many heterosexual women that have been living “the straight life” for years and years, and never come out due to the fear of their family’s judgments or just because they fear a life of adversities. It happens.

One thing that happens to be a huge pet peeve of mine, is when some psychologists will blame homosexuality on past sexual abuse as a child. I had one psychologist tell me that I was blocking all of my "sexual abuse" out because I was traumatized. I have never been sexually abused and was furious that this woman, this psychologist, this LESBIAN psychologist made this awful assumption about me. She then tried to clarify that she had been sexually abused, which is one of the many reasons she decided ("decided") to become a lesbian. See, I don't believe it's a choice. Why would we choose a harder life? But what infuriated me the most was that she was giving this line of crap to many people in her community as well as in her professional field, possibly destroying the relationships with their families. How dare she. Unless someone opens up to you and tells you, "Yes, I have been sexually abused when I was a kid" ---then shut your trap and stop assuming that just because it has happened to some people, does not mean it has happened to all of them. It's an awful misconception that many people hold in their minds when they hear the word "gay" or "lesbian".

To conclude this long post, I’m learning many things on my own journey of filming people’s personal life experiences. And what’s interesting is, each person has a different twist and spin on each experience they have went through, although many are similar. As I go through each person’s life, I begin conjuring up new ideas for my next project, but for now, I need to keep my mind focused on this one because God knows, it’s gonna be one helluva long ride before it’s all finished. Thank you everyone who has supported this project as well as participating in it, sharing your personal details of your life with us. There’s always that one pivotal moment, when someone almost loses it because of the traumatic emotions going through each personal story. I want to thank you for being so vulnerable and letting me film each each story, each tear and each compelling experience that will make this documentary show how much emotional turmoil we all have been through when it comes to being ourselves while faithful to our beliefs.